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If you are in college and thinking about making extra money to help pay for your tuition and living expenses, the good news is that there are many legitimate ways to earn some money. The bad news is that NOT all are worth your time and are able to give you decent income.
Here is a list of things that you should avoid wasting your time doing:
- Taking online paid surveys (exchanging your valuable time for cents)
- Doing consumer research online (most are low-paying tasks)
- Website testing or app testing (almost all are low-paying assignments)
- Do micro-gigs on Amazon Mechanical Turk ( same as doing online surveys)
So, what should you do instead?
If you are looking for ways to make some decent money quickly as a college student, then you can either get a part-time job or freelance on the side.
Here are some popular ways that college students make money:
- Offer freelance service online (e.g. writing, graphic design, website design, virtual assistant, video editing)
- Become a Tasker with TaskRabbit
- Walk dogs
- Baby sit
- Clean house
- Do catering on weekends
- Teach English online
- Become a tutor (online or offline)
- Get a part-time job in retail
- Work as a server or bartender
- Work for your professor
All these jobs will make you money quickly, but you are essentially exchanging your time for money.
What that means is that the minute you stop working, you also stop getting paid.
That’s why I always recommend that you should better use your time to build an income-producing asset to make money for you during college and also after college.
I wish I had done this while I was studying in college, so I would be able to become financially free years earlier.
So, what is it that I would have done in college to make money if I could turn back time?
You should start a Low-Risk, Low-Cost Online Business that can grow over time and generate good income for you for life.
What Are Low-Risk, Low-Cost Online Businesses
So, what are some low-risk and low-cost online businesses that are suitable for students?
You see, any PROFITABLE online business needs to have traffic.
Traffic is essentially money in the online business world.
When you have traffic, you don’t have to worry about money because you can either sell the traffic for money or you can sell products (or services) to your traffic to make money.
So, what exactly is traffic and what kinds of traffic are there?
Traffic refers to the number of people you get to see your online written, audio and video content.
Just like in a shopping mall, you want more shoppers to be able to sell more stuff and make more money.
This is the same in the online world.
And there are four kinds of traffic you can get:
- Website (or blog) visitors
- Video views
- Instagram likes & comments
- Podcast downloads & listenership
The best part is that you can start getting traffic with almost zero capital.
So, it’s extremely low-cost and also low-risk.
Once you have traffic, how do you turn your traffic into money?
Let’s take a look at how you can monetize the different types of traffic.
#1: Website or Blog Traffic
If you have a website or a blog, you want more website visitors.
When you have a lot of website traffic, you can make money in the following ways:
- Advertising earning ( yes, it’s the ads showing at the top or bottom or on the side of the website you visit.)
- Sponsored post ( this is a bit similar to sponsorship for major events such as Super Bowl or World Cup. But, instead of sponsoring an event, they are sponsoring a blog post on their products or services)
- Affiliate marketing ( i.e. sell other people’s products and earn a commission for every sale made )
- Sell your own products or services (e.g. ebooks, online courses, consulting services, coaching services, freelance services)
#2: YouTube Traffic
If you have a YouTube channel, you want more people to view your videos.
When you have a lot of people watching your videos, you can make money in the following ways:
- Advertising earning ( yes, it’s the annoying video ads playing before each video starts.)
- Sponsorship ( in this case, it’s brands sponsoring a video reviewing their products or services)
- Affiliate marketing
- Sell your own products (e.g. YouTuber’s own line of products)
#3: Instagram Traffic
If you have an instagram account, you want more people to see your photos or videos.
When you have a lot of people seeing your Instagram posts, you can make money in the following ways:
- Sponsored post ( brands pay Instagram influencers to get more exposure and reach a wider audience)
- Affiliate marketing ( e.g. beauty Instagram influencers help companies sell skincare products and take a cut for every sale made)
- Sell your own products (e.g. Instagram influencers’ own line of products)
#4: Podcast Traffic
If you have a podcast, you want more people to listen to your podcast.
When you have a lot of people listening to your podcast, you can make money in the following ways:
- Sponsorship ( brands sponsor podcast to get more exposure and reach a wider audience)
- Affiliate marketing
- Sell your own products or services
Which Type Of Online Business Is Suitable For You?
To help you find what type of online business is most suitable for you, you need to first understand one important thing.
To get (tons of) traffic, you need to generate (tons of) content.
There are four different types of content:
- Written (e.g. blog posts, step-by-step guides, Instagram posts and etc)
- Video ( e.g YouTube videos, video streaming, Facebook live, Instagram story)
- Audio (e.g. Podcast)
- Photos (e.g. Instagram photos)
To avoid spreading yourself too thin, you should only focus on creating ONE type of content first.
So, when it comes to deciding which type of online business you should start, it basically comes down to deciding which type of content you are most comfortable creating.
Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help you make a decision:
- What’s your personality? ( e.g. outgoing, funny or introverted)
- What’s your skills? (e.g. good writing skills or good video editing skills)
- What topics are you interested about? (e.g. videos are best for makeup tutorials. )
- What are your hobbies? (e.g. you can create gaming videos if gaming is your hobby. If you love travelling or food, then Instagram is probably the best.)
- How much time do you have outside school? (e.g. writing blog posts might take much longer time than taking a photo and posting on Instgram)
Generally, outspoken and extroverted people will prefer creating video and audio contents while introverted people will prefer creating written content.
For myself, I am an introvert and also a nerd (okay, I studied applied statistics and economics in college.)
So, starting a blog is the best choice for me.
Now, what about you?
Which one is best for you?
Starting a blog?
Or a YouTube channel?
Or a podcast?
Or an Instagram account?
While you think about that, let’s take a look at some examples.
What kind of videos does she create?
Most of her videos are about tutorials on how to style natural African-American hair.
For her to choose this topic, there are a few reasons:
- There is demand for such video content from her target audience
- She knows how to style hair
- She is probably passionate about this topic as well
What are her results?
YouTube Subscribers: 126,000 subscribers
YouTube views: 10,820,476 views
With this kind of numbers, she is easily making at least 4-figure every month.
The best part about her YouTube channel is that she can keep growing her YouTube channel by adding more videos.
All her videos are her income assets which can generate ads revenue for her even when she is sleeping or not working.
without her doing anything.
[Case Studies]: How To Make Money Online With Any Hobby In 2020
Now, let’s take a look at another example.
This girl called Jessica Slaughter started her blog while she was still in college.
She writes mostly about topics that interest college students on her blog.
What are her results?
Her monthly blog visitors: about 200,000 visitors per month
How does she make money?
She get paids by big brands for doing the following:
- Sponsored posts
- Product reviews
- Monthly Favorites features
- Social promotions
The brands she has worked with include Evolution Fresh, Evernote, Clarisonic, Lenovo, Amazon Prime Student and Office Depot.
The best part about her blog is that she can continue to get income from her blog even if she stops blogging and works at a full-time job.
This is because her blog still generates tons of traffic every month even without her doing anything.
A Beginner’s Guide: How To Make Money Blogging (2020)
The Key To Starting A Successful Online Business In College
So, what is the key to starting a successful online business in college?
You need to create good content consistently.
It could be one video a day or one article a day.
As of my writing today, I have written a total of 82 articles and I am expecting to reach my 100 articles in one month’s time.
Why do I keep doing this?
Because I know when I do it consistently, my traffic and the number of subcribers (or followers) will also keep growing over time.
As Robert Collier said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”