h, college. On the one hand, it’s a time of limitless potential – for the first time, you’re out on your own, making your own rules, figuring out what you want to do with your life. Which makes you freer than you ever have been before.

But on the other hand, you might find your plans for weekend adventures or picking up extra classes stalling out thanks to the infamous College Budget.

About half of all full-time college students work at some point during their enrollment, but finding ways to earn some extra spending cash without eating into necessary study time can be tricky.

Help me I'm poor - Bridesmaids, but also every college student ever

Not to worry. Here at Adultist, many of our writers are college students and recent grads like you. Which means we know a thing or two about how to stretch a college budget with a *chefs kiss* side hustle.

Here’s what we looked for when making our picks for this list:

  • Flexible - Side hustles that are truly side hustles. They don’t have to be on your mind 24/7 to be worth it, and you’ll still have time for school and a social life
  • Easy to start - You’re already training for one career. No need to choose a side hustle that requires 5+ years of experience to get started. You can start these today.
  • Scalable - Like most things in life, what you get from a side hustle depends on how much you put into it. These side hustles can be scaled up when you have more time (or if they start taking off) or stay small so they don’t disrupt your studies.

So let’s get started.

1. Learn SEO + Start a Blog

Turn Those College-Level Writing Chops Into a Paycheck

college student planning a blog at a desk
Blogging to make money is easier than it seems.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an English major or not. To get into college, you have to be a reasonably good writer. Considering the average person reads at about an 8th grade reading level, anyone who can carry a casual conversation has the linguistic ability needed to start a blog.

Blogging might sound like another Y2K trend that’s come back around, but the fact of the matter is that it never really went anywhere.

Bloggers make money through multiple revenue streams – affiliate links, traditional display ads, sponsored content, and more. It takes some time to build up traffic, and consequently cash flow, to a blog, but if you’re willing to chip away at it, this one has virtually no cap to how much you can make.

Before you start a blog, you’ll want to brush up on some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics. You can do this with a simple (free) online certification through Hubspot, one of the big names in the Digital Marketing business.

2. Surveys

Here’s How to Actually Make Money Doing Surveys

Surveys might seem like a scam, but reputable sites can help you rake in rewards.

Okay, we’ve all heard that surveys are a great way to make some cash – but HOW. If every time you try to get a penny for your thoughts, you fill out 15 questions only to get a notification that you don’t meet the criteria for the survey, this one’s for you.

It’s all about where you’re filling out the surveys, honestly. Swagbucks is the king of the game, but there are lots of other options out there if Swagbucks isn’t your jam for any reason or you just want to diversify your survey income with additional sites.

The subreddit r/BeerMoney maintains a list of popular survey sites that will actually earn you some cash.

3. SAT/ACT Tutor

Turn Those Test-Specific Skills Into Spending Money

Tutoring high school students is something you can start today with the skills you already have.

Taking the SAT is like planning a wedding – you have to learn a whole new set of strategies to pull it off, and then on the other side of the big day, you’ve got nothing to do with your skills. Except in the case of SAT and ACT prep, maybe you do.

While you may not have to worry about standardized testing this year, there’s a whole new batch of high school seniors that do. You can start by looking for in-person positions at your local tutoring center or high school, but there are also plenty of ways to become a test tutor online if the WFH life is more your style.

4. Self Publish

Spend a Little Time Writing and a Lot of Time Reaping the Benefits

self published author at a book reading
Turn your dream of being a published writer into reality with self publishing.

Many of us dream of someday publishing a book, and thanks to advances in self publishing, that dream is more accessible than ever. Sure, there’s been plenty of criticism about the DIY publishing boom – namely that it’s “ruining literature” by clogging up book marketplaces and social media feeds with work that does not rise to professional level.

And while there are certainly stinkers in the self publishing world, it has also opened the door for more diverse voices to be heard than ever before. Goodbye, gatekeeping.

But how does self publishing translate to a side hustle for college students? If you’ve got a knack for writing or a story to tell, self publishing is a set it and forget it moneymaker. Draft your piece, publish it using a platform like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Then just sit back and wait for the royalties to come in.

They aren’t much, but having a no effort stream of revenue flowing never hurts.

Not sure what to write about? Here are some ideas college students might excel at:

  • Fiction. If you’ve got a manuscript in the works or a Nanowrimo project from a few autumns back that’s just been gathering dust, it’s time to polish it up and get it out there.
  • Campus life. Make it fiction or nonfiction. Write chicken soup for the college student’s soul (your own version), or give advice to incoming students. The options are endless.  
  • SAT/ACT tips. Once again, leverage that specialty knowledge. How did you prep? What resources did you use? What schedule or routine did you come up with? Put it to paper.

5. Start a Subscription Box

Make $10k+ Per Month… According to TikTok, At Least

Anyone with an account on the clock app has probably come across at least one get-rich-quick WFH business idea. Zero effort, huge rewards. Sounds too good to be true, right?

The subscription box idea is really just a rebrand of a side hustle that’s been around for a while – online reselling. And while not everyone makes it big, it can pay off. The added bonus of the subscription element is that you can depend on that money to come in every month, not just when you make a one-off sale.

6. Short Video Editing

Leverage Your Reels Skills Into a Real Paycheck

short video editor setting up a phone camera for a shoot
Ready for your close up? Helping a brand create engaging content for social media can pay big bucks.

At a solid 40-ish, the average age of the US workforce is staunchly middle age (sorry elder millennials). What’s more is that people in leadership positions are taking the job older and staying longer than the CEOs and other executives of yesteryear.

Ok, ok. If you’re fielding unpaid internships, exploring side hustles, or struggling to find an entry level job to launch your career, this surely isn’t news to you. But maybe there’s a silver lining. Thanks to that generational divide, some skills that are second nature to you are hot on the job market right now.

Short Video Editor is a role that describes anyone who makes short form videos for companies – that includes Youtube shorts, Instagram reels, Facebook ads, and even TikToks. There are plenty of openings to be found on freelance sites like Upwork, but you can find related positions on Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and more.

Vincent Adultman from Bojack Horseman telling Todd and Mr. Peanut Butter Buisnesswise tis all seems like appropriate business
You don’t need a business degree to get started in Sales. Image via Tenor.

7. Remote Closer

Dip Your Toes Into the World of Sales/Lead Generation

Getting people to buy a product, sign up for an email list, or complete any other task is rarely a one-shot deal. If you’re interested in business, you’re probably familiar with the sales funnel – but if not, here’s a quick recap.

You start out by making your audience aware of a product or service.

Of the people who become aware of your product, some of them might seriously consider buying it.

Of the people who consider your product, some might go on to purchase it.

Marketers use lots of strategies to move people from one stage to the next with the ultimate goal of “closing” the lead – or getting them to take the desired action.

sales funnel diagram
Consumers move through several stages when interacting with a brand – and helping them move towards purchase is a great side hustle. Image courtesy of SalesKen.

Some people are great at making first impressions with prospective buyers. Others close the deal. And that’s you, that’s the side hustle – remote closing the leads. Someone else has already warmed up the leads, and all you have to do is seal the deal. If you’re an aspiring marketer, writer, lawyer, actor, or you’re otherwise gifted with the art of persuasion, this one should be a slam dunk for you.

8. Food Delivery

Take Advantage of Your Campus’s Late Night Munchies to Earn Some Green

college student delivering food as a side hustle
Connect college students with tasty snacks to earn some extra cash.

College can really work up an appetite. When you’re running from class to extracurriculars to internships to side hustles and trying to feed yourself from a mini fridge and microwave combo, it’s no wonder delivery is such a popular option.

Signing up as a driver for a food delivery service is generally pretty simple – just a couple of taps on the app that you (probably) already have on your phone. Work when it fits into your schedule, and clock out whenever you need to. The flexibility makes it a great option for students, and if you live an area that gets lots of deliveries (cough cough, every college campus ever) you should have plenty of orders to help you pay the bills.

9. Write Reviews

Get Way More Than a Penny for Your Thoughts

women gathered around a cell phone
Sharing your opinion is more than just brunch conversation – it can be a means of making some money too.

Calling all casual gamers and film aficionados – wouldn’t it be nice if you could earn some money writing reviews of your favorite pieces of media? Turns out you can

Websites like Vocal.media pay creators based on the number of reads their content gets – which means if you have a little bit of time to put out some stories, poems, journal entries, or reviews you think other people would really read, you can start earning passive income in no time flat.

10. Set Up an Etsy Shop

Make a Name As A Professional Artist or Craftsman

Get creative! Selling products on Etsy is a great way to get your art out into the world, declutter, and make cash rolled into one.

There’s been some debate recently about whether selling on Etsy is worth it, but the fact remains that it’s one of the biggest and most well-known marketplaces for creatives.

Think of it this way – your mom may not have heard of Big Cartel or IndieMade, but she’s definitely heard of Etsy. Greater brand recognition means more people your products could potentially end up in front of… without you spending all your free time marketing.

If you’re an art major with masterpieces piling up in the corner of your dorm room or a crafter whose friends and relatives have politely informed you that their homes have no more room crafted gifts, selling on Etsy is the ultimate side hustle for you.

11. Secret Shopper

Help Businesses in Your Area Improve While You Make Bank

college student on phone with a milklhake in front of her at a restaurant
Whether you get free meals or fast cash, being a secret shopper is an easy and flexible side hustle.

If you’ve ever worked at a restaurant, you’ll be familiar with the idea of secret shoppers – the folks who stop by every so often and anonymously rate your performance. But have you ever wondered what it takes to sign up to be a secret shopper yourself?

For some businesses you’ll earn cash, for others (like restaurants) you may be compensated with enough money to cover your experience, like a meal for two. Not bad.

12. Microinfluencer (or Even Nanoinfluencer)

Turn Your Social Media Following Into Sponsorships + Perks

Think you need a ton of followers to be an influencer? Think again. Microinfluencers are social media personalities with 10k-100k followers – and nanoinfluencers are even more niche, clocking in at 100-10k followers each. Companies are always looking for influencers to partner with, and with smaller followings, you can expect to receive a small cash payout or product for your partnership.

Getting started is easy. First, make sure your social media account(s) are public. Next, create an email for your influencer side hustle and put it somewhere prominent, like in your bio. Then it’s time to get to work.

If you have a sizable following, you’ll probably start getting inquiries from brands in your DMs.

You can also try to attract brands you’d like to work with by tagging them in your posts – bonus points if they match the aesthetic of the brand you’re targeting – or contacting them directly with a pitch.

13. Flip/sell stuff

Turn Your Love of Thrifting into a Part-Time Job

rare pokemon cards on eBay
What’s the difference between the Pokemon cards in mom’s attic and the Pokemon cards going for hundreds of dollars? Not sure… but you could find out.

Flipping stuff is a lot like flipping houses – you buy it cheap then sell it for more. The key to this side hustle is finding the right items to resell. It helps to choose something you’re already an expert in – whether it’s Pokemon cards or vintage fashion.

Next, head out into the world – hit up thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, and anywhere else you might find your product for cheap. Pick up items you think you can sell for a higher price, and take ‘em home to list on eBay, ThredUp, or another reselling site.

14. Mock Juror

Intellectually Stimulating Opportunity to Make a Difference in Your Community

jury duty vs making money as a mock juror hotline bling meme

Nobody looks forward to jury duty – it’s an unwelcome interruption to your routine. But what if you could participate in the legal system on your own terms, and make some cash while doing it? Now that’s more like it.

When you sign up as a mock juror, you’ll review real legal cases in your area from the comfort of home. Attorneys will use the feedback you provide to strengthen their case so that they can do their best in court. There’s no long-term commitment, and you choose the cases you want to review, which makes it a win in our book.

15. Get Paid to Workout

Bribe Yourself Into Making Healthy Choices

four college students on a sunset hike together
Get active, spend time with friends, and get cash. We like the sound of that.

Making a little extra money feels good – it’s like the grownup equivalent of getting a gold star on your math test. That’s why we like programs like HealthyWage, which gives you a financial incentive to stick to the healthy habits you know you should be keeping anyway.

Here’s how it works: Sign up, set your goal, and make your wager. After that, it’s all about your hard work and dedication. As you make healthy habits a part of your routine and your weight loss journey reflects that, you’ll be earning money just by sticking to your diet and exercise routines.

16. Data Entry

AI Hasn’t Automated This Convenient WFH Job Away Just Yet

college student working a remote data entry side hustle from the steps of his college dorm
This one is easy enough to do while you binge the new season of your favorite show.

There have been lots of concerns about the impact AI will have on the job market – but we aren’t quite there yet. Data entry jobs are ones that seem easy – typing numbers into a spreadsheet (aka the titular data entry), collecting emails, organizing applications – etc.

It may not be the most glamorous job, but these positions tend to have flexible hours and be remote compatible, which is great news for busy college students looking for a side hustle.

You can find data entry jobs on traditional job search websites like ZipRecruiter or Glassdoor, or you can find freelance data entry contracts on Upwork.

Virtual personal assistant jobs are also readily available – the tasks might involve more scheduling meetings, taking minutes, and sending emails, but they require limited experience and also tend to have flexible schedules.

17. Train AI

Make the Future a Little Bit Safer From Robots That Have Possess the Ability to Reason, But Don’t Have an Inborn Ethical Code

woman with flower and A.I. robot
Help AI companies keep their creations on the right track when you start a side hustle training AI chatbots.

Speaking of AI – well, that’s all anyone’s been doing lately, isn’t it?

We’re still figuring out what it looks like to regulate artificial intelligence and mitigate ethical concerns sparked by AI taking on larger decision-making roles in some industries. But now might be a good time to mention that companies are paying average joes and janes out there to help train their chatbots to be better, more responsible tech.

Websites like RemoTask pay $15+ an hour to help shape the future of writing automation.

If you have a background in computer science, you can make even more to help AI get better at coding.

18. Audiobook Narrator

Smooth Talk Your Way to Some Side Hustle Cash

overhead photo of a brunette woman with a book and laptop open at her desk
Say goodbye to your empty wallet and hello to getting paid to read books.

Storytime is every kid’s favorite for a reason – there’s just something soothing about listening to a tale unfold out loud. If you’ve got a great voice, love doing funny impressions, or are just an avid reader, you can turn your talent into a paycheck when you audition for audiobook narrator roles.

Using a reputable platform like ACX, you can try out for roles narrating anything from children's stories to the latest nonfiction releases. All you need to do to get started is create an account and start auditioning – you can work as much or as little as you’d like.

19. House Sitting

Make Some Money or Save Major Bucks Seeing the World

college student sitting cross legged making peace signs in front of the mansion she's house sitting for free
Traveling on a college budget is much easier when accommodations are already taken care of.

If you’re searching for side hustles, this probably isn’t the only article you’ve clicked on for inspiration. And pretty much every article you’ve checked out has probably had one common denominator: house sitting.

Making some money house sitting is possible, but it helps your chances if mom or dad knows someone who’s going out of town for a while.

Alternatively, you can use house sitting as a way to see the world without breaking your already tight college budget. MindMyHouse has house sitters sit for free – but they also get to travel the globe to do it, without paying for hotels, rent, or hostels. You might have to water some plants or bring packages inside, but honestly? Worth it.

That’s it for our top side hustles for college students.

No matter what you choose, the secret to making a side hustle work is going with something that you can stick to. Like so much else, you get out more when you put more in. So pick something that you don’t mind putting effort towards!

Got another great side hustle idea we didn’t include here? Let us know in the comments or drop us a line – we’re always looking for new ways to finance our caffeine addiction 😜☕️

Jun 15, 2023