Extra Income and Business Ideas for College Students

It’s never too early to start thinking about earning extra income. A good job is hard to find in this economy, so it’s not a bad idea to embrace the concept of building multiple income streams as a career. Here are 7 extra income ideas geared toward college students and recent graduates.

Photo by Peter Gene via Flickr

1. Start A Website

The Internet is still expanding and there are opportunities everywhere. You could start a website with little or no investment, and the site could be as simple as a blog such as this one, or a niche affiliate site. But don’t stop there because your site could be the next game changer like Google, Yahoo!, or Facebook were.

How much money you make depends on what you’re willing to put in, but know that many people are making full-time income online.

2. Tutoring

If you’re academically capable, you could turn your intellectual asset into cash. Offer to tutor other students and you could be making nice income every week.

If you don’t want to tutor face-to-face, you could even become an online tutor.

3. Giveaway Hunting

There are tons of giveaways being offered on the Internet. Track these giveaways and freebies using services like Twitaway and Google Alerts.

Keep stuff that you like and sell the rest on Craigslist or eBay.

4. Virtual Assistant

Search sites such as Amazon Mechanical Turk and Elance for tasks and projects that you can complete right from your dorm room. These do not pay much, but you’ll gain valuable skills and be able to enhance your portfolio in the process.

5. Sell Class Notes

If you’re a good note taker, you could make your notes available for a fee. Hook up with a few friends to expand your line up and earn even more.

Combine this with the web site idea and start and online store for class notes.

6. Sell Used Textbooks

Done with the books? The best thing you could do is to sell your used textbooks right away. New editions are printed all the time and textbooks lose their value quickly. If you sell them quickly, you’re likely to recoup a larger portion of what you’ve paid.

7. Cleaning Service

Don’t like any of the ideas above? Good old grunt work could earn you money. Contact fraternities and sororities to see if they want to use your service. If each of the brothers and sisters chip in $5 apiece, it could translate to a decent income for a few hours worth of work.

The key ingredient to making money and building successful side business is to provide something of value to other people. This could be in the form of information, products, or services. As long as you can do this, making money should not be too hard.

Reviewed and updated April 23, 2011.

About the Author

By , on Apr 23, 2011
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

Leave Your Comment (11 Comments)

  1. Michael says:

    I used to try and make my money online through sites like ehow. You could write articles and then get paid from the one ads when people viewed your article.

    One of my favorite sites though is cashcrate its a site to fulfill tasks and earn money. By either taking daily surveys or signing up for company’s newsletters or so forth. Its all free and easy to earn money o usually make about 80-100 a month. It won’t make you a millionaire but its a nice supplemental income for anyone. The best part is you can do it straight from ur phone if you have a smartphone. Whenever Im watching tv, during comials, standing in line or whatever i jump on my phone and do a survey or two. I only take part in the site a few times a week if ur more into it you can pull 200 a month.

  2. Calvin Mackey says:

    There are programs that student can create an income. They can save student money on cell phone bills. By providing a product that they would not need a contract, no credit check, and unlimited text and web/voice. and international at a low cost.

  3. Courtenay says:

    Definitely some good ideas here.

    I know a lot of students are business minded and think beyond college so another option is Direct Marketing. You are in business for yourself, can start it in your spare time and, potentially, earn a very good income (& have a residual income stream for the future).

    Knowing how health conscious and active students are, a great choice for starting a business is Shaklee. I’ve got a new article on my blog with 3 reasons why it is a good business idea specifically for college students:




  4. Horlic says:

    Sell class notes at website? This is an good idea! unfortunately, graduated for long long time..

  5. Pinyo says:

    @JC – It’s one in a million, but I am not discouraging anyone who want to try — but a simple blog would do the job just fine for most people.

  6. JC says:

    I agree with Craig. When you say that a site can be a game changer like Facebook or Google, it really takes a lot of time to make these sites. You also need to be programming savvy in terms of php, sql, ajax, and whatnot. A blog would be the easier choice.

  7. MoneyEnergy says:

    While in undergrad years, I usually just held one part-time job at a time – first year I worked 27 hours a week in a credit agency; I used temp agencies; worked in plain old customer service; got a slightly more decent job at a marketing firm, then went into teaching assistance work and I’ve been doing academic stuff ever since. I’ve expanded into investment and online income, but always thinking of a really sustainable business I could set up online. I wish I had started earlier on earning more creative income – I just didn’t have the belief set in place that you need to get that sort of thing going.

  8. craig says:

    I recently started up a personal movie blog and wish I had started this a few years back when I was in college. It would have been fun, great experience, resume builder, and could have hopefully made some money. I don’t think college students should make a website thinking they are creating the next Facebook. But any type of site that they could make ad sales or affiliate sales could be nice side income.

  9. Pinyo says:

    @My Life ROI – Painting is a great idea. I have not thought of that because I went to school in the NE where it’s cold most of the time.

    @The Weakonomist – I suggest talking to paidtwice at http://www.paidtwice.com regarding tutoring.

  10. I’m looking at getting into tutoring myself. There are fewer things (that pay) that look as good on a resume as tutoring.

    Oh wait, academically capable. That’s not me.

  11. My Life ROI says:

    I earned a TON of money in college by painting houses. The work can be pretty hard and tiring, but if you are a good salesman you can rake in the cash.

    I made enough so that on top of my scholarships and grants I graduated debt free with a decent savings on top of that.

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