If you’re a student, chances are you could use a little extra cash. While some students manage to go to school while holding down full-time jobs, the reality is that most high school and college-aged students have to devote most of their time to studying.
As such, starting a side hustle is one of the best ways to earn an income while still focusing on your education.
But how can you start a side hustle? Getting any new venture off the ground can feel daunting, and with so many potential side hustle options out there, it can get overwhelming.
To help you figure things out, this article is a helpful guide to starting a side hustle as a student.
TL;DR: How can I start a side hustle as a student?
- To find the right side hustle, consider your skills and abilities and how much time you can realistically commit to a side gig each week.
- Once you’ve decided on your side hustle, start getting the word out about your business by posting on social media platforms and building a portfolio of satisfied clients.
Find the Right Side Hustle for You
There are lots of reasons why people may want to start a side hustle — from supplementing their income to gaining experience in a new field or just having fun.
It goes without saying that what works for one person may not work for another. This is true in all aspects of life, and side hustles are no exception. As such, it’s super important to spend some time thinking about the right side hustle for you.
For example, if you’re a student-athlete and have regular practice every day after school, having a side hustle that requires you to work during the after-school hours obviously won’t work.
As such, the time commitment is one of the most important considerations, i.e., how much time you can realistically put into a side hustle each week and during which hours.
Another equally important consideration is your personal preferences, skills, and abilities.
An easy way to narrow your options is to start by thinking about what you don’t like. For example, if you can’t stand being around children, then babysitting is probably not your best choice.
Once you’ve identified what won’t work for you, you can start thinking about what will.
Are you an AP literature student who lives for books? You can turn that into a side hustle by tutoring English to other students. Are you an athlete who regularly crushes workouts at the gym? You could offer your services as a workout trainer, mover, or helping with odd jobs.
No matter your time restrictions or abilities, there’s a great side hustle out there for you. In addition to academic tutoring and odd jobs, some other popular options include:
- Pet-sitting and/or house-sitting
- Participating in online surveys
- Selling your artwork or hand-made crafts
- Starting an online business
- Teaching ESL online
- Creating your own free website selling services
If you’re a teenager (under the age of 20), you can check out my comprehensive guide for a full list of the best side hustles for teenagers.
Build Your Audience
Once you’ve chosen a side hustle, it’s time to find your clients. Building an audience isn’t always easy, particularly for teenagers who are competing with older, more experienced professionals in the side gig marketplace.
However, don’t give up hope: there are tons of people looking to hire high school and college students for part-time gigs. The trick is simply to find them.
If your side hustle needs to be done in person (that is, if it’s something like babysitting or moving furniture that obviously can’t be done remotely), then the best way to find customers is by posting on social media.
The community platform Nextdoor is a fantastic place to start, as are local Facebook groups and pages.
Make sure you specify who you are, what kind of service you’re offering, and what your qualifications are. People like to have a good idea of the kind of person they will be working with before they reach out. The more relevant information you can offer, the more likely you are to get responses.
If your side hustle is school-related (such as tutoring), you can also ask the administration if it’s okay to put up flyers on school bulletin boards advertising your services. Many schools also have social media platforms for student tutors to connect with other students who need help, and this is a great resource for you to look into.
If your side hustle involves selling artwork or other products online, make sure to market your website or online store through your personal social media accounts.
Once you’ve found your first client, make sure you ask them for their permission to give their name to other potential clients as a reference.
Positive reviews from former clients are crucial to building a good reputation and expanding your side hustle, which brings us to the next point…
Be Professional (Always!)
Having a professional attitude and taking your side hustle seriously is absolutely critical to your success. But what does this mean exactly?
- Show up on time, every time. Sure, life happens, and everyone is late once or twice. But showing up on time for jobs and gigs shows your clients that you respect them and value their time. Moreover, it makes it much more likely that they’ll recommend you to other customers in the future.
- Be prepared and don’t do sloppy work. If your side hustle is gardening, don’t show up and then tell your client that you forgot your gloves and have to run home to get them. If you’re a tutor, make sure you’ve done the relevant prep work to be ready for your students when they arrive. In other words, take your side hustle seriously.
- The customer is always right… except when they’re not. Remember that your clients are paying you to do your best work. Listen to their expectations carefully and don’t be overly argumentative. With that said, make sure you understand what your client wants before you take on the job and be on the lookout for red flags. If things aren’t going well, you’re free to respectfully quit and walk away.
- Value your own time and labor. Don’t undersell yourself or charge too little just to get customers. Charging what you’re worth is a sign of self-respect and shows your clients that you know your worth and take yourself seriously.
- Go the extra mile. People love unexpected little gestures and are more likely to recommend you if you surprise them with a thank-you note (or email). Thank them for their business and politely ask that they recommend you to their friends in the future.
Professionalism takes time and effort to develop, but it’s a skill that will serve you well throughout your lifetime.
Pro Tip: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Once you’ve found the right side hustle and started working, it’s tempting to go all in and try to earn tons of money as quickly as possible. However, this is generally not a good idea.
As a student, you already have a lot on your plate, with research showing that high school-aged students are busier and more stressed out than ever before.
Adding a side hustle into the mix is doable, but only if you budget your time and are careful to avoid burnout.
Everyone needs time to sleep, socialize, and just relax. No side gig is worth sacrificing your physical and mental health.
In addition to the health risks and potential for burnout, taking on more work than you can realistically handle is a recipe for producing shoddy work that leaves both you and your clients unhappy.
To avoid this, start out slowly. Take on only a few gigs or clients, and see what you can handle. If things are going well and you feel ready for more, you can always scale up in the future.
The Bottom Line: Starting a Side Hustle as a Student in 2023?
As a student thinking about how to start a side hustle, the two most important factors to consider are time and ability: what you have time for (be realistic) and what you’re good at.
Once you’ve figured out these factors, it’s just a matter of advertising your services on the right platforms and building up your reputation.
In this way, a side hustle is not only a good way to earn a little extra cash but also to make connections and develop skills that can benefit you in the future.
- Students stressed out and busy statistics – https://www.q13fox.com/news/teens-these-days-may-be-busier-than-ever-and-its-stressing-them-out
- 28 percent of 18 to 26 year olds have a side hustle – https://www.cxcglobal.com/how-many-people-have-side-hustles