9 Side Hustle Ideas for University Students Strapped for Time

There’s nothing more valuable than what you can learn running your own business—from finding your own clients to delivering the work, it will set you up for a future better than what any internship can offer. 

Even if you’re strapped for time, having to juggle between classes, assignments, and your social life, there are plenty of opportunities for you to build a business that can work around your schedule.

For literature students: Writing

As long as humans are still reading, the world will still need writers. If you have an exemplary understanding of language, becoming a writer is an excellent choice as there are no start-up costs. Plus, you also get to write and learn about some unique and interesting topics.

While experienced freelance writers usually get paid a decent amount of money for their work, the hourly rate for novice writers may be lower. But the more experience you get, the more you’ll be able to expand your portfolio, which will allow you to go for the higher-paying jobs. If this sounds like your cup of tea, there are always plenty of job postings from people and companies who need quality content on websites like Fiverr and Upwork

Before you dive in, take a moment to consider what kind of writers are in-demand and your own skill set. This requires a bit of qualitative research but is worth it because you’ll be able to earn more with less work. If you’re technically inclined or if you’re studying a technical course then you may be able to earn more with technical writing. The same can be said for the areas of finance and online business. There’s more money to be made by the companies so they pay a premium for writers. 

For design students: Graphic design

There is a huge amount of demand right now for inexpensive graphic design services that can meet a minimum standard of quality. Brands are creating more content than ever, and, instead of using stock photos for their featured images or in-content images, they want to stand out by using custom graphics. 

The great thing about this side hustle is that you can get a few clients on a monthly retainer for $300 – $500. You may only create 2 designs a week for each client which will only require a few hours a week. With four clients, you can make up to $2,000 per month on the low end. A brand named Design Pickle used this exact same business model to grow to over a million dollars a year in revenue. 

If the work becomes too much for you then you can outsource some of the design responsibilities or use tools that give you templates. For example, you can use Canva or Venngage to create great-looking infographics in a few minutes. 

For language students: Transcription, subtitling and captioning

Transcriptionists are hired to turn all kinds of audio and video into written text for various purposes, whereas every channel on TV needs people to provide subtitles and captions for most of their content. Plus, if you are bilingual, you’ll be in high demand for translating foreign movies and shows into English and vice versa. 

Similar to data entry jobs, transcription, subtitling, and captioning may not sound like the most exciting business ideas, but there are almost no start-up costs and flexible work hours, which means you can pretty much start work immediately. There are a wide variety of companies looking to fill these freelance positions temporarily, as well as some who need people in a permanent part-time position. 

For marketing students: Digital marketing

Marketing has been digital now for a long time, and it’s the job of digital marketers and campaign managers to consistently provide their clients with the best possible results.

If you don’t have much experience in this field, you can start your new business by researching all of the freely available resources online and then experimenting with what you’ve learned. 

Digital marketers will need to have a deep understanding of everything online, such as advertising, landing pages, calls-to-action, SEO, and all aspects of advertising campaigns on social media. As soon as you’re confident with all of this, you can start by cold-calling some local businesses and asking them if they’re interested in getting more leads through channels such as social media ads or Google Ads

For all students: Tech service support

Tech support isn’t all that it seems like on TV, sitting in a cubicle, and answering boring calls day and night. In fact, there’s a lot of ways that you can help less technical people. 

If you’re a technical person with a flair for repairing electronics, creating tech service support can be an excellent way to earn a little extra summer cash. Alternatively, if you have experience with fixing computer hardware, you might decide to get into tech support as more of a seasonal business project. Once you’ve decided your angle, start by printing some business cards, putting up flyers in key areas, as well as advertising online or in local print media. 

Adrian Pollard, the Chief Product Officer at bitHolla says, “When it comes to crypto and blockchain businesses, such as crypto exchanges, a lot of work gets put into the customer support side — not to mention all the communication, promotion and education. A little crypto and blockchain knowledge goes a long long way and often leads to more comprehensive jobs.”

Don’t forget that it’s people from older generations who will usually need support with new technology like computers, smartphones, and other types of appliances, which means that they’ll usually be the source of the majority of your work. So, with that in mind, make sure to tell all of your friends and relatives about your new business venture, because word of mouth is often still the best way to reach senior citizens. 

For electronics students: Device repairs

Phone repair services are always constantly in high demand. That’s because most people would much rather pay to have their cracked screen repaired or their low-charging battery replaced instead of outlying hundreds of dollars for a new phone. 

Most people wouldn’t have the patience to go days or weeks without their phone if other repairers send it away for repair, so as long as you provide same-day or next-day service, this is one business idea with a huge market potential. You can even take your little mobile phone repair kit directly to your client’s office or home, so you can fix their broken mobile devices while they carry on with their day. 

For all students: Cleaning services

Many people would much rather pay a reasonable amount of money to have their homes or offices cleaned for them, so if you have the skills and don’t mind the work, this could be the hustle for you. The hourly rates for professional cleaning services can translate into quite respectable earnings, especially after you have a long list of repeat clients. 

Starting your own cleaning service means you can help families in your neighborhood clean out their junk in their homes, and you’ll have pretty flexible working hours in which you can fit around your class schedule. If you don’t have the capital to spend on the expensive start-up costs, you could start out by asking clients to provide cleaning supplies for a reduced price. 

For high-achievers: Tutoring

Tutoring has been around ever since there were students. So, if you have expert knowledge and understanding of a specific academic subject or topic, why not make some extra money while helping out a fellow student? By focusing around exam time, you can offer evening sessions so that you have a flexible schedule for you and your students. It really is a win-win situation.

There are many online platforms that can help you start your tutoring business. Once you build an online following, you can even host a webinar to maximize your reach and scale beyond a classroom. Don’t forget to encourage students that you are tutoring to refer you to their friends, because that’s the best way to increase demand for your tutoring services. As long as you provide an excellent service, it won’t take long for you to have a steady flow of returning students, which could then turn into quite a profitable business. 

For web design students: Freelance web development

Web developers have incredibly valuable skills for many, which is why they are always in extremely high demand. Web designers who know what they are doing could very easily set up their business of designing and creating websites for both individual and commercial clients. 

If you don’t have any of these skills or experience, you can access free or relatively cheap programs for online education. In as little as a month or two, you should be able to learn how to build high-quality websites. Then, as soon as you have a basic understanding of coding languages like HTML, CSS, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript, you can begin searching for any freelance projects for building websites and start creating your portfolio. 

Final thoughts

Creating your own side hustle while you’re in university is the best way to utilize your spare time to make some extra money while still having a well-balanced life. While some of these business ideas obviously have more potential to earn big money than the others, all of them have minimal start-up costs, with low barriers at entry-level, and plenty of flexibility to work around your studies. Just remember that business success starts with action.

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