5 Part-Time Business Ideas for College Students

September 18, 2013

college student business ideasYou’re a college student, and money is tight, so how do you earn the money that you need in the very limited amount of time you have available? While it’s common to think about getting a part-time job, having a part-time business can actually work better for you as a college student, both in regard to money and time.

This is especially true if you have certain skills that are in demand. You can earn a lot more than minimum wage, which means that you will have to work fewer hours in order to make the kind of money that you need. Here are some part-time business ideas that may work well if you’re a college student.

1. Social Media Management

Since millions of businesses are now trying to attract business on the Internet through the social media, there is a rising demand for social media managers. Since the social media has only been around for a few years, just about any skill that you have in this area can qualify you to work in this capacity.

If you have a lot of experience with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any one of a number of other social media sites, you may qualify as a social media manager. In fact, as a college student you are probably more fluent in the various social media than most business owners. Since the social media has only been around for a few years, you’re probably far more adept with it than most business owners over age 30 are.

You can work as a social media manager as a regular job, but it is more likely that you can start a business by attracting several clients. With your social media skills, you can manage the social media operations of several businesses at once. It’s mostly a matter of getting the word out on the social media to potential customers of those clients – and with your social media skills, you should be able to do that.

Start with one client, learn specifically what it is they want done, use your own knowledge of the social media to make suggestions as to what else they can do, and then have at it. Once you have one client, it’s just a matter of adding more – one at a time.

2. Freelance Writing

The Internet is a rich opportunity for freelance writers. You can write for blogs in any subject area that you’re interested in. But there are opportunities than blogs on the web. You may also be able to write web articles for various businesses, weekly or monthly newsletters, and even articles for reference sites.

Start by doing some free articles on three or four sites. Once you do, you’ll have a “portfolio” of published material. You can use that small portfolio to offer your services to potential paying clients. Though you may get only a few dollars per article when you start out, your compensation rate will climb steadily as you build a network of clients.

3. Light Hauling or Moving

Why would you start a business doing this when there are moving companies out there already doing it? People need light hauling and moving for all kinds of reasons that fall short of the need to pay for a full service moving company. Sometimes they just want junk hauled out of their garage or basement, other times they have an adult child who is moving out of their home, and sometimes all they need is to have furniture moved from the second floor down to the basement.

There are a lot of households that don’t have anyone living there who can do any kind of heavy lifting. They may also lack the resources to pay for an established moving company. That’s where you come in.

You can advertise your services on Craigslist.com (for free), through word-of-mouth, neighborhood flyers, or flyers placed in public venues, such as grocery stores, Laundromats and churches. And once you get a few customers, you will likely begin getting referrals that will keep you busy on a regular basis.

It will help if you have the availability of a van or a light pickup truck – you don’t have to own one, but you should know where to get one if you need to. Sometimes you don’t even need a vehicle – the customer may only need to move furniture from one room in the house to another. You won’t be able to charge anything close to the rates the professional moving companies do, but that will be your “in.” People will come to you precisely because you are cheaper.

And you’ll still make a lot more than you would in a part-time job at minimum wage.

4. Tutoring

Since you are in college, you are already in the perfect location to be a tutor. If you have a subject or two that you are really good in, you can offer your services as a tutor in those subjects to other students who don’t share that strength.

Again, you can advertise on Craigslist, in local venues, and around the campus. And if there any high schools in the immediate area, you can also provide them with a flyer offering your services to the students of those schools. You can probably get at least $30 an hour as a tutor, which is about four times minimum wage.

5. Photography

Are you good at photography? Professional photographers are expensive, and if you can do good work at much lower fees, you may be able start your own side business. Digital photography, along with use of the Internet, make this easier to do than ever.

It may be difficult to get a steady clientele in the way you would with the business ideas above, but you’ll almost certainly get more money per customer. We just paid over $400 for senior photos for our daughter – if you could put together a similar package for half as much, that would still be a substantial income. You only need a few customers per month, and you would have as much money as you would need.

One caveat here: you can’t be “okay” as a photographer – you have to be pretty good. Even if you’re charging a much lower rate than professional photographers, it’s important to realize that you are capturing special moments. People will be less forgiving if you are unable to do this in a professional way. Still, if you have that ability, this can be one of most lucrative part-time businesses a college student could have.

If you are a college student, have you tried any of the business ideas above? Do you know of others that can also work? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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