Back when I was an undergrad, I had NO IDEA what a side hustle was. But now we are living in this amazing time where you can create your own part-time jobs that work around your schedule. Let’s talk about some of the ideal side gigs for university students. I’ll start by talking about my own side hustles, and go on to highlight some others that I think would be great for students!
My Side Hustles
Rover Pet Care
I became a dog sitter in July 2021 and I love it so much! I provide dog boarding and daycare services in my home, and you can also sign up to walk dogs, to play with dogs, or look after cats. You can also house and pet sit, which allows you to stay in the pet owner’s house while you watch their pet.
I have a couple of dogs that I look after during the week while their owners are at work, and I board dogs occasionally when their owners are out of town. Because I already have a dog, the time commitment is minimal, and I enjoy it. Because my classes and work are all from home, I just build my schedule around meetings and dog walks!
I have always enjoyed looking after my friends’ dogs, but this way I get paid for it! You can sign up at Rover.com (if you use this link, I get a referral fee). You just have to do a criminal record check, which costs $20, but in my experience, I made that back quickly.
The amount of money you can make really depends on how often you take on pets, and what services you provide, but if you are in a city you can generate a consistent income.
In terms of risks, you are working with pets, so there are some challenges. My own dog had to spend one night on the kitchen counter because I took on a big puppy that was very energetic and didn’t understand that she didn’t want to play, but we sorted it out and now I don’t take on puppies very often.
If you’re bringing your dogs into your home, make sure it’s okay with your family or landlord. I am grateful to be in a pet-friendly building, and I look after a lot of the neighbours’ dogs when they are away, so nobody seems to mind.
I also just listened to this podcast episode from the Side-Hustle School about a woman who travels by booking Rover house & pet-sitting gigs in her destination cities. So she gets paid for her vacations AND gets free accommodation, and just has to look after dogs and house-sit.
I started an Etsy store in 2021 and it has been fun! I make adult colouring pages. I draw them by hand and then scan them to make PDF colouring pages to print at home. I also created a vision-boarding guide, which has been slightly more successful than my colouring pages.
If you have a creative passion, you can definitely set up an Etsy store. But make sure you have a look at products similar to yours to see what others are charging, and determine whether that’s worth it for you. Also, Etsy takes fees from each listing and sale, so make sure you familiarize yourself with those.
You also need to think about how you’ll market your products, no matter what they are. Although a few exceptional folks get all the traffic they need through the Etsy platform, that may not be enough. Many people have additional websites, blogs, or social media accounts to sell their Etsy products. I created an Instagram account for my colouring pages, and it has actually been a lot of fun connecting to other artists that way.
Online University Advisor
I created ChooseYourUni.ca in 2021 after thinking about the idea for ages. I host webinars and online courses, as well as publishing this blog and posting on social, all with a goal of helping current and soon-to-be university students.
You can read more about why I started this here, but basically I know a lot about university and thought it would be helpful to share what I’ve learned.
I earn money when students sign up for my webinars and online courses. My goal has been to keep everything affordable for students, but to be compensated for the work I put in.
What skills or knowledge do you have that not everybody does? Is there something you could help people with? You may be able to build an online course or do some online coaching around that topic!
I started the ChooseYourUni blog almost a year ago, and up to this point I have not actually monetized it. But that’s a choice I made – it is definitely possible to monetize a blog! You can do advertising or affiliate marketing.
You can add ads to your blog, and then you get paid from the advertising companies when people view your ads.
Affiliate marketing is basically when you promote a product or service and receive a commission. When you have a blog or website, you can sign up for different affiliate programs depending on the type of products or services you want to promote. There are some, like being an Amazon affiliate, that will earn you a small commission for a broad range and number of products. You could also arrange a very specific affiliate program with a partner and get a larger commission. It really varies depending on the agreement.
Since I worked full-time before I went back to uni to do my PhD, I had a number of connections in my industry. They are mostly familiar with my expertise and will reach out when they need someone to work on a project, and I can also reach out to them to see if they have any work.
This is kind of like starting an online course – think about what skills you have that might be in-demand, and then work through your network to see if there is anyone who needs that work.
Side Hustle Ideas
These are side hustles that seem well-suited to university students. I’ve thought about doing a few of these, and I think that university students are likely to have the skills needed for some of these.
Are you the one your friends turn to for help crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s in their papers? If so, then proofreading may be a good choice for you. You can set yourself up on a number of freelancing websites (like Fiverr) to find paying clients. Until you get some good reviews, you may have to charge less. But once you have had a few happy clients, you can increase your prices. There are also a number of online courses and resources to help you learn how to do this.
Copywriting is about writing text for websites or other forms of communication. If you have some knowledge of marketing and sales as well as communication, this could be a good side gig for you! As with proofreading, there are a number of online courses and certifications you could take, and then you can become a freelancer, either through your existing connections or through a freelancing website.
If you made it to university, you were probably pretty good in a few high school subjects, right? Why not tutor high school students or even early-year university students?
You can sign up with a tutoring agency, but of course they will take a cut of your earnings. You could also work through your networks! Get in touch with your high school teachers to see if they can help promote you, or reach out to younger students you know. Have a look at how much other tutors are charging – you can actually charge quite a bit!
Social Media Manager
If you grew up with social media, you have a gift that the generation before you may not have. I’ll speak for myself – trying to figure out how to use social for ChooseYourUni was a huge learning curve for me, and I’m still not getting A+ grades. But you probably already know more than me! And I know I am not the only one who feels like this.
If you have skills in design, communication, and marketing, you could manage an organization’s social media for them. You can organize photos, create graphics, and plan a social strategy with them. Reach out to smaller organizations, post your offer on a freelancing site, and look for part-time job postings.
If you can type really fast, you can be paid to transcribe audio recordings. This work can be done through a transcription agency or on a freelancing site. Basically, you would receive an audio file and you would have to type up what’s in it.
What Should You Look for in a Student Side Hustle?
The criteria for your side hustle will be up to you. One of the benefits of these types of side gigs is that they are flexible, and you can do a lot of them in your spare time, between all your other commitments. When you have limited time, it might be ideal to find something that pays the most in the least amount of time.
You may also want to consider how the side hustle will contribute to your resume and future employability. Dog sitting may be helpful for illustrating your transferable skills, like making a commitment and showing up, if you have very little other work experience. However, something with more applicable skills may be more helpful. For example, freelancing work shows your ability to work independently and manage a project, or managing an Etsy store can help you gain experience in marketing and customer service.
There are loads of side hustle and freelancing opportunities for students that I haven’t listed here. You can turn all sorts of skills into freelancing gigs: from drawing and design to programming and writing. Think about what you are good at, and what you can help people with.
You may also be interested in these posts on student work experience and career exploration: