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7 Easy Ways For Graduate Or College Students To Earn Alternative Income Or Make Money Online

Why A Struggle?

I have struggled with the question, “How Do I Earn Extra Money On The Side While In School?” my entire college career. When I was an undergrad, I was taking 18 credits (with 3-4 science labs), working in a research lab, and working a part time job 20 hours a week. I only knew of one way to pay for college tuition and fees: working a second job in the evenings and weekends. So I went into sales.

I sold cellular phones for TMobile, Alltel, Sprint, and AT&T. I did this for 4 years. The timing was perfect since the market was young and new customers were not uncommon during that time (cell phone bubble). When the Motorola Razr was worth 300 dollars back in 2004. Anyways, this job was hourly + commission and I made a killing. I was making 15-18K a year working part time while in school. But jobs like this are hard to come by (I had extensive sales experience prior), and require a lot of effort. Nowadays, cell phone sales will not pay as well because instead of new contracts everyone is upgrading. There are 300 million cell phone users in the U.S. I wonder what it was in 2004?

So.. With that said. Say you are studying for the GRE or MCAT. Say you are doing an internship on the side. You’re really hurting on money. You don’t have time to fit in a second job. You didn’t qualify for work study. Or you are in graduate school and aren’t allowed to take on a second job. Or you simply just don’t have time. How can someone earn extra income on the side without having to put in 20-40 hours a week? Without having to put on a work uniform and put in the set amount of weekly hours on top of your already busy life?

1) Online Tutoring.

Yea that’s right. If you are good at something like Math or English you can get paid to be an online tutor. A lot of them will require you to pass a certification test. But if you do (and meet the requirements), you can earn money in your spare time being a teacher. That is if you like to teach and have the patience. The payout can vary, you can get $15 an hour and this can go up depending on assignments and prior experience. You can check out more here:

2) Teach A Musical Instrument.

A lot of people grew up learning/playing piano, guitar, trumpet, etc. If you have 5+ years of experience, all you really need to do is buy a book on the musical theory. I did it for guitar. So not only could I teach the technique of guitar but also the theory to support it (I had to brush up on this). Payout (on a craigslist ad and other sites) was $10-15 for a 30 minute session. You set the price. Build your client base, reputation, and watch your income increase.

3) Sell Stuff On Ebay and Craigslist.

You’ve heard it before. But I took my parents old car rims and sold them for $200 on a 7 Day Auction. They were just sitting there taking up garage space. They said I could have all the profit. We also had some old cherry furniture and dinette set sitting in our garage. Sold that for $150 in one day. More cash in my pocket. Electronic items will also sell. Did you upgrade your cell phone? Sell your old one. If you have the box and manuals then you’re golden.

Don’t want to ship something? Sell it on craigslist. Once you get used to writing sales ads, it comes pretty natural. Just make sure you have the full description and take PROFESSIONAL pictures. Yes lighting, background, and presentation will make a difference in the payout. Even having the full title makes a difference (especially when it comes to keywords).

Selling on Ebay and Craigslist is not Rocket Science, but it’s funny how people are too lazy to sell their old stuff because they think it has no value or they say they “Don’t have time.” Even old furniture has a price. Don’t just throw your futon or couch by the dumpster if you need the money. You can post a Craigslist ad or Ebay ad in under 5 minutes once you have the pictures and description. Lack the description? Well that’s what Google is for. Get out there and do your research! Get the specs. Go on Ebay and see what stuff is selling for. Look at the completed listings. I have made thousands of dollars on Ebay and Craiglist over the past 10 years. I have sold stuff from car stereos to clothes to ram air hoods for camaros. And you can too. You can sell simple stuff on Craiglist or Ebay like your student season football tickets. It doesn’t have to be some big ticket item. The possibilities are endless.

4) Get paid for your expertise or opinion.

We are all experts at something different. Say someone is an expert at waterskiing or snowboarding. Could they get paid to be an instructor? Yes. You factor in the time and the need for resources. Maybe you want to become a personal trainer because you are really into fitness (this does require certification). Maybe you speak a second language. Get paid to be an interpreter. You’re good at writing. Take it one day at a time. Write a book. Easier said than done right?

Only you truly know whether your expertise would have an immediate or more long-term payout. So you could invest your time to see payout later. Be a consultant. Teach a class. Be a coach. Be a photographer. You decide. Do you have the time to invest and what’s the risk/reward? If it isn’t feasible seek alternatives. Either way, pursue your passion and you can’t go wrong.

My Favorite OneCheck Out Focus! If you take the survey by answering some questions (you fill out your profile first), qualify, and they pick you.. You’re in luck. Can range anywhere from $50-200 bucks for only 1-2 hours of your time. They do national studies as well as local (more if you are in a big city). I got paid $75 via a Visa Rewards Gift Card immediately after doing a 1-on-1 tobacco study. Getting selected is not easy, but when you do (if you do) it’s well worth it.

I’ve also heard of people getting paid to do online surveys. Although I’ve never really dug deeper into this as a way to make income on the side, I definitely think it is possible (from what I’ve heard). The only downside is that it is annoying and tedious. Check out sites like I’ll leave it up to you to find which sites are legit. Make sure you set up a separate gmail just to send all the spam mail that you’ll get.

5) Start An Online Business.

Who has time, right? What happens is people think they have to do this all in one night. Or they need the idea NOW. If you want a successful online business it takes MONTHS. Sometimes years to even get it going. How do I know? I started my own online business while in graduate school. Back in 2009 I launched a site that sold various woodworking products. None of these products sold and that was after weeks of developing the website and paying for a dot com. People didn’t want to pay shipping. They wanted something they could see in person and buy locally.

So it seemed like I really had no marketable product or target audience, and that it was going to be another failed business. By accident, I tested the market with a sporting goods product (bean bag toss boards) and it sold the next day on Craigslist for $99. From there it led to a very successful business on the side (took one year to get established). 3 years later and it’s still going strong to this day. Sell whatever you see fit whether it is goods or services, it could even be developing your own iPhone app.

The key is consistency and to be persistent. It is wise to have an exit strategy, but don’t give up at the beginning, become impatient, or get easily discouraged. Now you may not be as fortunate as me and have the time to make products like this and sell them. In that case I’ll leave the idea up to you. You could buy products for wholesale and sell them for profit. This is not uncommon to buy in bulk (from China), add to the product features and sell it above wholesale.

I did this for cell phones and was an Ebay Powerseller for 2 years straight making 40 dollars on each phone I sold. Anything is possible when it comes to running your own business. Are you frustrated because the idea hasn’t come? That’s why you test it with a Craiglist ad. Test your market. A lot of times the idea can come by accident or when you least expect it. Forced ideas rarely work in my opinion. The best ideas are the ones that come when you least expect it.

If you do a Google search for ‘Earning Income While In College’ you will always get some list like ‘Top 8 Ways to Make Money.’ The site is littered with affiliate links and hyped up reviews. You have to wonder if the author even tried it for him or herself. Most likely they didn’t. Don’t waste your time. It is another example of a forced idea.

The best idea is your originality. That’s right. Stop giving plasma. Painting houses. Mowing Lawns. Doing Paper Routes. This is old-fashioned thinking. We live in a current day and age where you can utilize technology to your advantage. You just need to know-how. There are much better ways to make money and this brings me to my next point.

6) Get paid to be a writer.

Ever heard of Textbroker? If not, you have now. Get paid to be an author. You don’t have to be a professional writer. Typically, you can get paid close to 100 bucks or more for an 8,000 word article that you write (starting). As you build up your reputation and rating, you can get up to 5 cents per word. You pick the topic. The client sets the deadline and you have X amount of days to finish the article in your spare time.

Some people have also reported HubPages as a great way to earning money online. Every time you write an article or “hub” you can generate a large amount of traffic to your site. The more hubs and the more you grab your reader’s attention, the more hits you get. Then you can earn money through Google Adsense. HubPages has a very user friendly way of setting this up. I would look into it if you haven’t already and if you enjoy writing: HubPages Success Stories

Also see: 7 websites that pay $50 or more for guest blog posts

7) Sell An Informational Product Online.

This is by far the best way to earn a second income. The focus here is to create an informational product that truly adds value back to your readers. The extent and measure of value creation will be based on how well you truly help solve your audience’s problem or issue.

Once the value has been created, it is a win-win because you are helping others solve their problem(s) while at the same time you are receiving compensation for all your hard work.

Once you have a good informational product that is well-written and informative, this is the best bang for the buck. It’s a slow crawl at first and takes patience and persistence. It takes hard work. But with anything, hard work is a given. A lot of people want the immediate answer. They get short-up. They Google something and get caught up in some money making pyramid scheme or scam. There are thousands of money making methods online. Many methods lack the truth and best way to effectively do online marketing. Why? Because they pile on a million things that try and get you to purchase their product. Then you make some cookie-cutter website.

I know because I am an example of someone who got suckered into one of these get rich quick scams. They put you on some 14 day or 30 day plan. Deep down you know it probably won’t work. You have your doubts from the beginning. If it takes away the originality from you, your gut feeling will usually tell you it won’t work. And your gut feeling is almost always right. Without hard work and originality it most likely will not work. It produces clones of the original.

What happens is it dilutes everything. Lowers the quality. Discourages people. Who makes all the money? The person at the top. But what’s funny is the person is making money off telling you how to make money. The problem isn’t really being solved because nothing is being created that has substance or originality (there is simply promotion for more promotion). If the person selling the product actually told you useful information then I don’t think the market would be so saturated and confused. The truth is obscured.

My whole point here is what is the one TRUE method to actually earn a second income while in grad school or college? I have yet to read one or find a method that is geared towards specifically towards graduate, professional, or college students. How does one create a product to help another OVERCOME A PROBLEM? And keep the originality? And not product some cookie cutter website or product? The answer is you create your own informational product. The easiest one is an E-book.

And you don’t have to be a writer for this to work. You can pay someone on Textbroker to write it for you (this is optional). You’re busy with school. Time and money are scarce. So you can outsource your article (and add to it on your own if you want). You can invest your money in someone else. Or if you have the time, write the article yourself. Then it comes down to online Marketing Principles. You earn all your money back and more. It’s a no-brainer.

The hard part is getting the Traffic to your sales page/product and promoting your product. Once you get past this, the profits start rolling in. There really is no secret to it. It does take time and hard work, but it will be even harder if you try to learn it from scratch. In my book, I’ve done all the research for you and I’ve found out what does and doesn’t work. So you are already two steps ahead if you buy it and follow it. Why is this original? Because you pick the product or idea.

You pick the problem that you want others to overcome that is UNIQUE to your situation. Something you are passionate about. Maybe you’ll title it, “How I Found Ways in Grad School to Make Money on the Side.” Or “How A Science Blog Saved My PhD.” Or “Using A Science/College/Graduate School Blog for Online Advertisement/Promotion.” Or “How I Effectively Wrote My Thesis in 4 weeks.” Or “How to Effectively Network While in Grad School to Land Your Dream Job.” Lastly, “Top 10 Things I Learned in Grad School: For The New and Prospective Students.” Many more ideas here.

Tell people your story. Share your hardships. Your audience will listen. And you can sell your product and help others learn from your experience. Maybe it’s something you struggled with and now you look back at all you have learned and you can’t wait to share that information. But not only are you creating a product to help yourself earn income and tell your story, you are helping others along the way. So they can learn from your struggles or hardships. It’s a win-win. If you want to learn more, check out: Ebook: Second Income

I wrote it to help people like you. To give a step-by-step guide that isn’t sugar coated. That actually works and isn’t all hype. The best part: IT’S FREE.

Ultimately the idea is up to you. The only thing right now holding you back is yourself. If you want to go and work the traditional ‘second’ job to earn income be my guest. But the whole point of this blog is to make you aware of easier and more feasible options while you are enrolled in graduate or professional school. #1-6 all have the potential to work. I know because I’ve done it the past 10 years of my life. But the best bang for the buck while in college/grad school in my experience is #7. Dig deeper and you will not be disappointed.

Still Skeptical?

Check out my interview on I’ve Tried That, where I answer a very long series of in-person, in-depth questions.

Other Suggestions

Make money online by reviewing websites and mobile apps

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  1. You were sucked into a get-rich-quick scam? Would you care to share your experience on I’ve Tried That?

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  4. Bldiener says:

    Textbroker is a great starting point for writing online, I wrote for them and others for a while, and recently started my own company called College Copywriters which hires college students as freelance writers for blog post and articles. Most of our students make around $15 an hour which is great pay for any college student!

  5. I can understand how important is earning money while studying. When i was studying in abroad i used to do many things which helped me our for earning some money. I have written many articles, created websites and even go for teaching students for earning money and that money helped me a lot.

  6. A second (especially passive) income never hurts! What people also don’t realize is that once you graduate it still continues (hopefully). So in a sense you are creating an income that never ends. Chances are when you start your first job out of school you’ll be too busy to take on something like this from scratch. If you already have a head start, it is much easier to just keep the ball rolling.

  7. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. It is important and very useful, and the articles are nice to share everyone.

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