College is expensive, and for those of us planning to apply to school soon, we have a lot of saving up to do and not a lot of time to do it. With long school hours, sports practices, rehearsals and other extracurricular activities, working a full-time job isn’t possible. But don’t worry; there are some school-hour friendly ways to turn a profit for the savvy pre-collegiette. Check out a few of our ideas to earn some cash around your busy schedule!
1. For the DIY lover: Sell your own crafts
Put your skills to use! Whether you’re particularly good at knitting, origami, painting or drawing, virtually anything you make can be sold online. Peruse your local craft store—or, better yet, thrift store—for small trinkets or ornaments that you can refurbish or incorporate into art or jewelry. Take your origami talents to the next level by making cute earrings to sell. Try knitting a beanie or a scarf. Make a few bars of pretty homemade hand soap, or maybe even try your hand at some DIY fashion items.
If you want to look extra professional when you sell your crafts, design a logo on Inkscape (it’s like Adobe InDesign or Photoshop, but easier to use!) and slap a label on whatever you choose to make. Tie a ribbon around it for good measure. As long as your craft looks cute and professional, it’s almost guaranteed that someone will want to buy it!
2. For the social (media) butterfly: Get sponsored on Twitter or YouTube
Have a million followers on Twitter? Got a knack for shooting snarky, viral videos? Why not try making money off of them?
For example, a lot of makeup companies will pay popular YouTubers to review their products in “vlogs.” So if you already have a channel with a steady subscriber base, consider leaving contact information for business inquiries on your homepage.
Another way to make money from YouTube is to become a partner through their Partner Program. Becoming a YouTube partner requires having a minimum of 100 subscribers and adhering to the YouTube Community Guidelines, but it comes with a lot of perks, including getting free specialized online classes through Creator Academy and greater freedom in customizing your homepage and brand. The best part? YouTube partners have the option to enable their accounts for monetization. Once the account is enabled, a five- to 10-second advertisement will play at the beginning of all your videos, and you’ll receive a small revenue cut for every 1,000 views.
Similarly, companies will often pay prominent Twitter users to promote their content and products. If you have an account with a healthy following numbering in the thousands, take advantage of it! The easiest way to get started is to sign up for services such as the ChaCha Affiliate Program. These companies connect savvy Twitter users with corporations and celebrities that want social media advertising. Just tweet the text or product links that they send you, and you’ll receive a portion of the ad revenue!
3. For the A+ student: Tutor
If you’re doing well in school and love teaching others, why not put your skills to good use tutoring the neighborhood kids?
Make a few simple posters listing your qualifications, availability and contact information, and put them up at your local library and coffee shops. Hand them out to your relatives and neighbors. Some teachers might even be willing to recommend your services to students who might be struggling in their classes, so definitely chat up your old teachers. Remember to keep your resumé on hand when you start getting calls!
Nearly any skill or passion you have is marketable. You can become the local music tutor if you’re a musician. If you’re good at soccer, try organizing a few younger kids into a team and coach them in the afternoons.
The great thing about tutoring is that the hours tend to be pretty flexible and you’ll be able to meet the kids right at your local library after school or on the weekends. Virginia, a freshman at Columbia University, was able to pay for a portion of her college tuition by tutoring the children of family friends through the school year. “Because you’re only meeting with the student once or twice a week at most, I found that parents were willing to pay much more than just minimum wage,” she says. “I make 20 dollars an hour, which doesn’t seem like much for one session, but it adds up quickly with multiple tutees.”
4. For the artist: Become a freelance graphic designer
The word “graphic designer” might sound a bit scary and professional, but in reality it’s an easy work-from-home job with flexible hours. As it turns out, there are a remarkable number of small startups and local businesses looking for someone with a good aesthetic sense to create logos, flyers, posters and other visuals for their brands.
Jordan, a high school senior at Phillips Academy, decided to pursue this path after creating a website for his sister’s bakery. According to him, getting started is easy as long as you have an existing body of work you can shape into a portfolio. It doesn’t have to be actual commissioned work, and it can range from posters to cool fonts to website or print layouts you’ve made.
“For the last few years, I’ve been making posters for events at school, designing websites and branding and creating logos for most of the clubs I’m in. So when I needed funding to pursue more deeply my passion for social justice-based projects, starting a small branding and design studio just seemed like the natural way to go,” Jordan says. “Right now I’m branding my sister’s bakery (ashleyjeannes.com) and my friend’s NGO, and I’m compiling it all onto my online portfolio.”
After setting up a website, the easiest way to get hired is to promote your business through word of mouth and Facebook ads, as both are relatively cheap or free. Taking the initiative and reaching out to startups on your own is also a great way to go.
“I’m going to continue reaching out to people who are starting out, or organizations and businesses who are in dire need of a brand, and see if they’re interested,” Jordan says. “Even if I contact 20 people and only one person is interested, that’s a client.”
5. For the busybody: Do some chores
If traditional lawn-mowing, tree-trimming or dog-walking gigs don’t work for you, don’t worry! We have some ideas that could apply elsewhere.
Have a car? Neighborhood parents are often desperate for a little extra help getting their kids to soccer practice and violin lessons on busy afternoons. If you have a license and room in your car, why not offer to run a carpool from the middle school to the soccer field? You can charge a fixed price (plus gas, of course) for doing this a few times a week.
Great at saving a few dollars at the grocery store? Run a few errands or go grocery shopping for an elderly (or just busy) neighbor. This requires more responsibility because the people you shop for will have to trust you with a credit card or cash when you run to the store, so make sure you keep all of the receipts in one place.
There are always school-hour friendly ways to make money if you’re creative enough to capitalize on your skills. The Internet has made it increasingly easy to connect with potential customers from the comfort of your home or while you’re on the go, so working a nine-to-five gig is no longer the only way to save up for college. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and turn your skills and passion into a profitable venture!