Let's face it. Going to university is expensive, inflation is breathing down your neck and student loans with interest rates of sometimes more than 6% make you think twice if you really want to join your friends for that delicious burger. On top of that, it is not easy to work a regular job while studying at the same time. I did exactly this and I cannot recommend it, especially if you are prone to burnout.
Below are 10 side hustle ideas that you can work on outside of uni if you are a student or put on top of your 9 to 5 if you would love a little extra cash. You definitely do not have to do them all!
The term "side hustle" refers less to a specific type of employment and more to the intention to improve your financial situation by earning extra income. It is therefore often used in the context of passive income or financial freedom.
Note that most of the listed side hustles are not passive income streams and need some continuous active effort from your side. Some side hustles take longer to build than others but each of them require you to do some work to actually earn the benefits. Passive income does not exist! This has something to do with the concept of leverage, but this is a great topic for another blog post! 😉
1 – Tutoring 🤓
Definitely a great way to make money as a student, but also a professional, is to put your (academic) expertise to use and become a tutor! The earning potential is highly dependent on your skill and the region you work in but in Germany for example, you can expect:
- €8 to €15 per hour – Current students and those with some teaching/tutoring experience
- €15 to €25 per hour – Graduates and more experienced tutors
- €25 to €70 per hour – Qualified teachers and highly experienced tutors
If you like the idea of tutoring, it might make sense for you to look for jobs on tutoring websites or you build your network inside of uni and the rest will take care of itself.
2 – YouTube 🎬
YouTube has an astonishingly high number of users and you can easily share your knowledge with the whole world in the form of videos . To earn money with YouTube, you need access to the YouTube Partner Programme which requires having more than 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of watch time over the last 12 months. That does not mean you cannot earn money before reaching those targets. Some companies might reach out to you and sponsor some of your videos and you can start earning a few bucks from affiliate programs (covered below).
What I personally like the most about side hustles such as YouTube is that you create the content once and it literally sits there generating "passive income" for you while you're sleeping. I constantly generate a steady income of around €50 per month just from old videos without putting any extra effort into my channel. It's not a lot but hey, it pays for some software licenses! 🙂
I am working on a few courses on how you can transform your passion into a side hustle over on my Science Academy, keep an eye open!
3 – Affiliate Programs 🤝
First of all: What is affiliate marketing?
If you've ever purchased a book on Amazon after clicking a link on someone's blog or website, the person who owns that link earned a small commission from Amazon as a result of that sale – without any additional cost to you.
The amount of money you can earn with an affiliate program really depends on the commission rate and, to some extent, also on the size of your network. The average affiliate commission is between 5 and 20%. If you're interested in getting started and don't want to go through all the hassle of setting up an account on Amazon, simply get in touch with me. Over at my Science Academy, I offer an affiliate program which pays you a commission of 15% for every course you promote. 🤑
4 – Online Courses 💻
Education is a rapidly growing business! So instead of teaching in person as a tutor, you can consider starting a side gig online. With remote tools and platforms like Udemy, Teachable or Podia (my personal favorite), it is easier than ever to start courses nowadays.
You have a ton of options for how you want to create your online course. Whether you create a text-based or video-based course, the main goal of your course should always be to provide high quality value to your customers – solve their problems!
You can sell an evergreen course, sell mini-modules independently from one another, or go for a cohort-based course. That's all up to you and how you want to teach!I am still in the process of creating courses and have created more than 30 courses and professional training sessions for companies in the past. Here is a small summary of advantages and disadvantages of creating an online course:
Pros of your own online course 👍
- High income potential. More courses equals more income!
- The income is quite "passive" once you’ve created it – build once, sell 1000x.
Cons of your own online course 👎
- No interest. No sales.
- Highly competitive space.
- Creating courses can be incredibly time consuming!
- Some course websites take insanely high commissions from your sales.
Don't have a course idea? Here's a simple framework:
- Pick one topic you could talk about for 30 minutes unprepared.
- Create daily content on your social channels sharing your knowledge.
- When people ask questions, forward them to your course landing page.
- Create posts & short videos to address common questions.
- Charge some money for your new course.
5 – Building Websites 🌎
The market is flooded with frameworks and no-code tools to build websites. The big problem is that it may take some time to get a grip on the market and find clients you can build websites for, especially when you’re just getting started.
You can also just build a website for yourself and use that as leverage for other activities you run on your website or blog:
- Publish your knowledge on your blog and offer a CTA (call-to-action) to your courses on Udemy, Coursera or any other platform
- Grow your email list and provide high-quality value to your audience for an extended period of time – at some point you can even get sponsors on board
- Sell digital or physical goods or services via e-commerce websites
- Build a community and sell memberships
- Use affiliate links in your articles
6 – Writing eBooks 📝
Ebooks are books which can be delivered or downloaded online. You can write them yourself or outsource the writing process. And you can literally write about any topic that will answer the frustrations of your customer base.
I recommend that you focus on a niche which makes it easier to establish yourself as an authority on your subject – in my case the target audience are engineers or scientists, whether studying or professional, who want to accelerate career growth and want to learn strategies, tools and principles to become better at their craft.
Just to give you a few ideas on what you can write about:
- How-to manuals
- Learning a specific software...
7 – Freelancing 🏡💻
If you have a marketable skill, working as a freelancer for yourself or a company is a really good side hustle. More and more companies are outsourcing work to freelancers, so there is definitely some demand out there!
You can literally learn a new skill in 1 to 2 weeks and market your skill on pages such as Upwork or Fiverr. You can even do freelancing next to your 9-to-5 job which would require you to pick one or two days in the week which you spend on your side hustle. For me personally, I usually do a bit of work in the evening and work on other gigs the whole weekend – that's a decision everyone has to make for themselves.
Here are some ideas of skills you can quickly learn and earn some money from:
- Graphic design
- Video editing
- Sound engineering
- Web development
8 – Podcasting 🎙️
As a podcaster myself, I can tell you one thing: Podcasting is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Making money from this type of side hustle takes some considerable amount of time.
The most critical and hardest part is to build a loyal following that is actually willing to buy what you’re selling. Even if you do not actively sell to your audience you might think about:
Affiliate marketing 🪙
I mentioned this earlier in the blog, but you can put a link of a book or other resources in the podcast description and you will earn a small commission from your affiliate partner as a result of that sale.
Sponsors typically pay between €10 to €20 for every thousand monthly downloads, also referred to as CPM (cost-per-mille). So the more popular your podcast, the more money you make – but the way to a popular podcast can be long and frustrating.
Patreon is a popular platform for podcast hosts to maintain monthly memberships. You can also accept payments through PayPal or Stripe, adding a donation button right on your website. By the way, if you'd like to support me on my journey, check out the button below 😉
If you have an audience loyal enough to wear your merch, then you can make money with branded merchandise. You can either build your own e-commerce store, or you can use services such as Spring.
9 – Newsletter 📥
A good reason to have a newsletter is that you build a separate database of users next to your other social media channels where you technically do not own the followers and they can literally disappear in the blink of an eye if you're not careful. If something like that happens to you, your database of email addresses is decoupled from your social media platform and is less likely to be taken down.
Remember that your newsletter and the way you communicate with your community should be an act of giving rather than an act of selling. You have an opportunity for them to get to know you and your brand, learn from your newsletter and "engineer their mind" (how I like to call it) in a good way.
Note that you have to deliver high value and high quality content for an extended period of time before you can ask them for a favor.
In terms of sponsorships and monetisation, the same rules that apply for podcasts apply here!
10 – Sell CAD Files ⚙️
If you already have the CAD skills, you can offer your files to someone who needs them. There are a ton of marketplaces online where you can sell 3D models, a famous one being CGTrader or Sketchfab. Anyone looking for such a service or a 3D printing file can buy the files they want, and pay directly online.
On average, a simple 3D model will cost from €10 to €100, and more complex models can cost €100 to €1000, and I have seen incredibly complex models that can cost several thousand euros.
On top of that, you could even 3D print for customers, however with a smaller profit margin. The goal would then be to find clients where your 3D design and the print (or either one of them) solves a costly problem, your customer is more inclined to pay more if you cure their pain.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick one of the side hustles and start today! Consider subscribing for more money related articles, tutorials and course updates in the future – it costs you less than a Starbucks coffee! 😉
Keep engineering your mind! ❤️