I’ll start with the first freelance gig I ever got: writing. If you know how to write, there are all kinds of opportunities for you to earn money online. You could write articles like this one, but you could also write scripts for videos or even material for web pages.
Here’s a real-world example: Thomas Frank (who got his start by building this very blog as a college student) was hired to write the script for this video on the How to Adult channel:
What it pays:
- You can easily charge $50 for a 1,500-word article when you’re starting out.
- More experienced writers can charge $150 (or more) for a 1,500-word article.
How to get the job:
- Start your own blog and write articles for it. You’ll get tons of writing experience, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to publish what you write. You can use our comprehensive website building guide to get started – once you’ve built a site, it’s easy to add a blog in seconds.
- Then, use those articles to put together a portfolio. If you need inspiration, check out our showcase of more than 50 portfolio examples.
- Finally, start pitching your work to websites – use contact forms to reach out, or build relationships with editors and bloggers on Twitter. For more on this step, listen to our podcast interview with Aja Frost, who build a thriving freelance writing business while she was still in college.
- For step-by-step help starting your freelance writing career, check out this course my friends Kristin and Alex created. It covers everything from building your portfolio to finding your first clients.
In addition to writing work, I’ve also done a fair amount of freelance editing. This category is quite broad, including everything from editing short articles to full-length books. Beyond that, you could choose to specialize in a particular topic (like my friend James Ranson does with business books).
Freelance Graphic Designer
Graphic design is another time-honored field for freelancing. You can do something as simple as a logo or as complex as an entire brochure. You can even do fun illustrations for blog posts, such as Ashley does for us here at College Info Geek.
Freelance Web Developer
Web development is a field that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. If you have the skills to build a website, you can start charging someone for it today.
You don’t even need advanced skills — being able to build a basic WordPress site is enough for many projects. And if you do have more advanced web development abilities, then you can earn a very healthy side income.
If you want a way to make a few extra bucks in your spare time, then online surveys are a great method. They require no skills except the ability to use the internet.
And while you won’t get rich taking surveys, they can provide a more productive way to spend random moments between classes.
Computers continue to get better at recognizing and interpreting human speech, but they still aren’t perfect.
Because of this, there’s still a demand for people who can listen to audio and turn that audio into written words. This is the skill of audio transcription, and it can be a flexible way to earn extra money from your computer.
While audio transcriptionists turn recorded phone calls or interviews into text, video captioners turn the audio from a video into a written form.
They also sync the audio with the video and convey any sounds from the video using text. This requires a bit more skill than audio transcription, so the pay tends to be a bit higher.
While computers are getting better at imitating the human voice, it’s still fairly easy to tell a synthesized voice from a real one.
Therefore, there’s a demand for people who can provide quality narration for instructional videos and other media. If you have audio recording equipment and a good speaking voice, you can do this job.
Video has emerged as one of the internet’s largest (and most profitable) forms of content. People can’t get enough, which means there’s a high demand for skilled video editors.
Plus, you can learn the necessary skills on your own (no degree required).
While video may be the hottest form of media at the moment, photography isn’t going away. There’s still a high demand for skilled photographers, both for taking photos of subjects and editing those photos into a finished product.
And with the quality of today’s phone cameras, you may have all the equipment you need to get started.
English is an in-demand language across the world, and you can make money teaching it.
You don’t even need to be a professional teacher or speak another language. Many platforms just require you to be able to speak fluent English in order to get the job.
Teaching a Foreign Language
In a similar vein to teaching English, perhaps you’re bilingual (or even trilingual).
In this case, you can look into teaching a foreign language to English-speakers. If you can speak an in-demand foreign language (such as Spanish, Mandarin, or Arabic), that’s all the better.
If you can write a foreign language fluently and understand the basics of professional translation, then you can make good money as a freelance translator.
Translators take all kinds of documents (ranging from scripts to instruction manuals) and translate them into another language. And with the rise of translation marketplaces, it’s easier to get translation work than ever.
Social Media Marketing
Businesses need to maintain a presence on social media in order to engage with their fans and spread awareness of their brand.
However, most business owners know nothing about how to use social media. Enter social media marketers, who use their knowledge of social media and marketing best practices to get the results their clients one.
Computers are better than ever at processing data, but they still struggle with turning handwritten documents into digital ones. For this reason, you can still earn decent money doing data entry.
In essence, data entry just means taking data from one source/format and transcribing it into another (usually a spreadsheet or database management system.) Provided you’re detail-oriented and efficient, it’s a job that almost anyone can do.
Retail arbitrage is the process of going to a store, buying items that are priced lower than online, and reselling those items online for a profit.
It’s not a purely “online” job since it requires you to visit physical stores and ship items. But if you like bargain hunting, it’s a way to turn your interest into extra income.
Start a Niche Site
Continuing in the realm of entrepreneurial pursuits, another way to make money from the comfort of your dorm room is to start a niche site. This just means a site focused on a particular topic (or “niche”).
If you can attract enough readers, you can make money from the site using either ads or affiliate marketing (where a company pays you in exchange for recommending a product).
You know those ads that show up every time you’re scrolling Instagram or searching Google? Someone has to create and manage those ads, which is a field broadly known as PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing.
While it sounds complex and intimidating, basic PPC work just requires you to use some simple software and spreadsheets. You don’t need a computer science background or even coding knowledge.
Start a YouTube Channel
The demand for video content is insatiable, and YouTube meets a big portion of that demand. If you can create an entertaining, interesting YouTube channel, then you can cash in on some of this massive demand for video.
You’re probably not going to make it as big as someone like Pewdiepie or Casey Neistat, but you can totally make a full-time income as a YouTuber (particularly if you can find sponsorships).