Winter is finally ending and that can only mean one thing if you are a college student: Spring break.
Whether you’re planning to head out to some tropical destination or just hang out with your buddies back home, one thing remains constant- You’ll need cash. And soon.
How can you generate some extra money, and quickly, before you head off for your vacation or for home?
The best fast cash generators are online
Although you might make a quick $25 by cleaning your neighbor’s gutters, but that’s going to be a “one-and-done” sort of deal. It will also require you to work during peak daytime hours- hours that you may not have available because of your class or exam scheduling.
Instead of perusing Craiglist ads for odd jobs, you have a far better resource for making extra income quickly: the Internet. Here are three different methods for generating cash quickly and during the hours that you are off from school functions/classes:
Businesses are always in need of content, and the boon of online marketing means that freelance writing will always be in demand. Becoming a seasoned and (therefore) well-paid freelance writer can take years; however, you can submit content to third party sites today and make a good chunk of spare change for vacations and outing with friends.
Two such third party sites are Constant Content (CC) and Textbroker.
CC allows you to submit any kind of article and price it at your own discretion. The site also publishes client requests for specific content.
Your best bet with Constant Content is to peruse through all your college essays and load them onto the website for publication. You will need to work with CC’s editors to make sure your content is up to their standards, but the process is fairly easy. Once your content has been accepted, potential clients will look at it and pay for the license to either use it once (with resale to another client implied) or for full rights (i.e., the content is removed from the site).
Uploading content you’ve already written saves you the time and hassle of creating content from scratch that might have to undergo client revisions or even outright rejection. Furthermore, CC has a broad audience and most well-written content on almost any topic has a good chance of being purchased for use or full rights.
Textbroker doesn’t accept unsolicited content; however, it features a large roster of clients that will pay you anywhere from a penny to dollars per word for your content. Most content submitted by non-professional writers earns 1-4 cents/word. As long as you follow through with the client’s request and adhere to the AP style guide, your content should make you some money.
Do you have a talent or skill that makes you a highly sought-after commodity among your friends or (even) parents’ friends? Can you perform basic graphic design, or photo editing, or programming, or WordPress site setup?
If yes, then you should sign up with micro gig sites like Fiverr, Roundshelf, Zeerk, Fiverup, SEOClerks, GigBucks and Tenrr. Each of these sites enables you to advertise your talents and make anywhere from $4 to even thousands of dollars from them. Best of all, the money is paid up-front before you even start your gig, reducing the risk of you being stiffed on payment after you’ve spent hours working on a client’s request.
Micro gig sites have just one drawback: The payout is fairly low compared to the amount of time and energy you’ll put in to complete a client request. For example, Fiverr pays you just $4/gig after it take $1 for itself as a “finder’s fee.”
The best way to make a good amount of money with micro gig sites is to list a suite of services that vary in price. For example, you might price your logo design service on Fiverr at just $5. However, if the client wishes to keep a copy of the logo file, the price of the gig goes up to $10. If the client wishes to have more than two logo revisions, the price increases to $15. And so on.
Offer a suite of services if possible, and price these suites at $100 or higher. Explain exactly what $100 will buy for your client; for example, $100 might purchase a website set-up and plug-in integration, basic page and XML map setup, and a short blog post to boot. In essence, you want to make the most money you can from every interested party, not just a measly $5- I mean- $4.
Finally, if you have a few weeks of time before spring break arrives, sign up for and look through Upwork, which is a merger of eLance and oDesk. You may end up working on a weeklong project for a client, but the payout will be better, and you may end up getting repeat work from the same client in the future.
Selling your notes
If you’ve finished a few college courses by now, you could sell your class notes and study guides to other students for a good sum of money. Sites like Course Hero, Nexus Notes and Luvo bank on the fact that many students don’t attend all their classes or, if they do, don’t bother to listen to the instructor. In the U.K., there is a similar site called Notesale.
Note selling sites have been criticized by some administrators for encouraging cheating and student laziness. On the flip side, those students who actually show up to class and take notes for others have been found to do better academically than their peers. The reason? Because they must make the effort of teaching the lessons to others, the note-taking students are better able to understand the academic material.
Likewise, carefully crafted study guides can help students cramming for tests. Such guides can even serve as replacement tutors and help students remember the essential portions of class lessons prior to an exam.
Should you decide to part with your class notes and study guides, know that the best way to sell them off is lesson-by-lesson and test-by-test rather than as a semester-long set. Because your buyers will hopefully have only missed one or a few classes, they will not need to use an entire class’ worth of material. For most single lessons and guides, expect to make from $5-$10.
If time allows, you might also consider signing up as an online tutor with these sites and ‘teaching’ your notes and study guides to other students. The pay rate for this type of online tutoring is good (up to $20/hour), and the very act of tutoring will help ingrain the material into you even further.
The Bottom Line
As a college student, your free time is limited and usually only available at night or on weekends. If you need to make money quickly, you won’t have much of a chance with affiliate marketing or blogging, either of which require months or years of time to build up into a successful business. Your better alternatives are one-off projects in freelance writing, small gigs, and selling your educational materials.