The old saying, “Work smarter, not harder” is a good rule of thumb, especially if you’re a college student focused on completing your education. Trying to maintain a good GPA can be hard if you’re constantly worried about commitments to another job. Putting your focus on passive income opportunities can help you cover extra expenses and have enough time to devote to your studies.
Passive Income Ideas For College Students
We’ve outlined some ideas on possible avenues for earning passive income. See if one or more of the below options are something you could fit into your current schedule.
1. Start a Blog
A blog is a great way to share content based on your knowledge and things you are passionate about. The nice thing about blogging is there’s someone out there for every niche. You can cater to others who share your interest in topics like crocheting techniques or graphic design. Blogging allows you to exercise your creative muscles and make some money.
It takes time and effort to build an audience, so you likely won’t make a ton of money at the start. The more traffic you attract, the more you can monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, getting ad clicks, or selling your own products and services.
Blogging is something you can do when you have time. Since there’s no time clock to punch, students looking for passive income opportunities can make school their top priority. There’s not a lot of risk involved in blogging, but it has the potential to bring in a lot of passive income over the long term.
2. Become a YouTube Creator
YouTube has become one of the top internet sites on the planet. Billions of people rely on YouTube every year for everything from makeup tutorials to learning how to repair a motorbike. If you’re a student looking for passive income with a specific skill or talent you’d be willing to share via video, think about starting a YouTube channel.
Many creators earn money through the YouTube partner program. You can place ads in your videos or encourage your followers to sign up for channel memberships and collect a portion of the membership fees or sell merchandise to loyal fans.
There’s also an opportunity to make money by creating sponsored videos. The best thing about this approach is that you don’t have to share that revenue with YouTube. Negotiate your rate directly with specific brands and collect your payment from them. The larger your audience, the more you can charge to create a sponsored YouTube video.
3. Build an App
If you’ve got a knack for coding, app creation offers another great passive income opportunity for students. You can make money by charging people every time they download your app. Another way you can make money is by offering it for free and allowing ad placements. Once you have a stable app ready to go, you’ve got an avenue for passive income that can continue paying dividends for years.
You can also earn extra money through an app by offering a basic version for free, then giving users the option to pay for extra upgrades. Think about a game like Candy Crush. The creators let users purchase power-ups to help them get through difficult levels, ultimately making more money than they would by charging a flat fee. It also helps them avoid having to place ads throughout the game.
Think about where you want users to download your app. Ideally, you want to publish your app in as many stores as possible. So your app should be available in popular stores like Google Play, the Apple Store, or through Windows Apps.
4. Start a Print on Demand Business
If you’ve got some serious art skills or know how to come up with catchy slogans for merchandise, think about starting a print on demand business to earn passive income. You can come up with custom graphics and reproduce them on products like coffee mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, canvas bags, and key chains.
Once you come up with a base set of designs, think about details like the availability of color options for your products, the print provider you wish to use, and how much you want to set aside to get started. Your profit margins live or die on making the right decisions around these areas. You also want to do your homework and make sure you’re not violating someone else’s trademark with your products.
Try to find a niche that isn’t saturated by a lot of other competitors. You should also think about proper marketing of your products. What’s the point of having items for sale if no one knows your print on demand store exists? Once you build up a loyal clientele, it could generate enough passive income to cover your financial goals.
5. Publish Sponsored Instagram Posts
If you spend a lot of time scrolling through your Instagram feed, you’ve likely come across posts from influencers talking about different products or services. You can use your love of Instagram to your advantage by creating similar posts. All it takes to get started is to create an Instagram page and provide content appealing to your target audience.
Just like with blogging, you’ll need to exercise a lot of patience in building up your follower base. Once you have a committed audience in place, you can start making money by accepting sponsored requests. Make sure that what you talk about is consistent to the theme of your page. It might seem odd to your followers if they’re following you for beauty tips, then suddenly get hit with an appeal to invest in a new bitcoin opportunity.
You can also add to the passive income potential of Instagram by getting signed as a Brand Ambassador or promoting affiliate links. If you’ve got the skills, come up with new masks and filters for brands to use in expanding their audience reach.
6. Think About Investing
Think of the stock market as one of the original passive income opportunities. You should have a lot of knowledge about business and finance. Finding success in investing means putting in time doing your research on different businesses. Understanding the financial health of various companies helps you make better decisions about where to invest your money.
There are many investment options available for students looking to earn passive income by investing in stocks. Look into dividend stocks, where companies regularly pay out a portion of their earnings to investors. There are also index funds, which lets you invest in an assortment of stocks, which balances your portfolio risk and can be less volatile than investing in individual stocks.
Avoid putting too much of your money into one bucket, no matter how “hot” the stock seems. One bad day can wipe out weeks of gain. You may also want to put a portion of your money into bonds. While they typically provide lower returns than stocks, it’s still a great passive income opportunity.
If you prefer to stay away from the stock market, think about investing in a start-up business. While there’s a lot of risk involved, you can end up making a lot of passive income if you put your money into the right company.
7. Start a Niche Affiliate Marketing Website
You can bring in passive income as a student by building a website dedicate to a niche market. Ideally, visitors to your site see you as an authority on a specific topic. The content must be of high quality. You’ll need a solid understanding of digital marketing, including how to use keywords properly and increase your site rankings in various search engines.
Once you establish your site, look into signing up with affiliate marketing programs that pay you commissions every time a visitor clicks on an ad. Most affiliate programs provide you with a personalized link that tracks sign-ups that come from your website. These programs typically cost you nothing to join and pay you regularly via bank transfer or PayPal. Make sure you understand the terms before signing your website up with an affiliate program for passive income.
8. Start an Online Course
You can start teaching in your area of expertise, even if you still haven’t earned your degree. If you have deep knowledge around a subject and excellent communication skills, you could create an online course on sites like Udemy, showcase them on YouTube, or offer them through your own website. Online courses can be a great way to complement an existing blog podcast or blog.
Online course creation can take a lot of up-front time investment. But once you’re done, you can continue advertising it and making passive income as long as the content is relevant. It’s an opportunity to reach people from around the world looking for a deeper dive into a specific subject.
Do your research into what others are already offering around the same course topic. Try to approach your course from an angle not yet covered by other courses. You don’t want to put a lot of time into creating a course no one is interested in, or where there is already a lot of saturation.
You can use your online course to advertise other services, like an individual coaching program. Keep in mind that if you decide to host your videos with Udemy or other services, they control the platform. You’ve also got to make sure you’re pricing your content correctly so you get a solid financial return on your initial investment in time and recording technology.
9. Refer Clients to Businesses
If you’re a student looking for passive income and have a knack for sales or marketing, you can make money from companies looking for someone who can bring them more business. For example, a real estate agent might pay you to bring in clients who ultimately buy a house. The same with creatives like photographers and other freelancers constantly on the lookout for more clients.
Get started by searching the internet for companies who offer referral programs. You can also check to see if companies you already use offer a reward for getting friends to sign up for their services. Make sure you understand the terms set out by the referral company and how you would get paid.
10. Publish an eBook
Writing an eBook allows you to do a deeper dive into a subject you care about, then sell copies of it for money. It could be anything from a romance novel to a travel guide. Do your research and see if there’s a market of buyers hungry for that content. Try scanning the bestseller lists on Amazon and see what people are buying.
You can use options like the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing program to sell copies of your eBook. Doing so means you can write and publish on your own schedule without worrying about the concerns of an editor. You could also build a website and sell the eBook directly to consumers. That way, you don’t have to share profits with another platform. You must put some time into marketing your eBook so that your target audience knows of its existence.
Pick a price point that allows you to recoup your investment. It may be more profitable to write a shorter book and sell it for a lower price versus crafting a long novel and only selling a few at a higher price. The more volume you sell, the more people you can attract who may have an interest in purchasing future eBooks.
What is Passive Income?
When a songwriter sells a song to a record company, they don’t just get paid upfront. If that song makes it onto the radio or streaming service, that songwriter continues earning royalties every time that song gets paid. Passive income works in the same way. You continue earning money on a project long after you’ve completed the initial work.
The great thing about passive income is that it can help you achieve financial freedom more quickly. How much you earn depends on the path you pursue and the time you have available. Let’s be clear, you’re not going to start a blog and immediately start raking in thousands of dollars per week. The odds of that are as great as those of winning the lottery.
Generating passive income requires having a long-term strategy. What is it you want to achieve? Are you looking to have money to pay for meals during the week? Would you like to earn enough to cover your books, tuition, or even rent?
Ideally, you end up diversifying your income streams enough to accomplish your financial goals. However, time constraints may limit you to only one option. The best thing you can do for yourself is make the right decision on the passive income stream you wish to pursue.