How to Make Money in College Online

Jordan Blansit

Though most college students just want to get in a nap after class, the current economic reality means that many will instead have to settle for a shot of espresso and an after-class job. The advent of the internet has made searching for employment and completing work easier than ever with the proliferation of online jobs, many of which are perfect for college students in need of a little money.

For those who don’t get a work-study job, navigating employment as a college student can be especially tricky, as you run the risk of getting a boss or employer who is ultimately inflexible with your class or testing schedules. Online jobs are the answer: they play to specific skills, are perfect for college schedules, and tend to be big money-makers. These deliver on the promise of flexible hours to fit in with your busy life. Many also allow you to explore creative or career outlets with little fallout if you change your mind.

While most of these jobs are not necessarily college student-specific, each has been chosen for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Flexible hours
  • Freedom of self-employment
  • No degree/limited training required
  • Being on campus serves as an advantage due to your:
  • Access to a presorted clientele base
  • Access to information

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You’re in college. Spread the knowledge! (That rhymed!)


As a college student, you spend all day taking notes and absorbing information. Then, you go home (or anywhere with a flat surface and a light) and regurgitate that information into your assignments. Then, a week later, you re-regurgitate that information on a test.


If you know a subject well enough to pass your class, you probably know it well enough to teach others the material. On a college campus, there are hundreds or even thousands of individuals willing to pay you to tutor them to help them pass their classes, too.

Thanks to the internet, no longer do these big money-making tutoring sessions have to take place in the library – college students can teach just about anything online.

If you want to freelance your skills outside of the college world, is a great place to search for high school-age clientele who need help in all of the basics. You can also post your services for hire on the usual social media accounts and Craigslist.

Launch an Online Course

If you prefer to expel your knowledge into an online course and sell it in a nice, neat, no-human-contact-necessary package, more power to you. Putting together a video or other visual presentation or bundling all of your knowledge into a written course or eBook is a good way to make a few hundred dollars on a few hours of work.

The trick is to sell information people find useful and applicable. While knowing how to build a bunker in the event of the impending zombie apocalypse is fun, there’s not much of a market for a crash course in Apocalyptic Zoning Laws.

Practical courses typically include information people can use to further their own careers or side hustles. What better way to make money than by marketing a marketable skill?

Start with a website such as Skillshare, Udemy, or Teachable to see just how easy making money launching your first online course can be (even in college!).

College Papers and Notes

You’re in college, paying thousands of dollars for valuable information that people inside and out will pay good money for. If you have old college papers that you’re proud of, you can sell them to a website like GradeSaver for $100. If you have a lot of notes lying around, check out your campus’s note selling services, or check out websites such as StudySoup.

Design it Up

Do you like to code, drag-and-drop, or otherwise bring digital creations to life? This section is for you.

Build a Website

As a student, you likely know your way around a computer better than the average human adult. You may even know how to code your own website. If that’s the case, Mrs. or Mr. College Student, why not make some money online? Website design and development can be lucrative if you net the right clients.

With even a basic understanding of digital tools such as Squarespace and WordPress, you can quickly build a tasteful, functioning websites for your clients. The more experience you gain in website design, the better your products will turn out, so the more clients you’ll get, so the more money you’ll make, so…

Freelancing on sites such as Fiverr, Webflow, and Freelancer can help build a portfolio of quick, fairly easy projects. If you’d prefer to build your entrepreneurial skills another way, you can market yourself on social media and reach out to local businesses directly. There’s always someone out there who wants to hire out the technological projects in their lives.

App Design

App design is quick, easy, and marketable – if you have the skills. If you know how to code a website, it’s not a far cry to learn how to code mobile applications as well.

The beauty of app design is that you can hire your talents out or keep them in-house. If you think you have an idea that will provide value or entertainment to your built-in consumer base (remember: you’re on a college campus), it’s worth a shot.

Graphic Design

Graphic design is a lucrative field at the top, but even the lower ranks have their profitable niches. Website design comes to mind first, but there’s also a tidy sum to be made in product packaging, eBook and textbook covers, and even t-shirt design.

Services such as 99 Designs and CafePress cater to the needs of designers and businesses by putting artists in touch with clients, while Upwork and PeoplePerHour serve a broader range of employment needs.


Written, spoken, or signed, language is a beautiful, profitable thing.

Freelance Writing

I love to write, so this will always be first on my list. However, for the college student in need of money who spends all day online writing paper after paper after paper…

You’re already in the groove, you know how to use a keyboard, and you can knock out a 5-page essay in MLA or APA with full sources and correct citations in two hours. There are college students, professional individuals and companies, and writing agencies who will pay you $70 for those two hours of your time. In case math isn’t your strong suit (it’s certainly not mine), that’s $35 an hour for something you spend all day doing anyway.

If you don’t want to write academic papers, there are hundreds of websites, blogs, and agencies where you can hire out your skills per word or by the hour. These usually come with the bonus of flexible hours and the ability to quote your own words per day limit. If you’re curious about going the true freelance route, check out our articles on Fiverr and Upwork, which are both fantastic places to test the water and find your niche.

Start a Blog

Starting a blog is an excellent way to kill two birds with one stone: you can build your portfolio and get paid for affiliate marketing at the same time. If you’re not ready to freelance your skills, taking the first step with a blog is taking the first step to a writing side hustle – or even a career.

For those who aren’t familiar with the process, affiliate marketing is simple, though initially not very profitable. In essence, you mention a product or website, include a link to said product or website, and get paid a small fee when someone buys through your link. This is an easy way to get some passive income rolling in while you build other avenues of revenue.

Resume Writing

Graduating college students are one of the largest pools of soon-to-be professionals who need shiny new resumes to jumpstart their careers. As a college student yourself, you have your hand in all of the best pies just sitting on campus. If you’re a business major, planning to go into HR, or just really, really like to write, creating the perfect resumes for all of your former classmates can earn you a pretty penny.

Even if you’re not the best resume writer now, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. There are literally hundreds of guides and templates online on how to write the perfect resume. Once you’ve scoured a few articles and chosen your favorite method, it’s only a matter of finding your clientele…er, classmates.


While transcription may not pay well to start, if you have fast fingers and a knack for building a reputation, it’s worth a click. All that’s needed is a good ear, a laptop with an internet connection, and some spare time.

Transcription isn’t just about the writing, either: those paying for transcriptions want the material to be formatted to be easy to follow. If you find it relaxing to unscramble and organize the mess that can be human speech patterns, this is the job for you.

Take a look at sites such as TranscribeAnywhere or GoTranscript to start your search or freelance your services through a freelancing website.


If you speak multiple languages, there may be money to be made online for your knowledge – and as a college student, you have to consider your future careers as well. If speaking multiple languages looks good on an application, how good does prior paid experience using those languages look?

Most commonly, translation work includes:

  • Audio-to-audio
  • Audio-to-text
  • Text-to-text

If you want to get started translating today, Upwork and LiveTranslation may be good places to initiate your search.

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants make the big bucks taking care of everyone else’s business. If you’re anal about organizations and schedules, keeping track of someone else’s life means you get paid to work out some of that nervous energy. Win!

Tasks frequently include:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Scheduling
  • Email services
  • Project and social media management
  • Research
  • Content creation
  • Data entry

You can get an easy start through sites such as Upwork and Fiverr, or you can sell your services for specific websites. For instance, many well-to-do Pinterest accounts contract out certain account management tasks to virtual assistants.

Sell Items Online

People love stuff. They love to buy stuff. They love to sell stuff. That’s it. That’s the gig.

Okay, so, these aren’t technically just at your computer – there’s some packaging and maybe a stop at the post office here and there. But the actual transactions occur through your computer, so we’re counting them. College students need all the help (money) they can get, and selling things online is a great way to start.


If you’re beyond your first semester of school, chances are, you have old, now-useless textbooks to sell. Go sell them.

No, not at the campus bookstore. Campus buyback programs are built for low payout and high sellback. Instead, try a service such as BookScouter, which checks 35 buyback vendors so you can find the highest price. Or, if you prefer to sell your books yourself, you can list them on social media, Facebook Marketplace, or even eBay or Amazon.

Movies and Technology

Dorm life and stacks of movies don’t go well together, especially in the age of digital streaming. Time to sell those too.

You can go through a purchasing service such as Decluttr, or you can list your items on social media, Craigslist, Amazon, or eBay.


If you’re constantly glued to your iPhone X’s camera, maybe it’s time to take a look at selling some of your photography. Take those photos – of your outings, outdoor adventures, that weird rock in the park, those trees shaped like a thumb – and sell them online.

Websites, news services, and private purchasers often don’t pay much initially, but that’s what building a portfolio is for, right? You can also look services such as Foap that have a focus on smartphone photography.

Video Game…Accounts?

Believe it or not, there are people who want to purchase the progress you made on Minecraft when you were in high school. If you were a hardcore gamer or have several years of work in your account, there is someone who wants to hop in where you jumped out.

If you’re not sure what your account is worth, eBay, Craigslist, and other auction and listing services can provide you with the current going rate on a well-fleshed out profile.


Dropshipping offers the promise of the entrepreneurial spirit without the trouble of all the merchandise space and overhead. Using a service like Shopify, all you have to do is select your merchandise, build your website, and contract out the rest of the process.

Items that sell through dropshipping services include clothes, makeup, and household items. If you can buy it online, chances are, you can dropship it too.

Dropshipping does come with one unfortunate catch: it requires the initial startup money to purchase your first products. If you’re strapped for cash, this option may not be for you – yet.

Miscellaneous Monies

Online work, the stock market, and couch surfing.

Get Paid to Shop Online

Getting paid to shop probably isn’t what historian James Adams had in mind when he coined the term “The American Dream,” but it comes pretty close.

With sites such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), you can get paid to do your shopping through their web browser. Applicable purchases include:

  • Clothes and shoes
  • Groceries
  • Games
  • Discounted gift cards
  • School supplies
  • Booking a flight

There are also dozens of debit and credit cards that offer cashback options – just be sure to do your research and read the fine print before you get yourself into (deeper) debt.

Online Surveys

While online surveys may not pay well, they’re a good way for college students to make some money while you wait in line, struggle to stay awake through your online classes, or just need to wind down before bed. It’s crucial that you do your research before signing up for a site, however, as many so-called survey sites are actually scams.

To get a legitimate start, check out reputable sites such as SurveyJunkie, Swagbucks, and InboxDollars.

Micro Tasks

AmazonTurk is one of the most well-known microtask programs around, but you can also take a look at apps such as Swagbucks and InboxDollars. Like the surveys, they may not pay well – but also like the surveys, they can be done anywhere, and quickly. Tasks are simple and include actions such as:

  • Identifying and tagging videos and photographs
  • Social media ratings
  • Data entry and organization

User Testing

Beta testers get paid to play games and use websites first. While it can’t all be fun and games, the process itself is simple: you use the software, note any issues or errors, and make suggestions on improvements to a quality review team.

You can get started on sites like UserTesting, Testbirds, and Crowdsprint.

Stock Dividends

It’s never too early to start investing in your future. If you’re not already building your portfolio and making money off your investments, college can be a great time to start. Throwing in a few dollars here and there will give you an idea of the market on a limited budget. Furthermore, you’ll be able to learn the basics and mistakes of investing before you get your first “real” paycheck.


Okay, so we’re cheating again. This one involves you getting up from the couch, and you’re not technically online.

However, you’re getting paid to do your college coursework or even make money at your online jobs while lazing about on someone else’s couch. What’s better than that?

You can look at MindMyHouse for a peek at the market, or offer your availability to neighbors, friends, relatives, and your social media following.

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Jordan Blansit