Student loan debt is second only to home loans as the highest form of consumer debt in the United States. That’s scary, especially if you’re a college student who’s just starting or only part-way through this expensive career-before-your-career.
Paying off college expenses as you go is the best way to avoid a massive pile of debt when you graduate, but that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re carrying a full-time course load. Taking classes and studying is enough work for anyone, even before taking on a full time or part time job.
Meanwhile, college surveys report that students spend 8 to 10 hours a day on the web. That’s a lot of (let’s face it – often wasted) time that could be used to earn money. Regardless of whether you spend too much time online, the point is that you’re online anyway – why not make money from it?
Here are four ways college students can earn extra money to keep on top of their student loans by doing what they do best – spending time on the web.
#1: Doing Stuff Online You Do Anyway
Companies will literally pay you whether you’re constantly searching for research projects or shopping online. For instance, businesses pay UserTesting.com for feedback on how engaging their websites are – and the site pays consumers to do the testing. For more fun, Swagbucks.com and InboxDollars.com reward users for searching, shopping, watching short videos, and other activities that help companies gather customer feedback.
If you’re feeling too lazy for even the minimal effort those sites require, install Neilson Digital’s background app or Mobile Expressions for iPad. They’ll gather information about your search and shopping habits and pay you for it. With Mobile Expressions, you earn money just by keeping the app installed on your device for 90 days. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Do you enjoy sharing your opinion? You could earn $3 to $5 per survey with Swagbucks.com, MyPoints, Survey Junkie, Pinecone, and many other survey sites.
#2: Using Social Media
Another major reason college students spend a lot of time online is social media. If you’re social media savvy and have a strong network of friends and followers, you can use it to make money. For instance, MyLikes.com has a program that allows you to earn as you share Twitter content from participating advertisers and brands. Many brands will pay you to share sponsored Tweets or create Instagram posts that promote their products. A few places to get started include Shareasale, Ebates, and Stylinity (if you’re into fashion).
#3: Being Creative
Do you enjoy blogging, photography, or designing web pages? Plenty of places will pay you for your creative energies:
- Fiverr.com is a marketplace where freelance artists and professionals offer their skills packaged as gigs, usually priced at $5 each. That might not seem like much, but it can add up quickly the more you do (especially if you upsell people who are satisfied with your work).
- iStockPhoto.com and the Foap app allow you to earn money by contributing stock footage – you earn every time one of your photos is purchased.
- If you enjoy making things like jewelry and art, Etsy.com is an open marketplace for you to sell your wares — and build your artistic reputation.
#4 Sharing Your Knowledge
During the college years, students are inundated with information that won’t be as fresh in their minds ten years down the road. Why not make use of your overloaded brain by sharing that growing wealth of knowledge with other students? Sites like Wyzant.com and Tutor.com allow you to set your own rates and schedule for tutoring services online, over the phone, or in person.
As a college student, you might be spending more than the usual amount of time online. These are just a few of the ways to channel your media habits into money-making opportunities. With a few of these side gigs, the concept of paying your student loans without taking on an official job isn’t that impossible, after all.