Let’s be honest: college isn’t easy.
Yes, you can have everything prepaid for, decide what to do with your free time, and so on—but it still doesn’t diminish the reality that being on your own for the first time or trying to get your life together can be frustrating. It can take a toll on your mental health as well as your financial wellbeing, especially as you figure out ways for paying for college.
Throughout my college experience, I’ve found myself constantly thinking about ideas for side income. So: I decided to start a side hustle to make money by creating an Etsy shop, Lunar Wares.
WHAT IS A SIDE HUSTLE?
A side hustle is an extra source of income that supplements your full-time job. Nearly half of Gen Z had a side hustle in 2020 amidst the peak of COVID-19 pandemic and they’re proving more and more that they can handle that hustle.
A recent example is their bold take on the modern thrift store Depop. Gen Z has flocked to Depop for its user-friendly platform and the ability to grow a side business simply through flipping vintage items, helping to pay for college.
5 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE STARTING A SIDE HUSTLE
I remember being super excited to open Lunar Wares and spending hours conducting intense research on local tax laws, inventory management, and shipping strategies. My online side hustle has given me experience in running things on my own as well as more appreciation for small business owners.
I commonly get asked if starting a side hustle in college is a good idea. Here are a few questions and tips I picked up while creating my side hustle from home:
1. Do you have time for a side hustle?
- A side hustle is something you need to be able to devote time to. You have to research, establish your brand, and figure out how to file federal taxes for small business, logistics, and more. It’s a lot. Consider whether the extra value a side hustle can bring is worth the cost in time and effort.
2. Can you be realistic about maintaining a side hustle?
- Let’s face it—you’re not going to become an online Etsy sensation overnight. Progress takes time and a lot of work. Be easy on yourself. Invest the time to learn, and accept that you will probably fail at times. Part of being realistic is knowing that every failure is an opportunity to learn from mistakes. If it helps, starting side hustle from home does give you some extra freedom, as opposed to finding employment at a brick and mortar location.
3. Have you done market research?
- Researching the market is essential for starting any business. For example, if you go to a market as a vendor and you’re selling the same things everyone else is, why should someone come to you? Are your prices cheaper? Ethically sourced? How is your product different from others on the market?
4. Do you have a game plan to launch?
- Check your local and state laws on what is legally considered a business. If you take home a certain amount of income per year, you may be legally obligated to register as a business. Buy a notebook to write out all of the necessities and how you plan your launch day and beyond.
5. Do you enjoy the product or service you’re providing?
- Make sure to balance both your passion for the product or service and your effort to keep your business afloat. You should genuinely believe in the value that your product or service has to offer. For example, if you’re crafty, maybe you could start a shop on Etsy selling handcrafted accessories. Or, if you’re more into education, consider tutoring or creating digital content in a subject you love.
BENEFITS OF A SIDE HUSTLE
Realistically, starting a side hustle while in college can be incredibly rewarding. For one, your side hustle may pay for college.
Having a side hustle provides extra income, hands-on learning experience, as well as a community of people to connect with—connections that could be valuable later in your career. Find something that you enjoy doing that you can make some side money with. You might just find yourself falling in love with it!