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Side hustles for students: how to make it work

Time is money, as they say – and both are precious resources when you’re a student.

You want to focus on your studies, but you need an income too. A gig on the side could be the solution; a side hustle is the perfect way to make the most of your time and get some income while you’re at it.

Research shows that almost half of side hustlers spend less than five hours a week on their side gig. This makes it a great way to help you gather employable skills and cover the costs of student life while maintaining your busy study schedule.

A side gig is an option no matter what field you’re studying.

Daizy Maan, who is the Program Manager for entrepreneurial program, SPARK Deakin, says, ‘a common misconception is that only business or science students can start a business. But that’s not true: side hustles can be done by anyone.’

‘It just takes resilience, persistence and the desire to be action-orientated and solve problems,’ she says. ‘The really good news is that all of those are skills that employers look for as well.’

Sounds like the solution you need? Maan has a few tips on how to start a side hustle.

Master sales and marketing skills

As you get stuck into creating your side hustle, it’s a good idea to work on some of the skills you’ll need to make it a success.

Whatever your side hustle is, you have to learn to be a marketer, to market yourself and your product and use sales skills,’ Maan advises.

‘Research has shown those are two skills that founders really need to have: sales and marketing. The good news is these are not difficult to learn, but they do take effort.’

This includes using your social media time wisely to upskill yourself. Maan says, ‘A good habit to get into is changing the way you think about using social media.

‘So, rather than using it as a consumer, put on your entrepreneur hat and think, “How would I use it if I were running a business?”

‘That way you can learn about the backend of Facebook advertising or Instagram, This is really easy to learn with accessible and free information, and they’re really useful skills.’

Of course, good social media skills have the potential to become a side hustle of their very own.

Utilise your expert social media skills

If you have a solid knowledge of social media, you could use your expertise to build a side gig around those skills.

There are a multitude of ways you could go about this. You could:

  • create a monetised blog
  • manage social media accounts for other small businesses
  • become a freelancer for big-time bloggers
  • get creative with an Etsy store.

You might even have your own idea to tap into a more niche area.

'Whatever your side hustle is, you have to learn to be a marketer, to market yourself and your product and use sales skills.'

Daizy Maan,
Program Manager, SPARK Deakin, Deakin University


Tap into your talents

If there’s something you’re particularly good at that might provide others some value, you should consider selling it as a product or service.

This is the kind of side hustle that could even directly benefit your studies at uni or your future career.

For example, if you pride yourself on your organisation skills, you could advertise your services as a virtual assistant. If you’re excelling at uni, you could even become an online tutor to help other students in your field.

If you’re studying creative writing, you might work on creating an ebook that you can sell online. If you’re passionate about art or want to work in dance, for instance, you could make YouTube tutorials to teach others your skills.

The internet makes it remarkably simple to make an exciting digital side hustle a reality. And the benefits of putting yourself out there goes beyond making a bit of money. It also makes it easier for future employers to find you and notice your skills (and that might lead to job offers).

Take advantage of sharing platforms

Life in a share economy certainly has its benefits, including the ability to create a profitable side business.

‘There are lots of platforms in our share economy which enable you to generate revenue from resources that would otherwise cost you money,’ Maan says.

‘For example, your car (with platforms like GoGet), a home parking space or storage space. It’s about being creative enough to generate a small amount of income from start-up platforms.’

Maan suggests regularly reading start-up news sites to keep up with the newest platforms. ‘If you jump on them earlier, there’s more of an opportunity to get on those platforms and generate some income.’

Wherever your entrepreneurial skills take you, Maan says it’s important to ‘keep your mind open to opportunities and shout your side hustle from the rooftops.’

She says: ‘I would encourage people to actively promote their side business and what they’re working on.

‘It shows that you’re resourceful and you take initiative. People don’t care if it’s big – they care that you started.’


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Daizy Maan
Daizy Maan

Program Manager, SPARK Deakin, Deakin University

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