Are you looking for ways to earn a passive income for college students? The internet has indeed changed how the world works. Almost anything can be found online these days—from the latest TV shows to that rare book you’ve been hunting down for years. Yes, it’s all online, and yes, that includes jobs too.
We’re not just talking about side hustles here. We are talking about careers and passions being pursued, available for people of all ages regardless of their skill set. There are even paid online surveys that pay kids to participate! Now, if a kid can search for a way to earn some money, then what’s preventing you, a college student, to do the same?
Since there are a lot of choices out there and we’d like to give you a quick rundown of the best ones, we are going to divide this article into four subcategories of the different ways you can earn, namely:
- Being an online reference or guide
- Being an online influencer
- By helping out other online businesses
- By pursuing the things you are passionate about
Before we get started, though, allow us first to define what passive income is.
What Is Passive Income?
There are two different ways of earning: active income and passive income. Active income is the way of earning by actively and physically working or doing something, which is much like how people go to work every single day make money.
Passive income, on the other hand, is the way of earning while doing less work (with very minimal effort) or no work at all! Leasing is a good passive income source. The landlord doesn’t really work, right? Nevertheless, he still gets income from the rent payment of his tenants.
This is the type of income we’re going to teach you how to do today. We know how busy you are with your studies, so let’s earn some money with less to zero effort. Sounds good? Great!
Passive Income for College Students
Here are your different options on how to make passive income as a college student.
1. Being an Online Reference
Are you knowledgeable about something? Why not share your knowledge with the world and earn as you do? The internet contains almost anything and everything, and why is that? That’s because there are people willing to share what they know with others.
Now, if everything is already out there, what is left for you to add? That’s a good question. While it is true that everything is already on the internet, your version of it still isn’t. Who knows? You might be able to express or explain it better, especially to a specific demographic.
Anyway, there are different ways to earn by sharing your knowledge with the world, but here are three we’d like to share with you:
Starting a Blog
The easiest way to share what you know online is by starting a blog about it. We recommend starting one about a niche (which we’re going talk more about later on) that you are particularly interested in. Find a topic that you can spend a thousand hours writing about, but you still will won’t run out of things to say.
“Wait, a thousand hours, seriously?!”
Don’t worry, that’s just an exaggeration. However, if you can truly spend a thousand hours writing about a particular subject, then that’s awesome! You’ve found your area of interest and expertise.
As for the writing part, we know that you don’t have a thousand hours to spare, but do you have a few hours of free time each week? We recommend devoting one day of the week for blog maintenance, and you’re all set. After all, your blog is going to keep on earning throughout the week even when you’re offline!
What’s the blog maintenance for?
- You will use this time to create blog posts (at least three) that will be scheduled to auto-publish throughout the week.
- You will also need to promote your posts on social media.
- And, of course, you would have to respond to your readers if they have left you messages or comments.
Here are other things that you’re probably worried about—web development and paid hosting. Fortunately, there are a lot of blog providers out there that offer free hosting and blog templates. All you need to do is to sign up, choose a theme or template, and you’re ready to start writing.
Writing and Publishing an eBook
Now, what if you don’t have even a few hours to spare? Or, what if you don’t enjoy publishing your content one blog post at a time? If this is your case, then you probably should look into writing an eBook instead.
Here’s a quick guide to writing your own eBook:
Step 1: Define your title. The eBook title must be catchy and interesting but still relevant to your main subject.
Step 2: List down all the topics you want to include in your eBook.
Step 3: Can those topics be broken down further into subtopics? If yes, then do so.
Step 4: Sort out your subtopics per area or chapter.
Step 5: Outline the chapters and their corresponding topics and subtopics.
Step 6: Add an introduction and a conclusion to your outline.
Step 7: Start writing your eBook by filling in those topics and subtopics.
Step 8: Don’t forget to list your references.
Step 9: Once you are done with writing, you may now proceed to formatting it into an eBook. MOBI, EPUB, and PDF are popular choices.
Congratulations! You now have an eBook that’s ready for publication. You now have two choices—you can either publish it on Amazon or sell it on your website or blog. Nonetheless, those are not the only ways to earn from an eBook. Did you know that it works great with a blog too?
First of all, if you have a blog, you won’t even need to write new content for an eBook anymore. You can just compile your best posts into a book and turn it into an eBook format. You can then use this eBook (or the one that you have written earlier) to invite more people to visit your blog and subscribe to it. You can do this by offering the eBook for free in exchange for an email subscription.
Either way, you need to spend a few hours to write down your eBook, and it will start earning for you once it’s published.
Creating an Online Course
Finally, another way to share your knowledge with the world and earn from it is by creating your own online course. While this might require a little bit more work compared to writing an eBook, it will require a significantly shorter time than the total hours you’ll spend on blog maintenance per week, which should is for as long as you want to keep the blog active.
Going back to creating an online course, it will also require two more resources other than your computer and an internet connection. Creating an online course requires a webcam and microphone too. That’s because you’ll need to film your online course.
Here’s a quick guide to filming an online course:
Step 1: Select your topic and come up with a course title. You can either give an introduction about a more significant topic or focus on smaller, more focused subtopics.
For instance, you can create an introductory course on how to crochet where you can talk about the different things you can crochet and the general tools you need. Alternatively, you can make a more specific online tutorial on how to crochet a scarf.
Step 2: Once you have determined what your course is going to be all about, the next thing you have to do is to create an outline. You can use the steps we have shared with you above on how to write an eBook. Only this time, instead of sorting your topics into chapters, you will be sorting them down into lessons.
Step 3: Once you have the outline sorted out, you can now write your script. Your outline and script are going to guide you during the filming process.
Step 4: Film your online course. It is recommended to divide it into separate videos per “lesson” or chapter.
Step 5: Once you’re done with the filming, you may now start editing the video. Put titles and subtitles where needed, cut off unnecessary scenes, or add a little bit of background music.
Congratulations! You now have an online course. All you need to do is publish it. There are different ways to publish your online course. You can put it up on YouTube for streaming (and earn through ad displays), join a community of online mentors (such as those in Skillshare), or publish it on your own blog or website so people can sign up for it for a fee.
Your online course will start earning by itself, but to invite more people to take part in it, you might also want to consider writing a corresponding eBook or written literature for your course. In fact, you can even create printable worksheets as well!
Anyway, we’ve already talked briefly about YouTube above, so why not move on to the next subtopic of this article? And that’s how to earn passive income by being an online influencer.
2. Being an Audio-Visual Online Influencer
What’s the difference between being an online reference and an online influencer? Influencers are, well, simply more influential. They are internet icons and celebrities. What’s great about it is that you don’t have to be a nine-year-old flexer or a Kardashian to be the internet’s latest rising star. All you need is the talent and the guts to share that talent with the rest of the world.
In this area, we are going to talk about how you can earn money passively and be an influencer at the same time. There are a lot of ways—from staging death-defying stunts to filming every moment of your cat’s life. However, the three ways that we are going to share with you below are those that we have already personally tried and tested.
Producing an Audiobook
Do you have a lovely voice and a passion for reading? If yes, then you can definitely produce an audiobook. You don’t even have to write your own book to do this; you can simply collaborate with other authors or read the classics.
Here are some tips on how to record and produce your own audiobook:
- Most audiobook publishers, like Audible, require that you have a published eBook under your name before they entertain your audiobook.
- For Audible, you have to sign up for an ACX account and submit your audiobook from there in order to get it published on their website.
- You need to have good equipment and a studio (which is also known as “a really quiet room”) for you to record your audiobook.
- In order to increase the chances for your audiobook to get accepted, be sure to acquaint yourself with the requirements of ACX and get your work edited by an actual audio engineer.
Once you have the file ready and after it has been published, you can then forget about it and work on your next project. You can rest assured that, in time, your audiobook will start earning on its own.
Generating Royalties from Jingles and Audio Tracks
Speaking of audio engineers, are you confident that you can create and edit your own audio files? Do you have a musical predisposition? Then you can leverage those skills to earn passively by recording jingles and audio tracks.
You can create jingles that can serve as background music for videos as well as other audio tracks (even sound effects!). In fact, you can start making money out of your music by selling your songs online for download and for streaming. Just remember that you need to ensure the quality of whatever you put out there—whether that be a background music clip or your next single.
Anyway, here are some tips on how to become a successful online musician:
- Live performances are great for marketing your music. You publish your music online; sure, we get it. Nevertheless, don’t underestimate the value of gigs too. In fact, you can turn your usual gigs into actual events by announcing them online beforehand and giving your audiences a special treat per gig (for instance, playing an unreleased).
- You can publish your music on your own website. Online channels like iTunes and Spotify can help put your music out there on millions of listeners’ radars. However, they will also cut a percentage or “commission” from each track streamed or sold.
- Don’t forget to connect with your fans! You’re an online influencer now, and while that allows you to earn passively by watching your stream and download numbers grow, it is equally important to remember that it’s not just your hard work and technical know-how that has earned you that place, but the help of your fans too!
Making YouTube Videos
There are a lot of things that you can film and talk about as a YouTuber. You can create tutorials, perform your own music, make a film about your daily life as a vlogger—anything, really. However, we’ve noticed that there’s one thing that sets apart YouTube influencers and just random YouTube uploaders—branding.
Your brand is not just your YouTube name, but it’s also going to set the tone for the type of videos that streamers can expect from your channel. It will even directly affect your subscription. How? By determining what your channel is going to be all about, you are also defining the type of people that you want to subscribe to your channel.
When in doubt, you can even use your name and turn it into a brand itself, and your channel is going to be all about you and your experiences. You need to lead a pretty exciting life, though, in order to get your audiences hooked.
A much simpler way, at least in our opinion, is to come up with a general area of interest and create a name or brand for your channel from that.
Creating a list of topics and subtopics will also help ensure that the video ideas keep coming, and you’ll never run out of content to produce. From there, you can just build on your brand by creating quality content that you think your target demographic will enjoy watching.
Here are more tips on how to create YouTube videos:
- Set a filming time at home. You will need to have a quiet time to shoot your videos in peace. If you’re doing your filming at home, then it’s best to inform your housemates about your filming hours, so they know better than to disturb you or be excessively noisy during those hours.
- Invest in good equipment. You don’t need a good camera from the get-go, but as you get subscribers, it’s a great idea to upgrade your equipment little by little.
- Use the description box to your advantage. Want to share your website’s link? Or how about a transcription of the recipe that you’re sharing? Provide all these details and information on your video’s description box.
- Of course, don’t forget to interact with your audience. You can ask them for the content they want to see next, and you can respond to their comments. Don’t argue with your haters; you’re earning money because of the people who are watching your videos. Never forget that.
Once you have published your videos, you can simply watch as your subscribers and views increase along with your monthly earnings—straight from YouTube itself!
Being an online influencer is fun, but we understand that some people are not that confident in the spotlight. If that’s the case, then maybe establishing an online business is much more in your area.
3. Through Online Businesses
Learning how to make passive income as a college student is not easy, but there are various ways that you can do so. The third method we’re going to discuss is going to be all about providing services for existing online businesses.
Becoming an Affiliate Marketer
Becoming an affiliate marketer works great in tandem with having a blog because you’ll need it to put your links on. While you can also share your affiliate links through social media, incorporating those links into relevant blogs is your best bet in order to get those links clicked.
Affiliate marketing is a way of marketing by working with affiliates (that’s you) and letting them share links to products and services. The company will obviously earn once people start availing of their products and services. They will then share a small percentage of commission to the affiliate who posted the link that the customer used to find the product or service.
This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. First, the business owner doesn’t have to pay for expensive marketing and advertising campaigns. Second, they’ll only be paying for those ads (in the form of links) that actually worked and sent a paying customer their way. And of course, the one who posted that link will earn every time someone clicks and purchases on the link he shared that one time.
Amazing how affiliate marketing works, right? But as what we have mentioned, you can maximize your earnings if you’re going to share your affiliate links through a blog. That’s because you have more space to promote your product.
Here’s a final tip: Don’t write your blog posts like a sleazy salesman. Put your products into context. Don’t just write about the product itself, but write around it—write about your life and how the product or service entered the picture to make your life easier.
Building Niche or “Guide” Websites for Lead or Referral Income
We have already talked about niches in passing above. Remember when we were talking about blogs? That’s because blogs and niche websites have a lot in common.
A niche is a focused category from a bigger category. Let’s go back to the crochet topic earlier. Crochet is a big category. “Crocheting Beanies”, on the other hand, is a niche. To make it even more focused, “Crocheting Beanies for Children” is also a niche and a more focused one (which is better).
Here’s a useful tip to keep in mind: The more specific your niche is, the more targeted your audience will be and the less competition you’ll have. However, don’t make it too specific that you will run out of things to write about. For instance, how many articles can you write about the “crocheting panda-designed beanies for children” niche? Not much, right? That’s when you’ll know you have to take a step back.
Anyway, let us now move on to the important part—monetizing it. You can let your niche site earn while you sleep by using affiliate links and by posting relevant ads on your website. Finally, you can also make it a part of a more elaborate sales funnel.
What’s a sales funnel, you ask? Well, keep on reading to find out.
Building a Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is a system that marketers use in order to make an “automated selling machine” out of their website. Just like an actual funnel, it leads your material to the place where you want them to go. In marketing, it seeks to attract a lot of people and to walk them through the entire sales process until they finally click on that “buy” button.
Here’s a basic overview of the system:
Step 1: The first thing you need to do is to get your viewer’s attention. You must get people to visit your website in the first place. You can advertise your website, promote it on social media sites, boost your site’s SEO—anything that can get more people to visit your site.
Step 2: The next thing that you want is to hook them in. A great idea is by giving them freebies. Everybody wants free items, but remember, nobody wants trash. Having said that, your freebie must add some value to the visitor’s life enough for him to surrender his email address to you. How about that eBook you’ve written earlier?
Step 3: This is where your creative juices should start flowing. You must dedicate your niche website’s content in showing how this product or service is relevant to their life. This is also the perfect space to create a compelling call to action.
Step 4: Of course, once you have convinced your website visitor, the next step is his conversion into an actual paying customer.
Now, most sales funnels end here. You can create a site, put your products out there, and watch it sell its own product. Alternatively, you can make it even more profitable through the following:
- Remember the email addresses you got a while ago? There are generally two types of people in this list: the ones who didn’t buy and those who did. However, you are sure of one thing: everyone was interested enough to leave their own email address.
You can use email marketing to reach out to those who didn’t buy (who still have a high possibility of converting), and offer new (and related) products and services to those who did buy.
- Provide your loyal customers with special gifts and offers. We recommend offering a referral program to invite even more visitors to your website.
- Finally, offer an option to upsell or downsize. Upselling is the process of offering add-ons together with the product (much like how fast food chains offer fries and soda to go with their burgers).
Downsizing, on the other hand, is providing a more affordable option for your client to still allow him to experience the product even if he only has a limited budget right now.
Did you notice how we said, “right now”? If you let your client experience the product first and he loves it, then there’s a huge possibility for you to upsell to him in the future. This is an excellent way to keep people in your funnels.
Remember, an effective sales funnel is more than just a funnel. It’s a never-ending sales cycle, which means a never-ending passive income for you.
4. By Pursuing Your Passions
We have been talking about money for quite some time now. This is an article about passive income for college students, after all. But money is not the only thing that makes this world go round, right?
Don’t worry; we hear you. That’s why we are dedicating this final subtopic in talking about earning passively by still pursuing the things you are passionate about.
Selling Digital Products on Etsy
For those who are interested in creating graphics or those who are into calligraphy, then selling digital versions of your work on Etsy is the best route take in order to earn from your art. Think about it: you only have to do them once, scan them, upload them to Etsy, and poof! It can earn money for as long as it’s in your shop.
There are different digital products to sell:
- Printable Quotes
- Printable Bookmarks
- Craft Patterns
- And more!
You don’t even have to bother about shipping fees anymore!
This doesn’t mean that you can’t sell your other works on Etsy too. It’s just that other products, especially handmade treasures, are more labor-intensive to sell and doesn’t quite fit our definition of passive earning.
Selling Professional Photos Online
Finally, if you have a really good eye for taking photos, you can sell stock photos too. Just like the digital products on Etsy, all you have to do is to shoot and process the images once, and they will start earning indefinitely for as long as it’s posted on the stock photo marketplace online.
The world wide web is a vast, vast place. It’s probably even more extensive than the physical world itself. What’s good about it, though, is that it is also full of possibilities and anyone can freely access them anytime, anywhere.
Don’t think of the options we have shared with you above as the only choices you have on how to make passive income as a college student. You’re still young; you still have a lot of creative juices—use them! The world wide web is your playground. Enjoy and use it to your advantage. We wish you the best of luck!