Vector image, Side Hustle written on note next to calculator, office supplies

Starting a Side Hustle: How Students Can Turn Their Passion Into Profit

Want to turn your favorite hobby into a side hustle? There’s a lot to do and think about! Here’s how you can make your small-business dreams a reality.

Being your own boss; determining your work hours; doing something you love—there are numerous benefits of turning a hobby of yours into a business. This is an exciting prospect to many young entrepreneurs—you can run the show and pursue your passions at the same time. And when your passions are used to create something wonderful, something unique, you may even be able to make a profit. Here’s everything students need to know about starting a successful side hustle.

How to identify a good business idea

The first step is to identify a good business idea. One way to do so is to find opportunities or problems in your community. It could be a product that may be helpful, a solution for a particular group, or an act of service that would be resourceful. You can also identify good business ideas from your personal experience. Can you think of a certain product or service in your community that’s not currently available where you live?

Another way is to research. There are many different types of products and services out there. You may have a similar idea as someone else, but everyone has a unique way of promoting their product or service. For example, many people sell beds, but there are certain stores with great reputations for good-quality beds based on presentation, the way they’re created, and so on.

A good business idea is one that you’re passionate about. To identify a passionate business idea, think: What is something you would do for free? No profit, no gain. This may be a profound question, but something you would do for free is a passion. It’s something you’d be willing to do for free just to be able to pursue it—but why not share it and make a profit if you can?

Related: How to Discover and Pursue Your Passions as a Student

Starting your side hustle

Starting a business may be one of the most difficult things to do. There are usually barriers in the way such as financial issues, a lack of skills, or even a lack of motivation. Keep an eye on these barriers. Are they actually barriers or are they excuses? There are some things we can’t control or things we’re unable to have in that present moment. However, there are things you can do to start if you want to.

You have your idea. Now, what do you do? It can be a bit stressful or confusing to know how to begin. The first thing you want to do is research. Yes, this can be the most boring step. You may feel to urge to skip it. I mean, how can research help? Would it really affect your side hustle? The answer is yes. Many people make the mistake of not doing their research. They just jump right in, and they’re not as successful or profitable as they would have been if they had done their research.

So what do you research? Whatever your passion is! Take cooking, for example. You may want to open your own online or at-home bakery. You’ll need to research the ingredients, the equipment, etc. The cost of the ingredients determines the cost of each dessert (you need to be making a profit). And with a common interest such as cooking, you’ll also need to research your competition, especially in your local community. Other things to research include websites and domains, how to use certain equipment, and more. Then you’ll need to research marketing. If you’re doing it in person or online, how will you get others to learn about what you offer?

How to market and promote your business

There are many ways to market your side hustle. Some may come easy, but others may be more difficult or challenging. If you’re ready to take your side hustle seriously, though, you’re ready to get the word out.

Personal websites

One way is to use a website maker. There are many avenues such as Wix, Shopify, Etsy, eBay, Squarespace, etc. All of them have special tools you can use to create a website. You’ll need to research what features they have and what would work best for you. Regarding marketing, some—if not all—website builders can advertise your service to others. However, I’ve found this can cost anywhere between $25­–$200—not the best financial option for a student.

Related: 8 Ways to Get Business Experience in High School for College Admission

Social media

An easy (and free) way to market and promote your side hustle is on social media. Start by creating an account for your business, and be sure to keep it active to gain followers and keep them updated. Maintaining your presence on social media can be a tiring task. One piece of advice is to “record ahead.” If you’re planning to post three times a week, record those three times the week before to keep a schedule. Have some content ready just in case something comes up but you still want to post. Another piece of advice: Don’t get addicted. If you miss a day of posting, you miss a day. Brush it off and continue. You have a life outside your side hustle—it's on the side, after all—so you don’t need to stay glued to social media. Also, beware of negative things people may say about your business. If your self-esteem or self-worth is lowered because of social media marketing, get off it—it’s just not worth it.

Offline marketing

Finally, you can also get referrals by word of mouth—just tell people about your business by talking to them about it! Explain what you sell and see if they’re interested. This is where the elevator speech comes into play. If someone is in a rush, you’ll need to be able to tell them what you do in as much detail as you can but in the quickest way possible. You can also make flyers and put them around town. Don’t underestimate the power of good old-fashioned advertising.

How a side hustle can benefit your future plans

There are many benefits of creating your own business that relate to college. An obvious one is earning money that you can use to pay for your higher education. It will also help you develop hard and soft skills that you can use in your future career. You’ll gain professional experience, and it may even help you enter a specific field. For example, if you’re interested in technology, you may take up a side hustle in graphic design, web development, or website and app testing. Your business can help demonstrate your interest in that career, which looks great to colleges and employers.

Related: 3 Important Steps to Take Now to Start a Solid Business After College

Side hustles can be rewarding, but they can also be a struggle. My final advice is to look at your passion and see if it would be rewarding for you to start a small business. If you decide to go for it, just follow these steps and don’t give up. You’ve got this!

Learn more about the field and find great colleges and universities to pursue your goals in our Business section.

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About Isabel Kumar

Isabel Kumar is a future author and business owner pursuing a career in Entrepreneurship. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” — Isaac Asimov


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