The key to having a successful side hustle as a college student

For college students, doing assignments and meeting deadlines can already be a tough task, and having to support yourself and pay for loans only adds to that stress.

A side hustle is a great way to make some extra money, while still prioritizing your college career. Almost half (46%) of Gen Z’ers already have a side hustle, according to Grow Acorns.

So how do you get started? According to Alyssia Leach, a senior business marketing student at the University of Louisville and a side hustle content creator with over 140,000 followers, it’s all about finding your niche and leveraging your strengths.

The importance of focus

For someone who finds themselves having several strengths or interests, finding a niche can be difficult. But trying to do everything at once can make you seem unreliable and unfocused.

“I’ve made videos on niching down and got a lot of negative feedback, actually. People are like ‘I love everything, I want to do everything.'” And you end up like the man in the neighborhood who has 50 different business cards because he can do 50 different things.

Instead of casting a wide net, focus on being great at whatever you plan to pursue, and build upon that.

“Niching is important because it’s sustainable,” Leach explains. “You can change, alter and grow, and your supporters will grow with you.”

Finding your niche

According to Leach, another tip for finding right side hustle is combining your “natural-born gifts, acquired skills, and passions.”

Leach tried out many side hustles before she ultimately landed on content creating. In high school, she made side income from selling snacks and homemade treats. She then discovered her talent for makeup, and became a freelance makeup artist for about 4 years, under the name Black Rose Beauty.

Though she’d later find out that wasn’t her passion, makeup helped her discover what she truly enjoyed.

“I realized that I didn’t want to work with clients, and I started making TikToks to educate people on business from what I was learning with Black Rose Beauty.”

Leach says she grew her TikTok by almost 50,000 followers in 2 weeks by finding her niche, and ultimately, her passion for creating social media content that has led to brand deals, and even followers leaving exclusive tips on her videos.

Leach also advises that students pursue service-based side hustles over products, as that starts to blur the lines between a business and a side hustle.

“We’re kind of stepping more into a business when it comes to products. They naturally take more time. You have to consider the product design, manufacturing, set up the website, and figure out shipping.”

It may not be practical, as a college student, to put money into creating a product on top of other obligations like student loans, housing, textbooks, etc.

Instead, Leach recommends side hustles like car cleaning/detailing, graphic design or even social media influencing for students needing some extra cash.

Balancing school with financial responsibilities can be difficult, but Leach reassures that with passion and motivation, anything is possible.

“Because I love what I’m doing, it’s easier for me to do. In the past, I was trying to do a side hustle and pursue these ideas that weren’t really for me. I saw other people making money and thought ‘ I can make money too,’ because they did it. And it was hard. But once I stepped into things that I’m naturally good at and really enjoy, it became easier.”

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