If you asked me why I wanted to earn money in college (as a senior, no less), the answer is simple.
I wouldn’t be getting allowance for at least five months. And my shopaholic heart couldn’t take that.
To cut the long story short for why five months, just know that it had to do with this weird academic calendar shift we were having back in the Philippines. While nearly half a year of summer break was a dream to my ten-year-old self, as a broke college student? Not ideal.
In my country, you couldn’t always walk into a pizza parlor or coffee shop and get a part-time summer job then and there. So I knew I couldn’t try getting a side job waiting tables. But I had the will to figure out other means – and as you know, that’s sometimes all you need to get started.
And thus started my first venture into side hustles.
In case you’re curious, read on to learn the exact steps for how I managed to earn PHP150,000 in ten months – even while juggling work as a full-time university senior!
Note: Most currencies in this post will be in Philippine Peso, as that was the currency I used to keep track of these savings. In cases where I earned US dollars, I’ll be inserting a rough conversion using the estimated exchange rate from the period I was earning them.
My first step to earn money in college: freelance services
Yes, services. Plural.
I particular started offering writing and designing services, not knowing which one I’d enjoy more. So I compiled my portfolios for both these things then started reaching out to potential clients.
Of course, as a brand-new freelancer, the getting-hired process was hard. I probably didn’t see results from my cold outreach until after a week. But once I broke through that initial barrier, I started getting booked more and more.
Here’s a breakdown of how much I earned in the first five months (April-August):
*If you’re interested to know how much that is in U.S. dollars, a ballpark figure is that for every $1, that’s PHP50. Again, this amount goes a long way for a student where I studied!
On my first month of offering these freelance services, I didn’t get too many clients. After all, I was new and didn’t have too much testimonials yet!
But once I got through that hurdle and hustled like there was no tomorrow, things picked up, and I was getting booked more often.
By the time I hit the five-month mark though, I realized something: I was earning way more from writing gigs than my designing gigs. Maybe that had been my fault because I didn’t price myself too high on my designs.
But once August came about, I decided to ditch offering design services altogether.
And what that did had a big impact on my freelance services and side hustle income!
How I earned more by offering less
This is the second thing I did: instead of offering a ton of different services, I decided to focus on just one service.
And the effect this had was amazing! Because once I stopped being an “all-around” freelancer, I didn’t have to waste time answering so many discovery calls (in my case, messages). And think about it:
If you focus on just one thing for a given time, you can put your best foot forward each time.
What that meant for me was devoting all my time to just a couple clients for a given period, then offering them my best services. I didn’t have to confine myself to taking several, okay-priced projects anymore. With one strong solid offer, I could price higher, take on the right clients, and devote my time to each of them without sacrificing the quality of my work.
End result? In just a few months, I’d earned way more than I initially had when I first started – and when I’d been offering other services, thinking that would let me earn more.
|Freelance Services (April to August)
|Writing Services (September to November)
In those few months, I got booked for my high-ticket services. I even experimented on hourly rates and fixed rates. But lo and behold, narrowing down my service as a freelance writer had a big impact on my earnings!
And now I’ll move on to the last two months I took to earn money in college.
Related: How to Find Your Focus (even with too many passions)
How I raised my last 50k
From December of that year to June the next, I took a break from freelance work. Long story short, I went on a “spontaneous” exchange program to Spain (that my introvert self still can’t believe she did).
But once I got back to Manila, I told myself I wouldn’t hop back on the freelance train so soon. And when I returned, I realized something: I had a ton of new clothes from my Spanish adventure that my closet was full to the brim of clothes – clothes I knew I wouldn’t all wear!
So I asked my sister what I could do with them, and she recommended I sell them. “Good idea,” I figured. So I got right to it.
I did this consistently for a couple of months. And on a second month, I was ready to take on a few clients for freelance work. So I had an active side hustle of freelance writing – and an occassional, more in the “background” hustle of selling my old things.
Here’s how the numbers turned out.
|Freelance Services (April to November)
|Selling Clothes (June to July)
|Writing Services (June to July)
And there you have it!
And if someone like me could earn money in college, with classes and internships and all, then I’m pretty sure anyone with the drive and motivation can.
Which leads me to my next point: how I actually got the drive and motivation to start and eventually continue these side hustles.
Why I wanted to be a side hustler in the first place
Like my favorite budgeting app proclaims on its website: budget with a why.
In my case, I wanted to earn with a why.
Now my “why” for wanting to earn money in college – in the very beginning – was simple: I was motivated by the sheer need to “survive.” Survive meaning I was an incoming senior in university with nearly half a year’s worth of summer break*. I wanted to go out and have some fun, buy cool things and new clothes like any bored college student.
And to do that, I needed cash.
*I feel the need to mention that these five months didn’t mean I had nothing to do the whole time! I had a lot of extra-curriculars, like being a full-time intern and a Freshman orientation organizer.
But why did I want that cash anyway?
Easy: so I could have a memorable and awesome summer.
To be clear: no, I don’t think money is the only way to have that. But money sure was one thing I’d need. How was I going to afford movie tickets? New Instax films? Even the occassional summer outfit?
But I’m writing this post as a case study for how I earned money in college, not just over a summer. So while having the summer of my life was the why I started with, it didn’t stay that way forever.
Because even when summer ended, I still wanted to continue my side hustles – to this day, I still do. Even with all my university requirements, I still had this burning desire to keep doing what I’m doing. And was it only to earn for the sake of earning?
No. It wasn’t.
Because as time passed, my reason for wanting to earn money in college changed.
If my first why – to earn money in college to have a great summer before senior year – was the only thing I had, then my side hustle journey would have stopped the moment classes started again and that weekly flow of allowance care of my parents started coming in.
But, for some reason, I still wanted to continue those side hustles. And it wasn’t long until I realized why.
I realized I enjoyed the feeling of earning from what made me passionate.
My side hustles were all based on the things I loved to do. Maybe at first, I didn’t think I’d enjoy them, but hey. The process of figuring it out was just as fun.
And, me, I’m all about doing what makes me passionate. I believe that there’s so much to gain by doing passionate, creative work. And, heck, I’m even convinced that everyone should be doing creative work – because, call me crazy, I do think this passionate, creative work is the key to living happier every day.
Then earning from these creative side hustles? That was a pretty great chocolate-icing bonus on a fat piece of creative cake.
Leave me a comment
What are ways you’ve tried to earn money? Any side hustle inspiration?