10 Low-cost Online Business Ideas for College Students to Earn Pocket Money Without Skipping Classes [Updated]

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If you are a student reading this post to learn some easy business ideas for college students, then I am not going to ask you why! Cause I know you need some extra money to hang-out with friends and enjoy a movie at a multiplex. Here, I have come up with few low-cost business ideas for college students which won’t disrupt your study but would rather help in discovering your passion.

But before you take up any of these business ideas for college students, remember to do own research. Ask yourself if this is something you would like to pursue in future too, may be in a refined form, and do you have enough free-time for a part-time business?


To fire up your imagination, the article shares 10 low-cost online business ideas for college students to earn pocket money without skipping classes. The tried and trusted ideas will help you kick-start your first venture with little-to-no startup money. 

1 — Self-Publish E-books – One of The Productive Online Business Ideas for College Students

self-publish an ebook one of the easy online business ideas for college students

Rapid technological advancement has made it possible to publish e-books without hunting for publishers. The process of self-publishing involves the same method as publishing a physical book, minus the printing cost. 

With an ever-increasing number of people shifting to tablets, smartphones, or dedicated devices like Amazon Kindle, to read online stuff, the sale of digital books have skyrocketed in recent times. To sell your e-book directly, you will have to register yourself on self-publishing websites like Kindle Direct Publishing, or NOOK Press. These leading e-book publishing portals pass on a royalty of 40 percent to 65 percent  to authors. Sounds, lucrative, huh!

2 —   Become A Web Designer

As small and medium businesses are rushing to make their presence felt online, the demand for web designers is rising drastically. If you are a student of computer science, well-versed in HTML, CSS, and Javascript, then you can easily enter the web development industry, which is growing at an exponential rate.

Web designing is one of the best low-cost online business ideas for college students, as there is a lot of money to make in this field. To start your career as a web developer, pick up freelance projects from portals like Guru, Upwork, or Freelancer.com.

3 — Sell Graphic Designs: One Of The Top-trending Low-cost  Online Business Ideas For College Students To Make Instant Money

earn as a graphic designer

This is for the talented ones, who are Photoshop wizards. If you have impeccable designing skill, then starting an online designing career will be easy-breezy for you.

From icons to logos, t-shirt designs, and album covers, there are diverse opportunities for everyone in this niche. You can hand-pick projects from freelancing websites, or put your artwork for sale on design marketplaces like 99Designs, Zazzle, and BigCartel.

There are a plethora of options to sell your designs online, but don’t forget to verify the credential of the company before uploading your files.


4 — Be Born As An Instagram Blogger

be an instagram blogger to earn online

If you are pro-active on social media, and have a penchant for photography, then you should start Instagram blogging without further delay. Instagram is right now one of the best platforms for bloggers. You can use its fluid framework to make money by showcasing your photography skills.


People are habitually attracted to stunning images. So if your clicked pictures have that extra bit of visual appeal, it won’t be a big deal for you to draw traffic. When you develop a solid audience base, you can become an affiliate marketer.  You can offer sponsored posts for brands wanting to sell their products to your audience. Instagram blogging is one of the hottest low-cost online business ideas for college students to mint money from the net world.

Related Post: 25 Profitable Small Business Ideas You Can Try Right Now on Instagram

5 — Sell on Etsy

etsy packaging example

If you are an art college student, then Etsy is the place for you to be in! Etsy is basically a marketplace for unique handmade items, designed and created by independent artists. Like Amazon and eBay,  Etsy is also a prominent eCommerce platform, but their prime focus is on micro-business.

Etsy features a ready-to-use interface that lets you start an eCommerce store within minutes. Once you are on board, you can immediately start selling your handmade products from any place with  internet connectivity.

From paintings to sculptures, clothing to earthenware, candies, toys, and candles, you can sell infinite items on Etsy. With an active buyer count of 28.6 million, there is always someone ready to buy your products. 

Related Post: 50 Actionable Tips to Promote Your Etsy Shop for Free

6 —  Essay Writing: The Most Suitable Low-cost Online Business Ideas For College Students To Earn Pocket Money

If you love writing essays, then you can start earning cash from the comfort of your home. Freelance essay-writing is one of the top-ranking low-cost online business ideas for college students, to earn easy pocket money.

There are three ways to do this.

The first way is to write papers  and get paid by online essay writing companies. The other way is to bid for projects on freelancing websites like Upwork or Freelancer.com. The third way is to promote your writing service on various social media platforms.  There are innumerable writing groups on Facebook, where you can  pitch for essay writing projects.

7 — Be An Online Tutor

teach online one of the easy business ideas for college students

Share your knowledge to teach people who are struggling in areas you excel.  Thanks to free webinars, now you can make money by teaching  from home at your convenience.

Online tutoring, in recent times, is fast becoming one of the most flourishing low-cost online business ideas for college students. You can promote your services at college campus, canteen, library, and on social media. Trust me, you will be amazed by the enormous response! 

The scope of this online business is vast, as it isn’t limited to geographical boundaries. This means, when your online tutoring career takes off, you can even teach a New Yorker while being in Bangalore!

Also, consider launching a YouTube channel to upload video tutorials on any topics which you know really well! Focus on building a significant subscriber base. Then you can monetize the channel and earn from advertising, and affiliation.

8- Offer Services as A Virtual Assistant

offer services as VA

Definitely one of the easiest low-cost online business ideas for college students to try from their dorm rooms! The job involves very basic services like monitoring e-mail communication of your client, managing the client’s social media account, drafting official letters, keeping track of his business activities, and the like. You simply need to be methodical to make handsome money as a VA.

9- Make Easy Money Online As a Social Media Influencer

earn as social media influencer

If you are already hanging out and socializing on social platforms, then make the most of your time and earn as a social media influencer. There are small businesses looking to connect with micro-influencers to improve visibility of their brands. You can become a micro-influencer on popular platforms like Instagram and Facebook, even with a fan following of 1000+.

Once your service gets recognized, there will be no dearth of lucrative offers from SMEs and even large organizations.

10- Start an Online Tech Support Consultancy

Small business owners working with limited resource and tech knowledge, often look for tech experts who can help them out as and when needed. As a tech-savvy college student, you can connect with these entrepreneurs and help them solve common computer/laptop problems. You can answer their tech queries online, over a phone call or upload videos to show them exactly what to do and how to do to. 

For the tech services rendered, you can charge a small fee which you can gradually hike once your customer base expands.

To sum It Up

The above-mentioned low-cost online business ideas will enable you to successfully start an online business. But, remember, you are in a world that is changing at a fast pace. So you must learn to keep up with the changes. And yes, never stop learning. You will definitely prosper as an internet entrepreneur!

If you find the post useful and informative, please respond with a “Share” and help it reach more people, looking for such information.

Can I really make money following these business ideas for college students?

Yes, sure you can! But the thing is you shouldn’t think “money” from day one itself. Surely you can draw inspiration from top entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg, who started their business venture as college students. They launched their startups because they wanted to pursue their dreams with passion and practicality.

What are the popular products a college student can sell to fellow students?

The list is interesting. Few products that a college student wants and needs are bed risers, storage under the bed, a mini fridge, a mini vacuum cleaner, an ottoman with storage, power bank, noise cancelling headphone, a mini microwave, a tea/coffee maker, and a multi-purpose keyboard.

Anirban Mukherji

Anirban Mukherji has been in the content creation industry since 2013. His passion for helping small online businesses streams in the form of new ideas and strategies that translate into a formula for success. Besides writing content for small enterprises, Anirban also creates SEO-friendly pieces for institutions of all sizes. Connect with Anirban on Facebook.