You’ve been working hard for your employer but a chunk of your income is going towards paying back your student loan. You’re also full of ideas for starting your own business. Is there any way to earn extra income using your spare time to make your current situation more comfortable, be able to save, and improve your future planning?
Of course there is. It may not be easy as you may have a lot going on with your current job. But if you don’t try your best now, when? Life will only get harder if you don’t have a good money mindset and systematically get your finance under control. So let's uncover how you can develop a solid side hustle plan - a plan that can assist you in becoming a successful entrepreneur in the near future.
Get Your Current Debt Sorted
First of all, reorganize the outgoings. Because while you’re focusing on setting up a new side hustle business, the last thing you want is to fall behind with your current debt. You don’t want to end up in default, which would damage your credit score and put additional stress on your finances. That would defeat the purpose.
If you’re struggling to keep up the loan payments, student loan refinance is worth considering. It can help you lower your monthly payments in a number of ways, for example;
- You can get a lower interest rate. If you have improved your credit score and income since you first took out the loan, you may be eligible for a lower rate by refinancing your loans.
- Lower your monthly payment by extending the repayment period. This will mean smaller monthly installments over a longer period of time, although it will also accrue more interest over the life of the loan.
- You may be offered flexible repayment options such as a reduced interest rate for the first 6 months.
Why Selling Your Skills Online Is The Best Way To Make Extra Income
You know by now that there are a lot of side hustle options. Selling products or drop-shipping is probably out of the window because you’re still working full time and you’ll have no time to manage orders or take customers' inquiries during the day.
Selling your skills online is a great option. It's a flexible way to earn money that won't disrupt your workday. It gives you the freedom to work without time restrictions. And although you may need to learn basic marketing skills (which can be fun), selling what you already have means that potential customers can see exactly what you're capable of and what you're offering, which makes it much easier to close a sale.
There are still several other advantages, for example;
- You can reach a global audience of potential buyers. This means that you’re not limited by your geographical location.
- Because there's no physical product to ship or inventory to manage, it's a very low-cost business to start.
- You want to monetize your talents and earn money doing what you love, because, after a long day with your day job, the last thing you want is to get more stressed at home.
If you have a skill that others would find useful, there's a good chance you can sell it online, which will help you pay back your student loans quickly. So consider selling your skills online.
Examples of Skills That Can Be Sold Online
Take a look at the listing categories on Fiverr. From designing, virtual assistance, writing, and accountancy, to even psychic/clairvoyance, etc. The list can help you find out what you can contribute, or at least it can inspire you.
Fiverr Gig Category Examples
Click each category for detailed view
Brand Style Guides
Fonts & Typography
Business Cards & Stationery
Graphics for Streamers
Art & Illustration
Portraits & Caricatures
Cartoons & Comics
Web & App Design
Landing Page Design
Social Media Design
Packaging & Covers
Packaging & Label Design
Album Cover Design
Podcast Cover Art
Architecture & Building Design
Architecture & Interior Design
Building Information Modeling
Fashion & Jewelry
T-Shirts & Merchandise
Product & Characters Design
Industrial & Product Design
Trade Booth Design
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Text Message Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Mobile App Marketing
Book & eBook Marketing
Articles & Blog Posts
Proofreading & Editing
Social Media Copy
Book & eBook Writing
Brand Voice & Tone
eLearning Content Development
Business Names & Slogans
Research & Summaries
Short Video Ads
Whiteboard & Animated Explainers
Lyric & Music Videos
Intros & Outros
Subtitles & Captions
3D Product Animation
Social Media Videos
E-Commerce Product Videos
Live Action Explainers
Lottie & Website Animation
NFT Promotion Checklist
App & Website Previews
Animation for Streamers
Animation for Kids
Article to Video
Real Estate Promos
eLearning Video Production
Video Templates Editing
Producers & Composers
Singers & Vocalists
Mixing & Mastering
Online Music Lessons
Audio Ads Production
Jingles & Intros
DJ Drops & Tags
Remixing & Mashups
Audio Logo & Sonic Branding
Music & Audio Advice
Website Builders & CMS
Development for Streamers
Support & IT
Online Coding Lessons
Cybersecurity & Data Protection
Get Your Website in a Few Steps
QA & Review
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
Supply Chain Management
Game Concept Design
Astrology & Psychics
Modeling & Acting
Greeting Cards & Videos
Arts & Crafts
Family & Genealogy
Sell On Fiverr vs On Your Website
Two of the most popular ways to sell your skills are;
- Using a marketplace such as Fiverr, Freelancer.com, Upwork, etc.
- Using your own website.
Fiverr is a great platform if you want to get some initial sales under your belt. You can offer gigs for as little as $5 and offer a wide variety of services. This marketplace is perfect for beginners who don’t have their own platform. The advantages are;
The disadvantages of using Fiverr may be;
Your Own Website
Building your own website itself is a learning curve, but it’ll be a platform that you own. As long as you keep paying a domain name (no more than $15 a year), it can become a valuable asset for the rest of your life. The advantages of selling your skills on your website may be;
Whereas the downsides may be;
How to Get Your Side Hustle Started
Here are the basic steps on how to get started:
#1 Choose the right platform:
Whether you create your own website or use a marketplace or not, the pros and cons are listed above. So consider how much spare time you have each day and choose one that you think is best.
#2 Create a profile:
Once you have chosen a platform, create a profile and list your skills/ services. Sincerity is the first step to earning the trust of customers. So don’t use a fake name or stock photo.
Don’t overstate what you can do, but also show your confidence. Nobody wants to buy anything from someone who;
- Does not explain exactly what they can do
- Appears apprehensive
- Is not responsive (not responding on the same day)
- Says yes to everything but does not demonstrate
Also be sure to include any relevant experience or qualifications.
#3 Set your price:
Decide how much you want to charge for your services. Bear in mind that competition will vary depending on the platform you choose, so be competitive but also fair.
#4 Start marketing yourself:
Use social media and other channels to market your skills and services to potential customers or clients.
#5 Get feedback:
Ask customers or clients for feedback on your services. This will help you improve and also attract more business in the future.
Make It Grow
While it’s important to take things one step at a time and not bite off more than you can chew, if you’re ready to work harder, then it’s time to grow. Once your side hustle gets on track and is generating a bit of income, then you can start to think about ways to make it a real full-time business. Here are some ways to step forward;
#1 Build Good Customer Feedback/Testimonials
Customer feedback and testimonials will give you social proof that your business is worth investing in. You can;
- Reach out to past customers and ask them to write a review or leave a testimonial on your website or social media platforms.
- Offer incentives for customers who leave feedback, such as discounts or freebies.
- Or, simply ask for them during or after a transaction. This can be done by sending a follow-up email or asking them in your receipt email.
#2 Enhance Your Website
As you generate more income, you can start providing more flexibility to your website. This may sound cliché but “the possibilities are endless”, you know. For example;
- Create a “members-only area” and share secret skills or provide extra services exclusively to paid customers.
- Host a webinar.
- Make your site a little more interactive by setting up a chatbot.
- Sell affiliate products to make extra money.
#3 Be Even More Unique
Don't be afraid to be different. You may be worried that you won't be able to attract customers if you don't fit into the mold of what is already out there. But being different is actually one of the best ways to grow your business.
One of the reasons your business has started to generate revenue must be your uniqueness. People choose to buy your service because they see something that you offer that no one else does, right? So whatever it is - your unique skills, a unique way of doing business, keep doing what you do and keep searching for more uniquenesses that potential new customers may value and appreciate. They are always looking for new and innovative businesses to patronize.
#4 Focus on the Customer Experience
Businesses are strongly built on relationships and repeat customers. If you're not focused on providing a great customer experience, you're likely to lose out to your competitors who are.
Needless to say, your service should maintain high quality and meet customer expectations. But you also need to follow up with customers after they've received your product to make sure they're satisfied.
Be available when your customers need you. That means having someone available to answer questions or help with problems during regular business hours. You may be able to generate enough income to hire someone to achieve this.
Providing a great customer experience doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. It's just a matter of caring. They will keep coming back, and your business will continue to thrive.
Can You Quit Your Day Job Eventually?
When your student loans are paid back and you have sufficient income from your business, can you - or do you want to - quit your employment?
Of course you can, and the decision is all up to you. As long as you love your current day job, there’s no reason why you should rush out and quit.
How about quitting your job and getting a different job on a part-time basis while maintaining your business successfully? The world of business is always evolving and we never know what’s going to happen. So it's important to be flexible in order to adapt to new circumstances. It’s good to be prepared for anything and have a backup plan.
How To Start Your Own Business When You Have a Student Loan To Pay Back: Final Words
Student loan repayments can be a huge obstacle when you’re trying to build a career. You want to pay back quickly but you don’t really want to get a second job just for financial reasons. Start putting your skills to good use so you can start making some extra cash by doing what you love.
By offering your services online, you will not only showcase your work but also learn marketing skills and build your own brand over time. Whether you’re turning it into a full-time business in the future or not, the experience will become useful for years to come. Good luck!