How To Start Your Own Business When You Have a Student Loan To Pay Back

Updated: December 14, 2022
by Ray Alexander

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.

How To Start Your Own Business When You Have a Student Loan To Pay Back

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

Graphics & Design

Logo Design
Brand Style Guides
Fonts & Typography
Business Cards & Stationery

Game Art
Graphics for Streamers
Twitch Store
Art & Illustration

Pattern Design
Portraits & Caricatures
Cartoons & Comics
Tattoo Design
Web & App Design

Website Design
App Design
UX Design
Landing Page Design
Icon Design
Marketing Design

Social Media Design
Email Design
Web Banners
Signage Design
Packaging & Covers

Packaging & Label Design
Book Design
Album Cover Design
Podcast Cover Art
Car Wraps
Visual Design

Photoshop Editing
Presentation Design
Infographic Design
Vector Tracing
Resume Design
Architecture & Building Design
Architecture & Interior Design
Landscape Design
Building Engineering
Building Information Modeling
Fashion & Jewelry

Fashion Design
Jewelry Design
Print Design

T-Shirts & Merchandise
Flyer Design
Brochure Design
Poster Design
Catalog Design
Menu Design
Invitation Design
Product & Characters Design

Industrial & Product Design
Character Modeling
Trade Booth Design
Design Advice

Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing
Social Media Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Local SEO
Marketing Strategy
Public Relations
Content Marketing
Video Marketing
Email Marketing
Web Analytics
Text Message Marketing
Marketing Advice
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Display Advertising
E-Commerce Marketing
Influencer Marketing
Community Management
Mobile App Marketing
Music Promotion
Book & eBook Marketing
Podcast Marketing
Affiliate Marketing

Writing & Translation

Articles & Blog Posts
Proofreading & Editing
Resume Writing
Cover Letters
LinkedIn Profiles
Ad Copy
Sales Copy
Social Media Copy
Email Copy
Case Studies
Book & eBook Writing
Book Editing
Podcast Writing
Beta Reading
Creative Writing
Brand Voice & Tone
UX Writing
eLearning Content Development
Technical Writing
Job Descriptions
White Papers
Website Content
Product Descriptions
Press Releases
Business Names & Slogans
Grant Writing
Research & Summaries
Writing Advice

Video & Animation

Video Editing
Short Video Ads
Whiteboard & Animated Explainers
Character Animation
Lyric & Music Videos
Logo Animation
Intros & Outros
Visual Effects
Subtitles & Captions
Spokesperson Videos
Unboxing Videos
Animated GIFs
3D Product Animation
Social Media Videos
E-Commerce Product Videos
Product Photography
Live Action Explainers
Lottie & Website Animation
NFT Animation
NFT Services
NFT Development
NFT Promotion Checklist
Character Animation
Corporate Videos
App & Website Previews
Animation for Streamers
Slideshow Videos
Crowdfunding Videos
Meditation Videos
Animation for Kids
Article to Video
Game Trailers
Book Trailers
Real Estate Promos
eLearning Video Production
Video Templates Editing
Screencasting Videos
Local Photography
Drone Videography
Video Advice


Music & Audio

Voice Over
Producers & Composers
Singers & Vocalists
Mixing & Mastering
Session Musicians
Online Music Lessons
Podcast Editing
Beat Making
Audiobook Production
Audio Ads Production
Sound Design
Jingles & Intros
Audio Editing
Music Transcription
Vocal Tuning
DJ Drops & Tags
DJ Mixing
Remixing & Mashups
Synth Presets
Meditation Music
Audio Logo & Sonic Branding
Music & Audio Advice

Programming & Tech

Website Builders & CMS
Game Development
Development for Streamers
Web Programming
E-Commerce Development
Mobile Apps
Desktop Applications
Support & IT
Online Coding Lessons
Cybersecurity & Data Protection
Get Your Website in a Few Steps
Electronics Engineering
Convert Files
User Testing
QA & Review
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
NFT Development
Data Processing
Data Engineering
Data Science


Virtual Assistant
E-Commerce Management
Market Research
Customer Care
CRM Management
ERP Management
Supply Chain Management
Project Management
Event Management
Game Concept Design
Business Plans
Financial Consulting
Legal Consulting
Business Consulting
HR Consulting
Career Counseling
Data Entry
Data Analytics
Data Visualization



Online Tutoring
Astrology & Psychics
Modeling & Acting
Fitness Lessons
Dance Lessons
Life Coaching
Greeting Cards & Videos
Personal Stylists
Cooking Lessons
Craft Lessons
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,, 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;

  • There's no need to build a website or set up any complicated payment systems - all you need to do is create a gig and start selling.
  • It’s also good to get quick, one-off gigs.
  • Fiverr has a huge audience of potential buyers, so you're more likely to find someone who's interested in what you have to offer.

The disadvantages of using Fiverr may be;

  • You're competing with a lot of other sellers, which makes it difficult to stand out.
  • Because the marketplace is so popular, there are always new sellers joining the platform. This means that prices for services are constantly getting driven down.
  • The admin takes a 20% cut of every gig you sell. This can eat into your profits if you're not careful.

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;

  • It gives you more control over your pricing.
  • It allows you to build a longer-term relationship with your clients. However, it can be more difficult to get started and you'll need to invest time and effort into marketing your site.
  • You can build your brand and credibility as an entrepreneur.
  • As well as selling your skills, you can cross-sell other people’s products as an affiliate.

Whereas the downsides may be;

  • It requires extra marketing skills to promote your website.
  • It will take time (or extra investment) before you start to drive traffic.

How to Get Your Side Hustle Started

Here are the basic steps on how to get started:

How to Get Your Side Hustle 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

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. 
Landing Pages for WordPress

#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!

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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