Everyone wants to make money. As a student, you are probably acutely aware of just how much money matters. Clothes, textbooks, food, parking tickets: the world runs on money. Even though there is the promise of a job at the end of your journey, it’s still important to earn a little bit of money while still in school. Where to start though? Who to approach? In this post, I break down exactly how to earn money before getting out of school for all the students out there. It doesn’t matter what level of education you have, where you are, or what you want to do, these tips are applicable to almost anyone. Ready? Let’s jump right in!
What Do You Like to Do?
Before starting to earn money, it’s important to understand what you really like to do. Investment bankers make…… well, BANK. But they also slave away for long hours and most are deeply unsatisfied with their job. No amount of money can buy time or freedom or joy, so even when making money in school, it’s crucial that it aligns with your passion.
A few good questions to ask yourself are:
- What do I enjoy doing in my free time?
- If I asked my friends, what would they say I love doing?
- What can I get lost in for hours at a time?
At this stage it’s okay to be broad, but have a few good ideas about what you enjoy doing before moving on. This will help guide the rest of your journey.
What Are You Good At?
It’s one thing to like doing something, and another to be good at it. In most roles, it’s better to have some experience in your field before marketing your service to others. You might be thinking “but I’m still in school… how can I possibly have any credentials?” And you’re right, you probably don’t have credentials, but that’s ok. You just have to be good at something, and be able to show it. This can be through awards or just through experience.
For example, if you are good at solving Rubik’s cubes, your ‘proof’ might be “I can solve a Rubik’s cube in 30 seconds.” Or if you love reading, your ‘proof’ might be “I read over 50 books last year.”
Just make sure that the thing you want to base your money-making endeavors around is also in a field which you have some experience in. This will make it infinitely easier to market and get clients.
How Can you Help Someone?
Before we go into this section, I want to propose a question: why do rich people become rich?
Let’s try it with someone… say Bill Gates. Why is Bill Gates rich?
“Well he invented the personal computer.”
Ok, let’s dive a little deeper, what else did he do?
“He made personal computers really accessible to almost everyone around the world.”
Sure, but why was that important in making him rich?
“Because personal computers made it a lot easier to do a lot of things and now a lot of people have access to this technology.”
Put simply, Bill Gates is rich because he brought VALUE to people. The more value you bring to the more people, the richer you will be. Same with Jeff Bezos. Because of his creation Amazon, people anywhere in the world can order almost anything they want without even having to move from the couch and receive it the same day. That’s value creation, and that’s what makes people rich.
So back to you: how can you create value in someone’s life? Think about what you like doing, what you’re good at, and how you can help someone while doing something related. People will pay lots and lots of money if you can help them out even a little bit in their lives.
How Can People Know About This?
The best business model in the world won’t do anything if nobody knows about the business. Arguably the most important step to making money while still in school is finding clients. There are lots of ways that you can do this but generally speaking, this is probably the hierarchy that works best.
1. Your close network
I’ve cited this a whole bunch of times already but some crazy number like 70% of available jobs are not listed. This is because people generally trust their own circle more than strangers on the internet. The same is true when trying to get clients. People in your own network will trust you way more than people on the internet, so the best place to start is with people you are close with and already know. Try to reach out to your connections and see if you can help anyone within your own circle with your service.
2. Your not-so-close network
The next group of people to reach out to is people who you kind of know but not that well. Let’s call these: acquaintances. Acquaintances are not ideal because you probably don’t have a great relationship with them, but they’re still better than strangers.
Finally, the last group of people you can reach out to is obviously everyone. With the internet, you can reach almost anyone in the world with just a few taps. Plus, social media makes marketing and advertising efforts a lot easier than they used to be. Some great places to start are:
- Etsy (if you’re making hand-crafted stuff)
- Fiverr or other similar sites (if you’re doing freelance work)
Build Your Hustle
After you’ve figured out what you like, what you’re good at, how you’re going to help people, and how you’re going to reach people, it’s important that you deliver great quality work. No matter what you choose to do (knit sweaters or tutor students), you must ensure that you’re giving it your best work, otherwise you will soon have no more clients.
If you’re hoping to grow and expand in the future, it might be helpful to also track your progress. What did you do this week? What tasks can be automated? What tasks can be given to others? How much money is each task worth? With sustained time and effort, you’re sure to have success in your field.
Here we’ll walk through an example of how to apply these steps in a fictitious example relating to my own interests.
What do I like to do?
I personally love to play golf and love all things related to golf. It’s been one of my passions for a while now.
What am I good at doing?
I am lucky enough to have been raised in a very “golf-intense” family so have been playing the game for a while now. I’d say I’m pretty good at golf.
How can I help someone?
Lots of people out there love the game of golf and want to get better. I feel like I can help out with that so a service I might choose is coaching. I might start a golf coaching service.
How can I get people to know about this?
Using the three types of potential clients, this might be the order of people whom I reach out to:
- Close friends who I know have been wanting to learn golf for a while
- Siblings of friends or golf buddies who I mutually know
- People online through Instagram or through freelancing platforms like Upwork or Fiverr
How can I build my hustle?
Over time, once I have an established routine, I might implement certain coaching apps to help automate certain processes. Maybe I can partner with golf courses to offer my services, or hire co-coaches. The opportunities are endless!
Building a side hustle is one of the best ways to learn how to make money while still in school. A few questions to ask yourself before you get started are:
- What do you like to do?
- What are you good at?
- How can you help people?
- How will people know about you?
- How will you build your services?
Keep at this hustle successfully for a while and more and more people will start to know about it. If you do it well, you might even be able to grow it into it’s own business. Then, who knows, maybe you can skip the 9-5 part of your life and just do what you love for a living 🙂
Thanks for reading through “How to Earn Money Before Getting Out of School”. To learn about how to build income opportunities as a student, head over to this post here. If you want to learn more about me, head over to this link here. If you’d like to check out some game apps to win real money, click on this link here. Finally, if you want to get exclusive updates and tips, drop your email in the “get updates” box (might have to scroll up a bit.) Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!
Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student passionate about making smart financial decisions both in school and in the workplace so that he can spend more time doing what he loves (like playing golf, spending time with family, and travelling). He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys sharing all things personal finance, academic, and golf-related. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.