This is a guest post by freelance writer Daniel Swanson.
Turning passions into money can be the most rewarding experience in the world: you’re doing what you love, and you’re making money. However, for college students that do not normally find the words “making” and “money” in the same sentence, following passions can seem like a fruitless endeavor when it isn’t resulting in an unpaid internship. Well, hope is not lost, college students! Here are some potential outlets for that brewing creativity of yours that can help supplement your income and pad out those resumes and portfolios.
1) Sell Your Craft
Maybe you craft scarves, quilts, leather wallets, or liquor bottle lamps – whatever you make for fun, you can sell these items for a small profit. There are a ton of forums and sites where knowledge about crafts is shared and goods are bought, sold, and traded. Etsy is a great site for conveniently marketing homemade goods, and even provides a simple interface for processing payments to make transactions easy. Yes, Ebay is always an option as well, but Etsy attracts the specific kind of audience who would be interested in purchasing handmade goods. Don’t be afraid to peddle your merchandise offline as well, whether it is in craft festivals, networking or throwing an exclusive “launch party” in which your various items take center stage; presentation is just as important as the product itself, so consider splurging on a nice venue and food spread, and make the party appear professional with formal tickets.
2) Take up Photography
Passionate photographers with dreams of making it as freelancers or by selling their prints can expand their pursuits through classes, and even photography walking tours. Not only does this offer a chance to make money by sharing your knowledge with others but it’s another great networking opportunity that can get your name out to people interested in the topic. Plus, don’t forget that plenty of stock photo websites are always looking for fresh material! You may have to start off by offering your portrait services for lesser prices but, the experience of building up your portfolio and establishing a reputation will be worth it.
3) Become a Tour Guide
Where do you live? If you’re a fan of your own hometown, you can probably use that historically-adept mind of yours to run some tours. Being a tour guide is excellent for college students especially, because it looks excellent on a résumé and allows you to practice your public speaking. If you are passionate about your specific city, museum, or simply local historical landmarks, this opportunity will flexibly allow you to follow your passion and make some guaranteed possible tips. When I visited Prague, there were scheduled tours advertised on city maps that were run by locals. They were advertised as “free”, but almost every traveler who took the tour with me tipped our guide at the end. For an hour or two of walking around a city that you love, it’s a great way to earn some extra money and share stories with weary travelers. Plus, there is a chance to become infamous like Nick Gray, who became the world’s foremost unofficial Metropolitan Museum of Art tour guide, simply by being extremely knowledgeable on the museum, showing up, and offering free tours. Warning: paid tour guides aren’t going to like you.
4) Create Music
It can be hard to get gigs that pay the rent as an amateur musician especially if your small college town offers limited venues. One work around is to create your own gigs. Home-made house shows can fall into a grey legal area but it is possible to get together within your local community and throw properly zoned festivals and block parties. Not only can you get your name and sound out there but the work of uniting bands, planning event space, figuring out admissions, and handling refreshments is valuable event planning and networking experience that can always lead to greater future opportunities. Take advantage of your friends’ part time service jobs and have them pitch ideas to their employers that can benefit both of you.
When you are pursuing your passion work stops feeling like work, even if you’re making money off of it. Set out with expectations of not necessarily raking in the millions, but gaining valuable experiences that will help you throughout your lifetime. Furthermore, starting your own business, however small it may be, conveys to potential employers fortitude, creativity, determination and discipline. So take a leap of faith, try your hand at something besides being a camp counselor or delivering pizzas and, for Pete’s sake, have fun!
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