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Creatively Inclined Ways to Make Money in College

Updated on March 4, 2012

Going into college in this fall, I came to a harsh realization--I'm broke. My bank account will support about four credit hours of my journalism major. I do have a job, but they over-hired during their busy season and put me on a six month or more leave.

In short, I need cash. But I have a problem. I am horrible at teaching people, rendering me completely incapable of tutoring anyone. Selling my life on Ebay is also out of the question, and I'm not yet desperate enough to mow my neighbors' lawns and pick up after their dogs.

During many late night researching sessions of ways to make money the conventional way, I came to the conclusion that I needed some right-brained ways to make money. I had to think creatively if I was going to pay for college. Below is a list of a compilation of what Google and I came up with.

Minnesota sunsets
Minnesota sunsets

If You're Into....

Photography
Making money with photography is a limitless, open book. Plus you don't have to own a $500 camera to take incredible pictures. Your IPhone can take just as stellar shots, such as the picture to the right. Some money making options for photography-favoring students are:

  • Submitting Photos to Contests.Websites like proofpositive.com have tons of photography contests available, and many of them are free to enter. For a cost of nothing but a few seconds to whip out your Iphone or Nikon, you could be winning a cash prize of $4,800. (renaissancephotography.org)
  • Creating and Selling Stock Photography. For those of you who, like me, had no idea what stock photography meant, "stock photography is the supply of photographs licensed for specific uses." (wikipedia.org) Anything from puppies to newsprint would great stock photos. Great websites to check out for selling stock photos include: iStockphoto.com,gettyimages.com, jupiterimages.com, fotolia.com, shutterstock.com, and bigstockphoto.com.
  • Check Craigslist. As sketchy as the idea of answering to an ad on craigslist.com may sound, it always has ads for wanted photographers. You can even create an advertisement offering up your own photography services.
  • Take Advantage of Social Media Trends. Websites like Facebook have millions of users a day. Post some of your work and offer your services as a senior picture photographer or even wedding photographer. Chances are one of your 563 Facebook friends knows someone who's in need of a cheap photographer for something. You could also look to Pinterest.com to post your portfolios from past work.
  • Apply for Photography-Based Scholarships. Sites like collegeprowler.com and college-financial-aid-advice.com have plenty of scholarships awarded for photography. There are tons of websites dedicated to these types of scholarships, and the prize cash varies with each one.

At one point, I wore every one of these. ..at the same time.
At one point, I wore every one of these. ..at the same time.

Knitting & Knotting
What I mean by this is anything from cross stitching to crocheting. There's a huge money market for handmade items, especially with the help of ever-changing fashion trends. Routes and options I've found profitable are:

  • Making Friendship Bracelets. There's a reason places like Claire's, Icing, and even Charlotte Russe sell these bad boys for $1.00-$2.50 or more. The friendship bracelet business is a gold mine for twelve year old girls' cash. Especially if you include the words "Justin" and "Bieber" in any way.
  • Knitting Scarves and Other Accessories. After learning how to crochet, I went into crazy mode and ended up making a million scarves that I would never wear. I sold a few of them at a garage sale, and even sold a few to friends at five bucks a pop. Depending on how advanced you are, you could make other accessories, like hats and socks, or even incorporate fancy knitting styles into scarves. If you don't know how to knit or crochet, fear not. Woolandthegang.com is not only an incredibly hip and beautiful site, but it also includes easy to follow tutorials.
  • Making Knit Bags. I once knit a bag for my friend (it was incredibly easy) and sold it to her for ten bucks! She uses it all the time and she's even had me make some for her other friends.
  • Now Sell Stuff on Etsy. Now that you have all these awesome handmade goods laying around, you could try selling them on Etsy.com. You could also post pictures of your items of Pinterest and include a link to your Etsy shop to reach more customers.

Don't worry, I didn't make this. Thank you Forever21.
Don't worry, I didn't make this. Thank you Forever21.

Fabrics & Textiles
I am currently taking a textiles class to fill in my schedule at school, and I have plenty of friends asking me to make them something, even simple things like a pillowcase. There are so many options for people who know how to sew.

  • Make Alterations. This is an incredibly simple way to make money. With a massive amount of video tutorials, you can figure out how to hem and alter any type of clothing. My aunt, who is a computer programmer is secretly amazing with a sewing machine, and she has tons of work friends that pay her to alter their clothing!
  • Make Clothes. You don't necessarily need to spend money to make money in this situation. I found this awesome youtube video from amynotsomuch and she makes anadorable maxi dress from her bed sheet, and she even shows you different ways to jazz it up. If you end up making your own clothes, you can sell them, or even save them for yourself to save some money. There are so many DIY's for clothes available, you can't possibly run out of ideas.
  • Make Barbie Clothes. Have you seen the price for Barbie clothes these days? It's almost not even worth buying the Barbie in the first place! I made tons of Barbie clothes for my cousin, and my aunt paid me for them all! It's a win-win situation. She saved money on Barbie clothes, and I got money. Jess from craftinessisnotoptional.com has a bunch of posts on how to make incredibly simple Barbie clothes. Plus, making doll clothes is a great way to practice before making a life size item!

My drawing at its best.
My drawing at its best.

Drawing and Painting
Sadly, I cannot draw or paint to save my life. I pretend I can sketch fashion designs, but that's about as good as I'll get. Fortunately, for those of you who are Monet-in-training, there are tons of opportunities for you.

  • Craigslist. Believe it or not, there are posts asking for children's books illustrators all the time, especially if you're in a highly populated city. (If you don't feel like you live in a huge city, don't cry, because I saw an ad for a children's illustrator on Lincoln, Nebraska's Craigslist.) Don't be shy to show off your work to someone. Remember that even if they don't use your work, every opportunity can be constructive in some way. Don't fret!
  • Sell Your Artwork Through a Local Gallery. I say local first, because depending on where you live, it could be easier to start off locally. Again, don't be scared! Even if they don't choose to sell your artwork, ask them what you could do differently. Here are some tips about approaching an art gallery.
  • Offer to Create Advertisements for Local Businesses. I don't know about your cities, but here in Lincoln, I'll often see really cool window paintings advertising a local store's sale. Offer your artistic services to a local shop or other business. My advice is to stay to closer to family owned or private owned businesses, seeing as how major corporations may already have their own highly-paid advertising agencies at work for them.
  • Etsy, Etsy, Etsy. If you've got patience and talent, I cannot stress Etsy.com enough! I'm going to be the same way with Pinterest! With over 10.4 million registered users, (techcrunch.com) how could you not take advantage of it? It's free advertising! Like I said before, upload pictures of your products to pinterest and make sure to include a link to your Etsy shop. Seriously the easiest and cheapest form of advertising available.

Not sure what this has to do with video, but you get the point.
Not sure what this has to do with video, but you get the point.

Video
I myself wanting to be an actress, I understand the way video can affect people. It's such an important media. There's so much you can do with it and it's a great way to express your creative visions.

  • Video Blogging. When I say video blogging, Grace Helbig from dailygrace comes to mind. She's become pretty famous, she's even in the new Google Chrome commercial. Video blogging is as simple as talking about a trending subject or doing something crazy on webcam. Don't be afraid to be crazy! (But for everyone's sake, stay clothed.) Grace is completely insane on camera and she's been on David Letterman and commericals for Google. The key is to be creative and genuine.
  • Enter Video/Student Film Contests and Scholarships. I made a student film once. It was terrible--I sat on my bed and recorded myself talking about the importance of music. But never fear, yours is probably a billion times better! Enter it in some contests and scholarships! Union Pacific is having a commercial remake contests, with a grand prize of $15,000. That's $1,000 short of my tuition! There are tons of other opportunities, too. Onlinevideocontests.com has plenty to choose from.
  • Sell Stock Video Footage on iStockVideo. The price of your stock footage can vary, depending on size and quality. Nevertheless, many businesses are looking into iStock's footage for advertisement these days. When creating stock media, remember to think like a client and what they would be looking for.
  • Filming Local Events. Local bands, sports events, birthday parties, weddings. All great options to get cash for your camera skills. Ask around to see if family or friends need something filmed. A word of advice, though, be honest with your abilities. Don't film a special moment, like a wedding, if you're not completely confident with your camera abilities.
  • Craigslist and Other Local Advertising. Again, I'm going to stress Craigslist. You never know what people want until you look! It could be a great bridge into the money making tip above. Options could range from anything like shooting a local business' commercial, or filming a wedding.

Seventeen Magazine article about the wonderful Scarlett Johansson.
Seventeen Magazine article about the wonderful Scarlett Johansson.

Writing
Personally, the art form that I can relate to the easiest. It's too easy to express your own views and opinions through the fabulous world of writing, not to mention it's an easy-peasy way to make cold hard cash.

  • Blogging. Don't believe you can make money by writing on the internet? What do you think happens when you read an article like this online? Someone, somewhere is getting money in the bank, all due to your interests in certain topics. Places like the wonderful Hubpages.com is a great place to start, but there are also places like problogger.net, which post an array of blogging jobs. Many blogging sites allow you to get paid for writing about your own interests!
  • Writing Scholarships. There are plenty of scholarships given out for the poetry and essays you write. If you're more in tune with writing, you're at an advantage for scholarships. Many students don't like writing essays for scholarships, so they skip out on the scholarship altogether, leaving them for people like us! College-financial-aid-advice.com has tons of opportunities for free money to choose from. If you're more into poetry, I'd recommend looking into poetryscholarships.us to check out the opportunities available.
  • Craigslist. Noticing a pattern yet? TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CRAIGSLIST! Seriously! People are looking for people like you, I promise! I recently saw a post for a children's book author for a local company. I can't make this stuff up, check out for yourself.
  • Writing Newsletters for Local Business. It's all about the local economy. Clubs and businesses are looking to make money, too. They do so through writers who create pamphlets and newsletters for them. Don't be afraid to ask around, you never know who could be thinking about advertising.
  • Proofreading. Not exactly you writing this time, but for every person who has the knowledge of grammar, there's three people out there who don't know the difference between "you're" and "your". This especially goes out to college students. Take advantage of your skill, and get your friends to pay you to take advantage of it, too.
  • Don't Be Afraid to Write for Free. At least for a while. Writing opinion-editorial (op-ed) pieces for your city's newspaper is a great way to not only get some writing practice, but to get your writing out in public. Op-ed pieces aren't always something you get paid for, but getting published looks great on a resume. Plus, you never know what could happen.

Well, that's just a few ideas to scratch the surface of the creative options for broke college students, like myself. Don't limit yourself to my list, there are endless possibilities! Someone once told me my creativity was the best part about me because over the years, we're forced to stick to such rigid instructions in school, that most of us lose our imagination. Don't let your creativity become lost. Think of everything you could bring into the world. And don't worry too much about college. Yes, we all need money, but in the end, money is meant to be spent. (No rhyme intended.) Spend your money on getting the most out of this experience and most of all, have fun! You only go to college for the first time once!

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    • veggie-mom profile image

      veggie-mom 5 years ago

      Well done! Nice series of resources. Welcome to hubpages.

    • mathair profile image

      mathair 5 years ago from Ireland

      I am not a student but I could still use some of your tips.

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