How to Hustle: A College Student’s Guide to Making Money on the Side

By: Angelina Globokar


I received my first paycheck when I was 15 years old. I was working my first job at McDonald’s and had just been handed a check of around $90. I remember staring at it in disbelief. In my 15-year-old brain, this meant I was rich. Over four years later, I am no longer working at McDonald’s and I am no longer “rich”. When I came to Ohio State, a plethora of amazing opportunities were thrown at me, which I jumped headfirst into being involved in. I knew that I wanted to rush a sorority the second semester of my Freshman year, but upon further research, the significant cost of being in one almost made me believe that it was an unattainable goal. So maybe you are currently finding yourself in the same position that I was in. You need to pay for school. You want to join Greek life. You need to buy some business clothes. All of the prices of the activities you’re involved in and the cost of everyday living are starting to add up and seem insurmountable. How do you solve this problem when you come to it? You gotta hustle, honey!


Do your research. Yeah, yeah, I know. No amount of professors or advisors telling you how important doing your research is is going to make the process sound interesting, but I promise it can be. Research for my side hustle meant going on Tik Tok and Instagram to look up the latest and greatest DIYs that I 

could make and sell. Last November, when I started my side hustle, I recognized that people were looking for a product they could buy and gift for the holidays, one that could be personalized and was trendy. I decided on making personalized Spotify picture frames, a business that took off immediately. Other versions of this product were far too expensive for people to be willing to buy and there were not many reliable and trustworthy sellers that people could feel comfortable buying from. I took this idea and ran with it, ensuring a quality product and developing personal customer connections in order to increase customer retention and enhance their experience. 


Solidify the production process. So you have the idea, now what? You have to plan out your production process. I searched for durable materials in stores near me to produce the highest quality frames that I could. In the beginning, I would spend an hour making one Spotify frame trying to get everything aligned and looking perfect. This was simply unrealistic. Because I was the only person doing every single job, I needed to come up with tools to speed up the production process and make a clean product. I created a template to align the words more precisely and efficiently, as this was the most time-consuming part of the production process. I also perfected specific techniques that helped in the quality of my product, such as wearing socks on my hands while handling the frames, therefore eliminating any fingerprints or smudges. 


Prioritize bookkeeping and receipts. Other than making the actual product, bookkeeping is the most crucial part of having a successful side hustle. As soon as I received an order, I would put all of the information into a spreadsheet, which helped me immensely when it came to filling orders promptly. It is also super important to keep all of your receipts and keep track of business expenses. I kept track of all of my business expenses and unit prices, which allowed me to come up with the price of my product and change it when needed. It can be difficult to come up with a reasonable price for your products, but if you

want to make a measurable profit, use these numbers to ensure you are not undercharging for your products or services. 


Create unique, quality packaging. Of course, when you are first starting your side hustle, the packaging is likely to be more practical than pleasing to the eye. However, coming up with a style of packaging that is protective and appealing will make your product seem more legit and make it more attractive to customers. If you are providing a service for your side hustle, this would include branding, i.e. a business card, Instagram, or a flyer, to promote your service. I also found that putting some sort of personalized touch onto each product after it’s packaged adds to the overall appeal. For my frames, I did this by adding a handwritten customer name label to each packaged frame and a small sticker with a handwritten “Handmade by Angie” note on them. 


Document the entire process for social media. Nowadays, we live our lives through our phones, addicted to watching short videos in order to satisfy our eager minds and falling down the rabbit holes of different social media accounts to pass time. While this might not be a great habit for the average person to keep, it is amazing news for you. Creating a strong and interesting social media presence can expand your customer base immensely. By utilizing Instagram Stories, Tik Tok, and Snapchat to document your side hustle journey, you are able to let customers in on the “secrets” of the process. The tools that I utilized the most were Instagram reels and stories, documenting the process of how to make frames and showing how many orders I was receiving. This makes customers feel like they are a part of the business as well and makes their order feel more meaningful. 


Engage your audience. Connect with your customers through social media! Ask previous customers to leave you a good review. Post outlets for potential customers to ask questions. Ask your audience questions related to your product to draw them in. Once I received a substantial amount of frames ordered, I decided to do an Instagram giveaway in order to create a marketing opportunity for myself. For people to enter the giveaway, they needed to share one of my Spotify frame reels on their story, tag my account, and follow me. This was an extremely effective tactic, increasing my social media reach by almost 500%. 

I would be lying to you if I told you that starting and maintaining a successful side hustle was not a lot of work. Last winter break, when I was pursuing this side hustle, I was also working full time at my job at Starbucks. There were many nights that I received little to no sleep. I also had to satisfy and meet customer discrepancies and take responsibility for any of my business’s shortcomings. However, I did come out of it having had an extreme amount of success, producing over 200 frames in two months and making more than enough money to take financial responsibility for the cost of joining a sorority. Now I’ve taught you my ways on how to hustle successfully, so what are you waiting for? Go on, turn on “Money” by Cardi B and get the ball rolling.

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