Throughout their college careers, students find a variety of ways to make money while attending school – some find part-time jobs or take part in clinical experiments, while others can make money by renting out their parking spaces during home soccer games. However, the safety regulations elaborated by COVID-19 have thrown a wrench in many of these typical personal plans that would otherwise have helped students earn an income. Even so, some students have still found ways to make a profit while doing what they love, pursuing entrepreneurship paths through online marketing platforms, or becoming student ambassadors for certain brands, to name a few.
Sophomore sophomore Melanie Hauf took advantage of this opportunity and last summer created Boho Bodhi Designs on Etsy, the online commerce site where developers can sell handmade or vintage goods to the public. Sellers can start their shop for free and have minimal selling costs when they choose Etsy as their selling platform. For Hauf, this meant that she could sell her hand-sewn pearl earrings, a passion she had had since she learned pearls 10 years ago – from a woman she met in a bakery and with whom she remains in contact to this day . The products on their website range from $ 15 to $ 35.
“I’ve wanted an Etsy shop since middle school,” said Hauf. “I just never had enough time until the pandemic hit this summer. I couldn’t really leave my house or get a job so I decided to do my own job … Nobody else really makes earrings like me so I thought it would be a good market that isn’t over-saturated. “
Due to the online nature of Etsy, Hauf has used social media platforms such as Instagram to market its brand. Through her business, Hauf has seen the importance of marketing and networking tactics, as well as the opportunity to form a community with other like-minded creators.
“[Social media is] The main way I market – I network with other sellers and we support each other’s products, and it has become this really cool network of other companies, “said Hauf. “I only take it one day at a time … I’m still trying to figure out how to get more engagement and get people to come to my website.”
While the pandemic may have prevented certain regular college activities, it also gave students unexpected time at home. For students with side jobs, this time was also useful to expand their already existing businesses.
Fourth year college student Madison Dillard found quarantine a timely time to devote more energy to her Instagram-based home decor business – It’s Made by Madison. Their website has a variety of home furnishings, including signs that Dillard labels himself – from $ 5 for small prints to $ 15 for panels with her calligraphy. The panel prices can also vary depending on customer requirements. Dillard began learning calligraphy in her senior year of high school and after her junior year began selling signs at her mother’s suggestion to help pay for a new transmission for her car.
Dillard also pointed out the marketing challenges for her company, including those that came with a pandemic-triggered economic recession. Like Hauf, however, Dillard has used her extra time at home to look for ways to increase marketing and engagement for her company.
“I’ve noticed that people may be less willing to spend money on things like decor that I do,” Dillard said. “But I’ve expanded my customer base with Facebook ads and additional postings since I’ve had more time.”
In addition to running their own business, another up and coming sideline that is popular with university students works with companies to promote their products and services locally.
Anne Yong, a third-year college student, works as a media manager for Bumble on the Honey program and is also campus director for goPuff, the digital grocery delivery service. Part of her job is promoting the brands on her personal social media accounts, which Yong found attractive because of her interest in social media.
“I’ve always loved social media and thought it was super cute because [Bumble ambassadors] Do a really good job in marketing, ”said Yong. “I applied for the Honey program three semesters ago and was accepted. I started working with them and I had three different roles each semester. I started as a Marketing Manager, then as an Outreach Manager and this semester I am a media manager. “
Outside employment also has professional benefits for students as they provide valuable practical skills that can be applied in a variety of ways in the future. Regardless of whether the students run their own company or work for another, they can learn these experiences in school. In Hauf’s case, customer interactions have taught her lessons that she would not have realized without first-hand experience running her Etsy shop.
“I see it as an experiment, practicing marketing and a good way to network, and as something that I really enjoy doing,” said Hauf. “I’ve learned that it’s less about what you think people want and more about what people actually react to, and sometimes that’s surprising.”
Students interested in starting their own business or working with a company to create a sideline will find numerous opportunities, whether through larger companies looking for campus ambassadors or by channeling their own creativity and passions through induction their own brand. Dillard advises those contemplating the latter option, drawing on their personal experience to encourage fellow students to pursue their dreams of starting a business.
“The longer you wait and try to perfect things, the less likely you are to win people’s hearts,” said Dillard. “Just start. You won’t make it. You will let people down. You will hesitate too much. You will do something that you are not particularly proud of. You will miss an order. You will do many things that matter.” Feel like the end of the world right now – but just take it as a learning experience, get it right with the client, and move on. “