How college students flip hobbies into sideline actions

CNBC’s “College Voices 2020” is a series of CNBC Fall Interns from universities across the country about growing up, college education, and getting started in these extraordinary times. Janelle Finch is a senior at the University of Missouri in Colombia specializing in journalism with a focus on TV / radio reporting and anchoring in Spanish and sociology with minors. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.

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The coronavirus pandemic has left many students in the limbo of unemployment – they have been sent home from school and many of their internships or part-time jobs to pay for school have been canceled. In the meantime, bills still had to be paid. So they had to look for new ways to generate income without leaving their homes.

The unemployment rate for young people (16-24 years) is currently 11.5%, after a whopping 27.4% in April at the height of the pandemic lockdown, but according to the Ministry of Labor it is still almost twice as high as the overall unemployment rate.

Students got creative while out of work and having a pandemic: when they weren’t getting the latest Netflix releases (you remember “Tiger King”, don’t you?) They discovered new hobbies and rekindled old ones – everything from sewing to make hair and candles for braiding. And for some, those hobbies turned into a sideline that brought in the much-needed income.

Etsy, an online ecommerce marketplace for homemade goods, doubled its sales from 2019 as the demand for masks, jewelry, candles and other handcrafted goods increased through pandemic and lockdown. The number of active sellers on the platform rose 42% year over year to nearly 4,000, Etsy said in its third quarter earnings report. According to Rival Shopify, the number of new companies on its platform rose 71% between April and June alone compared to the start of the year.

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5 tips on how to crush it as a work-from-home intern
Job hunting amid the coronavirus pandemic: How to network … from your couch

Jonnette Oakes, a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said the motivation to start your own business is her mother and her love for the craft. Oakes said her mother’s sewing skills inspired her to create bespoke clothing for herself, which eventually became shadedbyJonnette t-shirt company in May 2020. Oakes said her business started out as a general interest in creating fashion and wanted to spend her time in quarantine. In order to reach more eyes, Oakes started selling their products on Etsy. In her first three months, she served over 30 clients and made an average monthly profit of $ 250. Today she channels her production processes through her own website. In the future, she hope to turn her business into personal business. Balancing life as an academic advisor, PhD student, and executive director isn’t easy, but Oakes agrees that her love of fashion keeps her business alive.

“Honestly, when I’m working on my business, I consider it my form of self-care,” Oakes said.

Running a side business is a great way to make extra cash – be it to pay student loans and other bills, or just to spend extra cash – though some can even go full-time performances.

Working in the gig economy offers a number of different opportunities for additional income. According to a CareerBuilder survey, more than a third (39%) of young people (18 to 24 years old) have a side appearance.

So where do you start

The first step is to find out what your skills are, and then come up with ideas from there, says Chris Guillebeau in his book, Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days.

“I think a lot of people think they need to get out there and learn new skills,” Guillebeau said in an interview with CNBC. “I try to help people understand that the skills they already have are enough.”

A good place to start is to do a Google search, said Stacy Francis, financial advisor and founder of Francis Financial.

“Start by wondering what my specialty is,” said Francis. Then do some searches to see what opportunities might arise. Jobs may already be available – or it may give you an idea to create your own.

This is exactly what Brittany Bygrave, 3-year-old owner of Noia Butters, did when she started her own business.

“I started my business because I love natural beauty,” said Bygrave. “That has always been my passion and motivation.”

Bygrave is a 2019 graduate of North Carolina, A&T. As a junior college student, she went freelance selling homemade body butter from her dormitory. She said the idea came from a desire to support communities that had no access to natural self-care products.

Bygrave said while there is money in side businesses, young business owners shouldn’t expect much profit in the first few months. After three years in her business, Bygrave said she could make between $ 300 and $ 700 a month. Her best month was earlier this year when there was a national call to action to support black-owned businesses during the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she made $ 2,000 in one month and was also recognized by well-known media representatives. Bygrave said her advice to young business people is to remember your “why”.

“Start your business with a focus,” said Bygrave. “Have faith and think about why you started!”

Syracuse graduate Lianza Reyes saw them as a “why” when she started her business – she wanted to be creative and create a source of income to cover school expenses. Reyes, a 13-year-old writer, decided to sell custom poems in the fall of 2019 to help pay for her graduate school applications. When she saw that people were investing in her writing, she decided to put more money into her craft by offering different cardboard and frame options. LinesbyLianza was born in July 2020. Today Reyes makes an average of $ 75 a month. This money goes towards rent, groceries, her business and her hometown of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

“I hired a few people from my home country to do line drawings and postcards to back up my poetry,” Reyes said. “This adds to the profile of my and your business.”

Reyes agrees that passion drives young businesses. However, she said burnout is “very real” and she needs to consider how much of herself she can give on a project before taking a client’s request.

Reyes said that in addition to running her own business, she also has a part-time job. While it’s not always the easiest balance for Reyes, she said that being a writer and getting people to see her craft is well worth the extra work.

If creating your own products and selling them online isn’t your thing, there are tons of other sideline options – all you have to do is think about what skills you have and what appeals to you. Arizona State University has identified the 9 best sideline things college students can take advantage of while still in school:

1. Walking the dog

2. Start a blog or vlog (video blog)

3. Test new apps and websites

4. Virtual assistant

5. Help people with their to-do list

6. Sell your clothes

7. Become an online tutor

8. Take surveys

9. Freelance work

And there’s no reason why you can’t try more than one of these ideas – see what you like best and what makes you the most money.

An important step, says Guillebeau, is promoting your company at every opportunity. Many creators are not always good at this – but this is how you spread the word and get more business. An easy way to do this is to set up a Facebook page.

In addition to paying your bills, Francis said starting a business in college can be a great way to save money. As a 20-year-old, retirement isn’t usually a priority, but as you invest your money, it grows over time. The sooner you start, the more money you have.

“If you put money into a savings account or Roth IRA now, you can save ‘fourfold’ in the future,” Francis said. “Secondary jobs must be able to work for young entrepreneurs now and in the future.”

“You don’t have to be a modern Steve Jobs,” Reyes said. “Just pick something you’re passionate about and run with it.”

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