Online Businesses You Can Easily Start as a Student with Little to Zero Investment

As a student, you’re probably always looking for ways to make some extra cash. However, the amount of money you can make through being a part-time server or retail assistant is minimal, and a full-time job is sure to interfere with your studies.

But if you run your own business, you get to work on your own terms in your own time. And if you make the right choices, you can bring home a good chunk of money while you’re at it.

Although starting your own business can be scary, the internet provides an abundance of low-risk opportunities for entrepreneurship. Gone are the days when starting any business required a sizable investment, even if only to print advertisements.

Online Businesses You Can Easily Start as a Student with Little to Zero Investment

Today, you can set up your business, market it, and perform your services all through a computer screen, with little to no startup costs. That said, the internet marketplace is a competitive space, and you’ll have to choose wisely and market yourself well if you want to succeed.

So, without further ado, here are 8 online businesses you can start as a student with little to zero investment.


Tutoring used to be an in-person service, but the last two years have shown us that it can be done effectively and conveniently online. Tutoring remotely not only means that you can do so from home, it also means there’s no geographical limit to who you can tutor.

However, tutoring encompasses a wide range of subjects and age ranges, and the trick is to identify your skillset along with what there is demand for.

For example, you could tutor elementary school kids with reading or math, or help high school kids with their SATs and writing college application letters. If you are a whiz at your college subjects, you could even charge your peers to coach them with studying and writing term papers.

Writing, Editing and Proofreading

Do you have a way with words or a knack for spotting exactly where the semicolon should go? If so, a writing or editing service could be the perfect online business for you. Writing can be anything from essay writing to writing copy for websites or ghostwriting romance novels. Likewise, editing and proofreading can apply to web articles, blog posts, or academic essays.

However, this is one where it’s a good idea to start offering your services on established platforms like Fiverr or Upwork, as people are unlikely to hire someone with no experience or evidence of their skills.

If you write a blog, you can use that to get your name out there. Once you have a few loyal customers, your business will flourish. And you’ll be able to work whenever and wherever you choose to.

Transcription Services

Transcription is a great service to offer as a student as so much research requires transcribing. Most academics don’t have the time to transcribe their own interviews and would love to find someone competent to unload this task onto. All you need to be a decent transcriber is a good ear, excellent grammar and spelling knowledge, and quick typing skills.

Once you have proven yourself by transcribing for your professors, you can branch out by offering your services to fields like law, medicine, and business (and charge a much higher fee!). These days, podcasts and videos frequently provide transcriptions for their hearing-impaired consumers too. As you can see, there are so many areas that require transcription services, you are certain to find your niche.

Personal Training

Are you a gym bunny who loves working out and knows how to do each exercise safely and get results? Especially if you did some kind of sports in high school or college, chances are you have a wealth of fitness knowledge that others would love to benefit from. Why not put all that knowledge to good use by sharing it online for a fee?

Now, it’s true that YouTube is awash with exercise and yoga videos. But what these videos don’t provide is personalized training programs and one-on-one advice on how to perform an exercise and reach your fitness goals.

Of course, you won’t be able to charge the same fee as a licensed personal trainer. However, your fellow students can provide the perfect niche market as most of them won’t have the money for a certified trainer, and if you get enough customers, you can bring in a lot of cash.

Web Design and Development

How to Turn Your Idea into an Income Stream in 5 Simple Steps.

If you’re studying web design or computer science, there’s no reason to wait until you finish your degree before you start making money from your skills. These services are so in demand that with the right skills and marketing, you can definitely get a head start and build up a name for yourself in college.

You can once again begin by tapping into that market you already have at hand—fellow students—and then start branching out. Many other students are probably looking to start their own businesses, and need help setting up their websites.

Another option is to start with smaller projects like logo designs or HTML websites, and then move into offering website revamps and designing mobile apps.

Sell Vintage Clothes

If you love to head to charity shops and thrift stores on weekends, and you have a good eye for finding cheap and stylish garments amidst the bulging racks, this could be the perfect online business for you. It does involve a little in-person action and a small investment to buy your stock. However, a well-designed website will help you conduct the rest of your business online, and if you shop at the right places, your initial investment will be very low.

Many people love vintage clothes, especially now that more people are embracing slow fashion and wish to consume eco-consciously. But most people don’t want to go through the effort of trawling through thrift stores where most of the clothes are sub-par and it’s hard to tell what’s your size. If you can find the diamonds in the rough and list them clearly online with a description of the size and fabric, many people will be willing to pay a significant markup.

Start an Etsy Shop

If you’re a crafty person, you may be wondering whether an Etsy shop or other online store for your creations is a good idea. If you have a good product that you can create efficiently and that there is a market for, the answer is definitely yes!

The key here is to make things that fill a particular niche or are in high demand, that you can make quickly. Some crafts take much longer to make than others, and you need to work out your hourly rate and compare that with how much people would be willing to pay for your product to figure out if it will be worth it.

Tapping into a certain community like a media fandom can be a great way to capitalize on an existing market. Or, offer something unique and original that rides the wave of current aesthetic trends. With an online store-type business, it is crucial to leverage your own social media to get your name out there—it is unfortunately too easy to languish on Etsy and never get found.

Start a YouTube Channel

It may not be the first thing that comes into your head when you think of starting a business, but that’s basically what a YouTube channel is. It requires you to reach customers (viewers), and provide a product they are interested in (videos). And like with all other businesses, the key is to find your niche.

YouTube is free to join, but it’s chock-full of skilled creators making videos on everything from makeup tutorials, pet care, pop culture, sports, and the more out-there trending content like ASMR. However, if you can find a creative niche and have excellent video-editing skills (or can find someone who does), you can certainly make money from YouTube.

If video is not your thing, another option is to start a podcast. However, in this case, you will need listeners willing to support you via Patreon, as you will not be able to make money from ads right from the get-go.


The main point we’ve tried to get across throughout this article is that there are plenty of business opportunities that don’t require a huge initial investment to get you started. And, whatever you choose for your online business, make sure that you’re filling a niche.

That doesn’t mean you have to do something that has never been done before, but you need to be confident that there will be customers for whatever it is you are offering. Think about what it is you have to offer and what you know people want or you aren’t seeing a lot online.

For a successful online business, you need a good and in-demand product or service and an intuitive, user-friendly website. On top of that, you will need to market your business cleverly in a way that will reach the right audience. You’ll also need to take care of the money side of things and ensure that you get paid properly. You can use an invoice template to add a professional touch to your business and ensure that you keep track of your finances.

If you can tick all these boxes, you can have a flourishing online business in no time.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is a Social Entrepreneur and an experienced Disaster Manager. I love discussing new business trends and marketing tips. I share ideas and tips that will help you grow your business.

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