Social Media Side Gigs: How Students are Using Social Media for Financial Freedom


By Beau Peters

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Financial freedom can feel like a pipe dream when you’re in college. You hardly have enough time to complete all of your assignments, let alone work a full-time job and earn enough income to complete all of your financial goals.

That said, there are more jobs that exist online that can help you become financially independent, thanks to the digital age. As a native user of social media, you can find plenty of paid opportunities as an influencer, social media manager, or crafter of homemade goods.

A social-media side gig is great for your long-term career goals, too. You’ll always have employable skills to rely on and can point towards a portfolio of profitable, engaging social media content.


If you’re a traditional student, you’re likely a native user of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. You may have even built a significant following of friends and strangers who also use the platforms you love. Becoming a brand ambassador or influencer can help you monetize your account and earn extra income through product profiles and branded content.

Start earning money on Instagram by switching your account to “creator mode” and connecting your account with affiliate programs. With the help of these programs, you can link to businesses and brands from across the globe  like:

  • Amazon Associates
  • eBay Partner Network
  • CJ Affiliate by Conversant
  • Rakuten Marketing

These platforms can connect you with brands that align with your values and overall aesthetic. You will need to adhere to their specific rules and guidelines, though, as ill-thought-out influencer marketing can derail a brand’s overall marketing strategy.

If you have a large enough following, you can also get paid directly via sponsored posts. Sponsored posts need to be clearly tagged to stay within Instagram’s rules, but they can be a great way to earn extra income. Improve the effectiveness of sponsored posts by utilizing strategized hashtags and interesting captions that draw users in.

Social Media Manager

The role of a Social Media Manager is to oversee posts, engagement, and branded content that goes live on a business’s social media accounts. Social media managers typically have a flair for analytics and aesthetics, as they know how to blend brand guidelines with audience trends and consumer data.

This may sound like a full-time gig, but you can balance your college work with social media management for small businesses. As a native user of social media sites, you already know the current trends and how to blend branded content with videos and images that inspire your audience.

As a junior social media manager, you can usually charge around $25-$35/hour. As your portfolio grows, your rates will increase to $45-$85/hour. However, before you start charging for your services, you’ll need to brush up on your skills. At a minimum, you should know how to:

  • Develop a cohesive, measurable social media strategy;
  • Optimize content to suit the expectations of each platform;
  • Engage with users in a way that reaffirms brand identity;
  • Create inbound and outbound strategies to generate leads for clients.

There are plenty of online free tutorials that can help you understand everything from price-per-click advertising to virality rate. It might take some time to get up to speed, but a long-term investment in social media skills can be extremely rewarding as top-end social media managers earn upwards of US$100,000.

E-Commerce and Social Media

Working for a business as an influencer or social media manager can be lucrative. However, few things are as satisfying as selling your goods, crafts, and wares via an e-commerce social media site.

While you’re a student, you can turn your love for all things haberdashery into a side hustle. Consider selling popular crafty items like:

  • Screen printed t-shirts;
  • Handmade jewelry;
  • Stickers and cards;
  • Renovated furniture;
  • Candles;
  • Knitted and crocheted items.

You can sell these products directly via Instagram and Facebook or you can redirect followers to your e-commerce site or Etsy profile.

You can also increase your revenue by utilizing low-cost marketing techniques such as:

  • Optimize your web presence by producing high-quality social content;
  • Connect with other e-commerce sales who align with your values and aesthetics; Investing in location-based advertising if you want to operate locally;
  • Connect with affiliates as your small e-commerce business grows.

You can easily earn extra income as a student with this method. However, it’s also important to stay realistic with your ambitions. If you are dedicated to earning a college degree, you shouldn’t manage your side hustle so it doesn’t distract you from your studies. Consider limiting orders and closing your site down during midterms and finals and speak with your advisor to see if your side hustle can go towards credit-based business classes.


A social media side gig can be a great way to haul in extra cash and reclaim some financial freedom. Just remember to scale your side gig appropriately throughout the semester so you can focus on upcoming assignments and exams.

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things. 

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