It can be hard work getting the grades to get the college place you want, but the hard work does not stop once you’ve got your place. Getting a place is one thing, paying for it is another. If you’ve got your college place and are now wondering how to raise the finance you need for your fees and living costs, you essentially have three options. The first is to rely on your parents to fund you, although that is not an option open to everyone. Even if it is, relying only on them won’t do much for your future CV. The second is to get a part-time job, but they can be hard to come by and are often badly paid. What about the third option — self-employment? Easy to fit around your studies, with good earning potential and the opportunity to allow you to develop skills that could form the basis of a future career.

Finding a Niche

To become self-employed, you need to have something you can sell, whether that is a skill or a product. As long as you have reliable cable broadband, you should be able to run your business online, meaning you have minimal start-up costs. A website will allow you to market yourself to potential customers, and you can both network and sell online.

Think about what skills and knowledge you have that you could either use or build on in self-employment. Could you offer services, such as writing or web design? Do you have specialist knowledge of something you could sell, such as computer games or books? Are you able to make something that people will buy, such as jewellery? If you have a skill that is related to your degree, then using it in self-employment is a good way to reinforce your college learning. Self-employment also allows you to gain experience that could be invaluable in your future career.


If you have a skill that you can sell, you can become self-employed very easily as you do not need to hold any stock, you just need to find people who want to pay you for your skill. Try to make contacts in your industry if you can, as freelance jobs are very often gained informally, rather than being advertised. There may be relevant networking groups at your college or locally. If so, get some business cards made up and sell yourself. If not, then look online for relevant forums and use social media to meet others in your field. Some jobs are advertised on freelancing bidding sites and others on general job sites. Do some research and see where the jobs in your area tend to be found.


If you can either buy or make goods to sell then you have a ready-made place to sell them in the form of eBay. The auction site is a great place to get started in selling online, as much of the hard work is done for you. You can also sell through your own website, although you may find that it is too expensive initially to set up a proper online shop. Depending on what you plan to sell, you may find that there are trade fairs or markets that you could have a stall at. You may also be able to find independent shops that will stock your items. As with freelancing, you need to network to make the right contacts.


Self-employment comes easier to some than others. It does require a good sense of self-discipline and commitment. You may find that you need to work at weekends or in the evening, when your friends are out having fun. You’ll also need to develop skills in marketing and accounting, even though they might not come naturally to you. You’ll need to be able to deal with your own taxes, rather than relying on an employer to do it for you. It can be hard work, but get it right, and it can also be very rewarding, both emotionally and financially. Working for yourself, how much you earn is in direct proportion to how hard you work. That means you can’t slack off, but you have much to gain if you put the effort in.

Your Success is My Success,

Keith Lipke

I’m a careers and college recruiter, coach, public speaker and leader at The Career Closet. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college

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