what is affiliate marketing?

3 Creative Small Business Ideas For Students

So you’re thinking about starting a business? In this article we’ll discuss 3 creative small business ideas for students looking to escape the 9-5 route and take control of their futures by building it themselves. Alright, if you’re already running the rat race and feeling stuck, then you can use these strategies to break free as well.

There are lots of reasons for people to start a business, whatever yours is, just make sure it’s strong enough to get you through the rough times and challenges you will face on your journey. It’s a great way to achieve the time, location, and financial freedom in a very short period if executed correctly.

As a student, finding the money to start a business can be difficult so we will be using sweat equity (Time) and the power of the internet to accomplish your goals. Since our three creative small business ideas can be built online, it makes the task much more achievable.

We will discuss in detail membership sites, SaaS products, and affiliate marketing to see how you can build a small business online and increase your income.

Okay! If you are ready, let’s go over the first idea and see if this works for you.

Membership Sites

You may have heard of building a website and selling products and services to make money and building a brand in the process. Membership sites are unique because they can do the same thing, as well as provide unique or exclusive deals, discount, and offers which can only be accessed by members. Let’s talk about some real examples so you can get a clear picture of how it all works.

Let’s take Amazon for example, the big internet giant everyone know about where anyone can purchase products they need from the website and get it delivered right to their home. Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service provided by Amazon

that gives users access to services that would otherwise be unavailable, or cost extra, to the typical Amazon customer.

I hope it makes sense, and you can see how it works in the real life setting. Although the idea is not to build the next Amazon, you will be building something great and you will be just as proud of it at the end. Here are three examples of some other membership sites you may have heard of which are very successful.

eHarmony

If you’ve ever looked for love online, chances are you ran into an ad for eharmony. They are an online dating site for singles, and one of the most trusted in the niche for many reasons. When it comes to online dating some people are looking for casual dates and new friends to explore new things with, others may be looking to settle down with their soul mate or elusive significant other.

eharmony provides a community online for serious singles looking for love and they’ve even come up with a guarantee to stand behind their service. If you are looking for love, you may want to check them out. However, what is the monthly fee being charged to users of this site? There are three paid options to get started with the service, check them out below.

3 month option – $32.95/month

6 month option – $13.95/month

12 month option – $7.95/month

According to the dating scout.com 29 Million users just in the US alone and16 million active users weekly on the site. Let’s do some simple math for a second. Take the lower number of 16 million users and let’s say they are all on the 12-month plan at $7.95/month, that would mean the total revenue generated would be $127,200,000. Imagine building a business generating numbers like this as a student, how awesome would that be?

Blue Apron

The service Blue Apron provides many families today is truly remarkable, and some people even see it as life a changing experience. If you’re very busy working for money to pay bills and live life or studying to make sure you pass your classes as a student, you still have to eat to accomplish anything.

Blue Apron aims to provide a variety of chef-designed recipes with portioned ingredients which anyone can purchase and have delivered to their door, so all they have to do is unpack the box and create magic.

Since you’re able to get the exact ingredients needed to make the meal you selected with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the meal like a pro, (And save money as well) it creates a unique and healthier cooking experience which can be more expensive otherwise.

Okay, let’s talk numbers shall we. According to digiday.com and the article they wrote, Blue Apron had about 557,000 customers as of Dec. 31 2018 and an average order of $58.12 (let’s assume weekly orders for our example) that means about $32 million.

Now, don’t mistake that for profits because all businesses have expenses. Overall, that is still a pretty large sum of money to generate. I don’t know about you, but I think the membership model is a creative idea for students looking to create a small business.

The last example I will give about the membership model is my personal favorite for many reasons which I will explain.

Wealthy Affiliate

You may have heard of Wealthy Affiliate (WA) if you have been looking into ways to make money online, but if you haven’t I will be glad to share exactly what you can expect. (Speaking from personal experience with this platform)

Wealthy Affiliate is an online training platform for affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs, designed with a community feel similar to Facebook without the ads, spam, or personal drama which should be kept at home.

The WA platform has a very professional community filled with beginners with no skills, to experts with years of experience, and everything in between. There is a simple four step process used to drive members through the training and assist them with the skills needed to build a successful online business.

  1. Choose an Interest (Niche)
  2. Build a website
  3. Attract visitors
  4. Earn revenue

Of course there is more to it than this, and if you want more details feel free to check out this article here.

As always let’s see how the figures look with this business, which has been around for more than 14 years. Currently there are about 800,000 plus members on the platform learning, coaching, and building businesses. Again, let’s assume for the sake of math, only 500,000 members are premium members paying $49 a month.(There is a free plan as well)

The company would be bringing in $24.5 million in revenue monthly!!! Think about that for a minute, that’s insane! but its simple math and it can happen for you to. The question is, are you ready to put in the kind of work it takes to build to that level?

I hope you enjoyed this section as much as I did, as a student or a professional in the workforce you may think you have no real skills to offer the market place and build a membership business around it. The truth is, you can draw on your years of experience and find something which you no more about than most people

It can be as simple as fishing, sewing, gardening, or even wood-working. Think of your passions or hobbies, things you would do for fun even if they offered to pay you. These are some ideas you can build around long term and have drive, desire, and determination when times get rocky as you build your business.

If membership sites interest you as much as they do they me, I will leave a few popular platform options many people have used to build successfully membership sites.

  • Thinkific
  • Teachable
  • Kajabi

Selling SaaS Products

If you’re not too familiar with the way technology works and how many products are available on the market today, then I promise to keep this section as vanilla as possible so you won’t get lost.

First, what is a SaaS product? SaaS stands for Software as a service, so it mean a software product that is usually sold as an ongoing service with recurring billing. I will break this concept down using three different companies that are currently making money with SaaS products today.

Clickfunnels

Russell Brunson is the founder of clickfunnels and if you’re not familiar with this software, then I will give you a quick lesson. Some people may argue that you don’t need a website for your business to succeed today, as long as you are using clickfunnels or a similar software.

Take a second to think of the last website you visited, was it directing you down a straight path with a call to action and very little ability to navigate to different pages if at all. Or did it give you the ability to explore freely and search the site for different things of interest.

An example of a basic funnel can be three web pages strategically placed one after another, starting with a landing page, then a bridge or thank you page, and finally an offer page. Each page has something specific which is does, landing page clearly states something you are most likely interested in, which is why you landed there in the first place.

The bridge or thank you page is usually designed and used by skilled marketers to offer a OTO(One Time Offer) which can help increase your overall campaign revenue as an online marketer. Finally, people are sent to the offer page which has the product or service they need to hopefully solve their problem.

Many funnel users may say a website isn’t great for making sales and converting customers into buyers because there just isn’t a clear path leading visitors down the sales funnel, which is exactly what a funnel is designed to do. It is a very effective strategy indeed and you can certainly have great conversions with funnels and websites.

Okay let’s get back focused, what you want to know is, how this is a creative small business idea for students? Here it is, if you are tech savvy or know someone who is, partner up and offer a better solution to something already working well on the market and become a competitor.

Lots of people create products every year, but very few stick with one and focus on improving the experience and benefits for current users. Which is why most who practice this are very successful in their space, take click funnels with about 70,000 active members according to Quora.

If everyone was on the lowest plan at $97/month, then we are looking at $6,790,000 in revenue, not too bad right? But just think, there are some people on a $297/month plan which is more than three times the lower plan.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an email marketing and marketing automation company that help users mange and grow their client base for their business. By providing different tools for users to build simple, but professional looking landing pages to help generate leads, to beautiful sales pages that showcase and describes your products or services to customers.

Another benefit it provides is the ability to send scheduled emails and reach thousands of customers on your list to inform them of a new product, sale, event, or a simple birthday greeting. Overall, can be a very powerful tool to stay connected with your clients as you grow your business.

Just like clickfunnels we discussed earlier, this is another company which has competition as we speak and many new competitors arising every day. Creative small business ideas for students or anyone interested, could be to develop and introduce a better product with more benefits for users and disrupt the market place.

This is certainly a more technical journey, but with the right partnerships, drive, motivation and resources anything you set your mind to can be accomplished. If you are interested in programming and developing software, I strongly encourage you to look into something like this. You never know where the journey might take you.

As usual, let talk numbers. According to the sumo.com’s story on how mailchimp makes $400 million in revenue, they had about 16 million users which was an increase from 12 million in 2016. Let’s take the least expensive plan starting at $9.99 and assume all users are on the same plan, this means they are generating $159,840,000/month.

What would you do if just a piece of that cash was being deposited into your bank account each month?

Zoom

Industries such as education, finance, healthcare, and government agencies are prime users for services offered by zoom. Zoom offers solutions for meeting and chat, rooms and work spaces, phone systems, video webinars, and more allowing businesses and agencies to communicate and share information with ease and simplicity.

Imagine a company as big as Kaiser Permanenete, which has thousands of locations nationwide. I’m sure there are situations where meetings, or training needs to be conducted with employees in different locations and zoom can seamlessly solve the issue by bring everyone to an online meeting room or similar setup.

The reality is many businesses today can use the technology zoom offers in many ways, and become more efficient and make more money overall by cutting costs in certain areas. The beauty is products are constantly being improved and made better to help improve the user experience.

Zoom has many features and pricing options, depending on what your business needs are. Since we have shared numbers for everyone else, we will also share some for zoom to allow you to see what type of income the company currently generates.

The main product used is the zoom meetings, which offers a basic free plan for personal meetings and a pro option great small teams which is $14.99. According to Wikipedia, as of Feb. 2015 zoom meetings reached 40 million individuals and 65,000 organizations subscribed.

If we the organizations are on the lowest plan possible, then the monthly revenue is $974,350/month. I’m sure the numbers are higher, but can you imagine what a difference that can make in your life?

Affiliate Marketer

What is affiliate marketing and how is it a creative small business idea for students? Keep reading and you may be the next super affiliate marketer everyone is talking about. An affiliate marketer is basically a professional middle-man who is marketing products and services for companies like we just discussed or others you spend money with already

Major companies like Walmart, Target, ebay, Amazon, and many more have affiliate programs and pay real cash for sales generated by your marketing and referral efforts. For example, you buy a new Apple computer from Amazon and love the way it works with all the new features it has.

If you sign up to be an amazon associate (affiliate program) all you have to do is share your link with anyone who may be interested in getting a computer, and if they buy anything from Amazon within 24hrs (cookie) you get a piece of the purchase in the form of cash. The same goes for all the other companies as well, the difference is the percentage they pay and how long the cookie lasts.

Listed below are some companies we discussed earlier, and all of them have affiliate programs which are free to sign up for and earn cash for referring people. The only one missing is mailchimp, which is not the most affiliate friendly company when it comes to email marketing solutions.

  • Zoom
  • clickfunnels
  • Wealthy Affiliate
  • eharmony
  • BlueApron

Although each company has different percentages for paying affiliates, it is also important to note that some products you promote have recurring income opportunities and can pay recurring commission for the life of a customer. What exactly does this mean for you.

Take wealthy affiliate for example, as a premium member paying $49 a month for the membership you are able to refer others to the platform to getting training. Each premium referral generates $23.50 recurring revenue, so all you need is 3 referrals to have a free membership and some profit.

I know it doesn’t sound like the huge numbers we talked about which some of these companies are making, however, you have to do way less work and no customer service or sales support. (All you do is send traffic and earn cash) when you get better at marketing and sending buyer traffic to these companies you can really begin to make a life changing income.

The best part is you can partner up with as many companies as you like and promote their products and services as an affiliate and really have multiple sources of income as a student or a professional looking for a career change. Some smart guy said you need at least 7 sources of income to be financially stable, well here is an effective way to get it done.

Conclusion

I hope with these three different money making solutions we’ve discussed you can find at least one which excites you enough to take action. If you asked me to pick just one of the 3 creative small business ideas for students and focus on 100% of energy on it, I would have to choose affiliate marketing. I’m SUPER curious, which one would you choose and why? Thanks again for investing time getting knowledge to improve yourself, let me know if I can do anything to assist.

Best regards,

Jefrey Mihedji

26 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hello Jeffrey,
    this is a very nice post and I am always happy when I see anyone who is
    eager to help others deal with a certain problem. Today you have written
    three ways to help deal with financial situations for students. I must
    say you had really good tips and I am happy you wrote this. Wealthy
    affiliate might be the best in the elist for me because I use it and I
    know it can help one as a student make money. Nicely written here.

    1. Hey Henderson, 

      Thank you so much for checking out the article and I’m happy it was beneficial and provided value to you. I think anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur or building a business for themselves can use these tips and get started on their journey. WA is an amazing platform to help people, I recommend the platform to anyone I can. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you . 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey Mihedji

  2. Hello there, thanks for sharing this wonderful post. Here are lots of students out there whose parents can’t really provide forr all their need and getting a johlb for them as students would be just what they need so keep up themselves from little money earned. Of all the ideas given here, I am personally interest in wealthy affiliate. I feel its a much more easier means of making money as you wouldn’t be called upon, just when you’re ready, you login. Best regards.

    1. Hi Dane, 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this article, I hope you share this with anyone who can benefit from this information as well. Affiliate marketing can be the least hands on method of all, and can also provide a significant income stream. Wealthy Affiliate is definitely a great platform for marketers and anyone looking to build an online business to get started the right way. 

      Thanks again for taking the time to read this, and please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you on your journey. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  3. Wow, I must say that I am very impressed with what you have written here today. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone who is giving out time to write for those students in schools. Interestingly, they are the ones who might need this good ideas to start off a business. As a student myself, I didn’t know what to do and how to get money because I wanted to take charge of things. You have given very good ideas here. Nice one!

    1. Hey Henderson, 

      Thanks for reading the article and I’m glad the information presented was of value to you. Anyone can use these ideas and make a difference in their lives, especially students. I think it just takes the right mindset, work ethic, and motivation to get started and make things happen. 

      Unfortunately, most people want to get the rewards before the work is done. The only time reward comes before work is in the dictionary. I wish you much success on your journey, and please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns and I will be happy to assist. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  4. It would be really nice to make some money as a student but I really do wonder if these methods you discuss here takes a lot of time to manage because if they do then they can really affect the studies of a student. Of course, a student can try to find the balance but I do fear some of these small businesses might just be too tasking for a student. What do you think?

    1. Hey Jay, 

      Thanks for reading this article and sharing your thoughts on the topic. Depending on the individual and the amount of courses they are taking, it can definitely be done. If you are an individual who is really serious about building a business as a student, you will get it done. 

      If something is important to you, you will make time for it. As a former student in college, there was plenty of time to invest in building a business online. The beauty is there is no boss looking over your shoulder and you can go as slow or fast as you want. 

      The important thing is having a solid game plan, sticking to it, and executing. It takes time to build anything of value, especially a business. I feel like if you can build a little at a time, then you will eventually finish. If you never get started, then you will never have anything to keep working on. 

      I hope this makes sense, please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  5. Wow! membership websites surely does provide a heck of money. How on earth could they have generated that much? Wow. I feel it is one of the most Lucrative means of generating income online but there is need to really be a tech savvy so one could build a worthy website that can fill in all areas and can also be used by a lot of people. I feel that is awesome and I’d surely look into it. I have a friend who is into webs designing and creating and I really hope that this would be of great help this time around to me. The other opportunities are great but the only one i want to think of tight now is the membership platform creation

    1. Hey Mattias, 

      Membership sites and businesses certainly generate a lot of revenue and since it is recurring, it can be very predictable as well. It is a very lucrative opportunity indeed, and I think with the right niche and planning you can be very successful. A membership site is not very difficult to create and setup, however, providing valuable information which members are willing to keep paying for becomes more challenging. 

      For example, if you are an expert with getting results using FB Ads, then you can build a membership site around FB Ads for beginners to experts and provide valuable information to help people generate results. If you can continue providing more valuable information to new and existing users, then your business will have a better chance of success. 

      I hope this makes sense, please let me know if you need any clarification or assistance in getting started on something. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  6. Thank you for this nice and motivating post, you have really provided great tips how how to make money online for students and o think all the points you made are spot on. I will like to build an online empire like that of eharmony, what do you think is the least bufgetbto build such a website. 

    1. Hey Charles, 

      Thanks for investing the time to read my article and I’m glad you found in motivating. Any motivated individual can definitely benefit from the options discussed as long as they take action and remain consistent. It will be challenging to build an empire similar to eharmony, but it is possible. 

      I would recommend looking carefully at how eharmony is structured and understand how they deliver results which allows members to stay active and pay monthly to have access to more features than free member. 

      Identify areas where you can possibly improve and create a better user experience. eharmony has a guarantee which I talked about, and is a huge reason for the success of the company. Consider coming up with something that creates excitement and allows people to want to give you a try instead. Once this happens it is up to you to keep them coming back by delivering on your promises. 

      I hope this helps, and as always feel free to reach out to me is you need any support. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  7. Thank you for these excellent business ideas! 

    I recently started building an online affiliate marketing business and I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey. One day my daughter half jokingly said she should build an online business herself – there the seed was planted. She wasn’t quite sure affiliate marketing was her cup of tea so I’ll be happy to show her a few other ideas.

    I am going to pass your post along to my daughter who will be starting college very soon. She plans to attend a local college for at least her first 2 years so she is able to stay at home in an attempt to lower costs and save money. This might be just the thing to get her on her feet with a head start. Thanks again!

    1. Hello Shan!

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts after reading my article, I’m glad you are enjoying your affiliate marketing journey and I wish you much success. Thanks for sharing my article, it really means a lot to me. I hope your daughter really understands the power of technology and how it can help her build a business as she furthers her education. She sounds like a strong, smart young lady. I wish her the best in school and please reach out if there is ever anything I can do to assist you. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  8. Thanks for the insights Jeffrey. I do use Wealthy Affiliate though hadn’t heard of the others. The Saas strategy is very clever if you have the no how. There are so many out there nowadays offering this concept. Particularly those that are finance or legal related. Subscriptions come with free updates – well they are not really free since that is what the subscription is paying for right? 

    You have identified some great concepts that could be developed relatively cheaply and more put into it as they grow. Thanks for the creative spin, its a good read.

    1. Hi Peter, 

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article, I appreciate your kind words and I hope you are having success with WA as well. I found there are so many ways to generate income online, and so many people are unaware. If I had been introduced to concepts like this back in college, I would probably be in a totally different situation today. My goal is someone reading this will get inspiration to try one of these strategies and build something sooner than later. I’m glad you enjoyed this article, please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to assist you. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  9. As students, getting side hustles or creating a business with the hope of growing it for a long term should be part of our plans and I’m really delighted that I can finally get to know of something worthwhile through this post. I figure out that affiliate marketing is the perfect way to get involved with me. I have the writing skills to back myself up and I think nothing else could limit me en route to success with this, if I learn well. Thanks so much

    1. Hey Mattias, 

      Thanks for checking out the article and I’m glad you found value. I also see affiliate marketing as a vehicle to build long term wealth for future generations and improve my current financial situation. I’m excited that you are eager to get started and build something, please let me know if I can be off assistance in anyway. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  10. Like my junior brother will always say, he wants to start taking responsibility of himself in some ways. Many young lads nowadays are striving hard to make money from their free time and the best way to do this is online. Thanks for sharing these three businesses, they are really lucrative ones and very productive. I’ll personally Will go for affiliate marketing, and I’ll Also recommend Wealthy Affiliate, this platform willofder the best training to newbies and it’ll help them achieve the best online. It’s a nice post, really enjoyed reading through.

    1. Mr Jones!

      Thanks for reading my post, and I’m excited you found value and enjoyed it. Indeed, many people are looking into different ways to make extra cash these days. Online options are the best in my opinion because it allows you to more flexible and work from almost anywhere. With the earning potential, it is definitely worth looking into and I hope this post motivates someone like your little bro to take action and get started on one idea. Please share this with someone and check back for more content like this. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M.   

  11. I doubt if I have seen anyone who is interested in helping students make money for themselves but interestingly you have done this and I am glad. Your post is well written and very comprehensive on this three tips. I think it’s very good that you can add wealthy affiliate because this is a platform I use myself and I think students can make passive income by just spending a few hours on the platform everyday. I should give your other tips a try too. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Wassup John, 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my post, I’m glad you enjoyed the content. I know Wealth Affiliate is a great platform to learn about online marketing and building a business, so I constantly recommend it any chance I get. If done correctly, it can definitely be a source of passive income and give student some extra cash and teach some business fundamentals at the same time. Please share this, and let me know if you decide to try any of the other options besides affiliate marketing. I wish you much success on your journey online, have a great day. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  12. I see this as a really nice idea. Affiliate marketing have been growing over time and there are lots of people who are willing to go into it. Looking at available businesses for students, I believe its indeed a nice idea and and would help put some money in their pocket, but most importantly give these students some level of experience in business even before they go into it fully. Nice being here.

    1. Hi Chloe, 

      You’re absolutely right, many people have been looking into affiliate marketing recently and using it as a vehicle to make extra money. If this information was shared with me as a college student, I know I would have taken advantage of it and changed my life. Like you said it’s a great experience for anyone, and can allow them to be more prepared for the work force. I’m glad you enjoyed it, please share with someone who can benefit as well. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

  13. hello Jefferey, this is a nice post on how to make money for students. I think that the best of your list is by being an affiliate marketer. This way, the student would not need to own a stall or a space. Everything is done online by selling products through a hyperlink. You have made good explanations here and I think anyone who needs to make money online should see this. I will share this with those who will need it. Nice one!

    1. Hey Henderson, 

      Thanks for taking the time to check out the post, I’m glad you found value and thanks for sharing with others you know who can benefit. Have a great day, and please come back again soon. 

      Best regards, 

      Jefrey M. 

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