Working Online, for the Rest of Us
January 11, 2011 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Any part time online work ideas for full time students?

Hi, there. I am currently a full time student (classes start next week) with enough in the bank to coast through another year, but desperately in need of a basic income ($200+) to help me pay for day to day (well, month to month for a penny pincher like me) necessities. The smaller the bite taken out of my balance, the better. A simple, low stress part time job would be ideal but--problem! I live in a postapocalyptic wasteland where the only employment opportunities are full time, highly specialized technical fields (one of which I am qualified for! but don't have time to do) so I've had the crazy idea of looking for something that can be done online or otherwise over a long distance.

My hunt has...not been successful. The internet overflows with scammy, scummy, shady "opportunities" preying on people in dire circumstances and even legitimate job boards are unbelievably lazy about policing this stuff. I know--that's your surprised face, right? So, after an hour of scratching through scambait, I thought I'd ask here for any ideas or recommendations.

As far as skills go, I consider myself a competent photographer, writer and editor (feel free to judge the latter two by this post, as decidedly unprofessional as it is). I intend to sell some stock photography (recommendations for stock sites would be lovely) and hope for the best, but I imagine that will be a slow climber (if it climbs at all) as far as earnings go. I have a very rudimentary grasp on basic web design, and could probably buckle down for a few months to produce some competent simple sites, but I will never be able to produce a shiny corporate home or the Facebook clones that seem to be so in vogue.

My professional skills are, unfortunately, pretty incompatible with what most online work demands, but surely there's fairly simple stuff out there where competence may not get you as far as brilliance, but ehn, good enough.

I'm open to any ideas at this point.
posted by byanyothername to Work & Money (16 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
You can grade test essays online, at something like $1 per essay, for Princeton Review. It requires no real credentials of any kind. I think you do have to go through their basic training, which takes two weekends and is paid.
posted by Nomyte at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2011

This isn't online, but an opportunity that I found really great as a full-time student is teaching SAT prep. You need to have great SAT scores (90th percentile or higher), but the pay is excellent ($16/hr at Kaplan), and you'll usually only be working two or three times a week for a $200+ paycheck every other week. You also get paid for "prep" time where you're getting your lesson plans ready at home.

Another option is speaking to your Uni's career/alumni center. I'm not sure about yours in particular, but most of them aren't just for finding jobs post-graduation, but also for PT jobs while a student.

Sorry, I know this isn't quite what you're looking for!
posted by shabaabk at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2011

If you really just want something simple and part time, for the writing stuff, I were you I'd do a search like this, covering the entire country, and weed out the ones that require you to work on-site. I think you'll find a lot of aspiring authors who want someone to give their manuscript a once-over, things like that. You'll also find some shadiness like a LOT of spoiled college kids who want to pay someone $200 a pop to write papers for them, but that's easy to weed out. You can do a similar sort of search for people with low budgets looking for someone to design a simple website. The only thing is you'll have to sell yourself much more than you've done here, and make your case for why they should hire you above anyone else.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:54 PM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've done some part-time work through odesk. There is usually a range of jobs on offer, mostly web/software/design and administrative/customer service type stuff, with some research and transcription work too. The biggest problem is competing with people from less affluent countries who will work for a pittance.

Every now and then a job will come up which suits your own skillset perfectly - my latest assignment was research into aged care facilities here in Australia, and I needed decent English skills and a working knowledge of Australian government departments. Obviously people overseas who are happy to work for $2 an hour weren't suitable, so I could charge a decent rate.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:55 PM on January 11, 2011

For a different idea, in your area are there a lot of people getting married or are those highly specialized technical workers throwing expensive birthday parties for their kids? Could you find some work as a freelance photographer on the weekends?
posted by CathyG at 1:11 PM on January 11, 2011

Since you're a student, are there not any low-key student positions at your school that only entail looking at ID's at the library or data entry?
posted by lacedcoffee at 1:18 PM on January 11, 2011

There's Mturk - the amazon site that has incredibly low paying jobs. It is an easy way to make a couple of dollars - but would be pretty hard to make $200, I think.
posted by quodlibet at 1:41 PM on January 11, 2011

You may want to look into donating plasma. Here (Wisconsin), you can make $200 a month by donating eight times.

Donation takes between 60 and 90 minutes and you can be productive while you donate (laptop/read/iPod/etc), so long as you can do it one-handed.
posted by Twicketface at 2:13 PM on January 11, 2011

You can grade test essays online, at something like $1 per essay, for Princeton Review. It requires no real credentials of any kind. I think you do have to go through their basic training, which takes two weekends and is paid.

You are probably thinking of working for the Educational Testing Service, not the Princeton Review? I do this, and for most tests credentials are needed (I score GREs; a master's is required). Some tests only recommend a bachelor's, though. To check out what ETS is currently hiring for, follow this link.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:48 PM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who supplemented her income during a couple semesters of college by tutoring Korean students in spoken English remotely via videoconferencing software. She enjoyed it. I don't remember the name of the service she used, but if you're interested, memail me, and I'll ask her what it was.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:52 PM on January 11, 2011

Do you qualify for Work Study jobs? That's the simplest. You can sell photos on, but it's hardly a big money maker.

Otherwise, babysitting is always easy money, if you've got the time.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:56 PM on January 11, 2011

Oh, also: check out your school's writing center, and see if they hire peer tutors.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:00 PM on January 11, 2011

I highly suggest freelance writing. I write for wisegeek ( and demand studios, but I prefer wg because you hang on to a specific editor and the writing requirements are not as annoying. I don't consider myself a writer and I can knock out $11-13 articles in 30-45 minutes. If you try wg, keep in mind that the testing phase is more of a hassle then actually working for them.

I also use mturk and use the turkopticon browser addon, turker nation and turkalert to keep my eye out for tasks that I can actually make money with. I like $.20-60+ tasks from reputable issuers (reputable is important because issuers don't have to pay, so I stick to issuers like Delores Labs). I've found that because nobody thinks there's any money on mturk, there is. It's not reliable by any means, but I keep my eye out for easy jobs that I can make $12-18 an hour on.

Also, there's always textbroker. You can break minimum wage on that.

Leapforce and lionsbridge might also be up your alley. Pursue for more reading. It's my belief that anyone not completely incompetent can make ten bucks an hour online. Feel free to memail me.
posted by Tres at 3:12 PM on January 11, 2011 [16 favorites]

Leapforce or Lionbridge. It's boring as hell, but it's not a scam and they do pay (reasonably) well. $200/month is easy. (Just remember you have to pay your own taxes and Social Security out of what you make.)
posted by Daily Alice at 3:56 PM on January 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

What are you studying? at what level? and where? (at a research university, traditional college, ...?)

If you're like many students, your best bet will be to find a job on campus. I didn't do work study, so I can't speak to that, but any money I made as an undergrad was through various school-related things:
* loads of experiments need human subjects - for psych/econ, user interface testing, etc. If you're at a research university, look for these.
* serving as a tutor through the Dean's office - this may have been only my school, but look for similar programs, or people posting flyers who want help with ESL or editing. While you're at it, post fliers advertising your services!
* research - certainly not simple and non-time-consuming, but depending on what you're studying, the chance to do research, earn $$$, and get a great rec letter from a prof may be waaaay more useful to your future than the difference between a B and an A in that physics course.
* TAing - Is there a course that you excelled in that you'd like to work at as a TA? This was probably the most lucrative thing I did as an undergrad, and it looks great on your CV.
posted by Metasyntactic at 5:25 PM on January 11, 2011

lacedcoffee, At the school I go to the campus jobs are usually very highly sought after by a very wide number of students. Getting one is no easy task.
posted by mister-m at 7:04 PM on January 11, 2011

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