4 Entrepreneurs Reveal How They Earn $100,000 a Year Working Part-Time

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In the United States, the median weekly wage is about $850 per week or $44,200 a year for those working a 40-hour work week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although that’s certainly not a salary to scoff at, unfortunately, 32 percent of workers say they have an unreasonable workload, and 41 percent feel they aren’t paid fairly for that amount of work, according to a study done by Workplace Trends.

But so often we’re told we have to work harder if we want to make more money.

Well, that’s not the case for everyone. Some entrepreneurs manage to find lucrative careers while working fewer hours than required in a typical office. Here, four of them share their stories on how they made over $75,000 a year without a full-time job.

1. Develop an online course

Image credit: Teachable

Online learning is becoming increasingly popular. According to a study by the Babson Survey Research Group, more than 6 million students are taking at least one distance course, 5 percent more than the previous year.

It was this demand and opportunity that inspired John Omar, creator of the blog Chain Operator, to develop an online course sharing the secrets of his cryptocurrency success.

“I created a course because I couldn’t find anything out there that explained how to trade cryptocurrencies,” said Omar. “Making it online meant I could reach more people with very little work.”

The course is a set of pre-recorded videos, which he charges $500 to access. The one-time effort of creating the digital lessons and platform now equates to an income of $50,000 a month, according to the entrepreneur.

“At most, I work five hours a week writing content for my blog, which drives new traffic to my website and course,” he said. “I generate passive income literally while I sleep.”

Although you may not be able to make five figures in one month like Omar, you can leverage your expertise to develop an online course of your own. Websites such as Udemy and Teachable make it simple to create one and charge a minimal fee.

Have a master’s in English? Start a writing course! Have you spent years working in finance? What about creating an investing 101 class? The options are limitless, and you can reap the benefits by doing very little work. Just keep in mind, the competition can be fierce since many web courses are so readily available online.

2. Take pictures

A selfie on your smartphone might not make you a lot of money (unless you’re Kim Kardashian), but honing your photography skills could lead to a high-paying, part-time job.

Mike Sansone, a headshot photographer in Chicago, quit his day job to focus on photography and now works fewer hours — while making more money — than he did full-time.

“In 2017, I broke the $75,000 mark, and this year I will make over six figures,” said Sansone. “And my day is super flexible. I’ll do some work in the morning, hang out with friends, make dinner, watch TV, and then do some work again. Some days I won’t work at all. It’s certainly not a desk job.”

Sansone never aspired to be a photographer and, instead, stumbled into it while in acting school. “I bought my first camera to make short movies,” he said. “A friend noticed and asked me if I would take his headshot. I learned more through personal coaching with famous photographer Peter Hurley, and now was eventually able to go out on my own.”

In addition to his part-time work, Sansone also keeps his overhead as low as possible. “I don’t have a car anymore, and my apartment is super tiny, and cheap,” he said. “If you live minimally for a few years, you eventually won’t have to anymore. That’s one of the important factors to working less and making more no matter what you decide to do.”

3. Create and sell digital graphics

If you find yourself doodling at work, that pastime could become your lucrative part-time career. Amy Stafford made up to $100,000 a year for the past several years selling digital graphics via her website and Etsy shop.

Graphic designers at companies and business owners look for pre-made illustrations to use in a larger design to save time, rather than creating it themselves. Stafford provides those “raw” materials and a variety of licensing options, which is how she makes her money without having to work a full-time job.

“This self-styled career has afforded me the freedom to travel, live, and work remotely while still making giant strides with my U.S. student loan debt,” said Stafford, who is now based primarily in Germany. “I happily paid off my last loan in February about five years ahead of my previous plan with my current flexible job.”

For those handy with graphic design software or a paintbrush, you could start selling your images online, like Stafford. There’s no requirement for how many graphics you have to deliver, so you set your hours.

But the more inventory you have, the more money you’ll likely make. Stafford, for example, has 168 purchasing options on her Etsy site that include “digital patterns,” templates for powerpoint, and papers for scrapbooking.

4. Consult on SEO for businesses

Having an online presence is imperative to almost any business. According to a study by Forbes Insights, 82 percent of customers will research products they want to buy online first. But a company’s website needs to come up as one of the top search engine results to get noticed by consumers. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

SEO is the process of growing the number and quality of people who visit your website through organic search traffic by strategically using keywords throughout the site. Doing that takes skill, one that Andrew Graham managed to turn into a part-time job, making over $125,000 a year.

“I can make six figures working about 25 hours per week as a freelance SEO consultant,” said Graham. “I even went traveling in Asia for nine months working just 15 hours a week.”

Graham was introduced to SEO as a career through a friend at a house party, and instantly saw the lifestyle advantages that this kind of job could provide. “I saw SEO as a tangible skill that would allow me to start an online business that can be run from really anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection,” he said.

At that time, Graham had just been laid off from a corporate sales job and was looking for something different; he was hired as a sales representative for an SEO company. That job allowed him to develop relationships in the industry and, after about 20 months working there full-time, he was able to quit and start his own business.

To break into the field, said Graham, you’ll have to study the landscape intensely, and it’s best if you have a marketing or computer degree. Bonus points to anyone who has created their own website before or has experience with WordPress. Having jobs with SEO companies on your resume also helps with securing clients, if you want to work for yourself later. “The more experience you have, the better,” said Graham.

In addition to having a lot of experience, you have to stay on top of trends. “Industry changes rapidly as the search engines further develop their algorithms. This does require you to put in a lot of effort to stay sharp,” he said. “But overall it’s an excellent field to make a great salary and have lifestyle freedom.”

All of these real-life stories began with taking a leap and trying something new. If you’re inspired to take on a new side hustle, find out how you can turn it into a lucrative career.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.