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How to Start a Profitable Website as a Student (While Balancing Your Studies)

With over 4.6 billion internet users worldwide, it’s no wonder that it has become one of the most lucrative tools in existence. 

With thousands of businesses popping up daily and many finding success online, it’s easy to begin fantasising about how you could make a living from your computer, without having to leave the comfort of your home (or student halls). 

After all, there have been so many success stories! Most of the world’s highest earners have harnessed the power of the internet in some way. For example, Jeff Bezos created Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook and Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google. 

And now they are all billionaires. 

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you’ll be so successful that you’ll be earning your first million within the year. However, you can make a comfortable living from a profitable website. 

Best of all, you can do this alongside your studies! Read on to find out how. 

Choose your niche or services 

The first step to creating a profitable website as a student is to decide on your niche and the type of business/website you’re going to set up. This could be related to your current studies or it could be something you enjoy doing as a hobby. 

There are several different types of website you can build, so to give you some inspiration, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the most profitable ideas for 2021 and beyond: 

  • Blogging and affiliate marketing
  • Personal branding – creating a website to promote your services
  • Fitness – sharing virtual workouts or healthy eating plans 
  • E-commerce and dropshipping 
  • Secondhand selling sites
  • A portfolio – to demonstrate your work and promote your services 
  • Online courses – perhaps related to what you’re studying or something you have expertise in 

When picking your niche, choose one that you will enjoy pursuing and that you believe you will be able to make profitable. 

Do some research into your niche 

Once you have decided on your niche, you’re almost ready to get started! But first, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research. You can start simply, searching relevant keywords related to your proposed site to discover the sorts of things that your target audience might be searching for.  

You can also use marketing tools like Google Ad Words to help you find out whether there is enough need and traffic for your search terms. It’s pointless starting up a website on a topic that has zero traffic or interest and no real audience. 

This research will also give you a chance to suss out your competition and decide whether your niche is going to be saturated and harder to make successful. 

Set up your blog or website

Setting up a website doesn’t have to be tricky or time-consuming but you need to make sure you choose the right platform to help you do this. For example, WordPress can be the ideal tool for blogs, where Shopify can be better for dropshipping businesses. 

So again, do a bit of research before you jump in and look at which platform is going to be best for your site. 

You also need to put careful consideration into your layout, branding, colour scheme and design to ensure you create an attractive site that is built for purpose. 

If you choose the right platform and you have a creative eye, you could easily have your initial website built and published in the day. 

At this stage, you might also wish to purchase the domain and host for your website but if you want to wait and see how it goes first, you could hold off parting with your cash until you’ve begun building awareness of your website. We’ll look at how to do this later in the article. 

Put some time and effort into your onsite content

Next, you need to put some time into creating detailed, accurate and valuable content. This might be through the way of product descriptions if you’re setting up an e-commerce site, blog posts, white papers, course materials, etc. depending on the nature of your website. 

You don’t have to create loads of content right away and flood the site but just be sure that any visitors to your site understand who you are and why they’re there. 

Begin promoting your website 

Once you’re up and running you need to start getting your name out there and promoting your website. There are several ways you can do this and the good news is, this can be pretty cheap to do, even totally free if you do it right! So to begin promoting your site you can: 

  • Write strong and useful content to share 
  • Guest post for other websites – particularly those that have authority in your niche 
  • Promote your website through social media 
  • Consider paid advertising – if you have the budget to do so 
  • Boost your SEO efforts – you can do this through keyword optimisation, metadata, internal and external links, alt tags, etc. 
  • Work with influencers in your niche – ask them to promote your content with their followers 
  • Encourage sign-ups to your email marketing list 

By spending some time getting a good marketing strategy in place and building your online presence, you’ll begin to build up a good stream of traffic. This is important for the future of your website and making it genuinely profitable. 

Whether you’re selling products, relying on affiliate marketing links or advertising your services, quality traffic is going to be the key.

Get the balance right 

Lastly, you need to remember that you’ve got to get the balance right between your profitable website and your studies. So don’t dedicate 100% of your time to your new site. In fact, in the early stages, it’s probably best to focus more on your course work. 

However, over time you’ll get better at juggling the two. 

Creating a detailed planner can also be a good way for you to set aside time for both your education and your new website. Because without structure and discipline, you could get lost spending hours changing up your website design, promoting your webpages and getting sucked into your new venture. 

This isn’t going to bode well for your studies – so be careful to get the balance right.

About the author

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Stuart Cooke

Stuart is the Digital Marketing Manager at MyBaggage.com, luggage shipping specialists helping students all over the world. He writes on all things student, finance and marketing.