by AJ Kumar
Summer is a great time for budding entrepreneurs to pull in a little extra cash while developing their business skills in real-world settings. But you don’t have to give up this income stream just because you’re heading off to college. In fact, there are plenty of different ways aspiring entrepreneurs can turn a summer job into a full-fledged small business. The following are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Plenty of high schools across the country teach website design to students these days. But even if you aren’t lucky enough to receive this in-class training, it’s easy to teach yourself the basic Web design skills that can provide plenty of extra income throughout college and beyond.
To get started quickly, learn basic HTML. Then, to focus your website design training, plan on learning established CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Once you learn how to create templates (or “skins”) for these systems using any of the template design tools on the market today, you’ll be able to set up professional-looking websites quickly and easily.
As soon as you’re confident in your Web design skills, you’ll want to start finding clients. One great opportunity for young people to target is small business owners – including your boss. These companies may not have the budget to work with the established marketing firms in your area, but they still need websites designed. As an added bonus, you may find it easier to secure these jobs as a college student, since many small business owners like to feel as if they’re giving back to the community.
If you feel more confident in your writing skills than your visual design acuity, be aware that there are plenty of freelance writing opportunities available – whether you’re looking to take on a few jobs during the summer or to turn your talents into a full-on small business.
First, forget about the standard line of thinking that freelance writers only work for newspapers, magazines and other print publications. Today, the world of online content creation is booming – which means that there’s an incredible amount of demand for freelance writers who can work effectively with website owners.
Alternatively, if you have specialized industry knowledge, you may be able to find sites that will pay you a set rate for each accepted blog post you submit. For a good list of these opportunities, check out YoungPrePro’s article on “30 Websites That Pay You to Contribute an Article, Instantly.”
Social Media Marketing
Another option to consider when it comes to tech-oriented jobs that make great small businesses is social media marketing. Although interacting on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter may seem second nature to you, plenty of companies need help using these platforms effectively in order to connect with customers.
Finding work as a social media manager can be accomplished using many of the techniques described above. Using freelancer portal sites like Guru or Elance (or even traditional job search websites like Monster or Simply Hired) may uncover a number of consulting opportunities, while contacting small businesses may have the same effect.
However, before you toss your name into the ring, be aware that businesses may expect a different set of social media skills than the ones you’ve cultivated on your own time. For this reason, you’ll want to brush up on the following items before applying for social media consulting positions:
Increase your familiarity with social networking platforms you don’t personally use. For example, even if you aren’t on Google+ you’ll want to know how the site runs in case a future client uses it heavily.
Demonstrate your ability to connect with social media users. Businesses will look at your personal social networking usage to assess your skills, so don’t disappoint them with a Twitter following of only 20 users.
Learn how to measure social media success. Businesses that hire social media consultants want to see metrics that demonstrate they’re getting a good return on their investment, so take the time to learn how to quantify your social networking efforts in a way that business owners will understand.
Because the Internet has created so many new business opportunities that are accessible to everyone, it’s possible to turn just about any job experience into an online company. Even if you don’t have experience with the three options listed above, paying attention to how Internet companies are hiring should uncover a few chances for you to turn your past summer jobs into a solid business idea.
If you’ve turned a past summer job into a small business, I’d love to hear your story – as well as any recommendations you can offer other teens interested – in the comments section below!
AJ Kumar is the co-founder of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency based in San Francisco. Single Grain specializes in helping startups and larger companies with search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media and various other marketing strategies.