When I was a student, I was earning quite a lot of money online. It was more than enough to live an extremely comfortable student life. I was raking in between 1000$ and 1500$ extra money every month from a combination of affiliate marketing + SEO – which opens up a new world when you’re living in a student home. 🙂
And, after been thinking a while, I want to share my story in order to inspire other students to be able to do the same.
This is a story that fits for those of you that:
- Wants to make a decent side income with affiliate marketing
- Want to know the struggle of earning money online
- Wonders how people can earn money on websites
- …and those who are curious about how a ‘rich’ student really lives his life. 🙂
What will this article cover?
Let me just be straight with you. I am not going to be your “online marketing guru” or trying to sell you any expensive course. That’s not the person I am.
I would never charge money from students that wanted to make a side income with affiliate marketing.
After working with affiliate marketing for 10 years, I’m sort of bored of teaching it to other people. I’ve done that a lot. Every time someone in a bar asked me: “So…how do you really earn money online?”, I’ve tried to give them the best explanation possible.
However, I am going to motivate you and make you more interested in the concept of making money online.
Therefore, this article will cover:
- A personalized journey where I tell exactly how I was successful with affiliate marketing
- Tips and tricks for students that want to have a decent side income
- What to do and what NOT to do with your extra money.
- …and I think it will be a good read.
This article will not cover:
- Boring headlines like “What is affiliate marketing?”, “Is SEO dead?”, etc.
- I am not going to dig deep into how you make your first website or anything like that. If you have questions: feel free to write something in the comment field below the article.
Extra student income: My finances
So how would a typical month look like financially when I was a student? And how did I get to the point where I earned a decent side income online?
Available income: ~ 2000 USD.
Total cost every month: ~ 1700 USD.
|Alcohol and partying||300 $|
|Books & other school expenses||100 $|
This is not 100 % accurate, but I guess it’s as close as it gets.
In regards to my income, about 800 $ came through government funding. The rest came through my side income as an online marketer.
So how I was able to make money online while being an MBA student?
Let’s dig a bit deeper into that.
First of all: for some reason, people love to see screenshot of “income proof” when it comes to affiliate marketing. This is a screenshot from one of my affiliate networks back then, Tradedoubler:
Later in the article, I’m gonna explain exactly what I did with this money – and how it helped me to ALWAYS have money available while being a student.
Student side hustle: Affiliate Websites in a small market Pro tips
You’ve probably already noticed that I’m not from a native English speaking country. I’m Norwegian.
That means I can talk, write, and understand the Norwegian language. And that gives me one h… of an advantage in the affiliate marketing space.
Tip 1: Make a website directed towards the market you know the best
This leads to my number one tip: make a website in your domestic market.
If you’re American, make a website directed towards Americans. If you’re Swedish: go for a Swedish website.
And if you’re from Luxembourg (total inhabitants: 600,000 people)….well….try to figure out something. 😉
There are many reasons why I chose to make my websites in Norwegian. These are some of them:
- I could easily write high-quality articles
- I know the Norwegian customer. I know their needs – and their preferences
- The market is small, but people have a lot of money in Norway
- Contacting potential affiliate partners and link building in my native tongue was easy
Tip 2: Don’t start too many websites
Oh gosh. I wish I knew about this several years ago.
If you just started with affiliate marketing or plan to start, this will be my number 1 tip to you:
Do not start two, three or four projects. Start one!
My first website was a website about contact lenses. It went alright actually – and I earned about 500 $ per month pretty quickly. My firsts reaction to that was:
When I look back at this, I cringe. This bizarre mentality made me start websites in all the below-mentioned niches:
- Mobile phone equipment
- Protein powder
- Sunglasses and eyeglasses
- And a couple of more
When you try to balance 10 different websites as a single operation…they will all fail. You don’t have enough manpower or time to manage and update all of them. And even though I earned a few dollars on most of them after a while, I was never really successful before I started to scale down and focus on a handful of projects.
Down the road, you might be able to afford hiring writers and editors. But as a student trying to get a small side income, that’s not realistic on short-term. Therefore, you would have to limit the number of online projects you’re running.
My tip is to only stick to one.
Tip 3: Go for affiliate offers with a high payout per sale
When I ran my contact lens affiliate website, I earned around 5-6 USD in average per sale.
Then I started a website about credit cards. Every credit card application provided me with between 25 and 50 USD.
Needless to say: I focused on the latter.
That’s something I found out pretty late actually. But there is a reason why most big affiliate companies do not focus on pushing iphone covers. If you can get 10 % of an iphone cover that costs 7,99 USD, you’re not making money. Simple as that.
Correlation between high payout and high competiton
Some of you might go:
It is. But it’s much easier to rank for those terms in your native language compared to in English.
Morever, if your native language is English, you can always find relevant sub- niches such as:
- Student credit cards
- Unsecured loans for people above 50 years of age
- Credit cards with travel rebates
- …and a lot more. 🙂
Tip 4: My last tip: follow Income School
I would strictly advice you to not spend a lot of time watching various fake online gurus tell you how to make money online. Most of them are crap.
But if there’s one Youtube channel you should follow, it’s Income School.
This is how they look like:
And this is (more or less) what they will teach you:
- How to write SEO-friendly articles
- What affiliate programs to use
- Why you shouldn’t spend time building backlinks
- And a lot more useful stuff.
If you’re completely new to affiliate marketing and SEO, I would probably spend 4-5 hours watching their videos. However, if you sort of know the game a bit…you should not spend more than 1-2 hours.
Spending time watching Youtube about SEO and affiliate marketing is one of the biggest mistakes people do in this game. You better start opening your website and write something useful, mate! 🙂
Affiliate income success as a student – what does it mean for your life?
Everything. It means so much.
Most Norwegian students abroad lives off the payment they get from the government. that’s about 800 USD every month.
I had a net income of about 2000 USD per month.
That helped me live the student life I really wanted. Among other things, these were some of my “accomplishments”:
- Always afford quite expensive holidays every summer and winter
- Travel around the world to meet friends that studied in other parts of the world
- I could always afford food, alcohol and drinks as much as I wanted
- Most importantly: I never had to spend time on a “traditional part-time job”, which will take up so much of your time.
Affiliate income is amazing. You can work exactly when you want – and the money will pour into your bank account every month regardless of how much you worked that month.
That’s why I would say it’s also super student-friendly. Before exams, I would just shut down the “affiliate world” totally, but still, be able to earn the same amount of money.
Doesn’t that sound good? 🙂
My current affiliate income
So…did I ever scale it up?
1000-1500 USD extra might be nice as a student, but probably not enough to support yourself when you’re working.
I have a full-time job now. And I love my job.
But I do also have an affiliate income of between 2500-4000 USD per month. Even though I live in one of the most expensive countries on the planet, it’s still a quite nice side income.
The income is distributed among these websites:
|Norwegian website 1||1500-2000 USD|
|Norwegian website 2||500-1000 USD|
|Norwegian website 3||300-800 USD|
|Sustainability Matters||100-150 USD|
PS! I do never reveal my current niches to people. That’s one of the rules I have.
Even though less than 1 % of my readers are Norwegian, it might hurt me to reveal which niches I earn quite some money in. 🙂
Why isn’t Sustainability Matters Daily making a lot of money?
As you can see, the website you’re currently on doesn’t make me a lot of money. Frankly, I keep it mainly to teach people about living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Profit has never been the focus of owning this website. I just want a place where I can educate other people about what I think is important in life.
Once you’ve started to understand how you can effectively earn money through affiliate marketing, you’re never gonna stop. It’s so addictive. And ultimately, once you learn it, it’s quite easy as well. 😉
Famous last words
Now, I’m gonna stop here. But you might have some questions for me. I’m gonna answer some of those in the section below.
If you’re still wondering about anything, feel free to leave a comment below. I try to answer everyone.
Because this is the only international platform that I have. Also, 99 % of my readers find my articles through Google.
That means I am quite sure that this article will only be read by people who are genuinly interested in any variation of online marketing.
Oh, absolutely. Two things.
Firstly, I wish I took it more seriously. I was “happy” earning 1000-1500 $ per month. If I had the same self-discipline back then as I have now, I could easily have tripled that.
Secondly, an awful lot of people earned an awful lot of money on Facebook while I was a student. You might remember these horrible “viral sites”?
Several people earned up to 500 $ PER DAY with these websites (source: Stream-seo.com.) I honestly don’t know why I never did that. But I regret it.
First of all: always produce quality content.
I’m sure some people would say this article isn’t well-written. But what I know for sure is that it gives a lot of useful information to certain groups of people. And that’s all you have to do.
Don’t fill internet with crap. Always fill it with useful, well-written and well-structured content. If you do so, Google will like you – and you will get a lot of visitors to your website.