How to make money as a blogger

How to make money as a blogger


Fancy giving blogging a shot? We show you how to get started, plus tips on how to turn your blog into a serious money magnet!
how to start a blogCredit: Helt Enkelt Blogging has become incredibly popular in the last few years, particularly amongst young people, which is why brands from all over the world are desperate to get involved with blogger communities!

Whilst blogging isn’t the easiest way to make money, the great thing about it is that anyone can do it – all you need is to have something interesting to say and enough patience and dedication and you could build yourself a crazy amount of followers. But ever wondered how it is exactly that bloggers make their dough?

We’re here to show you the ropes on how to turn your blog into an online space that brands will want to throw hard cash at.

Check out our extensive list of business ideas for you to try at university – get your entrepreneurial juices flowing and bring in some cash!
Getting started


how to start a blogCredit: Helena888 –
Getting started with blogging can seem like a bit of a minefield, as there’s so much to consider and so much information out there it can get overwhelming – particularly if you’re not the techiest of people.

It’s important to be aware at this point that while blogging is for anyone who wants to give it a try, it requires a certain amount of dedication and a self-starting attitude to actually see a cash return. Turning your blog into a money-maker also takes time, so it could be months before you’re able to start earning from it.

However, there are ways you can get your blog off to a great start that will speed up the money-making process, and we’re here to show you how!

We’ve split the process of getting your blog up and running into 7 simple steps to make things easier.

  1. Decide what to blog about

    This can either be the easiest part or the hardest part of starting your blog. If you already know what your interests and passions are, you’ll already know that this is what will define your blog.

    The most important thing at this stage is to choose a niche to own and call yourself an authority in – the biggest mistake many new bloggers make in such a crowded blogosphere is to start a blog without trying to do something interesting or offering readers something different.

    For example, if fashion is your thang, rather than decide to become a run-of-the-mill fashion blogger, why not combine your love for fashion with your big-hearted concern for the environment by creating a blog that focuses on environmentally conscious clothing lines instead.

    You can keep readers up-to-date on the controversy surrounding high street fashion outlets and their connection with sweatshops whilst channeling your love for design (bonus tip: controversy is always good for pulling in readers).

    Originality goes a long way in this game! Particularly nowadays, where there are literally millions of fashion bloggers out there, so what can you offer that they don’t have covered already? Find your niche and own it.

  2. Get your blog set up

    coding geeksOk, so this is the technical bit that’s best handled by our website-building expert and Save the Student Founder, Owen.

    Owen was nice enough to put together a fantastic guide on how to start a website, and the process is exactly the same for blogs.

    Have a read through this, and we’ll meet you back here at step 3!

  3. Design the look of your blog

    Now for the fun part! Although, we really can’t stress how important this stage of the process is. The look of your blog can have huge implications on your readership – you want to create a platform that looks good, is easy to read, and makes readers want to return.

    WordPress have an insane amount of templates or ‘themes’ for you to choose from – 2,500 to be exact! Take your time to decide on one that suits both your personality and the topic of your blog (and therefore your readers too).

    Our main tips here would be to opt for something clear and simple, with space for large images and easy-to-read fonts (bonus tip: Comic sans and Courier fonts are a serious non-no!).

  4. Start writing valuable content

    write valuable blog contentSo now you have your blog looking smart, it’s time for the challenge of putting together some words that will be easy to read, interesting, valuable and make readers thirsty for more. Oh, and it also needs to be well written without spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Easy peasy, right?

    Think carefully about what you want to write about before you get started, and note that the ‘Dear Diary’ days of “Oh hey, this is my blog and I’m gonna tell you about things I like” are well and truly over.

    Unfortunately, readers of your blog aren’t really interested in who you are (well, they are to an extent, but this alone is not enough), essentially they’re interested in what you can offer them that will make them more knowledgable/ better dressed/ better at life/ a better cook, etc.

    As depressing as this may sound, this is the way the blogging industry works – and the quicker you start thinking this way the quicker your blog will succeed!

  5. Set up blog-related social media accounts

    As with any business nowadays, you’re not likely to get noticed if you don’t have social media accounts.

    We recommend setting up pages/accounts for your blog on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and even LinkedIn (you’re essentially your own business anyway, right?) and get designing these accounts in a similar colour scheme/theme to your blog so it’s consistent and easy to recognise.

    Start by adding everyone you know to get yourself off to a good start – new readers will come in due time!

  6. Get to know the blogger community

    fingersThe next step is to make yourself known to those blogging on similar topics as yourself. Despite the obvious fact you’re coming on the scene as a direct competitor, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by how supportive the blogger community can be.

    Many bloggers even have a ‘links’ page on their site that they use to link to loads of their friends within the community (in return for a link on your own blog, of course!) which will help a lot with your SEO (that’s ‘search engine optimization’ – aka how likely your blog is to pop up in google searches).

  7. Pull in your readers!

    Ok, we get it, this is about as easy as saying “Ok, now go and bring me some lumps of pure gold” right?

    It’s true that attracting more readers and followers takes time and you’ll need to work hard at it.

    Don’t worry though – we’ve got some great tips on how to pull in more readers further below. Never say we ain’t good to ya!

How bloggers make their cash

Take-cash-onlyNow we’re on to the interesting stuff – how bloggers rake in their cash! It’s worth knowing first of all that monetizing a blog is something that takes time and relies heavily on you having a decent following.

Therefore, it’s important that you put effort into building your readership, and that’s done primarily by providing valuable content. The more followers/ readers you have, the more attractive you are to advertisers – simple as that!

It’s also worth understanding that making money as a blogger entails having multiple streams of income from different sources and through different means, as opposed to from one source.

You might not be too impressed at first by some of the figures you see online (we’re normally talking pennies), but that’s the nature of monetizing a blog – the more readers and clicks you get, the more your pennies will grow into pounds!

  1. Affiliate links

    limp hand shakeAffiliate links are links that you can weave into the text of your blog that allow you to make a small commission every time a reader clicks through to a site and spends money.

    The links will lead readers to the website of a brand, and the money you receive is to say ‘thanks’ for sending some of your lovely readers to their site (or being ‘affiliated’ with the brand, so to speak).

    Sign up to Affiliate Window – a huge affiliate network where you can promote thousands of brands and services instantly!

  2. Ads

    You can bring in some dough by simply offering space on your blog which brands can use to advertise to your readers.

    For example, ‘banner ads‘ are what you call the ads that run across the top of the page, and ‘sidebar ads’ are (you guessed it!) the ones that run down the side of your blog content.

    Brands will normally pay you at a rate of PPC (pay per click) meaning you’ll get a set payment for every one of your readers who click the ad, or CPM (cost per thousand – M is Roman numeral for thousand FYI) meaning when a brand offers you a set payment for every 1,000 ‘impressions’ their ad gets, or how many times they see it.

    As mentioned, the rates of PPC and CPM can seem low, and quite often they are low – but the more readers you acquire, the higher the clicks (and renumeration) will be!

  3. Selling newsletter space

    newsletter space for saleCredit: nathan esguerra – flickr
    It’s also an option to charge a brand for either advertising space within or a mention in your weekly/monthly newsletter (if you have one!).

    However, you’ll need to build up a pretty decent sized mailing list for brands to consider this.

  4. Advertorials and sponsored content

    ‘Advertorials’ are when a brand contacts you and asks you to write a blog post on something closely related to what they sell.

    So for example, say Adidas was bringing out a new swimwear line, and your blog was a popular women’s sport fashion blog. Adidas offer to pay you a set payment in exchange for, say, 500 words plus 4 images of their products in your blog post. They’ll even throw in a couple of affiliate links so you can earn some extra cash on any clicks, and to top it all off you get to keep the swimmy the sent you!

    Advertorials are the easiest way to make money fast, but in order to be approached, you need to be worthwhile to a brand. That’s where having an strong, niche audience comes in handy (because readers of a women’s sport fashion blog are way more likely to want to buy something from Adidas’s new line than readers of a generic fashion blog, get it?).

  5. Social Media posts

    posting on social media Credit: Nan Palmero
    If you have a strong social media presence (in fact, some people make an entire blogging career just through Instagram alone!) then you’ll be very attractive to brands.

    You can charge per post/ re-post and the fees can be surprisingly high. You’ll just have to work hard on building your followers first – your ‘social proof’ or how many people follow you on social media, is seen by brands as proof that readers will like what you post about them, too.

  6. Guest blogging

    Occasionally, members of the press or even brands who have a blog of their own will get in touch if you’re a particular authority on a certain topic, and ask you to make a little cameo appearance on their website.

    For example, if you’re particularly knowledgeable in cooking on a budget, a newspaper might get in touch and ask you to contribute some budget-friendly recipes to their cooking magazine.

    This is where establishing your niche and honing it comes in handy! Become an authority in your topic and the opportunities to make cash will eventually flow in.

  7. Working with an agency

    pimp up your cvBelieve it or not, blogging has become so popular in the world of advertising that agencies exclusively catered to pimping out bloggers to big brands have popped up all over the shop.

    Working with an agency can be lucrative and offers you security, but you’ll need to have a really decent following to be scooped up in the first place.

    Agency fees are also incredibly high, meaning only the biggest brands will be able to afford working with you, and smaller independent companies will be scared off. Depending on the kind of blogging business you’re aiming for (to use the example of ethical fashion blogging again, signing up to an agency would probably prevent you from working with small independent designers), so this may or not work to your advantage.

  8. Sell digital products

    If you have skills or advice to offer, another option is to charge a fee for access to ebooks, video tutorials, courses or workshops.

    In order to make this option work, you need to be able to show you’re extremely good at what you do or that your content has proven to be incredibly valuable, which isn’t easy.

    It can be pretty difficult to convince online communities to pay up, as there’s a tendency for people to think everything online should be free of charge. Worth a try though, right?

For more ideas head over to our 20 ways to make money from a website!

How to make more money with your blog

bathrichFirst and foremost, the key to ensuring your blog generates as much cash as it’s capable of making is to build your readership as much as possible.

The larger your following, the more valuable you are to brands, as they’ll see you as an influential figure (dubbed ‘influencers‘ in the blogging world) meaning they’re likely to shell out more cash to work with you.

Earn more by increasing your readership

how to make more friendsIf something happens in the news that’s related to your niche, get involved. This is what we refer to as ‘news jacking‘ and it can work a treat in getting you some great exposure!

For example, say you’re a food blogger who focuses on Paleo dietary cooking for those who suffer from gluten intolerances (there’s your niche audience right there!).

A report is released in the news that states research has found that gluten is much worse for our health than previously thought: the bread and pizza-lover’s world collapses, but now’s your chance to shine, since you’ve been preaching this on your blog for ages! (disclaimer: this report is entirely fabricated – we don’t know anything about the benefits of Paleo).

Use this news story as leverage to promote your blog. Get on social media and say your bit (using multiple appropriate hashtags, of course), get involved in discussions and even reach out to journalists to say you’re available for comment. If you’re really great at owning your niche, the journalists might even come to you!

Similarly, creating viral content will help you reach a new market and in turn increase your readership. Again, we understand that this isn’t so simple!

The key to creating viral content is to tap into controversial or much-discussed topics related to your niche blogging field (as you can imagine, quite often this also involves news jacking, as mentioned above).

As this is your niche, you’ll be passionate and opinionated about it, and so be able to post an opinion that people want to read and share with their mates – in turn pulling you in a whole load of shiny new readers!

Use your blog as a money-making stepping stone

stepping stone to universityCredit:
Using your blog to promote your own business or even land yourself a job is another (albeit indirect) way to make more cash with your blog. If you’re one of the growing number of students starting their own business or are selling something online, your blog is the perfect platform to promote what you have to offer (although don’t go in too hard or you’ll put readers off).

You can also use your blog as a sort of online profile to build your credibility that will ultimately get you a good job. Think of it this way: your blog is like your own small business in itself, and by showing potential employers that you can do this successfully, you’re showing that you’ve got an entrepreneurial mind, and know how to achieve success with it.

Remember that in becoming a professional blogger you’ll be expected to start declaring your income to the tax man. If your blog is your only income, you’ll be able to earn £11,500 a year tax-free with it thanks to the national tax-free personal allowance – read our big fat guide to freelancing for more info.

Are you a pro blogger and got some tips to make more cash that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear ’em! Feel free to comment below or get in touch with us.

Student tax refunds – are you owed money?

Student tax refunds – are you owed

Students overpaying income tax make the government richer every year – here’s how you to claim your hard-earned cash back.
student income tax refundLiving costs continue to creep up for students, whilst the student loan stays pretty much stagnant, and as a result nearly 70% of UK students now work part-time whilst doing a degree.

But many students who do work whilst studying end up overpaying their income tax, and are unaware that they could be eligible for a student tax refund.

Going about reclaiming your cash is easier than you might think, and don’t think just cause you’ve graduated you’ve missed the boat – you can claim back tax you’ve overpaid from as early as 2012/13 in April 2017.

Is your employer paying you at least the legal minimum for your age group? Hundreds of high street employers have been underpaying staff – make sure yours isn’t one of them.

The student tax conundrum

confused about TEFWhilst you will get student council tax exemption if you’re studying full-time, students do still have to pay income tax.

However, there are a few details about the way that students tend to work whilst studying that often result in them paying more than they’re meant to.

As a result, millions of pounds of income tax overpaid by students is held by the British government. You could be one of the hundreds of students in the UK that has money left unclaimed. Just imagine what you could buy with that!

Why students commonly overpay tax

There are a few reasons why students often end up paying more income tax than they need to – and without even knowing it.

The most common situation is that when starting a part-time job, employers will often put you on an ’emergency’ or incorrect tax code (PAYE code) if you don’t give them a copy of your P45 as evidence of your tax code.

Students who go on a placement year or work part-time during university also often do so over a period that spans two tax years which can confuse things a bit in the eyes of the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs aka the tax man).

Most students don’t end up earning over the tax-free personal allowance of within a single tax year (which runs April – April), but if you choose to work extra shifts at your part-time job during certain times in the year (over the Christmas holidays, for example) you could be totting up full time hours.

In this case, the tax man thinks your earning more across the whole year than you are, and will tax you accordingly… but you get it back!

What is the tax-free personal allowance?

By law, you can earn up to £11,500 in a tax year without having to pay any tax on it. You’ll pay income tax at a rate of 20% on anything you earn above that.

This also applies to any income you make working abroad for the summer. As you’re a UK resident working temporarily abroad, you pay your tax to the UK tax man rather than the country you’re working in. It’s a good idea to check in with the HMRC before heading abroad to work so this is clarified to them.

As well as income tax, you’ll pay National Insurance contributions if you earn above £155 a week.

Unfortunately, you can’t claim back overpaid National Insurance contributions, but it’s worth knowing that the purpose of you paying NI is to go towards you getting a state pension when you retire, so you’ll still get your money back eventually!

Use our tax refund calculator to find out how much tax you could claim back.

How to get a student tax refund

Returned coins containerUnless you’re self-employed (in which case you do your own taxes), your employer controls your tax payments to the HMRC.

The tax is deducted from your pay each month as PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) – you’ll be able to see this from your pay slips.

At the end of the tax year, the HMRC will automatically send you a P800 tax calculation, and reimburse you with any tax you’ve overpaid. Therefore, in this case you don’t need to do anything!

However, if you’re a keen bean and don’t want to wait around for your P800 (or you think some of the info on your P800 is incorrect), you can also make a claim yourself at any time of the year using a P50 form.

Tax on savings accounts

It’s worth knowing that if you have any cash stowed away in a savings account, the interest you earn on this will also count towards your personal allowance (this doesn’t apply to ISAs – they’re tax free).

Whilst most students won’t earn or save enough to be affected, banks will often deduct 20% from your interest automatically so be aware of this! More info here.

Use our free tax calculator to see if you should be paying tax on your savings account.

Claiming if you’ve already left your job

To begin your application for a tax refund, you’ll need to get your P45 from your previous employer (they have to supply you with one by law).

Then, use the information on the P45 to work out whether you have indeed paid too much tax (use our tax calculator to find out).

Once you’re sure you have overpaid, download a P50 form. Fill this out and send it – along with parts 2 and 3 of your P45 – to HMRC (keep part 1 as a personal copy).

Claiming if you’re still working

If you’re still working but have noticed you’re paying too much tax – probably due to being on the wrong tax code – simply contact HMRC and tell them. They’ll advise you from there.

Good luck!

Are you aware of these 6 basic tax facts every student needs to know? Time to swot up – it could save you waiting for a refund!

How to make money pet sitting

How to make money pet sitting

Are you missing the family pet now you’re at uni? Why not try pet sitting, and get paid to cuddle some cute, furry creatures?

make money pet sitting

According to our National Student Money Survey, 67% of you have got a part-time job to survive at uni. The problem is that some student jobs just don’t fit with uni schedules, and employers aren’t always flexible.

Pet sitting allows you to set your own hours and your own pay, meaning you could end up earning £40 or more each day. Oh, and don’t forget the added bonus of being around animals!

Interested? We thought so. Find out all about pet sitting in this guide!

If pet sitting is a little too small-time for you, check out our interview with a student who owns and runs her own alpaca farm!

What is pet sitting?

what is pet sitting

Pet sitting is a lot like babysitting – except you are looking after someone’s pet, and not their child. Makes sense.

Some pet owners prefer to have someone look after their furry bundle of cuteness instead of using a cattery or kennel. This could be for a number of reasons sometimes – perhaps paying someone to sit is cheaper, or their pet gets stressed being away from home.

Depending on the job, you could find yourself looking after the animal at either the owner’s house or your own place.

If you’ve only got a few hours spare and can’t commit to several days of care, there are other options. You could become a dog walker, start a doggy day care centre at your house or just keep pets company during the day whilst their owner is working.

In a nutshell, you need to feed them, play with them and keep them safe – just like your own animal.

Five pros and cons of pet sitting


pros of being a pet sitter

  1. You get to look after animals and get paid for it!
  2. If you want to work with animals in the future, pet sitting will look brilliant on your CV – especially if you can get references from happy customers
  3. Pets may need to be fed at a certain time, so you need to get there on time – a great way to encourage time management and organisation
  4. You can work whenever you want, and choose your hourly pay
  5. The biggest pro of them all: animals are cute and cuddly!


Cons of pet sitting

  1. Work may be sparse – it depends on where you are, and if anyone else is offering a similar service
  2. You may be expected to give pets medication, if required
  3. Owners may be fussy. Understandable, yes, but does Fido really need to be fed boiled chicken, hand-cut into 1-inch pieces, and for you to make whale noises just to get him to sleep?
  4. You may need a car to pick up and drop off animals if you are pet sitting in your own home
  5. If you use a website, expect them to take a fee for advertising.

How much can I make from pet sitting?

how much can you make from pet sitting

If you’re wondering how much demand there is for pet sitting where you live, have a look at what other people are charging. Here are some benchmark figures to give you a rough idea:

Type of work Typical pay
Looking after pets while the owner is away or at work £8 per hour
Dog walking £10 per hour
(with extra charges for more than one dog)
Looking after a dog at your house for a few hours £15
Looking after the animal overnight at the owner’s house £25

Remember that these are just ballpark figures, and depending on where you live and what the pets are, you could get more or less than this.

If you go the extra mile, you can potentially charge more and even get yourself some regular business!

You could offer to water the garden or pick up their post, and make a genuine effort to make animals feel at ease in your presence. This could mean giving them treats, or sending the owner regular texts or pictures to keep their mind at ease.

How to get work as a pet sitter

Start off by asking family and friends if they know anyone who needs a pet sitter. Alternatively, you could post on local Facebook pages or Gumtree. Or, if you’re feeling super old school, you could even put up some posters or flyers in the local area.

If you’re after something a little more structured, there are a few websites out there that will introduce you to owners. What’s more, if you work through these companies, there’s a good chance you’ll be covered by their insurance (always check the specifics though, just in case!).


    become pet sitter care.comUnlike most other pet sitting websites, caters for pretty much any type of animal.

    Of course, as cats and dogs are the most popular pets, they’ll also be the subject of a good proportion of the listed jobs. But don’t worry if you’re after some variety, as all animals are welcome here!

    Register with »

  2. Cat in a Flat

    cat in a flat cat sittingCat in a Flat is solely for cat sitting, and you can offer to cat sit for a few hours or overnight.

    You (and the cat) will be fully insured by the website, and you’ll be expected to send the owner a picture of their kitty every day.

    Register with Cat in a Flat »

  3. Dog Buddy

    Dog buddy become a dog sitterAs the name suggests, Dog Buddy is for dog owners.

    As a dog sitter, you can offer dog walking, home visits and doggy day care.

    Register with Dog Buddy »

  4. Pawshake

    Pawshake become pet sitterDon’t want to commit to caring for just one type of animal? Head over to Pawshake, where you could find yourself looking after anything from dogs to mice!

    Services you can offer include dog walking, doggy day care and overnight stays.

    Register with Pawshake »

  5. Trusted Housesitters

    TrustedHousesitter become a pet sitterIf you’re not bothered about money but want to do a bit of travelling, Trusted Housesitters matches up global trekkers to homeowners all over the world who need a pet sitter in exchange for free accommodation.

    You need to pay an up-front fee of £89 a year to advertise, but depending on where you’re travelling to, you could be making that back in as little as one or two night’s worth of free accommodation!

    Register with TrustedHousesitters »

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and sit some pets!

If you’d rather have a more reliable source of income, why not look into getting one of the best paid student jobs?

Meet the student who runs an alpaca farm in her spare time

Make Money

Meet the student who runs an alpaca farm in her spare time

Of all the unusual student jobs we’ve come across, Lucy Ackers and her alpaca farm surely tops the lot!

student runs alpaca farm spare time make money

Here at Save the Student, we love hearing about all the weird and wonderful ways that students make and save money.

Whether it’s living in a van to save on rent, or becoming a mermaid to earn some extra pennies, we’re always impressed by the increasingly creative lengths that students are going to. And in Lucy Ackers, we reckon we may have found the most wholesome and heartwarming example of this yet.

Why? Well, when she’s not studying for her degree in Agriculture at Easton and Otley College, near Norwich, Lucy owns and runs her very own alpaca farm!

As you might imagine, between running a farm and completing the final year of her degree, Lucy’s schedule doesn’t include much free time – but she generously gave us a few minutes to share the realities of her hectic lifestyle.

Becoming an alpaca farmer

student makes money alpaca farm

If you’re looking to earn some money (or just do something productive with your free time) there are plenty of part-time jobs to try as a student – which begs the question: why did Lucy decide to start running an alpaca farm?

As she readily admits, Lucy started off in a very fortunate position – her family already owned the land she’d need, so half the job was already done.

From there, it was just a case of broaching the subject.

No one was doing anything with the land, so one day I plucked up the courage to tell my parents about my crazy plan. They were very keen as they wanted the house and land to stay within the family.

So, as an Agriculture student with some land to play with, you can see why Lucy was drawn to farming. But still – why alpacas?

I always wanted to get into livestock, but in terms of land, we don’t have the largest farm. It’s just over 20 acres, which is enough to have a substantial herd of alpacas, but not necessarily enough for other more traditional livestock.

Not to mention that alpacas are amazing and so endearing! They are so easy to love and to be around, and they should live for at least 20 years, so we’re in it together for the long haul.

We’re certainly not arguing with Lucy on that one – these guys are about as endearing as they come!

stubbs farm alpaca student

As for getting hold of some actual alpacas, a combination of an inheritance and savings from previous jobs were enough for Lucy to start populating Stubbs Farm. Again, Lucy is always keen to stress that she’s well aware of how fortunate she’s been, and that this may not be possible for many other students!

Running an alpaca farm as a student

stubbs farm alpaca student

It’s probably fair to say that most students can fit a part-time job into their schedules. But alpaca farming isn’t a part-time job – in fact, it’s more full-time than most full-time jobs!

What’s more, as the owner and manager of the farm, Lucy can’t just take a day off if she’s got a heap of deadlines to meet. At times, it isn’t so much a case of fitting her job in around her studies – it’s a case of finding the time outside of work to fit in some studying.

I try my absolute best to balance everything appropriately but life doesn’t always allow for that.

Sometimes we have a herd health day – where the alpacas are all due their vaccinations, or vitamin boosters, or even just having their toenails cut – the day before I have a deadline. That can be stressful.

In fact, as a final year student, Lucy is currently writing her dissertation. She says that’s her priority right now, but with summer on the horizon, the alpacas are due a shearing… a week before Lucy’s dissertation is due.

It sounds daunting, but compared to some of her previous experiences, doing some major alpaca upkeep a week before an important deadline seems almost stress-free.

I no longer submit my work in the last few minutes, as in first year I had a problem with one of my alpacas and my attention was on them. I missed the upload deadline by 14 minutes, and that was that – I lost 10% of that grade. That definitely changed the way I approach my assignments.

And, as you might imagine, this is far from the only time that Lucy’s alpacas have chosen an inopportune time to demand her attention.

Last summer, I had a baby alpaca born on the morning I had an exam. I had to check he was happy, healthy and feeding, and then dash off to uni, do a two hour exam, come home and make sure he was still happy, healthy and feeding! That was a crazy day, but we survived.

alpaca farm student make money

That said, Lucy believes that there is at least one benefit to having so much to do: she’s become a lot better at managing her time.

I think the best lesson I have learned since starting this is to be flexible – you have to be able to change your plans for the day at the drop of a hat.

I don’t really have time to procrastinate any more. There was a time when I’d do an all-nighter for uni assignments as, like so many of us, I’d leave it to the last minute. But now there’s not a chance I’ll be doing that.

Now I’ll have the essay finished at a respectable time because I know I’ve got to get up first thing the next day and no longer get that lie in.

It’s also worth remembering that Lucy is, after all, studying for a degree in Agriculture. Getting a job that’s related to your degree is a great way to boost your job prospects while studying, and Lucy is the perfect example of this.

Although we don’t learn about alpacas, their management is pretty similar to sheep and some parts are similar to owning cattle, so it’s been about selecting appropriate information I learn at uni and applying it to the farm.

The business side of running an alpaca farm

student makes money from alpaca farm

It’s not just practical skills that Lucy’s been able to use on the farm – agriculture degrees also teach you about the realities of owning and running a business in the modern world.

As well as livestock management we have business and marketing modules, and that’s been a great help as it’s applicable to everything really.

Alpacas are fairly unusual in that they’re not typically farmed for their meat or milk. So how exactly does Lucy manage to turn a profit from her alpacas?

Their fleeces are high quality and there’s a market out there for them, but as we only shear once a year, it can be a slow turnaround for that – especially because, as a full-time student, I haven’t actually given all my fleeces 100% of my time to process them for sale.

Clearly, given the time it can take to get alpaca fur to market, and the constraints on Lucy’s time, the farm wouldn’t be able to operate on this income alone. As such, Lucy’s had to get creative and find other ways to keep the whole thing running.

We host alpaca experience days where people can come and meet them up close, learn about them and feed them.

At the weekends we also run alpaca treks around our local countryside. Whilst these only run April-September, it’s a little steadier than waiting for fleeces to grow, harvest, process and sell.

Perhaps most excitingly of all, though, is the fact that Lucy could soon be opening Stubbs Farm up to the public for overnight stays.

I also have plans to start up my own camping and glamping site, so I feel the alpacas will make a great selling point for that.

Consider our interest firmly registered!

student stubbs farm alpaca

So, with the farm benefiting from an increasingly diverse stream of revenue, is Lucy living the student life of luxury?

The income from the farm is quite variable depending on the time of year, as a large part of our business focuses on tourism, and that’s very much weather-dependent.

It makes enough to cover the costs of the animals, and a bit on the side for me to keep, but bear in mind it’s still small-scale.

Whilst I’m still at uni, I’m limited with how much time I can dedicate to the farm without losing focus on my studies, so we’ve only advertised to our local village about our experience days and slowly the word is spreading. But until I graduate I’m happy with that!

Should you become an alpaca farmer too?

alpaca farming tips

Lucy’s story is certainly impressive, and we wouldn’t blame you if you were considering following a similar path – but don’t go into it under any illusions.

As Lucy is all too keen to stress, owning and running a farm is a huge commitment in itself, let alone as a student. If you’re in it for the money, you’re probably better off looking at the best paid student jobs.

I wouldn’t say it’s a goal people should be looking at just to earn money. By all means try to find a job on an alpaca farm – but owning and running one is a huge commitment.

It isn’t a job where you can simply book time off – you have responsibilities to these animals and their lives literally depend on you showing up every day, come wind come weather.

Not to mention, you have to face the reality of them becoming ill, or potentially losing one – you become so, so, so attached to these animals and having to say goodbye can be devastating. You’ve got to understand every single aspect that the job could throw at you – good times, frustrating times and sad times.

I’m not trying to make the job sound worse than it is, but people have to be realistic.

Lucy also warns against anyone – students or otherwise – getting a solitary alpaca as a pet. As she points out, they’re herd animals and should never be kept alone.

Nonetheless, that’s not to say that you definitely shouldn’t get into alpaca farming – or any kind of farming, for that matter. Just be aware that it’s not all swings and roundabouts!

There’s a great network of alpaca farmers out there that are the most helpful people on the planet – as a group, everyone is in it and learning together.

They stand by the rule of ‘there are no stupid questions’ and that you should know your limitations – don’t have too much pride to say you don’t know what to do.

Having said all that, if you have experience of working with alpacas, have the means to own them and properly look after them, go for it. They bring more joy and rewarding moments than you could imagine!

But before you go off and start farming alpacas, remember Lucy’s success as the owner and manager of an alpaca farm is thanks in no small part to studying an Agriculture degree. She was also hugely fortunate to have the land and finances available to start the project.

If you don’t have much relevant experience (or the necessary funds and land) but want to work with animals, get in touch with your local petting zoo and see if they have any roles with a little less responsibility!

Finally, if you’d like to visit Lucy’s farm for yourself, check out the Stubbs Farm website or check out the farm’s Instagram account!

Owning and running an alpaca farm isn’t for everyone, so here are 50 business ideas to start at uni.

How to publish an eBook

Make Money

How to publish an eBook

Everyone’s got a book in them: we’ll show you how to get yours out and into bookshops! Find out how to publish an ebook for profit with our full guide.
how to publish an ebookWhen it comes to blockbuster films, you don’t get much bigger than The Martian (that Sci Fi peril-fest starring Matt Damon). But did you know The Martian started life as a humble self-published eBook?

Author Andy Weir began publishing the novel’s chapters on his blog, but then pasted the whole thing into a text document and sold it as an Amazon Kindle book for just 99 cents a copy. Within months The Martian was topping the best-selling charts, and then Hollywood wanted in!

Give or take a bit of Hollywood glam, that’s all publishing an eBook is: take a text document, convert it into an eBook, sell it. Bosh!

We’re not saying making a million happens overnight. In fact, for every DIY success story there are thousands of authors earning zilch. But there’s plenty of middle ground to go round and, with the right prep (hint – you’re reading it!), getting in on the action couldn’t be easier.

Enough with the chit-chat: here’s our step-by-step guide to cutting it as an online author!

This guide isn’t just for novelists: self publishing works for comics, essays, how-to guides and everything in between!

Is self publishing for you?

Not sure eBooks are your bag? This is the place to start.
should I write an ebook

In this section

What’s self publishing?

questions about publishing‘Self publishing’ is where you publish and sell your own book instead of relying on a literary agent or publishing company to do it for you. In return for doing all the donkey work, any profit you make is all yours.

If you’re looking for a business you can run from just about anywhere, publishing is a smart choice: once you’ve done the toil you can leave your books to earn passive income for years to come, for no extra effort.

Of course, DIY publishing doesn’t have to be a one-man show: a side-kick or partnership means you’ll have someone to share the highs – and hassles – with.

There are even ways to farm out parts of the process (even the writing!) but it’s cheaper, and more fun, to give it a go for yourself. We’ll show you how.

The perks of self publishing – in a nutshell

publishing in a nutshell
Self publishing might sound like a bit of a headache, but in reality there are loads of reasons why going DIY can be better than most other options:

  • Forget finding, pitching to and getting accepted by a publishing company: if you’ve got an idea for a book you can get it on the shelves yourself in next to no time!
  • Getting your book stocked by big-name retailers is a doddle, but be prepared to do most of the grunt work (writing, marketing and selling) yourself.
  • You can even publish a print book if you like, but since going digital is cheap as chips, we’ll walk you through the steps for making an eBook.
  • Getting a book to market is the perfect make-your-own work experience: it’s perfect CV fodder for loads of careers including publishing, retail, sales, management and marketing.
  • Even if you don’t make a million, publishing a book can set you up for passive pocket money for years to come.
  • Don’t be put off if you’re not creative or a closet geek: all you need is an idea, a bit of lateral thinking, plenty of motivation, and time. And this page, obvs.

How much does it cost?

how much does it cost to publish an ebookProducing an eBook can be ridiculously cheap and, often, completely free: this page covers lots of options for getting your book out there for next to nowt.

Professional services like editing, marketing or buying ISBNs cost money up-front, so think about which will pay their way before you cough up.

Or, if you reckon you can persuade other folk to invest in your book early on, have a look at Publishizer – a book-based crowdfunding site (where strangers fund projects in return for goodies and good karma).

How much can I earn?

make money publishing ebookSelling your own book can net you anything from pounds a day to tumbleweed! The good news is that you get lots of say in your potential earnings, so it’s worth taking a look at the sums:

  • eBooks sell for anywhere between 99p to £8.99 and up, but the store (and your publishing platform) will swallow a chunk of each sale.
  • You can sell your book for whatever price you like – and you can alter the price to test different tactics – but the sweet spot depends on your book’s length, reviews and competition.
  • If you’ve got cash to invest (or can crowdfund to pay for it), marketing is the best place to put it: no one can buy your book if they can’t find it!
Andy Weir wrote The Martian in a simple text document, then used a publishing platform to convert it into an eBook. He sold it online for a few pennies, and maxed sales on the strength of a good story and great reviews. That’s the winning formula!

What can I write about?

Vintage typewriterPublishing a book is pretty easy: it’s writing the damn thing that can give you the sweats. Choose a subject or genre that inspires or interests you and it’ll be easier to see it through to the end.

That said, it’s also worth looking at what sells. Visit your local book shop or check out Amazon, Waterstones, and international sites like Barnes and Noble, and peruse the best-selling lists in your favourite categories. Read the reviews – see what makes those books so special/saleable, and use what you learn to tailor your ideas.

Try these on for size:

  • Your novel, poems or short stories
  • Erotic fiction (awkward, but sells like hot, clammy cakes)
  • Publish your old essays – check with your uni first! – or write a study guide for your subject
  • Illustrate your own children’s book, or publish your comics
  • Write a city guide or publish your favourite walking routes
  • Find out-of-copyright books, repackage with notes, an intro, or a translation and sell them under your own imprint
  • Offer to publish your department’s journal or student magazine (or start your own)
  • If you’re fluent in another language, team up with another writer and publish a translated version of their work
  • Run a short story competition and publish the best ones. If you charge an entry fee you can put the cash towards marketing the book: it’s a win-win for everyone!
  • Write a practical guide about something you know really well: living on a budget, dating, Mongolian throat singing, essential badger maintenance – whatever.

How long does it take to publish a book?

sleepy catWhile you don’t have to work to a schedule, having a proper plan of action will make your project way more manageable.

More importantly, knowing when your book will hit the shelves gives you the best chance of maximising sales.

So, how long exactly will it take to write your book? How long do you think it will take? Double it (trust us!) and mark the date on your calendar. Keep looking at the date. Sweat a little.

Then divide your book into chapters, sections, or anything else that makes the structure clear. Divide the number of headings by the number of weeks until your deadline: that’s your weekly writing target. Stick to it.

And then…

  • Get feedback (allow 2 weeks): Stop tinkering with your book and round up family members to read it instead. Or, go swapsies with someone super talented on an English course for an editorial critique. Not writing fiction? Go lurk in the relevant department.
  • Editing (2 weeks +): Use the best feedback to buff your masterpiece to within an inch of its life. Make it shine.
  • Proofreading (1 week): Glaring typos and bungled facts could cost you sales, so don’t skimp on this bit! If you can’t stretch to a professional editor, take a look on Fiverr. At the very least, give it to a couple of mates and ask them be brutal. Don’t ask anyone who doesn’t know their ‘its’ from their ‘it’s’ or you’re wasting your time.
  • It’s then time to format your book: anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days.
  • Uploading your work to a publishing platform, adding the price and description: less than an hour.
  • Seeing your book appear in online stores: anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks.

Predicting when your book will hit the shelves means you can start pestering book reviewers, bloggers, the press and any potential customers well in advance of your launch date. Hype means money!

How to make an eBook

Once you’ve got your words on paper (or ‘puter), how do you turn them into an eBook? All will be revealed!
Assorted tools, hammer, axe

In this section

Picking a publishing platform

choosing your publishing platformDIY publishing is seriously trending at the moment, so there are heaps of publishing platforms to choose from.

Most allow you to upload a text (i.e. Word) document which gets chewed up and spat out as an eBook. Some will even submit your book to all the best stores for readers to find and buy, and you can manage everything from one simple dashboard. Easy peasy, right?

So, how do you choose a platform that’s right for you? As with anything, look at a few, and compare their key features:

  • How much do they charge for converting or hosting your book? (Heads-up: several don’t charge anything!)
  • Do you need your own ISBN number?
  • Can you submit your book as a Word document (it’s the quickest way to get published!)
  • Which formats will your book be converted to? EPUB (short for ‘electronic publication’) is the most common / most versatile eBook format, but different stores may have their own requirements
  • How long does conversion take?
  • Can you download the converted EPUB if you need to (handy for marketing)? Can you transfer it to another publishing platform if you want to later on?
  • How long will it take for your book to hit the stores? Which stores?
  • How much will you earn on each sale (royalties)? Don’t forget your publishing platform AND the store will both want a cut!
  • When will you get paid, how, and in what currency?

Publishing platforms

Lightbulb on wooden tableHere’s our round-up of publishing platforms – but check them (and others) for yourself. If you want to use Amazon’s KDP, you might also want to use a second platform to reach other book stores.

Beyond that, don’t go nuts: the more platforms you have to deal with, the more of your precious time it’ll require. There’s also no point submitting your book to the same stores more than once: if anything, it could hold up your sales.

  1. Smashwords

    Smashwords logoSmashwords (free) takes your text document, spits it out in a number of formats AND submits it to online stores including Apple and Barnes and Noble, as well as libraries and Smashwords itself.

    While Smashwords distribute books to Amazon, they only do it for authors who’ve already sold $2,000-worth of books – so not for first-time publishers!

    Smashwords offers a free ISBN, which can save you some bucks.

    Visit Smashwords

  2. Kindle Desktop Publishing (KDP)

    amazon logo smallKDP (free) is Amazon’s publishing platform. It accepts text documents and EPUB files, but converts them into a Kindle book for sale only on Amazon (.com,, .jp etc.). KDP gives your book a free ASIN, which works like an ISBN.

    The optional KDP Select programme offers higher royalties and advertising tools, but you have to make your title exclusive to Amazon to use it (so you can’t sell your book anywhere else!).

    KDP also offers a couple of bits of free software if you want to publish illustrated books (regular eBooks don’t always handle lots of images that well). There’s Kindle Kids’ Book Creator for picture books, and Kindle Comic Creator for graphic novels and your hand-drawn masterpieces.

    Visit KDP

  3. Apple iBooks Author

    applestoreiBooks Author (free, Mac only) is a gateway to publishing books in the Apple iBooks Store, and comes with a snazzy bit of free software to help you design your best-seller, including illustrated books.

    However, books you save in iBooks format can only be sold through the iBooks Store. To sell anywhere else you’ll need to save your book in a different format but, as far as we can tell, iBooks Author only lets you save an iBook, a PDF, or a rudimentary text file and not an EPUB. Check before you commit!

    Download iBooks Author

  4. Blurb

    blurb_student_offersBlurb (£8.39 for new e-titles) is a print as well as eBook platform, with a slick look and lots of options. You can’t upload text documents to Blurb (other than PDFs), but they offer plugins and free desktop software to design your book and save it as an EPUB.

    You can use your own ISBN or a free Blurb barcode, and books can be sold on Blurb, Amazon, Apple and Ingram (a kind of publishing middle man that connects to hundreds of other stores).

    Visit Blurb

  5. IngramSpark

    Ingram SparkIngramSpark ($25 USD for new e-titles) has a lot of clout as a distributor, and a huge reach of stores around the world including Amazon, Apple and Sainsbury’s.

    However, it’s not the easiest platform for beginners – and note they won’t convert your book, so you’ll still need to make or get your EPUB elsewhere. You’ll also need your own ISBN.

    Visit IngramSpark


Alternatives to using a publishing platform

Caesar voting with his thumbPublishing platforms take the elbow grease out of making an eBook – and definitely help get your title in front of customers – but you don’t have to use one.

Here are some other options you could try:

  • Save your finished text document as a PDF (some word processing programs let you save as a PDF from the menu bar).
  • Some word processing programs give you the option of saving your file as an EPUB, too – though it can play fast-and-loose with the layout!
  • If you’re more tech-minded you can code your own EPUB from scratch – or try Calibre, a free desktop converter that lets you get behind the scenes and knee-deep in code.
  • Look for sites that let you sell content in other formats. Booktrack, for instance, lets you add a soundtrack or sound FX to your short stories or novels, and then sell them to readers.

You can then sell PDFs or EPUB files from your own website or blog. EPUBs can also be uploaded directly to some online book stores, as well as Google’s Play store, but there’s no denying a publishing platform cuts down on the number of clicks involved!

Do you need an ISBN?

WTF-barcode-IFISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a series of numbers (often used as a barcode on print books) that identify the title, author, publisher, format and price. It’s a bit like an ID card, and if you’ve ever used a book catalogue, you’ve probably relied on its data to find what you’re looking for.

If you want to sell your eBook in online stores, you need an ISBN – but how do you get one?

Buying an ISBN

ISBNs aren’t cheap. Nielsen, the UK’s ISBN agency, sells a single ISBN (for just one book) for £89. Yup: £89!

While you can save masses by buying in blocks of ten (£149), bear in mind that ISBNs are registered to just one publisher or individual – you can’t chip in with mates and then deal ‘em out like smarties, and you can’t sell or transfer them later…

While that sounds like a lot of hassle, getting your own ISBN means you are listed as the publisher on any store that sells your book. Your publisher name (the ‘imprint’) can be ‘Your Name or ‘Your Name Books’, or something totally made-up, like ‘The Awesome Press’, or ‘Bangin’ Books’.

Just check no one else has already used the name – and avoid anything that sounds remotely like an existing brand to avoid confusion!

Using a free ISBN

Some publishing platforms give you an ISBN for free. Yippee!

Free ISBNs work in exactly the same way as the paid kind, with one exception: the platform is registered as publisher, so their name will appear alongside your author name whenever the book’s listed.

Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean they have any rights over your content or what you do with it. Some platforms even state you’re still publisher in the eyes of the law.

If the publisher name doesn’t bother you, and you want to get your book to market as fast and as cheaply as possible, stick with a free ISBN if it’s on offer!

Technically, you need a new ISBN for each format your book is available in (audio, print, translations). You may also need a new ISBN if you make drastic changes to the content or cover of your book after it’s published. Check the regs with your publishing platform or the ISBN agency!

Formatting your text

Complicated maths formulaUnfortunately, publishing platforms can make a car crash out of poorly formatted documents, so it pays to get it right from the start.

Begin with a clean document template, and only set up the styles you want to use – for instance, 10-point, left-aligned, double-spaced Times New Roman for your main content, or bold, 22-point italic Helvetica for chapter headings. Then, instead of clicking bold, centre or underline wherever you feel like it, use your pre-defined styles.

If you’ve already written your book – and we hear ya, this is gonna hurt – paste it all into your computer’s Notepad program first to strip out any hidden formatting. Then start with a clean document template and add your pre-defined styles as described above.

Whichever platform you plump for, the Smashwords style guide should be your formatting Bible: it explains in lots of nerdy detail how to set your book up for the fewest conversion headaches. Best of all, it’s free!

.doc and .docx files are the most commonly accepted file types, but you don’t have to use Microsoft! Free alternatives like OpenOffice, LibreOffice – and anything else that lets you save your files with the right extension – all work fine.

The same eBook can look quite different on different devices and, unfortunately, you can’t always do anything about that – but using styles and formatting properly will help a lot!

Once you’ve uploaded and converted your book, you’ll have the opportunity to preview the content online, or to download the EPUB and check it on an eReader of your choice. Try to preview your book on more than one eReader or device if you can.

If you spot anything hideous – typos, errors, a note you left for yourself – whip it out and upload a clean version. Most platforms let you do this as many times as you want for free, so make the most of it. Smashwords will even keep ‘rejecting’ your book – and will tell you why – until you’ve nailed the formatting. While that may sting a little, it means you can keep refining your layout until it’s right!

The beauty of digital means you can even update your book’s content after it’s been published – but don’t use that as an excuse to send out typo-filled or poorly written/formatted content: reviewers can be harsh.

Got that sorted? Good stuff: you’re almost ready to publish!

Making a book cover

Artist painting on canvas with his handsForget not judging a book by its cover, because that’s exactly what book buyers do, all the time!

The good news is you don’t need to be Picasso to design a book cover – you just need to follow our common sense guidelines.

  • Check with the publishing platform for any preferences for cover size or layout – and follow them to a T! Typically, you’ll just need to supply something as a .jpg (image) file.
  • Have a look at the covers of best-selling eBooks to see what makes the good ones work – is it colour, image, font or something else?
  • Your title needs to be leigible on even the tiniest mobile screen: make it big, bold and easy to read (no squiggly fonts please).
  • Your image should be eye-catching, work well with your title font/size, and should be appropriate for your book category. Avoid picking something so garish that it lands you on this list of lousy book covers.
  • You don’t need pro-quality tools to make a book cover – free image editing software like GIMP is just as good.
  • Looking for free images for your cover? Try Unsplash: photos on the site are top quality and free to use as you like.
  • If you buy images for your book, check how you’re allowed to use them, and whether you need to credit the photographer or illustrator.
  • If you’re not confident about having a go yourself, you can probably find someone on Fiverr to whip up a cover for you for… well, around a fiver.
  • Share your cover with select mates or family members and ask them to be utterly honest with you before you make your decision.

Once you’ve got a cover you’re happy with, upload it to your publishing platform and move one step closer to your finished book!

Adding your book details

searchBefore you can release your book into the wild, you’ll need to add a few details about you and your content. Here’s the cheat sheet!

Book title: Sounds obvious, but make sure your title is exactly the same as the one in your EPUB and on the front cover!

Author name: Yours (or whoever wrote the book).

Publisher name: This might be optional depending on whether you’re using a free or paid ISBN.

Rights: If you’ve written your own book from scratch this is usually pretty simple – you own all rights, and can choose to sell your book anywhere in the world.

Language: Whichever language your book is written in.

Dodgy content: Some platforms will ask you to declare if you’ve written something that contains graphic sex, violence or drug use (and there’s not much point lying about it!).

Description: This is the bit of blurb that readers see when they browse your book (and consider buying it). Make it really, really good!

Category: You may be able to choose from broad categories like Fiction or Non-Fiction, or drill down to something super specific like Fiction > Science Fiction > Space Operas. Consider picking appropriate but less popular categories for your book for more chance of being spotted among the competition!

Keywords: Keywords give you the chance to be discovered by readers searching for books like yours. They can be words like thriller or romance, or even phrases. Top tip: find a book in the store that you’ll be in competition with and use similar keywords.

Price: Some platforms let you tailor your book’s price for each country they sell to. If you’re not sure, just stick with one price and let the platform work it out for you.

Date of publication

Most of the time this is just whatever date you upload or publish your book. Some platforms (including KDP and Smashwords) now let you pick a date months in advance, too – what’s that about?

Commercial publishers announce (and market the bejeezus out of) their books before they’re available for sale in the hopes of getting advance sales and reviews, or lots of sales the day the book goes live. Setting an advance publication date means customers can see your book in the store – and buy it – immediately, but they’ll only be able to download and read it on the day it goes live.

Note that you don’t have to use this – and if you do, you’ll need to be incredibly organised to make sure your book goes live in time. But if you get it right, it can help catapult your book higher up the charts on publication day. Think on it!

Tax stuff

As with any source of income, once you start earning cash-bucks above a certain amount, you’ll need to slide a few notes over to HMRC. No need to panic: you can understand how tax works in 5 minutes flat if you need help.

Most publishing platforms operate internationally, which means potential customers around the world! Unfortunately, if you earn money in other countries, their governments will want a slice of your hard-earned sales too.

But doesn’t that mean you’ll be paying twice as much tax? Yup. The good news is that the UK has a number of tax treaties in place with various countries: essentially these say “hold up – I’m not paying twice!”.

Whether you can claim the tax treaties depends on your nationality, where you live, and lots of other details which means we can’t go into all the fine print here. But don’t worry: each publishing platform will explain exactly what forms you need to fill in to swerve the tax trap!

Hitting the ‘Publish’ button

Teenage girl staring at blank eReaderOnce you’ve uploaded your finished content, added a cover and tweaked your book’s details, you’re ready to go live! Your book won’t be available for sale until you make it live – so don’t forget to hit the ‘Publish’ button!

If you change your mind later on, unpublishing your book is simply a case of making it not-live: that means it reverts to draft status, and will stop appearing in online book stores.

How long it takes for your book to start appearing on virtual book shelves (or, if you unpublish, to disappear) depends on the platform. For some it’s a matter of hours, while others can take weeks. Don’t stress: put your feet up, have a cuppa and stay patient.

How to get sales

Getting your eBook into stores is only one part of the publishing picture. If you want to make money from it, you need to get tactical!
Businessman with dollar sign glasses

In this section

Make a marketing plan

Used car salesmanCommercial publishers tout their upcoming titles as much as a year before launch date. While you don’t need to be quite so eager, it’s always worth nosying into the game plan (and borrowing the best bits!).

Once you know when your book will be live, work back a month or two and pin the date to start your marketing campaign.

  • Write a book notice: this is just an A4 piece of paper that lists your main book details: title, author, publisher, price, publication date, and your book’s blurb and cover. Don’t forget to include your contact details!
  • If your publishing platform has an advance publishing feature, use it to start getting sales even before your title goes live. Include the URL of your book’s store page on your book notice and any posters, flyers or business cards you use.
  • Send your book notice to folk who read (and talk about) your genre of book. Try local or national newspaper journalists, book bloggers and YouTube channels. Or search the mammoth list of independent reviewers over at Don’t just stick with UK peeps if your book is available globally: think big!
  • Get to know your reviewers! Read their other reviews and follow their instructions for submitting books.
  • Download a copy of your converted eBook (or, at a pinch, save it as a PDF) to send out if reviewers ask to read your book. While most reviewers won’t expect fully polished books, don’t send out anything which is poorly formatted and full of typos (unless you want that to feature in your review!). Add a disclaimer if you need to: “This edition is a review copy – some content may be subject to change before publication.”
  • Set-up a website for your book and, if you don’t already have ‘em, social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter – even Instagram. As well as keeping followers interested in you and your book’s progress, you can use social media to reach out to reviewers.
  • If you get any particularly juicy praise from early reviews, add them to your book’s detail page, or incorporate them into the description. Some writers even update their books with a page featuring the best quotes.
Social media is a great way to promote your book and boost sales. Here’s how you do it it.

Get free publicity

Shouting kid

  • Tell Save the Student! If you used this guide to get your book out there, we’d love to hear from you: just ping us a line on Facebook or Twitter or on our contact page.
  • Published a kids’ book? Contact schools or libraries and offer to do readings. If you’ve written a book about running, riding or wrestling, send your book notice to sports magazines or gyms. Think outside the box!
  • Contact book clubs online or in your local area and offer to do a reading, interview or author Q&A.
  • Be a book bore: tell your folks and friends about your book (and where to buy it!). Tell strangers on the bus. Print your own flyers or business cards and give ‘em out.
  • Get an author profile at Goodreads. It’s free, and you can use it to list your book, host a Q&A, or get advice from other writers.
  • Got an interesting story about publishing your book? Write a press release and send it to newspapers, magazines and TV or radio stations. If you live in a small town, just the fact that you’ve written a book could be enough to get some coverage.
  • Submit your book for a free review at they only accept a handful of the hundreds of submissions they get, but nabbing one gives you plenty of credibility (and possibly an inclusion in leading US trade mag Publisher’s Weekly).
  • Enter your book or other writing in competitions – but give a swerve to any that ask for massive entry fees. There are plenty of free comps with big prizes and/or kudos on offer: have a look at BookTrust or get Googling.
There’s no substitute for time and perseverance when it comes to foisting your book on folk – but if it sounds like a bit too much effort, you could always find someone to do it for you (just expect to pay!)

How NOT to get publicity

Be wary of paying for reviews. Some stores, including Amazon, have been known to remove paid reviews and/or the book in question. Amazon can even block reviews from people you know (we don’t know how they know, we only know it’s freaky!).

Handling reviews

Serious cat reading newspaperIn an ideal world, everyone’s gonna love your book as much as you do. In reality, some folk just won’t: that’s life!

As tempting as it might be, don’t reply to customer reviews. If it’s glowing, 5-star praise, just bask in feeling fantastic. If it’s not … well, don’t lose any sleep over it! Negative reviews won’t kill your book – although if you find yourself getting several, see if there’s something you’ve missed.

Did you bungle your formatting, mangle your prose, or have more typos than an overdue essay? Fix ‘em and get it back out there!

Ultimately, you can head off most potentially poor reviews by following the steps in this guide. Start with a clear plan, take time to polish your book to perfection, and get marketing. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that!

What now?

You’re still here? It’s over. Go home…

Any questions – drop ‘em below and we’ll do our best to help. See you on the bookshelves!

Freelancing guide for beginners

Make Money

Freelancing guide for beginners

For aspiring writers, programmers and designers, work experience is crucial. But what’s the secret to learning the trade and getting paid? Freelancing!
FreelancingFor many of us, it normally takes a lowly-paid internship or endless coffee making for you to earn your stripes and eventually land that all-important big break in your chosen industry.

Worse still, most of the part-time jobs on offer to students are completely irrelevant to your career plans, with inflexible (and anti-social) working hours.

However, there’s hope on the horizon. With a bit of determination, you can become a paid freelancer – providing articles, animations, apps or admin support to the world. A significant proportion of the roles require no prior experience, too.

The benefits are many. Not only will it look awesome on your CV and give you the freedom to work from home when time allows, but with the right project, the pay can be pretty decent.

So – without further ado, here’s our ultimate guide to becoming a freelancing supremo!

What skills can you freelance online with?

Writing and translating

ProofreadingThis is probably the most accessible type of freelancing work out there – especially if you have an English qualification and are constantly churning out essays to grab that elusive degree.

The type of jobs are varied. You could be asked to write articles, whole eBooks (under the condition that someone else’s name appears on the front), product descriptions for online stores, or even Facebook posts and tweets. Yes, you heard – paid to do social media.

Plus, if you’re fluent in another language, translation work beckons. It can be a lot less competitive for these projects – mainly because most of us only have conversational Spanish… at best.

Comes recommended if…

You’re a stickler for grammar, and love learning new, random things – such as whether it’s normal to have a mole on your penis, or where the best place to buy a dishwasher is if you live in Slough (both writing assignments I’ve had before).

Graphic design

Graphic designDesign is a bit more of a challenging sector to join. Not only do you need copies of industry-standard software, but you need the skills – and imagination – to use it to its full potential and meet the demands of your clients.

You could be creating a logo for a new start-up company, animating videos, illustrating snazzy PowerPoint presentations, or even working on adverts that will appear in papers and magazines.

Comes recommended if…

You’re always doodling in class, and fancy transforming your procrastination talents into a profit. Computer skills are pretty crucial here too.

Programming and IT

ProgrammingProgrammers are the brains behind the websites and apps we all use every day. They’re tasked with building software that is well-designed and easy to use for the typical customer, and often have to write swathes and swathes of code to make it happen.

As well as this, you might offer virtual IT support. Typical projects include helping websites with their search engine optimisation (SEO), which involves making them more visible in Google, Bing and Yahoo! rankings. Analysing statistics and managing databases are common jobs on freelance sites, too.

Comes recommended if…

You understand how the Internet works, appreciate good design, and you’re ace at brainstorming. Knowing languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript is a plus, too (You can take free online courses with Code Academy if this is something you’d be keen to learn more about).

Admin support

Admin supportThis industry has fierce competition. One of the most popular tasks is called transcription, and this involves listening to recordings of conversations and typing them out. You could even be a part-time personal assistant – wearing a hoodie and joggers instead of dressing to impress.

The roles and responsibilities of a good virtual assistant include answering phone calls from customers, planning the boss’s schedule and booking their travel arrangements, or performing light research for their reference.

Comes recommended if…

For some inexplicable reason, people think you’re well organised – meaning you’re always saddled with planning birthday parties and college reunions.

Quirky stuff

Piggy McPiggyOther people have started offering really… er… niche services. You could become a puppeteer and create a character such as Piggy McPiggy, who produces adverts. Some offer novelty impersonations, and sing Happy Birthday like Marilyn Monroe.

Comes recommended if…

Anything resembling a normal job is not for you.

Can you hack the pros and cons?

The idea of rocking out of bed, making a frighteningly brief commute to your laptop and beginning work sure sounds like bliss. But nobody ever said that working from home would be easy, and every advantage is tempered with drawbacks.

  • There’s plenty of flexibility working from home – you pick your hours, and will be able to work in the style that best suits you.
  • But being self-employed, you’re in charge. And it takes a lot of discipline not to spend an extra hour in bed of a morning, or to put work off and watch The Jeremy Kyle Show.
  • With no rules, you can take regular breaks and head out to see friends.
  • But although you don’t have a boss who’s breathing down your neck, remember that you still need to attend to your clients – and avoid endless distractions which could stop you from hitting your deadline.
  • You can cherry pick the assignments you take on – so if a job is too complicated, or doesn’t pay well enough, there’s no harm in rejecting it.
  • However, you’re foraging for yourself in this industry. The best work will have plenty of competition – and you might have to see off dozens of other applicants.
  • Freelancers get to work with people from around the world.
  • But take it from me – having to stay up late for meetings with clients in Australia and America isn’t always fun, especially if you have an early morning lecture.
  • With the right reputation, the amount of money you can earn is limitless.
  • That said, filling out your own tax returns, being paid inconsistently and having an unstable income can make things quite tough from time-to-time.

To avoid getting cabin fever, and to stay focused, I recommend heading out to a coffee shop and making the most of their free WiFi. Public libraries are another fantastic place to visit. Breaking up your tasks into bite-sized chunks – and getting several changes of scenery during the day – will help you to stay creative and fresh.

What cash can you earn?

MoolahIn the freelance world, there’s two ways of getting paid – by the hour, or with a fixed fee for each project.

Unfortunately, your competitors for the best online jobs are often from around the world. And, if they live in a developing economy where it costs a lot less to live, it can be impossible to compete with their prices and still get the minimum wage.

As such, you need to prove that you’re the right person for the job with a gripping application. Also – before you throw your hat into the ring for a freelancing gig – think carefully about how long it will take, and what you would want to earn per hour.

If you possess rare skills, it’s likely that you’ll be able to command a higher rate – and remember, you need to sell yourself. Just make sure you have realistic expectations of the money to be earned (sadly, few clients are willing to pay £500 an hour), and have a browse of the existing jobs on major freelancing sites (see below).

WARNING: In return for helping you find work, freelance companies take a cut of your earnings. Make sure you’re aware of the commission you’ll be paying, and add these charges on top of what you’re quoting a client.

Never work with a client who wants to pay you outside a freelancing site (unless you know them personally). It makes it easier for them to dash off into the sunset without settling the bill, and you could be banned from applying for new jobs by the freelancing site because you tried to dodge their fees.

 4 websites for finding freelance jobs

There are quite a few well-known websites for getting started in the freelance world. Some specialise in attracting workers and clients for a particular industry; others are more generic. Here are five of my favourites:

  1. Upwork

    upwork-logo-1200At the beginning of 2014, two of the most well-known freelancer websites, Elance and oDesk, merged to create Upwork. Upwork claim they now have more than ten million registered freelancers working with them and upwards of four million clients, meaning they’re certainly the biggest service of their kind now, too.

    They host everything from hourly-paid gigs with startups to larger projects with some seriously high-profile clients, too.

    With a recent redesign since the companies merged, the website is really clear and easy to navigate. You also get plenty of information about what clients are looking for in postings, which helps when you’re writing an application.

    Top advantage: They have a secure payment protection system which ensures you’re always paid for the work you do. Clients send payment to Upwork before the job begins, and the company keeps the money safe and secure, meaning that neither of you can access it without the other’s permission. Once the job is finished, the cash hits your account.

    Top drawback: Upwork charge a fee of 10% of the transaction, meaning for every £100 you make, Upwork take a tenner of it. This charge is disappointing, as prior to the merger, Elance charged a fee of only 8.75%. They also offer a weird ‘service’ to those clients hiring for hourly-paid work – they send a snapshot of freelancers’ screens every ten minutes to make sure they’re working for their money. Pretty patronising!

    Visit Upwork »

  2. Freelancer seems to be a nice website to use. It’s easy to sign up – you just need a Facebook profile – and you can list up to 20 of your skills once registered. Then, it looks for jobs which reflect these talents. When I did the sign up process for this article, I found 2,478 potential assignments to bid for in the Writing & Translation category (sorry Save the Student… I’m off!)

    Top advantage: You can see exactly how much people are bidding to work on a project. This feature isn’t normally seen on other sites. It allows you to be competitive, and see what experienced rivals typically charge.

    Top drawback: Again – astronomical fees! You’ll get 13% automatically deducted after finishing a job, and this will especially hurt when you’re working on a small job. Put into context, if you earn £100, you’ll only get £87 of it.

    Visit Freelancer »

  3. PeoplePerHour was set up in the UK – and given the other sites out there, it’s rather weird to see pound signs next to each job! It’s a pretty nice company – and at one point, they were inviting freelancers to use the desks in their office… nice touch!

    You’ll commonly see the clients on PeoplePerHour stipulating how much they’re willing to spend for a project. Oftentimes, the pay’s not bad – indeed, I spotted one job which involved coining a new slogan for a company. Their budget? A cool £287.

    Top advantage: The way their fees are set up. For the first £175 each month, you’ll pay 15%. But for all earnings after that, the rate plummets to just 3.5%.

    Top drawback: Unlike other sites, where you can start applying for jobs as soon as you’ve signed up, PeoplePerHour expects you to complete an application, too. This gobbles into precious earning time!

    Visit PeoplePerHour »

  4. Fiverr

    Fiverr So: the four sites above are probably the main contenders in your quest for freelancing work. But there’s a final, quirky site that’s definitely worth a mention – and that’s 

    This site started out as a marketplace, where people around the world could offer their services for the princely sum of $5 (about £3). Examples include:

    – “I will create a cinematic movie trailer for $5”

    – “I will write a message underwater for $5”

    – “I will record a video as a geek girl for $5”

    – “I will do a voiceover of 100 words as an Australian man or woman”

    As you can see, some of the tasks are quite unusual – but this is cool, as it allows you to get creative.

    It’s best to offer the most basic of your services for $5. From here, you can offer add-ons for any price you like – such as a fast turnaround for $20 (about £12), or a longer video or article.

    This site has fees of 20% – meaning although you’re charging five bucks, only $4 (roughly £2.50) will reach your account.

    Visit Fiverr »

Fiverr isn’t just a great site for earning money – there are loads of gigs on the site that can make student life easier too!

In summary…

…behold, a snazzy graphic which explains which sites are cheapest:

freelancing-fees(Of course… use this info logically. In some cases, you might have to pay slightly higher fees in order to get better-paying jobs overall. Cheapest isn’t always best!)

5 top tips for writing a winning profile

To get work, you need to make proposals (applications, basically) to the jobs available on your chosen freelancing site. This is usually accompanied by a profile – which shows the feedback you’ve received from past clients, your rates, and samples of your past work.

In my many years as a freelancer, I used Elance. This is an example of what my profile looked like:

Elance profile example

As you can see, there are several sections that you need to fill in. Getting this right is crucial – especially if you’re a professional writer – because in many ways, this is the most important sample you’ll ever provide to a prospective client.

  1. Show off!

    Unlike dating profiles (as I learned the hard way), you’re fully entitled to blow your own trumpet on a freelancing site. Don’t be afraid to namedrop the clients you’ve had in the past, and include quotes from their feedback in the introductory par. By showing you have extensive experience, it encourages clients to take you seriously.

  2. Get good feedback

    Even if you write the world’s best profile, no one will pay attention if you have a long history of one-star and two-star pieces of feedback.Facebook like icon Go slow at first, and do every job to perfection. Once an assignment is complete, hound your client for their testimonial. If you manage to get loads of five-star feedback at the beginning of your freelancing career, it becomes easier and easier to pick up new work. The first few weeks are always the hardest.

  3. Tell them about yourself!

    Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you have to be impersonal. If you’re great at playing the bassoon, have trained as a pilot, or you’re a gold medallist archer, don’t be afraid to come across as fun, friendly and engaging. The clients you’ll find on freelancing sites are seldom stuffy, and love a good personality.

  4. Get verified

    Of course, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll meet most of your clients. That makes it difficult for them to verify your credentials. Verification iconThankfully, many freelancing sites can do this on your behalf, by checking your qualifications and geographical location. Once you’ve done this, you’ll get a big, shiny tick next to your name. Also consider taking aptitude tests in your chosen area of freelancing – short, 40-minute exams which test things including your Photoshop knowledge, coding skills, editing abilities or spelling prowess. The results then appear on your profile – and if you’re lucky, you could be in the top 1%!

  5. Keep it brief

    Bearing all of the above points in mind, make a concerted effort to keep your profile concise and to the point. If a client has shortlisted 10 possible providers, they don’t want to read a 2,000-word profile every time. Boil your page down to the most important points, and carefully cherry-pick the samples included in your portfolio.

Spelling failAlso, I lied. There’s six points to the perfect profile. The last one is to CHECK YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR. Even the slightest typo undermines your credibility, especially if you’re vying for editing work. I know it sounds like an obvious pointer, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t make the effort to give their profile a thorough proofread.

4 ways to stand out from the crowd

You're hired!

You’re hired!

Now – you’ve got the profile, an idea of what you want to freelance in, and an expectation of how much money you want to earn. But how do you secure that elusive job offer?

  1. Understand how credits work

    Usually, on a free membership, you’ll be limited to sending just a few job applications per month. Buying a subscription – which can be cancelled every 30 days – allows you to send dozens, boosting your chances of getting accepted. Typically, it’ll cost you around 50 cents (about 30p) for every application you make. When you consider that a job could be worth £100, it’s a minimal investment to make.

  2. Be picky with jobs you apply for

    Find clients who have been incredibly detailed throughout their description. This allows you to personalise your response, and show them that you’ve paid attention to their needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything seems unclear in their advertisement.

  3. Consider sponsored proposals

    This is where you pay an extra $1.50 (about 90p) to ensure that your application appears at the top of the list a client sees. It ensures you don’t get buried among dozens of your rivals. The cost can add up, but statistically, clients are more likely to go for someone who uses a sponsored proposal. You’ll find that this marketing technique will be invaluable when you’re first trying to get noticed.

  4. Personalise every application

    The one thing you should never, ever do when you’re applying for freelance work is use the same application for every job. Clients can spot copy-and-paste jobs from a mile off – and they often use little tests (such as asking freelancers to use a secret word in their application) to make sure applicants pay attention. If you have an individualistic approach, it proves you care, and boosts your chances.

Cashin’ out: Your options

When you’ve completed the work, and given yourself a pat on the back, you’ll want to withdraw your hard-earned cash. Most freelance sites give you a plethora of choices, but each offer pros and cons. They are:

  • PayPal: It’s quite fast to reach your account, but if you’re being paid in dollars, the exchange rates can be brutal… and that means fewer pounds in your pocket. Despite this, it’s the option I’d recommend – as it’s the least hassle, and the fastest by a country mile
  • Wire transfer: Getting funds sent straight to your bank is possible. However, it’s tricky to set up – and some sites charge you $25 (that’s about £16) every time you make a transfer
  • Cheque: The most time-consuming method. Sure, you dodge a lot of charges – but not only do you have to wait for the cheque to arrive from the States, it takes five business days before it’s processed and sitting pretty in your bank account
  • Prepaid card: Bigger freelancing companies offer prepaid cards which enable you to draw cash straight from your account on their website. You’ll have to pay fees for every transaction you make – and expect to be stung whenever you withdraw cash from an ATM.

Mistakes to avoid, and things to remember


  • Remember: if you freelance, you’re responsible for tax and National Insurance contributions. The easiest way to avoid any nasty surprises is to save 20% of anything you earn. Try to seek advice from an accountant if you can – normally, they cost about £150 a year – and get to grips with your self-assessment as soon as it’s due. If you feel you’re paying too much to the taxman, check out our guide on how to get a rebate.
  • Remain vigilant about dodgy clients. Always use an Escrow system where it’s available, and make sure you know exactly how much you’ll earn for a job up front.

Erotic novels

  • Don’t do any jobs that are illegal. I know this sounds obvious, but there are some jobs – such as editing videos for a porn site, or even writing erotic novels, which could get you into trouble.
  • Never provide free samples. Although you may think it’s the right thing to do – especially when you’re on the lookout for your first job – many freelancing sites forbid their talent (that’s you!) from dishing out free samples. Instead, respectfully ask to be hired for the sample only – as this allows them to decide whether to continue with your services afterwards.
  • Profit-sharing opportunities are a bust. Clients who try to offer you a share of the profits from a website (instead of a fee for your hard work) are normally bluffing about their “amazing opportunity” and should be avoided like the plague.
  • Watch out for freebies! Many freelancing services offer great freebies – such as complementary business cards and heavily discounted access to work spaces.

Feedback stars

  • Had a good client? Generate repeat business! Whenever you finish a project, offer a bulk discount – or 5% to 10% off – if they hire you again within seven days. Clients are a sucker for a bargain, and it’s more cash in your pocket without hunting for new work! As most websites work on a feedback system, always make sure that a good customer leaves a testimonial, as this will help you to develop a reputation.
  • Ask if you can get your name on work. If you’re looking to establish a reputation, some clients might be willing to include your name on any work you do – including eBooks you write or posters you design. This can be rare, but there’s no harm in asking. Just make sure it can be included in your portfolio. Most of the time, you will not own the copyright to any work you complete as a freelancer – in effect, clients are paying you for it!
  • Check out some of the nifty tools out there to help freelancers. Skype and Dropbox can be essential – especially for communicating and sharing files with clients over long distances. Add-ons such as Pamela for Skype also allow you to keep recordings of your calls for future reference. If you get serious about this freelancing malarkey, you might also want to check out project management tools such as Trello or Basecamp, though all the freelance sites have similar functionality now.

If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back, and pour yourself a stiff drink. Comment below if you have any questions, dilemmas or success stories – and let’s show the freelancing world how epic students are!

How to become a millionaire by 30

Make Money

How to become a millionaire by 30

There’s not a student alive who hasn’t thought what it would be like to have a bottomless bank balance. Here’s how you can increase your chances!
who wants to be a millionaireCredit: ITV
While we’ve all dreamt of countless jaunts to far-away destinations and splashing cash on luxuries we’ve always wanted, chances are you’ve ruled this out as a daydream (despite continuing to buy a scratch card every time you go out to buy milk).

But becoming a millionaire isn’t really as difficult and unachievable as you might think. Lots of people prove each and every year that you don’t have to be a banker, lottery winner or be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to build up your wealth to seven figures.

So, here’s our ultimate guide to getting your hands on that million by 30. Let’s get rich!

What makes a millionaire?

salem the rich catOk, so lets start with a bit of a disclaimer: a million quid just ain’t what it used to be.

It’s getting easier to become a millionaire with every day that passes thanks to things like inflation. And for many budding rich-listers, being wealthy is more a question of lifestyle and not having to worry about your finances, than how much you’ve got in the bank.

To live like a millionaire, you don’t actually need to have a million pounds in the bank – 99% of ‘millionaires’ don’t. To actually be a millionaire, you will most definitely have to be right on top of your finances and investments!

Being a millionaire can mean all sorts of things, but in this guide we’re essentially going to look at a realistic path in which you can build up your wealth to a target beyond £1,000,000.

We’ve suggested a few ‘quick‘ ways to becoming a millionaire at the end for those who just can’t wait… but stick with us for the fool-proof guide first!

Let’s quickly walk through the rest of your life, taking a look at the steps you can take to become a millionaire (or even a billionaire!).

As a student

Rich StudentMost students have to scrimp just to get by, and can expect to leave university with a hefty amount of student debt (if you’re feeling brave today, here’s just how much).

So, becoming a millionaire at this stage in your life is a little out of reach. However, if you have serious aspirations to become rich later down the line, now’s the time to get your act together.

  1. Set goals!

    Changing-goalsThe money game is a long slog – cash doesn’t grow on trees. Before you embark on your millionaire challenge, it’s vital that you have a clear life plan.

    You need to work out a feasible and realistic route to making your millions that draws on your past skills, experience and ambitions.

    We’ll touch on setting income goals later on, but if you’re serious about this then you need to know how to achieve it, not just dream it!

  2. Sort out your spending habits

    forget to saveMost millionaires don’t run around buying Lamborghini’s all the time while cracking open the champagne at breakfast.

    In fact, that’s part of the reason why they’re millionaires in the first place – instead of splashing the cash at every given opportunity, they’ve allowed their money to grow.

    They say that ‘a fool and his cash are soon parted’, and that’s a fairly decent motto to live by if you want to join the super-rich.

  3. Hone in on your money skills

    BudgetingPracticing some basic budgeting and money-saving skills while you’re a student will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life, so don’t just write it off as ‘something you’ll do another day’!

    If you haven’t already got it, download our free book: The Essential Student Guide to Money – there are loads of great tips in there to get you started.

  4. Start earning!

    Take-cash-onlySorry for stating the obvious here, but to be wealthy you need to have income. Use any spare time you have (aside from studying and partying) to earn some cash. It’s a good idea to land a part-time job, but it can also pay off to be more creative.

    Check out our quick ways to make money guide, or why not start-up a small business of your own if you have something to offer? Not only will this pull in some additional cash, but you’ll be testing out your entrepreneurial skills before you’ve even graduated.

  5. Start saving

    Coin hoard next to piggy bankThere’s no getting away from the fact that you will have student debt, but because you don’t have to pay it all back right away (if ever), it’s not like other debt and won’t affect your future goals of raking in the big bucks.

    You might find that sometimes you do have a few quid to spare, especially when the loans come in. Get into the habit of putting this into a savings account (easy access is best at this stage) – you’ll be surprised how much interest you can earn on it during your time at uni.

    At the same time, remember to cut down on spending. Avoid having a car and think carefully before splashing out on big-ticket items if you don’t really need them.

Make sure you’re not wasting your cash on any of these common student money-drainers.

As a graduate

graduateGoing from a life of education into the world of work can be a daunting prospect. There’s a lot to adjust to, and you might still be worrying about what you actually want to do with your life, never mind the challenge of becoming a millionaire in the next few years!

Our advice is don’t worry about the unknown, things always work out and there are lots of things you can do to boost your chances of reaching the high-life…

  1. Get a job

    jobYour first priority to maximise your income at this stage is to secure a well-paid graduate job. Having said that, think carefully about the career you want to embark on: one you will enjoy and can progress quickly in.

    It’s worth knowing that graduate schemes are normally the best way to kick off your career on a high earner early on, as many companies offer graduate salaries of around £40,000 a year!

    If you’re finding it hard to get on to the career ladder, pick up a part-time job for the time being whilst you job hunt. And if you’re really struggling to find any paid work then don’t be afraid to sign on at the Job Centre for a short period.

  2. Start a business

    Facebook MarkThe fast-track method of becoming super wealthy in your twenties is to start a high growth, high return business with a plan to exit within 5 years or so.

    But, of course there is absolutely no guarantee you’ll even make a penny, and the risk can often outweigh your other options of building a longer term income.

    It’s important to have a well researched idea and a solid business plan before you start, and a clear picture of how you’ll support yourself when there’s no money coming in.

    Having said all this, there may never be a better time to start in business than as a graduate. You’re responsibilities are minimal and even if it all goes Pete Tong, you’ve got a wealth of experience to build on and take forward.

    Start with our own list of business ideas.

  3. Take advantage of tax-free ISAs

    New-ISASOne of the reasons why people will never become millionaires is simply because they don’t know how.

    There are lots of competing options out there fighting for you to invest in, but you need to think smart and do your homework on what’s available to you and what will give you the best return.

    Tax free cash ISAs are one of the best ways to consistently build up your savings. If you don’t yet have an ISA, get one now!

    Here’s why…

    Every year, each person in the UK over the age of 16 has an allowance of money (£20,000 maximum from April 2017) they can put in a tax-free savings account, called an ISA. Once your money’s in the account, it stays tax-free, FOREVER.

    If you don’t use up your ISA allowance in a particular year you lose that opportunity.

    So if you’ve got a little bit of spare money lying around, you should absolutely, definitely, 100%, put it in an ISA. After all, why pay tax (currently 20% on normal (non-ISA) savings interest above £1,000 a year) when you don’t have to?

    You can move to a different ISA provider every year if you want to, so shop around for the best rate. The top interest rate you can expect right now is around 2%. If you deposit £20,000 (the max. allowance for 2017/18) in one of the best ISAs, you’ll earn £400 over the year in tax-free interest.

    If you chose to invest the £20,000 in a normal savings account (of 2% as well) instead of an ISA, you’d still receive £400. However, this is where you need to be clever, as you’d miss out on that year’s ISA allowance.

    For more on ISAs, read our guide on the best ISA accounts.

Before you’re 30

Millionnaire by 30A few years on from graduating, you’ll hopefully have a decent amount of cash coming in on a regular basis.

Now’s the time to start getting serious – being smart with your spare cash is what makes the difference between your Average Joe and your millionaire.

  1. Get on the property ladder

    philkirstyWhen renting a property, it’s easy to feel like you’re throwing cash down the drain every month.

    Of course there are lots of benefits to renting, but by this point you should be a little more settled both in terms of where you want to live long term and also financially – so why continue filling a landlord’s pockets with your hard earned cash when you could be paying monthly towards your own place?

    You may be quite happy living with your parents for a few years after you graduate (even if they’re not over the moon about it!) and building up your cash reserves (check out the LISA too), but once you’ve gathered enough to foot a deposit (the minimum is 5% of a property value), it’s time to start house hunting!

    Once you’ve bought your own house or flat, you’ll probably be paying much less every month in mortgage repayments than you had been forking out on rent, and you actually have a place of your very own at the end of it. Historically, property prices follow a strong upward trend so you really are investing in your future.

    If you’re in a good financial position, then considering a buy-to let investment is the next step to financial freedom. So long as you can get the initial deposit down, and get a good mortgage deal which is less than the rental income, you’re on the fast track to being rather rich.

    Again, you’re also likely to benefit from a rise in overall property prices meaning you can bring in big bucks by selling up at the peak of the market and buying at the bottom.

    Of course, there is the whole issue of getting a deposit together, and that’s a lot easier said than done.

    But going back to those budgeting skills you honed as a student, you can put a plan in place to save up the necessary amount. You’d typically be looking at needing 10% of the property value.

  2. Invest in stock markets using index-trackers

    stock-tradidng-market-minIf you’re not familiar with the stock market, it can all seem a little bit daunting. Index-tracking stocks are fairly straightforward though, and more to the point consistently beat the vast majority of managed and hedge funds.

    In simple terms, these funds are a collective investment scheme that replicates the movements of one particular financial market (eg. the FTSE 100).

    There are 6 big advantages over other stock market investments:

    • Very low-cost, with long-term returns of up to 10% pa
    • Don’t require much knowledge or professional help
    • Avoid the classic issues of following greed and making stock choices
    • Easy to manage
    • Can be wrapped in a Shares ISA for tax-free returns
    • Maximizes the magic of compound interest (where interest income is reinvested)

    This sort of investment works best when it’s given several years to appreciate and mature, so think of it as a long-term venture rather than a get rich quick scheme. But be assured, over time your wealth portfolio will swell nicely.

    andrew hallamRead our guide on index-tracking investments, and if you really want to learn how to make your millions using this strategy then definitely read Andrew Hallam’s Millionaire Teacher. Highly recommended.

  3. Get to grips with your pension

    pensionRetirement might seem like a long way off yet, but sorting out a pension fund before you hit 30 is a very wise move.

    The benefits of pensions in growing your wealth are on a par with index-tracking investments. Even a modest amount put into a pension fund now can make a big difference in the future.

    As with many of the other tips on this page, the key thing is to grow your knowledge of these major types of investment products available to you.

    You might be able to get a good pension through your employer, who often match every pound you put in, but don’t forget to look at other providers too.

    Try to pick a flexible one, that allows you to pay in as much or as little as you can afford, with a low annual fee.

Before retirement

Rich before retirementWhen you retire, you’ll still require an income to cover not only basic living essentials (like rent and food) but to sustain the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve.

To be a millionaire OAP requires some planning years before you reach retirement age.

  1. Set an income goal

    earn money goalMost retirees are ‘pensioners’ because, well, they are living off of their pension which at least covers living costs. But you want to live like a millionaire, right?

    To get to this level of income without working requires a fairly sizeable pension plus a good number of other streams of income being earned every month on your capital assets.

    If you want to really live it up post-work, it’s important to set an income goal before you retire that doesn’t require you to work anymore. This number will vary for everyone, but whatever it is, pick one and work to it. Instead of retiring at 70 you might find you’re able to retire at 58 if you wanted to, because you’ve reached your goal.

    By the time you give up work, your investment portfolio becomes your income portfolio. To protect your nest egg you need to diversify…

  2. Diversify your interests

    choiceDon’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Over the years, you should aim to build up a portfolio of wise investments that will get you set for when you retire.

    A good income portfolio would ideally include a mix of:

    • Cash and stock ISAs
    • Government bonds
    • A pension (private or state)
    • Index-tracking funds
    • Buy-to-let property (UK or overseas)
    • Cash

    All of these are sources of sustained income. This kind of balanced portfolio will leave you in a position to enjoy your retirement, rather than wondering how you’ll afford it.

    And with the UK’s state pension getting worse each and every year, that’s a very good position to be in.

  3. Write a Will

    hermionewritesRemember, whatever happens, you can’t take it all with you when you’re in the ground. After a life of saving and building up your wealth, you want it to fall into the right hands when you’re gone.

    It can be worth seeking professional legal and tax advice to make sure you have a strategy that maximizes the beneficiaries of your Will. And don’t wait until you’ve gone grey, the earlier the better!

Quick ways to becoming a millionaire (legally)

Become a millionaire

If the long but fool-proof road to becoming a millionaire (that is, scrimping and saving as a graduate and building a well-balanced and sustained investment portfolio in your 30s onwards) doesn’t appeal to you, then there are other more creative ways to becoming filthy rich in a shorter time-frame.

Try these for size:

  • Cryptocurrencies – there are no guarantees, but lots of kids have become millionaires due to the massive rise in the price of Bitcoin
  • Move abroad – with a healthy bank balance you can live like a king in exotic countries such as India, Mexico and Thailand
  • Lotteries, game shows & competitions – this method of course all comes down to luck, but for a (very) small group of people a punt has paid off big time
  • Career choice – this guide has mostly focused on investing, but get into a high-paying industry or job and you might be driving the flash car quicker than you think
  • Sell a business – we touched on this, but there’s still lots more to be said for starting up a company, adding value, generating sales and flogging it on
  • Gambling – not one to recommend since the majority of gamblers get into bad debt, but nonetheless it can be a quick way to big bucks for some. Check our guide to Matched Betting to profit without risk
  • Property developing – you’ve seen the daytime TV shows, and adding value to houses is without doubt a great way to build wealth relatively quickly
  • Inheritance – you probably haven’t got much choice in this one, but you can always send a Christmas card to distant wealthy relatives, just in case.

A million isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still more than enough to give you a very comfortable lifestyle. Making wise investment choices will help your cash to stand the test of time –  AKA inflation, your biggest wealth enemy.

Whether you’ve got a couple of tenners spare or perhaps a couple of thousand, give some really serious thought to what you should do with it.

But remember, if you want to be a millionaire, you’d much rather stash it away to earn more money than spend it now.

For more about becoming a millionaire in the 21st century, check out this great book on low-cost passive investing by Andrew Hallam.

millionaire teacher

10 vital selling tips for eBay success

Make Money

10 vital selling tips for eBay success

Everyone and their dog seems to be making money on eBay these days, but what does it take to work this online marketplace like a boss?ebayWhether you’re looking to set up your own mini online business or just want to shift some unwanted clothes and DVDs, selling on eBay can be a great way for students to make a bit of extra dosh.

Whatever your intentions, it’s always best to swot up on best practices before getting started so you can be sure you’re getting the most out of eBay, and not missing any tricks!

We’ve crammed as much info as we possibly can onto this page, so that by the time you’re done reading, you’ll have all the info you need to start raking in the big bucks!

Top 10 tips for working eBay like a pro

  1. Think before you sell

    confusedbritneyWhether it’s a pair of shoes you’ve accepted you cannot walk in, some old comic books, or your Pokemon card collection – it’s crucial that you take a bit of time to decided whether something is in the right nic to be sold on before you post it up on eBay.

    You might be keen to start making money on whatever you can get your hands on, but if you make the mistake of selling items that aren’t in good condition or missing crucial parts, you’ll get yourself a bad rating which is basically eBay suicide – you might as well just give up there and then.

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Would this sell for less than the postage and packaging costs (i.e. is it really worth the effort)?
    2. Does it look like the dog’s gotten hold of it?
    3. Would I have to tell any white lies about the condition of this item in order for it to sell?
    4. Is anything that the buyer needs in order to be able to enjoy the item, missing?

    If you answered ‘yes‘ to any of these questions, then the item doesn’t belong on eBay (it belongs in the bin)!

    Top tip: If you’re stumped on what to sell, use the ‘most popular’ tool on eBay to find out what the hottest items are at that time. Also check out what the most watched items are or whichever ones tend to have the most bids on them, and use this as guidance. This should give you an idea of what will sell and what won’t.

    Thinking seasonally is always a good idea too – you’re not likely to get many bids on a pair of sunglasses in the middle of winter, so put them somewhere safe until the time is right. Chances are you’ll make a lot more cash on them if you can be patient and wait until the time is right.

Read more on how one savvy student sold items she bought at a car boot sale on eBay for ten times what she bought them for!
  1. Work on building up your profile before you start selling

    Getting OnlineIt would be great if you could just open an account and start selling stuff right away, but unfortunately if you want to do things properly on eBay, this just doesn’t work.

    We would recommend becoming a buyer first so that other users can see you have an eBay history. Even if you just purchase a couple of small items for a few quid each, pay for the items promptly and take the time to give feedback (be pleasant if you can!) so you can build up your eBay presence and get a good buyer rating.

    Another important step is choosing your username – remember that whatever you choose will effectively be the name of your mini business, so sweetiepiewithsugarxx021 probably isn’t going to instil a whole lot of trust in potential buyers!

    We’d recommend either going for something simple and professional like a variant of your name , or alternatively go for a name that’s relevant to the kind of things you plan to be selling (this might make you easier to find in eBay search too).

  2. Understand the costs of becoming an eBay seller before getting started

    budgetnowBefore you begin making any money you first need to work out exactly how much an item is worth and how much it’s going to cost you to sell it. Obviously you want to make a decent profit, but there are a lot of additional costs applied when selling on eBay that you need to be aware of.

    eBay seller costs to consider:

    1. You’re allowed to list 20 items per month free of charge, after which you’ll be charged 35p ‘insertion fee’ per item
    2. There are also charges for added extras like listing in two categories or having more than one photo per listing
    3. 10% of the total sale also goes to eBay
    4. If the sale is made through Paypal, they also charge 20p per transaction and will take an additional 3.4% of total sale price
    5. Depending on how much you sell on eBay, you might need to pay tax (although this is unlikely). Check out HMRC website for more details.

    As you can see, it’s not simply a case of posting your items online and watching the cash roll in. Ecal is a nifty little tool which works out how much you’ll pay for each sale, based on what you list it for and how much it sells for eventually. Try running your item through this to see what sort of profit you’ll make.

    Keep your eyes peeled for eBay’s free listings days and discounts too. We’ll often post these on our eBay Student Deals page, so sign up y’all!

    But how do I know what to charge for my item?

    A great tool to use that will help you work out how much similar items have recently been selling for is eBay Advanced Search. Just search for whatever it is you want to sell and tick the completed listings box to see heaps of similar items and get a better idea of what to charge.

    Also, make sure you price the postage correctly, or you could end up out of pocket. Use Royal Mail’s price finder to establish how much you will have to fork out for postage and apply this to the listing. Note that high postage fees can put some sellers off, so we’d recommend adding the cost of any jiffy bags or sellotape into the price to keep postage rates down.

  3. Start bids low to catch bargain-hunter eyes

    watchingvidesIt might be tempting to list your items quite high initially, but starting your bids at 99p will actually get you a better sale in the long run. A low starting bid will catch the attention of more potential buyers and encourage a competitive bid-off as the item reaches its last day of bidding.

    However, note that this tip doesn’t apply to really niche products – if it’s something that only an avid collector would be searching for, don’t set the initial bid too low as you’re less likely to get a lot of interest on these items.

    You can always add a minimum price if you’re worried about getting a rough deal (which means the item won’t be sold unless it reaches this minimum required amount).

  4. Take decent photos of what you’re selling

    photo Credit: Mish Sukharev – Flickr.comA photograph of the item you’re selling adds maximum credibility, and a user is much more likely to continue bidding if they feel they’ve been given a decent representation of what’s on offer.

    If there are extra components to the item you’re listing, you’ll want to get them in the photo too – including boxes, instruction manuals, batteries and whatever else you’ve mentioned in the description.

    You don’t have to have an amazing camera to do a good job of this, but do make use of the macro mode if you have one and use autofocus, both of which will work wonders for up close shots.

    Natural daylight is always the best option for offering the clearest pics possible, but a little extra lighting (for example, using your desk lamp) can also make a big difference if you don’t have much natural daylight where you are. Make sure you avoid any shadows – turn the lamp upside down if you have to.

    Also remember that 12 photos can be uploaded to your account for free at one time!

  5. Remember that timing is everything

    itsgotimedogBefore you jump straight in and post your listing, take some time to think about when you should start the biddings off.

    In general, the best time to end any auction is on a Sunday evening. This has been proven as the day most casual buyers go for a browse so is the time that things heat up at auction. Therefore, if you’re going for the maximum 10 day auction (which is always the best option as this increases the chances of getting more bids), list it on a Thursday evening for maximum exposure to potential buyers.

    As mentioned previously, if you’re selling a themed or seasonal product – think about when the right time would be to put it online. For example, the start of October would be the perfect time to start listing any fancy dress items you have as people start searching for their Halloween party outfits online.

  6. Take time with your product description

    rules customers ebayCredit: John Fischer –
    Now for the hard part: writing the descriptions that will sell your product. It’s crucial that you take your time over this, as a good description can really make or break a deal.

    eBay allows you up to 55 characters in your title, so do make the most of it. Make it clear, concise and pack that thing with keywords to help make your item as easy to find as possible.

    13 golden rules of eBay product descriptions

    1. Avoid using caps lock or symbols – you’ll make eBay angry and it will self combust. Kidding, but it does look unprofessional and a bit like you’re shouting
    2. Avoid spelling errors like the plague! Typos are the enemy in eBay listings as they prevent your items from being searchable. There are even search engines that have been built solely for the purpose of finding items that are getting no bids due to typos – this is a very real problem!
    3. Make the description concise, informative and accurate. Highlight the key features and top selling points
    4. Get up to speed with the eBay acronym world: use terms like VGC (very good condition), BN (brand new), BNIB (brand new in box) and BNWT (brand new with tags).
    5. Be extremely honest about any problems or defects. The more honest you are at this point about any issues with the condition of the item, the more confident your bidders will be that they know what they’re getting. Remember, buyers can even ask for their money back if the item appears in a different condition to what was written in the listing, so just be clear
    6. You might also want to mention how often it’s been used before or why you’re selling it
    7. You’ll also find your items will command a much higher price if you’ve got all the packaging, tags and instruction books so do try and fish them out and make sure to mention them in the listing.
    8. Invite potential buyers to contact you if they have any questions
    9. Make sure to list all of your terms and conditions including the deal with payment (see below), postage and packing and refunds – saves any quibbles later!
    10. eBay pros recommend using the HTML function to make your description look all snazzy. If you can’t quite manage that you can still use simple eye-catching fonts and colours. Just keep it looking profesh
    11. Make sure you list your item in the right category. If you don’t, the chance of a good sale drops a lot. If it’s not immediately obvious then do a search for what you’re selling and see where it has been most listed before
    12. if you’re selling a lot of similar items at once then use your description to link to your other sales. A bit of self-promotion never hurt anyone!
    13. Research how top sellers describe their items that sell at a high price to see what sort of language you should be using in your descriptions
  7. Promote Paypal for payments

    nomoneyWe’d recommend taking payments via PayPal – despite the annoying fact that Paypal charge 20p per transaction and 3.4% of your total sale, it is the safest and most preferred payment method in the eBay world.

    There’s also an added layer of security so people can’t scam you for your product.

  8. Remember the job ain’t done when the sale is made!

    relaxNo relaxing just yet! Once your sale has gone through (wahey!), be sure to send a confirmation email to your buyer as soon as possible and invoice them for the full amount, including the postage charge.

    You should then send them another email once you’ve received their payment and when you’ve dispatched the item. We know – this sounds like a lot of emailing, but buyers appreciate being kept in the loop, and if you’re too quiet there’s a chance they’ll get suspicious and report you. 

    Make sure you also dispatch the item as promptly as possible and beware of being too ambitious with your ‘handling time’ declaration. If you estimate that you’ll take 2 days to dispatch the item, but the buyer hasn’t received the item in the time specified, you’ll not only receive bad feedback but the buyer can even ask for a refund from eBay.

    After you’re all done, do remember to give your buyer some lovely feedback. It’s how the eBay world works after all, and as the saying goes – what goes around, comes around y’all!

  9. Always get proof of postage!

    scaredcatSend every item you sell by recorded delivery or at least get proof of postage. Unfortunately, there are eBay buyer scammers out there who cause trouble by telling eBay that items haven’t been received even when they actually have been delivered.

    Make sure you’re armed with proof in case you need to fight your corner!

    And we’re done! Hopefully you’re now be equipped with all of the super skills you’ll need to be a pro eBayer.

    Be sure to let us know how you get on, and if you think we’ve missed any tips – give us a heads up in the comments section below.

    Go to and start selling »

    For more ideas on how to start raking in the cash, head over to our make money quickly guide!

How to win money entering competitions

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How to win money entering competitions

Entering competitions is fun – especially when you win! It’s even better if you can win enough to make it your income… Convinced?
win moneyNo, we’re not pulling your leg. It really is possible to turn entering competitions into a business, and people really do do it professionally. There’s even a special name for it – ‘comping’. Believe us now?

Marketing bigwigs reckon there are about 30,000 competitions running at any one time in the UK, featuring prizes ranging from sports cars to multipacks of toilet roll and even hard cash.

Either way, there’s a helluva lot of freebies out there to get your hands on!

So, now we’ve got your attention, we imagine you’ll be wanting us to let you in on all the tricks of the trade, right? Good job you found this guide then.

How to become a ‘comper’

If you’ve ever entered a competition before, you’ll know how easy it really is to take part. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of entering your personal details into a system or answering an easy-peasy multiple choice question to be in with a chance of winning big bucks.

However, to become a professional ‘comper’ and really make entering competitions something closer to an income, a bit more effort is required.

Getting started

ready to win money
Some professional compers say they enter an average of 100 competitions a day, but this is not the target to aim for, unless you want to become a total recluse, lose all your friends and fail your degree.

We’d suggest entering around 30 competitions a week as a more realistic (but still tough!) goal. Remember that this will take up a fair bit of your precious time if you decide to give it a proper go and want to start seeing a return.

The best way to start is by getting into the mindset of treating this as your job:

  • Have a set amount of hours you spend on it each day
  • Have your own personal system set out for how you enter your competitions (spreadsheets, etc.)
  • Have a separate ‘work’ email set up (with a different email provider from your personal account so there’s no logging in and out)
  • Set yourself some targets to work towards (like x number of cash competitions vs x freebie competitions etc)

Saying that, although treating this as a profession will help you achieve better results, remember that comping isn’t a reliable income as you still have to count heavily on luck. Also, a lot of your winnings will be material products rather than hard cash, so these simply won’t pay the bills.

If you’re in need of a more reliable income, try a part-time job instead.

Before you get started, put a spreadsheet together where you can keep track of all the competitions you enter and the prizes you’ve won. This will prevent you wasting time entering the same competitions more than once as this can get you disqualified, too.

Note that when you first start out, things will be slow and you can expect to wait between 3-6 months before you actually win anything. It’s rare to have a quick turnaround with these things, so the key is to be patient!

Which competitions to enter

candyWith so many competitions out there, it’s hard not to feel a bit like a kid in a sweet shop – by that, we mean overwhelmed and a bit nauseous… Ok, not really, but to try and keep tabs of every competition running you’d have to quit studying and start living entirely off your winnings. Year’s supply of toothpaste for dinner, anyone?

It’s true, however, that by the laws of probability, the more competitions you enter, the more you’ll win, but the only way to really ace it at comping is to enter competitions tactically. Focus on the competitions offering prizes that you really want, and don’t waste time on anything you’re not personally interested in.

You can sometimes sell your winnings on for a profit if you don’t want them, but if you neither want the prize yourself or think it’s worth flogging, don’t waste your time entering in the first place.

Also bear in mind that it’s not always possible to sell on your winnings – particularly in the case of free holidays or day trips, which will involve bookings being made in your name – so think carefully before you enter!

Cash competitions also pop up from time to time and tend to be very popular with compers as you know the exact value of what you’re getting your hands on.

Which competitions to avoid

warning sirenCredit: Alan Levine – Flickr
As you’re undoubtedly aware, there are a lot of spam competition-runners out there. Competition spammers are on a mission to get their grubby hands on your personal details so they can sell them on to other companies so they can start spamming you, too!

A lot of spam-generating comp sites will still have genuine prizes to give out, but there will be so many entries to these competitions that the chances of you winning are so slim it’s hardly worth your time and effort (particularly if you have to deal with a bombardment of spam in exchange for entering). Therefore, it’s a better idea to stick to competitions run by brands you already know and trust.

Also, aside from paying out for the odd stamp here and there to send in your entries, you should never have to pay up to enter a competition. Avoid any opportunities that involve calling up an 0800 number, as you’re likely to be left hanging on the line whilst they rake in the cash from your phone bill.

If a competition asks you to pay out any money as some sort of deposit after you win, run a mile… and report them to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) on your way out the door!

If you have any complaints about a competition or suspect your details have been dished out without your consent, contact the Institute of Promotional Marketing for advice on how to handle it.

Where to look for competitions


  • At Save the Student, we have a whole section of our site dedicated to competitions we think may be of interest to students. Make this you’re first port of call!
  • Sign up to newsletters of brands you like, and keep a particular eye on ones that normally run comps.
  • Twitter is also a great place to look. Try searching for the hashtag #competition on twitter every day to see if anything pops up that’s of interest to you. To enter competitions on twitter, it’ll normally be required that you retweet something a brand has posted. Therefore, you might want to make a separate Twitter account just for comping if you don’t want your followers to get annoyed about their feeds getting clogged up with all your comping efforts!
  • Using Facebook to find competitions is more difficult, but they’re normally really easy to enter if you can manage to find them. Most of the time, you’ll just be asked to ‘like’ a post or a page in order to enter into a prize draw. Keep an eye on your ‘others’ folder in Facebook messenger, as if you win, your congrats message is likely to end up in there rather than your inbox. We’ll also keep you updated on any good competitions we come across via our Facebook page – and we run a few great competitions of our own, too – so get us liked pronto!
  • Instagram is really popular for fashion brand competitions in particular, but generally any businesses that offer tangible products to get your hands on – insta is the best place to win them. Follow all your favourite brands and also try searching #competition in the ‘explore’ bar to see what comes up. Remember to make your profile public, otherwise brands won’t be able to view your entry.
  • Pinterest is similar to Instagram in that it’s a hot spot for fashion and apparel comps at the moment. Like Instagram, most of the competitions on Pinterest will be to win certain products, so this isn’t the place to look if you’re on the hunt for cash prizes.
  • TV and radio shows are also a good option to try (although these can involve paying out to sit waiting on a phone line, so bear this in mind). Go for local stations to increase your chances of winning, as there tends to be less entries for these (although the prizes aren’t normally as good as National stations).
  • Magazines are a really good place to look for competitions, but often they require a bit more effort by doing things the old fashioned way (i.e. sending in answers on a postcard. Definitely worth a try though!
  • On drink bottles and other confectionary wrappers. Standing in your local shop and staring at the chocolate bars and fizzy drinks, you’re guaranteed to see mention of some prizes to be won. Although, don’t be tempted to waste your money on anything you won’t actually eat or drink… unless the prize is really good!

8 top tips for winning

adele grammy winningAs we mentioned earlier, competition entering really can be a simple case of the more competitions you go for, the more you have a chance of winning a prize.

However, there are also a few tips and tricks of the trade that will help maximise your chances, and your winnings!

  1. Devote some time to it: Goes without saying really but if you don’t enter, you won’t win! Try to put aside a few hours each week if you’re serious about this comping lark.
  2. Arrange a system that allows you to enter details quickly:  Have a word document open with your name, address, email etc. so that you can simply copy/paste where necessary. Keyboard shortcuts are also your best friend in these cases, so try to get into the habit of learning the important ones and using them. Another option is to try using ‘autofill’ when completing forms (simply add your details once and your computer will remember your details so you can add with just a click).
  3. Put that extra bit of effort in: This is particularly relevant for creative competitions on social media. Essentially, brands are looking for good ideas and a bit of publicity, so take a bit of time to offer them what they want.
  4. Keep track of all your entries and winnings: Keeping track of your entries helps you see where you’ve had successes and also stops you from wasting time entering twice (this can get you disqualified too, so be careful!). This will also ensure you keep an eye on the prizes you’re due to receive, so you don’t forget to claim anything.
  5. Keep an eye on your email for responses: It’s quite common that you’ll be notified of whether you’ve won by email, and if you don’t respond quick enough, the prize will roll on to the next contestant. Make sure you check your emails as much as possible to avoid missing out!
  6. Stock up on essentials: Make sure you’ve always got a steady supply of postcards and stamps, just in case that dream comp comes up with a super quick deadline. An extra tip is to never bother paying for postcards – hit up your nearest cinema for some freebies!
  7. Get a competition SIM card: If you don’t feel like giving out your phone number to strangers, grab yourself a free SIM from O2, Vodafone or Giff Gaff.
  8. Check the rules: It’s amazing just how easy it is to get yourself disqualified just because you haven’t read the rules properly. Read the small print, look out for trick questions and pay particular attention to the closing date!

Things to watch out for

cautionCredit: Eugene Zemlyanskiy – Flickr
There are, of course, a few things to be cautious of when entering competitions on a large scale.

Beware of some sites that offer ‘exclusive’ contest lists specifically aimed at compers. Don’t bother paying to view lists like these – they will normally just include the most popular competitions, meaning if you’re out looking for this stuff each day, you will already know about them. Also, your chances of winning any of the competitions mentioned in these lists are inevitably much lower due to the fact they will be seen by thousands of people.

Invest in some antivirus software to protect your computer, since you’ll be browsing a lot of new sites each day that you’ve maybe never been on before, and can’t vouch for their legitamacy.

We also wouldn’t recommend using programs like Roboform. Roboform is a service that lets you fill in online forms really quickly by having you store lots of your details and answers to questions online. This is handy as you don’t have to fill your details out manually every time you enter a competition, however some systems pick your answers up as spambots and will disqualify you, so it’s not worth the hassle.

Final thoughts…

Wolf of Wall Street money memeSo there you have it! If you’ve made it all the way to here, you should have all the info you need to get started on winning your millions (we hope!).

The comping game is constantly growing and evolving, so if you’re planning to take this stuff seriously, it’s worth getting involved with the close-knit comper community online – watch out for forums where you can pick up hints and tips.

Big name compers such as Martin Dove have also written loads on the subject so he’s well worth checking out – he once won a yacht through comping, so this guy certainly knows his stuff!

Do share any of your own top tips if you have any for us, and if you do win it big – we’d love to know.

For more money making ideas, check out this list of ways to make cash online – we cover everything from making money from a website to mystery shopping!

How and where to invest your money

Make Money

How and where to invest your money

This article has been written by Andrew Hallam, the author of Millionaire Teacher—The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (available on

Millionaire teacher shares his secrets

If you haven’t figured this out by now, let me share one of the most important things everybody should know:

The world is full of people who would sell you toe nail clippings and magic cat dung…if they could get away with it.

Andrew HallamUnfortunately, the financial service industry breeds more of those opportunists than any other sales field.  And they can skillfully disguise feline faeces to look (and smell) sweeter than a bouquet of spring flowers.

As a young investor, you can’t afford to put some of these products on your dinner plate — not if you eventually want to grow wealthy.  I’m a high school personal finance teacher who built a million dollar investment portfolio by the time I was 38 years old.

I published a book called Millionaire Teacher – The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. It hit #1 on Amazon USA for personal finance books in November 2011, #1 in Canada in February 2012, and now I want to boil down the essential elements for a young British audience.

If you just read this with scepticism, good!  That’s what I want.  Be sceptical of nearly everything people tell you, when they’re giving financial advice.  Find academic studies that might refute it.  Only then will you be educated enough to make a financial decision.  Don’t listen to a salesperson or financial advisor who refutes or supports certain advice.  Find an academic study, something truly impartial.

What should you invest in?

For starters, if you’re going to invest, buy assets that appreciate over time.  Cars lose their value each year, so it’s best to spend small amounts on depreciating assets (like cars) and more on assets that increase in value.  I’ve seen the advertisements for Forex trading, especially targeting young people with grand promises.  But remember this:  for every dollar that’s made, there’s a dollar that’s lost.  Always.

Rising investment chartUnlike stocks, bonds and real estate, currencies (except cryptocurrencies) don’t rise in value.  When you trade a currency, there’s another person on the other end of that trade.  Do you really want to gamble with them?

The only sure winner is the investment bank that makes money on the commission spreads from the sale and purchase.  These products are pushed for that reason.  They create excitement (usually for the naïve) and reap tremendous benefits for the large brokerages doing the transactions.

Investors are better off buying assets that appreciate over time — rather than wasting time and money trading currencies.  If two people trade a currency (forex) back and forth for twenty years, the winner will win by an equal proportion to the amount lost by the loser.  The odds are, also, that the winner wouldn’t win by much, if they each played the game for twenty years.

If you and I traded a stock market tracking fund or a London flat back and forth for twenty years, we would both benefit from the rising value of the stock market (plus dividends) or the rising value of the flat.  We’d likely be better off holding those assets, rather than trading them, but my point is this:  the overall stock and bond markets increase in value over time, as do real estate prices.

Forex trading doesn’t offer that.  It gives low odds of success (like a night at Blackpool) and you won’t find Warren Buffett, nor a college endowment fund manager, nor an economic Nobel prize winner suggesting Forex trading as a sensible investment method.  It makes money for the house, but not for the players, as an aggregate.

What would Warren Buffett suggest?

Buffett, consistently one of the wealthiest people in the world, isn’t a fan of the financial service industry.  He often jokes about a fantasy he has, where a bunch of brokers get trapped on a deserted island with no escape.  Many investors buy actively managed unit trusts, but the firms that create them have one goal:  to make money for themselves.

Warren Buffett

So how do you increase your odds of investment success?

If you think that Warren Buffett and a slew of Economic Nobel Prize winners offer valuable advice (these guys aren’t selling products) then you’ll be keen to build a diversified, low-cost portfolio of tracker funds.

In the U.S., these are called index funds.  They’re extremely low-cost unit trusts that beat more than 90% of professional investors over twenty year study periods, after all fees, attrition, and taxes.  Investment advisers and brokers hate these products, and they’ll usually do everything they can to deter you from buying them.  Brokers, after all, make more money for themselves when selling you litter box products instead.  Portfolios of actively managed unit trusts (and their hidden fees) are generally a bad deal for investors.

Choose Index Tracker funds

Allan S. Roth, adjunct professor at the University of Denver, ran a Monte Carlo simulation to determine the likelihood that an account of actively managed unit trusts would beat an account of index tracker funds.  After all, a responsible portfolio would have more than one tracker fund within it:  it would likely have at least a British stock market tracker fund, a bond market tracker fund, and an international stock market tracker fund.

Roth determined that, if you had five actively managed unit trusts over a 25 year period, your odds of beating a portfolio of index tracker funds would be just 3%.

If you had ten actively managed mutual funds over a 25 year period, your odds of beating a portfolio of index tracker funds would be just 1%.

You won’t find academically supported evidence to refute those findings.  For the best odds of investment success, index tracker funds are the right choice.  Investing is about putting the odds in your favour.

Five Years Ten Years Twenty Five Years
One Active Fund 30% 23% 12%
Five Active Funds 18% 11% 3%
Ten Active Funds 9% 6% 1

Pick the right fund when investing

But not all tracker funds are created equally.  Some of them can be pretty expensive.  In Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity, he said that:

“After Virgin entered the financial services industry, I can immodestly say it was never to be the same again.  We cut all commissions; we offered good value products; and we were practically trampled by investors in their rush to buy.”

The great funds that Branson touted were Virgin’s index tracker funds.  But they’re too expensive.  Branson’s intentions might have been good, but HSBC offers the same products at a fraction of the cost.  And in the world of money, small costs add up.

Check out what a 1% difference can make over an investment lifetime:

£1,000 compounding at 7 percent interest for 50 years=  £29,457

£1,000 compounding at 8 percent interest for 50 years=  £46,901

If you’re twenty years old, you could realistically have money working for you until the day you die.  Sure, you’ll be selling some of it to cover living costs as you retire, but you don’t want costs to anchor your money over a lifetime.

The best UK tracker funds

I think the most convenient UK tracker funds are offered through HSBC.  In a 2008 study titled “Mutual Fund Fees Around the World” (published by Oxford University Press) researchers Ajay Khorana, Henri Servaes and Peter Tufano found that the UK’s stock market unit trusts cost investors an average of 2.28% a year, including sales costs and hidden expense fees.

HSBC bankA portfolio of HSBC’s tracker funds, in contrast, would cost you roughly 0.29% annually.  Virgin’s tracker funds cost more than three times as much.

When it comes to unit trusts, the lower the fees, the better.

As the global unit trust research firm, Morningstar reveals, low costs are the only reliable predictor of future performance.  Don’t fall for unit trusts with great historical returns.  The odds of them repeating that performance aren’t great.

Create a diversified portfolio of low-cost tracker funds, and you’ll beat more than 90 percent of investment professionals over your lifetime—without any work.  Don’t forget that a portfolio is not a single tracker fund – it’s a diversified basket of them.  This is the gem that most professionals will never be able to beat.

For further information on the topic of investing your money, read my book and I also recommend the following books.

And don’t let anyone lure you into the litter box.

How to become a mystery shopper

How to become a mystery shopper

If there’s one thing better than getting paid hard cash, it’s getting paid hard cash to shop or eat at your favourite spots. Sound too good to be true? 

how to become a mystery shopper

Working as a mystery shopper or mystery diner is a super flexible part-time opportunity for students. Not only do you get paid for your time and get to choose the hours you work, but you also scoop up freebies in the process.

Most of the big retailers are signed up to some kind of mystery shopping scheme, so there’s plenty of work out there. However, with around 500,000 people registered as mystery shoppers in the UK alone, competition to land a job is getting increasingly tough.

So is it really worth it? We’ve done the research and put together this comprehensive guide to ensure you’re armed with all the info you need.

Have you worked as a mystery shopper before? Don’t forget to share your experiences with us in the comments below!


What is mystery shopping?

what is mystery shopping

Credit: Pat Loika – Flickr

While the clue is in the name, mystery shopping isn’t about getting your Scooby Doo on down the local Primark… but it’s not far off.

Mystery shopping is a job (yes, it really is a form of employment) where you sign up to an agency or independent company that pays ‘mystery shoppers’ to anonymously visit businesses around the country in order to check that specific standards are being met (e.g. cleanliness, good customer service, etc.).

It isn’t just about clothes or groceries either. You could find yourself grabbing a free dinner at a restaurant, having your eyesight tested or even counting trains at a train station – so mystery shopping is also mystery dining, mystery drinking, and…err… mystery train counting?

How does mystery shopping work?

how does mystery shopping work

Credit: Georgie Pauwels – Flickr

The process involved in mystery shopping tends to vary from job to job, but most commonly you’ll be given a specific set of instructions to read before venturing into a shop or business.

These instructions will normally include the following:

  • Guidelines on what to buy as part of the assessment (this part is normally quite flexible)
  • list of questions to ask in store
  • Any photographs you’re required to take
  • Details of things to watch out for and to take a mental note of (e.g. cleanliness, lighting, if you were greeted as you walked in, etc)
  • When you should have your report submitted by.

Once you get home, you’ll usually need to write up a report on your findings and send this to the agency. This can take up to two hours to complete, so make sure you leave yourself enough time afterwards to get the paperwork done.

Other forms of mystery shopping jobs

  • Tasking apps: Most of the time these don’t involve actually buying anything, but you’ll still need to sneak around a bit. We’ve written an article about the best tasking apps
  • Postal monitoring: You sign up to have brochures and catalogues sent to your home address and record how long they take to arrive, what state they arrive in, etc.
  • Mystery shopping by phone: This one can even mean starting work before getting out of bed! Telephone mystery shopping involves calling up stores with general questions and assessing (and recording!) how these are answered
  • Email mystery shopping: Similar to phone mystery shopping, but this method is obviously more for online stores or stores who have a strong online presence
  • Online survey: This can entail completing product reviews or simply filling out online surveys related to certain brands.
Like the sound of making money with online surveys? Check out our comprehensive list of the best paid online survey sites if this is more your thing!

How can you earn as a mystery shopper?

how much does mystery shopping pay

Credit: AMC

The pay for mystery shopping tends to vary dramatically, but unfortunately in recent years companies have started offering less money, or in some cases no payment at all.

In the past, some full-time mystery shoppers have reported earning between £30-40,000 per year, but it’s worth knowing that this is after spending many years on the job and earning a reputation in the industry. Unfortunately, it seems the days of this sort of mystery shopper salary are over.

Today, you’re more likely to be offered work where you won’t receive payment or only a few quid, but will be given a budget to spend in store, and will be allowed to keep what you buy as a freebie (so make sure you choose something you really want/need!).

Keep a close eye on what they require you to buy, as often the brief will say you can return the item you’ve bought the same day or later on, but for mystery dining jobs if the total reimbursement doesn’t cover what they’re asking you to spend, it may not be worth it.

We’ve seen jobs where £15 was offered for a meal for two at a popular pizza chain, which wouldn’t have covered the meal – especially as you’re not usually supposed to use vouchers on mystery shops.

However, the more difficult a company finds it to get someone to complete a job, the bigger the fee will grow. We’ve found that jobs in city centres get snapped up pretty quickly, and rates stay low, but if you’re out in the sticks, doing mystery shopping can be quite lucrative.

For example, we’ve done the same job in the same shop in central London and been paid £5, and when we completed it in a smaller town we received £15 plus travel reimbursement at 50p a mile.

And yes, some companies will offer travel expenses – and while it’s usually based purely on distance, if you ask nicely you could get extra money back for parking or train tickets.

Best mystery shopping companies

best mystery shopping companies

Credit: BBC

There’s a whole slog of companies offering mystery shopper work in the UK, but unfortunately this also means the industry is rife with fake companies trying to scam you into paying registration fees to join agencies that don’t exist.

It should always be free to sign up to mystery shopping, so if a site asks for payment, approach with extreme caution.

When in doubt, check out the MSPA website (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) to see if the company is listed. If their name’s not down, run a mile!

Signing up is generally pretty pain free: there’s no need for CVs or references – just fill out an online survey and you’re all set. However, some of the biggest names on this list require you to do a spelling and grammar test. You get a few tries to fill it out correctly, so don’t worry too much.

Here’s our take on some of the most popular mystery shopper sites in the UK.

  1. Market Force

    market force mystery shopper jobsFormerly known as Retail Eyes, this is one of the UK’s most well-known mystery shopping sites and with 300,000 registered members, it’s certainly one of the biggest.

    They host a massive range of jobs – with everything from visiting opticians to checking out local pubs – so chances are you’ll be able to find something up your street.

    They also recently launched a mystery shopping app that allows you to locate and pick up jobs in your current location – handy to make a quick buck when you’re already out shopping somewhere.

    Payment: Very low or just reimbursement for items you buy in store (worth £5-15)

    Pros: Variety of assignments

    Cons: Bad customer service.

    Check Out Market Force »

  2. Clickworker

    Clickworker logoClickworker is a well-established microtasking company that has recently expanded into the mystery shopper realm. Most of the assignments involve going to a shop in your area and taking pictures of product shelves.

    The best part is that you can choose whichever shop from the chains provided. They do not make you go to specific addresses so you have a lot of free choice. A short trip to the high street or nearest retail park is all that is usually required.

    What’s even better is that there is no purchase necessary for these assignments. clickworker regularly offers mystery photography jobs for most countries in Europe, the Middle East and the USA.

    Payment: Usually around €8 – €12 plus other bonuses

    Pros: No purchases required, possibility to rework and resubmit jobs

    Cons: Payment in Euros only via PayPal or bank transfer

    Check Out clickworker »

  3. Mystery Dining by HGEM

    mystery dining jobsLove eating out but hate having to fork out for it?

    Mystery Dining offer free meals at certain restaurants to those culinary experts (or near enough!) who are willing to take the time to write a detailed report on their experience afterwards.

    To join up you need to first ‘pass’ an application process to see if you’re the right fit. Rejection rates are quite high, so make sure you take the time to do this part properly.

    Also worth noting that the more you work and the better job you make of it, you’ll be awarded with a reviewer rating badge – go for gold and you could be awarded with a Michelin star experience!

    Payment: No payment offered for most jobs, but usually you get a big enough budget to pay for your entire meal and sometimes travel expenses covered

    Pros: Free meals!

    Cons: Reporting process takes longer than mystery shopping as requires more detail.

    Check Out Mystery Dining Company »

  4. Serve Legal

    Are you 18 or 19 and looking for a chance to earn a bit of extra money (and get some free drinks out of it?)

    You should probably sign up to Serve Legal, as they’re a test purchasing company that are essentially trying to find out if young-looking people are being ID’d when they should be.

    Serve Legal employ mystery shoppers to go into all sorts of shops, bars and pubs to try and buy different age restricted products. Because they mainly employ people in a small age bracket, they’re always looking for new shoppers to sign up.

    Apparently it’s a huge help if you have your own transport, as some of the locations you’ll need to shop at can be spread far and wide.

    Payment: You get around £7 per visit, and how much of that is profit depends on what you choose to buy

    Pros: Free drinks, and they reimburse you for travel

    Cons: You only have 2 years to get involved in it.

    Check Out Serve Legal »

  5. GfK

    Gfk mystery shopperAnother reputable company, there are a wealth of assignments on GfK covering the whole of the UK and often smaller UK suburbs as well as bigger cities.

    You won’t find yourself caught up with lengthy applications here, either. All you need to do is complete a survey on their website to sign up and you’re good to go.

    However, one complaint would be that the reporting process for GfK is notoriously time-consuming. In this sense, you’re expected to really work for your cash, but GfK do pay generously!

    Payment: Generous (but undisclosed)

    Pros: Generous payment

    Cons: Reporting process is time-consuming.

    Check Out GfK »

  6. GBW (previously GAPbuster)

    Gapbuster mystery shoppingGAPbuster have recently rebranded themselves as GBW (we’re still not sure why, or what GBW stands for). McDonald’s is their biggest client so this company is a great choice if you fancy some free Happy Meals!

    They have been reported to send out repeat assignments to the same location as well to monitor improvements, so this might not be the best choice if you’re looking for variety.

    Payment: Between £5-10 per job

    Pros: Paperwork is clear and easy to complete

    Cons: Payment is quite low and reimbursement slow.

    Check Out GBW »

  7. Retail Maxim

    Retail mystery shopping jobsRetail Maxim is a popular agency with a lot of subscribers, but we have heard complaints that this has resulted in jobs being scooped up a matter of minutes after they’re posted online!

    This means you’ll have to be quick in order to bag yourself a job, and also be quite flexible with your time.

    They do send out cheques to cover shopping trips in advance, which is good for those of us who can’t afford to wait for reimbursement later.

    Payment:  £7-12 per job + travel expenses

    Pros: Spending money offered upfront

    Cons: Jobs are few and far between.

    Check Out Retail Maxim »

  8. Grassroots

    Grassroots mystery shopperGrassroots are the company to go for if you’re not interested in being bombarded with emails advertising available positions.

    The best way to find work with Grassroots is to keep checking their website, as it’s constantly updated throughout each day.

    Video options are also available which tend to pay more, and payment is normally received around 3-4 weeks after the job.

    Payment: £5-10 per job + freebies

    Pros: Clear instructions and quick payment

    Cons: Jobs normally only available in the bigger UK cities.

    Check Out Grassroots »

  9. Tern

    Mystery shopping with TernTern Consultancy is a nice option if you’re looking to try out some of the different varieties of mystery shopping, as they also offer opportunities for video and audio-only shopping (which also tend to pay a bit more).

    However, ironically for a company that assesses customer service, we’ve heard that theirs isn’t all that great!

    Payment: Around £12 per job

    Pros: Payment is the highest we’ve seen

    Cons: Bad customer service.

    Check Out Tern »

  10. International Service Check

    If you love fashion, this mystery shopping company should go to the top of your list. International Service Check has some of the biggest names on the high street as clients, and their jobs often include trying on outfits and asking for help finding specific items.

    The base pay for every job is £12, which is a good starting point, but as jobs are often for a specific type of shopper – i.e. 25-35 year old males who wear certain sizes of clothing – the rates can go up significantly.

    You’ll be emailed and invited to apply for most jobs if you fit the description they look for, so keep an eye on that inbox!

    Payment: At least £12 a visit

    Pros: The money is good

    Cons: The website is very basic, and jobs can be quite complex.

    Check Out International Service Check »

  11. ESA Retail

    This is a smaller company and the types of jobs are quite diverse – we’ve completed tasks where we had to record ourselves in a bank meeting, and another where we asked to try on designer jewellery.

    It’s worth having a look, because some of the fees can be as high as £40 a visit.

    Payment: Totally depends, but often £10+

    Pros: Very quick customer service – it’s easy to get in touch if you have a question

    Cons: It’s really difficult to sort jobs by location on the site.

    Check Out ESA Retail »

  12. Assosia

    Another lesser-known mystery shopping company, but the jobs are a little bit different to normal.

    Tasks usually involve talking to members of staff and making yourself known as a mystery shopper (not much of a mystery then!). The website can be a bit tricky to navigate as a newbie, but just click on Field Team and you should be ok from there!

    Payment: Largely £10+

    Pros: The jobs are interesting

    Cons: The website.

    Check Out Assosia »

Mystery shopping do’s and don’ts

What to do as a mystery shopper

what to do on mystery shop

Credit: Nickelodeon

  • Work regularly: While you can choose your hours, the secret to getting the best jobs is being flexible and offering to work regularly. The more you work, the more your reputation will grow, and the work will start a-rollin’ in
  • Memory practice: As you won’t be able to have a notepad handy on the job (this will give the game away), you’ll need to perfect your memory so you can remember details for your report later. Think of it as good practice for exam time!
  • Keep the tax man happy: It’s unlikely that you’ll earn enough to be taxed, but mystery shopping technically counts as self employment – so if you do think you might earn over the personal allowance threshold, make sure you declare it. Check out our students tax facts page to see if this applies to you
  • Sign up to multiple companies at once: There are loads of mystery shopper sites out there, but work can be scarce, so signing up to multiple companies simultaneously will increase your chances of finding something that works for you
  • Keep receipts: Whatever you buy as part of a mystery shopping effort, make sure you always hang on to the receipt in case a company asks to see them.

What not to do as a mystery shopper

what not to do when mystery shopping

Credit: Universal Pictures

  • Be late: You’ll have to submit a report after each visit, and this normally has to be done within a specific time frame. If you hand your report in late, you might not be paid and could be axed from further jobs
  • Ever pay to register: No reputable mystery shopper business will ask you to pay to join. They’ll probably ask for your bank account number and sort code, but this will be in order to pay you for your work
  • Forget to ask for details: As we covered – there is a lot of variation in the kinds of reimbursements and payments with this kind of work. Make sure you know exactly what you’re signing yourself up for before taking on a job
  • Rely on mystery shopping as a source of income: While this is a fun way to make some extra cash, it’s not a reliable form of income. Some companies will take up to two weeks just to reimburse you for money spent as part of a job, so this isn’t a good idea if you’re on a particularly tight budget.

So whilst you’re not likely to be able to pay off your student loan with your earnings, mystery shopping is fun to get involved in, and it’s also something interesting to put on your CV if you do it regularly enough.

If you’re looking for a bit of fun and freebies, give mystery shopping a whirl!

On a money-making roll? Find out how you can earn cash filling out surveys online and by reviewing music.