Today’s guest post is from Zac Sweers, a rising junior at the University of Texas in Austin. Zac loves tech, especially Android, and even made a business out of his ability to root Android phones. You can check out his popular how-to videos at his YouTube channel.

So you’re in college, and you need cash. Unfortunately, most of your fellow students are in the same boat as you. Enough to safely say your boat is more like an unpleasant cruise ship full of broke people. Jobs are the easy solution, but sometimes you don’t have time for a real job with all of your partying and gaming “studying”, right?

I was in a similar position coming into the fall of last year. I had the near-obligatory tanked GPA from freshman year, and subsequently no time to get a real part-time job. My parents send me a monthly check for rent and bills, with some extra for food and leisure, and I was essentially living from check to check.

I had an HTC Evo 4G, and around October I researched how to root it, and subsequently ROM’s and all that jazz. Now, for those of you that have attempted this yourself, you know researching this is ridiculous kinda hard. After I got the hang of it though, it was easy. I was still an economics major at the time, and so my thought process was:

“Man, this was hard —-> I bet other people have trouble with this too —-> *with arrogance* I’m really tech-savvy, and if I had trouble with this, then most other people probably REALLY have trouble with this —-> I bet people would pay me to do this for them.”

That last line is the golden one. I put up an ad on craigslist offering to root Evo’s for $20, and the emails started coming. People would drive down and meet me at the Whataburger two blocks from my apartment. For me it took 10 minutes, but for them it was saving them hours of research and learning. I started getting emails asking if I could do other things too. At first I rejected them. Then I just googled how to do them. My business expanded to putting Android on HD2′s, rooting Galaxy S phones, and continued. Now I have a website, do remote session work, and am expanding to app development.

I was meeting an average of 2-3 people per day, so anywhere from $60-$90/day. I had entered a market with no competitors either, and essentially created it since it wasn’t something people were always looking for before. And all this was on my own time, I was setting meet times, and it literally came at no cost to me.

Moral of the story:

  • If you googled it, chances are other people are too.
  • If you had to put effort into it, other people do too.
  • Golden rule of economics: people value their time more than niche skills, that’s why we have service industries! 
  • Create the market, offer your service at whatever price you want. It may seem expensive to you since it comes at virtually no cost to you but your time, but for people or companies it’s a bargain.

So by all means, if you have a learned skill in something, whether it be by what you learn in school, from Google, or other sources too (my best friend learned html/css/javascipt from and subsequently made websites for people as a summer job), monetize it!

Another great avenue is becoming a YouTube partner and getting revenue sharing for how-to videos. Like I said, other people are searching too. If you can make it easier for them to find and understand, post it! I earn about $6-$12/day from YouTube videos. Doesn’t seem like much, but multiply it by 30 days and you have a nice extra sum at the end of the month.

One important thing to remember is that people are jerks and unoriginal. If you start the market, others will copy you and join. Now here in Austin there are 3 other competitors (one of which I taught and is now trying to undercut me). However, you will always have originality on your side. You still control the market because competitors usually are just trying to cut into your business pie and aren’t cooking in the kitchen. Best thing to do would be to befriend them. Don’t necessarily help them, but they will respect your business more, and often times come to you for help anyway (which just ads to your credibility).

If you have any questions or want any advice on this, please feel free to email me at [email protected].