Selling your study notes might sound like an ideal way to make some income from work you're doing anyway. If you're a college student or preparing for a major exam like the LSAT or nursing board exam, you might want to sell your study materials. However, selling study notes online can be risky, so be cautious before you try it as a side hustle.
The concept appears fairly simple at first glance: a student creates notes for an academic course or a specific exam, and finds an online platform where they can sell them. But many universities and professors frown on the practice and warn that students can be suspended or punished for doing so.
How much did one nurse make by selling her study notes on Etsy?
A major success story in this type of side hustle is that of Stephanee Beggs, who appeared in an interview by "Varney & Co." on Fox Business. The TikTok creator has earned about $2 million over the last few years simply by selling the notes she created while studying for the nursing boards exam, or NCLEX.
During the interview, Beggs explained that after graduating from nursing school, she was studying for the nursing boards during the COVID-19 pandemic. She recorded herself studying, posted it to social media, and many people requested to buy her study sheets.
How much can you sell study notes online for? In Beggs's case, she prices her study notes at $2 for a sheet covering only one medical condition. She also sells several bundles of notes for specific classes as well as a "giant bundle" that she says covers everything for nursing exams, priced currently at $115.
How can you sell your study notes online?
There are many websites that recruit note-sellers. However, some of these sites promote practices that will likely get the seller in trouble: selling exam questions, exam responses, or essays, for example.
You could, like Beggs, create an Etsy shop where you sell your study notes. Etsy requires that items be handmade, but many people create printables like Beggs's study sheets to sell. They're a somewhat passive income strategy, since once you've created and uploaded the documents, you can simply sell either hard copies or downloadable versions.
Where can you sell study notes online?
Some of the platforms where people sell notes online include:
- Nexus Notes
- Oxbridge Notes
These platforms have varying guidelines around who qualifies to sell notes, how much and how you get paid, and how recent the notes must be.
Is it legal to sell study notes?
This is the big question: is it legal to sell your study notes to others? The answer is a bit murky. While it may not be illegal to sell your own study notes, plenty of universities discourage this practice as it can lead to selling exam questions or answers, as well as selling professors' other intellectual property like contents of slide presentations.
These are the two primary rules to follow:
- Only sell study materials YOU create yourself. You can't sell word-for-word transcriptions of classroom lectures or any other material that was created by your professors.
- Even after rule #1, you should always check with your own university or specific professors to find out their policy on note-selling.
Remember that if you're trying to sell notes for a class you're currently taking, instructors may not allow you to sell notes. In 2017, ArkansasOnline reported on a student who got into trouble for selling notes on StudySoup.
Karen Hodges, executive director of the Academic Initiatives and Integrity office at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said that professors there could determine whether note-selling was OK. "Some faculty view this as a violation of copyright, and others do not and don't care. But some faculty were very concerned this violated their intellectual property rights," Hodges said.