Social media inspires students to get creative through rising tuition costs

By: Jason Bolduc

Winnipeg students are facing mounting tuition prices that have been on the rise for 31 years. Some are finding creative ways to pay their way through school in a post-pandemic world, including turning to social media. 

Dana Guimond, 26, knits and crochets to earn extra income alongside a full-time job while looking at colleges and universities. She runs DanasWinterWoven, a seasonal shop for her creations, and makes money through advertising and sales on social media.

Guimond said she has been running her shop, which she runs on Etsy, since 2015.

“I moved to Facebook Marketplace and was able to reach more people and make a bit more,” said Guimond.

A student records a video for TikTok on their phone./JASON BOLDUC

According to Credit Canada, the average Canadian student owes $15,300 in student loans for college graduates, and $28,000 for a bachelor’s degree. Those who can’t find work must rely on other ways to pay.

While not everyone is able to open a shop on Etsy or make crafts to sell on social media, apps like TikTok and Instagram allow content creators to generate steady income.

Jordan Coulter, 25, a former University of Winnipeg student and local live-streamer, said if these options were available for his schooling he would jump at the chance.

“You get out what you put in. I love making people happy and sharing my experiences,” said Coulter. “And being able to make that a livable option instead of working two or three jobs would have been nice.” 

Content creation does come with its downsides. In an interview with Forbes in 2019, Instagram influencer Patrick Janelle says he spends two to three hours a day on average doing content for Instagram. 

“If I were doing my job well, that time would be easily doubled or tripled,” he told the publication.

Shane Barker, a digital marketing coach for Forbes, wrote in his blog it “may take up to months of hard work and patience as an influencer before results start to show.”

TikTok reached 1 billion monthly users, according to CNBC – bringing another problem to creators.

“It’s harder for smaller TikTokkers to stand out because the algorithm promotes those with more followers over smaller creators,” said Coulter. “The For You Page algorithm is genius that way.”

TikTok is one of many apps that allow monetization. Instagram has business accounts, Facebook has branded content and live streaming for games, and Twitter announced a subscription-type service called Super Follows.

Facebook and Instagram announced a $1 billion creator fund that runs through 2022, in direct competition with TikTok announcing a $200 million ongoing fund for its creators.