Freelancing is a pretty sweet gig if you’re a student. You can set your own schedule, for starters. The work can often be done right from your laptop, meaning it goes with you right to campus. You can take on as much work as you’re willing to. And it can all give you a leg up regarding job experience and resume-boosting.
There are actually few reasons not to freelance while you’re a student! So below I’ll cover how you can start your first freelance business while going to university.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. More homework and studying?! But to start a freelance venture, you’ll need to know how to land clients, create a portfolio, how to interact with clients professionally and nitty-gritty technical details like how to invoice.
The good news is, you don’t have to enroll in a second education program to learn these skills. You can learn them through sites like Udemy, which offers all-online courses that you can work through on your schedule. Classes are usually delivered via video, audio and online reading materials.
You can also read articles about online jobs that work for students, and make use of valuable free educational resources like The Freelancers Union, which was a valuable resource when I was first starting out as a freelancer.
Leverage your classes
A great aspect of freelancing while you’re going to school is that you’re literally learning new skills and about new topics all the time. That means your skills are fresh and you’re learning the latest information on a topic.
Look at your main education program to see what you might be able to use in a freelance market. For instance, did you just complete an app development course? Did you complete a graphic design course? Those are now skills you can use to position yourself as a freelancer. Pieces you completed in the course could even go towards creating your first online portfolio as a freelancer.
However, maybe you haven’t had courses in hard technical skills yet, and you’re still paying your dues in the general education courses. You may be able to get creative here.
When I was in college, I had a course in environmental science. I took it as a general education requirement, thinking I would just knock out some credits towards graduation. However, the course ended up being an eye-opener in how the environment works and how sustainability initiatives can go into helping it.
As part of the course, I had to write a lot of reports about the environment and sustainability. I used that knowledge while working for a client who needed blog posts about sustainability. So, you never know: knowledge and skills you can leverage towards a freelance career might be in places you least expect them to be.
A crash course in organizing freelance work with study
Being in school means your life is already full of deadlines – between test dates, reading requirements, essays and project deadlines. You may feel like you already have so many deadlines that adding more from the realm of freelancing seems impossible.
But adding work responsibilities to study is highly doable with good time management skills. If you’re in school, you probably already know a thing or two about meeting deadlines. But with work added, you may need some extra organizational hacks.
You might want to look into some project management tools that help you keep track of your deadlines, like Task Reminder. You can also keep organized with tools like Evernote. You can list all your deadlines and projects in one app, or use separate apps or accounts for work and school to keep things more compartmentalized.
Another great organizational hack that got me through school was slotting specific times to work on specific classes or work. My school tended to not have classes on Fridays, so I spent all day Friday in the library getting all my work done, so I didn’t have to worry about it over the weekend. Then I did my part-time jobs on the weekends. Obviously, this schedule may look different based on when your classes are, but the concept is still a useful one.
When it comes to freelancing, you may want to do something similar. You might have a day or two just devoted to getting your freelance work done. Or if you like more flexibility than that, you can slate a few hours during the day or evening that is just devoted to your freelance projects. Slating time for full, complete focus is a common productivity hack, and I’ve personally found it’s the only way I can get anything done.
Another idea for managing your time is the Pomodoro Technique. With this method, you work for a set amount of time to a timer without interruption, take a short break and then repeat several times. It’s meant to keep you hyper-focused in short bursts, with time to rest your brain in between.
Traditional part-time jobs like retail or food service are sometimes hard to schedule around classes, don’t boost your resume too much and tend to pay lower. But by organizing your time well, leveraging your experiences from class and finding freelancer education opportunities, getting a freelance business off the ground as a student isn’t as hard as you’d think. You’ll thank yourself for the effort you put in.
About the author:
Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer who has written features for a number of consumer and industry print magazines. She writes regular features for HomeWorkingClub.com– a freelancing portal (Twitter: @homeworkingclub), as well as stories for niche websites, digital lifestyle magazines and general news sites.