Usually, when you become a student, you have to get adjusted to living on a tight budget. Between rent, living expenses like groceries, and the money you’ll look to spend on having fun, you will have to find ways to stretch your funds. A possible solution to this would be earning a bit of money, and this is where freelancing comes in.Freelancing as a student is a great way to earn a bit of pocket money and gain experiences, skills and references to add to your CV. Plus, you can create your work schedule to fit in with your studies and social life. This article discusses how to get started in freelancing as a student and offers tips to set you up for success.
How to get started in freelancing as a student
Define your goals for freelancing
Can I work as a freelancer and study at the same time? The answer is yes, but you should first decide why you’re looking to start freelance work. Are you looking at this as an opportunity to make a little extra money? Are you doing this because you’re the creative type, and you want to start building a career from scratch?Defining your goal and why you want to start freelancing will inform the decisions you need to make surrounding your business or work. This will tell you what you’ll need to invest into your business to get it up and running and what position you’ll need to take. So, make sure you know why you’re doing this and what you want from it.
Choose what skills you’ll start freelancing with
Before you decide on starting a freelance business, you need to confirm the skills you’ll use to pay the bills. You’re essentially going to be marketing yourself and your skillset, so you’ll need to pick the skill set you can best use to earn money. You’ll also have to determine the best way you can utilize these skills to earn income.Doing this requires a bit of practical thought, though. You’ll have to decide on a skill you’re qualified enough to use to earn money. Not only should you be passionate about it or disciplined enough to use it consistently, but also make sure it is something marketable. If you’re not sure that your current skill set can help you with your solo career, you can always look for ways to develop and improve your skills.
The best freelance jobs for students
Here are some top freelance job options to consider as a student, and polish up your skills accordingly:
- Online Marketer: An online marketer develops marketing strategies using tools and techniques like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to get customers to visit and engage with the companies’ social media accounts, website, and digital platforms. Your responsibilities might include generating written or graphic content and posting them on social media.
- Content/Blog Writer: A content writer is someone who, well, writes content. More specifically, they write content for a company with the ultimate goal of generating interest in the company’s services or products. Your job then is to produce content relevant to that company and its field that is also engaging for the target customers. You’ll be asked to use some keywords for SEO purposes or have a briefing document that directs you on what you are to write about.
- Translator: If you’ve ever used translation tools like Google Translate, you know firsthand that they leave a lot to be desired. That’s where professional translators come in. Your job is to give accurate translations of a document from a “source” language into a “target” language. Localization and translation services are needed in all kinds of industries, so you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a niche.
- Freelance Proofreader/Editor: As a freelance editor, you’ll be responsible for reviewing your client’s content (most likely written) and checking it over before it is published or handed in. This means possibly verifying statements for facts, correcting grammar mistakes, and perhaps working with a publisher and the content writer to make sure revisions are made and the piece is brought to perfection before it is published.
- Data Entry: Someone who works in data entry is paid to enter data/information into a database. This might mean information about a customer or their accounts, or taking physical leads and entering it into a digital database. You might also be asked to verify the data to see if there are no discrepancies or mistakes.
- Online Tutor/Teacher: With the rise of e-learning as an education method, it's an easy field to get into. There are two requirements to meet here. First, you must be qualified to teach whatever you plan on teaching either because you are certified or just really knowledgeable and experienced in the field. Second, you have to find a platform like a Zoom or MS Teams to host your class.
- Website Developer: Website developers/builders are responsible for designing and building websites. They are often responsible for the appearance and functionality of the site, ensuring both the technical details like site speed and the traffic it can handle, and how the website looks–the UI and graphic design elements.
- Graphic Designer: A graphic designer creates stylized visual text and images either by hand or using computer software that is meant to inspire or capture potential consumer interest. Graphic design requires a creative mind, a bit of technical know-how, and some possible certification (you can, for example, study graphic design in school).
Identify your target clients
Identifying your target clients is an excellent place to start freelancing. Understanding your target audience allows you to fine-tune your process. It can help you decide where and how you will be marketing yourself and your skillset.The Ancient Greek Delphic axiom goes: “know thyself.” Well, the second thing you should know as a freelancer is your clients. Know what they want, what they expect from you, and what they would be disappointed by. Defining your target clients is the first step in this process, so make sure you take the time to consider it.
Package your skills into a service offering
It might sound a bit jargony, but this is essentially saying that you need to develop a way to sell your skills in a package. That means taking your skillset and making it into a bundle of services that you can sell. It’s part of marketing yourself and your skillset.For example, if you are a person with tutoring skills, then find a way to package this skill into a service. Find the appropriate way that you can offer this skillset to someone in a fashion that they’ll pay you for it. So, maybe you offer to tutor someone in history for an hour session for $30 per hour. This is what it means to package your skills into service–then it’s about knowing how to pitch your services the right way.
Create a portfolio to showcase your skills
As a student, you’ll have to start by getting your foot in the door. Creating a portfolio that shows off your skillset is a way to showcase your talent. A portfolio should be used to show what you are capable of to prospective clients. It’s one of the best methods to market your work. Of course, the specifics would depend on the kind of portfolio you are building–a stellar copywriting portfolio would have different requirements than a freelance designer portfolio.Because you’re likely just starting, you might not have examples of your work lying around. That’s why it’s important to produce work or examples that you can use. These don’t necessarily need to be professional, but instead can be personal or passion projects. If, for example, you studied something artistic in school, or worked on a creative project for a course, then you can use these as part of your portfolio as well.
Develop a strategy to find clients
When you’re in freelance work, you need to continually find ways to find, attract and keep clients. This is one of the potential drawbacks of freelance work– you won’t necessarily have consistent work or pay if you don’t find consistent clients. That’s why you need to find ways to build your client base.There are many ways that you can consider when looking for clients. We’ve mentioned marketing and pitching your services several times because it’s an excellent way to attract clients. Other ways you can think of might involve networking, leveraging your social connections, either professional or personal, and making the most of social media platforms such as LinkedIn to possibly find work and clients.
Tap into your existing network
Speaking of networking, our next bet of advice is to use your existing network to your advantage. Your friends, family, or colleagues all have connections that can help get you started in your freelancing career. So, don’t be afraid to ask them for advice or whether they might have job opportunities that they can introduce you to.You should also look to expand your network in whatever ways feel most natural to you. This might mean joining online communities or attending workshops tied to your future career. It’s an excellent way to expand your opportunities because it introduces you to new people that can help you expand your career.
6 essential tips for freelancing as a student
Now that we have covered how to get started in freelancing, here are 6 essential tips to help you on your solo work journey as a student:
Don’t wait for clients to find you. Reach out to them yourself
As a freelancer, you should continuously pursue clients in whatever ways you can because it increases your chances of finding work. Finding new clients means finding new revenue streams, so always be on the hunt.
Testimonials do wonders
Testimonials are a great way to market yourself because you demonstrate that you’ve done satisfying work in the past. So, let your happy customers speak for you when you’re trying to get new clients. Asking your customers’ feedback to generate testimonials is also a great way to help you improve your work and establish better connections with your client base.
Be polite in case you are refusing work
If you have to turn down work, make sure that you do it politely. It’s never a good idea to burn any bridges, especially if these clients can tell others about their negative experiences with you. Leaving an open door for future work opportunities will always come in handy.
Always keep a backup of your work
Keeping a backup of your work makes good practical sense. You never know when you’ll have some type of accident or have equipment issues, so make sure you have a solid backup system, whether you use a cloud storage or a hard disk for your documents.
Make sure your interpersonal skills are excellent
Being a freelancer means working with people, even if it’s not part of your day-to-day duties. You will have to negotiate rates, discuss your work schedule and terms, and sometimes even have to settle disputes on issues such as invoices, so make sure that you have the interpersonal skills to help these go smoothly.
Use Ruul to invoice your clients and receive the payments
Preparing compliant invoices to your clients and getting paid can be a painful and complicated process as a freelancer. With Ruul, you don’t have to worry about the complex steps involved in finance and legal compliance–you can get paid from anywhere in the world in the currency of your choice.
Hopefully this brief guide and tips will help you get started on your freelance work journey as a student. For all things freelancing and solo work, keep an eye on Ruul Blog and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn!