Quick Guide for Freelancing as a Student

It is no secret to anyone that most uni students are strapped for cash and work part-time or have some sort of side-hustle going to earn some extra coin. However, finding a part-time job that allows students to work around their busy university schedule is way more challenging than one might imagine. After all, focusing on assignments, courses, and exams is the main priority, so working a job that compromises academia is a big no-no. And, anyways the long hours required to attend the classes leave students almost no room to have time for a job, especially when said work does not pay well. Thankfully, there is a much better alternative now- Freelancing. 

Why is freelancing the way to go for students?

The booming digital space and new media have made knowledge and skillset more global and accessible than ever, taking the avenue and scope of freelancing to a whole new level. Freelancing offers a lot more freedom and flexibility than a regular job would and has become the best option for university students to work at a decent pay scale without putting their grades at risk.

Moreover, it also provides students with work experience, which they can add to their CV without resorting to doing internships- which makes them work hard for long hours with no pay. Freelancing also enables them to build a good portfolio while also earning money from it. The benefits are endless.

You can choose the type of work you do, who you work for/with, decide how much work you want to take on, and adjust the projects according to your own time. You also get to choose what time of the day you work, how much you want to charge, and if you wish to take on a single client, or take on multiple clients, according to what works for you.

Companies and organizations of all scales are increasingly using the freelancing talent pool, so the opportunities are ever-expanding. The competition for landing a lucrative freelance project is high, there is no sugar coating it, but it is still much less competitive than the normal job market.

Types of Freelancing Services

Freelancing services can be offered, and are used, in all kinds of business operations- from consulting, marketing and advertising, public relations and publicity, online personal shopping assistants, guides/coach to business operations, web and mobile app development, web and graphic designing, writing and editing, research, sales, digital and social media marketing, and much more.

There is a wide array of talent and skills offered in the freelancing market- some are more typical, while others sound downright ridiculous and stupendous. But, the bottom line is you can pretty much sell whatever you are good at and works to your strength, with a little bit of determination and some savvy marketing. Some of the most popular freelance jobs amongst university students are-

  • Tutoring
  • Content writing/copywriting/editing
  • Graphic designing
  • Video Editing
  • Programming and IT
  • Virtual Assistant/ Admin Support
  • Sales/Marketing

Things to keep in mind

  1. Freelancing is not a get rich at the snap of your fingers scheme. It does allow you to use your talent and interests productively and make money from it. But, it is work- tough and hard work at that. So, make sure to be professional and only take on projects that you can actually deliver. Failure to do so will reflect poorly on you and affect your future work prospects.
  2. It will not provide a guaranteed steady income. There will be times when you want to take on a project but cannot find any that fits your interest or acquire the ones available. 
  3. There are two ways of getting paid- project/work-based or hourly. Your profile, existing portfolio and pitch will be the strong determinants in the extent of your command over your rates and the thing that will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
  4. If you are using a freelance service provider, instead of taking on clients personally, then keep in mind that the company takes a commission cut from your payment. The amount varies according to the company. So, check the terms and conditions beforehand and make the bid or quote your price accordingly.
  5. For personal clients- Avoid clients who are unwilling to provide some sort of payment guarantee. If you can talk them into giving some of the payment as an advance, then it is the best thing for you.
  6. While using freelance websites, avoid clients who suggest sending the payment through an outside portal or channel, as they tend to be flight risks, who will dash off without paying for your hard work. And, you wouldn’t even be able to get them banned from the site. 
  7. Do not have expectations of earning a lot at the beginning. Even if you are willing and are interested in working, it takes time to make yourself noticed and start getting more projects.
  8. If you do end up earning a lot of money- remember that you will have to pay taxes for it as well.
  9. You are essentially an entrepreneur; in the sense that you will dictate your working terms, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
  10. You will end up meeting a rude, insensitive client at some point. Do not give in to petty urges; the best way to deal with them is by being professional and brisk if required.
  11. Ensure that you have all the tools, equipment and software required to provide the best work possible.

Top Websites for Freelancing

  • Freelance.com- Arguably, the most popular website, with tons of listings, is simple and easy to use. You list 20 skills while signing up, and the website shows you potential matches. You make a bid on the listing and get working. (It charges a 10% fee on the hourly rate and a 10% fee, or £3.50 on the fixed-price projects)
  • Upwork- It is one of the original freelance portals and one of the most popular as well. Upwork has a never-ending feed of job postings in all categories, from small businesses to huge multinational corporations. The website is super user-friendly, and you have a lot of projects to choose from, but the number of freelancers competing is also equally large. (The service fees are 20% if lifetime earnings are below $500, 10% if more than $10,000)
  • Fiverr- This is a great website for those who have a more niche skill to offer. Fiverr has some of the most quirky, creative and unusual freelancers available to do some oddball jobs. The website allows freelancers to offer varying packages based on the levels of service or speed. (The site charges a 20% commission fee)
  • People Per Hour- They offer a more streamlined process of connecting clients and freelancers. The job listings quote the maximum amount that clients are willing to spend on the project. The website is easy to understand and use. (The fee varies anywhere from 3.5% to 20%, depending on how much you earn)
  • Toptal- It is an exclusive freelancing website with a rigorous screening process that selects only the ‘top 3% of freelancers’ as they put it. Getting in is tough, but if you do, then you have the chance to work for top-tier, big-name companies. And, you get paid well- really well.

Now, get started on your profile and portfolio to begin your journey as a freelancer! And, if you need some help figuring out other student life/university-related things, like booking the perfect accommodation, or finding a guarantor, arranging airport transfers, then head over to University Living. It is a global student housing marketplace offering a range of student housing across various cities and countries, along with a variety of other services that aid international students in attaining a seamless transition to university life.

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