Freelancing As A Student: Tips From Someone Who Did It!

Freelancing can be a great way for students to supplement their income while still having time to focus on their studies. With the right strategy and approach, freelancing as a student can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

In this article, I’ll share my own experiences as a student freelancer along with some tips for getting started in your own freelance journey.

How I Started Freelancing As A Student

When I was studying chemistry at university, I found myself looking for ways to supplement my income while still having enough time to focus on my studies. At the time I worked in a local shop part-time, so I was making some money on the side anyway.

But I wanted to take it into my own hands. Initially, I started by doing small jobs on Fiverr, and slowly my workload became more consistent. Eventually, I was able to quit my part-time job and focus solely on freelancing (and my studies of course!).

Despite the challenges that came with freelancing as a student, I found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. As I gained more experience and confidence, I was able to move on to writing for clients off of the Fiverr platform. This allowed me to work on higher-paying projects and build up a solid portfolio of work.

Even through the difficult times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to continue freelancing and earning a steady income. In fact, my dedication to freelancing paid off, and I graduated with a first-class honours degree in chemistry (I’m from the UK). Today, I am still a freelancer, enjoying the freedom and flexibility that the lifestyle provides!

How You Can Start Freelancing As A Student

First, you need to make sure that freelancing is something you really want to do. It can be difficult and time-consuming, so make sure it is something that you are willing to commit yourself to. Ask yourself the following questions before you start:

  • Do I have the time and dedication to commit to freelance work?
  • Am I willing to put in extra hours when necessary?
  • What skills do I have that could be beneficial for freelancing?
  • How can I best market my services as a student freelancer?
  • What type of projects or clients am I most interested in working with?

Choose Your Niche Carefully

Decide what type of work you would like to specialize in and how much time and effort you can dedicate to it. This will help ensure that the projects you do take on are ones that align with your interests and skillset.

When choosing a niche as a student freelancer, it’s important to consider your interests, skills, and availability. By selecting a niche that aligns with your strengths and passion, you will be more likely to enjoy your work and produce high-quality results. Below are some tips for finding your niche.

Consider Your Academic Background

As a student, you may have expertise in a particular academic field, such as science, technology, or writing. You can leverage this knowledge and experience to offer services related to your expertise. For instance, if you’re a computer science student, you could offer web development or programming services.

It doesn’t have to be related to your degree – I started by providing writing and editing services and I did a chemistry degree!

Identify Areas Of Interest

Also think about what you enjoy doing in your free time. Are you a skilled photographer? Do you enjoy graphic design or social media marketing? By identifying your hobbies and interests, you can find freelance work that aligns with your passions.

Research The Market

Look for industries and markets that are currently experiencing a lot of demand. By finding a niche that is in high demand, you can increase your chances of finding regular work.

Consider Your Competition

Before settling on a niche, it’s important to research the competition. Look at other freelancers who offer similar services to assess the level of competition in your niche. If the market is oversaturated, you may want to consider a different niche or find a unique angle to differentiate your offerings.

Evaluate Your Availability

As a student, your schedule may be limited during certain times of the year. Consider your availability when choosing a niche and offering services. For example, if you know that you will have limited availability during exam periods, you may want to focus on projects that have longer deadlines.

Physical Or Digital Freelancing?

When deciding whether to pursue physical or digital freelancing, consider the type of work you are interested in and the amount of time you have available. Physical freelancing requires more face-to-face interaction with clients, which can be beneficial for networking and building relationships but may also require more time commitment, usually something that’s tough to accommodate as a student.

Digital freelancing typically involves working remotely, so it can be a good option if you don’t want to commute or spend too much time away from your studies.

Should You Freelance While At College Or University?

Freelancing while in college or university can be a great way to build experience, gain new skills, and earn money on the side. Freelancing gives you an opportunity to take on projects that align with your interests and passions, allowing you to gain valuable work experience before graduating.

However, it’s important to consider whether freelancing is right for you. As a student, your studies should always come first, and if you find yourself struggling to manage the workload of both school and freelance work then it may be best to focus solely on your academics. Make sure that any potential clients understand that your studies are your priority and that you may not be able to accept projects or deliver results in a timely manner.

People who probably shouldn’t freelance while at college or university include:

  • People who have difficulty managing their time or struggle to prioritize tasks
  • Those who lack the skills and confidence necessary to succeed in a freelance environment
  • Those undertaking intense subjects like medicine or law that don’t leave much time or mental energy for tasks outside of studying

The 10 Best Freelancing Skills For Students

1. Writing

Many freelance projects involve writing, so developing strong written communication skills is essential.

2. Graphic Design

Graphic design is a popular choice for those looking to pursue digital freelancing, as there are plenty of opportunities available. You will need to have a creative streak of course.

3. Social Media Management

Social media professionals can help companies grow their online presence and build relationships with customers.

4. Digital Marketing

With the rise of digital marketing, there are many opportunities for students to become successful freelance digital marketers.

5. Video Editing & Animation

Video editing and animation skills can be used to create compelling content for businesses, helping them stand out from the competition and reach wider audiences. These skills also attract high prices in many industries.

6. Web Development

Technical skills such as development are in high demand, and students with the right skill set can take advantage of these opportunities.

7. Data Analysis & Statistics

Students with a background in data analysis and statistics may find freelancing to be an attractive career choice or side hustle. Freelancing is all about adapting and tweaking your services and marketing efforts, and an analytical mindset makes this much easier.

8. Accounting & Bookkeeping

Companies often need help managing their finances, so those with accounting and bookkeeping experience or knowledge thanks to their studies could find plenty of freelance work in this niche.

9. Project Management

A good project manager is essential for any successful business or organization, which means there is always a need for experienced professionals in this field.

10. Consultancy

Those with expertise in certain subject areas may be able to provide valuable advice to companies that are looking for guidance. Consultancy can also yield high rates, making it a lucrative choice, but it does have a reasonably high barrier to entry.

How To Find Freelance Clients As A Student

Building A Portfolio

Having a portfolio is essential for any freelancer, especially students looking to gain experience in the industry. It provides potential clients with an opportunity to see your work and get an idea of what you are capable of doing. But building a portfolio as a student can be challenging due to limited experience and time constraints, but there are several steps you can take to create one that will help showcase your skills and abilities.

The first step in building a portfolio is deciding which projects you want to include. Think about the types of tasks or assignments that best demonstrate your strengths and capabilities as well as those that align with the type of work you’d like to do in the future.

Once you have selected some projects, begin gathering evidence, such as screenshots, documents or images showcasing your work on each project. This will provide potential clients with tangible proof of what you can do.

Next, consider how best to present this evidence so that it looks professional yet still stands out from other portfolios online. You may want to use visuals such as infographics or videos instead of traditional text-based content if possible. These elements make it easier for potential clients to quickly understand what you’ve done.

Once you have decided on your presentation, create a website or page (you can use a free tool like Contently) to showcase your portfolio, which should include an “About Me” section to give clients more information about you and why they should consider hiring you for their project.

Build Your Network

As a student, building a network is an essential step for career development and success. A strong network can provide access to valuable resources such as internships, job opportunities, and mentorships that may otherwise be difficult to obtain. Building a network also helps you stay informed on the latest industry trends and news while connecting with professionals who have similar interests or goals.

Networking is also key if you want to go down the freelancing route alongside or after your studies. Networking doesn’t have to be daunting, and there are many ways students can start developing their professional networks in order to gain relevant experience and foster relationships with influential people in their chosen field.

One of the best places for students to begin building their networks is online. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn allow users to connect with other professionals in their industry or area of interest without having to leave home.

Joining relevant groups on these sites provides more opportunities for networking by introducing like-minded individuals from around the world who may be able to help each other out professionally down the line.

Use Freelance Marketplaces

Using a freelance marketplace as a student requires careful consideration before selecting one that’s right for you. Each platform offers different features and benefits, so it’s important to compare them in order to find the best fit for your skill set and passions.

Consider which platforms have the most potential clients available in your field or area of interest, whether they charge any fees for using their services (and if so how much), what type of payment methods they accept and how quickly payments are made after completing projects. Also check forums and reviews to see what other freelancers think of each one.

I started out on Fiverr, and while the platform has changed a lot over the years, it’s still a viable way to make it as a freelancer.

How To Manage Your Time As A Freelancing Student

Set Goals

Establishing clear goals upfront will help ensure that you don’t get sidetracked or overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks you may have on the go at one time. Identify your short-term and long-term objectives and then prioritize them accordingly. Also include your study goals in here, as you will need to manage them alongside your freelancing efforts.

Create A Schedule

Once you know what you need to do, create a schedule that works best for you. Estimate how long each task will take and plan accordingly. Having a designated timeframe for tasks helps to ensure that everything gets done on time.

Take Breaks

It’s important to take regular breaks in order to stay focused and productive throughout the day. This can range from taking a quick walk around the block or having lunch with friends.

Use Automation

Automating tedious or repetitive tasks such as invoicing, email follow-ups and scheduling can help save you time and energy by eliminating these small yet important elements of freelancing. There are lots of apps out there that can help with these tasks, but you likely don’t need to worry too much about them in the beginning.

Track Your Progress

Last but not least, track your progress to stay on top of goals and objectives. This will also enable you to adjust your workflow as needed in order to maximize your efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Freelancing as a student can be a great way to bring in some extra cash while you’re studying, but it’s definitely not for everyone. You’ll need to be able to manage your studies alongside your work, but if you have the right skill set, freelancing as a student can be very rewarding!