Making your own schedule and working from home are just a few reasons why more than one-third of the U.S. workforce currently freelances — and why half of American workers expected to do so by 2020. Freelancing can be an especially good option for college seniors looking to gain some extra experience, and extra cash, before graduating.
Why You Should Freelance
The idea of freelancing can be intimidating for anyone, but as a college senior, you may think freelancing is beyond your grasp. Here are five reasons why you should consider freelancing while you’re still in school.
- Flexibility. Life as a student can be hectic and unpredictable, which can make holding down a traditional job next to impossible. But freelancing allows you to set your own hours and work when it’s most convenient — whether that’s late at night, in between classes, or on the weekend.
- Extra Income. How much you earn as a freelancer depends on several factors, including the type of work you perform and your experience, but the average freelancer brings in about $21 per hour. That won’t make you wealthy, but it sure beats what most on-campus jobs or internships will pay.
- Convenience. Freelancers typically need only two things: a computer and a secure Internet connection. As a college student you probably have these tools already, so your start-up costs will be next to nothing. If you’re not sure you’re getting the Internet speed you’ll need as a freelancer, check it with a speed test.
- A Better Resume. Freelancing demands time-management skills and the ability to work independently, both of which are qualities hiring professionals look for in job applicants. This means that, regardless of what line of work you ultimately pursue after graduating, freelancing now will enhance your resume and make you more appealing to employers.
- A Foot in the Door. Freelancing is an excellent way to gain experience and meet professionals in your career field, which may help open doors for you after graduation. Use your time freelancing as a networking tool for future opportunities.
Qualities of a Successful Freelancer
Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but many people can be successful at it. You might flourish as a freelancer if you have the following five skills.
- Time Management. Planning your time wisely is an essential skill for any freelancer. You need to know how many hours you can work each day, and how much work you can get done within those hours.
- Self-discipline. You don’t have a boss telling you when to get to work. While it may be tempting to sleep in just because you can, a self-disciplined freelancer knows when it is time for leisure and when it is time for work.
- Persistence. Being a freelancer can be hard on your ego: your inbox will have more rejection letters than you’ll care to admit. Freelancers must be persistent about landing clients and reaching their goals despite these setbacks.
- Initiative. You are your own boss now, which means no one is checking up on you or explaining your tasks to you. A good freelancer must take the initiative to ask questions and understand what the client wants, as well as suggest ways to improve projects and outcomes to demonstrate your value.
- Professionalism. As a freelancer, you need to prove your worth to every client — every time. Let your clients know what you can do and when you can do it. Then do it.
How to Find Freelance Work
Now that you know you and freelancing are a match made in heaven, how do you get started? Many fields lend themselves to freelance work, so finding a job that complements your skills and interests shouldn’t be difficult.
If you’re not sure what type of freelance job you want, search through postings on Upwork, Freelancer.com, and College Recruiter. These three sites feature a variety of freelance gigs. If you have a specific skill or industry in mind, look for sites dedicated to those opportunities, like FreelanceWritingGigs for writing and blogging or 99Designs for graphic design.
The Web is a great place to find freelance work, but it’s not the only way to go about it. Check your college’s career services office for leads, and let your professors and classmates know you’re looking for freelance work.
If you want to become a freelancer, don’t let your lack of experience hold you back from pursuing your goal. Set a reasonable rate, apply to the jobs you’re best suited for, and tout your skills. After all, you’ve gained valuable experience as a college student. If you have a little trouble landing your first gig, don’t get discouraged. Once you have a few freelance jobs under your belt, finding work will get easier. Who knows, you may develop freelancing into a full-time business after you earn your diploma.
About the author: Sarah Pike has her MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication. She has experience in teaching, PR, marketing, and politics. When she’s not teaching or writing, she’s probably binge-watching RomComs, volunteering, or planning her next vacation. You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.