Being a student means late nights, hitting your head against the nearest textbook on occasion and a general lack of money. Not exactly ideals to aspire to. Which means that money-making schemes, no matter how bizarre, will inevitably fly through your brain. Some weird, some achievable and some that might work when pigs can fly.
Outside of the steadfast waitressing and shop work, one way you can get yourself some extra cash as a student is to offer your services via freelance work. It can be a great pay and something you can do in your pyjamas if that appeals to you.
So, how should you start your freelancing efforts and how do you make sure that you get the most money for your time?
You are your brand when it comes to freelancing. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t change your branding to suit your needs, or make what you are offering just that more appealing to people.
The fact is that, as a freelancer, it takes much more than a good project or two to win a client over full time. Good work is a dime a dozen, what they come back for is you and therefore your brand is an important part of driving this repeat business.
The way you talk, the way you present yourself and even the tone of your emails can make a difference – so always put your best foot forward!
Where to Find Work
For many, becoming a freelancer seems impossible due to the simple fact that they have no idea where to find work in the first place. This is a difficulty any newbie freelancer faces, not simply the student kind. The fact is that finding a client is a hunting experience as a freelancer.
Job boards are a good place to start, but these tend to be quite low hanging fruit and rarely end up as well-playing clients. Plus, if you use sites like ‘Fiverr’ and ‘Upwork’ they tend to take a cut of your pay. Leaving you with only a percentage of the money you deserve for all of your hard work.
Charging People & Pricing
Okay, so you’ve found work. Great, money is incoming! But how much, exactly? Freelancing doesn’t come with an exact handbook, so it’s not always obvious what you should be charging for your services or, eventually, when you should be increasing your prices. This can pose a conundrum for the average freelancer.
Typically, you want to start at a reasonable rate for a newbie freelancer and work your way up. You won’t be earning £100+ for your first few articles – or in some cases ever depending on how much time you put into freelancing – so, it’s realistic to put a price plan in place that makes sense. Anything between £10-£20 an hour is good and more than you would get in any standard student job, so don’t be worried about low rates!
Often, you will be able to get quite a lot more work by undercutting your more pricey competitors as well. So worth it if you are willing to work for a little less!
Invoice Chasing & Getting Paid
Once you have found a client, set a price and actually done the work, the next step is getting paid. Which, as many a freelancer will attest, may actually be the hardest part of freelancing, believe it or not. Not all clients are as forthcoming with their payment as they are with demands for the work. It’s difficult, but almost a rite of passage when it comes to the freelance world.
You may be worried about angering clients, but if they’re bad at paying then they are not very good clients anyway. Don’t be afraid to push, or refuse to do any more work until you have actually seen payment for the last. If this continues to be a problem, then an upfront deposit may be wise so that projects don’t end up as complete losses (not ideal, but sometimes necessary). Another alternative could be invoice financing. It could be an option if you’ve accumulated unpaid invoices but need funds ASAP for an urgent purchase, for example. There are many companies offering invoice finance and you compare invoice finance offers online.
Content Timetables & Time Management
Between lectures, essays and freelancing you may wonder where you will get the time to breathe. Luckily, this is where you can learn a very valuable lesson in life: time management. It’s something many people struggle with, young and old, so it can be great to learn it sooner rather than later.
Creating your own calendar is essential in order for this to work, especially if you want to ensure your time management is on point. Always set yourself deadlines well ahead of time, as this can ensure you get your work done and can easily make it work around your other university deadlines as well, as you don’t want to forget about those.
Get yourself a few business cards, set up a website if you start to do well and make sure you invest in professional indemnity insurance just in case. And, most importantly, don’t forget to study! You are freelancing in order to fund your studies, so don’t lose sight of that fact.