Freelance writing offers an excellent opportunity for students to supplement their income while prioritizing their studies – I know because I did this! I got my chemistry degree while working for various freelance writing clients at the same time.
With the right approach and strategy, freelance writing can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In this article, I will share my personal journey as a student freelance writer and provide some tips for those aspiring to embark on their own freelance writing adventure while at school, college or university.
How I Started Freelance Writing As A Student
As a student studying chemistry at university, I sought ways to boost my income without compromising my academic focus. I always knew I wanted to do something else on the side, and I’d always enjoyed writing too. I had a part-time job at a local shop at the time, but I knew freelancing would provide more freedom.
Starting with small gigs on Fiverr, I gradually built a consistent workload and got some clients outside the platform too. Eventually, I bid farewell to my part-time job and devoted my time to freelance writing while maintaining my studies.
With growing confidence and experience, I transitioned to writing for more clients outside the Fiverr platform. This shift enabled me to work on higher-paying projects and develop a robust writing portfolio.
Even during the tumultuous times of the COVID-19 pandemic, freelancing remained a stable source of income for. As a result, I graduated with a first-class honors degree in chemistry (from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland). Today, I continue to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the freelance lifestyle!
So, how can you do the same?
How You Can Start Freelance Writing As A Student
Before diving into freelance writing, you need to decide if it’s actually right for you. This is especially true when you’re studying, as that should remain a priority. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have the time and dedication to commit to freelance writing alongside my studies?
- Am I willing to put in extra hours when necessary?
- What writing skills do I possess that could benefit clients?
- How can I effectively market my services?
- What type of writing projects or clients do I find most appealing?
- Am I willing to make sacrifices for this?
These questions should hopefully point you either in the direction of freelance writing as a potential career, or perhaps they’ll show you that it’s not the right time just yet. If you think you are capable of freelance writing as a student, there are a few more steps to take before you get started.
Choosing Your Writing Niche
Selecting a writing niche and determining the amount of time and effort you can invest in it is crucial. This ensures that the projects you undertake align with your interests and skill set. Consider the following tips when identifying your writing niche.
Evaluate Your Academic Background
Consider whether you can leverage your academic expertise and knowledge to offer writing services related to your field of study. For example, if you are studying computer science, you could specialize in technology or software-related content.
I did start off with some chemistry-related jobs, but I eventually moved away from that and took on a wide variety of writing jobs. I say this to illustrate that you are not bound to only writing about your degree’s subject!
Explore Your Areas Of Interest
Identify your other hobbies and interests, such as photography, graphic design, or social media marketing. Capitalize on these passions to find freelance writing work that aligns with your skills and preferences.
Research The Market
Investigate industries and markets experiencing high demand for writers. Focusing on niches in high demand enhances your chances of securing regular work. However, don’t just try to write about the next trending thing if it doesn’t align with your passions or values. There is a balance to strike here if you want it to be a sustainable career option.
Assess Your Competition
Study other freelance writers offering similar services to understand the level of competition in your chosen niche. If the market appears oversaturated, consider finding a unique angle or explore alternative niches.
Evaluate Your Availability
Recognize the limitations of your schedule as a student. Factor in exam periods and other academic commitments when selecting writing projects with appropriate deadlines. Remember, you need to prioritize your studies, and freelance writing might just not fit into your routine right now.
Should You Be A Freelance Writer While You’re A Student?
Freelance writing while you’re a student can offer valuable experience, skill development, and income opportunities. It allows you to gain hands-on experience aligned with your interests and passions before entering the professional world.
But it’s not for everyone.
Students who may find it challenging to manage freelance writing while at college or university include:
- Those struggling with time management or task prioritization
- Individuals lacking the necessary skills and confidence to thrive in a freelance environment
- Students in demanding fields like medicine or law, where time and mental energy are predominantly focused on studying
Those who should consider freelance writing while a student include:
- Those with a passion for writing
- Students that have a lot of free time
- Anyone that wants to try out a great way to bring in some extra money alongside their studies
Skills You Need To Find Success As A Freelance Writing Student
1. Excellent Writing Skills
Strong written communication skills are essential for success in freelance writing, regardless of whether you’re a student or doing this full-time.
2. Content Creation
Developing engaging and high-quality content across various formats and topics is going to be key if you want to find success as a freelance writer.
Crafting persuasive and compelling copy to drive conversions and sales will be useful for many types of freelance writing jobs, but not all will require this.
4. Basic SEO
Understanding basic SEO (search engine optimization) principles will help if you’re writing content for people’s websites.
Writing informative and engaging blog posts to attract and engage readers is one of the most common types of freelance writing jobs. Consider starting your own blog to gain experience here.
6. Social Media Writing
Creating captivating social media posts that effectively communicate brand messages will be a must for anyone looking for brand/marketing focused writing jobs.
7. Editing & Proofreading
You’ll need to be able to proofread and edit your own writing, ensuring it’s free from spelling and grammar mistakes.
8. Research Skills
Conducting thorough research to gather relevant information is likely a skill you have as a student, and it’s a vital one for freelance writing too.
Being able to gather and report news in a concise and unbiased manner will be a must for any media-centric freelance writing positions.
10. Technical Writing
Translating complex technical information into user-friendly content can be a great choice for freelance writing students doing technical degrees, as you likely already have this ability.
How To Find Freelance Writing Clients As A Student
Build A Writing Portfolio
A portfolio is indispensable for showcasing your writing skills and capabilities to potential clients. When building your portfolio, you first need to gather projects that demonstrate your strengths and capabilities while aligning with your desired writing niche.
Collect screenshots, documents, or images that showcase your work on each project. Present this evidence in a visually appealing and professional manner, using infographics or videos if appropriate.
As for where to put it all, you can build your own website or utilize free tools like Contently to showcase your portfolio. Make sure to include an “About Me” section to provide clients with more information about you and your skills.
We have another guide on the site packed with tips on building your writing portfolio as a beginner.
Build Your Network
Building a network as a student is crucial for career development in general, and the same is true for those looking to write as a freelancer on the side. Online platforms like LinkedIn offer opportunities to connect with professionals in your industry or area of interest. Join relevant groups to expand your network and establish relationships with like-minded individuals.
Use Freelance Writing Marketplaces
Consider using freelance platforms to get your first clients, as while they’re not for everyone, they can be good places to start (I chose Fiverr). Selecting the right freelance writing marketplace requires careful consideration. Compare platforms based on potential clients in your field, fees, payment methods, and payment speed.
How To Manage Your Time When Freelance Writing As A Student
Define short-term and long-term objectives to stay focused and motivated throughout your freelance writing journey. Prioritize your goals alongside your academic targets.
Create A Schedule
Allocate time slots for writing tasks, estimating their duration. A well-structured schedule ensures timely completion of projects. Adapt the schedule as you take on new projects and gain a better understanding of how long things actually take.
Regular breaks are essential for maintaining focus and productivity. Incorporate short walks or socializing with friends into your routine to keep your morale up and avoid burnout.
Consider using automation tools to streamline tasks such as invoicing, email follow-ups, and scheduling to save some time and energy.
Track Your Progress
Finally, monitor your progress to stay on top of your goals and adjust your workflow as needed. Freelancing is a flexible career choice, and it’s one that requires you to continuously adapt.
Are You Ready To Start Freelance Writing As A Student?
Freelance writing presents a great opportunity for students to earn income while pursuing their studies. However, success in this industry requires dedication, time management, and excellent writing skills.
By carefully selecting a writing niche, building a portfolio, networking, and managing your time effectively, you can thrive as a student freelance writer!
It should also be clear by now that you don’t need a degree to become a freelance writer. This means you can become one whether you’re doing an English degree, a scientific degree (like me), or none at all!
Not a writer? Check out our other more general guide on freelancing as a student.
Chris is the creator of Freelance Ready. He originally started freelancing (on Fiverr) while at university, writing and editing website content. He created this website to share his freelancing experience and help others on their own self-employed journeys. He is now a freelance SEO consultant and content editor. You can learn more about Chris here.
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