Freelancing in College: Side-Hustling or Building a Career

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Many college students make their own money. Sometimes, they have no other choice, while sometimes, it is a considered decision that allows one to grow up and learn how to deal with finance. And while you might be thinking about ways to make these extra dollars while in college, you should also consider freelancing as one of the options. Being a student and a freelancer is not that easy, but it is surely a great way to learn something new and grow personally. Here are a few things that will help you if you decide to choose the path of a freelancer.

Gig Economy

If you have never heard of the gig economy, you might not fully understand the importance and the role of freelancing. The gig economy is a job market where flexible and short-term jobs or contracts prevail among both parties – the workers and the employers.

The key features of the gig economy that also make it so popular and widespread:

  • Flexibility. The opportunity to choose when and how to work is one of the main benefits that make freelancing so appealing. It allows you to find the perfect work-life balance and spend as much time working as you need or can.
  • Diverse range of jobs. The gig economy is about many different spheres and jobs, which means that it is not limited to specific careers only. That’s why chances are you can find a gig, no matter what your skills or interests are.
  • Short-term and task-based work. Gig workers often engage in short-term contracts with quick and limited tasks. This means that you have the freedom to choose what your next project will be as well as whether to work with this particular client or not if you don’t want to. Not committing to long-term employment might be a perfect option for many.

As time goes by, the more and more people turn to freelancing as the way to balance their workload and be able to spend more time studying, traveling, or being with family. The pandemic also added to the gig economy by creating a lot more opportunities for working from home. This is why we think that freelancing is surely a great option for college students as they often have tight schedules and a lot of things, they’d rather spend time doing.

Identifying Your Niche and Skills

If you are considering freelancing as the way to start earning extra money during your college years, firstly you need to know what you have to offer. Some freelance jobs require specific talents or skills, so let’s dive into the topic and see what you can do.

Think of your interests first. Having an interest in a particular niche is valuable due to the motivation that it provides you with. Motivation is sometimes the key, especially when you have just started your freelance career. Then be sure to check the market and see what the niche of interest is all about and which jobs it might provide. Look through the freelancer profiles on the corresponding or related platforms, for example, Fiverr or Upwork. Pay attention to the skills that you should have in order to work in the niche. You might be already ready or spend some time growing your theoretical knowledge before you can start working.

Using College Resources

Colleges often provide resources and opportunities for freelancers. It can be workshops or career services, various networking events, clubs, supporting programs, etc. Be sure to check what your learning institution has to offer.

For example, there might be a quick course or workshop on how to start your journey as a copywriter. Check the announced events and attend office hours to learn more.

Time Management and Prioritizing

In order to become a successful freelancer, you need a few very important soft skills. While there are surely skills and experience needed to work in the field of your interest, these are the ones that are needed no matter what niche you choose:

  • Time management. Being able to plan and organize your day is crucial for a freelancer. Working from home, tracking your contacts, managing your daily schedule, and balancing your study and social life – these things would be the most effective ways to relieve your work stress and create a comfortable work routine.
  • Prioritizing. You should learn how to prioritize what is essential at the moment and fight the temptation to go to a party when there is work waiting. Fighting procrastination is impossible without prioritizing. Be sure to learn how to stay focused on the most important and urgent tasks first.
  • Self-discipline. It might be hard for a freelancer to force themselves to work or study or look for new clients when there are so many interesting things to do. For example, to watch a new episode or go for a walk. Self-discipline is crucial for those who want to succeed in freelancing and improve productivity. It is all about creating an effective daily plan and sticking to it.
  • Adaptability. An important quality that any freelancer should work on improving is their adaptability. Things change quickly on the market, clients change their minds, contracts vary in terms, and the conditions of work might change. You should be able to work and progress in these circumstances.

Work on your soft and hard skills, and be open to new experiences and learning opportunities.

Setting Realistic Rates

When you are only starting, it’s better to keep your rates on the lower side. Take the chance to learn how the platform works and what the typical orders that you might get are. Some of the most valuable lessons can be learned at this starting period when you are not making that much but get something quite precious.

Be also sure to check other freelancers’ rates. Consider their work experience and the number of completed contracts. You, as a newbie, will not look as beneficial and experienced compared to them, but it will soon change for the better.

Building a Portfolio

As you take orders, don’t be scared to work with diverse projects. Learn from them and grow your portfolio. This is your main tool to get new clients and which displays your skills and talents.

You might also want to build your online presence as some of your clients might be looking you up on social media. You can also promote your service on your social media page and get new clients. Don’t forget to share your best works with your followers.


Being a freelancer is a great opportunity to build a strong resume and portfolio and get some valuable experience. You might choose this as your temporary job or start a real career – no matter what, it is a chance to make some extra money while studying. Be sure to try it out and implement our tips to make the most out of this experience.