Students That Freelance

Things to consider before you start freelancing as a student

Learning, Resources
by: Amber Leigh Turner
With the economy like it is and the fact that jobs are becoming harder and harder to find, more students are wanting to turn away from the future rat race of finding a job and become self employed as a freelancer. That is great and all, but are you cut out for it?

Many students are shocked at what all is involved when they start freelancing, and often quitting before they get going good. So what are some things you can think about and consider before you start freelancing as a student?


This is probably the #1 thing I tell any student before they start freelancing. Do you even have the time to put forth into gaining clients, maintaing projects, billing clients, and all of that admin work like taxes and invoicing? Most students are taking a full load, with some other major obligation (a part time job, campus job, athletics, clubs, etc), so finding time is tough. It is so much easier to hang out with friends instead of looking for a new client.

Do you have the time to dedicate to your freelancing? If I had to put a rough number of hours you would have to spend a week to make freelancing viable enough to replace a part time job, you would have to work/put in roughly 20 hours a week minimum. Sure it is possible to freelance and only work 5 hours or 10 hours a week, but when you run out of projects, then you start scrambling to find that next project, which eats alot of time if you haven’t been doing it all along.


Resources ranges from current income, proper equipment, and other things like a portfolio and necessary business skills. Don’t have your own computer and you are a web designer? You could see where that would be problematic. You can’t start freelancing and rely on a school’s computer to be able to do the work. 

Income is a major situation that varies from student to student, as we all have different situations. Are you living on your own or with your parents? If you are living on your own, then you will need to keep whatever job or source of income you currently have, or you will end up eating crackers. If you live with your parents, and depending on the situation at home, you may be able to float for a few months to a semester with very little income. Whatever the situation, you want to evaluate your income and what you can and cannot get by with for at least the first six months after you start freelancing.


Closely related to resources, do you have the knowhow to do what you want to do? Chances are if you are a freshman in college and haven’t taken any classes yet related to the field of freelancing you would like to do, and haven’t had any job experience, then your freelancing endeavor will be a dud.

Take some time and make an inventory of the skills you currently have, and the skills you need to complete client projects. One way to do this is to pay attention to things you are doing in your classes. Are you struggling with software to complete projects? Do you find it hard to finish projects to the best of your ability? If so then you may want to take some time to sharpen those skills. Once you can fly through school projects and get them done earlier than most students, then that is one indicator that you have the skills necessary to complete client projects.


Last, but certainly not least. Motivation keeps you going. You have to be motivated on the start, and stay motivated. There are alot of reasons in freelancing to cause you to get discouraged or make you unmotivated. Heck, there are reasons outside of freelancing that could make you unmotivated, but it is important that you keep that motivation that you had to start throughout your entire freelancing endeavor if you would like for it to last.

Final note

These are just the high points of consideration you should think about before starting to freelance. There are thousands of considerations, but these are the main ones for student freelancers. Most freelancing blogs and books also cover some things to consider, but are usually catered to those that have full time jobs, a family, and other obligations. Take some mental notes about your current situation and the demands of freelancing before you start.

Hopefully this was more of a motivation post than a discouraging one, but research and enlightenment are beautiful things. Freelancing is one of those things that require time and energy to fully enjoy, and I hope every student gets the opportunity to freelance, with the right expectations in mind.

What are some other factors one should consider before starting to freelance as a student