For many students, it’s difficult to balance work and a full schedule of classes at the same time. Commitments quickly add up, and it can be overwhelming to say the least. At the same time, for writing students, writing as a job is the dream. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to find work without prior writing experience.
Luckily, there is a way to gain writing experience and make some extra money as a student at the same time: Freelance writing. Freelance writing involves writing blog posts, bios, social media posts, or whatever else a business or clients needs written. Over the summer, for example, I wrote for a pet blog. These jobs are typically short-term, and you remain self-employed. As long as you meet the deadline, you set your hours, and you can work in whatever space you’d like.
Freelance writing is great for students because it allows you to work around your class schedule and work from wherever is most convenient. If you are looking into writing as a career, it is also a great place to find experience, references, and pieces for your portfolio.
In order to find a job, you need to first identify your strengths. When searching through sites like Upwork and Indeed, you need to know what exactly you’re searching for. A lot of freelance jobs are very niche, and you should be aware of what you’re interested in as well as what you’re already knowledgeable about. Identifying your strengths will help you sift through opportunities and apply for jobs you’re most likely to get.
It’s important to note that, generally, you won’t be making much money from this at first. Indefinitely didn’t, but it was enough to make some extra money, and now I have experience. Many well-paying freelance jobs require experience, and in order to gain that needed experience, you’ll have to take beginner-level jobs first. While these don’t pay much, they do pay. The more you do, the more experience you gain and the more you can build your portfolio. As you become more experienced, you can raise your rates.
The length, topic, and time for each piece often varies job to job. This allows you to apply for tasks that specifically fit your schedule and that interest you. You should get used to pitching as well-- for every job, you will most likely have to write a letter explaining what you want to do for the piece, your past experience, and why you’re the best writer for this job. These letters should be brief, but be sure to show your interest in the topic and in the business/brand as well.
So, where do you start? First, you’ll want to have a resume or cover letter prepared. Going in blindly and trying to apply for as many opportunities as you can might eventually work, but it’s always better to be prepared. Even if you don’t have a formal resume, be sure to have a list of any previous work you’ve done in one place so you can reference it when applying. When you’re ready to start searching for a job, remember your strengths and what you’re interested in. At the same time, keep an open mind. Even if you aren’t the most passionate about what you’re writing at first, it’s still gained experience. I’m not particularly passionate about dog breeds, but with research I was able to produce quality work. You will want to keep the business or client that you work for as a reference as you move forward, and in order for them to be willing, you need to produce content that follows their guidelines, is of great quality, and is memorable.
Once you have all of this in mind, there are a few different places to start searching. As stated previously, freelancing jobs are everywhere. Everyone is in need of a good writer, you just need to find them. Indeed.com offers a variety of opportunities, and you’re able to add filters in order to find exactly what you’re looking for. Upwork is a great site that is used specifically for freelancing, and it is the website that I use. Sites like Upwork do unfortunately take a portion of your profit, but the rest of their service is free. You are able to search for specific jobs,salaries, topics, and experience levels which makes it very easy to find what works best for you. You are also paid directly through the site, and the website shows you if the client has actually paid freelancers in the past. On Upwork, and many other freelance sites, you are able to apply for any opportunity you’d like. This is where that resume, cover letter, and portfolio come in handy. Some will want to do an interview with you before you start writing, others will just send you the guidelines and a due date.
Freelance writing can become a career. This takes a lot of time, practice, and clients, but it is possible. This job is very entrepreneurial. You have to be able to market yourself and your writing in order to receive jobs and contracts for your work. It is also important to constantly challenge yourself to grow as a writer, this will keep clients returning to you. Another important aspect of freelance writing, especially if you’re looking to turn it into a career, is customer service. Having memorable and professional interactions with your clients will leave a good impression--helping you gain future jobs both with them, and from recommendations from them.
Freelancing, like any writing, takes a significant amount of work and practice. However, its benefits, especially for students, make the work worth it. As long as you are willing to persevere through the beginning stages and continue to put effort into your writing, you may find yourself being successful in freelance--whatever that looks like to you. Whether you are just looking for some extra money, or a full-time career, it all begins with taking the first step.