Navigating the Gig Economy – A Student’s Guide to Freelancing

Navigating the freelance economy

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Table of Contents

When you think about college, you generally think about the knowledge that you’re going to get and your career perspectives.

You also think about all the fun times you’ll have throughout the college years. After all, what is college if not the first step in your adult life? You’re becoming independent and responsible, which will be useful in your future career.

There’s also a chance that you will encounter certain struggles during your college years. You may find it hard to fit in with your peers. Particular subjects may turn out to be much more difficult than you expected. And you also may doubt whether the direction you chose is the right one. Many students face one or more of the following issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Homesickness
  • Problems with time management
  • Financial struggles

While you can learn how to deal with the first three points by visiting the counseling center at your campus, the last two points come as a double feature. If you don’t have a scholarship and are not living in the dorm, you need money to pay your tuition and rent. Hence, you need to look for an odd job that will allow you to solve the financial issues.

But any job means that you have less time for your homework. And we all know that students are overloaded with writing assignments. Gladly, you can always find an essay writer for hire to take care of your homework. So, you know how to handle the double feature. The final question that remains is what kind of job you should take. Any job that allows you to earn more or less substantial amounts and not mess up your studying, or you’d like something special?

A job that will allow you to utilize your talents and develop your skills? Maybe a job that is directly linked to your field of study? If that’s so, you should truly consider freelance opportunities. This way, you will have more time for studying and have a chance to show off and improve your talents. Besides, the gig economy is pretty much taking over.

What Is the Gig Economy?

More than a decade ago, freelancing was considered an unconventional choice. But nowadays, it is more of a mainstream phenomenon. Definitely, the technological advancement of the past several decades played a crucial part. Now, it’s much easier to work on any project that you want, given that you have the necessary skills, and from wherever you want, given that you have a solid internet connection.

Freelancers went from being a kind of undesirable employees to hot property on the labor market. And thus, the gig economy was born. The gig economy is a labor market based mainly on freelance work, rather than permanent jobs. Why stick to one company for five to fifteen years, when you can build your career collaborating with several companies annually? That’s what the gig economy is career-wise. But, hey, weren’t we talking about the financial struggles of college students?

Yes, if you see your future as building a career with long-term jobs, that’s just fine. But, the gig economy comes in handy, when you need to sustain yourself financially throughout your college years. Finish one project, take a break, then move to another one. No working several hours a day, just stick to the deadlines and that’s it. If that sounds appetizing to you, let’s check out the main steps to successfully freelancing as a student.

Determine Your Niche

The very first step in starting in the gig economy is determining your niche. Think about what you are good at. Maybe web design is your field of study, but you already started working on some pet projects while still in high school. Why not try getting gigs with that? Or you are pursuing a degree in software development. A lot of companies are willing to hire developers without a degree.

Are you studying English literature or creative writing? You’ve always been so good at writing high school essays that your fellow students asked you to write for them. Then academic writing is not only a perfect niche for you, but most likely, the best paper writing service is already willing to give you a try. And you can work for two or more services.

Don’t have a clear idea of what you can do? Simply think about your skills and talents and research the market for freelance jobs where they can come in handy. This way, you will find the niche that will help you determine what projects you will apply for and in which fields the potential employers will seek you out.

Build a Network

Networking is one of the crucial aspects of freelancing. Use freelancing platforms like UpWork or Fiverr to promote yourself and contact other freelancers. Building communication with other freelancers will surely lead to more work opportunities. Your fellow freelancers can easily recommend you to their former clients.

If the client stays satisfied with your work, stay in touch with them, as they may recommend you to their peers. The larger your network gets, the more job opportunities you receive. And don’t stick to one freelance platform. Don’t stick solely to freelance platforms, either. Utilize different social media channels to promote yourself, as online presence is a key to a successful career in freelance.

Create a Portfolio

If you consider freelancing your prospective career, you can consider creating a website. But if freelancing for you is a temporary solution to have more or less steady income while you’re pursuing a degree, just a portfolio will do. So, what to include there? That depends on your niche. At the start, you can display some of your pet projects, writing samples, etc. The most important aspect is that your portfolio truly displays your talents and skills.

As your freelancing work gains traction, you can add your past projects to your portfolio. Mind that finished projects make you more attractive to potential customers. As for the initial samples, you can either remove them from your portfolio with time or keep them, as an element of pride. After all, it displays how you have progressed professionally.

Determine Your Rates

When you’re just starting, there’s always the risk of underestimation. Considering that you lack experience, you may opt for doing the job for a lower wage. You may think that it will make you more attractive to prospective customers, which is true. However, that’s not the smartest move. Firstly, opting for a lower wage won’t significantly improve your financial standing. Secondly, are you sure that you can easily determine when you should raise the price?

No, we’re not suggesting that you should opt for the highest price possible for your work. You will make finding prospective customers much harder this way. Actually, you will simply scare them away. What we offer is to do some research on market rates for inexperienced freelancers in your niche. This way, you will be able to come up with a realistic rate that will make you attractive to potential clients, and won’t leave you with the feeling that you were working in vain.

Don’t Rely On One Source of Income

Yes, when you’re just starting, it is better to stick to one client or one project at a time. After all, you need to figure out how well you can handle the required tasks. But once you get your hand in your niche, you should start diversifying your sources of income. In other words, opt for working for several clients or on multiple projects simultaneously. That may sound scary right now, but this way you’re going to secure your income.

There are certain drawbacks of freelancing. You never know when the next gig will come up. Thus, you can’t expect to get a paycheck by the end of every week, every two weeks, or every month. So, you need to be inventive to have a stable income as a freelancer. Thus, when you get more experienced in your field, you should start working on several projects concurrently. The objective is that you provide quality work and manage to finish everything on time.

Closing Thoughts

Some claim that the gig economy is the future of the labor market. Others stick to the idea that it’s going to exist parallel to the standard long-term contracts based career. Regardless of that, the gig economy allows you to get funds to pay tuition and rent. So, why not benefit from it?

Yes, there are certain disadvantages. No one can guarantee your stable income there, as you never know when the next project you’re going to work on will pop up. But there are workarounds, like taking several projects simultaneously. And the benefits clearly outshine the drawbacks. You can get experience in your field of study, and freelancing won’t temper with your schedule. And, who knows, maybe you will enjoy freelancing that much that you will stick to it even after graduation.

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