After the recession, many people who had previously only known life as an employee were forced to diversify. This resulted in a workforce alive to the possibilities of freelancing, aware of their talents, and willing to capitalise on them. It also meant that companies had to adjust their attitude to outsourcing work. This increased flexibility has benefitted both parties. The good news for students is that you might not necessarily have to don a crusty apron and dish out cappuccinos for the next few years to supplement your student loan: there are now plenty of opportunities to freelance. So what do you need to work from home, and what needs to be remembered?
The set up
In order to freelance successfully, you don’t need any specialist equipment; just the basics. First and foremost, you’ll need reliable, affordable internet, so explore the broadband and phone deals on offer to your business premises (okay: crumbling student flat!) and be prepared to negotiate for the best price. It will stand you in good stead for when you’re trying to negotiate your fees with clients. You’ll also need a cheap but reliable laptop, and, crucially, some clients with which to negotiate.
Compile a list of viable companies that might need your services, and apply speculatively. Whether your skillset is in writing, graphic design or programming, know what you can bring to a potential employer, and make sure you can articulate it, fast. Phone first in order to introduce yourself and identify the person in the company to whom you should direct your enquiry, and if you can, speak to them directly. Follow up immediately with an email. If you’re meeting with some resistance, offer to complete your first assignment pro-bono, and include samples of your work to back up your claims.
Prove your worth
Congratulations: you’ve received your first assignment. Now the hard graft really begins. It goes without saying that you should treat freelance work as you would any employment. Complete the tasks at hand in a timely manner, and you will excel, and win more work. Slack off, fail to meet deadlines and prove yourself unreliable, and the damage to your earnings can be catastrophic. It’s up to you.
Keep yourself on the right side of the law
The great thing about working while you’re a student is that you probably won’t have to pay taxes on your freelancing work. However, you still need to declare your earnings and keep records of your business incomings and outgoings. This is excellent business practice, and will equip you with a gamut of skills like accounting and invoicing with which you can impress future employers after you graduate.
With a bit of hard work, networking and a good internet connection, you will find yourself escaping the dreaded student overdraft quicker than you first thought.