Can You Start Doing Freelance Work in College?
BY ANTON LUCANUS
Picking up a freelance gig while in college can help you find some fantastic opportunities. You’ll get a chance to make more money, you’ll gain some (hopefully) relevant career experience before you graduate, and you’ll make more connections, which could turn into friendships or future professional references. And thanks to the prevalence of the gig economy, there are a wide range of jobs you could potentially pick up.
The question is, is it feasible to become a successful freelancer while you’re still in college?
The Logistics of a Freelance Business
Every freelance business is a little bit different, but there are a few key logistical areas you’ll need to consider before you move forward:
Timing and commitments. The biggest factor here is timing, and the level of commitment required by the gig. Obviously, you’re going to have a full class schedule and tons of homework to contend with, so it’s ill-advised to take on a gig that might interfere with those responsibilities. Thankfully, most side gigs automatically come with a flexible schedule; you can work as many hours as you’d like and schedule those hours as you see fit. However, this isn’t always the case. Consider whether your gig will have you working for an established company (like a ridesharing service) or whether you’ll be starting the business on your own, and just how much control you’ll have over scheduling.
Paperwork and legality. You won’t encounter many legal barriers in your way of running a side gig, but depending on the nature of your business, you may need to get some paperwork in place. For example, if you’re selling food or establishing a physical location for your business, you may need a business license, permit, or special certification. Otherwise, you may need to put together some paperwork for your clients, including contracts specifying the nature of the work you’re going to provide and invoice templates you can send when your work is finished.
Revenue, expenses, and taxes. Next, you’ll need to think about the money you’re going to make in relation to the expenses you’ll face—as well as whether or not you’re going to owe taxes on your profits. Some side gigs are going to require upfront expenses; for example, you might need to buy a lawnmower and other tools if you want to start a landscaping side gig. In some cases, these expenses can compromise the profitability of the entire operation if you aren’t sure how to manage them. Also note that you may be required to file a Form 1099 with your annual tax return, depending on how much money you make and what your expenses were, paying taxes on the income you made.
Possible Freelance Gigs for College Students
The ideal freelance gig for a college student is one that allows for flexible scheduling and variable hours, so you can make it work within the confines of your existing class schedule. You’ll also need something that’s open to people with limited professional experience, and preferably, something that provides you with experience you’ll need in your future career.
These are some potential options:
Tutoring. Assuming you have a solid understanding of at least one subject that most students struggle with, you could employ yourself as a student tutor. You’ll remain in an academic setting, meeting and working with fellow students, and you should have practically unlimited scheduling flexibility—especially if you share a similar class schedule with your tutees.
Graphic design and photography. If you’re studying art, design, or photography, you can take your burgeoning skills to real clients. For example, you could photograph weddings or other major events, or start designing logos and marketing materials for local businesses.
Writing. If writing is closer to your skill set, you could try writing for some extra cash, providing blog posts to online businesses or possibly starting a blog of your own. You may also be able to write for a local paper.
Physical chores. Don’t forget the possibility of physical tasks and chores. For example, you could help people maintain their lawns and plants, or you could clean houses for some extra cash. These tend to be in high demand, though you may have to go off-campus to find clients.
Planning and organizing. You could also try to use your planning and organizing skills in a freelance capacity, helping people plan major events or declutter their dorm rooms.
There isn’t a limit to what kind of freelance gigs you can take on as a college student, but some will definitely be more advantageous to you than others. Experiment with some of the gigs you think might work best for you, and don’t be afraid to drop something if it isn’t generating enough of a profit, or if it’s taking too much of your time.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to share the lessons learnt throughout his degree and to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life.