How to freelance as a student in the UK
Thinking of starting your freelancing career? This article will help you understand pros and cons of this practice while answering the most common questions and concerns. When in doubt, please reach out to us for more information and remember to leave a comment below.
Why would you decide to go freelance?
Employment, full time or part-time, is a necessity for almost every young person in the times of their studies. Without the ability to ‘make the ends meet’ the comfort of education is compromised, which causes the level of uncertainty and stress to affect one’s performance. Some of us search for jobs in local cafés and bars, others pursue internships within their industry of choice, and some dedicate their efforts to become self-employed. This is where the freelancing adventure begins.
Becoming a freelancer in any area of employment carries with itself an array of opportunities, as well as obstacles and is certainly a challenging act. ‘With higher risk comes greater reward’ claims the majority of stockbrokers and investors and it is certainly the case with freelancing.
But why would you want to go freelance in the first place? Let us look at the few major pros and cons of such venture…
Pros of freelancing
As a freelancer you will gain the advantage of flexibility in all areas of the employment. You will be in charge of your work-life balance, project workload, and schedule of your work, which can be of great help if there are other commitments your daily efforts have to accommodate, such as full-time studies for example. What is more, when self-employed and providing your service online, you are not restricted by the local marketplace, which can substantially enlarge the scope of your potential client base. This will be a great advantage, especially if your area of expertise is a popular one. In the end, there is also the great advantage of returns, which can easily exceed the contemporary employment rates if you were to succeed in running your freelancing business.
Cons of freelancing
When it comes to disadvantages there is a few, which need to be addressed when considering the freelancing endeavour. First and foremost, as you will be self-employed there will be no guarantee of income unless you ensure its emergence. This means it is all up to you. You are responsible for finding the client, advertising your service, scheduling your work, and delivering the product/service within the expected timeframe. Secondly, being responsible for your efforts means you will have to work around the schedule to find time and resources in provision of your work, which might not be the easiest in the home setting (with or without flatmates). When it comes to ‘reaping the benefits’ of your work, you will have to ensure that you understand and organise your taxes, which might come with a need to gain advisory from a third party and is a necessity to run your freelancing business legally. At last, there is the competitiveness of the market, which will inevitably be a challenge to overcome, especially at the beginning of your journey. With the self-employment comes self-reliance, and you will have to make sure you persist and endure in the initial stages of your business.
How would you start freelancing?
First of all, recognise your skill. What is it that you can do that someone would pay you for doing? Freelancing jobs vary and the range of potential avenues of employment is endless. Whether you’re good with words, understand IT, or know how to organise documents in a professional manner, there are many areas of work you can consider. This is of major importance, as no one is able to do everything and your particular talents and skills that you’re passionate and good at, will certainly be the best to work with. When finding your ‘job’ think of the market and its needs, as it will be crucial to identify your perfect clients and organise your offer around their expectations.
As we mentioned earlier, it will be very important for you to recognise and adapt your schedule to meet the needs of your freelancing career. Consider your time commitments, think of the potential obstacles in advance, and ensure you understand the way in which you will provide your service. Are you going to be working remotely, or do you have to meet your clients? Do you need to work with the client on a daily basis or are you creating the project and delivering it until a certain deadline?
It is imperative to anticipate how much time will you be able to commit to your work in advance, as you do not want to risk your customer’s satisfaction by failing to deliver the promised service.
Where would you freelance?
With freelancing gaining in popularity, the avenues for self-employment widen, with many different platforms and means ready to be used. You can use social media, dedicated platforms, or your own website to advertise, deliver, and administrate your services to the customer body. You should find time to explore the possibilities and decide on them consciously.
With many social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, you are able to create your own page and address your potential audience. The advantage is these means of communication are free to use by anyone, the disadvantage is they are full of ‘noise’, which will be difficult to overcome. You will be able to offer your service without financial strain, but the chances of the client seeing your advertising are rather small.
That is why many companies, such as Revolancer, Fiverr, or Freelancer have dedicated their platforms to individuals like yourself. Setting up your profile on one of these freelance-focused websites will raise your chances of being noticed and ensure that there is no ‘outside noise’ taking its toll on your advertising efforts. The catch is, you have to pay the price. Whether it is a registration fee or sale fee, there will be a certain percentage of your budget which is taken of you whenever you decide to use the platform. The competitiveness of this industry is growing, which is a good sign for you, as you will not have to pay as much as before with many of the platforms offering lower and lower fees for their users. Revolancer with its particular focus on freelancing students offers by far the best option for such individuals up to date.
The last option is to set up your own website, which being separate from all available platforms would be completely under your control. With this, you gain the ability to earn the full pay for your services and are able to keep your site completely focused on your own business. As great as it may sound though, it can be very challenging to gain traffic and ultimately bring any customers to explore your offer. That is why young entrepreneurs rarely decide to start without an external medium of advertising. You might want to create your website to showcase your service and works but link it within your profile on either social media or on the dedicated platform to gain the necessary audience traffic.
When would you freelance?
Of course, the question of finding time around your studies, especially full-time ones, remains. With freelancing the time commitment is completely up to you, which is a great chance for those who organise their days wisely and efficiently. Whether you wish to work after classes, find time to develop the projects on the weekends, or divide the work into small chunks to distribute and complete them throughout the week, it is imperative you develop your work ethic and stick to it. Otherwise, you will risk struggling both in your education and entrepreneurial venture.
So, what do you think?
Asking yourself the questions above and considering all the options is a must if you’re about to go freelance. It can be a great opportunity to free yourself from contemporary way of employment, but it can also be a big challenge to overcome. It is ultimately one’s choice and as much advice as can be given on the matter, like with anything else, there is no certainty of success or failure before the endeavour takes place.
Do you want to be your own boss, your own advertisement manager, and your own employee? Do you have the service or skill to provide for others and be paid for? Do you have a product you want to sell? Are you ready to self-educate in all the aspect of self-employment business, which will be necessary to provide your freelancing work?
If so, let me offer you a little list of tips to head start your freelancing career.
3 Major Mistakes
- Working for an uncertain client – whether on the platform or with your own means, ensure that the job you’re about to take is certain, with pay secured and agreed on in advance. There is nothing more frustrating than lack of response, after you have delivered your work. Try to minimise these risks by written agreements (e-mail would do), secure payment systems (PayPal), and upfront payments if possible.
- Avoiding or misunderstanding taxes – over the year, your income will have to be counted in order to deduct the tax, which will be your job to handle. Make sure you understand your tax obligations and follow the rules, as the legality of your business depends on it.
- Searching for new clients instead of working for old ones – it might seem that finding a new client will be more profitable than offering work to the old one. There is an advantage of broader visibility whenever a new client appears in your portfolio. But remember the great value that comes with a loyal, satisfied client. Returning client is very valuable, so think about the options of ensuring you keep yours for the future.
3 Top Tips
- Play to your strengths – recognise your most valuable assets and use them to your advantage. This is imperative when advertising your services. There is nothing more risky than false advertising, and with sincerity and integrity comes great power of persuasion. Consider what can you offer, which puts you in front of your competition and focus your campaign on that.
- Personalise every offer/application – similarly to a job application, avoid copying at all costs. It is very important to address the client in a way specific to their needs and expectations. Show that you respect and understand them by first researching their company/brand and addressing the gains they will receive through your service. The more you know about your client the better and it is important that they recognise it.
- Consider cooperation with other freelancers – especially at the beginning of your journey you might want to exercise supporting others in exchange for their contacts and clients. Reach out to another freelancer and offer to help. Get interested in the way they deliver their works, especially if they are successful. Put yourself in the position where you can learn and network building a firm base for your business. You can also help another freelancer for a subtle fee, but ensure they mention you in their project completion.
With all the above, I hope your freelancing venture will bring you the success and gains you wish for.
And If you are now ready to start your freelancing career now – do it with Revolancer!