A freelance writer‘s guide for students by guest contributor Lucy Reed

A Freelance Writing Guide for Students

Freelancing may seem like an unlikely business opportunity for students or recent graduates, but plenty of people are doing it. If you’re looking to augment your income while building new skills and experiences, freelancing may be the way to go. This guide covers freelancing during school or after graduation, as well as Ann Harrison’s tips for making freelancing work a viable long-term career path.

Enhance Your Writing Skills

The key to a successful freelancing career lies in your ability to write well. No matter what niche you’re working in, always keep learning and developing your skills through writing courses and workshops. Taking extra courses at local community colleges is often an option if you’re short on funds. However, there are also a lot of free resources available online.

Create a Writing Portfolio

Before you begin making money from your writing, you need to have a portfolio of samples. Just like a painter or musician, a writer’s portfolio is a way of showcasing your work and establishing your value to potential clients. Try to include 3–5 samples — any more than that and your would-be client will get swamped.

Looking for Writing Gigs

The most obvious place to look for writing jobs is online. There are more job opportunities here than ever before. In addition to sites like Indeed, you can also check out marketplaces like ProBlogger. Search for small business blogs where local businesses may be hiring writers to create copy for advertisements, blogs, newsletters, and other media. Another great way to find writing gigs is by networking with other professionals in your field.

Marketing Yourself and Getting Started

It’s important to market yourself as a freelance writer. Research how to write marketing pieces and product descriptions, and make sure you include them in your portfolio. Look for internships or part-time jobs related to writing. You can also find a mentor who can help guide you through your early days as a freelancer. Subscribe to newsletters and blogs, follow online discussions related to your industry, and apply for scholarships that reward writing skills.

The Legalities Running a Freelancing Business 

Consider getting an EIN (tax ID number). If you’re hiring employees and paying them, you need an EIN so the IRS can track and report payroll taxes for any employees you might hire. Additionally, using an EIN on your invoices shows that you’re running a legitimate business. Here is more information on how to set one up.

Looking For Long-Term Contracts

If you’re just getting started as a freelancer, it may be difficult to attract consistent work. Long-term contracts can be an excellent way to build your portfolio and reputation while building steady income. While they do require more work up front, they also provide stability over time.

Rewards and Flexibility

As a freelancer, you can enjoy being self-employed. As with any career, freelancing comes with its share of headaches and stressors but it also comes with tons of rewards, including flexibility, a high degree of autonomy, and greater work/life balance. Visit Ann Writes Inspiration for more writing tips.

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Lucy Reed created Gig Mine to help others dig up sharing economy opportunities in a user’s area, all in a single location, so users don’t have to jump between multiple sites. It’s the new and improved way to get a gig job!

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