5 Smart Ways in College to Plan Ahead for a Career in Freelancing

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If you’ve been thinking about freelancing for a while now, you’re in luck because freelancing offers a lot of benefits.

A few advantages include creating your own hours and deciding which type of projects you’d like to accept.

Would you like to earn extra money while you’re still in college or do you want to work as a full-time writer or designer after graduation?

With a little bit of planning and hard work, you can get yourself ready for a flexible and fulfilling career as a freelancer.

Plan Ahead by Reaching Out to Contacts

Get a head start by contacting friends, family, and people you have interned or worked with before and prepare your playing field.

The earlier you send out the email or text to people, the better. Do it a month or six months before you begin freelancing.

If you have a light workload in your senior year, you may be able to start with short projects during the semester. Otherwise, take advantage of spring break and the weeks between semesters to start building your portfolio.

During those times, reach out to the network you’ve been building and tell them you’re willing to take on projects right away.

Mention that you are jumping in now because you want to have the following for the future:

  • Experience
  • References
  • Contacts

The point is to plan and when you do hear back, don’t leave anyone hanging.

If potential clients get back to you, your timeline will help you formulate everything. If someone would like to work with you in a month, for example, you can develop an agenda and share it with them to get the ball rolling.

The more references, contacts, and experience you have, the easier it will be to transition from student to freelancer.

Get Your Feet Wet

Now that you have a good idea on how to reach out to contacts and start planning, it’s time to get your feet wet.

Start contemplating what you’d like your career to look like.

Consider taking on a few jobs while you’re still in school.

There are several benefits to trying a few jobs before graduating:

  • You’ll have some extra cash before leaping into full-time freelancing
  • If you don’t have steady work lined up right away, you’ll need at least 3-6 months of living expenses saved up.
  • You’ll also need some money set aside to help you pay for start-up costs.
  • Freelancing while you’re still in school will help you try out various clients and jobs.
  • It will help you realize whether a single gig is a right fit for you.

The last thing you want to do is graduate and find yourself spending a lot of time working on a job you don’t like. Freelancing before graduation will also help you discern what the best type of client is to work with on jobs.

Decide on a Business Structure

Since freelancing is for individual gigs, you’re probably wondering why you need a formal business designation.

Why can’t you just think of yourself as a contractor?

Keep reading to learn about what some of the main benefits of a formal designation are.

Choosing a business structure is an important decision. Paying attention to the legal aspects is important to your earnings and your overhead.

Business structures for freelancers include:

  • Limited Liability Company – best option for freelancers
  • Sole Proprietorship – leaves your personal assets at risk in a lawsuit
  • Corporation – you could get taxed twice

Many freelancers like to set up a limited liability company because it offers many benefits and fewer drawbacks.

A few advantages are as follows:

  • An LLC creates a level of protection between your personal assets and any liability your freelancing business may encounter.
  • LLCs are easy to set up and are cost-efficient.
  • LLCs are flexible and allow you to select different benefits from various business forms.

To figure out what type of business structure you’d like, think about the advantages of each (such as the advantages of an LLC we mentioned above).

Keeping your business goals in mind is also critical when deciding on a business structure.

You may change the structure at a later time, but it’s always essential to have it planned out and have an accounting and tax plan set up as well.

Implementing an accounting plan from the start will ensure your records are accurate going forward.

Financially speaking, you should prepare by doing the following:

  • Set your prices
  • Figure out how much you’ll need to set aside for taxes
  • Develop a detailed accounting plan
  • Set up a template for your invoices

Believe in Yourself

No successful business starts without a person taking a leap of faith and believing in themselves.

To become a thriving freelancer you’ll need to push yourself and set goals.

Setting goals will ensure you follow through and if things don’t work out as planned, then it’s time to do some restructuring.

Don’t allow failure to get the best of you. There will be moments when you want to give up, but don’t let the hard times get you down.

Instead, let go of the doubt and shift your attitude.

Promote Yourself

Luckily in today’s day and age, there are plenty of ways to promote yourself.

You now have social media networking, self-promotion portfolios, and online marketing platforms to help you showcase your services.

You should also think about networking with other freelancers on social media. To discover other remote workers, try following them on LinkedIn or joining a freelancer’s group on Facebook.

By interacting with people who are in the same industry, you can learn tips and tricks on how to handle a variety of situations. Who knows, they may also have some job opportunities for you!

Plus, you can also learn what it takes to be successful and how others in your chosen profession got to the place they are at now.

In addition to networking with other freelancers, think of the many social media sites where you can tout your services:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • And the list goes on!

Don’t be afraid to reach out and network with new people. When you do decide to launch your freelancing career, keep your contacts informed (which we discussed above).

You can drum up a lot of business by advertising your services on various social networks.

Let people know that you’re looking for a specific type of work and get creative with how you do it. You may also want to consider setting up an online portfolio on your own website or a portfolio networking site like Contently or Behance.

If you don’t have a lot of work to showcase yet don’t worry. Links to your blog or volunteer work will suffice.

So will you freelance while you’re still in college or lay the groundwork to start after graduation?

Either way, outline your goals ahead of time. Make planning future steps a habit now.

You should always have a good idea of what it is you hope to accomplish.

Since you’re in school, it may be challenging at first to get a lot of work. Don’t fret if everything doesn’t fall into place right away.

The good news is while you’re receiving an education you can start networking, taking on small jobs, and focus on building your portfolio.

By the time leave your university with a shiny new degree, you’ll be ready to take the freelance world by storm.

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