Freelancing is a good career choice for a student. While letting us study, it also gives us both money to pay the bills and experience that we need in the future. I’ve seen a lot of student come out of college with only theory and no experience. I’m not talking about expertise in a given field (for example, in my case that would be sociology), but of real world experience. You know what, sometimes you do have to wear a suit. You do have to know how to write a proposal, a brief, etc. My friend Glenn Wolsey points out: “The good in favor of freelancing – extra cash in your pocket. The bad, added stress to hit deadlines and hours disappearing before you know it.”
Next month I’ll be doing a presentation and roundtable at a Microsoft event about web technology and business. I have to be honest, I’ve never done a presentation for such a large and experienced audience. The good that will come out of it is that I’ll learn. From that day on, I’ll know how to improve my presentations and public speaking. Don’t wait to finish college to get some experience. People notice young people that work hard and know their field well.
Aim. Fire. Aim. Fire.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in the past is over-planning. While most times having a plan ready for execution is a good starting point for any projects, the “aim-aim-aim-…” method doesn’t really work for freelancing as a career. Work on projects, work with clients. You’ll have some great experiences and some horrible ones. We all do. It’s said that one learns best from other’s mistakes. Both you and I know that we learn best from our own mistakes. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. What you always need to do is be honest with your clients and honest with yourself. If you can’t do a project – don’t say you can. If you need a bigger budget – tell them. There’s nothing worse than telling someone you can do something for them – and not doing it. Nothing worse. But remember, sometimes it happens. It happened to me yesterday. We are all quite human actually.
Student and Proud of It
You know what? I’m proud to be a student. I’m proud to be studying something I really do consider a benefit both to myself and society. My clients know that. They know I’m a student and sometimes I don’t have time to do some of their projects. What they also know that I’ll try. As I said before, be honest with your clients. There’s a good chance they also went to college, isn’t there?
Time. My Time.
The time you have is your currency. You don’t just sell your skills and knowledge, you sell your time. As Glenn adds: “I’ve found there are a few problems which really restrict what I can commit myself to freelance wise. Earlier this year I was taking on projects left right and center, however in recent months I’ve cut down and become more selective due to time constraints.”
Early in your career, the biggest lesson you have to learn has nothing to do with the skills you need. Nor does it have to do with meeting the right people. Branding yourself? Guess again. It’s saying: “No”. The two letter that no-one likes. Saying yes for projects up front is a bad idea and can sometimes get you in trouble with people. Say you’ll think about, give yourself a couple of days – but don’t commit till you’ve thought it through.
You are a Superhero
Studying and freelancing? Hello stress. There will be ups and there will be downs, but it’ll be worth it. With experience and expertise, finishing college won’t be a problem like it is for many other students. The things you learn freelancing, such as time management and negotiating, will have a direct impact on your studies. When you do finish college, you’ll already have the experience and references to either get a good job or start your own business. Maybe you already have? Good. Now run off to class, you, you – freelancer!