This is a guest post by Steven Wesley, an ESL teacher, ed tech enthusiast and education blogger. He is interested in educational, technological and political issues and believes in the mighty power of the pen to change the modern world.
Today, I look back on my time in college and feel extremely happy, but it takes just a little bit of digging to see that it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. I can also recall some of the tougher times, when I was pinned down by obligations, but even that’s ok.
What I do remember even better is how it feels to be completely broke. College is supposed to be fun, as well, and in order to have fun, I needed money.
My decision was simple. Cash in on any talent I have in order to make my life better.
My choice of work: freelance writing.
Turns out it was the best decision I ever made, because that’s what I’m doing now.
The reason why I am writing this article is because I want to help out someone else, some poor college kid who’s struggling when they don’t have to. If you have at least some writing talent, here is what you need to do to turn things around.
1. Build a Stunning Portfolio – Fast.
After writing crappy articles for next to nothing for months, I realized that I needed to adopt a different approach.
First of all, I had to discover my niche. I focused on a niche that I was familiar with, and so should you, because it will take you less time to research it, which leaves more time for you to party, or study.
Share your valuable personal experiences and try to figure out how your skills may be valuable to others, and turn them into an intriguing body of work.
Try and think of yourself as a professional providing a solution to your clients, and not a mere job seeker. You may want to start a blog, or work on a few projects for free, just until you have enough stuff you can put inside your portfolio.
2. Picking the Type of Freelance Writing Job.
Pretty soon I decided that boring technical writing and user manuals weren’t for me, even though their price tag was pretty tempting.
It just wasn’t working for me. And if you think you cannot be picky when you’re a desperate college student, think again. You can still earn a pretty penny regardless of the kind of writing that you decide to do.
Creative writing? No problem. Blogging? Even better. IT, lifestyle, or product review articles? Bingo.
There is a whole goldmine out there, waiting for you to tap into it.
Now, I’m a bit of a pessimist, so naturally I thought that nobody would pay me money for my work, but trust me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Keep that in mind.
3. Landing Your First Writing Gig.
At first, I signed with one of the numerous sites connecting freelance writers and potential clients (which was BestDissertaton, by the way). It was fine, because I was able to find some regular work with clients that paid a decent amount of money.
I also went and created my own website, showcasing my skills.
Now, I can’t suggest that one is better than the other, because I was doing both at the same time, so I can’t really tell what did it. But, keep in mind that, even though you are a rookie, that doesn’t mean that you should work for pennies.
It all boils down to writing a killer pitch, which should be short, but precise. And should always contain links to your previous work, as well as your background in the niche which may be relevant.
The right client won’t care if you are a newbie once they see the work you have done.
4. Building Strong Relationship with a Client.
During the first few months, it was hard for me to meet deadlines. Also, I didn’t really understand why my clients were so upset about it, because how can you be late online? Well, it turns out, you can.
Your clients have their own plans and goals, and they make their living through content marketing.
You should respect that, just like they should respect the fact that you did work for them, and pay you on time.
They are people like you, with their own problems and worries. This also means that most of them will understand if you are unable to turn in your work on time, but only a couple of times. After that, if it becomes a regular thing, they will hire another writer.
5. Writing Effective Posts.
There are some things you can do to make your writing even more effective.
For example, try and put yourself inside the minds of others. What problems do they have? What kind of solution do you have to offer that will make their lives easier? Or perhaps you can provide answers to their question.
Also, before you can start writing, you need to decide on the topic of your post.
You can decide on the title later. But you need to figure out a specific topic, so that your writing is more tightly focused on the subject matter.
In addition to that, break up the content into sections, so that it’s easier to read. You can work with bullet points, numbered lists, subheadings, or just about anything else.
6. Managing Your Time like a Pro.
There are only so many hours in a single day, which means you will have to become the master of time management in order to be able to study and work as a freelancer.
The first thing I did was to abandon my procrastinating ways, something which I was quite fond of.
Those lazy afternoons after class? Forget about those. Those are one of the reasons you are broke.
Also, shake up your study routine and maximize your efforts by adopting a different model.
I know that college life is full of parties, too. Now that you are freelancing your way through college, though, make peace with the fast that you won’t be able to attend every single one of them.
Your studies come first, and your job comes second. But, reward yourself with some downtime after you have passed a test, or completed a project for your client every now and then. It will help keep you motivated in the future.
If you are a college student and you need money, freelance writing is a great way to earn it. Not just because you can create your own schedule and earn as much as you want, and certainly not because I am telling you that it is. But because it can also turn into a backup profession while you are looking for that dream job.
It allows you to focus on your studies, while still giving you the chance to earn a living. That’s about as good as it gets.
It worked wonderfully for me, and it can work the same for you.
Are you ready to start a blog?
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