Freelance Work: How to earn extra money as an undergraduate writer or artist

If you’re an undergraduate writer or artist, you’ve probably considered ways to put your creative skills to use to gain job experience (especially now that it’s summer), particularly ways that will provide some sort of income—college is expensive, after all. Some of these include internships or part-time jobs, or if you’re lucky and have the availability, even full-time employment. But if you’re tight on time or having trouble finding jobs that will employ your creative skills, consider freelance work.

The benefits of freelance work for undergrads:

  • You can pick what projects you want to apply for. This is nice because instead of applying for a job that may have a range of responsibilities or projects that you don’t have time for or lack interest in, you’re only applying for one specific project. It’s less of a time-commitment, which is helpful if you’re only available for a couple of weeks or months.
  • You get to explore what kind of projects you enjoy working on. Maybe you’re a creative writer but you’ve never worked on a certain type of project, such as website copy; freelance projects will allow you to explore your skills and apply them in new and interesting ways. You are never limited to one type of project.
  • You earn experience that can help you land bigger and better jobs in the future. You can add your freelance projects to your resume and portfolio to help prepare for applying to full-time jobs for after you graduate.
  • The hours are flexible. You can choose when and for how long you can work. This is great if you work best at night or have a job during the weekdays.

Many resources talk about how to start a full-time freelance career, but for many people full-time freelancing isn’t a possibility. However, with websites like Upwork, undergrads can easily work on freelance projects during their free time without long-term commitment and without the cost of starting your own freelance business.

On Upwork, all you have to do is create a profile/resume, set your availability, and then apply for jobs you’re interested in. Upwork handles all the work that usually comes with freelancing: marketing your services, handling monetary transactions, etc. It provides a safe place to sell your services, whether that’s writing, graphic design, illustration, editing, etc. They do take a percentage of your commissions, though.

While Upwork and similar websites make it easier for people to start freelancing, you do need to put in some effort to make sure you get hired when you apply for projects. Depending on your skills and the type of work you are looking for, some jobs may be competitive to apply for. Two key tips are 1. make sure your resume is updated and appealing and 2. write exceptional cover letters when applying for projects (but this is to be expected with most jobs). The question that remains is: do you think freelance work is right for you?

– Jessica Trudeau

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