If you’re a university or college student, it’s all too easy to sink into a routine of studying and partying for three-odd years. But wouldn’t it be great to support your future career and earn some extra cash on the side?
That’s exactly what freelancing offers to students with focus and determination. Entrepreneurship is not as difficult as you think — and it all starts with your student days.
While your studies come first, your student days are a sandbox of opportunity, allowing you to have new experiences and face real-world challenges. With that in mind, freelancing is a flexible and manageable way to make the most of both worlds at university. As long as you stay organised and don’t overwork yourself, there’s little stopping you from being both a model student and a successful freelancer.
In this article, we explore the six best paying freelance jobs you can get started at university — so read on and find out how freelancing can both cushion your student debts and complement your studies.
1. Graphic design
Do you have an eye for graphic design? Brands are always on the lookout for graphic designers with a fresh perspective and notable skill. Design students should use their course knowledge to leverage freelance opportunities and gain some much-needed experience.
Graphic design is a competitive industry full of talented individuals — so finding work is difficult. But not if you already have a foot in the door. Freelancing using your design talents before graduating helps you gain industry contacts and shows you have passion for your work.
Freelancing provides the real-life experience of dealing with clients, following their detailed (or not so detailed) briefs, and developing your work based on feedback.
By working to deadlines and learning on the job, you gain real industry insight and get your name out there — but how do you find freelance graphic design opportunities in the first place? Well, freelance job websites like Fiverr or Upwork are a great place to start. These marketplaces connect freelance designers with businesses, which makes them great for finding opportunities and completing work in a secure, transparent environment.
As a student, you’re likely exploring new passions and learning a bit more about yourself during this process. So why not find an outlet to talk about the things you love?
Podcasting is a great freelancing idea because it helps inspire your natural curiosity and create something to be proud of when you leave campus for the last time.
Many universities situated around the United Kingdom (and beyond) likely have the facilities and the know-how to support you in this endeavour. For instance, Bournemouth University even has a page where they shine a spotlight on valuable podcasts both from internal departments and the local community (including its student population).
Moreover, podcasts are simple to get started. You only need two things to start podcasting on a budget:
- A computer: to run editing software, hold sound files, and publish content
- A microphone: you can also augment your phone using a thunderbolt connection
Other than hard work and dedication there is no magic formula for monetising your podcasting hobby. Many amateur and professional podcasters use membership platforms such as Patreon to turn their content into a subscription service. For example, fantasy football podcasters Always Cheating use Patreon memberships to reward their audience with access to a bespoke Slack channel and an extra weekly episode.
3. Online tutoring
Every student has an area of expertise because of the course they’re enrolled in — so why don’t you leverage this valuable knowledge into a freelancing opportunity? Whether you love analysing a challenging piece of literature or solving tricky maths equations is more your bag, many learners are seeking support in your specialist subject.
Tutoring is an incredibly flexible freelance opportunity because you’re paid by the session, which allows you to book tutoring lessons in ways that compliments your ever-changing university schedule.
Here are some of the benefits of becoming a freelance tutor at university:
- Flexible hours that fit your schedule
- Great work experience that improves future career prospects
- Support your studies by investing more time in your chosen subject
- Well paid (sessions are usually priced between £15-35)
Moreover, you can teach according to the level you want (or feel comfortable with), meaning you don’t have to work peer-to-peer. Instead, you could target A-level, GCSE, or SAT students. After all, as a university student, you could be providing support across all ages.
If you’re naturally good with kids and looking to work with children in the near future, establishing a freelance babysitting business during your studies is a great way to gain experience — and earn some cash to support yourself financially at university.
There is a constant demand for affordable babysitting with the standard rate being £7-10 per hour.
When starting your freelance babysitting business it’s best to start working with people you already know. After this, you can branch out and find new gigs by:
- Pinning business cards to university notice boards
- Joining local Facebook groups and social media communities
Note you’ll need a DBS certificate — a government-issued check for criminal records and eligibility to work with kids — to boost confidence in your service and improve the chances of getting paid work. DBS checks reassure understandably anxious parents that they can trust you, which helps finding opportunities much easier with people who don’t know you.
Freelance jobs provide great money and valuable experiences while you study. From graphics design to online tutoring, these are some of the best-paid and most career-enriching opportunities you can get involved with without negatively impacting your studies.