Graduates are increasingly choosing to work as freelancers after completing their studies. A recent survey of 1,032 grads by Elance discovered that 20% who have obtained a first class degree have already decided to become a freelancer. Graduate freelancers in London enjoy a great work-life balance – they make the most of the capital whilst avoiding a gruelling daily commute.
Why Should Graduates Choose Freelancing Work?
- Graduates are drawn to the flexible work-life balance that freelancing offers.
- Freelancing presents a rich variety of work and gives you the opportunity to harness skills. You can even multi-task by offering your services in a number of different fields to maximise your earnings and ensure you don’t get bored
- You can take on freelance projects outside of your existing job to make extra money. If you’re not ready to give up your permanent job, then you can increase your freelance workload organically until you have enough contacts to make the move to going self-employed
- Freelancing is a great way to make money whilst looking for a permanent job – however, many earn enough money to stick at it and enjoy a lucrative freelancing career.
- Freelancing offers excellent flexibility – so long as you have a laptop and an Internet connection, you can work from one of the capital’s parks on a sunny day or from a trendy café with a hot cup of coffee when it’s pelting it down outside.
- As employers face increasing pressures to cut costs, they are choosing to utilise top graduate freelancing talent to add additional skilled professionals to their work force. As this is becoming more of a trend in 2016, if you manage to get in with a handful of regular companies then you’ll have plenty of income.
What types of graduate freelancing work are available?
The short answer is almost anything you can think of. Whatever discipline your degree is in, you can be certain that there will a use for it in the freelancing world. Here are just a handful of the types of freelance work that are available for graduates and young professionals.
- Design Work – this might include freelancers with abilities in Website and App design, illustration, graphics, logo and brand identity creation, business and advertising work (online or magazines/newspapers), image editing, 3D work, animation, labels and merchandising.
- Video, Photo and Audio – Freelancers with a good voice have been known to make a fortune from voiceover work on People Per Hour. Upload a demo to see if you could make some cash from your voice. Other freelancing skills in this area include photography, videography, image editing, film making, music and audios.
- Web Development – Freelancers are always required for building and managing custom sites, mobile sites, eCommerce platforms, WordPress or other types of CMS, blogs, newsletter or email template creation, social apps, database coding and many other types of technical skills.
- Sales and Marketing – Freelancers are needed for online and offline promotional campaigns. These include SEO, SEM/PPC, sales calls and outreach, business data, research and strategy, email marketing and press release creation.
- Business Support – also known as Virtual Assistants this is far from just basic admin work. There are many types of executive secretarial roles that are essential for leading organisations. Tasks might include typing and proofreading, business services, Tax and accounting specialisms, data research, presentation creation, Excel/DBA and VA support.
- Translation – Freelancers with a second language can earn some good money by translating important business documents. If you specialise in corporate or legal work then you can charge even higher rates.
- Writing – The web is made up of words. Talented graduate writers are always required for web content, business and marketing, copywriting, proofreading, technical writing, academic writing, CV and cover letter writing, creative writing and blog writing. Always be prepared to show examples from your portfolio or to pass a writing test in order to carry out this type of work.
- Social Media – Graduates with social media skills are in demand at the moment. The ability to network on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+ as well as forums and blog commenting is much desired by companies who are looking to increase their online presence.
Where to look for Graduate Freelancing Work?
Freelancing work is reasonably easy to find, although it can be tricky to filter out the work that will earn you pittance from the serious income.
- Networking As with all things job-related, networking is important. Update your LinkedIn profile, let people know on Facebook that you’re looking for freelance work and be sure to follow Twitter handles of any companies that you are aware regularly need freelancers.
- Agencies There are agencies that handle freelance work, particularly for digital work such as content writing, SEO, social media and outreach. If you sign up with one of these agencies then you are likely to receive a good volume of work for a satisfactory price, but this won’t make you rich as the agency will take a cut of what they charge their clients.
- Market Yourself Another option is to go it alone and find your own clients. You will be able to charge a higher price per hour or per project, but you will need to spend a decent chunk of time each week marketing your services and communicating with your clients, which eats into your hourly rate.
- Freelancing Job Boards
People Per Hour is an excellent way to promote your services and connect with clients remotely from all over the UK, whilst working from your base in London. All you need is an Internet connection, a bank account and your computer. You can set up a number of ‘Hourlies’ which are your specialist tasks that you are willing to carry out for a specific hourly rate. Sign up for free to create your own profile – the more information you can add about yourself (profile photo, CV, portfolio, testimonials) the more clients you’ll attract. Take a look around to gain an idea of what people are offering and what rates you should start out by charging. You can always increase your rates as you gain an enhanced reputation in the freelance marketplace.
How to register as a graduate freelancer
It’s quite simple to register as a freelancer. You simply need to inform the HMRC that you are self-employed so that they send you a tax return to fill out each year. You will need to do this even if you have an existing job with an employer.
As a self-employed person, you will be required to pay various National Insurance contributions. If you don’t yet have an NI number, for instance if you’re arriving from overseas, then contact Kickstart for assistance with getting set up.