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How to Start Freelancing as a Student?

Ever thought about trying freelancing while you’re still in school? You’re not alone! In fact, in India, there are more than 20 million freelancers, and guess what? More than 30% of them are students just like you.

Yep, I’m a freelancer too. I started freelancing in my last year of college. And I know how exciting it can be to work on your own terms while still being called a student.

So, in this guide, I’m going to show you how to start freelancing as a student. It’s not as hard as you might think, and I’ll keep it super simple for you. We’ll cover everything from figuring out what you’re good at to making yourself stand out to potential clients.

I won’t write section on ‘what is freelancing’ because that you already know. What you may not know is: Why should you start freelancing as a student? So, let’s start with that:

Why Should You Start Freelancing as a Student?

Okay, you’re a student. You’ve got dreams and ambitions of getting good grades and landing a high-paying job. But the competition is cut-throat and job market is worse than ever.

You can’t rely on luck, college, degree, and placement drives at all. Especially when 30% of Indian students are already making money living the same life as yours. They didn’t wait. Why should you?

Here’s why you should start freelancing as a student:

1. Flexibility:

Freelancing is freedom. It’s not like a job or college schedule where you need to clock attendance and be present from 9-to-5 every day. You set your hours, your rates, and even your location.

Want to work from your favorite coffee shop? Go for it. Prefer burning the midnight oil? It’s all on your terms. You do what you want, when you want, and for how much you want.

2. Cash Flow:

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite topic: money. Freelancing isn’t just pocket change; it’s a viable income stream. With skills in your back pocket—be it writing, design, or coding—you’re more than qualified to take on projects and earn real money.

The kind of money that some people don’t even earn with a degree. I’m not kidding. Earning money as a graduate isn’t as exciting as earning as a student.

3. Skill Stacking:

Sure, you’re giving exams and racking up grades, but that means nothing today. You need skills, you need hands-on experience. Freelancing gives you both. Much better than a classroom ever will.

Every project is a crash course in problem-solving, client management, and upskilling. In short, you’ll be a fresher with experience. How does that sound?

4. Looks good on Resume:

College students often have this in their resume: a few projects and certifications (that everyone has). Every resume looks the same. But not if you have some real-world experience.

That blog you started? Shows your writing, CMS, and entrepreneurial skills. Those design gigs? Portray your creativity and thought process. Any sort of freelancing experience sets you apart from the masses. It displays that you know how the real-life corporate world works.

5. Networking:

Each client your work with becomes your mentor, or even a future employer. Build strong relationships, deliver killer work, and watch as your network expands faster than your Wi-Fi connection. You’ll way ahead of your peers!

How to Start Freelancing with No Experience?

Alright, let’s get down to business. I’m sure that I’ve convinced you with my previous section. Now, you want to dive into freelancing, but you’re starting from square one. It’s hard.

But don’t worry, here’s a step-by-step guide that you need to follow. It may sound stupid-simple and it is. But trust me, religiously following each step is hard. Because it takes work and time.

Freelancing for students in India has proved to be a game-changer in terms of their career advancement. It can be for you too. Now, if you seriously want to start freelancing, try to follow each step to the last minute detail.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

You never board a train without knowing your destination, right? Or are you a psychopath? Anyway, always visualize your goals before starting anything. Same with freelancing.

When setting your freelancing goals, think about what you want to achieve both short-term and long-term. Consider questions like:

  • Why do you want to freelance?
  • How much do you aim to earn?
  • What skills do you want to develop?
  • How long do you plan to stay in the freelancing career?
  • Are you looking to build a portfolio or gain experience in a specific industry?

By clarifying your objectives, you’ll have a clear direction to guide your freelancing efforts. Now, don’t ask questions like “Can I start freelancing with no experience?” Of course, everything starts without experience.

And to be honest, you are going to make countless freelancing mistakes along the way. And that’s okay. You learn from your mistakes only.

How to Start Freelancing with No Experience?

Step 2: Identify Your Top Skills

Now, you can start freelancing in any domain, but that doesn’t mean you can start with any domain. (See how I played with words)

Okay, seriously, you need to identify your skills before you start. Consider:

  • What are you naturally good at?
  • What subjects or activities do you enjoy?
  • What have you excelled at in school or extracurricular activities?
  • What skills do people often ask you for help with?

Make a list of your top skills, even if they seem unrelated to freelancing. This exercise will help you recognize your strengths and potential areas for freelancing.

I got my answers in writing and hence, I became a freelance writer. Let me know your answers in the comments below.

Step 3: Package Your Skills into a Service

Now that you’ve identified your skills, it’s time to package them into services that clients will pay for. Learn new skills even if you have to. For example:

  • If you’re good at writing, consider offering content writing services packaged with SEO. That’s what I did.
  • If you have graphic design skills, you could offer logo design, social media graphics, or website design services.
  • If you’re proficient in coding, you might offer website development, app development, or software customization services.

Focus on the services that align with your strengths and interests. Clearly define what you offer, including the scope of work, deliverables, and any additional services you can provide.

Step 4: Create a Client Profile

Now, not anyone and everyone can give you work Understanding your target clients is essential for effective freelancing. Consider factors such as:

  • Industry: Which industries or niches are you interested in working with?
  • Company size: Do you prefer working with startups, small businesses, or larger corporations?
  • Budget: What budget range are your potential clients likely to have for your services?
  • Pain points: What challenges or problems do your potential clients face that you can help solve?

By creating a detailed client profile, you can tailor your marketing efforts and services to attract the right clients for your freelancing business.

The idea here is to pick a narrow market and work towards acquiring it as an authority. Once you win it, expand!

Step 5: Set Competitive Rates

Determining your rates can be challenging, especially when you’re new to freelancing. Most newbie freelancers make this one mistake: they charge super low because they’re apparently ‘the noobs’.

But that shouldn’t be the case if you’re good at what you’re offering. Consider the following factors:

  • Market rates: Research what freelancers with similar skills and experience are charging for similar services.
  • Your skills and expertise: Take into account your level of skill, expertise, and the value you provide to clients.
  • Your expenses: Consider your overhead costs, such as software subscriptions, equipment, and taxes.
  • Your goals: Factor in your income goals and how much you need to earn to cover your expenses and achieve your financial objectives.

Don’t undervalue your services, but also be mindful of pricing yourself out of the market. Start with competitive rates that reflect your skills and experience, and adjust them as you gain more experience and confidence.

Step 6: Familiarize Yourself with Legal Aspects

In the first year of my freelancing, I worked for four clients and two of them never paid me a single dime. And not only me, this happens with most of the freelancers. Even with the experienced ones.

Why though? Because they never setup a freelancing contract with their client. No paperwork, no obligation, no payment!

While freelancing offers flexibility and autonomy, it also comes with legal responsibilities. Here are some legal aspects to consider:

  • Contracts: Use written contracts to outline the terms of your agreements with clients, including project scope, deadlines, payment terms, and intellectual property rights.
  • Taxes: This might not be relevant now, but still—Understand your tax obligations as a freelancer, including income tax, self-employment tax, and any applicable local taxes.

Taking the time to understand these legal aspects will protect you and your business from potential disputes and liabilities down the road.

Step 7: Reach Out to Potential Clients

Now that you’re ready to start freelancing, it’s time to find clients. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Freelancing platforms: You can create profiles on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr to showcase your services and connect with clients. But honestly, I won’t recommend starting out with these platforms. Too crowded! Instead:
  • Networking: Get active on LinkedIn, Twitter, IG, and expand your network. Join online communities and reach out to your network to let people know about your freelancing services.
  • Cold pitching: Your best friend! Identify potential clients in your target market and reach out to them directly via email or social media with personalized pitches tailored to their needs. This is probably the only way you’ll sustain your freelancing career.

Be proactive and persistent in your client outreach efforts, and don’t be discouraged by rejection. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn and improve your approach.

To give you a little context – I got my first client after 70-80 cold DMs. Some get the first response after hundreds of DMs. The point is – you have to stick to it. No matter how much time, emails, and DMs it takes.

Pro Tip: Learn the art of onboarding clients, i.e., if you want them to become your fan and keep working with you.

Note: There is a lot more to freelancing. For example—I’d written an article 11 best freelancing tips which can serve as an extension to this section.

Top 5 Freelancing Domains for Students

Alright, you now know how this works and what you’ve got to do. Unfortunately, I can’t really point out which freelancing job is best for beginner’ or the best freelancing skills you need to learn.

But there is something I can help you with. There are hundreds of domains to pursue freelancing in, but here are top five according to me and the market in 2024.

Here goes:

1. Digital Writing:

Obviously, I’m biased. But words are the only everlasting currency in the digital age. Businesses need content—blog posts, articles, social media captions, landing copy, etc.—and they need it yesterday.

If you’ve got a way with words, there’s a market waiting for your talent. Start pitching your writing services and watch those opportunities roll in. When I started out as a writer, I got paid $100/month, but today, writing gets me $4K-5K every single month.

Crazy opportunity for highly skilled writers!

2. Video Editing:

Probably the most in demand skill right now. Freelance video editors are making $1000 every easily. My video editor is a college student. I’m his first client and I pay him $500 every single month. Not bad for a start!

Video is king on the internet, and everyone wants to join the party. If you’ve got an eye for storytelling and an idea for editing, you’re in luck. Especially with the rise of short-form video content, this field has become a pinnacle of earning good money while working less.

3. Sales and Marketing:

Every business is on the internet. Every business needs marketing and sales services. But not all have the budget to hire for multiple full-time roles. That’s where you come in.

In the world of business, it’s all about selling—products, ideas, experiences. If you’ve got a salesy mind and a way with words, you’re golden. You could charge a monthly retainer or work on a commission per sale.

Businesses are hungry for your expertise, so start showcasing your skills.

4. Software Development:

This is evergreen. Code is the language of the future, and businesses are eager for skilled developers to bring their ideas to life. And again, not all have the budget to hire consultancy firms or full-time developers.

So, if you’ve got coding skills, you’re in high demand. Get into software development freelancing, build websites, develop apps, earn money, and decorate your resume.

5. Designing (Graphic, UI/UX):

In a visually-driven world, design is everything. You can’t go anywhere without a good design. It’s a necessity. If you’ve got an eye for aesthetics and a passion for user experience, you’re in demand.

I don’t know much about designing but as a writer, agency owner, and former developer, I’ve always been forced to design visuals because we always had a shortage for good designer.

Think the opportunities you’ll get if you get good at it!

Best Freelancing Platforms of Beginners

Let’s get real for a moment. Freelancing platforms aren’t relevant anymore. They’re crowded, competitive, and sometimes stupid. Instead of fighting for scraps on these platforms, take control of your career and build your personal brand.

Why Freelancing Platforms Miss the Mark:

  • Irrelevance: Social media has taken center stage, leaving freelancing platforms in the dust. Clients are scouting talent on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, where personality and presence matter just as much as skills.
  • Crowded Market: Freelancing platforms are overrun with freelancers clamoring for the same gigs. It’s a tough market, especially for beginners.
  • Cutthroat Competition: With freelancers from all corners of the globe competing for projects, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. Clients often focus on price, undervaluing the expertise of freelancers.

What to do Instead:

One line answer: Build your personal brand on social media platforms.

  1. Define Your Niche: Figure out what sets you apart and carve out your niche. This is crucial for starting freelancing as a student.
  2. Create Compelling Content: Share your expertise through blog posts, videos, or social media. Be consistent and valuable. This is key for starting freelancing with no experience.
  3. Engage: Connect with your audience. Respond to comments, answer questions, and be present in your community.
  4. Network: Build relationships with industry professionals and potential clients. Networking is key to growth. This step can help you bypass the crowded market of traditional freelancing platforms.
  5. Consistency: Stay true to your brand. Be consistent in your messaging and content strategy.

So, instead of getting lost in the shuffle on freelancing platforms, take charge of your career. Build your personal brand, showcase your skills, and let the world know what you’re capable of.


This was a long blog, but I still have more to offer! If you’re keen on mastering the art of freelancing, especially as a writer, be sure to catch our podcast episode featuring none other than Shreya Pattar, also known as ‘The LinkedIn Girl’.

With her extensive experience as a digital writer running her own marketing agency, Shreya offers invaluable insights into the art of content creation and freelancing as a student.

Tune in to The FuelEd Unfiltered Podcast. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from the best—subscribe now!

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