Thinking Of Freelancing After College? Here’s What You Should Expect!
Ask a freelancer if the independent lifestyle is worth it, and rarely you’d meet someone who’ll reply with a no. As students, we dream of landing the dream job on our laps once we finish school, earning a decent living, and enjoying those stolen moments during weekends before you go back to the daily grind again. But what if your dreams are made up of freedom—and lots of it? Do you think it’s for you?
“Time in your hands,” is the common view of people towards freelancing. The idea is both exciting and scary, but—you’ll later learn—if you choose this path after college, this career option carries as much weight and responsibility as an office-based job. If you do it right,though, breezing through projects on flexible terms can be more gratifying than being stuck for eight whole hours in front of your company computer.
Do you see freelancing as your jumpstart to the real world? We asked a full-time freelancer herself to help us weigh in the pros and cons, learn the tropes of the field, and decide if this path is worth a shot. Digital Marketing & Content Manager and owner of @cofficehunter on Instagram Tin Advincula began her freelancing journey since her university days—and never looked back. Read on and pick up tips and tricks on the trade that could aid you in landing that very first gig!
The practical side of the job. “Being in an office really didn’t sit well with me. Commute was a waste of precious time, and my salary, after computing my daily living expenses, was too little to build my savings on. I loved the idea of being with colleagues and being part of a prestigious organization, but the truth is, I can earn more if my job wasn’t constrained by time and location.”
On finding gigs. “Freelancing is way easier now because the internet democratized everything. It's just a few google searches away. You can find job opportunities online, you start your online profile on Facebook, and market yourself creatively. You can even monetize a new skill you learned from an online class.”
The upside of flexibility. “The greatest thing about freelancing is its flexibility. I’m not bound in an office so I can work anywhere. My tasks are not based on the hours I put in. I have the freedom to find projects and clients that resonate well with my interests and values.”
The common misconception. “Most people think that the greatest disadvantage is having no benefits. That’s an undated answer. There are a lot of medical companies offering HMOs. There’s even a prepaid medical card offered to individuals! Not to mention, the greatest benefit of being a freelancer is the set-up itself. You don’t get that freedom anywhere—unless you build it for yourself. The disadvantages I see are doing all the admin and finance side of it. Instead of just doing your job, your tasks now extend to writing contracts, filing taxes, paying for SSS, writing invoices, pitching to clients, etc. Good thing we now live in a world where there are tons of tools online to make these tasks a little bit easier.”
The basic skill set you need. “First is organization. You can be the best at what you do, but if you’re a sloppy worker, your client won’t have a pleasant experience and may not last long. You might not even get a referral! You have to organise your work flow, timelines, and how you present things. Device a method to your madness. Next is being tech-savvy. I love that the younger-generation are so techy. Use that and keep on discovering more tools and software. Work smart—literally and figuratively. And finally, writing skills are important. There will be a lot of back and forth via email and message apps, so don’t turn off your client with bad grammar. It’s also easier to articulate thoughts and ideas when you have the fundamentals of essay writing etched to your brain. Practice writing in a journal—it helps!
The tools. “I usually need my laptop, chargers, phone, wireless earphones so I can zone out, and a notepad for random thoughts.”
On getting a headstart before you graduate. “When I applied for my first job, I showed them my output from a freelance project I worked on back in college—and my salary offer was a bit higher than the usual. You can definitely land better gigs if you have more work to show in your portfolio. Also, lose the ‘nahihiya ako’ attitude and go crazy on social media—message people and market yourself.”
Establishing a stable income. “I treat my freelance salary like a ‘normal’ salary. It either has to be consistently hitting my target amount a month—or more. It can’t be less than that or I’ll have an imbalance. I overcome this by continuously finding opportunities and thinking of creative ways I can monetize my skills.”
A word of caution “Generally, there are more opportunities for fresh grads since a lot of clients and companies prefer fresh graduates, mainly because they know that the price of hiring you is lower than hiring an experienced professional (I know, that’s the harsh truth). The silver lining here is you can afford to be picky. You can choose who you want to work with. My advice is to look for a client who’s willing to guide you with your job, someone who will proactively check-up on your deliverables, and has a positive aura. Also, expect a lot of failures and a lot of bouncing back from it. There’s going to be more of that when you’re growing.”
Remember these no-nos. “Never oversell and underdeliver. There’s a lot of talk about underpricing, knowing your worth, etc., and I think people use that as a reason to price higher without re-evaluating their skill and experience. Don’t be a scam—it gives everyone in the freelancing industry a bad name. For me, if you have theoretical knowledge, that’s great. But it won’t be as good as having hands-on experience. At the end of the day, it’s an exchange of goods. Always be ready to show proof or provide a reference person for your client so he/she knows that you are worth investing on. Basically, be honest with yourself and be fair with your price. If you can’t execute a task properly, maybe you need to readjust your price.”
On staying motivated. “I stay motivated with the idea that if I give up now, I will also be giving up the lifestyle that gives me the chance to be truly independent. As I always say in my talks and one-on-one consultations, you have to remember that being a freelancer is both a lifestyle choice and a career choice. Be ready for a huge change and commit to it.”