Are you coming to the end of your degree, and starting to think about what your next steps are? A little overwhelmed by the options. Wondering if freelancing is for graduates?
Hey, I get it. When I graduated (many) years ago, I felt like my first job after university could make or break my career and life. Back then, after a four year degree in business, I had no idea what freelancing was. All I could see was two options – graduate schemes/full time jobs, or brick and mortar businesses. I had no idea what freelancing even was, and definitely no idea of what freelancing for graduates was.
When I stumbled into freelancing after a job in recruitment and a job in HR, I fell in love. I was able to work on multiple different projects, where every day was different, and I felt in control. It felt like a career I could really build to work for me (and it turns out, having an ADHD brain and being an introvert made a 9-5 job in an office torture for me!)
But is freelancing something that’s right for you? Here are some of the benefits (and a few reasons why it might not be!)
1. It’s a great way to gain experience in your field. If you’re not sure what you want to specialise in, freelancing allows you to dine at the career buffet. Try different things.
2. Flexible working hours and location. I know that more jobs offer this since lockdown/Covid, but being freelance means you don’t have to sit on teams being clock watched. Plus if you’re more of a night owl, or an early bird, you can work in a way that works best for your body and brain.
3. Learn to manage your time and work independently. This is a huge selling point if you do decide to return to employed life later on, being able to show how you managed your time, multiple clients and be self-motivated and be able to use your own initiative is definitely something to highlight on your CV.
4. Develop a professional network. Through networking, marketing and managing your social media accounts, freelancing allows you to create a large network, plus some great recommendations.
5. Earn money while learning new skills. As long as you’re not taking on unpaid work, freelancing allows you to develop your skills while getting paid. As a freelancer, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a huge number of software and tools when working with clients, either through teaching myself or picking it up on the job. It’s also helped me learn how to deal with lots of different kinds of clients.
6. Being able to adapt your job and processes to your needs. I was only diagnosed with ADHD last year, but have unknowingly been building my business to work with my brain rather than against it. That means creating processes and workflows that work for my brain, allowing myself rest when I’m overstimulated, working in an environment that isn’t too overwhelming, and working out different ways to make boring jobs more interesting or fun for that essential dopamine hit.
7. Control and freedom to choose your projects. One of my favourite things about freelancing, is that I don’t have to say yes to every project. Sure, I might occasionally agree to do a boring-but-well-paid gig. But the ones that make me dread Mondays are the ones I turn down. That’s not a luxury you get when you’re an employee.
8. Learn to market yourself and build a personal brand. Another skill you’ll pick up as a freelancer, is how to market yourself, identify your ideal clients or customers and build a personal brand, making you a bit of a marketing whizz.
9. Opportunity to specialise in a certain skill. Want to only offer coding jobs? Prefer the idea of just specialising in Reels? You can! In fact, the more specialised you are, the easier it is to market yourself.
10. Have the potential to earn more money than a traditional job. Yup, it’s true! There are plenty of freelancers in my Facebook group who earn more than they could have in a traditional job. Especially those who have physical or mental health conditions that ruled out the traditional workplace to them.
But how do you know if it’s NOT for you?
- If you love being around people all the time, you might find freelancing a little lonely. However, there are some great co-working venues around, and lots of online communities.
- If the idea of being in charge of running your own business, doing your accounts, PR, marketing, sales and client facing roles, fills you with fear, it might not be for you.
- You’re very risk averse
- It’s vital that you have a full time income coming in straight away. Freelancing tends to build up over the first couple of months, so you may not make a huge amount initially.
Freelancing may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth considering if you’re a recent graduate. Want help getting set up? I have a 30 Days To Go Freelance course that walks you through all the steps to get set up. And it’s only £29! Plus, check out The Ultimate Guide To Getting Started As A Freelancer.