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The 6 Tips College Students and Graduates Should Know Before Pursuing a Freelance Writing Career

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

If you’re currently enrolled in college or have recently graduated and have a passion for the written word, you may be entertaining the idea of becoming a freelance writer. This career choice can provide flexibility and a creative outlet, but it’s important to lay a strong foundation from the start.

Here are six tips you should know as you explore this pathway.

1. You Can Start Your Career While in School or Soon After Graduating

During college, picking up freelance writing work can help you earn money while gaining experience. This is an ideal time to test the waters before committing to this path.

If you’ve already graduated, you may want to begin writing on the side while maintaining your day job at first. Once you’ve built up a loyal clientele, you can freelance full-time, all while consistently improving your product.

2. Spend Some Time Setting Up Your Unique Freelance Business Entity

When you go freelance, you essentially establish your own business, so make sure you set up necessary legal structures that will simplify your tax process and allow you to stay productive year-round. It’s important to:

  • Get a legally protective business structure set up as early as possible

  • Have an EIN, or tax ID number, assigned to identify your business

  • Simplify the process for filing state and federal taxes every year and/or quarter

  • Make your EIN and business tax information available to the IRS for payroll tracking purposes

3. Boost Your Craftsmanship With Formal Writing Training or Education

Although you can improve your writing skills simply by practicing, formal education can help you get up to speed quickly. Enhance your craftsmanship by:

  • Enrolling in a local course at a community college

  • Majoring in professional or creative writing in a degree or certificate program

  • Taking online training courses in specialized niches

  • Asking friends or family for honest feedback on your work

4. Find a Niche That Helps Set You Apart To Attract Regular Clients

Unfortunately, many freelance writers sometimes struggle to stay motivated. To maintain your intrinsic motivational levels while standing out from the competition and gaining clients, consider picking a freelancing niche. This move gives you a concentrated field of clients while positioning you as a subject matter expert.

According to one recent case study, it can be helpful to center your niche on your field of study. Consider writing about the topic you majored in or another subject you’re passionate about.

5. Explore Numerous Avenues To Find and Land Your First Writing Gigs

To land your first gig as a writer, you may need to explore opportunities within your college and beyond. Consider:

  • Pitching article ideas to your favorite websites

  • Writing guest posts for exposure

  • Posting samples of your work to your social media profiles

  • Starting your own online blog

  • Searching for openings at your local or college newspapers

  • Researching job boards in your desired niche

6. Build Your Portfolio and Gain Exposure To Start Making Your Name

With a comprehensive portfolio, you can begin making your name known. Assemble a portfolio that includes:

  • A short personal biography

  • Clips of the different content types you’ve written

  • A list of your available services

  • Links to online samples, your resume, and your social media profiles

For college students and recent graduates alike, pursuing a freelance writing career can be both fulfilling and potentially lucrative. To establish your business and start building your reputation, follow these six key tips.

Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. You can reach here:

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

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