You thought it would be easy to start freelance blogging while you’re still in college, right?
Easy, fun, and profitable?
Ugh — reality stinks! 🙁
Writing a blog post doesn’t take only 5 minutes. And juggling between college classes, homework and blogging assignments makes you feel like there’s no end to your day.
I know it’s hard. Believe me, been there, done that (still doing that!).
But forget the words “give up” — you can be a freelance blogger.
NOW, while you’re still studying.
You just need a little help to juggle it all and stay productive.
The internet offers plenty of advice for students on how to approach a prospect and all that stuff. It’s not too difficult once you get started.
But none of that freelance advice will work if you can’t balance your blogging life and your student life. So, here’s how to do that.
To turn your ambitions into reality, you need practical tips.
As a university student and a freelance blogger, the tips below come directly from my experience. Use them as you like (and no, you don’t have to use them ALL!) but remember that they will only turn out fruitful if you believe in yourself and in your capabilities.
Now, get on with reading. No excuses! 😉
1. Schedule time for freelance blogging
You’re already accustomed to using a calendar or a planner. You do it to schedule your homework and free time, your classes, seminars, club meetings and much more.
You know you can do this with freelance blogging, too, don’t you?
Go grab your weekly calendar or planner and schedule writing time at the best available hours. That can be after classes, before dinner, after dinner, on weekends, or whenever else you have spare time. Just make sure it’s a time you can use without interruptions and that you can stick to.
If you get bored easily with fixed blogging times, study your schedule and come up with more of them. Then just rotate through a different set of times each week. That’ll help keep you focused and your brain productive.
2. Take advantage of study breaks
When you take a break from studying, your brain naturally switches its attention to something different from the topic you’ve been focusing so hard on.
It’s a stress-relieving tactic, and you can take advantage of this time to relax a little and then get to write a paragraph, email a client, or pitch a new blog.
Just make sure you wait a couple of minutes to let your brain slowly change focus again before you switch back to the subject you’re studying.
Follow your natural patterns of attention and you’ll create a win-win in your work/study balance.
3. Do small business tasks in class time
Use the spare time between classes, while you’re waiting for a teacher to start a class, and any “dead moments” during classes.
The time you have to spend might be as little as five minutes, but you can use that to plan your work schedule, write down ideas, outline a post or start a draft — quick tasks that will make your work easier to complete later on.
4. Get your ideas on paper during meals
This is something I do when my dining table isn’t too cluttered. And it works! Keep a notepad with you on the table so you can jot down ideas as they come to you.
It’s an easy task, but it can save you time later when you have to pitch blogs and magazines, as you’ll have a notebook full of ideas to offer to your prospect.
5. Make side notes during study periods
No need to interrupt your studying, but if the chapter you’re reading or the academic exercise you’re doing inspires you, write a side note on your notebook or textbook to remind yourself that this might be a good possible topic to write about for a niche or a business blog.
You should see my textbooks — they’re filled with side notes. 😉 Scribble away!
6. Market while you travel, or before bedtime
In only a few minutes you can promote your posts, check emails and comments, and reply to the most urgent messages.
You don’t need to make extra time for these activities — just do them on the bus, while you wait for a train, while you have downtime between classes, or before bedtime. (Maybe not immediately before bedtime if you’re an insomniac. Though if you stick to simple tasks, they won’t get in the way of your rest.)
7. Reduce extracurricular activities to increase blogging time
That doesn’t mean you should give up on clubs or internships you care about. Nor does it mean you have to give up hanging out with friends. Just look at your schedule and see if you can identify any activities you don’t really care about. Then quit those inessential activities.
Setting up and nurturing your freelance business takes time and effort, so you need to make room for writing and prospecting in your daily routine.
8. Get enough sleep
Duh. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t get enough sleep you won’t have enough energy to study AND work.
Human bodies can’t stretch too far without rest — sooner or later they break under the strain. So make sure to take care of your health, read Sarah Clachar’s post on YOU as your #1 freelance asset and remember to plan your day when you wake up.
Work hard, but don’t grind yourself down!
9. Choose internships for writing experience (and clips)
Internships are mostly unpaid, but they make great work experience to add to your résumé — and to your freelance credits.
Take copywriting jobs, for example. They often require previous experience as a writer, editor, marketer or sales manager at a company or an agency.
As a student it will be easier for you to find internships in your freelance field, so don’t miss any opportunities to gain experience points in relevant roles. You’ll need them later!
10.”Outsource” small non-writing tasks to a study buddy
One of your friends can code HTML and CSS? Great! They can help you with your freelancer website.
Your classmate has a sharp eye for catching errors? You’ve found your proofreader!
‘Outsource’ non-writing tasks to your friends anytime you (and they) can. That will help you make more time for blogging and prospecting, so you won’t have to scramble to get everything done.
11. Find a writing spot in the library
Whether it’s among shelves of great literature or tucked away in the business studies section, choose a quiet, comfortable corner in your college library.
Now make that your place for writing — and nothing else, not even studying. It’s much easier to get “in the zone” when you have a physical zone to go to.
12. Find your balance
It’s easy to forget about freelance work when you’re deep into your studies. And it’s easy to forget you’re also a student when you’re working on an interesting freelance blogging project.
However, remind yourself often that you are not one or another — you’re both. And to continue being both, you have to seek the balance between work and study (and everything else in your life, including time to relax).
Avoid burnout, find your balance point, and plan, plan, plan so you can stay balanced.
13. Study your semester schedule to plan your blogging
To seek the balance I mentioned in tip #12, you have to grab your next semester schedule and plan chunks of freelance blogging time to fit around it. Once you’ve picked those, block them out and only change them if a sudden college duty comes up (a test, a lab session, etc.).
Merely reading this post won’t help you — start planning NOW! Grab a piece of paper and a pen and plan your work, study and all-things-life time for tomorrow. Go!
14. Pick and drop gigs to suit your schedule
When your course schedule frees up a little or you have an upcoming vacation, that’s the right time to pick new freelance gigs — time to pitch, follow up, send out letters of introduction, work!
Conversely, if your course schedule is too tight to allow for freelance work, finish up your current assignments and don’t take up more freelance projects until your study schedule frees up again.
15. Get up an hour earlier (if you can)
If you went to sleep an hour earlier last night, you can wake up an hour earlier this morning. And get to work before your class schedule starts.
It’s a good time to write, because you can get one of your daily duties off the list early and focus on your classes later, without the thought of “work to get done” nagging at you.
Don’t do it if you need to catch up on your sleep, though (see tip #8). In that case, it’s better for you to use that hour to sleep so you have more energy to study and then work in the evening.
16. Pitch and charge!
Talk to people who may need guest posts or a regular contributor. Get your name out there — let people know what you are capable of and how much your services cost.
Tailor your prices to your target market. If you’re helping fellow college students, make the price more in a price range YOU could afford, but never sell yourself short. If your target market is corporate blogging, charge higher rates.
17. Create a sliding price scale
You’re willing to be flexible and that’s great, but make sure you have a bottom line price, a numerical value you won’t go below.
You provide a necessary service — do not accept payments in the form of subscriptions or favors. You are worth MONEY.
For example, your prospect might say your payment will be visibility: “People will read your article on my blog and you’ll get free publicity!”
But you wouldn’t go to a mechanic and say, “Your payment will be others seeing me driving my functioning car and knowing you fixed it!” Right? So the answer to that type of proposal is NO.
Freelance blogging as a student can get tough, but first hand experience taught me to take advantage of any available moment. It’s a lot like what writer mamas do, too.
And on being “too young”…
You’re NOT too young to freelance. Bamidele Onibalusi started at age 16. I did at 19. And Gloson was only 10 when he started his blog!
There’s nothing wrong with being young. It’s no turn-off to clients.
Youth is an asset, not a downside. You have everything it takes to show your clients you’re creative, energetic, positive and reliable.
So stop thinking of how you’ll be a freelance blogger ‘one day’. You have what it takes now. 🙂
What’s your trick to balance college and freelance blogging?