You have your degree. If you’re like me, you also have a boatload of student loans. Too bad you don’t have a job, right? Welcome to the reality of recent grads all over the world. It sucks, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. I’ve compiled the best 10 freelance jobs for recent grads so you can start building your portfolio in the meantime.
Let’s be real for a minute or two. As a recent grad, you’re not drowning in work experience.
I worked my way through college doing odd jobs like working in retail and even a call center (don’t remind me). I hustled on the side to build my “real” career experience by starting a blog and freelance writing. Without those things, I would have been a heck of a lot worth off when graduation day came.
The freelance revolution is here. It’s how young people everywhere are working abroad. It’s how companies are finding new employees. It’s real life. This isn’t some magic solution I’m making up for attention. This is my life. This is how I pay rent. Freelancing was my emergency exit. It’s how I escaped my hellish 9-5 gig, and it’s how I quit my two part-time jobs in college.
I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you studied. If me–an English major–can find freelance positions that work for me, there’s hope for everyone. These freelance gigs are ideal for recent grads who want to build experience, learn about the industry, and maybe even pursue an alternative path.
I obviously have to start with the most obvious one for me, since this is my position-of-choice. I studied English, so this was as close as a fit that was possible for my skills. Most freelance writers aren’t writing the next big American Novel. They’re not writing news articles either that appear in local papers. They’re writing for the web.
By writing for the web, I mean freelance writers are creating blog posts, web copy, landing pages, promotional materials, or emails. They might do just one of those things or all of them. When writing for the web, you need to have a basic understanding of formatting, SEO, and link rules to avoid problems and actually attract clients. The good news is there are a lot of freelance writing positions for recent grads. The internet is a big place. All businesses need to create web content to attract clients or customers. That’s where us writers come in.
Instead of rambling about freelance writing, I’ll just point you to my plethora of resources on the topic:
- Listen to my podcast where I sit down with a fellow freelance writer and talk tips for getting started.
- Read this blog post where I share the best way to land your first client.
- Finally, download this guide to freelance writing in college and beyond.
Like freelance writing, you need some skills to be a freelance editor. That being said, you don’t need to have published books under your belt to get started editing. There are two types of editing if you want to break it down. The first type helps edit web content and prepare it for publication online. The second kind helps creative writers with short stories, poetry, or even full-fledged novels.
As a freelance editor, you’ll need to be a better-than-competent writer. You also need to work quickly. If you have editing experience in college as a writing tutor or publication leader, you’re probably a good fit for this position. You can find a lot of freelance editing positions for web content and beyond on Upwork and Fiverr.
Freelance Graphic Design
Graphic designers are needed now more than ever. It’s one of the best freelance jobs for recent grads. There are new websites created every day for both bloggers and businesses. Graphic designers are needed to outfit these brands, social channels, and websites with quality designs. You don’t need formal training to start with graphic design, but you should have a kick-butt portfolio. I explain how to start your own portfolio website for free in this guide.
As a graphic designer, you need to prove you know your way around the top programs. While tools like Canva and Picmonkey are great for getting started, you’ll want to move on to the big boys like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign.
Freelance web designers are used to building all types of websites, no matter the industry. Did you grow up building Matmice websites and Neopet pages like I did? Do you know a thing or two about the basics of content management platforms like WordPress? Then you have the makings of a web designer! Once again, you’ll need to get a portfolio together to start selling your services.
As a web designer, you can sell custom websites or you can create templates to sell on their own. Both ways have a lot of earning potential!
Are you organized and good at getting stuff done? You’re in luck because a lot of people aren’t! Or, there are a lot of busy professionals who rely on people like you to take care of daily tasks. Either way, you can find a lot of success (and a steady income) as a virtual assistant. As a virtual assistant, you can work hourly or per project.
Common virtual assistant tasks include social media management, responding to emails, travel arrangements, editing documents, or even helping build a website. As a virtual assistant, you can go through a company that will help you find the right clients and ensure you get paid, or you can market your serves on your own.
Tutoring or Teaching
As an English major, I was asked if I planned to teach more times than I’d ever care to count. If I’d known online teaching was a thing, maybe I wouldn’t have had a meltdown every time someone asked me that dreaded question. While you can tutor just about anything online with apps like Wyzant, you also can teach English through one of the many online language schools.
With most of these English teaching positions, you have the freedom to set your own hours and work with students one-on-one. You don’t need any teaching experience as long as you have a degree and you’re a native English speaker!
Social Media Marketing
Are you basically a Twitter pro? Do you know how to make content go viral and how to engage with your followers? You might have the makings of a social media marketer. While marketing majors might be a natural fit for this position, you don’t need any formal training. Budding businesses often don’t have the time or manpower to devote a lot of time to building their social media channels. That’s where your services come in!
Be sure to back up your skills with some real-world stats and know how. Starting a blog and building a following that way is the best way to show you know what you’re talking about to potential clients.
Freelance Data Entry
Writing college essays have done a thing or two for my typing speeds. I’m not trying to brag (okay, I totally am) but my writing speeds are in the top 99%. I’m basically a superhero. It’s too bad data entry makes me want to pull my hair out. If you have the patience for typing all day and reviewing documents for accuracy, you might make a great freelance data entry professional.
Like said before, a lot of new businesses don’t have the time to devote to data entry. You can offer your services to these businesses and take the hard work off their plate! You can also go through a data entry company like these on FlexJobs.
Video or Audio Production
Did you major in something film or audio related? You’re in luck. Video marketing might just be the next big thing online today, and that means lots of businesses need to hire great video and audio producers to keep up with the competition. You can work in your local community by helping businesses put together things like infomercials and digital content or you can work freelance online.
Online creators often have a lot of work and not enough time. If you’re skilled with video or audio mixing, you can make a hefty living helping creators put together their videos or audio files. Think outside the box! Podcasts are having a bit of a moment, and a good editor can take these to the next level. Similarly, YouTube creators often hire freelance editors to help them with big projects.
If you know you’re way around a camera, you can make some cash as a photographer. I don’t mean that you know how to use iPhone’s portrait mode. There are always local events like weddings, birthdays, and community parties that need quality photographers. If you’d rather go a different route, you can sell stock photos to platforms that pay photographers. For even more earning potential, sell your stock photos in limited packages to bloggers or another niche on Etsy or Creative Market.
Freelance Jobs for Recent Grads Today
As a freelancer, I’m completely in charge of my own time. I can sleep in, take days off when I want, and work from everywhere. This is my dream job, and I’m living it right now at age 22. I got a head start by freelancing my way through college, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on the freelancer revolution right now.
After college is the perfect time to freelance. By working on your own, you can build your portfolio, gain job experience the workforce actually cares about, and you have the freedom to live life on your own terms. Want more freelancer-inspo? Check out my new podcast Offbeat Grad which is for all 9-5 escape artists like bloggers and freelancers.