"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Starting a Freelance Writing Career as a College Student

College Students as Freelance Writers

One of the great advantages in the changes of technology is that there exist great opportunities that didn't exist as recently as ten years ago. I graduated from college at the age of 21 back in 2002, and most of the writing websites that allow me to make a living freelance writing online now, the same online writing websites I will continue to recommend to my readers here, didn't even exist back in 2002, or were just looking to begin. How's that for strange? I've been a full time freelance writer in some form or another since 2005 - a mere three years after graduating college I held a job that didn't exist while I was going to college.

So there's no use in me being upset for not making a full time living or having my own full time business while in college because those opportunities didn't exist. But now they do. If you're a freshman in college, or a high school student about to go to college, and you like to write then there is absolutely no excuse for not having a very productive steady income by the time you're out of college - if not a full time passive income even before then.

Being a full time freelance writer does not mean you have to be an English major or use giant words from an extended vocabulary - in fact these things often get in the way. Studies show most adults read comfortably at what is considered a 6th grade level. So for a lot of web writing, this is exactly the level you want to write at. This makes it very easy for most young college students to learn how to freelance write online for a living.

There are many different routes to take. Guru.com and Elance.com are two fantastic sites to start a serious online writing career. It's hard to get started, but as you build a reputation the work tends to snowball, and both sites can provide a full time living with no outside assistance. Rentacoder and oDesk are two other sites I've heard some writers talk up, although I can't personally attest to either since I have not used either.

Even better for college students who want to make money writing is that they have something working for them that most other people don't (and the same applies to grad students as long as they are on scholarship or with a TA or RA job that pays full tuition), and that is time. Two years, three years, four years, even 8 years (assuming 5 year undergrad and 3 year MFA or something to that extent) where free time can be used towards building a long term viable passive writing income from a shoestring budget.

This is where Internet Marketing and keyword research come in. Learning about these topics while sharpening your skills as a writer gives you the time you need and the education you need in order to really make the most money writing online. Combining this with your writing can make websites like HubPages, eHow, Constant-Content, and many others pay off handsomly over the long run.

With time to learn about keywords, how search engines work, and to take this knowledge and have years to write content, there's no reason anyone in this position can't completely control their destinies by the end. College students are in an excellent position to create full time writing careers while still enjoying the college experience - I'm actually rather envious of anyone in that position and young age who has the knowledge and work ethic to be in this position, and I strongly would plead with them not to squander these advantages.

Beyond college students - anyone who is unemployed, going freelance because they were cut off from a steady gig, or just want a change of pace, I always recommend working on the long term income as well as the short term because it does pay off with every hour of work put in, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you control your own hours, your own income, and your own destiny.

Hope everyone is doing well, and have a Happy 4th of July!


  1. Really Excellent post.

    I also graduated college too long ago (2004) to fully take advantage of how accessible it is to create online content for income.

    I'd be curious to hear how college students are taking advantage of the blogging developments that have made it easier than ever for anyone to publish unique quality content.

  2. Hey John,

    Glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by, and I agree. I wish I heard more about college students really making it online, but I wonder if part of it is that many of them simply don't know about the opportunities that are there for them. I've written several writing blog posts about why college students should kick off freelance writing careers while in school, so hopefully it's a trend that will catch on.