The following article is a post in a two-week series on “Graduating From College During a Recession” presented by the members of the College Money Network. You can get all of the posts in this series and more by subscribing to the College Money Network RSS feed.
There are two routes on getting side income: finding a part-time job to supplement your income and freelancing your skills and talents.
I wrote about a few places with flexible part-time jobs a while back. I wrote a bit about how people focus on one side of the personal finance equation:
Many people think that cutting expense is the only way to build savings and reduce debt. That’s not true. One of the basic principles of personal finance is to spend less than you earn. Most people focus on the former because it can be easier to look at ways to reduce your bills.
The great thing about that principle is that there’s another part: earning more money. If you’re expenses are low and you’re looking to set aside some money; consider getting a part-time job. Some people feel that their schedule doesn’t allow another income.
This post is focusing on the second method of increasing your income: freelancing.
Face your fears about freelancing and entrepreneurship.
If you’re a new college graduate and you don’t have a job lined up or your job is basically to pay for your bills, then seriously consider freelancing. It can build your skills, network, and your income. You may be afraid to try to have a side job in this economy since it’s hard for some graduates (and others) to find a decent payin office job. See this as an oppurtunity to build another income source.
Assess one service that you can offer with your current skill set.
You can always build up your side job, so start off small and focused. If you’re a business graduate, for example, offer your accounting skills to local small businesses with bookkeeping. If you’re a web designer, try approaching business with websites already that could use an update to help bring in more business.
Check with SCORE to get advice on taxes, legal, and accounting information.
SCORE is a wonderful free resource that allows you to connect with experts in the business field with years of practical experience.
Get your own website up, email ready, and Paypal account open.
Use your website to build some credibility. You DO NOT have to spend a ton of money. I got my first website for less than $20. I use Nearly Free Speech for hosting and use WordPress as my blog platform. You can use your hosting service for email services or use Gmail, which has a free option a well.
Your websites should include your contact information, portfolio, and a pitch about why your services are needed.
Scour online and in your local area for clients.
Freelance Switch has some wonder tips on how and where to find clients (check the link to 101 tips). I’m listing a few that are free or low cost ways for when you just get started:
- Send out an email to everyone in your address book, announcing what you do, where you are and what you can offer
- Ask your satisfied clients for referrals
- Do some pro-bono work for a charitable organization with industry links
- Contact people you used to work with and ask them to send you any run-off work they might have
- Practice an elevator speech about what you do and have it ready to go wherever you are
- Participate on online forums (using the forum signature line)
- Comment on blogs to draw people back to your freelance site
- Keep an eye on online job boards
- Check out Craigs List for your city
What to Do With Side Income
If you’re a graduate looking for a job, then by all means, use the money to help pay your bills. After you find a job that can cover your bills, use your side income to:
- Build/Start your emergency fund
- Pay off your debt
- Build up your side business
- Sock away for retirement
- Save up for a vacation
Additional Resources for Freelancers and Entrepreneurs:
- Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur
- Freelance Switch
- My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley
- The FreelanceSwitch Rates Calculator
- 40+ Alternative Income Ideas and Resources
- Earn more money using your God-given skills
- How to Start (or Start-over) Building Your Personal Brand
Graduating From College During a Recession Series
- Are Employers Having More Trouble in the Recession, Too?
- 6 Stupid Ways to Waste Money After College
- Are Internships an Option?
- Is Grad School Right for You?
This articl was editor’s choice for the Carnival of Cashflow Consciousness #2.