ROI, if you're not a business student you may be unfamiliar with the term. It stands for return on investment. As a college student you should evaluate these three forms of ROI: financial, emotional and positional when taking on work.
  1. When taking on a new job, it is important to consider your financial ROI. Most simply, how much money will you be awarded in exchange for your time and effort?
  2. No considered often enough, what will be your emotional return on investment? If a job leaves you happy and intellectually satisfied, then it provides you with a valuable emotional ROI.
  3. How will  a job effect your position in life? A job could be considered a great investment even if it paid nothing and was boring if it would deliver a great positional ROI. Think of an internship, that's how they work?
In this paper I'm going to make a case for student freelance work and explain how to obtain a positive ROI in all three metrics. Disclaimer: I'm not here to bullshit you and I'll prove that with this story. In college I got a job working in a sorority kitchen. It paid me more in food than cash and the job did nothing to advance my career following graduation. But it was maybe the best job I've ever had because it was so damn fun. Yes, I highly suggest for you to be a student freelancer, but I tell you the above story to show that there are multiple paths to take in life.

Financial ROI

Student freelance work is quite lucrative compared to typical college jobs, at least on an hourly basis. Generally speaking, students should work for $15/hr at bare minimum, but much freelance work pays even better. When writing for instance, a student should earn at 10¢/word at minimum. If you take the freelance college approach you stand to gain a much higher potential for earnings, but this comes with a trade-off. The moment you get hired at a traditional job, there is a guarantee of money consistently coming to you in exchange for your time and effort. However, when you decide to start freelancing in college there is no such guarantee. In this regard freelancing is like fishing, in that there is no guaranteed reward for effort. But that doesn't mean that the financial reward of freelancing is some unobtainable prize.
Actionable Advice
If you are in a financial situation where you do not have the luxury of waiting for money to come in, keep reading. Everyone else can skip to the next paragraph. Like I said, effort alone doesn't guarantee monetary compensation in freelancing. You could very likely win a $1,200 job your first week like I did, but I wouldn't count on it if I was in your situation. What I would do is stick to my part-time job if I had one. And then in my free-time I'd slowly invest in my life as a freelance student. If I didn't have a job, then I'd split my time between finding traditional and freelance work. Once I was in a comfortable situation in terms of money I made freelancing, I'd leave behind the part-time job to focus on freelancing.
With freelancing there is no reward without effort. An online job board like is the perfect place to initially focus your effort in order to learn the trade. I'd recommend making a routine where you apply to a few jobs every weekday. With this sort of consistent volume you should be able to win jobs.
Improving and adding new skills is one of the best ways to make yourself more valuable and in turn improve your financial ROI. is my favorite resource to learn such skills.
The last recommendation I have for making more money is to use your cunning to find new clients. I promote, as I intend it to be a learning ground for new freelancers, but there are many more avenues to find new clients. I encourage you to be creative and search for such opportunities. PRO TIP: An emergency fund is a savings safety net that has enough money to last you X amount of months, usually six. Having an emergency fund puts you in a position to take risks without fear finding yourself in a catastrophic situation. My life changed after saving for an emergency fund.

Positional ROI

I'm a  big believer in goals and exit strategies. I like knowing what I'm working for and knowing how I can exit whatever situation I currently find myself in. Where you want to go in life is not something I'll wager to guess. I can tell you two things, though. One, if you think creatively you can figure out how to use freelancing to your advantage. Two, think about your resumé. Think about telling a potential employer how you independently ran your own business, interacted with clients, demonstrated tech skills and more. A successful freelancer is a highly desirable hire.

Where to go from here

IF you believe teachers are supremely helpful in the pursuit of knowledge, which you should, I'd suggest getting The Modern Guide to Freelancing. It is an ebook that has simple, actionable steps. I've written it based off of years of experience in order to help you make more money and have less headaches. This book will help you and I stand by that.

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