1 in 5 uni graduates in the UK cannot get a job within the first year of leaving university, Gemma knew this and did something about it, she decided to work for herself.
I spoke to Gemma a section moderator on extremely popular student forum, Thestudentroom.co.uk, she graduated from uni with a 2.1 in Psycology, very well done to her! Through her sixth form studying and uni degree she made some extra cash through NeoBux, Triond and writing agencies, Gemma now works for herself selling her services on Freelancer.com, here is her story:
Oliver: Tell me a bit about yourself, what you’ve been doing to make money online through your sixth form and uni education and what you do now.
Gemma: My name’s Gemma and I grew up near Liverpool in the UK. I had a fairly normal life, went through state school and got decent grades, and had a huge background in music. I was in a band and now I teach young pupils as part of my self employed work. I love it, and it’s always changing, which is great.
I went to Liverpool Hope University in 2009 to study Psychology. I did that because, quite simply, it was the only A Level that I took and didn’t hate. I lived in halls for my first year and then commuted from home in second and third year which made things a little difficult but still quite fun. I graduated with a 2:1 BSc Degree in July 2012, and I have to admit it’s one of my greatest achievements to date.
The first time I heard about making money on the internet was back in 2008 when I heard about a website called NeoBux. This website still exists, although I no longer use it, and users make money by clicking on advertisements. The earnings are very small, but so is the required effort, and there is an excellent referral system. This is where the money is for those who make it. At one point I was earning $8 a day on there, which seems like nothing now, but was very helpful when I was in sixth form and just needing a little money to pay for lunch and the odd night out.
In February 2009, I found a website called Triond.com where you can upload and publish articles that you have written. You get paid $0.01 per 4-100 views depending on the quality of your articles, and the advertisements that are placed upon it. I worked on here on and off for a while, because I could easily write a good quality article in 10 minutes and then earn a couple of dollars for it which was great. I was nearing the end of sixth form by this point, and I actually published all of my essays that I’d done as homework, and ended up making around $100 for them which was a nice little bonus. One of the best things about Triond is that, although earnings are low, once your articles are online, they earn for you for life. I have over 700 articles on there now that I wrote over a period of just over 3 years, and they are still giving me a nice little residual income even though I haven’t logged onto the website at all since July.
In 2010 I applied for a job at Search Sciences LLP, which is a company that pays writers to come up with content for websites. This was good, and I managed to earn a couple of hundred pounds a month alongside my studying, but the work dried up within a year so it didn’t last too long. I wasn’t too worried at this point as I had my student loan so money wasn’t at the front of my mind.
Fast forward to 2012 and I had to start thinking about graduating and no longer having student finance to support me. I realised that, given the current economic climate, I was going to struggle to get a job. I made the decision that I would attempt to make it as a self employed writer, as this would give me the best chance to make the money that I needed.
I applied for a job at Prospect Solution, which deals with academic writing, and I got it. You are given a list of possible jobs and you can accept as few or as little as you like. This wasn’t ideal for me, as I was bored of academic style essays, but it gave me the money that I needed for a while.
I am registered self employed, and I have been for several years. I feel that this is the best way, as it means that I am able to manage my finances well.
Soon after graduating, I read a feature in a newspaper about a website called Freelancer.com and it sounded interesting. It works as a bridge between freelancers and employers, allowing jobs and skills to be advertised. As a freelancer, I am able to bid on jobs and then the employer chooses which bid to pick. When jobs are completed, both the freelancer and the employer leave each other a rating, and those with the best ratings are the most successful on the website.
Getting the first job is difficult, as you have no ratings, so I found that I had to bid on work with very competitive prices. Eventually I managed to get that first rating, and from there I was given almost all of the work that I bid for. I am now working on Freelancer full time, and find that I am earning a decent wage. Projects pay anything between £30 and £750, so your wages very. There are some employers who would pay £30 for a 500 word article, which takes me around 10 minutes, and others who would pay £30 and expect 30 articles for that, but it is up to you which work you bid on. I find that it’s good to bid for a mixture of high and low paying work, and it does even out in the end.
Oliver: How viable an option do you see sites such as freelancer, and triond etc..?
Gemma: I see Freelancer as a very viable option, but it’s all about your own skill and how you advertise that. For example if you have a poor writing style then you won’t do well on writing jobs. There are also a lot of other things that you can do, including design and programming, so it’s not just writing. I wouldn’t think that Triond is viable for the average person, although if you can get lots of referrals quickly then you may be able to make a little money.
Oliver: Did you ever see yourself as working for yourself before graduating or before going to Uni?
Gemma: I did, because I knew the economy wasn’t great, so I knew that I would have to think outside of the box. I didn’t necessarily want to become a professional writer, but I always wrote as a hobby (and I have a book published) so it was something I enjoyed. I knew I wanted to teach music, so I would always have been self employed doing this.
Oliver: Do you have to be an english expert to make money writing online etc..?
Gemma: You don’t have to be an expert, but the higher the quality of your work, the more you’re able to charge. There are some people who are willing to write for as little as $0.05 per 500 words, but these are generally non native workers in countries where that kind of money goes a lot further than here. I would never usually accept any less than $4 per 500 words, which takes me around 10 minutes, but obviously I have to make a judgement for each individual project.
Oliver: How did you find the transition into going self employed, are you business minded? Did you find it intimidating?
Gemma: It was a little intimidating, because you have to manage your own finances, you don’t get holiday pay or pay if you are unable to work for whatever reason. I also have to pay my tax/student loan repayments in a lump sum at the end of the tax year, and that’s a little scary as I have to make sure I keep enough aside. I am business minded, and I’m always looking for new contracts and smaller projects to fill the time between each one. I’ve always been quite fascinated with savings and investment, so I’m looking for ways to save money all the time. For example at the moment I’m looking into becoming a landlord in the property market.
Oliver: What are the best and worst aspects of working for yourself, or working from home?
Gemma: The best is obviously the fact that you can take on as much or as little work as you need at the time. At the minute I’m taking as much as I can cope with as I’m saving for a little property, but if I want to take a holiday I’m free to do so whenever I wish; though obviously I wouldn’t get paid. The worst thing is actually the same as the best thing. Because you can work whenever you like, it’s hideously easy to procrastinate and I have to be strict with myself. There’s also the issue of not having any colleagues so it can get a little lonely, so I have to make sure I meet up with my friends regularly, and spend plenty of time with my family and boyfriend. I’m not sure whether I’d be a freelancer forever, but at the moment there’s no other job that I could get that is as well paid, so certainly from a financial point of view this is best for me in the short term.
Oliver: Thanks so much for your time Gemma