By Alicia Rades
Are you a college student? Whether you’re fresh out of high school or you’re planning to go back to school, I have a secret to tell you: Making a living from home while working on your degree is not impossible.
How do I know that? Because I’ve done it.
I am many things. I am a wife. I’m a freelancer. I’m a writer. And I’m a student.
Last year (2015), I made $35,000 from home while going to school full-time. Here’s how I did it.
It sounds next to impossible, but it’s not. The first step I took in creating a successful business while in school is realizing that I could control my life and my schedule.
I’m a freelance writer, which means that I run my own business writing blog posts for business clients. While I have deadlines, I do not have set work hours, so I can create my own schedule.
When I decided I wanted to freelance full-time, I realized that I also needed to be able to create my own school schedule. I wanted my business and my schooling to work together, not against each other.
That’s why I enrolled in online classes from an accredited university. For the past two and a half years, I have had complete control over my schedule, and that’s one of the main reasons I believe I was able to build a career while working on my degree.
You don’t necessarily have to follow the same path, but it is important that you realize that you can take control. Determine what isn’t working for you, and realize that as a work at home wife, you have the opportunity to change things to work in your favor.
Plan for the Long-Term
I was working from home for several years before I decided to make a career out of it and I switched to an online program. This decision was a turning point for me. No longer was I just trying to make money. My goal was to build a business.
Guess what will happen if you start planning for the long term. You’ll have milestones you’ve set out to reach, and you can plan the steps you need to take to get where you want to be. You might find that your rates increase 20 times what you started at, which will allow you to focus more on the individual client and worry about quality over quantity. From there, your business will only continue growing, and you’ll end up with more money—and less stress. That’s what happened to me.
Even if you don’t want to build a career out of your home business, really consider what your long-term goals are. If you plan to work from home for the next four years to help you get through college, then think about your goals for those four years instead of focusing on the next four weeks. Where do you want to be with your work at home job after you’re done with school, and how will you get there?
Don’t Discount the Value of Your Education
If you don’t have a degree yet, that’s okay. You can still use your education to your advantage when running a home-based business.
I’ve had the same thoughts before. “I don’t have a degree, so I’m not that qualified, am I?” Turns out, a lot of people are impressed by the simple fact that I’m working on a degree. Since I’m a writer majoring in communications, they see that as relevant experience even though I don’t have my bachelor’s yet.
So don’t be afraid to share the word about your education. You may just find that it will help clients notice you over other people in your field who don’t have any formal postsecondary education.
What if you aren’t majoring in the type of work you’re doing? Consider ways you can make it relevant. For example, a dietetics major who is writing on the side could leverage his or her education in nutrition to write for health websites.
The steps I took to accomplish my goals won’t necessarily work for everyone. Building a business and going to school from home worked for me because I thrive best independently, but that may not be true for you.
The reality is that there is no one right way to do it. You don’t have to be taking night classes to earn your degree while working. Nor do you have to work full-time hours to earn a full-time income. You don’t have to sacrifice your grades to make it happen, either. (I’m proof. I’m in my last term and will be graduating with honors.)
Building a career while going to school is possible. If you take the three tips I’ve mentioned above to heart, I have faith that you’ll succeed. The choice is yours.
Alicia Rades (@aliciarades) is a professional writer and blogger who specializes in blogging and freelancing topics. Learn more about her at aliciarades.com, where you can download her free blogging guide, 20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hitting Publish.