Student Freelancing Tips from a Top Paperound Tasker

Jess Mival – Creative Writing Student at Brunel University, and popular Paperound Tasker, shares her tips on building work experience and working with clients.

It’s September 2021. I’m standing in the kitchen of my uni house, complaining to my housemate about the difficulty of finding a job and how expensive toilet roll is now. Whether it’s to shut me up or because she actually thinks it would work for me- she suggests I look at Paperound.

Within a few days I’m signed up, my profile is ready, and it’s only a matter of time until the messages start rolling in… Looking back now, one year later, I think about the things I wish I’d known then.

1. Find your confidence; being shy will do you no favours.

Talking yourself up can be difficult, but your Paperound listing is a way to sell yourself, so don’t be afraid to boast about your skills. Imagine if you were selling a coat to somebody; you wouldn’t list all the scuffs and negatives- you’d talk about its warmth, reliability and sturdiness. Try and imagine that you are that coat, and describe yourself from an external viewpoint. 

When in doubt, check out some other users’ profiles for ideas on what to add and how to word it. However, it’s important to be yourself and write in your own tone of voice; businesses are looking to find out about you.

You should also try to take initiative; respond quickly to posted tasks, explaining why you’re a good fit for that project… You miss all the shots you don’t take, and sometimes the message can be as simple as:

“Hello, I’m interested in the sound of your company and this task. I have an array of experience in (insert relevant experience here) and would love to be involved.”

2. Ask, ask, ask- and you will receive answers!

Sometimes, someone might reach out with a vague task; maybe the hours aren’t clear or the task itself needs further clarification. Always ask for more details before saying yes; you don’t want to sign up for a task that you’re not able to complete to the best of your ability, or you don’t have the correct skills for. 

For your client to be happy with your work, make sure you’re on the same page! Asking any necessary questions will clear up all confusion and start to build a comfortable conversation between you. However, it can be tricky to think of the right words, so maybe something along the lines of this:

“Hi! Thanks for sending that info over, I was hoping you could clarify what you meant by (insert your query here)- I just want to make sure I have everything smoothed over before I start.”

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, communication will come easily- just try not to bombard your client with messages! Keep it concise and clear.

3. Know your worth, and utilise your experience.

If you’ve been gaining more skills and credibility through your tasks, it might be time to reassess your hourly rate; your rate should reflect your level of skill and experience in your work- just be sure to inform any ongoing clients of the change.

The skills you build through tasks are not exclusive to your Paperound profile; adding tasks you’ve completed to a portfolio, your CV, or your LinkedIn page is a great way to show off your experience.

Your work is also not just relevant in a business sense; many Universities are interested in the work you do outside of your classes. I recently took part in a ‘Freelancing Awards’ at my University- resulting in me winning a £1k cash prize! When you think of it that way, it’s always worth sharing your success!

4. Build a relationship with your clients

One of the best things you can do, through Paperound, is building a relationship with your clients. Completing work quickly and efficiently, and remaining on good terms with the business makes it more likely for them to book you for further tasks. Showing an understanding of the company’s values and tone of voice will also make continuous bookings more likely.

If it’s been a few days since you last contacted somebody, send a brief follow-up message to double check that the task is still going ahead. Messages get lost sometimes and people get busy, it’s okay to want to avoid being forgotten! Following up can show initiative and proves that you are focused, it might even gain you some brownie points with the client.

4. Keep track of your tasks and finances

If you have multiple tasks or several regular clients at a time, I would recommend separating your work or dedicating certain days to certain tasks. Time management can be tricky, and everyone is different in how they like to organise their workload. Personally, I prefer visuals; I always have some kind of diary or to-do list on the go to help me keep my life on track!

So, in my year with Paperound, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learnt how to sell myself, built on several skills, and even learnt how to say no (after a very stressful week of accepting too much work). I’d recommend you follow the above tips to keep yourself and your clients happy- oh, and remember to take a break sometimes too.