Would freelancing to stay on track be a terrible idea?

First, I am learning coding as an hobby while getting a degree in chemistry.
Would you think that trying to find some small projects (or bigger, if they wouldn’t mind more time) to do for someone else is a terrible idea?
I am thinking about it because as much as I love solving problems and creating things, I find myself short on what to do.
Having a deadline and a contractor would increase a lot the accountability factor (and bringin home a few bucks is not a bad idea)

Stupid idea?
I know, I have not even considered that I could not find a project to do or things like that…


Not a stupid idea at all. The best way to learn is by doing and making a few bucks as well is gravy. That being said though it also depends on where you are at technically. If you have a handle on HTML, CSS and JavaScript enough to make a reasonable website then there is no reason not too. Offering to do a site for a local business, non-profit or friend for free or donation takes some of the pressure off, but you still have a goal and time structure to work with.

Opportunities are everywhere. A lot of small local business have very basic websites thrown together if at all. You could check them out and pick one. Do a basic workup ahead of time making it look better and then offer it as a sample of what you could do for them. For a small business owner the word free or cheap resonate well.


Not stupid at all, but I would urge caution when mixing work with studies.

Back in the dim and distant past I mixed freelance writing with university study and it was hell. Not because I couldn’t do the work or it was hard, but when you’re a business, clients don’t care that you’re at university, they want their product to be just-so. As a consequence,my university work was highly compromised by my vocational commitments.

Will you be able to deal with a site going down in the middle of your finals? A lawyer trying to contact you about a contractual issue in the middle of the night because they’re in Hong Kong and you’re in Seattle?

And most crucially - if you are successful - will you able be say no to jobs? It is very difficult to say no to cold, hard cash as a student. The thought of leaving university with no debts is intoxicating - but leaving without a degree would be, conversely, a disaster.

These are all real life issues - I should know, excess freelancing curtailed my own university experience.

It’ll be a great way of gaining industry experience and will give you some hard earned $$ but do be wary of how much work you do take on and don’t spread yourself too thinly.


Well, I don’t have any debts. I live in a completely different part of the world, max tuition for this year would be 2.4k € but with reductions for economical situation I should manage paying a lot less, and I am going to apply to a scholarship that I should get without issues…
My dealing with money would be to be able to afford a bit more and weight less on my parents’s shoulders, I will not have anything to repay in the future.
It was really just for the accountability (and maybe a new gadget or an extra pizza without stretching thin my monthly budget)

Obviously if it is a long term engagement I have to think carefully about it, but if it is a static website, or anything that I can give in hands to someone else should be less risky

Thank you, you gave really good point :slight_smile:

That seems a very good advice, I can think of a few people that would want a website for their business or a portfolio online for their freelancing career (not coding obviously)

And then I can start also adding those to my portfolio to show things I did as a commission…
Probably I need to do my portfolio double language then, the Internet is mainly English, but the local reality is pretty different…

Thank you :slight_smile:

Its a good idea, but it is a risky idea.

As said above, when your freelancing, your basically representing your business, most clients wont care to much about your personal life, they just want the work done. You will have the most to lose, as you could lose reputation, money and most importantly time, if you fail to deliver. Plus you get the added stress of work + study. The moment money is involved things get hairy, as something is on the line that isn’t yours so you either find someone willing to risk their money with you, or you find a situation where your the one handling all the risk, and that brings me too…

Do something free for someone

If you lack ideas, and have time to go out and build something, then build something for someone for free. This will give you a lot of opportunities in a “real world” setting, but without forcing another party to deal with risk, as if you don’t deliver, or what you deliver doesn’t work for them, then no worries. There are plenty of people who wouldn’t mind getting something for free, as long as you can deliver it, and there is reasonable expectations, odds are you probably can find something to do for someone. If your getting a degree somewhere, ask around the campus to see if there’s any work available todo, or heck do some research (it looks better on a resume) if you like what you’d learn.

Obviously you won’t get paid for this, but if your goal is to learn, earn credibility, do what you like, and you lack ideas yourself then working for free is an excellent place to start. Consider it the same thing as doing open source. (heck you can make it open source too!)

So yes you can go seek out work and do work, and deal with all that comes with doing a job. Or you can find what is essentially volunteer work and get all the benefits (except money) without most of the stress and risk.

PS. I spent a winter break between semesters building a desktop application for where I worked to automate some basic tasks that were being done in a spreadsheet. It looked great, and worked fine, but was spaghetti code. But it looked great in interviews, gave me tremendous experience and helped make my works day-life easier, as we no longer used and managed spreadsheets.

Also graduating with a degree and a real life example of relevant work experience is killer on a resume, so regardless of if you get paid or not, try to do something that relates to what you want to work and gain a huge advantage over most grads.

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Thank you all, I reached out to an acquaintance that had expressed their desire to have an online portfolio

And now comes that part that I would have never confronted, or not for a long time: setting up a local dev environment and were to host the website

Awesome, new challenges here I come!

just wanted to comment that i’m also getting a degree in chemical biology and im starting to learn how to code as of today haha its good to see that there’s someone in a similar situation
anyway, i wish you the best of luck!


I don’t suggest doing freelance to develop your skills. Simply based on the fact that clients want someone who already have a solid skill set to deliver a project.

Also consider that freelancing isn’t just technical skills but also business skills which isn’t a bad thing, but would defeat the purpose.

If you want to develop your skills, the best thing I could suggest is doing open source or building projects to solve your own problems.

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it’s not stupid at all, i’m doing it myself from past two months, but i would suggest you to start small with local businesses, friends etc instead of taking any large projects so you don’t have any undue pressure or time constraints.