Freelancing for 3D: Can Students Freelance?

Written by: Chris Koehler, Department Director, 3D Animation Department

Can Students Freelance?

At the heart of many artists is the aspiration of becoming a self-employed artist for hire, better known as a freelancer. Freelance artists can be found in every industry and act as independent contractors providing services directly to clients. Although claiming the freelance title is easy, becoming a successful freelancer can be quite difficult. It typically takes years of professional experience to develop the desired skill set and establish a reputation that clients can count on. There are different levels to the freelancing game and each has its own demographic of members and reasons why they’ve chosen to freelance. Therefore, this article will focus on student freelancers.

The ultimate goal of every student is to work in the industry of their study. Unfortunately, for some students completing all of their course work is not enough to gain employment. The student’s lack of professional experience keeps them out of the workforce, preventing them from developing the necessary experience needed to enter the workforce. This can be a frustrating and humiliating time; therefore, it’s common to find students or recent graduates claiming to be a freelance artist with the notion of “I’m just freelancing until I find a studio gig.” As a student freelancer, the goal should be gaining enough experience to gain full-time employment at a studio. This can easily be done by leveraging the internet to find work, sell content, and grow your community.

Freelancing Opportunities

Freelancing Sites
The struggle for most student freelance artists is finding work. Luckily, services such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer can alleviate some of the struggles by providing patrons and artists with a platform to exchange services for payment. The drawback to these sites is that you’ll be competing for jobs with dozens of artists and most of the patrons have a limited budget. Nonetheless, this is a great opportunity to gain some experience and make a few bucks.

Crowd-Sourced Stock Sites
An often-overlooked sector for freelancing is crowd-sourced stock sites. Sites such as Turbosquid and CGTrader have become a staple in the industry by providing game companies, news agencies, VFX studios, and much more access to a large library of 3D assets. Any artist can submit content to these sites as long as the asset meets the site’s standards. The great thing about crowd-sourced sites is that the asset could potentially be purchased by more than one patron and once the items are purchased the site pays the artist directly. On the flip side, there is some risk because a freelancer has no idea whether or not the asset(s) will sell, but like they say you can’t win if you don’t play.

Streaming Sites
Developing an online identity is a key component for every freelance artist. Face it, if people are not aware of your services, no one is going to hire you. Streaming sites such as YouTube, Twitch, and Patreon can be used to build a community of faithful followers and help spread your online presence. Whether you’re working on a personal project or building an asset to sell on crowd-sourced site, why not stream the creation process on Twitch or YouTube? Maybe someone will tune-in, maybe not, it doesn’t matter because it’s just another opportunity to generate revenue doing what you enjoy doing.


As the internet expands, the need for content will rise and so will freelance opportunities. Be imaginative and don’t limit yourself to only the opportunities listed in this article. Remember that the path to a successful freelancing career requires creativity, integrity, and uncanny dedication to bring forth your best work because at the end of the day your work will define you as a freelance artist.

Would you like some assistance?

The Laurus College Career Services Department is available to help students set up their LinkedIn profiles and take advantage of the features discussed in this article.
Call or e-mail us today to set up an appointment: 805-267-1690 or careerservices@lauruscollege.edu


Start your (freelancing) journey TODAY!