Freelancing continues to offer lots of benefits for both service buyers and providers. Remote work opportunities are growing by 3.5% per year, according to this November 2018 report from popular Web hosting and domain registrar GoDaddy. Their research also indicates that within the next ten years, freelancing is likely to be more common than permanent contract workers.
Websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and CloudPeFreeeps continue to change how professionals find work. These micro job sourcing platforms, among many others, now have built-in tools to allow workers to create specific profiles based on their skills and relevant experience. Many employers go to LinkedIn to view and recruit potential employees.
You can also set up video call interviews today with companies all over the world. Remote jobs are possible because the nature of many jobs doesn’t require you to be in an office physically.
So today, we’re going to take a look at 9 of the best opportunities for freelancers this year. We’ll also offer some tips on how to join the freelance community and successfully land high-paying contracts.
Top 9 Freelancing Jobs of the Year
1. Legal Assistant
Hiring a lawyer is often associated with high costs. Many times, we aren’t even sure if we need a lawyer, but we get charged to find that out nonetheless. At some point, almost everyone is going to need a lawyer. Marriage, divorce, buying property, immigration, and running a business among many others are all going to require legal advice.
Working for a legal firm can be exhausting. But now freelancing has given lawyers the chance to return to a more balanced life.
Sometimes, lots of people all around the world just want to talk to a lawyer to know that they aren’t doing the wrong thing. That’s why many firms today prefer to hire a freelance lawyer because they can be contracted for short periods or per case.
Google, Vodafone, and Barclays Bank recently chose to use freelancing lawyers moreover permanent hires. Legal freelancing jobs are often categorized into family law, financial services, commerce, and industry. And in each section, there are available freelance jobs.
If you’re currently still in law school, then freelancing gives you the perfect opportunity to start working on projects to build up your experience. But if you’ve decided to practice law with a firm right after you got your license, then you’d already have demonstrable skills and relevant work experience at this point. This gives you an edge over your competitors in the freelance market.
Law students and newly licensed pros tend to earn less. But at the start of any professional career, it’s mainly about building your network, reputation, and relevant experience. If you’re a law student, then you can earn around $20 per hour as a freelance legal aide and researcher in the USA.
Meanwhile, lawyers with 2–3 years experience can earn around $70–$120 per hour. But property law gives freelance legal assistants the potential to earn more with hourly rates of up to $150. So now let’s look at the average hourly rates in these countries:
- USA: $70–$120
- UK: $50–$75
- Canada: $50–$85
- Australia: $50–$75
Just keep in mind that legal advice is needed worldwide. There’s no particular demand in any one country. But if you’re looking to freelance for a firm, then you likely need 1–4 years of relevant experience. On the other hand, if you want to set up your profile and start on a smaller project, then Freelance.legal among many others are great places to start.
2. Software Programmer
Software development is one of the most popular jobs for freelancers, especially considering the massive growth of the ICT industry for the past several years. This involves creating desktop tools, embedded programs, firmware components, digital properties like websites and blogs, mobile and Internet applications, among others. Businesses, social organizations, government offices, and independent marketers constantly have ideas for applications. So this is one industry that’s likely set to keep growing over the next few decades.
While countries like the UK and the USA have large pools of software programmers, many businesses say that it’s Eastern Europe with some of the most skilled ICT workers. That’s mainly because lots of Eastern European countries have excellent relevant degree programs, high work ethics, and they’re also in an ideal geographic location. They can work in many different time zones.
Today, it’s unnecessary to have a degree in computer science to become a freelance or in-house software programmer. There are a lot of online courses that take you through the steps of computer programming, the languages used and actual projects you can work on to start building up your portfolio.
If you want a job at top multinational corporations, then you’d likely need at least an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field. And the average hourly rates will greatly vary, depending on your level of experience.
Let’s take a look at entry-level positions. As soon as you gain two years of experience, the hourly rate tends to increase. Here is a general idea:
- USA: $140
- UK: $80
- Canada: $86
- Australia: $105
But if you want to work at some of today’s biggest global tech companies, then here are some of the top firms and their entry-level rates for software programmers as of this writing:
The good thing about the tech industry is that there is a huge demand for different types of software programmers. From frontend and backend developers to full-stack programmers with fluency in a variety of programming languages, platforms, and devices. Lots of businesses and organizations in highly industrialized nations are also constantly outsourcing their software creation projects to India, South Africa, and South East Asia, among other developing countries.
If you don’t have any experience, but you want to start a career in software programming, then you can look for some online courses and tech meet-ups where you can learn new skills and build your networks.
3. Content Writer
Today, lots of businesses and organizations all around the world are constantly looking for both specialist and generalist writers. They need content for their direct response marketing materials, advertising campaigns, websites, blogs, downloadable digital content, and SEO (search engine optimization) campaigns.
Many of them also require content writers for their press release distribution, affiliate, and social media marketing campaigns. So now let’s take a look at some of the most common freelance content writing jobs at the moment:
- General Content Writing — Developing materials for blogs or websites among other digital properties;
- Research Writing — Some undergraduates and even postgraduate students sometimes request for assistance for their school papers and dissertations;
- Article Rewriting — This is where content writers need to rewrite articles so that employers can publish unique materials for their on and off-site SEO campaigns;
- Product Reviews — Content writers are asked to research and compare certain products (usually those that are available on Amazon) and write enticing materials for buyers; and
- Creative Writing — Also known as ghostwriting, this is where aspiring, independent, and published authors hire content writers to help them write novels and non-fiction books.
Topics for these freelance content writing jobs can greatly vary, from cryptocurrency and pets to health and fitness. There are even projects for writing kitchen recipes, and also for transcribing videos among others.
There is also a huge market for content translation. Some of the most common content translation jobs are for Chinese, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.
Usually, there aren’t many specific qualifications that you need for these freelance content writing jobs. Most projects require native English speakers, or at least an excellent command over English. But much bigger content publishers, companies and organizations prefer content writers with specialized knowledge and real-world experience in their industries and niches.
Most freelance content writers prefer to charge per word, rather than per hour. These rates vary greatly, and a native English speaker with lots of content writing experience charges between $5–$10 per 100 words on average.
Though there’s a great difference between what a freelancer will charge and the rates of available job offers, especially if you don’t have any experience. So let’s now look at the different rates for a few countries, starting with the lowest hourly rates that we’ve seen today:
- USA: $10.40 – $15
- UK: $8.5 – $12
- Canada: $11 –$15
- Australia: $35
Now let’s look at some specific projects per number of words:
- Research Writing: $15 per 1000 words
- Article Rewriting: $20 per 6000 words
- Product Reviews: $10 per 1000 words
It may not seem like much. But freelance content writers who are fast and produce quality work can earn a good income. Meanwhile, those with superb qualifications or have published work tend to be capable of demanding much higher rates.
4. Voice Artist
Voice acting is a fun and exciting job for those who enjoy the craft. Voice-over work is required for cartoons, characters in TV shows and video games, documentaries and webinars. Because of the nature of the work, these are mostly freelancing contracts.
There are two paths that you can take to clinch voice-over jobs. One is getting local projects. Many of these media publishing companies require voice actors with relevant certificates from acting schools and the like. Others prioritize relevant work experience and hire those without any acting certificate.
Alternatively, you could bid for voice over jobs through freelance websites. Here, the most important asset is a beautiful, clear voice. There are plenty of online courses if you want to improve your profile. Again, everybody needs to start somewhere, so small freelancing projects are a great place to begin. Some of the available freelance voice acting jobs right now are:
- 1-2 Minute Videos: $50
- American Female Voice-Overs, 40 Words: $30
- Voice-Over Work for 3,000 Words in British English: $120
Most of these jobs don’t require any particular skill set, just a specific accent. VoiceBunny is a leading platform for freelance voice-over jobs. Service buyers in this platform offer jobs for adverts, movie trailers, and video games as a few examples.
You will need to have relevant experience before applying for high-paying projects. This platform’s selection process is tough. But once you have your foot in the door, you can earn good money. So now here is an idea of average hourly rates per country:
- USA: $100 – $500
- UK: $300 – $700
- Canada: $250 – $350
- Australia: $300 – $400
If you need inspiration, then you can take a look at Dan Castellaneta’s career as a voice artist. He studied art education because he wanted to be a teacher. And he’s now earning millions as one of the most famous cartoon voices in the world — Homer Simpson.
As globalization brings us all closer together, businesses and organizations need translators more than ever. Google translate might be a useful tool for some, but it still isn’t accurate enough for professional tasks.
There are seven key industries where the translation is greatly needed. These are education, tourism, entertainment, business, a variety of medical fields, software development, and finance.
Meanwhile, sites like Booking.Com are regularly looking for translators. On the other hand, more obvious companies that require translators are online translating and language sites like Babel Fish and DuoLingo.
As with a lot of freelancing jobs, qualifications for this type of freelancing work are going to depend on whether you’re looking for a freelancing job with high-end clients, or if you want to set up a new profile on a freelancing site. So if you want to work for larger companies as a freelance translator, then you’ll need a bachelor’s degree, professional English fluency and significant command over at least one other language. The more languages you can speak, the more potential work you can find.
But it’s important to remember that this doesn’t just require the ability to translate written content into another language. Instead, you will also need to have a good understanding of conversational nuances and the syntax used for that language. So now, let’s take a look at the main languages for translating today:
Average hourly rates will vary. Some that we’ve seen as of this writing are as follows:
- US: $24
- UK: $36
- Canada $29
- Australia: $20
You’re likely to be capable of increasing your rates if you know the subject areas that you’re translating. More so if you have lived in a country with that native language for a significant period.
6. Online Tutor
Teaching is another job that will always be in demand. Online and distance learning programs are becoming more popular. This isn’t just limited to math and science, among other general subject areas. Instead, lots of communities all around the world now require teachers and mentors for any subject, from medicine to mechanics and technology development.
Today, lots of tutors work online while employed by educational institutions like private academies. And because the role of teachers has changed so much, more tutors are turning to freelance teaching.
Freelance teachers can work through remote virtual platforms that are mostly operated by schools, universities, private and public organizations. Meanwhile, qualifications and required experience will have a large impact on your hourly salary. So if you have a lot of relevant teaching experience in your field, then you’re likely to access high-paying jobs online.
For example, native English teachers can provide Skype or Facetime classes to students anywhere in the world. They can charge between $20 and $40 an hour.
Qualified teachers who work through an agency can earn $30-$50 an hour, depending on the subject they are teaching. And here are some average online teaching salaries per hour:
- US: $18
- UK: $30
- Canada: $25
- Australia: $35
Teaching language proficiency, especially in English, is a sustainable way for freelancers to earn money. If you don’t have any relevant experience or qualifications, then you might have to start with rates as low as $10.
There are lots of places were you can take ESL (English as a Second Language) or EFL (English as a Foreign Language) courses. These programs provide you with ideas when it comes to lesson plan development and can also give you relevant experience in the teaching process.
7. Game Developer
Jobs in the gaming industry are diverse. Some involve technical expertise, like coding and programming. Others involve adding special visual and sound effects to a game title.
This 2018 report predicted that the global mobile PC and console gaming industry would have a net worth of $134.9 billion by the end of 2018. This is 10% more than the previous year (2017). So it’s safe to say that this is another field that isn’t about to stop growing.
Nintendo, Sega, and Sony are among the biggest brands in the gaming industry. Meanwhile, Fury Studios and Zero Games Studios are relatively smaller, but they’re still well known. And whether you freelance for large or small companies, you need to create a compelling profile to show your work.
Virtual Reality is the future of gaming, according to many expert analysts. This is one area that’s predicted to thrive for freelance game developers. VR game developers need to be confident with software like Unity 3d, CryEngine and Unreal Engine 4 among a few others.
- US: $40 – $80
- UK; $30 – $60
- Canada: $25 – $50
- Australia: $30 – $70
If you’re a senior game developer (someone with a minimum of 5 years experience), then you can earn an extra $50 to $100 per hour in each country. Also, China, South Korea, and Japan are huge players in the industry.
Not only are they keen players, but they also have some excellent game development studios like Warlock Arts, TaleWorlds Entertainment and Kojima Productions. Also, salaries for freelance game developers are lower in Asia, which is somewhere between $10 and $35 per hour. Meanwhile, senior game developers can earn up to $100 per hour.
8. Accountant & Bookkeeper
Freelance accountants and bookkeepers are very important resources for small businesses and start-ups that require more accessible and affordable accounting and bookkeeping services. The main responsibilities of these freelancers are to record the income and expenses of the client’s business, prepare budgets, file taxes, and salaries, among others. While accountants and bookkeepers work to a financial calendar, there’s still a lot of freedom at these remote opportunities.
Apart from academic skills, freelance accountants and bookkeepers must be able to stick to deadlines. They should also be excellent problem solvers. That’s primarily because clients are outsourcing among the most important areas of their businesses to these resources. So freelancers must always be dependable.
Thanks to digital signatures, a lot of the company’s finances can be completed online. Not too long ago, it’d have been mandatory for businesses to hire in-house accountants and bookkeepers. But this isn’t the case anymore. Companies like Blumer CPAs, System Six, and Greenback Expat Tax Services are well known for their flexible hours and remote working opportunities.
So if you want to freelance as an accountant or a bookkeeper, you’ll need a degree in accounting or any relevant business field. You’ll also need knowledge and experience in accounting software like QuickBooks or M.Y.O.B.
You can start with freelancing platforms. But after a couple of years or so, you can become a financial planner or chartered accountant.
So now let’s look at two different types of freelance accountants and bookkeepers. First, let’s take a look at the average hourly rates for bookkeepers:
- US: $20 – $35
- UK: $8 – $30
- Canada: $25 – $30
- Australia: $15 – $30
Meanwhile, the following average hourly salaries are for licensed accountants with more experience:
- US: $40 – $100
- UK: $30 – $60
- Canada: $60 – $100
- Australia: $60 – $100
Accounting and bookkeeping aren’t just something that you can immediately do. Instead, you need to be qualified to start building your client list. Don’t be surprised if you have to lower your rates to build your profile. Don’t be discouraged. Lots of freelance accountants and bookkeepers on Upwork have been able to earn thousands of dollars each month!
9. Social Media Manager
A social media manager is responsible for online marketing strategies through social media. It could be through blogs, social networks, chat rooms, wikis, and search platforms.
Take, for example, a nail salon that has a Facebook Page. If a viewer likes the page, then this normally means they’re greatly interested in the products and services of the business.
Plus, social media is an ideal way to advertise your products and services without spending lots of money. Business owners don’t always have time to stay on top of social media, so many of them hire freelancers to do this.
In the case of the nail salon, a freelance social media manager can be tasked to upload photos of painted nails, update viewers on new services or special offers, and to respond to messages sent through these social media platforms.
In the US, the areas with the highest demand for this job are New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. In general, cities that are considered cosmopolitan should be on the lookout for freelance social media managers.
Freelancers in this field mostly have a degree in marketing or communication. Because it’s a relatively new role, requirements and qualifications are more casual. Instead, it’s more important for many of these businesses for their freelance social media managers to be keen on content creation, and that they can stay up to date with the latest social media trends in the industries and niches where these businesses operate.
Average hourly rates for Social Media managers can greatly vary. This depends on their experience in doing this. Here are some hourly rates as of this writing:
- Junior (0 – 3 years experience): $15 – $50
- Intermediate (3 – 5 years experience): $50 – $100
- Senior (5 – 10+ years experience): $120+
And now you can see average hourly rates per country below:
- US: $100
- UK: $80
- Canada: $50
- Australia: $35
This is a job with so much potential for freelancers. Especially as the main criteria is to have a good handle on social media. This likely covers many Internet users worldwide under the age of 50.
6 Quick & Easy Ways to Clinch These Freelancing Opportunities
Now that you’ve decided to become a freelancer, you need to know the best ways to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. Not everyone will have qualifications or experience. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get freelancing jobs. So here’s how to start:
1. Be Prepared
Sometimes, freelancers get so excited that they jump straight into applying for jobs. But when a client gets back to them, many freelancers don’t have anything to show them. So before you start applying for jobs, think of these ideas:
- Your Portfolio: Are the details of your credentials and relevant work experience up to date and at par with the most realistic expectations of your target employers? Also, when updating your portfolio, keep in mind to always avoid including fluff or irrelevant details. So instead of saying you’re dependable, give examples of how you’ve proven your reliability;
- Your Cover Letter: Try to grab the attention of your target employers right off the bat. Think of something that can make your cover letter stand out from other candidates. Highlight your unique abilities and the benefits that your ideal employers can gain when they hire you as their freelancer; and
- Free Courses: Educational platforms are brilliant ways to improve your credentials. There are thousands of free courses that you can do from home. Even if you’re already qualified for your target freelance project, it doesn’t hurt to do a refresher course.
Remember, applying for freelancing jobs is quite similar to applying for a permanent job. You need to be ready as soon as a client offers you a project. And also keep in mind that you aren’t just competing with people in your area now. Anyone with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world, can apply for the same freelance job.
So if you do receive an offer, then reply as soon as possible. Many micro job sourcing platforms like UpWork says the average time for a client to hire a freelancer is three days. This is a lot faster than the traditional requirement process that usually takes 2–4 weeks.
2. Portfolio of Relevant Work Output
A portfolio is a key tool for anyone who wants to enter the freelancing industry, especially in terms of software programming, content writing, accounting, bookkeeping, voice-overs, and graphics design, among many others. So your portfolio should be conveniently accessible to your target employers. They should also be able to view samples of your relevant work output through your online portfolio. To help you out — Here are some tips to optimize your portfolio:
- Make sure the online platform where your portfolio is posted is quick and simple to use;
- The first section that your target employers need to see as soon as they view your portfolio should captivate their attention and interest;
- Keep it short and simple, but don’t exclude the most crucial details of your qualifications for your ideal freelance job;
- Choose and include your best work samples in your portfolio; and
- Make your portfolio sound as friendly as possible, for your ideal employers to resonate with you as a professional freelancer.
You might be tempted to put every completed project that you’ve done on your portfolio. Don’t do this. Instead, only include the most relevant and outstanding ones. Clients who are looking for freelancers often spend around 15–less than a minute or so to review a portfolio from a candidate.
Also, you’re recommended to add at least one headshot of yourself to your portfolio. This adds a personal touch to your portfolio, and many clients are likely more inclined to reach out when you do this.
3. Work on Your Social Media Presence
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are the four most recommended social media platforms for freelancers today. But keep in mind that Github and StackExchange are equally important for freelance software programmers, Web, and mobile app developers.
Pinterest lets you develop your portfolio, letting potential clients see more about your skills and qualifications. You can set a link to your website and create boards and pins that are specific to your specialized fields of interest.
Twitter lets you hashtag all of your keywords and phrases. Clients can follow what you’re doing, and you can follow clients or even other freelancers in the industry.
Facebook is all about the likes that your posts get. You can create a profile specific to your job, upload photos and links to your work and other blogs or sites that are related to your work.
And if you don’t like the idea of having a Facebook or Twitter account, then you should at least have a LinkedIn account. This is like the professional version of other social media sites. You can make your portfolio far more detailed. It’s also a great way for previous employers to comment about your qualifications.
But there are some things that you must remember about social media. You need to keep all of your pages up to date. This means updating your profile, the projects you have completed, and even your availability.
It’s also crucial to keep your pages professional. Your work might be on your site, but you might ruin it if there are photos of your weekend holiday at the beach. So it might be in your best interest to set up a separate page for your freelancing career. Keep this page for your professional life, and only tag or friend those who play a part in your career.
4. Set Reasonable Rates Based on Realistic Supply & Demand
This is very important for freelancers who spend a lot of time looking for projects on micro job sourcing platforms. Your rate will be on your portfolio, or clients will see your rates when you bid for work. But if you bid too high, then you’ll likely lose the project to someone else. Meanwhile, if you bid too low, then the client might think you produce low quality work output.
So this means you need to do extensive research in your field. This is to carefully weigh the most realistic supply and demand scenarios to influence your pricing models for your services. Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of factors to consider. Apart from your skills and experience, you need to think about the time you will spend on a project and the deadlines that clients set for their freelance projects.
UpWork is a great page for doing a bit of investigation. One of the reasons for its popularity is its openness regarding earnings. You can choose a field that you’re interested in, narrow down the country search and view the profiles of other freelancers in a similar position.
And there’s one thing you will notice in this micro job sourcing platform. Many freelancers set an hourly rate that clients will see. There is also a list of jobs and the rates that they have been paid. It helps to put things in perspective. While a web developer has an hourly rate of $100, many of them can often work for less.
Choose a rate that suits you. The rate you set isn’t permanent. As your skills and experience grow, so can your hourly rate. But if you currently aren’t working or studying, then there’s no harm in taking projects for a lower rate. Happy clients will leave positive feedback, which will help you get more work.
At this point, you’re likely better prepared to start looking for freelance work. So here’s an updated list of the best micro job sourcing platforms and sites for freelancers to find jobs in a wide variety of industries and niches:
You’ll need to register for an account at any of these platforms. Don’t forget to complete your profile and add previously completed work samples to your portfolio. And just like any profile, remember to update your profile as often as necessary. Once your portfolio is complete, you can start looking for projects.
But avoid freelance jobs that don’t suit you. Also, avoid applying for too many jobs at once. If you fall into these two traps, then you can end up with two scenarios. First is that you’ll use up a lot of your time trying to complete something that doesn’t interest you. Second, you could fail to complete many of your concurrent projects on time, which can generate negative reviews for your profile at these micro job sourcing platforms.
5. Learn How to Be a Freelancer
Working at home or any location you choose has more advantages than working a 9–5 job at an office. But only if you can strike an ideal balance between your activities and professional work. This is particularly important if you have other responsibilities.
Freelancing is very beneficial for stay at home moms, dads, and students. It allows you to work from home and still have time for other commitments. But because most of these freelancers work at home, it’s easy to let their work overlap with their personal lives.
It’s fairly obvious that getting some extra income can solve a lot of problems for many freelancers. However, if you aren’t careful, then this can cause more serious issues.
So keep your freelancing jobs and your personal life separate. You may not have set hours that you have to work, but it is worth setting up a timetable that fits in with your other commitments. If you have to study, then set certain hours in the day for studying and certain hours for work. And if you have a family, then try to plan your work around other responsibilities.
Nap times are perfect for making progress on projects. Dinner and bath time, however, isn’t!
Plus, try to find a quiet place in your home that you can use as your work area. If you have a family, then let them know about your work schedule.
On the other hand, if you already have a job but have decided to take on freelancing work for additional income, then there are vital things that you should never do. These are:
- Breech contracts with your current employer or your freelance clients;
- Complete freelance work during your contract hours at your job; and
- Use company resources while you’re at your job to complete your freelance projects.
It’s all about balance. This might take a little time to get right in the beginning. That’s why it’s also sometimes better to start with just a few freelancing projects here and there, just to experience and familiarize yourself. By doing this, you’ll know better how long certain tasks are going to take, and you can plan accordingly.
6. Do Your Research
If you don’t feel that you’re getting the freelancing projects that you deserve, then try to identify the exact areas where you’re going wrong. But remember, even smaller jobs can help you land bigger contracts. So what you can do is find out ways to improve on what you already have.
Perhaps it’s your profile or portfolio that needs adjusting. Or maybe it’s your cover letter. Sometimes, these need to be tweaked to gain more interest from your target employers.
Use social media and forums to find advice from others. There are several freelancing communities and blogs where you can ask advice and share opinions. You aren’t alone, and most freelancers have had the same experience at some point in their careers.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. You work hard to become a successful freelancer. So yes, you should take some time to research more and much better ways to improve. But it is equally important to celebrate your achievements. This will keep you motivated and inspired to keep on doing your work as a freelancer.