Today we talk about how to make money freelancing. It is not about different ways of passive income like affiliate marketing, selling advertising space on your blog, MLM marketing, investments, etc. The focus is on freelancing your skills and getting paid for your expertise and services.
A quick look at the job posts categories on oDesk:
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities – various categories with even larger choice of sub-categories… Not to mention the great deal of job posts available in each and every sub-category. Let’s look through some of the most popular freelance professions.
Naturally, writing is the most popular way to make money freelancing.
In the past, when freelancing was not so popular among specialists, it was related primarily with writing and consulting services – journalism, translations and editing of texts and books from home. So no wonder this is still the most common occupation among freelancers. There is one pitfall though. Due to the high supply of writing skill, it is getting harder with time to get quality and well paid writing gigs on online freelance job boards. More often I see clients willing to pay $5 per 500 words article but the scarier thing is that there are contractors willing to work for such low rates. There are TONS of articles about freelance writing online as well as books teaching you how to make money freelancing your writing skills. However, I’d like to emphasize on the fact that even with low bidding contractors and low-paying clients, we can still find well paid writing gigs – e.g. a landing page for $100 or $50 for a 700 words blog post, etc. It is important that we value our work and sell our skills and services at the price we think is fair.
Translations are another popular and somewhat like freelance writing option.
If you are a bi-lingual or at least fluent in English and another language, you have great opportunities for making money as a freelance translator. I have noticed the last few years Russian, Spanish and Chinese Mandarin are on the rise so if you are fluent in any of those – be sure to check the Translation section on oDesk. The prices of translation services vary from $7 to $30 per hour – depending on the freelancer’s languages, experience, fluency, expertise. However, if you manage to sell your service at a fixed price job, you can make better money because you are paid for the work you do – not for the time you spent working 😉
Freelance designer or programmer is another very popular profession among freelancers.
This is maybe as popular occupation as freelance writer and there are plenty of blogs and books teaching you how to be a successful freelance designer or programmer. So I won’t get into details about that. However, I’d like to point out that I have noticed the trend of increasing demand for mobile application development and social media app development. Not that the rest of the subcategories are not good – they ARE good and there is always demand for professional freelancers with excellent skills and expertise in design and multimedia or software development categories. I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to stand out from the crowd and be hired for good contracts with decent pay, you need to specialize in something and be brilliant in it.
You can be a freelance marketing consultant.
Being a freelance marketing consultant myself, I have to say there is a great demand for quality workers and strategy planners. There are plenty of contractors who offer “marketing services” at $10 per hour but truth is they cannot do strategy planning; they can hardly even work on their own. They need someone to hold their hand and to tell them what to do. Very few people on oDesk and maybe on Elance can actually start from scratch – analyze the situation, develop a plan and then implement it; or even form a team and manage it toward reaching the goals they’ve set in the first place. There is huge demand for this type of marketing consulting and it is being paid well. Depending on your skills and expertise, you can get $50 or more hourly rate; $20-$30 being the average.
There’s demand for other business services, too – like accounting, book keeping, legal advice, HR/Payroll, etc.
I am not sure if this is a popular section on freelance websites among freelance contractors, but for sure there is an upright trend for the demand of such services. Payment, of course, varies depending on the services. An idea I’d like to share is to use freelance sites like oDesk for seasonal workload. E.g. now it is tax time in the US – so I believe there has been an increased activity in the accounting subcategory the last couple of months. If you are an accountant, you could easily browse the section and take up a few new clients who need help with their tax papers. If you work well together, maybe such little gig will turn into a long term and fruitful work relationship 😉
If you don’t have any special skills, you can still make money freelancing.
Administrative Support on oDesk and Admin support on Elance are the categories for you. Simple data entry jobs, copy-pasting jobs, data base filling, data mining, video and audio transcribing – all of these are tasks that don’t require any special skills whatsoever and you can do. Virtual Assistant is also a very poplar position these days and most probably you can find such offers in this very same category of admin support. Prices vary – the easier the task, the smaller the payment; starting from $3-4 per hour for copy-paste jobs up to about $10-15 per hour for more complex jobs like email handling or virtual assistance where fluency in English, good time management, responsibility, and other personal skills are required.
And let’s not forget customer service jobs.
Maybe you will be answering the phone and talk to people who have problems with a software program; or you will be addressing chat and forum inquiries about products (pre-sale or trouble-shooting); or you will be cold-calling businesses to ask them questions or sell them something… whatever you do, truth is there are numerous call centers and customer support rep openings. So much that you can simply work 8 hours per day, 7 days a week as a CS rep. This kind of job pays about $5 to $10 per hour, depending on the skills and knowledge required. And it is a bit inconvenient because you have shifts and strict working hours and schedule to follow. But still – for people who don’t have a lot of skills and expertise in another area (e.g. multi media and design, software development, marketing, content creation, etc.) – this is a very good option to make a living worldwide.
I am curious how do YOU make money freelancing? Tell me in the comments 😀
Or check out a Hub I’ve written about freelance opportunities different than writing.
Edward Reid says
This post reminds me of the many ways we can make money. I did freelance consulting for newspapers and your article inspires me to do a little more consultation work. Thanks for the article.
Thanks for stopping by, Edward! Freelance consulting is a way of life for me, a lifestyle – not just means to make a living. it’s nice to hear this post has inspired you to do some of it yourself, good luck! 😀
Susan Cooper/findingourwaynow.com says
I really appreciated this post. I have been considering what may be a good route for me to go. It has been recommended that I consider freelance writing. I wasn’t sure were to begin. This really helps me to hone down my thoughts. Thank you.
Hey, Susan! Thanks for your comment. Yes, freelance writing truly is for you. I have been a regular on your blog – regular reader though, hardly ever anything to add through a comment; you know i comment only when i have something to say 🙂 But there are plenty of writing gigs for creative writing, short stories, and blog posts on various topics you are knowledgeable in. You should give it a try 😉
Susan Cooper/findingourwaynow.com says
I will. Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂
My understanding is the online route is quite competitive, even if you have good skills. I’ve gotten almost all my freelance work through local connections. People like being able to meet me in person.
Hey. Leroa, thanks for stopping by! Yes, local connections and word of mouth is the freelancer’s best friend, always. But for freelancers like me (i am overseas ;-)) freelancing online is the only way to get to US clients… and yes, it IS very competitive. But yet again, if you find your niche and know how to stand out from the crowd, you will never have to worry about competition – clients appreciate you for what you are and what you can, regardless what others do or don’t do 😀
Ashley F says
Hi Diana, great summary of a lot of information. Might be coming back to re-read this in the future. At the moment I contract in Web Development, but they may change one day.
keep up the good work
Thanks for your comment, Ashley! I am trying to include just enough information in a blog post to be easily digested 😉 You are more than welcome to re-read – glad i could help 😀
Candace M. Braddock (@iDesignLife) says
Great post! It is interesting how people forget the whole freelance world when they think of Work From Home. Freelancing is the ultimate work from home path. I have done some social media consulting freelance projects that proved quite rewarding.
Thanks for stopping by, Candace! I personally like to think of freelancing as “work from anywhere” rather than from home 😉 but yes, you are right about freelance being ultimate work from home job. For me, it is the most rewarding job i have ever had 😀
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) says
I’ve found the prospect of getting started with freelance writing a bit more daunting than freelance editing. The editing jobs started by accident, but I guess it’s a good fit. However, it can be frustrating (especially when starting out) to make a professional wage since so many freelances will accept far less than their work is worth.
I hear ya about the frustration and others undermining your prices. But with time, i learnt that it IS very important that you don’t bend over and you do stick to your prices… after all, you get for what you pay, right? So there are always clients willing to pay for what you have to offer. Thanks for stopping by, Jeri!
Debra Yearwood says
I’ve never done any freelance work and frankly, wouldn’t know where to start so this is great for getting perspective. I have to admit, I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that there are folks doing marketing consulting for $10 an hour. I appreciate that the market is a competitive one, but as a client you have to remind yourself, you get what you pay for.
Yesss, note that for $10 per hour they provide “marketing consulting” – parenthesis do matter here 😉 But it’s easy to be mislead… if you come from a relatively poor country or at least, the standard of life is not that high, you can easily get overwhelmed with earning even $10 per hour (i mean, overly happy overwhelmed!). However, high quality consultants quickly see that there is a market for this and they charge higher prices for consulting – and those with the “marketing consulting” stay at $10 per hour… Thanks for stopping by, Debra!
Johnny Bravo says
Hi Diana, you make a great point about offering a price you think is fair for your services. Yes there are people willing to work for $5 an article but what kind of quality would you be getting from that? I have yet to jump into the freelance market, 1) because I have a job that keeps me plenty busy and 2) because I don’t know if I’d be able to dedicate the time required to be able to request my asking price. But you gave me a few ideas I might try out so I thank you for that.
Oh, you are very welcome, Johnny! Half of my topics are and will be freelance related – i am freelancing several years now and i have plenty of experience to share. So come back regularly 😉
Mary Slagel says
These are some really great ideas. When I hear freelance, I always think of journalism in prior years where you could write articles for papers and get them published if you had the right ability. This still happens today, but there is a greater spectrum of freelance jobs available as you pointed out and you did a great job pointing out lesser known ones.
thanks for your comment and feedback, Mary! I am glad i could help broaden your perspective and show you less popular choices of freelance consulting 😉
ShapeDaily (@ShapeDaily) says
Making money from a number of different sources is the best way to become financially stable and freelancing is a good side job. I sometimes freelance by helping someone out writing different articles for a travel website. The money starts to add up if you are good enough at writing.
I just recently found out how cool diversification is (money coming from totally different sources, as you said). Freelancing is a good side job – but it can be a “full time” job, too – beauty is that you decide what “full time” actually means 😉
Thanks for stopping by!
Krystyna Lagowski says
Freelancing is the way of the future, I’m sure of it. It’s the only steady job I’ve had for years : ) Part of the key is finding a niche, something that no one else is doing. I write about cars and transportation, which is a pretty popular subject, but I also write about the car industry – which isn’t as well covered. Good luck with your freelancing!
Thanks for stopping by, Krystyna! It’s true finding a niche and something that nobody else is doing (good for you you did find that!). But there are only so many things we can do… so it’s a good approach to differentiate yourself some other way, too – e.g. quality, or speed of work, or attention to detail, or something else – this way, although others do what you do – you will still stand out from the crowd with your personal touch and traits 😉