Get to the office, punch in, count down the hours, punch out? No, I don’t do any of that, and neither do the 53 million other Americans [PDF] who have eschewed the idea of a traditional career—that’s more than 34 percent of the American workforce.
This is the beauty of a freelance job, and there’s no reason why you can’t work this way too. It’s not an easy way to live. Tax complications and the difficulties of running a solo business can hobble you. But it has its perks: you are your own boss, you work your own hours, and you live every day doing what you love.
Here are some of the best freelance jobs to pursue right now. Also, we have included relevant search tools and sites to help you find those jobs. Good luck!
1. Web or Mobile Developer
But as lucrative as programming can be, keep one thing in mind: working with non-programmers on programming-centric projects (like web and mobile apps) is one of the most frustrating endeavors you’ll ever undertake. Be ready to pull out all of your hair as you bounce from one unreasonable client to the next.
Where to find freelance web or mobile developer jobs:
Want to work for a startup? Then Product Hunt and AngelList have the two best job boards to check out. White Truffle is an option if you want to get anonymously matched with best-fit tech companies. WordPress Jobs is good for WordPress developer positions. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with general programmer-centric job boards like GitHub Jobs and StackOverflow Jobs.
Transcription is easy to do but hard to do well. You’ll go crazy if you don’t use a transcription pedal and transcription software. If you have, or can get, this equipment, this is one of the best freelance jobs for very fast typists.
A pedal allows you to control audio playback—play, pause, rewind, fast forward—using your foot so your hands can stay on the keyboard for true efficiency. If you don’t have one, the best value option for new transcriptionists is the Infinity USB Foot Pedal. For software, we recommend the industry-leading Express Scribe Pro.
General transcription can earn a modest rate, whereas medical and legal transcription can demand a lot more. If you have any background in the medical or legal fields, you may want to focus there and leverage it for better rates.
Where to find freelance transcriptionist jobs:
TranscribeMe requires that you pass a test, then sends you work as it becomes available, starting at $20 per audio hour. Quicktate and iDictate are sister sites that both offer freelance transcription tasks that are paid by the word. If none of these work for you, you can always check out transcription postings on Upwork and FlexJobs.
These days, freelance photography is one of the most effective ways to make money from photography. Most lucrative photography businesses can be run solo or with a partner, including wedding, product, and real estate photography.
But it’s hard. Really hard. Professional photography can be a nightmare, particularly because there are so many unforeseen legal issues you might run into. But if you’re skilled in snapping shots and marketing yourself, you can definitely earn a six-figure income while working part-time hours.
Where to find freelance photographer jobs:
For photojournalism, check out Journalism Jobs. Otherwise, you should visit The Creative Loft for job postings that are specifically for freelance photographers. You could also visit local restaurants and real estate agencies and ask if they’re interested in improving their businesses with better photos.
Another option is to sell your own stock photos online.
Writing has long been one of the best self-employment opportunities. All you need is a functional computer and a working internet connection to get started. Beyond that, developing your expertise comes through practice and feedback.
Anyone can technically become a freelance writer/editor. But you may need to slog through a lot of unsavory gigs at the start while you hone your skills, build your portfolio, establish new contacts, and prove yourself a strong writer/editor.
Where to find freelance writer and editor jobs:
Freelance Writing Jobs is the first place you should look because it has all kinds of writing positions: reporting, copywriting, blogging, ghostwriting, technical writing, etc. BloggingPro and FlexJobs are both solid too, and if you’re good at networking, you might find a lot of success using LinkedIn Jobs.
5. Web or Graphic Designer
Logo, website themes, infographics, posters, brochures, pamphlets, email newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, UX design… the possibilities are endless if you want to be a graphic designer on your own terms.
Note that freelance designing can be stressful because you’re always churning through clients, more quickly than other kinds of freelance work. But if you can really impress your clients, they may be open to keeping you on retainer for all of their design work, which may or may not be something you’re interested in.
Where to find freelance web and graphic designer jobs:
Behance Jobs can be a good starting point for graphic design, illustration, web design, and UX design. Other starting points include Fiverr, 99designs, and Upwork, but you’ll need to put in effort to find the jobs worth doing. If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself severely underpaid for your work.
6. Virtual Assistant
You might think a virtual assistant is just a remote secretary, but it can be so much more than that—it really depends on the client and their needs. And if you get a good client, this can be one of the best freelance jobs out there.
Basic administrative tasks could include taking phone calls and maintaining schedules, sure, or you might be hired to manage a website, do a bunch of in-depth research, creation of PDFs from source material, coordinate your client’s clients, etc.
In short, the client’s burdens are shifted to you. The details of a particular virtual assistant gig will be (or at least should be) mentioned in the job posting.
Where to find virtual assistant jobs:
FancyHands is a virtual assistant service where you get paid per task you complete. You can define your own hours, and there’s a career advancement path for those who want to do even more than per-task jobs. ZipRecruiter, FlexJobs, and Upwork can provide good leads for hired virtual assistant positions.
7. Voice Actor
Voice acting isn’t easy. The industry is competitive, it’s hard to stand out, and you need both skills and equipment in order to produce work that clients will love. Unless you’ve been blessed with a magic voice, you’ll probably need voice coaching as well.
But if you think you can cut it, and if you’re serious about becoming a top-talent voice actor, you can make a comfortable living. Types of voice acting include commercials, audiobook narration, public announcements, training videos, promotional materials, and even entertainment media like animation and video games.
Where to find freelance voice actor jobs:
There are three reputable sites for serious voice actors: Voices, Voice123, and VoiceBunny. They’re all free to use, but Voices and Voice123 will provide even better results if you sign up for their (admittedly expensive) premium account plans.
Other Job and Career Options to Explore
In addition to the above, consider looking into tech jobs that require zero coding skills and entry-level technical support jobs. Look into easy ways to earn money online if you aren’t interested in a full-blown job and just need some pocket money.
Whatever you do, be prepared for the future. As technology advances and computers get even smarter, certain jobs are going to disappear. Check out these examples of skilled jobs that may be replaced by robots.