We’re going to look at the top 10 freelance careers for earnings potential and market demand.
I’ll also reveal which of these opportunities are the easiest freelance jobs to start if you have no experience, so make sure to read each job overview carefully.
The Best/Highest-Paying Freelance Jobs and Careers:
Becoming a freelance writer is one of the fastest and easiest avenues you can take to launch a freelance career, and learning copywriting is a particularly good option if you want to earn a high income.
There are a few different types of copywriters, but direct response copywriters have the highest potential income.
These copywriters focus on writing marketing materials (such as emails, online sales pages, sales video scripts, and more) that are designed to get the reader to take a specific action (like ordering a product, signing up for a webinar, etc.)
Because the words you write have a direct correlation to how much money a company earns, companies are willing to pay very high rates for top-tier work.
Direct response copywriters have the potential to be the best-paid freelancers, with the top performers earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Overall, I think copywriting is one of the best careers if you want the ability to earn a high income as a solo freelancer.
Copywriting is also one of the easiest freelance jobs to start. You don’t need any specialized degree or technical background.
2. Software engineer/web developer
Software engineering is another one of the highest-paying freelance jobs, with the best developers charging $200 or more per hour and easily earning six figures per year.
As a software engineer, you can take on web development projects, you can build mobile apps, you can create games, and much more. Companies large and small need software engineers, and as more and more business takes place online, this will continue to see a rise in demand.
While obtaining a four-year computer science degree will give you the best foundation and long-term skill set to start a career as a freelance developer, you can also attend an online coding bootcamp.
While these accelerated bootcamps do not give you the same education as a four-year degree would, when you look at the massive reduction in cost and time required versus a university degree, it’s an excellent choice.
While this isn’t the easiest freelance career to start, it’s certainly one of the most worthwhile long-term if you want to build a “future-proof” skill set and earn a high salary or hourly rate! Like copywriters (mentioned above), this career allows you to earn six figures per year as a freelancer.
This is also an excellent skill set if you have any interest in entrepreneurship! Being able to take your business ideas and bring them to life is a powerful skill to have!
Read our list of the best coding bootcamps to learn software development here.
3. Digital marketing consultant
Digital marketing is a broad, fast-growing field that allows you to earn an excellent income($100,000 or above) as a freelancer.
It’s one of the best freelance jobs for beginners because it allows you to earn a great income right away (after learning the basics) and also exposes you to a wide range of work that you can later specialize in to earn more!
For example, here are some of the many areas that fall within digital marketing:
- Email marketing
- Website conversion rate optimization
- Sales pages and sales videos
- Social media
- LinkedIn lead generation
Online businesses and brick-and-mortar businesses both can benefit from these digital marketing services, and more of these businesses are turning to freelancers to get help in attracting customers online.
After you’ve helped clients with a variety of areas within digital marketing, you can see what you’re best at (or what clients pay the most for) and specialize in that specific area.
(They say “niches make riches” and it’s often true. You’re not limiting yourself by choosing a narrow niche. You can often earn more like this in the long-run.)
Or you can remain a general digital marketing consultant and still earn a very good income! You could also build a digital marketing agency where you have a couple of people working for you and provide a wide range of digital marketing services for clients.
Read our list of the best places to learn digital marketing online here.
4. Social media manager
Social media has become a big source of business for many brands! They hire dedicated teams to come up with witty posts, build their brand recognition, and engage with their audience. And the big brands on social media, like Wendy’s and Coca Cola, have whole teams dedicated to this, smaller companies often look for freelance help.
They hire a freelancer to manage their social media, which typically includes scheduling and sharing new posts, including text, images, and articles/links, as well as responding to and engaging with audience members.
As a freelance social media manager, you can manage the social accounts of multiple clients, and charge each client $1,000 to $1,500 per month, or more depending on their needs and workload.
And there are plenty of tools and software options to make your job easier, too. Hootsuite, Buffer, and many other companies provide a dashboard where you can manage multiple social accounts from one web page!
5. SEO specialist
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, involves optimizing content to appear at the top of search results (usually on Google, but you can also do SEO for YouTube and any other platform with a search function).
As an SEO specialist, you can help large companies or smaller, local businesses who want to appear in local search results (an example of a local search is, “Dentists in Houston”.
Online businesses are willing to pay a lot of money for SEO help, because ranking higher in search results helps them generate more leads, not just this month, but on an ongoing basis! So it has a massive potential return on investment.
The more you’re helping businesses make money as a freelancer, the more they’ll be willing to pay you! If your goal is to earn a six-figure income, SEO is one of the best freelance jobs you can start.
The long-term career options are excellent, too. If you build a strong set of SEO skills, you can go on to build your own websites, build an SEO agency, and more.
To learn up-to-date SEO skills, I recommend checking out the various courses on Skillshare. You can read my full review of the platform (and get a free trial) here.
6. Media buyer
Ad management (also known as “media buying”) is a specific area within the field of digital marketing and is one of the highest paying freelance skills you can learn.
Many consultants in this career earn six figures and above by simply managing online advertisements for brands. In fact, you can specialize in just one platform. There are experts who focus only on YouTube ads, or only on Facebook ads, for example.
Media buying is one of the best freelance careers because your skills are in high demand by businesses that want to grow. Paid advertising is the key to scaling a business in a fast, reliable way, and businesses know this, so they’re willing to invest a lot in getting help.
However, this is a difficult and advanced field, so it may not be the best freelance job for beginners. If you’re a complete beginner, I’d recommend studying copywriting, social media marketing, and various areas within digital marketing, and then deciding if you want to specialize in ad management!
All of those skills and experiences will help you no matter which area of digital marketing you end up drilling down into, so it’s not a waste of time to try a few things in your first year and build a solid foundation.
Let’s move away from digital marketing and advertising now since not everyone wants to work in that type of field. There are plenty of other high-salary freelance jobs and skills out there, and photography and videography are two of them!
Unlike most of the jobs above, you won’t be able to do this entirely from home. A freelance photographer will need to meet with clients, travel to the scene of the photoshoot, etc.
Depending on your specialization, this could involve short travel, just an hour or two from your house, or much more.
And once you gain experience as a photographer, you could specialize in shooting video. You can charge more and more as your skill level rises, and the top photographers and videographers make six figures per year or more.
One other high-paying freelance option to consider in this niche is video editing!
All sorts of businesses are looking for help with video editing, from large companies to small content creators on YouTube and other platforms.
Online video is becoming more competitive overall, and it’s difficult to stand out if you edit your own content as an amateur, so more small businesses, new entrepreneurs, and content creators are hiring professionals to do this.
Finally, you could consider taking stock photos or videos and selling them online via various stock photography websites. This takes longer to ramp up but provides passive income over time.
8. Web designer
Web design was named among the top 15 in-demand tech skills for freelancers on Upwork by Tech Republic. Working as a designer is a solid freelance career choice if you’d like to work in tech but don’t want to learn to be a developer!
With enough experience as a web designer, you can charge an hourly rate of $50 to $100 or more and earn above $100,000 per year.
You can also consider working as a graphic designer. That’s another good freelance career choice that can also be done entirely from home in many niches.
9. Data analyst
Online businesses are collecting more and more data each year, and need to make sense of it in order to make better business decisions and earn more money. So they turn to data analysts.
These professionals turn data into meaningful insights that business managers can act on. You may work on data visualization projects where you turn data into charts and graphs. You may work in data extraction and many other types of projects, too.
I can tell you from personal experience that this type of role is very highly valued by employers. In my last recruiting job, we had one business intelligence/data visualization specialist and he was one of the best-paid and most sought-after employees in the company. Everyone knew him, and everyone benefited from his work!
You can learn this skill by attending a data science bootcamp. We list a few of them among our list of top programming bootcamps here.
10. Sales/lead generation specialist
Sales is one of the highest paying skills year after year, and faster internet speeds are allowing this job to be done from home or remotely more often now! Thanks to high-speed internet, you can do video calls and web presentations from anywhere.
And because new customers and new leads always put money directly into a business, employers are willing to pay a lot for someone who can bring this skill set!
Sales is one of the BEST careers I recommend for anyone, hands down. In fact, I put it as the #1 choice on my list of the best careers that don’t require college.
The only reason it’s not higher on this list of top freelance careers is that many companies still view this as a role that should be done by full-time, permanent employees.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t contract-based jobs out there. And those are without a doubt some of the top freelance jobs for earning a high income! You just may run into a bit of resistance when some employers ask if you’d be willing to work full-time for them.
What are the Highest Paying Freelance Jobs?
The following freelance jobs are all good choices in terms of salary or expected hourly rate that you can charge. These positions can all earn hundreds of dollars per hour or $200,000 or more per year if you become an expert.
- Direct response copywriting
- Software development
- Digital marketing consulting
- SEO consulting
- Ad management
- Sales and lead generation
These are the best freelance careers if you want to earn a lot of money as a solo freelancer, and these are where I recommend you focus if you want to earn a high salary and build high-income skills in your career.
Determining Average Freelance Job Salaries
While writing this article, I did research into the average pay and average salaries for these jobs. I checked freelance job boards like Upwork, sites like Indeed and Payscale, and more.
What I found is that the numbers are very skewed toward the low end. For example, Indeed says that on average, a freelance copywriter earns $24.25 per hour.