A lot of people think of coding or web development as the top freelance jobs. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, when they think of a freelancing job, many times they’re thinking of the gig economy. They may think of sites like Fiver.com and people doing one-off jobs for $5 a pop.
It may seem impossible to actually make a living this way considering the cost of living in countries like the United States, compared to many other countries around the world where $5 an hour is a livable wage.
You may have even found yourself getting discouraged on other freelancing sites, noticing that a lot of the jobs have a budget of $ when you’re really interested in making $$$$$!
Well, I’m here to tell you that making amazing money freelancing is not only possible, but it’s also quite simple. The top freelance jobs will only continue to grow as we expand as a global economy. There are numerous skills that are in demand if you want to make top dollar, you’ll look into picking up one of these skills.
In order to land one of the top freelance jobs that pay well, you’ll need a mindset shift from thinking about freelancing as something that is only for low-paying one-off jobs to instead realizing that you can take almost any skill online and make a great living from it.
The top freelance jobs are ones that allow you to provide ongoing services for clients. Many businesses may not need a full-time social media manager. But if they need you for about 10 hours a week and you get 4 of those types of clients, then you’ve got yourself a full-time job.
And if you’re not quite sure what skill to get into as a freelancer, remember that you’ll make more money in direct proportion to the value you can bring to your client.
Think about it this way. Usually, as a client, I want to make more money. No matter my business, no matter what products or services I’m selling, no matter what industry I’m in, typically the goal is to sell more so I can make more. I may have other goals like expanding my team, reaching more people, and even setting up a charitable foundation, but that all depends on me making more money.
Therefore, I’m willing to pay a freelancer more for a skill that will help me make more sales e.g. money. You’ll find that many of the top freelance jobs are related to things like Facebook, YouTube, Google or other types of advertising as these have the potential to produce lots of revenue for the client.
Let’s say I need three things: a new banner designed for my company’s Facebook cover page, a strategy created for a new Instagram page, and someone to set up and run my email marketing campaigns.
I’ll pay different amounts for each of those things because they each provide a different amount of value to me. Of those, one has the highest impact on sales, email marketing. This will directly impact my ability to reach my customers and encourage them to buy, so that freelancers’ skills are more important to my bottom line.
If you’ve already got a skill you’re good at, you’re going to want to think about how you can position it so that you can show the client how it helps them make more money.
If you’re still in the stage where you’re just thinking about getting started freelancing, you’ll want to carefully choose a skill that helps the client make more money.
Top freelance jobs keep in mind that the more you can show clients how much you can help them earn, the more they are willing to pay you!
To get your ideas flowing, I’ve created a quick guide to some top freelance jobs that pay quite well.
3 top jobs for freelancers and what they pay
Copywriter – $150,000+/yr
Copy is everywhere! Signs, emails, websites, banners, flyers, copy is intended to persuade and move others with the written word. Copywriters command high fees because if they do their job well, the person on the other end reading what they wrote will be moved to take some action. This action favorably helps the company or person who is paying for the copy to be written.
Typically, the action the copywriter is moving the reader to is purchasing. Copywriting is not necessarily an hourly job, it’s best quoted in a lump sum because the value of the written words are directly proportional to the effect that it will achieve for the client.
Let’s look at an example. A client of mine once paid a copywriter, let’s call him Tom, $15,000 for a set of 72 short emails spanning a number of email sequences. Now if you do the math that comes out to a whopping $208.33 per email! You might be thinking “Holy sh*t, I write emails all the time!” The key here is that Tom is good at what he does, he’s crafted the art of persuasion, selling, but not selling too hard. He works on his craft. He reads the books, he follows the right blogs, he continues to take classes to learn more and he studies other master copywriters. The client is not paying Tom for each email, the client is paying for the VALUE that Tom provides.
Let’s go deeper. One set of these emails was designed to capture sales from people who had come to the website and left. Let’s call the customer Ashley. She comes to Website XYZ, enters her email for more information, looks around for a while, is interested but decides not to purchase at that time. This could be for any number of reasons. Maybe her wallet is upstairs, maybe her dog scratched at the door and needed to go out, maybe her phone rang, maybe her computer crashed. Whatever the reason, she clicks off the webpage and forgets about the product.
But a few days later, she gets an email from the company. They noticed that she was on the site but didn’t buy so they’ve reached out with an email (written by Tom) that taps into her desire to buy the product. It competently and confidently paints a picture of a dream, how amazing life would be if only she had this product. She’s busy (and still doesn’t have her wallet handy) so she reads it but doesn’t click any of the links in it and thinks, “Maybe, but not today.”
These emails continue over the coming days and weeks, providing tips and value, and softly continuing to weave in the dream, until on email 8, she decides, “What the heck, I want this, and clicks and buys the product.”
Ok, you’re thinking, but $15K is still a heckuva lot of money to pay! It is, but at the time I finished my contract with that client and moved on that one email sequence had already brought in over $80K and was still converting well. Would you spend $15K to make $65K? That’s why great copywriters are so valuable.
Think copywriting might be for you?
- Study the masters. Check out these articles for some successful copywriters.
- The top 20 copywriters who make the most money and what you can learn from them.
- How to write better copy: 5 shrewd tips from legendary copywriters
Project/Operations Manager – $95K+
A project manager’s job description will vary wildly based on what type of industry they’re in, what the client’s goals are, and whether they’re managing internal or external teams or a combination of both.
Simply put, a project manager’s job is to keep the project moving from beginning to completion. In huge companies, this can involve planning the project out, overseeing budgets, reporting to all stakeholders involved, and making sure things are moving along on time as well as many other responsibilities.
In the small business world/start-up world — the one I’ve found success in — project management has never had a defined set of rules. Instead, it can be more described as “trying to keep the wheels on.”
I’ll tell you a little bit about my experience as a project manager. This role with a client paid $80 an hour and started out when he told me that he felt like all he did was put out fires all day long. He needed a right-hand person to take over all of that for him so he could focus on growth.
That person became me. It wasn’t a traditional project management role as I also took on operational duties — leading the team to complete their daily duties properly — but here, I’m going to focus on the project management side. These are just a few of the projects I took on:
- Hiring web developers and graphic designers to complete a new website mockup and design.
- Overseeing outside design agency to create graphics for advertising purposes.
- Working with a social media consultant to design a playbook for our brand, then hiring the appropriate team members to execute the plan.
- Working with a Facebook consultant to conduct an overhaul of our Facebook page, outline a strategy plan, and hire the needed team members to execute the plan.
With any of those the process went something like this:
- Understand what the end goal was
- Find the right consultant/designer/firm/developer to work with
- Set up and conduct meetings to get clear on our goals and outcomes desired, set up timelines, etc.
- Create and send necessary contracts
- Check-in with hires at stated times during the project to check progress, provide feedback
- Meetings at the project end to get the deliverable
- Train needed team members on implementing the deliverables
- Ensure that all is in order and progressing properly
Think project/operations management might be for you?
If you’re organized, quick on your feet, work well with people, and feel like you’d do well moving a project (multiple projects at the same time more likely) from A to Z then project management might be for you.
- For more information, you may want to check out a class like this learning path from LinkedIn Learning: Become a Project Manager.
NOTE: If you’re working for a big fancy company they may want project managers that have certifications. If you’re going the route I’ve gone — small businesses that care more about results than fancy certifications, you shouldn’t need any. I was a former middle school teacher and simply having that background made me organized enough (and used to keeping an eye on everything) that the switch to project/operations management was nearly effortless.
Video Editing & Script Writing (with a specialty in advertising) – $85K+/yr
Ignore the dismal predictions for video editor salaries on sites like GlassDoor, there is serious money to be made in video editing if you choose a specialty that can lead to your client making a lot of money.
Remember the scenario with Tom? $15K to bring in $80K+? The same works with video editing for advertising.
Video is HUGE in advertising. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. It’s not easy. Consumers have shorter attention spans than ever and with video, it’s important to get them to look quickly, and keep looking in order to sell the product.
Not everyone can do this. Many video editors have great editing skills or the knowledge needed to put together a great story, but this doesn’t always translate well to advertising. If you want to be valuable in this area, you’ll need to focus on what creates more value for your client, usually money in the form of sales.
Another thing to consider is that different sites need different types of videos. Consumers are in different mindsets when they’re scrolling through Instagram than when they’re on YouTube. You’ll need to edit videos in different ways for the different platforms in order to capture their attention and move them to buy.
It helps to develop one to two specialties. If YouTube is your thing, work on your craft and understand what works on YouTube advertising and what doesn’t. Get good at that. Become the go-to guy or girl known for creating amazing video ads on YouTube that convert.
If Facebook is your thing, understand what works for that platform. Same for Instagram or any other.
You’ll also need to work on your craft in general. Beyond the tools and skills for video editing, it’s important to understand consumer psychology and how and why people buy products. While the popular platforms come and go, the underlying understanding of how to sell to customers is an ongoing study.
Think video editing and scriptwriting for advertising might be for you?
- Study what works.
- For more information, you may want to check out the Harmon Brothers, an agency responsible for many wildly successful ads (remember the Squatty Potty unicorn?) With free weekly email updates, a podcast, as well as paid courses, there’s plenty to be learned from these guys.
For more freelance business ideas, check out this post on 5 freelance careers you can start today!