A few years ago I attended an established New York Times freelance journalist’s workshop in which he referred to freelancing as a “thankless career choice.” I left that workshop convinced that freelance writing was the best way to become the cliched “starving writer” that always has something “in the works.”
Today, I get a lot of mixed reactions when I tell people my dream job is to be a full-time freelancer. The freelancing landscape has evolved in recent years, and is considered to be a much more respectable career path. According to Forbes, over 57 million Americans are freelancers and that number will only increase.
You know how they say, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, being able to work on a variety of projects from virtually anywhere sounds like the kind of job that encompasses the above mentioned quote.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, many businesses have opted into hiring freelance or contracted workers which has catapulted the gig economy. Freelancers in the US contribute over $1.4 trillion to the economy each year and have been sought after workers in virtually any field.
The variety of jobs one can freelance in are endless. I have personally stumbled upon a man who charges $15 for a thirty-minute video of him sending “angel healing powers” that has over 800 satisfied customers. The moral of the story is if you are good at something you can turn any hobby into a job.
However, some of the most profitable gigs range from web development, writing, graphic design, translating and being a virtual assistant.
Freelancing is also the best low-risk way to break into a new job sector or explore other career options without having to get a degree. Online English teachers can make over $20/hour and have the freedom to choose their hours. It is also a great way to build your portfolio and grow your brand at your own pace. Each day will look different as a freelancer.
Jonah Malin had a full-time marketing job and started freelancing as a way to diversify his revenue streams, and found that freelancing allowed him to research diverse topics and industries.
“In a few short months, I’ve done everything from writing blog posts for an upbeat coffee apparel company to website content for an exterminator.”
As a freelancer, you are self-employed and only answer to your client. It’s a one-man show where you will be required to wear many different hats and take on a multitude of roles that may include being your own boss, employee, accountant and marketer.
By being your own boss you are in control of your schedule. Whether that looks like late-night sessions and rolling out of bed at 11 am or early mornings at your laptop, you can set your own hours. This is extremely advantageous for those who have just started out and still have full or part-time jobs.
Working from a computer means being able to work anywhere with a reliable internet connection. You may have heard of the term digital nomad, which is someone who works remotely or freelances while traveling or living abroad. Countries like Costa Rica, Iceland, Portugal and Mexico are offering temporary visas to remote workers that are financially self-sufficient. These “citizens of the world” have the luxury of earning high salaries while keeping their cost of living low by living in a foreign country.
Being able to work from the comfort of your couch or a small surf town in Central America is much more calming than at a cubicle in a bustling office. A PGI study reported that 80% of remote workers experienced less stress and have a better work/life balance.
Earning a living by freelancing is not for the faint of heart. One must fully rely on themselves and their abilities to make it a full-time job, and it requires a lot of discipline, structure and hard work. Jobs are not going to simply fall into your lap, rather you have to pitch yourself and show clients why they need you.
It may take months or years to get to a point where you feel financially stable enough to be a full-time freelancer. It’s all about how much work you put in and how badly you want it.
On the upside, freelancing does not require any formal training or webinars to get started. Aside from WiFi and a dependable computer, there are no start-up costs required. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork are free to use and have the potential to launch your career or earn some extra cash.
Alex Fasulo quit her job in 2015 and started writing e-books, press releases and blogs on Fiverr and made $36,000 that year. She has continued to work from her laptop and increased her annual income each year.
“While so many people were losing their jobs and so many businesses were going out of business, so many people were coming online to start selling products and services because it was the only way they were going to make contact with other human beings.”
Today, Fasulo has amassed over $1 million by not only freelancing but also diversiying her streams of income through affiliate marketing and social media. She also posts daily TikToks and Youtube videos that provide a lens into her typical workday, as well as the secrets to her success.
My perception of freelancers has only changed in the past year due to the increasing number of individuals, much like Fasulo, whose approach to financial transparency has helped other creators see the pros and cons of being your own boss. Freelancing no longer carries the stigma of being a “starving writer,” rather it boasts a bustling community of independent multi-hyphenates.