Whether you’re taking the plunge into remote solo work or just looking to try out freelancing, you may be wondering how to find the best freelance jobs online and what it takes to succeed as an independent worker.
As you might expect, there are some key differences in sourcing top freelance jobs versus applying to a company for a full-time position. Here we’ll dive into qualifications, types of freelance positions, and where you can find the best freelance jobs online.
Which freelance jobs should I apply for?
Take note of your strengths, qualifications, and interests to come out on top.
If you’ve never freelanced before, the idea of self-identifying your strengths and then pitching yourself to potential clients can be pretty scary. But in this respect, freelancing is actually incredibly similar to finding full-time work in your field of interest.
Before you begin to dive into a deep search on freelance job sites, take a quick inventory of your work experience and skills – both broad and niche.
For example, if you have experience working as a receptionist in a medical office, you have experience with customer service, data entry, appointment-setting, phone communication, etc. You should also jot down any tools (like Asana, Photoshop, Quickbooks) or foreign languages you’d feel comfortable using on a client’s behalf.
Once you have a good sense of your qualifications and strengths, make a short list of the kinds of work you enjoy the most, even if it’s not something that immediately translates to your prior work experience.
Do you love blocks of time where you can throw on a podcast and crunch numbers? Do you have a passion for writing that you’ve nurtured with personal projects but never carried over to your career?
These are all ideas that you can use to secure freelancing work. Freelancing can be a fun, neutral environment to test your capabilities in uncharted territory.
8 types of common freelance jobs
Here are some of the best freelance jobs that anyone can do online.
Freelance writing is one of the broadest job pools in the gig economy. There are all types of writing jobs: technical, casual blogging, research-oriented, journalistic… the list goes on and on.
Because writing is such a widely-applicable skill, it’s also one of the most approachable freelance job types for newcomers.
It’s often easier for clients to work with one or two writers for their brand on an ongoing basis, so if you impress with your first few pieces of writing, you may have found a consistent source of freelancing income!
2. Customer Service or Support
With so many businesses translating their retail offerings to e-commerce, remote customer service has risen in the ranks for contracted work and become a highly-desired freelance skill.
What business owner has time to answer every customer’s email thoughtfully, follow up on shipping details, or respond to social media for customer service inquiries? That’s where you come in as a freelance customer support team!
3. Virtual Assistant
If you’re a whiz with organization, scheduling, and communication skills, then working as a virtual assistant will come naturally to you.
Freelance virtual assistants act as their clients’ right hand, completing a variety of tasks: scheduling and transcribing meetings, creating recurring reports, managing their inbox, following up on invoices, planning travel arrangements, or placing calls.
Becoming a freelance virtual assistant is a great way to work from home and have a reliable source of income if you become integrated with a specific business owner or brand.
Depending on your background, you can also offer your clients lightweight marketing services, like social media management, blog post research, or a weekly newsletter.
4. Data Entry
People either love or hate working in spreadsheets, and if you’re in the first camp, there is plenty of opportunity for you to spend every day working in Excel from the comfort of your couch.
Clients will pay a premium for compiling data on a deadline, especially around the end of a financial quarter.
As a data entry specialist, you’ll need to be comfortable in tables, and you can command a higher rate if you’re fluent in data analysis, too (think Mixpanel or Tableau).
One of the easiest jobs to start doing from home is audio transcription. You don’t need any existing skills to begin working as a freelance transcriptionist — just a decent typing speed, a quiet space to listen to the material you’ll be transcribing, and a reliable internet connection.
Your day-to-day will consist of listening to recorded meetings, podcasts, videos, lectures, and other material and accurately capturing what was said. With so many meetings being held over Zoom these days, transcription is in especially high demand.
Many office administrators or legal assistants regularly do transcription as part of their day-to-day jobs so this would be a natural segue into freelance transcription.
If you speak a second language (or more!), you have a wealth of translation positions open to you. The more languages you speak, the more valuable you are to potential employers — and less-commonly taught languages can pay top dollar.
Common freelance translation positions include creating copies of internal resources, translating longform writing (like book drafts), and editing product descriptions or marketing copy for clarity.
As a translator, it’s typical to specify that you offer general translation services or specialize in legal, medical, or technical translation.
Consultants are experts in their field, and they partner with their clients to help solve a variety of problems. Expertise is the key reason that consulting is a top freelance job — you can charge at a premium based on your level of skill.
Depending on your work history, you may be able to slip into a consulting role with relative ease. Fields like finance, marketing, sales, project management, communication, and branding are rich with opportunity.
Businesses are happy to pay consultants for advice because it saves them from needing to hire a seasoned expert full-time to strategize and execute tasks. Remote consulting might involve creating proposals for solving problems, processing interviews and feedback via video or phone, or supporting the client’s team as needed.
Consulting is how I started my freelancing career and still the bread-and-butter of my business today. If you have expertise in a specific area, consulting can be a great way to generate immediate freelancing income.
At a high-level, coaching is similar to consulting – coaches advise their clients on their area of expertise with routine check-ins to monitor progress and adherence to their strategy.
The two types of freelance work tend to differ in their audiences. Consultants often work for businesses or brands; coaching trends towards lifestyle or career advice for individuals.
Career-specific coaches might work with entrepreneurs, real estate agents, job seekers, or college applicants on how to improve their success in their industry or to attain a desired result, like getting into an Ivy League business school.
Business leaders often draw on executive or leadership coaches to glean insight from a tenured perspective, while lifestyle coaching often tailors to wellness, fitness, and spirituality.
Where can you find the best freelance jobs?
Check out these resources to find the top freelance jobs online.
Regardless of the type of freelance work you’re interested in, you can find plenty of opportunities online. Here are a few of the most popular sites for finding freelance opportunities as you’re getting started in your career:
- Upwork — Upwork is indisputably one of the best places to build your freelance portfolio, with broad job offerings across accounting, customer service, admin support, marketing, translation, design, writing, etc. This platform allows for unlimited proposals to clients, but Upwork takes a 20% cut of any of your job earnings.
- Flexjobs — If you’re sold on the idea of flexible, remote work, Flexjobs will give you the most options (including some full-time and contract work, for folks who aren’t interested in freelancing forever). Take a look through their “Categories” page for a full view of all the kinds of work that are currently available in their database.
- Freelancer — Like its namesake, Freelancer claims that they can help their clients get “anything they want” done with their freelance network. Clients on this platform post their project specs, and workers bid on the assignments they’d like to complete. It’s also possible for clients to contact you directly through your profile, so spend time highlighting your best work!
- Guru — Guru promotes expert freelancers and the “top” talent in a variety of fields, including programming, graphic design, writing, translation, marketing, and more. It operates similarly as other freelancing job platforms where businesses post jobs and freelancers can apply depending on their interests and payment terms.