Freelance work is becoming more and more popular in today’s workplace, with 36% of the U.S. workforce consisting of work-from-home freelancers and over half of the workforce set to become freelancers in the next decade.
If you’re thinking that freelance work might be for you, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before launching yourself into the online market. Here, we’ll explore five freelance jobs that have been popular in 2018.
1) Social Media Coordinator
Businesses are looking now more than ever to social media to build a strong customer base and keep in touch with their potential clients. While in-house employees typically take care of product design and manufacturing, companies often choose to outsource their marketing needs to a third party specialist.
When contacted, the marketing company or freelance social media marketer designs a well-thought-out campaign of tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, emails, and possibly YouTube infomercials to keep the company’s brand in the public eye. They typically come with a ready-made set of marketing skills and work with a number of clients at the same time.
Pro: More Independence and Control
As a freelancer, you are the social media expert, and you will often be given complete control over the strategies and techniques you employ to promote each brand. Companies (especially small companies and start-ups) will be grateful to have someone keeping their accounts up to date and maintaining a constant online presence. They will typically give feedback after the first batch or two (to correct any misconceptions or branding issues) and then leave you to it.
Con: You Carry All the Responsibility
As the only one controlling the social media accounts, you also carry the sole responsibility for the success or failure of each marketing campaign. Being an external worker, you may also find that some companies don’t get back to you about content or branding queries in time for your publishing deadline. This puts even more pressure on you to make quick, independent decisions that will produce the desired result.
Pro: Manage the Accounts to Suit Your Timetable
Whereas in-house social media marketers (SMMs) are paid to “be at work” a set number of hours per day on set days, a freelance SMM can write posts whenever it suits their timetable. Automatic scheduling means that you can prepare a month’s-worth of posts in advance and schedule these to be published daily, weekly, or monthly, all the while working on another company’s posts or taking a day off.
2) Creative Designer
Along with the explosion in social media marketing comes a need for international branding, eye-catching graphics, and audiovisual resources to keep media-hungry customers coming back for more. This creates an opportunity for graphic designers and audiovisual producers to obtain freelance employment from home, where they can work with one or multiple clients at the same time.
Pro: More Variety
An in-house graphic designer or audiovisual producer works with the same brand and thematic content day in and day out. A freelancer could be working on multiple projects at once. For example, you could be designing a logo for a luxury car company and illustrating cartoon-style healthy-eating infographics for an educational company on the same day. This variety keeps you fresh and versatile, making you more attractive to potential clients.
Con: Harder to Maintain a Work-Life Balance
When scoping out a new project, it’s often hard to estimate exactly how many hours or days it will take, and how much to charge. You could easily end up with multiple deadlines coming up at once and having to spend your nights and weekends working to get it all done. If you’re struggling to make your work days as productive as they could be, maybe it’s time to reconsider your wake-up times.
Pro: Use Your Favorite Software
While you were in college, you probably found a design program or kit that you absolutely loved and got into a great design routine that worked for you. As a freelancer, you can use your own kit and set your work rhythm so that you get the best flow possible while designing, rather than fitting in with a company’s software and hours.
Con: Larger Up-Front Investment
The downside to using your own software is that you carry the full burden of upfront purchase costs as well as the ongoing cost of keeping your software up-to-date. The cumulative costs of maintaining your own materials and tools, as well as downtime without projects, can mean you need to earn more than an in-house designer to maintain a similar annual income.
3) Software Programmer
The software programming and web development industries are exploding and there is a higher demand for skilled programmers than ever before. As a freelance programmer, you could find yourself building websites and apps, debugging existing software, or designing internal management systems from the ground up.
Programmers can work in-house or as freelancers in most parts of the world and can earn a decent income either way, so it’s useful to be able to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Pro: Use A Variety of Programming Languages
Con: No Recourse for Workplace Stress and Harassment
Programming is notorious for being a high-pressure, high-stress job, and freelancers can find they sometimes need support to stand up for their rights in the online workplace. These contracted workers are especially vulnerable to harassment in gig jobs, and without access to an HR department, there often seems like there’s no place to go for help if you are being harassed or treated unfairly.
Independent lawyers can help, especially if you live in the state of California where laws exist to protect you. If you are not sure whether you are being harassed, read “11 Types of Workplace Harassment and How to Stop Them.”
Writers, like social media coordinators, can obtain freelance work creating web content and blogs for companies looking to boost their web rankings. This freelance career requires little training besides a talent for producing engaging and grammatically-correct content, and the ability to research quickly and effectively.
Pro: Work Anywhere
With little software or set-up required, writing is a job you can do pretty much anywhere—even at an internet café or on your cell phone! This makes it one of the most flexible freelance jobs available.
Con: Limited Pay
Occasionally, you may hear of a copywriter who is making $250 per hour writing web content and blogs. However, these freelancers are the exception and not the rule. A study of freelancers in 170 countries showed that freelancers generally earn between $11 and $28 per hour with an average of $19, and copywriters tend to earn in the lower part of this range.
Pay-per-word schemes sound attractive, but you also need to factor in your research time. To up your pay through scoring well on quality-rating systems, you might want to consider using these 9 amazing freelancer platforms.
5) Online Tutor
If you have a college degree and enjoy teaching, online tutoring is a convenient option. Online tutors teach everything from English to Physics and can connect with students around the world. These jobs are typically managed through a third-party agency, some of which allow you to set your own hourly rates.
Pro: Eliminate Travel Time
In-person tutoring is the most popular arrangement for children and teens who are very hands-on and enjoy face-to-face interaction. However, when parents want you to drive or bus to their homes every week for a one-hour session and then drive or bus home again, you can end up losing too much valuable time and income. Online tutoring eliminates the commute completely, allowing you to tutor students during your most productive work hours.
Con: Reliable, High-Speed Internet is a Must
A slow internet speed not only makes online tutoring frustrating, but it might also mean you are not eligible for employment through an agency from the get-go. In order to have a productive session with each student, you need to be able to ensure that your internet connection is reliable and fast, with download speeds of at least 10mb/s.
A World of Opportunity
These five freelance careers only represent a fraction of the opportunities that are out there in a constantly-changing market. If you enjoy working independently and have the flexibility to keep pace with the trends, freelance work might be a great option for you!