We get it – freelancing sounds like an enticing career choice, but how do you land that first job if you’re a beginner?
Whether you’re looking for extra money to supplement your income or you want to make a complete career change, freelancing may offer the opportunities and freedom you need to make your goals happen.
After all, what’s not to like about setting your own hours and working from home without a boss breathing down your neck?
Before you go through our curated list of top job options for beginners make sure you read our detailed guide on how to become a successful freelancer in record time.
The beauty of freelancing is its flexibility. As the costs of living rise, millions of working adults are looking for new opportunities to pay their bills and save money.
Thanks to the online gig economy, it’s easier than ever to start a ‘side hustle’ or break away from your 9-to-5 day job.
Unfortunately, getting started as a freelancer can feel challenging. It can be overwhelming, especially if you’re offering services for which you have little professional experience.
You may think “why would anyone hire me? My resume is empty!”
Taking your first steps as a freelancer starts with finding a field in which you’ll be successful. If you don’t choose the right job, you can set yourself up for failure.
As you start your freelancing journey, ask yourself – what do I enjoy doing? What are my marketable skills?
How to find your marketable skill?
Marketable skills include writing, people handling, problem solving, using online tools and much much more. If you can’t think of any marketable skills ask yourself what tasks you can do to make another person’s life easier.
- Can you make social media images in Photoshop?
- Can you proofread and edit content?
- Are you good with numbers and calculations?
Use your answers to help you find your niche. The more specific your skills are, the more easily you will market them – for example, a person who specializes in B2B eCommerce copywriting for emails has a stronger selling point than one who plainly advertises themselves as a ‘copywriter’.
Once you’ve identified your marketable skills and found your niche, you can start searching for a freelance career that suits you.
And one where your future clients will start paying you big big bucks for.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the best freelancing jobs if you’re just getting started and what skills you’ll need to do them. Use this guide during the first steps of your freelance career to set yourself in the right direction by choosing a field that matches your skillset.
6 Best Freelancing Jobs for Beginners That Pay Good and Require Little Experience (Updated: July 2019)
Before we begin, let’s clarify one point – the jobs we’ll discuss are ideal for beginners, but you’ll need some relevant experience and knowledge before you work with paying clients.
As a freelancer, we sure can get paid to learn new things. But this can be risky when you’re just starting out as you need the confidence to motivate yourself, and you need the competence to deliver outstanding work.
You should be dreaming big. And you should consider starting with a skill you know you can handle well, then branch out to more lucrative and more fulfilling work.
When you utilize your current skill set then you’ll start your freelance career from a foundation that will last a lifetime.
That being said – freelancing jobs are available in nearly every field. In fact, the gig economy is growing consistently¹ because of the job market’s influx of freelance careers.
When you hear “freelance,” graphic designers and writers may come to mind. Rightfully so, as freelancers populated these fields long before the internet made gig-based income mainstream.
However, modern-day companies are learning the value of remote workers and in turn, are transitioning many previously-salaried positions into freelance contracts.
These include data entry jobs, market research, even administrative tasks. If the role doesn’t require a person’s physical presence, there’s a good chance companies will hire a freelancer for it.
We’ll look at 6 of the best freelancing jobs for beginners in today’s economy. We’ll discuss the skills you need to get started and how much you can expect to make as you advance through your career.
Let’s dive in.
Jobs: Email newsletter, blog posts, ad copy, video screenplay, product description, headlines.
Hourly rate: Beginner $15-$30; Mid level $30-$50; Experienced $50-$100; Expert $100+
Copywriting is dominated by freelance writers. It’s relatively easy for companies to work with them remotely – they assign the work, tell the writer what they want to see and wait for the writer to draft it.
Yep – it can be that simple.
As a freelance copywriter, you may work for a creative marketing firm or a design agency that outsources their workload to you. Or you may work for small and medium businesses that need writing all the time. The choice is up to you, and on Upwork you’ll see job posts from both startups, big business, and even agencies!
Whichever your choice, there’s a broad spectrum of content marketing needs on the web and site owners need quality copywriters to turn them into reality.
Don’t worry – as a copywriter, you won’t be writing boring stuff like manuals and memos. Depending on your clients needs, you’ll be writing content for blog posts, YouTube scripts, sales emails brochures, and more.
And just look how many copywriting jobs are currently available on Upwork:
It’s a HUGE industry. And copywriting is a fun freelance career if you’re creative, you like research, and you enjoy writing. It requires dedication, patience, and hard work, but freelance writing can be a highly fulfilling career choice.
If you’ve always been the person in the room that says
“That’s the best ad I’ve seen in years. Did you like it?”
Then copywriting is the dream career for you.
The best part?
Copywriting is one of the highest paid freelancing careers.
As a beginner, you can make anywhere between $15-45/hour with freelance writing. Check out Michael. He is just starting out on Upwork and already making $25/hour as a freelance copywriter:
Mid-range salaries run between $50-65/hour and the most highly experienced writers can charge more than $100/hour! Here is the proof:
And just because there is a ton of copywriters making big money on Upwork — don’t let this scare you. With a little dedication and commitment, anyone can make it big as a copywriter, that most definitely includes you:
Look at that! There are over 1000 freelancers on Upwork that are making $60 and more per hour right now! The sky is really the limit with this career and when you make money for other people — they pay you amazingly!
Be prepared – freelance writing is challenging work. But if you really love ads, and if you like to learn… You’ll do amazing. And get paid good too.
#2: Customer Support
Jobs: Order management, clerical duties, issues resolution.
Hourly rate: Beginner $8-$15; Mid level $15-$20; Experienced $20-$40; Expert $40-$60
Are you good with people?
Can you create meaningful interactions with customers?
If so, freelance customer support could be one of the best freelancing jobs for you.
Freelance customer service agents use their know-how to help customers get answers to their questions, navigate the company’s website, make returns, and more. Common tasks for customer support specialists include placing orders over the phone, issuing refunds, and answering general inquiries about the brand.
As a customer support specialist your job may involve solving problems and answering questions through phone, email, or instant messaging.
Alongside standard computer knowledge (to navigate the software you’ll use), you’ll need the following skills and characteristics to succeed as a freelance customer service agent:
- Effective communication skills, particularly through email, phone, and live chat
- The ability to foster strong customers relationships
- Patience and compassion
When you work in customer support, be prepared to interface with customers often. Other freelance jobs in this guide may not include customer interactions, making them ideal choices for people not really wanting to deal with the world when they work.
If working as a customer support technician sounds like a good starting point for your freelance journey, your salary will depend on your experience.
For example, a person with little experience can expect to earn between $10-$15/hour freelancing. These roles may include general customer service tasks and clerical duties. Or mix it up and add your expertise, like Tashekia did here to capitalize on her IT skills:
A mid-range analyst may make up to $30 an hour, but the most desirable salaries are for the experienced technicians – if you have a sales background and years of customer support experience, you may earn more than $45/hour as a freelance customer service analyst.
#3: Program & Software Testing
Jobs: Website testing, app testing, beta testing, bug testing.
Hourly rate: Beginner $10-$12; Mid level $12-$20; Experienced $20-$50; Expert $50-$80
Without a doubt, programming and software development are some of the highest paid freelancing careers you’ll find – and for good reason.
It’s not easy to be a programmer – remember what we said about needing applicable skills before starting your freelance career?
If you don’t have these skills but you want a career in programming or software development, freelance application testing can be a great starting point.
Companies will not teach you programming on the job. They will expect their developers to show up and know what they’re doing – it’s up to them to make the brand’s vision a reality, after all.
However, developers aren’t perfect. They make mistakes – few applications or webpages work perfectly the first time.
That’s where software testers come in.
You don’t need an extensive professional or educational history to get started as a freelance software tester. Sure – experience and education will make the job easier, but it’s a great place to start for beginners because of the low barrier to entry.
Software testing is multidimensional. When you get started, you need to figure out which types of testing you’re good at (or can easily learn).
The most common types of software testing include (but are not limited to):
- Full system testing
- Customer experience testing
- Stress testing
- Performance testing
- Website testing
- Mobile app testing
- Bug testing
- Beta testing
As you can see, there are plenty of entry points to get started as a software tester!
And the best part is, you’ve got tons of experience using apps, websites, and programs already!
When you’re a software tester, your main goals will depend on which types of testing you’re hired to do.
As a beginner, beta testing is a great way to dip your toes into freelancing. It doesn’t require special skills except a keen eye for bugs and performance issues.
Other types of testing may require additional education or professional experience, which you can work up to with time.
The amount you’ll make freelance software testing is correlated with your niche and your experience. It ranges from $10/hour for an entry level software tester to more than $25/hour for a seasoned expert.
Fortunately, software testing is a field where your certifications and education can come into play, earning you a higher salary. Just like at how successful Alexey is:
Let’s take copywriting for example: freelance copywriters do not need certifications to do their job. Their employers rarely ask to see a certification and candidates aren’t set apart by the presence of formal education as drastically as they are in more technical fields.
However, certified software testers can use their credentials to ask for higher rates.
If you have formal training and you’ve worked as a software tester in a professional setting before you begin your freelance career, you can ask for higher-the-entry-level rates from the beginning.
Even if you don’t just be willing to work for lower rates to start. And then once you get a few reviews you can start boosting your rate higher and higher.
Software testing is an excellent way to start freelancing. The market for quality mobile applications and web pages is larger than ever – even though the field is competitive, there’s enough demand to make it profitable for newcomers.
#4: Social Media Content Creator
Jobs: Graphic design, content optimization, video creation, infographics.
Hourly rate: Beginner $15-$35; Mid level $35-$50; Experienced $50-$80; Expert $80-$150
No brand succeeds without great social media content – that’s the general consensus among marketers, anyway.
Without good images and content to complement their social media presence, companies struggle to compete. As humans, first impressions are particularly important to us and we associate good feelings with colors and symbols we find attractive. For these reasons, marketers emphasize the importance of high-quality branding on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Building brand awareness starts with the right social media marketing strategy. As a social media content creator, your job will vary among clients – you can offer one or two specific services (like social media content or images) or offer your skills for general projects.
As a social media content specialist, projects you find may include:
- Creating images for Pinterest
- Writing Facebook posts for advertisements
- Curating videos to share on your page
- Publishing blog posts to share on social media
- Brainstorming ideas on what type of posts people will like
You should be willing to work with your team members and communicate with them openly to succeed as a freelance social media content specialist. Listening to their input is one of the most important parts of your role – if you can’t take constructive criticism, you may find working as a social media content specialist challenging.
The best part about starting a freelance social media content business is the low barrier to entry. With tools like Canva and Adobe Spark, it’s easier than ever to create images without previous experience or access to Adobe Photoshop.
And be honest: if you already spend a lot of time on social media why shouldn’t you get paid for it?
What’s even better…
If you post a lot on your own social profile you can use that to prove your competence as a social media marketer!
Salaries for freelance social media content specialists vary drastically – a beginner with little professional experience may earn between $15-35 an hour, like Marijune:
While a seasoned strategist and creator may earn more than $75/hour, depending on the project:
I mean look at how many people are succeeding as social media managers right now. If they are doing, you can too!
#5: Transcription and Captioning
Jobs: audio transcription, video transcription, screenplay story line writing.
Hourly rate: Beginner $11-$15; Mid level $15-$25; Experienced $25-$40; Expert $40-$50
Do you have insanely fast typing skills?
Do you like watching videos and listening to audio?
Did you know transcription is an in-demand freelance position right now?
That’s right – your keen ear and skills with a keyboard could pay off in the form of a highly-profitable freelance career.
In the past decade, video marketing has grown viral. In fact, statistics show more than 80% of all internet consumption worldwide is video content² – wow!
And the most important part for you, as a transcriptionist, is the amount of time marketers don’t have to create captions.
In today’s online climate, more brands are prioritizing accessibility. They’re investing in captions for their YouTube videos to help hard-of-hearing and deaf audiences, alternative text descriptions for imagery, and magnifying tools to make accessing their content easier for everyone.
Between shooting footage, creating graphics and animation, finding music, and putting the final product together, video editors and production teams rarely have time to transcribe their content.
That’s where you come in.
With the rise of video marketing and the popularity of video sharing on platforms like YouTube, transcriptionists are in higher demand than ever before – best of all, clients are willing to pay good money for freelancers who can do their job well.
As a transcriptionist, your duties may include:
- Writing subtitles or captions
- Transcribing videos into articles
- Listening to audiotapes and transcribing the content
Entry-level pay for transcriptionists is lower than it is for some other freelance careers (depending on the types of projects you’re looking for and the clients you work with). However, the barrier to entry is low and nearly anyone with rapid typing skills can turn it into a profitable freelance job with consistent effort.
If you’re just starting your transcription career without a lot of professional experience, expect to earn between $10-15/hour (if you’re finding your clients through UpWork and other freelancing marketplaces).
Mid-level transcriptionists may earn between $20-25/hour, but professionals with veritable experience can ask for more than $30/hour!
#6: Virtual Assistant
Jobs: audio transcription, video transcription, screenplay story line writing.
Hourly rate: Beginner $8-$15; Mid level $15-$25; Experienced $25-$35; Expert $35-$80
To succeed at many of the freelance jobs in this guide, you’ll need some sort of skill – even as an entry-level team member.
Virtual assistants breaks this rule (generally speaking). Yes – you’ll need some professional skills to be a successful virtual assistant, but you won’t need a flawless portfolio or fancy certifications.
As a virtual assistant, your job is to assist with tasks like an office manager or receptionist. This may include taking phone calls, replying to emails, scheduling appointments, doing light research and similar tasks like:
- Providing customer support
- Drafting and typing documents
- Taking notes from virtual meetings
- Serving as a point of contact for other members of the team
- Securing travel arrangements and accommodations
- Managing social media accounts and the company’s blog
- Creating presentation materials like slideshows
- Handling payroll and other basic accounting tasks
- Managing website updates or maintenance
- Providing basic technical support to other team members or customers
- Finding potential customers
- Recruit members for your team
Ultimately, jobs for virtual assistants vary in what they require and what they pay. You don’t need impressive credentials to start a freelance career as a virtual assistant, but your range of pay may be lower as a result.
When you get started as a freelance virtual assistant, expect compensation between $8-$15/hour. Since you don’t need highly developed skills for most virtual assistant positions, you may not make your preferred rates when you first start out.
However, virtual assistants can earn more than $60 with experience, making it a highly profitable niche if you’re dedicated to succeeding.
Talk about succeeding. Look at how much Catherine is making as a virtual assistant on Upwork right now:
Freelancing is an exceptional opportunity if you want maximum career flexibility while making a sustainable living income.
However, it isn’t always easy to get started.
- How to start your own freelance business
- Why is freelancing better than a 9to5
- Time management skills and tools every freelancer needs
- Inside the mindset of a succesful freelancer
- 7 Ways to get freelance clients
Before you can make money freelancing, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses – what do you bring to the table that makes you a valuable team member?
What can you do that others can’t, or what can you do better than your competitors?
Most importantly, ask yourself what you like to do. Freelancing won’t afford you any luxuries over working in an office if you still don’t like what you’re doing. It’s important to choose a field you are passionate about – if not, you could set yourself up for trouble.
When you find your ideal freelancing career, it can be an incredible opportunity to advance your professional life and make powerful changes to your routines at home. Think about which freelance careers sound the most interesting and get started with an UpWork profile. Using UpWork is one of the easiest ways to get clients and start your freelance journey – from there, you can use your experience to secure long-term contracts, get 5* reviews, and boost your rates higher and higher!
If you’re a freelancer, how did you get started? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comments below!
Or if you’re going to be a freelancer soon, what jobs are you pursuing? Share with us below and lets all learn, earn, and grow together!