Making money freelancing online is about finding something you can do that you're an expert in or someone else doesn't want to do. Simple as that, almost.
This post is the third of our five-week series on making money through different online resources. There are enough scams and wastes of time in internet side gigs, so I thought I would put together a series of legitimate ways to make extra money online.
Check out the other four posts in the series to make money freelancing or through other online resources:
How to Make Money Freelancing Online
Freelancing is just another way of saying running your own business. You market your service through different sources, agree on contract terms and perform your work for clients. Clients will most likely start out as one-time project requests but may come back to you for regular services.
Why would you want to start freelancing online? Besides a great way to make extra cash, freelancing can be your ticket out of the 9-to-5 rat race. It's not that you'll be able to stop working after launching your online freelancing business. In fact, you might find yourself working even more hours than you did with a traditional job. The difference is that you'll be in control of your financial well-being and will be doing something you enjoy.
I talked about my own experience making money freelancing and how the hustle became my life in a previous post. Start your online freelancing business in something you're passionate about or enjoy doing, and you won't mind the work. You'll work your butt off at first but will come to love the challenge and the idea of building your own business.
If you're serious about starting your own hobby job, side hustle, or whatever you want to call it, you'll want to create a website to show off your skills. It's pretty easy to put together a website of a few pages, including a blog. Bluehost WordPress Hosting typically runs promotions for annual plans and has tools to put your site together quickly. Posting to your blog once a week will quickly build your name as an expert, and you'll start getting visitors from Google searches.
What can you freelance? If you enjoy doing it, you can freelance it!
Anything that can be delivered over the internet will be the easiest to freelance and allow you to live wherever you want. This includes anything that can be delivered through writing, audio, video, or downloads.
As I hit on earlier, there are two types of freelancing jobs.
First is the job in which you can provide an expert service. This will require some time learning the subject on your part but will pay off over the long run. It usually pays better rates because it involves more training, and you can build a name for yourself for quality.
- Social Media Strategy
- Graphic Design
- Website Management
- SEO Strategy
The other type of freelancing job is one that people don't want to do or where they can pay you to do it for cheap. These will be rote tasks like spreading links around the internet, posting on social media, or some customer service tasks. These jobs don't pay quite as much, but money can start rolling in immediately without much training.
- Repetitive SEO tasks
- Social Media posting
- Article Writing
- Lead Generation
- Mailing Lists
Of course, there's a fine line between the two types of freelancing jobs. What may start as the second type may develop into the first after you've learned enough to provide real expertise in the subject. Many freelancers offer both types of services to make some quick money in the rote tasks while building their client list for tasks in the first type of job. Browse around the websites linked below and get a good feel for different jobs and how much you can make.
How much money can I make freelancing online?
This is the first question people usually ask, and unfortunately, it doesn't have a good answer. For every person who has made a good living freelancing online, ten more get disappointed, busting their butt for very little pay.
There are two problems for new freelancers. First is that, most likely, you won't have the experience or skill to charge top rates. Read my PeerStory about how I got into freelance writing online. I didn't start out charging $45 an hour and had to do a lot of unpaid work to get my name out there in front of the right people. Mix in paid employment with stuff that will further your career, and you'll eventually get noticed and start turning down the low-paying gigs.
The other problem for freelancers is the massive competition from overseas providers. Instead of getting mad at low-cost providers willing to work for $5 an hour, accept it as just regular competition. For every Macy's in a city, there are five Wal-Marts. Macy's doesn't get out of the retail business because of the competition, it just figures out how to provide a better service and distinguish the brand.
Some final thoughts on making money freelancing online:
- Putting a simple website together to showcase your work will go a long way to establishing credibility, getting more jobs, and getting paid more. Posting once a week to your blog will start bringing search traffic from Google that you can convert to customers. You might even start making money from advertising on your website.
- Charge what you are worth! Do not accept a job for less than you will be happy with, either through monetary gain or exposure. Your work will be sub-par if you grudgingly accept and then don't want to do the job.
- Many, many jobs on the freelancing platforms do not get assigned. Project owners either don't know what they want or don't find it. Spend time on the sites with projects that are most likely to be filled, and you'll get a feel for these pretty quickly.
- Contracts probably don't mean as much as you think. Are you going to chase a non-paid contract to another state, paying hundreds or thousands in travel and legal to collect a few hundred dollars? Get at least 35% upfront from new customers. Legitimate project owners will not have a problem with this.
9 Freelance Websites to Check Out
Making money freelancing online can happen in several ways, from direct communication through your website or one of the platforms listed below. Through the freelancing platforms, people with jobs or projects will post a description online. Freelancers browse through the projects and bid on the work or are invited to apply by the project owner.
You'll probably have to answer some questions about your experience or interview for the project. If you are selected for the project, you'll be rewarded with the job on the site. Once work is done, the project owner pays the site, and the site pays you.
Elance bills itself as “The World's Leading Site for Online Work,” but most sites have a similar claim to fame. There are 27,539 jobs posted currently across eight categories, from IT & Programming to Legal. A little more than a third (37%) of the jobs are in IT & Programming, with another 21% of jobs in Design & Multimedia.
99designs.com is a great site for design and marketing jobs. I like these targeted-freelancing sites because they seem to attract projects that are more likely to be filled. Employers know what they want and are looking for a professional in a very specific field. The site runs on a unique contest model where projects pay for a design package before the project goes to the marketplace of freelancers. For freelancers, it's a great break from the traditional bid-down strategy, where the lowest bidder usually gets the project.
DesignCrowd is another great website to make money freelancing in graphics and design. The site lists 42 categories, from corporate design and branding to T-shirt design and brochure building. The site runs on the traditional freelancing model where project owners set their budget and freelancers bid on the project. Again, it is essential to show the quality of your portfolio and your ability to work with people. Put yourself forward as a professional, and campaigns won't mind if your prices are slightly higher than others.
Udemy isn't necessarily a freelancer site but a great place to launch your side hustle in video courses. Freelance for more than a few months, and you will start building some fundamental expertise in your field. There is a good chance that others will be looking to learn those skills, whether to make money freelancing or do their work. Udemy reports more than eight million students, and the average instructor makes $7,000 on their courses. It's pretty easy to put together a few-hour course, but it will take some time to plan and shoot the videos. Even if you're not planning on giving a course, Udemy is an excellent tool for learning the skills that will make your freelancing successful.
Fiverr.com is a freelancer website I've started using more over the last couple of months. Freelancers offer “gigs” for $5, including limited services, but then try to upsell into more services for more money. I haven't attempted to provide services but bought a few gigs. I know a lot of freelancers that do well on the site, but you have to upsell and use the site to draw people into your marketing strategy. Try building a relationship with new customers so they come back to you for each project, even if your prices are higher than the competition.
Tutor is a good option because of its focus and pricing plan. Clients buy subscription packages for one to three hours at around $39 per hour. The site helps match students with tutors in 40 subjects and claims tutor support 24 hours a day, 361 days of the year.
Hootsuite is not a freelancer website but a great tool to manage your social media management side-hustle. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are most websites' second largest traffic sources. Everyone from Fortune 500 companies to individual blogs is building a social media presence, and most are clueless about where to start. I've outsourced some of my social media marketing myself, and I know a lot of bloggers that outsource their entire social strategy. Hootsuite makes it easy to manage a client's social networks by linking all networks and making it quick and easy to share.
Freelancer is one of the older sites, established in 2004. The site has one of the more extensive inventories of projects, though it doesn't offer a site-wide or category sum of jobs. It does seem to be more closely focused on technology and technical positions. Freelancer was the first site I came across when I first started trying to make money freelancing online, but I never found much on the site.
ProBlogger is one I've brought up a few times on the blog. It's probably the best job board for finding online writing projects. While it seems that more of these jobs are filled, as opposed to employers just testing out the market on other sites, the rate offered is still pretty low on many of them.
Making money freelancing through customers from your website should be a longer-term goal. The freelancing platforms provide a quick connection to thousands of potential customers looking for freelancers, but you'll have to weed through many postings to get work. It's difficult to distinguish yourself from all the other freelancers, and the rates you'll get will be lower than what you can charge on your website. Build your site and create a real sales pitch through prior work, and you'll be able to charge top rates and attract legitimate customers.
As we've seen in the other two posts in this series, making money freelancing online is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Any website (deleted) promising a freelancing strategy where you'll earn thousands a day, or even each week, is likely a scam. Making money freelancing online requires patience and years of building your business. Give it a little time; your part-time hobby can easily become a full-time job or even pay the bills on a less-than-full schedule.