If you are longing for the life of a solopreneur or freelancer, you have lots of company. In the U.S. alone, it is now reported that 57 million adults are in self-employed jobs, either full or part-time. This shift in the workplace is a result of many factors, not the least of which are technology and the changing values of millennials and Gen Z’ers. Before you decide that this is your new life, consider some of the pros and cons. Among the pros are the following:
- You are completely in charge of your life – both professional and personal – and can choose when, where, and how you work
- In many gig economy positions, you can work from a variety of locations.
- You can choose who you work with and the clients you take on
- You keep the profits of your labors (except for taxes, etc., of course)
But there are cons too:
- Income is not steady and predictable
- You’re in charge of marketing and sales
- You lose employer benefits (health insurance, savings plans, etc.)
- You must chase clients who fail or are slow to pay
- You may find that you are working longer hours than in a traditional job
If the pros outweigh the cons for you, then here you will find a lengthy list of the myriad of opportunities. Match your passions and your skills/talents with one or more of these, and you can be well on your way. Review this listing of the types of self-employed jobs and find yours.
The Most Lucrative Self-Employed Jobs
As you might have already guessed, these positions are technology-related. If you have skills that match any of the following, you can almost name your price.
This is a relatively new field of computer science and involves the collection of unstructured data from all over the web, categorizing and analyzing that data to answer business questions and drive the decisions that businesses make for their future. Earnings for data scientists can range from $125,000 – $250,000.
Software App Developer:
Everyone from individuals to large enterprises want apps for everything from games to convenience for users/customers. If you have not been encouraged to “download the app” from many companies, then you are not living in the 21st century. App developers can realize income ranging from $50,000 – $130,000, depending upon the specific training you have.
Given the number of high-profile security breaches of late, companies are in desperate need of security specialist with the latest skills. In fact, there is a shortage in this area with a huge number of unfulfilled positions. Companies that cannot find hires in this field will be happy to use freelancers with the right credentials and background. As a beginner, you can command up to $140,000 but much more as you advance in your career.
This position involves going into a client’s workplace and analyzing all of its IT functions – hardware and software – and making recommendations for changes/improvements. Most companies employ an outside consultant to conduct these audits on a scheduled basis, so if you get “in” with a number of clients, you have long-term recurring income potential. As a beginner, you may bring in about $50,000 a year, but this will grow as your reputation does.
The Most In-Demand Self-Employed Jobs
So, high-tech gigs probably command the greatest income potential. But suppose you are not a techie? What’s left for you? A lot actually. And many are in high demand:
Social Media/Content Creation and Management:
Coca-Cola has a huge department of writers and editors for its digital marketing efforts. Small to mid-sized companies cannot afford such a luxury and outsource these tasks to talented writers and journalists. If you are a creative who can craft compelling copy and great graphics, you can grow a solopreneur business over time. It’s a matter of gaining a reputation. You can begin by finding work on any number of job boards, as you build your reputation. These self-employed jobs can result in earnings from $25,000 into six-figures.
Virtual Assistant (VA):
Startup entrepreneurs are busy focusing on their core tasks. This job can be compared to a brick and mortar administrative assistant, but working completely online. Tasks can include anything from bookkeeping, data entry, managing calendars and schedules, fielding calls and emails, and more. If you see yourself as someone who can stay organized and perform multiple tasks for multiple clients, you can earn a solid income. There are some VA’s who earn six-figures.
Teaching and Tutoring:
The beauty of this freelancing opportunity is that it can be accomplished physically or virtually or in combination. The explosion of K-12 online school programs has created a huge demand for virtual teachers; students who are struggling with their coursework need tutoring help. Basic starting income runs about $25/hour but rates are higher for those with expertise in STEM subjects.
If you have a penchant for writing engaging copy and a solid understanding of the technical aspects of email marketing, managing those campaigns for small and mid-sized companies can be lucrative. You will need more than just writing skills – you must track, analyze and report the success of each campaign. The greater the success, the more your reputation grows. Income obviously depends on a client’s budget and the number of clients you can handle at one time.
Over-Saturated Self-Employed Jobs
It’s all in the law of supply and demand. There are some gig positions in which the supply is just too great, and only the “cream of the crop” will command a decent income. If you are in one of these fields, understand that to rise to the top you will have to be amazing:
This has been a hot field for many years. But today, there are just so many designers out there, the competition is tough. If you intend to make it in this field, you will have to commit to lots of continuous learning regarding the latest technical advances as well as a strong and successful self-promoter
Whether you are looking to create blogs for clients or establish your own blog with income-producing facets, you face stiff competition. If you can find a topic niche that is not heavily covered, you may have a shot at monetizing your blog. You will have to match your expertise with a niche topic and, even then, it’s a lot of work for a lot of risks. Some highly popular bloggers make six-figure incomes, but they have been at it for a long time and got in early.
Many law schools graduates dream of “hanging up their shingles” and practicing as solopreneurs. But this field is probably one of the most saturated professions. Plenty of lawyers end up in non-related careers because they are unable to find enough clients or even get hired by existing law firms.
Yes, this was listed above a field in which there is high demand. However, it is saturated with hopefuls who have writing skills but who must compete with huge numbers of fellow writers, all competing for the same gigs. The end result is that, unless you have built a great reputation and have long-term gigs with repeating clients, you may end up working for very little. Consider that some writers are working for as little as $0.03 per word. That’s a lot of words to add up to a livable income.
How About the Easiest Self-employed Jobs to Pursue?
The easiest freelance gigs to pursue, unfortunately, are also often the least well-paid. If you are earning a second household income, you may want to consider these types of freelancing. Understand that you will not be earning a living wage, but supplementing the major household income source.
- Online surveys: this is one of the easiest things to do. Just sign up with several survey websites and you will get paid for every survey you take.
- Home Data Entry: Many companies do hire data entry clerks to work from home. After all, they don’t have to pay their share of social security or provide any benefits. The hourly wage often results in about $10/hour, if you are lucky.
- Customer Support/Assistance: lots of companies hire remote workers to handle normal and mostly mundane customer service issues and questions. To do this work, you obviously must have some training, most of which is completed online. Again, this is not a gig for a primary income.
- Child Care: While this is often listed as an easy gig, it is, in fact, not. You will have to complete certification training via your state agency, and there are regs that set a number of children you can care for, as well as the physical setup you must have.
- Dog/House Sitting: This is definitely an easy gig – you sell yourself as a responsible person who can take on responsibilities for home and pets while owners are away. Be aware that most of these positions are taken up by college students and do not pay particularly well.
Out-of-the-Box Self-Employed Jobs
While these may not be all that unusual, they are often not thought of when people consider self-employment. And yet, they can be quite lucrative.
If you have the talent to vary your tone of voice or use a variety of accents; if you have a compelling voice; or if you are just able to speak clearly and succinctly, you may have a solopreneur career waiting. Companies employ voice-over artists for a variety of tasks when they create videos. Average pay runs about $40/hour. If you can get enough gigs, this is not too bad.
This is a great gig if you love gaming, but don’t plan on this your only source of income. Generally, testers have other gigs as well. Beginning tests can perhaps earn about $18,000/year. Highly experienced and in-demand testers can make up to $45,000, but only after years of work.
There are plenty of people who go into this line of self-employment, but they must be patient, learn how to self-market, and rely on recommendations and references to grow their businesses. Average pay is about $25/hour but gradually increases as a worker “earns her stripes.” Not to sound chauvinistic, but this is a highly female-dominated field, and many women use the income as supplementary to the primary household income.
This has been a popular and in-demand gig, until recently. Unfortunately, now that grocery stores deliver and online shopping is so easy, a large pool of clients have dried up. Still, those who manage to get enough gigs in this field can probably command an annual salary in the low 30K’s.
Stand-up comedians, magicians, clowns, and musicians have a tough “row to hoe” if they plan to make a solid income. Promoting oneself is a tough task, and, again, the increase in numbers of gigs often relies on references and recommendations. Most of these self-employed individuals do this on a part-time basis, keeping their day jobs in the hopes that they will build their businesses over time. Those who are successful can realize an income up to the mid- $40K range.