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15 min read

Freelancing is only getting more and more popular.

A recent study from Upwork and Edelman found that as many as 90 million Americans will be freelancing by 2028.

And for good reason.

With the flexibility it brings, the ability to choose the projects you like, your rates, who you want to work with, and more… who wouldn’t want to make the switch?

If you’re already considering it, you’re not alone. But to get started on the right foot, you probably want to know what the best freelance jobs are (you are here, after all).

In this article, you’ll learn about the top freelance jobs you can start earning income with today and how you can get started.

top freelance jobs criteria pen and paper

Criteria for the best freelance jobs

Let’s first go over what makes a great freelancing job great.

The most obvious factor I considered is money. It’s only logical to want to know what the highest paying freelancing jobs are.

Keep in mind that how much you can make with a given freelance career will depend on a lot of factors, like the niche, your skill level, how you decide to set your rates, and how well you can market your abilities to clients.

But to give you a general idea, I made sure to include an estimated average hourly pay.

Note: as a freelancer, you can also price your work per project, per word (for writers), or you can set up a weekly or monthly retainer agreement with your client.

My second-most important criteria when building this list was how in-demand a freelance job is.

It would be difficult for you to land a gig and consistently make income if it’s not a service people have a growing and frequent need for. So, the best freelance careers are also ones that are in-demand.

I’ll also go over some either factors, like whether a freelance job is better for beginners or experts.

Along the way, be sure to honestly weigh your own skills, interests, and lifestyle to help you determine the best freelance path for you.

With that out of the way, let’s go over all the best freelance job ideas for 2022.

highest paying freelance jobs woman on laptop outside

22 top freelance jobs online

1. Translator

Average pay: $30/hour

If you’re bilingual, why not monetize that as a successful freelance gig?

As the world and businesses become more globalized, translation services from a living, breathing human (not Google Translate) will remain in demand.

You could translate written documents, speech (phone calls, meetings, and lectures), movie subtitles, YouTube videos, and so on.

Of course, you must be proficient in the languages you’re translating to and from.

But with dual language proficiency under your belt, this could be a great freelance job for you to get started immediately with.

2. Video editor

Average pay: $27/hour

With social media platforms increasingly focusing on video and 9 in 10 companies using video content as a primary marketing tool, it’s no secret that there’s a demand for well-edited videos.

From advertising, event and YouTube videos… all the way to TikTok, there are a lot of opportunities to get started and specialize here.

Editing videos well definitely takes know-how, but thanks to this, businesses are eager to delegate this task to professionals.

3. Illustrator

Average pay: $20/hour

Have you noticed that every big tech company uses the same geometric, noodle-armed illustrations? You’re not alone.

The point here is that companies everywhere—from giant tech corps to small startups—seem to be looking for illustrators.

And from marketing materials to product designs to editorial projects—there’s a lot of work to get started with right away.

Plus, thanks to the technical skills needed here, you can comfortably charge a worthwhile rate. A quick look at Upwork’s talent board shows freelancers charging $20-$60/hour.

4. Transcription

Average pay: $12-22/hour

If you love to type but aren’t so into the creative writing process, transcription could be a good option for you. It’s a great freelance job for both beginners and experts.

Transcription involves converting audio into a written document; this could mean transcribing things like meetings, lectures, and more.

Depending on the industry and significance of what you’re transcribing, you could earn a high income.

To get started and succeed over time, you’ll need good quality headphones, solid research skills, and the ability to type fast.

5. Consultant

Average pay: $28-98/hour

Consulting is among the highest paying freelance jobs, but as you might expect, this job isn’t for beginners; it requires expertise.

Yes, consultants are professionals who provide their expertise as a service to businesses that need guidance.

If you’re an expert in a certain industry, like digital marketing or accounting, you could have a successful career in freelance consulting from the comfort of your own home.

Depending on the industry, it’s not uncommon to charge $100+ an hour for consulting services. I personally charge $300 per hour!

6. Virtual Assistant

Average pay: $16/hour

The demand for virtual assistants (VAs) has exploded recently, and the industry is only continuing to increase each year, making it a solid choice to jump into—especially for beginners.

Virtual assistants support businesses with things like administrative duties, marketing, research, and a range of other tasks.

Keep in mind, though, that there is a lot of competition with this one—especially with freelancers overseas. This can make it hard to price yourself well unless you have a unique skillset (or can market yourself effectively).

7. Tutor

Average pay: $30/hour

Tutoring is a job that continues to stand the test of time. As students of all ages continue to learn, there will always be a need for tutors.

You don’t have to be an expert at a subject to be a tutor, either. That is, unless you’re tutoring on a high-level topic.

BUT beginners can get involved tutoring any level of education below their own; if you have a solid foundation in grammar, why not help a middle-schooler improve theirs?

Or, you could help tutor people of all ages and education levels to improve speaking in your native language.

There are a lot of options here, and it’s easy to get started; ask around your local community, make a social media ad, or use sites like Wyzant or Chegg.

8. Social media manager

Average pay: $25/hour

Social media management is one of the top freelance jobs around, regardless of your skill level.

While it does take education and know-how to do it well, it’s not too difficult for beginners to get into, especially if you already know a lot about social media.

A social media manager will typically be responsible for content scheduling and posting, copywriting, trend and hashtag research, responding to comments and DMs, etc.

There are a ton of automation tools for social media, too, so if you can get things set up properly, managing one account may only take a couple of hours of work per week (depending on the size of the account).

Because of this, many social media managers opt to set up a retainer with clients instead of hourly pay. This way, you could set up a retainer based on a defined scope of work, such as $500+ per month each, and then manage multiple accounts.

As companies take to social media more and more, they’ll continue to need social media managers.

9. Software engineer

Average pay: $39/hour

Software engineering is one of the highest-paying freelance jobs, and it remains highly in-demand.

Software engineers are responsible for designing and developing software that solves real-world problems.

The job itself is no easy feat, though—it requires comprehensive education and understanding of certain coding languages and software architecture, problem-solving and analytical skills, and an additional host of hard and soft skills.

Though you’ll find the average rate to be around $40/hour, it’s not uncommon for expert software engineers on Upwork to charge upward of $100/hour.

10. Data analyst

Average pay: $30/hour

The demand for data analysts continues! In fact, job opportunities in this field are expected to grow faster than average, making this one of the best freelance jobs online.

A data analyst gathers and analyzes data to help businesses solve problems and make informed decisions.

To be a data analyst, you’ll need a technical understanding of structured query language (SQL), reading statistics, data visualization, and more.

While you don’t need a degree to get started, you will need to learn the necessary skills. But if problem-solving is up your alley, and you have an eye for detail, this could be a great path for you.

11. Product manager

Average pay: $35-150/hour

Product management is another high-paying freelance job. AND it’s listed among Upwork’s most in-demand freelance jobs for 2022.

Product managers are in charge of making strategic decisions regarding a product; this includes building an entire product roadmap from development to fulfilling your target customer’s needs.

To be successful with this, you’ll need to see the big picture, plan well, and follow through on delivering results.

If you can do that, this could result in a promising freelance career.

12. Graphic designer

Average pay: $30/hour

If you have an eye for design and strong design software skills, this could be a great freelance career for you to jump right into.

Even if you have no background in graphic design, with a little brushing up on the principles and some software tutorials, you can get started on simple tasks pretty quickly and improve as you go along.

While the growth of jobs for graphic designers as a whole is slower than average, there are still some great opportunities here.

For example, designing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) appears to be booming, with the top earners on Upwork having made more than $400k.

What should freelance graphic designers know about NFTs? Here’s a helpful video by Mike Nardi:

13. App developer

Average pay: $40-100/hour

It seems like mobile applications are must-haves for every modern company—but that’s good news for freelance app developers.

You’ll need a background in programming for this one, but if you have the skills required, this is one of the best-paying freelance jobs around.

Plus, app development is among the most in-demand jobs for 2022, providing freelancers with many consistent and lucrative work opportunities.

14. Copywriter

Average pay: $19-45/hour

If you have a way with words and enjoy the science of effective language, becoming a freelance copywriter might be a great match for you.

Copywriting is a persuasion-based form of writing that’s meant to generate sales.

The writing you see on product websites, online ads, emails from brands, and more, were likely created by a copywriter.

Though there’s some overlap with content writing, the two are not the same thing—but I’ll talk more about content writing below.

15. Voice-over actor

Average pay: $30/hour

Are you known for having an articulate or pleasing voice? If so, becoming a freelance voice-over actor could be a good option for you.

In fact, voice-over acting is one of the best freelance jobs for beginners. You don’t need any prior background to start freelancing with this—just a clear voice and believable delivery.

As the name suggests, a freelance voice-over actor provides voice-over services (their voice played over media, without making a physical appearance), which could be used for online videos, TV or radio, video games, or even in film.

Because of the nature of the work, this is a freelance job that’s typically priced per project instead of per hour.

Fiverr, one of the best freelance platforms, is a well-known hub for voice acting opportunities.

You’ll find over 3,000 sellers listing their voice-over services on there, with their top-rated talent starting their pricing at $200 for short voice-overs, and some with more than 1,000 buyers who have purchased their services—you do the math.

16. UX/UI Designer

Average pay: $39/hour

UX and UI stand for user experience and user interface, respectively.

The difference between the two is, freelance UX designers focus on structural design aspects that affect a customer’s journey and overall experience—seeking to solve their problems, while a freelance UI designer focuses solely on the visual or aesthetic experience of a product, using color, typography, animations, and more.

This is a freelance job that takes some serious knowledge and skills, but the rates reflect that. Top UX/UI designers on Upwork charge anywhere from $80/hour to well over $100/hour.

17. Content writer

Average pay: $25/hour

Content writing is one of the best freelance jobs for beginners to get started with.

Chances are, you already know how to write. And if you know you have a knack for it, you’ll quickly find people who want to pay you to produce blog content, web articles, eBooks, and more.

If you like writing but are unsure of your abilities, take my advice and don’t let perfectionism stop you from getting started and improving as you go along.

You may have heard the phrase “content is king”—and it’s true. Content writing is companies’ key to creating brand awareness and authority and building a relationship with their audiences online.

All that to say, this is a field that remains in demand.

A quick search on Upwork shows 6,260 content writing jobs currently available, from entry-level all the way to expert.

Keep in mind that content writing is more competitive for beginners, but once you start getting established, the jobs will keep flowing in from there.

One great way to stand out as a content writer is to buff up your SEO knowledge.

If you’re looking for great writing gigs, I most recommend Contena.

18. SEO specialist

Average pay: $39/hour

Everybody wants to rank well on Google, and search engine optimization (SEO) is the way to do it.

Yes, SEO is one of the most popular and effective marketing strategies, creating a huge demand for SEO specialists.

SEO specialists work to optimize website content to appeal to search engine algorithms, with the aim of ranking higher and generating more traffic.

A great SEO specialist will need to have a solid understanding of the different search engines’ algorithms and analytics tools, as well as strong keyword research, HTML, and link-building know-how.

19. Digital marketer

Average pay: $25/hour

As everything we do continues to move online, digital marketers are only growing more and more in-demand.

Companies look for digital marketers to help them plan, implement, and track online marketing campaigns to achieve their goals across digital channels.

This usually requires knowledge of pay-per-click ads, SEO, and content, email, mobile, affiliate, and social media marketing—as well as the analytics tools required to track and optimize each of these.

Yes, this job takes some serious education, but thanks to that, you can earn a substantial income.

20. Automation specialist

Average pay: $40-110/hour

With businesses wanting to automate as much as possible to boost efficiency and cut down costs, the need for automation specialists has skyrocketed.

As you might’ve guessed, an automation specialist facilitates the automation of a business’s processes to optimize its operations.

To put it simply, they do this by developing and designing software programs using coding languages, such as Python.

Some other crucial skills for automation specialists are configuration management (CM) software experience, an understanding of troubleshooting, and the ability to write automated tests and build their frameworks.

If it sounds complex, it’s because it is. But good news, not only is the pay high, Upwork lists it among the most in-demand freelance jobs for 2022.

21. Cybersecurity specialist

Average pay: $45/hour

Everyone and everything is online, and cybersecurity specialists fulfill the critical role of protecting networks and websites from attacks and keeping them secure as a whole.

This involves developing and implementing security measures across software systems and keeping everything up-to-date and bug-free.

Being a cybersecurity specialist is easily one of the best freelance careers for experts; it’s lucrative and incredibly in-demand.

22. Machine learning engineer

Average pay: $80-125/hour

Machine learning (ML) engineers are among the most in-demand freelancers for 2022.

ML engineers are specialized computer programmers who design and build artificial intelligence (AI) systems that learn and improve on their own.

Think: social media algorithms that learn what you like to recommend you more of that to improve your experience. ML engineers are behind that.

They also play a role in helping businesses improve sales through intelligent product recommendations.

As you can imagine, this is a highly-technical and high-paying field, with top earners charging up to $500 per hour.

freelance job ideas stepping up stairs

How to get started freelancing

So, you’ve nailed down your favorite freelance job ideas, and you’re curious to take your next steps… how do you actually get started?

I’ve got you.

Here are your next three steps to start making money as a freelancer:

1) Start with my post How to Start Freelancing.

This article is your foundation: it’ll walk you through the very first things you need to know to finally get started with clear, easy-to-follow steps.

2) Then, head over to my article on How to Get Freelance Clients.

This is YOUR guide to finding your first paying clients fast. It goes over where to find freelance clients and exactly how to land them.

Following these two steps, you’ll be all set up with your first paying clients in your dream freelance career—now, what should you do to set your business up for long-term success?

That leads me to…

3) Learn everything you need to know to run an actual business as a freelancer with my “Business for Freelancers” course.

As a freelancer, you’re a business owner now—but you don’t have to figure everything out on your own. As someone who’s gone through all of this myself, I’m here to walk you through things.

By the end of this course, you’ll:

  • Have the systems in place to manage your time and money effectively,
  • know how to file your self-employed taxes and the ins-and-outs of making contracts that work for you,
  • and much more.

Are you ready? Don’t wait to change your life and finally become your own boss as a freelancer.