Guide to starting a freelance business

How to make it as a freelance business

Freelance businesses are taking more and more space in the global workforce stage. In October, Freelancers Union published the annual “Freelancing in America” report. This freelance business report provides an extensive overview of this independent workforce. The report signals a growing presence of freelancers in the major economic sectors.

Freelance statistics

There are around 56.7 million people who are self-employed, private contractors or seek temporary employment projects. This means that around 35 percent of the US population is freelancing.

This form of employment is growing at a rapid pace, exceeding the growth in the traditional industries. In 2018, the freelance market grew 7 percent. In contrast, the traditional sector grew only 2 percent in 2018.

This form of employment is not just a necessity promulgated by the stagnant economy unable to create stable jobs, but also a lifestyle choice. More than half of the freelancers that participated in the survey claimed that they wouldn’t return to the traditional forms of employment.

Types of freelance employment

The financial underpinning of this type of employment

Freelance rates can significantly vary depending on the industry and specific expertise. Not every skill is easily transferable into a freelance career. In certain areas of expertise, you can find full-time remote employment and plenty of side hustles, while in others you can barely score a mediocre gig.

Nevertheless, there are several statistical estimates that can help us understand the broad picture.

A recent study by Payoneer found that the average hourly rate for freelancers in the U.S. is $31. Those numbers are not very impressive. However, keep in mind that is just an average. Freelancers in highly technical fields can earn up to $100 per hour.

Nevertheless, the freelance average is substantially higher than the national average of $26.30. If you are an expert in the particular field you can earn way beyond that with freelancing, with a right attitude and connections. That is especially true if you live in one of the best cities for freelancing. Let’s review several niches, where freelance businesses are in growing rapidly.

Freelance Writing

Average hourly rate: $24

Writing is an excellent field for a freelance career. Nonetheless, your earnings significantly dependent on the topics you are writing. The hip topics like blockchain and cryptocurrency can generate above average income.

Another important factor is your writing proficiency. An experienced writer who knows intricate details of the craft and can navigate in styles and formats for various audiences can earn much more.

Freelance copywriters also should know the basics of SEO, since their content have to be tailored specifically for a certain keyword and semantics. Additionally, copywriters need to be able to write on the range of topics. The more universal the copywriter, the higher the earnings. In contrast, a technical writer doesn’t have to be a renaissance man and should be a specialist in a particular field. Technical writers need to have an extensive knowledge of terminology and specific industry they are working in. Since it is a very distinct group of writers who are specialist in the particular field they are usually more valued on the labor market.

It is easy to get lost in this freelance business sector. Therefore, try to connect with a large association or network of writers. Examine the Editorial Freelancer’s Association, they can provide an immersion into the freelance writing lifestyle and help you with the job opportunities. Visit  PeoplePerHour freelance platform for remote jobs and freelance projects.

Freelance Designers

Average hourly rate: $17.

This is the growing field that is especially in demand now with the rise of digital marketing and advertising. This industry employs Illustrators, Multimedia Producers, Graphic Designers, and Web Designers. Plenty of companies looking to outsource small projects or seeking turnkey solutions.

The recent trend in the industry is that companies are looking for customized services and personal approach. Those needs are better served by individual freelance designers than by the big studios. It is a fertile ground to start freelancing in the multimedia. Look for active design projects on PeoplePerHour.

Freelance Marketing

Average hourly rate: $20.

Marketing is the backbone of the modern economy. Since most companies nowadays are digitilizing their services and establishing their online presence there is a constant need for freelance marketing professionals.

If you are a link builder, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) engineer or a PPC manager, you will be able to find a steady stream of orders in various niches.

IT Freelancers 

Average hourly rate: $28.

This is one of the broad and diverse freelance segments. It consists of multiple roles and job titles, among them: QA Testing, IT Support, Mobile Development, Database Programming, Web Programming, Game Development.

Overall, freelance rates are higher in the tech industry. Additionally, you can charge more if you have specific skills and extensive experience.

The highest paying jobs are in back-end and front-end development. A good bet would be searching for job openings with freelance staffing services that concentrate on tech positions.

Freelance Finance Professionals 

Average hourly rate: $23.

SME financial consulting companies are losing their footing to freelance analysts and planners. Bigger companies lack flexibility and personalized approach, while freelancers can provide ongoing support and customized solutions.

Financial analysts and financial planners do well in the freelance business world thanks to clients who need ongoing support.

Freelance Engineering

Average hourly rate: $29.

Engineering is a broad field and not every sector of it is comfortable with freelancing. If you are an aerospace engineer you might have a hard time finding freelance projects. This is a highly institutionalized industry that is centred around big corporations and occasionally medium size startups and bureaus.

Nevertheless, there is a good chance that you can build a freelance career if you specialize in hardware engineering, software engineering or product design. Recruitment and staffing agencies are in constant search for qualified professionals in these industries. Therefore, update your profile and let recruiters now that you are available for the freelance position.

Freelance Business Support

Average hourly rate: $16.

Each company depends on administrative support to operate. That includes various assistants, secretaries, data entry clerks, and customer service staff. Luckily, most of these jobs can be performed remotely.

Freelance Legal Services

Average hourly rate: $48

Lawyers are often considered a traditional industry, where most of the employees work in-house. However, the online marketplace opened countless possibilities for legal side hustles and remote jobs. Specialists in paralegal services, contracts, tax law, immigration law, and fraud analysis will easily find good paying jobs. Online platforms have an abundance of openings in this industry.

Freelance lifestyle

How to start your freelance business

Online recruitment has opened up new horizons and a world of opportunities for professionals seeking freelance employment. According to a Payoneer study, the majority of freelancers — around 73 percent — find their work online. Freelancers mostly use the following methods to find jobs:

  • Online platforms
  • Referrals
  • Linkedin and other social networks

Freelance lifestyle

Freelancing implies a certain lifestyle. First of all, you are working alone without colleagues, managers or any supporting staff. That can be liberating and depressing at the same time — and that must be mentioned as one of the pros and cons of freelancing. You are not annoyed by loud or annoying colleagues, but you don’t have anybody to chat with or ask for help.

Consider working in the co-working space to have some company, make friends and informal connections. Many freelancers prefer to work from co-working space, so there is a good chance you will find counterparts and colleagues.

To Sum Up

Don’t get discouraged by the average rate in your field. It can be much more. “Average” is a biased term.  The freelance workforce offers unlimited flexibility and earning potential. The key here is building a portfolio and personal brand. This way you will have an established reputation that can attract more orders and gigs. Consequently, you can increase your hourly rate and work less for more pay.

Recognize your strengths work on your weaknesses and strive for freelancing efficiently: one order at a time.

Shirley Lowe
Shirley Lowe is a professional property manager and real estate marketer from Burbank, CA. A dedicated blogger, she's been featured on REAL Trends and GoDaddy blog.
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