Career Options Working as a Freelancer (With Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a freelancer with a specific skill set can increase your chances of securing clients. Freelancers are self-employed and accept contract work from individuals, organisations and companies. Learning about the skills, responsibilities and career options of a freelancer can help you decide if this is the right career path for you. In this article, we discuss the skills and responsibilities of a freelancer and explain how to start a freelance business as a career option.

8 career options working as a freelancer

If you're interested in working as a freelancer, here are eight career options for you to explore:

1. Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is when you're contracted to write material for an organisation. The amount of writing projects you receive depends on the needs of the client. For example, clients may require one large article, a series of shorter articles or regular blog posts.

2. Freelance project manager

A freelance project manager helps a company plan and manage projects or events. This type of freelance work also often requires having expertise in the industry of the client. For example, an IT company interested in hiring a freelance project manager may expect them to have prior IT work experience or relevant education and certifications. The type of duties in this role is heavily dependent on the project, such as the size of the team, budget and scope. A larger project team may require more leadership and delegation related duties.

3. Freelance graphic designer

A freelance graphic designer creates visual digital and print form content. You may work in the areas of digital media, architecture, web design or film. Freelancers in artistic fields usually have a distinctive style to their designs to attract clients.

4. Freelance human resources (HR) recruitment agent

As a freelance HR recruitment agent, you're responsible for understanding employee contract laws to help clients hire job candidates. The duties of this role often include posting job openings, reviewing resumes and requesting interviews with potential new employees on behalf of your client. After helping a client hire an employee, you may also take part in negotiations regarding their employment contract.

5. Website developer

Working as a freelance website developer, you may collaborate with a team of other experts on the same project or work independently. This freelance job requires you to create a website presentation of the company's content, product and services to Internet audiences. Freelance website developers often have expertise in specific programming languages or website template platforms.

6. Freelance researcher

Freelance researchers require the ability to source and analyse relevant data. They may help clients find specific information or provide a required conclusion. For example, a retail store may want to learn more about market trends to create a new product.

7. Freelance bookkeeper

As a freelance bookkeeper, companies often contract you to prepare or review their financial reports. You may work with various departments within a company, such as sales and human resources, to gather and confirm information. Individuals with high net-worths may also hire freelance bookkeepers to help monitor their assets and calculate annual tax information.

8. Freelance photographer

Freelance photographers contracted by companies and individuals take photographs. Freelancers in this field can partner with diverse clients, such as families wanting graduation photos and businesses wanting promotional pictures. This type of freelance work requires you to display a high-quality portfolio of your work to potential clients.

Related: Contract Employment: Definition, Benefits, Disadvantages and an Example Contract

Duties of a freelancer

Freelancers are independent contractors that may perform the following duties to secure and complete contracts:

  • establishing your area of freelance expertise

  • searching and applying for contract work

  • understanding a client's procedures and protocols

  • setting work hours to complete contract work

  • keeping track of time spent on different projects

  • meeting deadlines

  • maintaining communication with clients

  • fulfilling all milestones of a contract

  • billing clients and tracking payments for completed work

Related: What Is Freelancing?

How to start a freelance business

Here's a list with some tips on how to start a freelance business:

1. Build a website portfolio

Build a website portfolio, known as a digital portfolio, to gather samples and examples of your work to display publicly. This helps companies find your freelance business on the Internet. When sending a business letter or email to apply for contract work, provide your website link in your business correspondence. Digital portfolios are fast and easy to access for companies in need of freelancers.

2. Research freelance pay rates

It's important to research the current freelance pay rates in your area of expertise. Contract pay rates often fluctuate depending on your level of experience. Some companies state the rate they're willing to pay for a contract and some may ask for a bid based on your qualifications. If you know what the current pay rate is for your level of expertise in your industry, you can often negotiate the contract rate. You can set your advertised freelance pay rate on a project or hourly basis, depending on the type of freelance work you're doing.

3. Request testimonials

Request testimonials from companies you've previously completed freelance work for. If you're just beginning as a freelancer, request testimonials from people who've seen your work, such as a past employer or a professor. Testimonials are a great tool to establish your credibility in the freelancing business.

4. Review freelance contracts

Review freelance contracts and the requirements requested by the company. Consider the pay rate, but also consider the value you can gain with the work experience. If the pay rate is not appealing, but the contract work is, accepting it can aid in building your freelance portfolio. Your portfolio is key when developing your freelance career and business. Also, consider that an entry-level contract might lead to higher-level contract work with the same company.

5. Specialise in an area of expertise

Specialise in an area of expertise for the freelance work you choose to do. Brand yourself in the industry you're specialising in by providing unique and quality work. Businesses that hire freelancers are usually looking for specific expertise and prefer candidates with sample work from previous roles or contracts.

Skills required for working as a freelancer

Here are some key skills you can develop to increase your earning potential as a freelancer:

Time management

Time management is important for freelancers to manage multiple clients with different requirements and deadlines. This skill can help you manage your schedule and prioritise projects to improve your productivity, which may increase your earning potential. You can utilise task management tools to help plan out and track your daily duties to ensure you have adequate time for each client.

Communication

Clear communication between you and your clients is crucial to continued business. It's important for understanding job instructions and a client's goals. Through clear and concise information sharing, you can clarify expectations, minimise issues and improve work quality. The ability to negotiate pay for contracts is also essential for being a freelancer to ensure you're adequately compensated.

Marketing

Marketing is important for the promotion of your skills as a freelancer through a comprehensive portfolio or a unique brand or style of work. Marketing also involves actively engaging companies for work rather than waiting for clients. The more companies are aware of your skills, the more likely you are to receive contract offers.

Related: 20 Marketing Skills to Highlight on Your Application

Technology

It's important to develop and upgrade your technology skills as a freelancer. Knowledge of computer programs relevant to your industry may help you create and deliver better products and services. Freelancing work is also usually a remote work career. Working remotely, such as from home, requires various computer hardware and software to communicate with your clients. To improve your technology skills, you can take local classes or learn from online tutorials and videos.

Hard skills

Hard skills involve attaining technical skills, experience and higher levels of education in your chosen field of freelance work. Having strong demonstrable skills can help you secure more clients. Here are some hard skills that may benefit your career as a freelancer:

Bachelor's degrees and certifications

The achievement of a bachelor's degree and certifications in your chosen area of freelance expertise is beneficial to securing more jobs. Having a formal education can help assure clients of your proficiency in your industry. Here are some common degrees for different fields of freelance work:

  • Art: Freelance artists or graphic designers often have degrees in graphic arts, graphic design or illustration.

  • Writing: Journalism, communications and English are great subjects to consider if you're interested in being a freelance copywriter or editor.

  • Marketing: Freelance marketers, such as influencers, may have degrees in psychology, sociology or marketing.

  • Business consulting: If you're interested in consulting on a freelance basis, many clients expect them to have degrees in business management, accounting or finance.

Working knowledge

Working knowledge involves having hands-on experience in the practical application of your freelance services and skills by having work experience and expertise in a specific industry. Companies hiring freelancers may approach the process similar to regular employee candidates and require relevant experience before considering you. For example, a marketing agency may request a portfolio of your published articles to assess your writing abilities. Your work experience may also result in recommendations from previous companies and clients.

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