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Sometimes, it’s okay to give it up to the highest bidder.
Get your head out the gutter. I’m obviously talking about freelancing!

I’m no superfan of the medieval times, but the history behind words is right up my alley. So I found it highly amusing to learn that the origin of the word “freelance” is firmly rooted in the age-old practice of fighting on behalf of whichever nation was willing to drop the most bread.

Minus the weapons and armies, much of that definition still holds true today.

Pin me to come back to this post later!

What is Freelancing (And why is it so damn popular)?

Freelancing is a form of self-employment where you offer certain services in exchange for a fee. You might offer these services to individuals, small businesses, or even corporations. As a freelancer, you might have one client at a time or juggle several clients at once. The choice is completely up to you…

…which brings me to one of the biggest draws of freelancing: freedom and flexibility. That autonomy is even more attractive with online freelance jobs because you could theoretically do them from anywhere!

As long as you have a computer and Internet service, you can write, edit videos, proofread, code, etc. from anywhere in the world.

Plus, you can create your own schedule, take breaks whenever you want, and develop your own routine. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

If you’re in the traditional workforce, you know that autonomy is something many traditional employees long for.

But freelancing isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. While the self-directed nature of freelance work sounds uh-MAZ-ing, it can also present real challenges.

Since you’re directly responsible for what you do and don’t do, you’re also directly responsible for the success or failure of a project, which directly impacts whether you will get paid or not. Or whether a client will want to work with you in the future or refer you to her contacts.

That uncertainty is why many people choose to freelance on the side in addition to a traditional job (or shy away from freelancing altogether).

For anyone who chooses to go all in and freelance full-time, the ups and downs are part of the game.

Let’s Get Real about Freelancing

For most millennials, “freelancing” is a part of daily conversations. If you aren’t already a freelancer, you’ve probably considered it a time or two.

So it may come as a surprise that the word “freelancing” is actually still in the process of shedding a pretty crappy connotation. Some people prefer to use words like “contractor” or “business owner” to avoid the stigma of being a quote-unquote freelancer.

What’s the big deal, you ask? For some, the word “freelancer” brings to mind:

  • College grads with no real experience (and no jobs) who just call themselves freelancers
  • People wandering aimlessly from job to job with no consistency or plan

(Don’t shoot the messenger. If we’re being 100% honest, some of these descriptions do fit the bill. I digress…)

Despite the people giving freelancing a bad rap, our generation is helping remove some of the stigma associated with the word. Just look at the numbers.

According to the “Freelancing in America: 2017” study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, 36% of the American workforce was freelancing in 2017. Not surprisingly, millennials led the bunch with 47% of millennials freelancing. By 2027, it’s expected that freelancers will make up the majority of the American workforce.

You don’t have to be a full-time freelancer

Freelancing is such a hot topic these days. Entire blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook groups, and YouTube channels are dedicated to online freelance jobs and success as a freelancer.

As people become more intrigued by this lifestyle, the prospect of becoming a full-time freelancer seems more and more attractive. I’ve been researching this route, and I’ve realized: it ain’t for everybody.

it ain't for everybody.

– Jay-Z

I say this to reassure you: You don’t HAVE to freelance full-time if you don’t want to. You are in complete control of how many or how few clients you take on, what time of year you take on work, etc.

It’s absolutely okay to enjoy the best of both worlds (traditional employment and freelance work).

So let’s jump right in to see what skills you have that you can use to join the half of millennials who are already in the freelancing game!

What Skills Can I use for online Freelance jobs?

The Internet makes freelancing from anywhere in the world possible, especially for certain skillsets. Below are the high-paying freelance skills of 2017 and the fastest-growing skills of 2017.

Highest-Paid Freelance Skills of 2017

According to Upwork, a (controversial) platform where lots of people get their first taste of the freelance life, these were the highest-paid freelance skills of 2017 (and yes, those are hourly rates in parentheses!):

  1. Network analysis ($200)
  2. Computer vision ($145)
  3. ($140)
  4. Neural networks ($140)
  5. Firmware engineering ($130)
  6. Hardware prototyping ($130)
  7. Cloud computing ($125)
  8. Intellectual property law ($120)
  9. Trade law ($115)
  10. Privacy law ($115)
  11. Spatial analysis ($110)
  12. Apple Watch ($110)
  13. NetSuite development ($110)
  14. Acquisition strategy ($110)
  15. Algorithm development ($100)
  16. Software debugging ($100)
  17. Digital signal processing ($100)
  18. Ad lyrics writing ($100)
  19. Natural language processing ($100)
  20. Data processing ($100)

Fastest-Growing Freelance Skills

Upwork also shared the fastest-growing skills of the last quarter of 2017:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Amazon DynamoDB
  3. React native
  4. Robotics
  5. Go development
  6. Forex trading
  7. 3D rigging
  8. Augmented reality
  9. Computer vision
  10. Penetration testing
  11. Media buying
  13. Shopify development
  14. AngularJS development
  15. Swift development
  16. Video editing
  17. Influencer marketing
  18. Machine learning
  19. 3D modeling
  20. Motion graphics

What If You Don’t Have These Skills?

Good news: you can freelance just about any skill you can think of. So if the ones in the two lists above are a little too technical, don’t worry.

Here’s a real-life example…

Me? I’m a freelance writer. I got my start last year after taking Elna Cain’s Write Your Way to Your First to $1K course. Within my first 3 months on Upwork (while working at my full-time job and newmommy-ing full-time) I made almost $1,500.

In addition to writing, there are lots of other skills you can consider offering in exchange for a check!

  1. User Experience (UX) design
  2. Copywriting, specifically
  3. Editing
  4. Proofreading
  5. ASP development
  6. Photography
  7. Virtual assistant
  8. Lead generation
  9. Voice acting
  10. Social media marketing
  11. Website development

Where to Find Freelance Jobs Online

We’ve talked a lot about Upwork but it’s definitely not the only place to find online freelance jobs.

Be sure to check out Craigslist, Indeed, LinkedIn ProFinder, and these other resources for freelance work online. (And don’t forget about your personal network)!

For my fellow writers, Pete from Do You Even Blog put together a great resource to help people like us find freelance writing jobs online!

now you have no excuses not to make that move! What skills would you like to freelance?