With the pandemic triggering a global working revolution, more people than ever are turning to freelance jobs to maximize their earning potential, have a better work-life balance, and gain complete autonomy over how (and where) they work.
Today, freelancers make up 47% of the world’s workforce—with the global gig economy set to surpass the $455 billion mark in 2023.
Whatever your background or interests, there’s a freelance job out there that’ll help you translate your skills and creative passions into earnings.
The best part? Between freelance job boards and plenty of supportive freelance communities and networks to help you find your feet, it’s never been easier to find freelance jobs. But which freelance job is even right for you?
In this blog post, we’ll dive into some of the most sought-after and lucrative freelance jobs worth pursuing in 2023—and look at where to start finding clients.
- Can I get a freelance job without experience?
- The 12 best freelance jobs
- How to find freelance jobs
Can I get a freelance job without experience?
Before you launch your freelance career, you might find yourself wondering how far you can get without years of experience (and glittering client testimonials) to bolster your credibility.
Although higher-paying clients generally prefer to work with more experienced professionals, it certainly shouldn’t be a roadblock in getting freelance jobs. In fact, freelancing is an excellent way to build up your skills while earning a living. You just need to:
- Identify your passion (i.e., what could you see yourself doing day in, day out for the foreseeable future?)
- Take stock of the transferable skills you’ve already got that could help you earn money
- Build a personal brand that markets yourself as a professional.
It’s worth noting that while a lack of experience won’t stop you from finding work, a lack of portfolio is a different story.
To be able to trust that you’ll do a job to a high standard, clients usually want to see an example (or two) of similar projects you’ve worked on in the past.
And therein lies the classic chicken-and-egg dilemma: You need a portfolio to land freelance jobs, but without freelance jobs, there’s nothing to go into your portfolio.
One solution is doing a bootcamp course or program—ideally, one specifically geared towards transforming complete beginners into qualified professionals. In addition to learning the in-demand skills needed to land paying clients, you’ll also graduate with a professional portfolio that will help you showcase those skills.
Many bootcamp students even take on freelance work while they do the course as a way to supplement their coursework with practical experience.
The key takeaway? Yes, you can absolutely get a freelance job without any experience!
In the early days, you might need to take on work that may not be your first choice while you build up your portfolio—but it won’t be long before you go from a total novice to experienced freelancer.
To learn more, check out our 5-step guide to becoming a successful freelancer.
The 12 best freelance jobs you can get
Using Upwork’s roundup of the most in-demand freelance skills of 2023 as a reference point, let’s take a look at 12 of the best freelance jobs you can get.
Do you have a talent for words and the ability to create compelling content? If so, becoming a copywriter could be the perfect freelance job for you. As a copywriter, you’ll create content for websites, blogs, advertisements, and various other marketing materials.
Every website, blog, and product needs good copy—and the demand for talented copywriters who can convert leads into sales with punchy headlines and storytelling has never been higher. If you like to write, you won’t struggle to find freelance work.
According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for copywriters in the U.S. is $34.
2. UX designer
UX designers create seamless, intuitive user experiences on websites or apps. UX design is a multidisciplinary field that involves conducting user research and testing, creating wireframes and prototypes, and collaborating with stakeholders across the business.
UX/UI design has consistently featured on Upwork’s list of the most in-demand tech skills, and with demand as high as it is, that’s not set to change any time soon. For freelancers, UX design allows for the perfect balance of creativity, problem-solving, and research.
Salary.com lists the average hourly wage for a UX Designer in the U.S. as $49.
3. Social media marketer
Social media marketing involves creating content and campaigns for social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok.
These days, the power of social media when it comes to reaching your audience and boosting revenue is undeniable, so it’s no wonder social media is listed as the second most in-demand marketing skill on Upwork.
Freelance social media marketers who can boost engagement are highly sought-after—so if you consider yourself social media savvy, it might be a freelance job worth pursuing.
According to Salary.com, freelance social media specialists charge $22 an hour on average.
4. Frontend web developer
Sitting at number two on Upwork’s list of in-demand freelance tech skills, front-end web developers are responsible for building and designing components for website interfaces.
They take the mockups created by UX/UI designers and transform them into dynamic, functional sites users can interact with. Front-end web development is one of the most popular and high-earning freelance jobs.
Freelance frontend web developers typically work across a range of platforms like WordPress and Webflow to bring their client’s visions to life. Check out our blog post on how to become a freelance web developer in 2023 to learn more.
The average hourly rate for a front-end developer in the U.S. is $57 according to Salary.com.
5. Backend web developer
Backend web developers build and maintain the server side of a website; ensuring data is stored, organized, and delivered efficiently.
They also play a crucial role in keeping websites secure from potential threats by implementing important security measures. For those willing to learn the ropes of back-end web development, it can be a truly rewarding field—and one of the highest-paying freelance jobs on this list.
The demand for skilled back-end developers is higher than ever, and businesses are willing to compensate generously for professionals.
The average hourly rate for a back-end developer is $51 on Salary.com.
6. SEO specialist
SEO currently sits as the number one top marketing skill for freelancers on Upwork—and for good reason.
Developing and maintaining an online presence is crucial for most modern businesses to thrive, and most companies will pay handsomely for expert SEO specialists to help them optimize their websites and boost traffic against competitors. SEO also has a low barrier to entry, and it’s not difficult to learn the skills with free online courses and resources.
The average hourly pay for a SEO Specialist is $37 per hour according to Salary.com.
7. Animation designer
Animation designers are responsible for bringing ideas to life through motion graphics, animation, and visuals. They create eye-catching and dynamic animations that capture the audience’s attention and inject some personality into the interface.
Gaining animation skills will open you up to a wide range of opportunities across various industries, including advertising, gaming, film, and education. With both 2D and 3D animation featured on Upwork’s top 10 most in-demand design & creative skills, it’s certainly a worthy and exciting freelance career path.
Salary.com lists the average hourly rate for a 3D animator as $29.
8. Project manager
As businesses take on more complex projects, demand for project managers who can ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget has skyrocketed.
In addition to overseeing the planning, execution, and monitoring of a project, project managers also communicate with stakeholders and team members; identifying and addressing potential issues before they affect the project’s success.
For companies who want to make sure their product or feature launch runs smoothly, freelance project managers are essential hires.
The average hourly wage for a Project Management Manager in the U.S. is $66 on Salary.com.
9. Mobile app developer
From games to productivity tools, mobile app developers develop, and deploy applications for mobile devices.
Their job responsibilities include creating intuitive user interfaces, implementing complex algorithms, and debugging code.
As the number of smartphone users continues to increase, a growing number of businesses are expanding their digital products into mobile apps—and investing in freelancers to make it happen.
According to Salary.com, the average hourly rate for Mobile Applications Developer is $49.
10. Data analyst
Data analysts collect, organize, and interpret data. They help businesses and organizations make informed decisions by identifying trends, predicting future patterns, and ultimately improving performance.
As a freelancer, you can assist businesses across various industries, from healthcare to finance. As more companies collect and analyze data to gain insights into their business, the demand for freelance data analysts is quickly going up—so there’s never been a better time to pursue the discipline.
Freelance data analysts typically charge around $30 an hour, according to Upwork.
11. Graphic designer
From designing logos, brochures, and ads, to creating website layouts and illustrating books, graphic designers use their artistic skills to create visually stunning and effective designs. With the rise of digital marketing, businesses are increasingly looking for visually appealing graphics and designs to showcase their brand.
As a freelance career, graphic design offers a lot of variety—one day you might be producing a suite of social media assets, and the next day might see you designing a magazine spread for print.
Once you’ve learned your way around graphic design tools like Procreate and Adobe Photoshop, your earning potential is limitless.
Payscale lists the average hourly pay for a freelance graphic designer as $30.
12. UI designer
User interface (UI) designers create visually appealing and intuitive interfaces for websites and mobile apps. Unlike graphic design, UI design is a strictly digital discipline that balances user needs with branding and storytelling.
In our increasingly digital world, having apps and websites that are appealing to users is a crucial pillar of good business—and more companies are investing in freelancing UI designers to help them stay competitive with attractive interfaces.
UI Designers on Upwork charge between $20 and $40 an hour.
How to find freelance jobs
Now we’ve explored the different freelance jobs you can get, it’s time to land your first client and start building your portfolio! Let’s take a look at three ways you can find freelance jobs today.
Freelance Job Boards
The first go-to for finding freelance jobs is freelance job boards. These online platforms connect freelancers with clients in need of their services, whether it’s quick gigs or ongoing retainer projects. They work by allowing you to create a profile and bid for jobs as they come up.
These platforms are particularly useful for beginner freelancers, as they enable you to build up your experience and earnings—and quickly get some great testimonials on your profile.
Some of the most popular job boards include:
Networking is proven to be one of the most effective job-hunting tools—and freelance jobs are no exception. In order to get your name out there, you’ll need to make as many connections as possible. This could include joining freelance groups that regularly post freelance jobs, attending meetups and events, and even making connections on LinkedIn.
The key here is quality over quantity: Introducing yourself properly in your messages, and putting your best foot forward when meeting industry professionals, will only help the word spread that a) you’re awesome and b) you’re available for work.
Before long, you’ll be the name people think of when relevant freelance jobs crop up.
When looking for freelance jobs, sometimes it’s not enough to just wait for jobs to come up. This is where pitching clients come in. Rather than waiting for a job to become available, you’re proactively reaching out to companies to offer a solution to a problem you know they have.
By personalizing your pitch and doing your research on the company beforehand, you can show them exactly how you can help—and why they need your services. They might not be in a position to take anyone on at that time, but it puts you at the top of their mind when they do need to hire a freelancer in the future.
Freelance work is an attractive prospect: You work for yourself rather than a company, essentially making you your own boss, while taking on singular projects or contract work for other organizations.
Yes, breaking into freelancing can be daunting—but with any of these high-demand freelance jobs, you’ll be onto the right track for a long and lucrative freelance career.
As we’ve explored, you don’t need experience to pursue freelance jobs—but it might take some time to build up enough of a portfolio to start earning the big bucks. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
If you’re not sure which one of these freelance jobs you’re best suited for, it might be worth doing a free short course to dip your toes into disciplines like UX/UI, web development, and digital marketing before making any financial commitments. Like any job, freelancing requires some hard work—so you’ll want to make sure you actually enjoy what you’re doing!
To read more about freelance life, check out these related blog posts: