There are A TON of freelance business ideas out there, which means finding the right one for you can be a challenge.
To help you find the right one, I’ve complied a list of them that you can do from anywhere in the world. Whether you want to escape your 9-to-5, work remotely while traveling the world, or just bring in some extra cash on the side, finding the right freelance business idea is key to your success.
Freelancing is a great way to earn money on your own terms, allowing you to build the dream life you want. You get freedom over your schedule, finances, location, and the work you do. And the rewards of self-employment astronomical compared to the challenges you face (and there are challenges).
Choosing the right freelance business idea is the first step on this path to freedom.
If you know that freelancing is for you, but you aren’t sure what the right kind of business is for you, you’re in the right place. This comprehensive list covers some of the best freelance business ideas that you can start right away with little to no investment cost. Most of these businesses can be run with only a laptop and an internet connection. It really can be that simple!
There are so many profitable freelance services you can offer, from writing for a magazine to organizing remote teams. The best freelance business idea for you should match your skills and interests, so let’s find out what it is for you.
Best freelance business ideas
1. Freelance writer
I’ve been a successful freelance writer for the past 7 years, and I can tell you that it’s no scam, there are people out there (myself included) making money buy selling writing services.
Writers are in high demand, companies are looking for content for their websites, blogs, magazines, email newsletters —and the list goes on. Honestly, writing opportunities are pretty much endless online.
But the competition can be stiff, which is why it’s so important to make yourself stand out.
Choosing a profitable niche and learning it inside and out is one of the most important things you can do to grow your freelance business. Once you’ve built up a solid reputation and practice, you can start raising your rates (especially in tricker technical-focused industries).
Writers can make a lot of money and have a ton of freedom in their work. I literally work on a beach in Mexico. I only take projects I think sound interesting, and I work with some seriously high-paid bloggers.
We have a full post on types of writers that make serious cash — but below I’ve provided details on the top two you usually hear about: content and copywriters.
What do you do for your clients?
Mostly, I pitch and write articles for health, wellness, and lifestyle publications, such as Shape, Women’s Health, NBC News, Today Show, Greatist, Real Simple, The Huffington Post, and Thrive Global. I also have worked as a content marketing consultant for health-focused brands and businesses.
What do you love most about being a freelancer?
Well, I love to write, so I’m psyched that I get to write every day and get paid for it! I’m also a very curious person by nature, so I love learning about new topics every day — no two stories are the same. But I think that my absolute favorite thing is when I hear from readers who reach out and say that my writing inspired them. Usually, these comments stem from personal pieces that I write, so it’s pretty cool that my words and my experiences have meant something to a complete stranger.
How do you get most of your clients?Locke Hughes
Truthfully, most of my work comes from editors who I had existing relationships with when I lived in NYC. When I went freelance, I made sure to list about 10 editors I knew personally who I could pitch — and that’s how I started out. Since then, my clients have definitely expanded to some people I don’t know personally — but I still make the time to travel to NYC and meet with editors in person to form connections and put a face to a name, which always helps.
I am a content writer. I do copy on occasion, but content — particularly long-form blog posts — is my jam (I have a whole post dedicated to becoming a freelance blogger if that’s your day dream).
Content marketing is all about helping a business create value for their audience and customers with their marketing content. This includes creating comprehensive, educational, and/or fun:
- Blog posts
- Social media content
It’s such an important facet of digital marketing that you often hear the phrase “content is king.” There’s virtually no business out there from law firms to eCommerce stories that don’t create some form of it on a regular basis.
The big differentiator between content and copy is sales. Content is tasked with doing A LOT of things — from educating to exciting, but its purpose is NOT sales. While it can be considered part of the sales process (depending on your technique), the purpose of content is to provide value — any “sales” activity that happens from it is a happy accident or a secondary notion.
I hate sales (except for helping facilitating blog sales — but that’s a different world), but I love educating. That’s why I LOVE creating content. If you love writing and creating but aren’t so fond of sales, content writing is one of the best online business ideas for you.
What do you do for clients?
Help clients better use the content they’ve already created through creating strategies and systems for updating, promoting, and repurposing content
What do you love most about being a freelancer?
Getting to help people who are exactly where I was years ago – exhausting themselves creating really great content but getting frustrated with the lack of impact it’s having.
How do you get most of your clients?Brittany Berger
Through networking and personal branding – I love doing interviews, guest blogging, joint ventures and collaborations, etc. So over the 8 years I’ve been in content marketing, I’ve definitely gotten out there a time or two and most clients are an indirect result of that.
There is A LOT of confusion surrounding content versus copy, so let me put my master’s degree to use for you for a few moments (I basically never dust this bad boy off, it deserves some love):
Back in the marketing day (think Mad Men) advertising firms hired writers. These writers were tasked with penning words that would convert consumers into customers by using something called sales copy. Thus they became copywriters.
If the purpose of your writing job is to convince someone to buy something (make a sale) then you are writing copy and are thus a copywriter. However, if the purpose of your freelance work is ANYTHING else you are probably writing content.
Copywriters focus on creating things like sales page, landing pages, social media copy, online ads, and email marketing campaigns. The purpose of each one of these things (when penned by a copywriter) is to make a sale. A company hires a copywriter so they can help get consumers to click on a link or buy something, helping them convert consumers to customers.
Because copywriters have a direct impact on a company’s sales, good copywriters charge a premium… but you’ll need a solid portfolio website to do that!
What do you do for your clients?
I create blog content for SaaS (software as a service) and eCommerce clients.
What do you love most:
The flexibility! I love creating my own schedule every day, not having to worry about how much time off I have left, and getting to make time for things that are important to me throughout the day (like walking my dog, eating a healthy lunch, exercise, etc.)
How do you get most of your clients?Kayleigh Moore
Referrals from other happy clients and other freelancers who know my work. Start making friends in the niche you want to work in. Connections/relationships are everything and lead to new opportunities.
2. Graphic designer
Thanks to social media, open entrepreneurship, and the internet as a whole, graphic design is needed now more than ever. There is a constant demand for social media graphics, blog images, infographics, ad creative, and content design, which mens its the perfect small business venture to bring in some cash flow.
There tend to be two kinds of modern day graphic designers: those that can work with advanced tools like Adobe (and it’s considerably cheaper counterpart, Affinity) and those that create layouts and designs in platforms like Canva or PowerPoint. Now, I’m not here to judge anyone — you can be whatever you want to be. However, a traditional graphic designer is the former of the two with the latter really being more of a content designer.
But details, details… if you happen to be someone who studied graphic design previously, landing your own clients could be an easy transition. But if you’re new to the design world, there are plenty of resources to help get you started. Not to mention, Canva is free (and Canva Pro, which I seriously recommend, is affordable) so even if you start out creating simple designs you’re ready to go.
What’s really cool about the design world is online creators are increasingly interested in finding tools that will help them manage their brand but save considerable time — so templates are a real thing.
Whether those templates be PLR content that allows them to quickly create a product and sell it to their audience, or a social media graphic they can switch out the text in and post, they can be sold. This allows you to take on a second income stream that’s more passive. You can sell your templates designed on Etsy, your own website, or you can do both — expanding your reach further.
3. Social media manager
There are A LOT of businesses that aren’t on social media the way they should be (#GuiltyParty), which is where a social media manager comes into play.
Social media managers are responsible for building and maintaining a brand’s online presence on various social media platforms. Most freelance social media managers these days focus on a single platform, with the most common including:
While your specific duties boil down to the agreed-upon scope of the work in your contract, the could include:
- Creating a social media strategy
- Planning out content
- Creating content
- Scheduling content
- Responding and interacting with followers
The job of a social media manager is really to help a businesses get the most out of their social media marketing — and it’s a pretty big one. Which is why it’s a great idea for a profitable business if you love building an online presence.
Historically, social media managers have been poorly paid. But lately I’ve seen an increase in package rates as businesses and creators realize the importance it plays in their overall strategy.
If you do want to tackle social media in a freelance role, I’d encourage you to avoid being an [insert social media platform name here] virtual assistant, and jump straight into the social media manager or even strategist title. Virtual assistant does sometimes seem to be code for paying social media creators less, so skip right over that!
This freelance business idea is perfect for those who love creating on social media, are great at managing tasks and deadlines, and can help work with clients to bring their creative vision to life. Put that knowledge to good use by helping businesses understand how to better reach their audience on social media.
What do you for your clients?
Create content and manage their social media presence
What do you love most about being a freelancer?
That it is fast-paced and always changing!
Dani Brufoldt, Thyme is Honey
How do you get most of your clients?
My clients have always been through referral, and I feel fortunate that I’ve worked with all of my full-time social media clients for at least 4 years, most of them 6, 7 or more! Occasionally, I do small consulting projects to help people improve their feeds or oversee a big product launch — and most of those clients also come through referrals from my full-time clients or people I have previously worked with.
Editors are detail-oriented freelancers that focus on making sure that written content makes sense, flows correctly, and looks good. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Fixing typos
- Correcting grammatical errors
- Formatting mistakes
- Confirming structure
- Fact checking information (in some cases)
While many writers naturally move into the role of editor, they truly are two different skillsets. Editors are focused on the little details as well as the bigger, overall picture — writers, on the other hand, work to tell stories. Both play a very important role in the process, and both are worthy of stellar freelancers looking to take the mantle.
Like writers, editors that are experienced can charge a decent rate when they get to know their niche. You can find editing jobs the same way you do writing ones — through boards like Upwork and ProBlogger, or by simply cold emailing prospective clients.
If you love reading, writing, and you can spot a grammatical error a mile away, proofreading and editing could be the perfect freelance business idea for you.
Not everyone has the creative eye to be a good photographer, which is disappointing because most of us have a ridiculous amount of photography power in our phones. But if you have skills behind the camera, starting a freelance photography business could be a creative and fulfilling way to earn a living.
There are a variety of types of photographers, including:
You’ll really need to drill down into a niche considering there is a lot of competition. This is also one of the rare opportunities on this list where you might have to meet clients face-to-face. With that in mind, you’ll need to live somewhere you can get enough clients to sustain what you need.
Photographers also have an opportunity to turn some (or all) of their business into passive income. Instead of taking live photos for clients, you can turn your best work into merchandise with a third-party program like Society6. It’s a great way to not only diversify your income, but it’s bring in a little more cash!
6. Virtual assistant
Virtual assistant (VA) is a bit of an “everything” term these days. VAs can perform general administrative tasks — personal or business — but they can also specialize in certain areas, including:
- Pinterest VA (or you can skip ahead to becoming a full-on Pinterest Manager)
- VA for a blogger
- Legal VA
- VA bookkeeper
Since there are many types of VAs out there, the world is pretty much your oyster when you’re setting up your practice.
You can stick with tasks that fit a more administrative role — data entry, booking travel plans — and even do it on a part-time basis if you just want to earn extra income. Or you can dig down into something that you’re truly passionate about.
Regardless of which you choose, there is A LOT of space for VAs out there these days. Businesses need all kinds of help. Whether it’s organizing projects for an entrepreneur or managing the email inbox and calendar of a busy startup blogger, VAs are in high demand.
This is a great role for someone who’s highly organized, loves systems and processes, and are all about getting things done. There are a lot of people (myself included) who really need help staying on top of their workloads on a day-to-day basis, which makes the role of a VA really important.
The best part about starting out as a VA is there’s plenty of room to grow into a big profitable business. Working on general tasks for the first little bit provides you with an opportunity to test out the waters and try a few things out. Once you’ve figured out what you’re most interested in, you can specialize in that one particular area or grow your small business idea around it.
You do not need experience or a degree to get started as a VA. However, if you’re new to the game, you’ll likely see lower hourly rates or packages prices for the first little bit. Snag some clients, build a practice, then start increasing your rates with new intakes. A consistent flow of clients will help you keep a steady pace.
What do you love most about being a freelancer?
Getting to know other really cool people with really cool businesses. That and the flexibility of working from anywhere and the unlimited income potential.
How do you get most of your clients?Gina Horkey, Fully Booked VA
Initially via job boards, social media and cold pitching. Now through referrals.
7. Marketing strategist
When I first started out, while I strived to be a freelance writer, most of my business really fell under the umbrella of marketing strategist. I worked with everyone from accounting firms to independent films to help them create solid marketing strategies for their products, services, projects, or simply the brand as a whole.
I’ll be honest with you, while you don’t need a university level education you are going to need A LOT of education before you start dolling out strategy advice. There are A LOT of people who walk into the gig and start throwing information about, and as someone who’s a professionally trained and practiced strategist — it’s a recipe for disaster, not a lucrative business.
Even if you’re fresh out of a marketing degree, I’d recommend taking a back seat before you start coming up with plans. It’s OK to start as a marketing assistant or coordinator before you dig into the strategy side of things. Scenarios rarely happen like they do in the text books, and you want some real-life experience under your belt before you get into the hot seat.
As a freelance marketing strategist, you might find yourself:
- Researching and designing a marketing plan
- Assisting or even overseeing the execution of a marketing plan for an organization
- Build a marketing team
- Creating and managing marketing campaigns
- Analyzing campaign performance
Marketing strategists can be generalists, or they can specialize in a particular area like content or influencer marketing. I love consulting as a marketer because the role can be fluid and flexibility.
If you have a background in marketing (either experience or a degree, but preferably both), you’re confident in your skills (this really is key), and you love making out plans and strategies, freelancing as a marketing strategist could be a great profitable business idea for you.
8. Project Manager
Freelance project managers help startups and organizations keep projects of all types on track.
A project manager’s job is to make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done, on time. Whether you’re working with a large company, brand new start-up or a small entrepreneurial team, project managers are tasked with keeping an eye on tight lead lines for multiple projects.
You need to be organized to be able to pull this job off, and you’ll need to be a strong communicator. Because you re in charge of a number of projects at one time, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your team, each other and the client.
Similar to a project manager is on online business manager (OBM). An OBM helps entrepreneurs stay on top of their online business and make sure everything is completed on time. Only they tend to work with solopreneurs with small teams.
If you’re highly organized, like designing standard operating procedures, and enjoy working with project management systems, this type of gig might be a great fit for you!
What do you do for your clients?
I’m an Online Business Manager for Virtual Teams. I help project manage small online teams and keep projects on track. My clients like to call me the “people and project manager.” I specifically work with online entrepreneurs who are drowning in the day-to-day part of scaling their business and are ready for growth! I reduce the overwhelm and help bring long forgotten ideas to life — finally!Carrie Smith Nicholson, Carrie Considers
What do you love most about being a freelancer?
I looooove working with teams all day, interacting with different types of people, and helping make progress on projects and big ideas! I’m a type “A” personality so I don’t always have the big ideas but I have the time and resources to implement them. I love when clients bring the ideas and I bring the organization so we can both see the ideas come to life!
How do you get most of your clients?
Nearly all of my client referrals are through word-of-mouth and through the contact form on my website. I only work with 2-3 clients at a time since it takes a lot of strategy and organization to properly manage everything. I like to offer a high level of service so I keep my client roster minimal!
9. Audio editor
Video isn’t the only creative area you can find media editing work — with the rise of podcasting, audio editors are also in high demand.
While audio editing isn’t quite as resource-heavy as working with video files, you’ll still need a more premium device along with specialized software to get the job done. However, there are free options, like Audacity, that allow you to still enter the field for cheap.
Audio editors will need to build up a bit of a portfolio to get off the ground. A great way to do this is to create your own podcast that you can point clients to.
But for those not looking for that much commitment, you can also reach out to podcasters and offer a free (or discounted) episode edit for a review and a sample. That way you have real work out there in the world to show off.
10. Podcast manager
If you love the podcasting world but aren’t into editing audio, then managing might be for you.
This is a hybrid, made-up role that exists only in podcasting but is meant to serve as a more traditional producer. In TV and film, producers work to ensure that productions are complete, which means overseeing the entire process from concept to release… podcast managers essentially do the same.
You’ll need to be organized to pull this job off, and you’ll have to have experience working with podcasts. If you don’t have experience but you’re interested in pursuing this career avenue, starting out as a virtual assistant that specializes in podcasting is a great place to start.
It’s worth noting that most clients that hire podcast managers are looking to offload most of the work — like audio editing and social media promotion. This doesn’t mean that you have to offer services like this yourself — but you’ll want to have a list of trusted contractors you can outsource to on behalf of your clients.
11. Web designer
Web designers are the masterminds behind creating the beautiful websites and blogs we use everyday. They’re incredibly valuable to businesses and entrepreneurs who lack the skill or time to create or update their own website.
Every business needs a website (even ones that swear they don’t), so there’s no shortage of opportunities. If you have some design skills and can help businesses create or improve their websites, consider starting your own freelance website business. Get started by creating a free website for yourself and then reaching out to local businesses about your services.
What I love about the web design area is that if you know what you’re doing, you can sell pre-made templates for a long-term income that’s more passive than active while still making good money. My favorite designs come from Restored 316, where you can but a ton of gorgeous Kadence-based themes for WordPress blogs.
So, not only can you take on high-end, well-paid one-on-one projects, but you can also create your own theme shop. The combination of both can help you create a solid, reliable business.
If you want to design sites but you’re just not there quite yet, there are plenty of resources to help you learn the ropes. Start down the learning path today, you have no idea how valuable and lucrative it can be in the future.
What do you do?
I specialize in web design, logos, branding, prints, eBooks, decks, labels, and social media management.
What do you love most
The freedom to create my life however I want and to build my business with no caps. In addition, meeting amazing clients that remind me why I’m doing this.
How do you get most of your clients?Chloe Leonard
Word of mouth = KEY. One good experience with a client could snowball into a whole network of clients.
While designers focus on both aesthetics and function, developers are the real deal.
Not an experienced web developer?
There are plenty of resources to help you get started — while you won’t be billing the big bucks right away there is SO MUCH opportunity here. Once you’ve built up your coding skills, you can start taking on freelance projects on the side to build your portfolio and working knowledge.
13. UX designer
UX design also fits into that same web design-web developer category. Honestly, it kind of combines the two to the point.
Designers for UX isn’t a new field, but it is certainly getting a lot of attention these days. UX stands for User Experience, and UX designers work to create positive experiences for users of websites and applications.
These expert designers are focused on the overall customer experience. They do everything from research to designing interactions and interfaces. This is a great field to get into if you have a background in web design, but you might have to have some design skills that are specialized for the UX role.
This is a high-demand field, especially in the areas of mobile development. And while you’ll need experience to snag high-paying clients, you can get by starting out by learning to build and creating something of your own. Experiment, design, and see what you can do. The more unique experiences and designs you can add to your portfolio, the better.
This is a freelance business idea best suited for those who want to work for themselves. You could start by offering your services for a low price, and then move on from there as you acquire new clients and experience. If you’re good, you’ll be able to land clients that are willing to pay top dollar.
Video production and marketing is becoming increasingly more important for business.
There’s Tik Tok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook — and every platform suddenly seemingly takes video content more seriously. Videos are an extension of the overall story you’re telling told in visual format.
Videographers can earn a great living, get paid to travel, and do insanely creative work. The downside — the startup costs are quite high because video equipment is very expensive. If you can get a few clients up front you can pay for the equipment upgrade, it s definitely worth it.
This is one of the best freelance business ideas for creative individuals who love lining up the perfect shot.
15. Video editor
You don’t have to go out and shoot video yourself to work with it in your freelance business. If you’d prefer to work on it from the comfort of your own home, video editing is always an option.
Freelance video editing has a pretty high learning curve to it, so you’ll be best off if you’ve already learned the tools. Not to mention, you’re unlikely to be hired in this particular profession without a portfolio to show your clients. With that in mind, starting off working with short videos on a platform like TikTok is a great idea.
Unlike with freelance writing (and a few other similar freelance business ideas) where you can get by with a basic laptop, video editing is going to need a more high-end device, like the MacBook Pro. Plus, you’ll want access to at least one of the top video editing programs (like Final Cut, Premiere Pro, etc.), which means your startup costs are going to be a little higher.
That said, video editing can be a unique opportunity to work on material you’re creatively invested in while doing it on your own terms. Editors can find clients in the corporate and agency sectors, or you can even branch into entertainment films.
How to decide which freelance business idea is right for you
There are a lot of great freelance business ideas out there that you can get started on right away, so how do you decide which one is right for you? Here are the three things you should keep an eye out for – if you can find an idea that hits on all three of these areas, you’ve got a winner!
You want to star a freelance business in an area you’re skilled. Take an inventory of what you’re good at right now, along with skills that you might be interested in learning. You’ll want to focus on where you already are skilled then tie in the knowledge you’re interested in expanding.
Of course, you can always learn new skills. However, starting a freelance business will be considerably easier if you’re getting started in an area that you’re familiar with. Your business will grow as you do, but you want to give yourself the best chance for success right off the bat.
You are not going to make boat loads of cash right off the bat (though many of us day dream about it), but the sky truly is your limit when you work for yourself. That said, you need to do something, create something, or perform a service that people are willing to pay for — if you’re trying to convince the market, you’ll probably be unsuccessful.
You want to look at what can pay you what you need, and what there’s demand for. You might love building lego models of cities but is anyone going to pay for them? It’s worth taking a realistic look at what the pay will look like on day 1, day 100, and day 1,000 to figure out whether or not it’ll be the right path for you.
Money isn’t everything, but it is a really important consideration.
Passion is very important in my books, but it’s last on the list because it can be (a) hard to measure, and (b) there are probably a lot of things you’re passionate about that will never pay the bills.
I love A LOT of things, and I solved the “how do I work on my passion problem” by starting niche blogs about the different things I love. This is not going to be the solution for everyone, or possibly anyone else, but there might be a way to incorporate what you most love into your overall working environment.
Wrap-up: Freelance business ideas
There are a lot of profitable business ideas out there in the gig economy. From virtual assistants to writing jobs, when you move your business online your career path truly opens up.
You don’t need the perfect business to make good money – you need the drive to stick through the tough times (and there will be some) and the passion for working for your own freedom. If you’re ready to star a business online, there are plenty of opportunities for you – and there’s really never been a better time.
Start by creating your personal brand, deciding what it is that you stand for and what makes a good business. From there you can create a business structure that ebbs and flows as your business grows.
Earning money online has really never been easier. So right here, right now, is the best time to start freelancing if you want to start earning money on your own terms.
What are the next steps?
If you’re ready to get started on your small business journey, it’s time to start thinking practically. With your online business idea in mind, you’re ready to:
- Pen a freelance business plan
- Learn how business owners actually get paid online
- Figure out how you can start getting potential clients
- Create your professional website
- Figure out your startup costs and how to make a budget
- Open a business bank account