By Lynne Gowers on 7th July 2015

A guide to popular freelance career types

One of the most important things to remember about self-employment is that it describes a certain type of working, rather than describing the nature of the work itself.

You may have read up on the various benefits and opportunities afforded by freelancing and feel keen to take the plunge, but you won’t be able to do so until you’ve figured out exactly what trade you want to go into and what kind of service you’ll be offering to customers.

Fortunately, the world of freelancing is not a restrictive one. Indeed, there’s a vast variety of different types of work you can engage in as a freelancer, and with the right skills and attitude, you can turn more or less any trade into a self-started success.

For those who are still deciding which path to choose, it’s worth giving some thought to some of the most popular freelance career types and seeing if any of them inspire you to do the same – or at least give you some ideas about how to structure your own plans better.

Marketing and communications
Marketing and advertising are fields that are often readily associated with freelance work, and it’s not hard to understand why. To be a big hit in the world of communications, you don’t need to be a giant, monolithic organisation – indeed, you can make it big simply with innovative ideas and a hands-on approach.

Working as a freelance marketer could entail creating customer experience strategies for brands, conducting market research, managing client relationships and overseeing the delivery of projects, as well as elements of design and copywriting. The more skills you can bring to the role, the higher your chances of success.

Related to this is the emerging social media management field, a market that did not even exist a few years ago, but is now highly lucrative. This kind of work might involve managing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts with the aim of driving engagement, delivering messages and providing your client with an approachable and responsive comms channel.

Web and software development
Another market that has exploded in the last couple of decades, this field can be extremely rewarding for a talented coder with original ideas and a good aesthetic sense.

Your job might include creating bespoke websites, online tools and applications for clients, or helping them to design, manage and implement a broader software platform, offering technical support and efficiency insights. In today’s online-focused world, these are skills that are unlikely to go out of style.

Mobile software development is particularly in-demand at the moment and could lead to substantial paydays for freelance workers who are able to contribute to the next big killer app.

Many freelance jobs involve some kind of writing, but those who want to make a living from their linguistic skills specifically will find plenty of opportunities to do so.

Nearly every company relies on copywriting to communicate some aspect of their messaging, so there is no end of demand for fast, efficient wordsmiths with a strong command of grammar and accuracy who are able to quickly knock together scripts, web pages, manuals, brochures and other documents. Moreover, start-up costs for this kind of business are extremely low, making them a popular choice.

However, those who wish to flex their creative muscles may also be able to get themselves published by websites and magazines if they develop their style and portfolio for long enough, and continue to show evidence of sharp written skills and a distinctive voice.

Art, design and illustration
As with freelance writing, those with aptitudes in visual art disciplines often find that self-employment is the best way to make a career out of their skills and passions.

Again, there is plenty of demand for striking graphic design in the commercial sector, whether this be in terms of logo design, webpage creation of photo editing, with companies willing to pay top dollar for talented professionals with a good work ethic.

Freelance commissions are also a big part of the art world, meaning those with the talent and inclination can soon work their way up to having their work featured in their favourite comics, games, movies and TV shows.

Multilingual people can make a handsome living from their language skills, particularly if they are fluent in a widely-spoken language such as Chinese, French, German or Spanish.

Work in this field might include transcription, which requires you to have a good ear and the ability to write things down accurately and at speed, whereas full-fledged translation could see you working with a wide range of spoken and written materials.

When translating, it can be especially beneficial to your business if you can cultivate and demonstrate a certain degree of specialist knowledge, as this can land you rewarding contracts in niche fields where a certain degree of contextual understanding is essential for accuracy.

Project management
Working as a freelance project manager or administrative assistant can give you an essential role in the coordination of an important business project, allowing you to handle budgeting, scheduling, communications and liaison tasks that your client simply cannot do without.

Self-employed project managers need to be prepared, organised and have a keen grasp of strategy and business principles, allowing you to help expedite the delivery of the project within set parameters for cost, timescale and quality.

This kind of work is highly skilled and will require much of you, but success in this field will be richly rewarded and will quickly help you to build a strong, viable and lucrative business.

Written by Lynne Gowers
Disclaimer Although we attempt to ensure that the Information contained in this publication is accurate and up-to-date at the date of publication it may not be comprehensive, we accept no liability for the results of any action taken on the basis of the information they contain and any implied warranties, including but not limited to the implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement and accuracy are excluded to the extent that they may be excluded as a matter of law.

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