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- Consider downsizing your home
- Adopt a minimalist lifestyle
- Ditch the car (if you can)
- If you can’t, invest in proper car maintenance
- Automate your savings
- Save windfalls and tax refunds
- Save your loose change
- Unsubscribe from unnecessary services and marketing emails
- Take advantage of your local library for books. More libraries offer an e-book option without the need to visit in person.
- Audit your home energy use
- Use less water by installing low-flow shower-heads and faucet aerators to reduce water usage and costs.
- Go generic on your food and prescription drugs if that’s an option
- Exercise. Ultimately prevention is always better than cure. This should lower your health care bills in the long run.
- Brown bag your lunch. You’ll not only eat healthier but also cut food costs
- You had to join a freelancing platform
- Create a kickass profile and upload a flattering picture
- Bid on projects and write proposals
- Client research
- Participate in interviews; even fail a couple of times before landing a gig
- Projects run much more smoothly and are less stressful for you.
- Satisfied freelance clients will refer you to their peers, saving you the hassle of finding clients from scratch.
- Clients bring more work your way. Remember, it’s just as hard to find good freelancers as it is good clients. So, clients don’t want to have to hire another freelancer.
- It’s easier to repair your working relationships when things go south (and they do!) if you have an established good relationship.
- Your client also provides great reference checks that help shore up your reputation with new clients.
- Cut the client loose
- Re-evaluate situation and resolve issue.
- Bill your clients on time and communicate payment deadlines.
- Stay on platforms like Upwork and require payment upfront which Upwork will hold in escrow until the work is completed.
- Make clients sign a contract before starting any work with them. Agree on the deliverables and milestones.
- Withhold some deliverables until the final payment is made.
- It’s no longer writer, it’s Content Marketer or Expert Storyteller.
- It’s not Programmer anyone, it’s Chief IT Problem Solver.
- Or, no longer is it Marketing Specialist, it’s Growth Hacker.
- Quick intro to you and your credentials
- The pain point you’re expertise can solve
- How you will solve it
- Work samples (only provide one or two, you don’t want to overwhelm them)
- Send it as an initial contact to all your key prospects.
- If you already have clients, a copy of your book would be an excellent thank-you gift for their loyalty.
- Use the PDF version of your book to attached to emails and proposals.
- Ask your clients to give a copy to someone that may be in need of your services at some point.
- Use it as a free lead magnet on your site in exchange for someone’s email address.
- Use it to get on podcast shows to showcase your expertise and offer the book for free to listeners.
- Web, Mobile & Software Dev jobs
- IT & Networking jobs
- Data Science & Analytics jobs
- Engineering & Architecture jobs
- Design & Creative jobs
- Writing jobs
- Translation jobs
- Legal jobs
- Admin Support jobs
- Customer Service jobs
- Sales & Marketing jobs
- What you enjoy doing
- What you’re good at
- What people will pay for
- What makes you feel truly happy? This includes your free time too, of course. Do you like playing a sport? Spending time with others? Being outdoors? Solving problems? Organizing and project management? Research? What excites you and makes the time fly by when you’re doing it? For me, it’s writing.
- What past project have you over-delivered on at work? Did you seek out challenging research projects? Maybe you can do online research. Were you always the first to sign up to organize the Christmas party? Maybe you can be an event planner (yes, there’s a huge need for those online!). Did you always design the poster for the Christmas party? Then maybe graphic design. You get the point.
- If we lived in a society without money (Karl Marx would be thrilled!), and you had to pick a job for yourself (couch-sitter or Netflix quality control doesn’t count!), what would you choose?
It’s a dream of many to retire early at just 40 years old.
You quit your job and leave your old career behind. You can finally tell your boss what you really think of them.
I had a very pleasant time working for you, but now is the time move on – Glenn
What? Not everyone has a bad boss!
Your days are now dedicated to your hobbies, family, travel, and anything else you’re interested in.
Yet many people just don’t believe retiring at 40 is possible. We’re here to show you otherwise.
The secret is to start now. To put that in perspective:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb”
If you start living below your means now, retiring early is more than possible. Here are the best ways to change your lifestyle, save more money, and possibly retire by 40.
You don’t just wake up one day and retire. You plan for it. You lay the foundation that will support your early retirement.
Prepare yourself mentally as well. What will you do with the extra time? What goals do you wish to pursue during your early retirement years? What do you hope to accomplish?
If travel is your goal, decide how much it will cost. Where do you want to visit? etc
Your why and what will inform your how. A plan helps you establish the amount you need to save now to achieve your goal of early retirement.
An early plan also let’s you enjoy the benefits of compound interest. The earlier you start saving and investing the better. Compound interest, after all, is a function of time.
Look at Buffett’s net-worth accumulation for example, the bulk of his enormous wealth has come with time.
Have a specific and clear plan of how you want to accomplish your goals.
Figure Out How Much You Need
Your plans and goals will determine your ultimate figures. Using the “four percent rule” for example can help you determine a safe withdrawal rate. This is the percentage of your invested assets you could spend each year in retirement and not run out.
The more you need during your retirement, the more you need to save right now. If you wish to pay for your kids or grandkids tuitions for example, then you need to factor in those figures into your calculation.
Develop Good Financial Habits
Developing good financial habits is essential, even if you don’t plan to retire early.
Start by tracking your income and expenses. Knowing exactly where your money goes each month helps you cut costs on unnecessary expenses.
You can then plunk that extra money down into savings.
Spend Less Than You Make
The key to living below your means is to spend less than you make. Much less!
Tracking your income/expenses and creating a budget is the first step. Even if you don’t write your budget down, always ask yourself “do I really need this?” Or, “is there a cheaper alternative?”
I personally don’t use budgets, and only ever spend what I have to spend.
It’s all too easy to overspend if you don’t know exactly where your money goes each month.
An emergency savings account is also essential. According to Vanguard, most experts recommend an emergency fund that covers at least 3 months of normal expenses.
A 3 – 6 emergency fund cover should help you weather most financial emergencies.
Fall back on this account during hard times rather than overusing credit cards.
Retire Early: Minimize Lifestyle Creep
Lifestyle creep is an unfortunate side effect of making more money. It’s all but unavoidable.
It works like this: as your income increases, so do your expenses. A lot of people, especially young people, spend a bump in pay on more dinners out, a new car, or a larger home rather than sticking that extra money into a savings account.
We will buy X when I get my raise/bonus.
Get into the mindset that you don’t need to “keep up with the Joneses.” What’s most important is living within (and hopefully below) your means even as your income increases.
Keep your fixed costs minimal. Look at the top 3 expenses and determine how you can control them. Housing, transportation and food will cost more if you don’t keep an eye on them.
A bigger paycheck might prompt you for example to get a better ride, or move into a bigger house. To retire early you have to resist the urge. Instead of splurging, save some more.
If your budget stays the same despite an increase in pay, you’re on the right path to retire early.
Retire Early: Pay Off Debt
Value Penguin states that the average debt for an American is $5,700. Much of this is the kind of consumer debt that comes with high-interest rates.
You should make it your goal to avoid consumer debt wherever possible, but life sometimes gets in the way.
The next best thing is to pay off your debt as soon as you can.
The money you save from these paid-off debts can now be placed in savings to facilitate early retirement.
There is no reason why you need more than one credit card. And that credit card should have a very low maximum amount, to make you think every time you spend: “am I going over my limit?”
One soon-to-be early retiree, one credit card.
Retire Early: Boost Your Income
Boosting your income, and then saving this extra money, is another way to live below your means to retire early.
According to JP Morgan, the average sharing economy worker adds an additional 15% to their earnings through these side gigs.
Best of all, you can make money with these platforms whenever you have a few hours to spare. A few hours over the weekend, waking up early and spending a few hours before work, and so on.
Additionally check out the tools to skyrocket your side hustle income.
Not sure where to start? Try our sharing economy quiz to find out which sharing economy platform best suits your lifestyle.
Retire Early: Save as Much as Possible
All of our advice so far hinges on saving as much money as possible.
Most experts recommend saving 10% to 15% of your income – but that’s with a normal retirement age in mind. If you hope to retire early by 40, you need to increase that amount considerably.
A combination of a strict budget, frugal lifestyle, and side hustles with sharing economy gigs should make it that much easier to save well over 15% of your income.
Those with a good income (say $100,000 per year) should shoot for the moon and try to save at least 25% of their earnings.
Other tips to help you save more:
Final Thoughts on Retiring Early
It might seem like a pipe dream, but retiring by 40 is completely possible.
Let’s do quick math. I know, I know, but stay with me.
Assume you make $60,000 a year, throughout your career. Yes, you start lower, but you finish higher. You work from 20 to 40. That’s 20 years.
Throughout that 20 years, you adhere to the above advice, and save diligently. Almost half your income in fact. On a monthly basis, you put $1,600 away into your savings account.
Now, the average return on the stock market and mutual fund investments is 7%. So let’s use that.
Based on these numbers, when you retire at 40, you will have a nest egg of about $1 million dollars. Yes, $1 million!
Take our 7% average return, and $1 million dollars will give you a yearly income of about $70,000 before taxes. Not too bad for a retirement fund!
Thousands of people just like you have successfully accomplished this.
The key is to start following the tips above as soon as possible. There’s no time like the present!
Please let us know in the comments section below your best tips for early retirement…and whether it’s worth it for you?
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in Nov 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Raising your rates: How do you go about it?
Raising Your Rates Blueprint
“Hey Michelle, it’s been a pleasure working with your company over the last year. I have to be honest with you, since we started working together, my rates have increased quite a bit. But since I value your business, I never passed those on as we are doing some amazing work and I don’t want to jeopardize that. Going forward, would you be willing to a slight rate increase of X% so I can continue to justify my time on this project, and we can keep up the great work we’ve been doing so far?”
“I do work with other freelancers who may fit your budget if it doesn’t work out, I’m happy to introduce you to them. Although to be honest, I’d love to figure out a way we can continue working together.”
Tough clients: How can you tell you are dealing with one?
Offer to work, for free!
Freelancer must keep clients informed
The golden rule of freelancing
Freelance client relations 101
Why should you manage your freelance clients?
The art of managing freelance clients
How to manage your freelance client relationships
When freelance client relations go sour
What if a client doesn’t pay?
Wrapping it up
There’s a lot more to being a freelancer than waking up at 10AM every day, making a hearty breakfast, brewing some good coffee, and typing your way to success on your laptop while you’re still in your pajamas.
Let’s break down each one.
Marketing yourself as a freelancer
Find freelance clients through blogging
Finding clients through networking
How to stand out from the freelance crowd
How to write a killer proposal
Proposal do’s and dont’s
Going the extra mile: Anticipate freelance client questions
Finding freelance work is by far one of the most challenging parts of being self-employed. A quick Google search will yield an almost endless list of results.
Freelancing platforms now provide literally millions of work opportunities in virtually every field you can possibly imagine. Consider the largest of the group, Upwork, pays out a billion dollars every year to its army of freelancers.
But Upwork is only the beginning of the freelancing story, there are several other specialty freelancing platforms that we will discuss here today where you can find freelance work.
Finding Freelance Work on Upwork: The Ins and Outs
Before we get into some of the lesser known places to find freelance work, let’s start with the most obvious: Upwork. This platform was created in 2015, as a result of a merger between Elance and oDesk.
There are currently more than 12 million freelancers registered on the site. And the work these freelancers do in a year is worth over 1 billion dollars.
Not too shabby amiright?
Over five million hiring clients have registered on Upwork over the years. As such, for beginner freelancers, it’s critical to get your digital butt on Upwork. Create, develop, and nurture your profile, and start applying for jobs.
This is because Upwork has no shortage of jobs posted; we’ve seen three million over the course of 2016 alone.
As you can tell, Upwork is like the Silicon Valley of the freelancing world. The most reliable clients go there because they know that’s where reliable groups of freelancers hang out. And this is exactly why you too should be present there.
The challenge with Upwork is its commission structure. Over time, it can add up to a good portion of your overall earnings.
Upwork FeesUpwork charges 20% for the first $500 you bill a client across all your contracts with them, and 10% of your total billings between $501 and $10,000. Once the work you’ve done for someone hits the $10,000 mark, you’ll only have to give Upwork 5% of the income you get from that client.
Upwork charges 20% for the first $500 you bill a client across all your contracts with them, and 10% of your total billings between $501 and $10,000. Once the work you’ve done for someone hits the $10,000 mark, you’ll only have to give Upwork 5% of the income you get from that client.
Now, this is a pretty good deal given that Upwork gives you the platform for endless employment opportunities. As a beginner freelancer, an Upwork presence is a must. If you’re engaging in a longer term relationship with an Upwork client, it is possible to eventually move off the platform.
The below advice is tailored for Upwork, but remember that this advice applies to all freelancing platforms that we will discuss.
Your Upwork Account
What exactly happens once you’ve made an account? Well, you should start by linking your other accounts. And by that, I mean your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, Behance, Dribble, etc.
By doing this, you verify your identity, establish your online presence, and validate your credibility for potential clients. This is what we like to refer as social proof, and when trying to find work as a new freelancer, any validation you can give yourself is critical.
As a freelancer, your presence on various sites, not only Upwork, will be an advantage. Potential clients will see that you are a real individual with actual experience.
No freelancing experience yet? Don’t worry, we’ll cover this in the next chapter. Remember, credibility is the ruling currency in the freelancing world. The more you can do to add to the former, the higher your latter’s return will be.
Upwork: Your profile picture
The profile picture must be professional, yet friendly. A good profile photo will help establish trust with your clients, all that while being relevant to your personality.
OK, maybe tone it down just a bit. At least he’s smiling!
Always go for a high-quality photo, and don’t forget to smile. In fact, imagine you’re meeting a client in real life. How would you react? How would you want them to see you as? There you go. That’s exactly what you want to convey.
None of this looking off into the distance deep psychology stuff, that doesn’t play well with potential clients. Be genuine and confident, and show them you’re ready to help.
One mistake I see people making time and again is having their family or dogs in their pictures. Although some feel this personalizes the photo, let me tell you it won’t help find clients. Unless your expertise relates to dogs or parenting and children, don’t put it in your picture.
The next topic to consider is your job title, what is your expertise in a couple words?
Selecting a Freelance Job Title
This is part of the freelancing profile that most people don’t give enough attention, but your potential clients certainly do. After the profile picture, this is the next piece of information they associate with you.
You are labeling yourself, so make sure it’s a good one. Like Ninja Researcher, or Coder Assassin. The goal of your picture and job title is to attract people to your profile to read further.
Take some time to find the right words to summarize exactly what you do. Ideally, your job title should be simple and to the point. Maybe even a little witty, if the circumstances allow it. But that’s definitely not a must. Endeavor to use keywords related to what you do.
A good way to do research on this is to search through LinkedIn and see what other freelancers are calling themselves. You’ll notice folks are getting a little creative these days with their titles.
Got it? Ok, let’s move on.
Your Bio and Overview
Now comes the overview. Again, you shouldn’t be too long-winded, but you can get a little more in-depth about your specific skills. Many platforms will limit the characters you can use in these descriptions.
Make sure to hit the following points:
This is your time to shine. Talk about what you’re doing, and don’t forget to mention how many years of experience you have in the field. Make sure you get across how passionate you are about it.
At the end of the day, you need to present yourself as a problem-solver of their needs. How will you make their lives easier?
The Upwork Profile
You will notice on Upwork that you also have to list your skills. This makes it easier for you to find the right jobs, and easier for Upwork to suggest to you the best ones.
Now, regarding your employment history, list your previous employers and mention what you were responsible doing. Exactly as you would in a resume. Make sure to link it to the pain point your expertise solves. Something like, “As XYZ specialist at Acme Corp., I helped clients solve ABC problem by using my in-depth knowledge of 123.”
The same goes for your education. If you’re only just getting started, you might as well show off that fancy college degree that you’re still paying off.
Your portfolio is crucial. Clients love to see examples of previous works, and it’s always better if they can find them on your profile even before they ask you for them. Be sure to pick only one or two to highlight up front in your profile. Pick your highest profile examples that will impress potential clients. Don’t overwhelm them with 12 work samples; busy business people simply don’t have the time, or care frankly, to review your entire work history.
Try to be objective when setting your hourly rate. It’s always a good idea to check out the profiles of other freelancers with similar experience to get an idea of what the going rate in your field is. As high rates scare off some clients, so too does lower rates because it oftentimes indicates low quality. Don’t sell yourself short.
A good average to start out with is somewhere between $20-30 an hour. This can be adjusted as you move forward in your freelancing career and gain more experience. For instance, when I first started as a freelance writer, I worked for $20 an hour, and $50 an article. This rate is now $100 an hour, and $300 an article.
There are also tests you can take on Upwork to showcase how well versed you are on certain topics. Be sure to take as many of these as possible to give you further validation that you’re the right person for the job.
Freelancing Platforms other than Upwork
Just because you have a profile on Upwork doesn’t mean you’re done. You should be present on more than one site. They all have unique features, and some of them are specific to certain freelancing niches.
The best thing is that the same rules can be applied across the vast majority of freelancing platforms available at the moment. Some of these include:
But let’s not stop there, we also canvassed the Casual Capitalist community to uncover some hidden gems to help you find freelancing work quickly. Here’s what some of the top freelancers in the field had to say about finding work.
Finding freelance work with Ben Taylor of Home Working Club
While Upwork remains a good platform for finding work, it’s crowded – and there are good alternatives. One I’ve used a lot lately is Hubstaff Talent – there are hundreds of jobs rather than thousands, but it’s a far quieter place to do business and get noticed – and it’s also free for contractors.
For freelance writing work, individual job boards such as ProBlogger is a great alternative to check out. And, for all kinds of freelancing work, I’ve found making an effort to become active on LinkedIn pays dividends. Your connections there usually “know” you, so it does no harm to share work you’re proud of on the platform – it keeps you on their radar.
Using Reddit for freelance work with Christopher Cane of Rubbish Please
There are many sub-Reddits to check out depending on what type of freelance work you are looking for. Consider browsing the following:
Freelancing work resources from Paul Manwaring of Outsprung
I also really like Fiverr for doing quick consultation as it’s completely hands off for me, I just sit back and let the orders come to me. It’s a nice role reversal for a freelancer as we all know how much time we spend looking for work.
Aside from the online places local business forums have been a great source of business for me. I’m based in London so UK Business Forums is a great place for me to show my expertise and offer advice (which has led to many of them becoming my clients).
Using LinkedIn with Ahmed Khalifa of IgniteRock
LinkedIn is an obvious option for many people who are looking for more freelance work. Instead of following as many people as possible, asking your network insistently or posting comments about anyone needing any help, you should approach those who are actively seeking for help.
On the LinkedIn mobile app, you can use the search bar to that starts with ”looking for,” or “recommend,” and fill in the space at the end. For example, “looking for web developer” or “recommend graphic designer.”
Click on ‘Posts’, followed by ‘Filters’ and aim to look for posts within the past 24 hours. Once you tap ‘Done’, you can then see a list of posts that other people have posted who are looking for someone with your skills within the past 24 hours.
This is your opportunity to reach out to warm leads looking to actively hire freelancers.
The simplicity of Fiverr for freelancing with Stacy Karyn
Where can freelancers go online to find work?: Easy! I am a full-time freelancer Fiverr. I work as an online dating consultant and I absolutely love the platform. It’s easy to use and brings in a steady number of clients. I would recommend it to anyone.
Freelancing work and teachable skills with Stan Daniels of Preply
Freelancers who have any teachable skill can register on platforms like Preply to start teaching their particular freelancing skills. For example, if you have language, design, or academic skills you can start teaching that.
Handy freelancers with Teris Pantazes of EFynch
EFynch is a freelance-friendly platform for those in the home improvement niche, from licensed workers down to college students. Home improvement has always been a freelance economy. Most of us hire independent workers but there is no centralized platform where these workers can congregate.
EFynch serves the entire Mid-Atlantic area (Washington D.C, Baltimore, Northern Virginia). We have roughly 3,000 members and our primary tool is a competitive bidding system for homeowners to get bids on construction projects and compare prices of hiring a pro vs. handyman or amateur.
Freelance tech work with Calvin Brown, Founder of Kairu Consulting
Freelancers, depending on the level of expertise have a few options in the tech field.
If on the other hand, you are a hard-core consultant, you can use these resources to find contracts that are up to a year in length.
Realistically, searching for freelance work yourself if you are a seasoned worker is counterintuitive. You should match yourself up with a consulting or recruiting firm, and let them reach out to their contacts and share a few dollars per hour with them to find you an infinite amount of work.
There’s no limit to the number of recruiters you can use, and best of all. It’s free.
Consider being a Virtual Assistant with Becca Vaclavik of Don’t Panic Management
Our business has only three full-time team members who keep the trains running, and the rest of our team is comprised of freelancers. I think a lot of people don’t realize how diverse of a services offering many virtual assistant (VA) companies provide.
Freelancers looking for work think, “Oh, I don’t want to book someone’s travel; that wouldn’t be a good fit for me,” but most agencies need freelance writers, graphic designers, social media managers, editors, event planners, and podcast producers in addition to the traditional VA skillset.
Freelance developer work with Elliot Schrock of Thryv
For certain types of IT developers, Hacker Leads is a good site to check out. I try to go
to meetups and talk to my clients directly, as an in-person chat has a way higher conversion rate than cold emails. There are also Facebook groups for freelancers, and AngelList can be a great way to find potential clients.
Classified ads for freelance work with Kristen Duever
I have been a freelance content writer and social media consultant for nearly ten years. I started out using Elance (which later became Upwork) – this of course was filled with a lot of competition and job postings by those who really didn’t want to pay well for my services.
I have gotten some of my best and longest lasting clients by posting my own ads on online classified sites. I’ve also responded to job postings (some were looking for freelancers, but others were looking for part-time and full-time employees when I pitched the freelancing idea to them).
Facebook groups with Ava Bella of Assilem Media Group
I am more than a blogger, but because I have honed my copywriting skills I am of more value to public relations and design clients. This is why I suggest freelancers find work using Facebook groups. Also, people think Twitter is dead, but honestly, if you connect authentically with your following you not only grow it, but your inbox lights up with offers, questions about services, and product submissions.
Lastly, don’t ever forget about LinkedIn. People are afraid of using it outside of the corporate landscape, but there is a ton of recruiting and connecting going on at LinkedIn.
Cold freelancing outreach with Jyssica Schwartz
As a freelancer, most of my clients come from referrals, social media, and direct marketing online. So, I find new clients mostly by emailing them directly when I find a website or client I think I could help and offering my services directly.
Facebook ads for freelancers with BradShaw of Dallas Web Design Inc
As a freelancer looking for work, you can use Facebook ad leads to target and attract highly
relevant prospects for your business. Lead ads simplify the lead capture process by allowing freelancers to collect information such as name, email, telephone number right from within Facebook.
The good thing about Facebook advertising is that it can be very inexpensive run ads. You can create a campaign and have it running with a minimum budget of $1.00 per day.
Freelance work on LinkedIn with discounts from Saad Malik
I have had great success with LinkedIn outreach. I put together a few versions of my portfolio and I reach out to project managers via LinkedIn to see if they need any help. In a few cases, I gave them 20% discount off their first invoice.
For a large agency, I even provided them the first landing page development for free as a way into their system.
As someone who has worked as a project manager in the past, there are a lot of times where a task or a project launch is stuck due to lack of resources so providing value at such a critical stage can make a big impact.
Also, I would like to say that this LinkedIn method allows me to charge around $60/hr and work with some great clients whereas on Upwork and Freelancer.com, I would be lucky to be able to bill at $15/hr due to the competition and based on my experience.
LinkedIn ProFinder with LinkedIn Spokesperson
LinkedIn ProFinder is LinkedIn’s professional services marketplace that helps freelance or independent professionals find jobs in their areas. The platform connects consumers and small businesses looking for white-collar professional services – such as design, writing and editing, accounting, careering coaching and more – with top quality freelance professionals best suited for the job.
As a copy editor and writer for 13 years, Kim Jones was one of the first freelancers to join ProFinder in Atlanta, Georgia. Within a week of joining, she got her first project. Jones said she prefers ProFinder to a host of other job boards and platforms because she doesn’t have to wait at her computer to apply in real-time to openings. Rather, LinkedIn takes care of the matching for her.
She also likes that freelancers can negotiate their own pricing and that it takes her about 50% less time to secure a project on ProFinder than it does on Upwork.
On ProFinder, you can count on the fact that you’re going to get a living wage that is indicative of your experience. On LinkedIn ProFinder, the clients are serious. They want the work done fast, and they’re willing to pay fast.
Finding freelance work
As you can see, there are dozens of platforms and tactics you can employ now to find more freelance work. Despite being the largest freelancer platform paying out a billion dollars to freelancers, Upwork isn’t the only game in town.
Add the above platforms to your list of where to find freelance work, and make prospect and sales outreach a part of your weekly tasks. Even if you have a full freelance workload, ongoing outreach is critical to filling unexpected gaps in your freelance work.
You don’t want to have one of your larger clients suddenly cancel their work with you, leaving you scrambling to find new clients on short notice. Start building those relationships now, and you’ll be surprised at how easily finding freelance work can be.
One of the biggest misconceptions among people who reach out to me is that there are no sharing economy income options in rural areas. Certainly the options are fewer, but there many remote work options available for those with an internet connection or simply a smartphone in some cases.
Today, we are going to talk about what remote jobs you can do from home. These are by far the best jobs for rural workers and those who don’t live in a city setting.
So let’s get started with our top four remote work options you can consider starting now.
Remote Work Option #1: Freelancing on Upwork
Do you have experience with research? Data entry? Administrative skills? Accounting? Writing? The list goes on and on. Check out Upwork’s job category directory here.
Margaret, a Casual Capitalist community member, retired three years ago from a 35-year career as an Administrative Assistant. Margaret wanted to retire, but also wanted a flexible work option to keep her busy and to supplement her retirement income.
She recently got started on Upwork by becoming a virtual assistant. Before she knew it, Margaret had two full-time clients which took up three hours a day. This provided her with an extra $1,200 a month. Not bad at all!
Think you could do virtual assistant tasks? Maybe there is something else that would work for you. Check out Upwork to see the major categories of freelancing opportunities. Once you find one that fits your skills, sign up and then you can start bidding on jobs.
For more on Upwork, check out this resource.
While Upwork is by far the most popular freelance platform, it’s not the only option for those looking to make some extra money in rural areas. The following are some other platforms to get you started on your freelancing career:
To succeed in freelancing, it’s best to get good at something. For example you can offer services in something that you like to do, or something you are passionate about. Alternatively, aim to use your existing skills and experiences but adapt them to the digital sphere. The more skilled you are at a specific skill the higher the rates you are likely to command. This should be a good boost to your income.
Remote Work Option #2: Tool & Equipment Sharing
Chances are, living a rural lifestyle, you may have an abundance of specialized tools. If this is the case, there are a number of websites that will allow you to rent out these tools for a fee.
Do you have heavy farm equipment or specialized landscaping tools? Yard Club is also a popular sharing economy platform that will facilitate transactions between farm equipment owners, and renters.
For the Australian readers, check out Openshed, which is a similar website to Yard Club.
Remote Work Option #3: Animal Sitting
Although we’ve touched on this in detail in earlier articles, a great option for rural folks is pet sitting.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Americans own 83 million dogs and 95 million cats. In 2014 alone, pet owners spent three billion dollars on boarding. This is a significant market that you can tap into!
Instead of boarding their animals, people are electing to leave their pets in the homes of others. This is where you come in. As someone who lives in a rural area, it is likely that you have a lot of space to accommodate dogs, particularly outdoors.
On average, pet sitters on sites like DogVacay and Rover, earn $30 a day per dog. Does this sound like an interesting idea? Check out the above websites for more details on this rural employment option.
Remote Work Option #4: Teaching and Tutoring
The online tutoring industry was worth seven billion in 2014. By the end of 2015, this industry was worth over $13 billion.
If you have a teachable niche, then online tutoring in the sharing economy can be very profitable. The average wage varies greatly, from $5 an hour to $50 an hour, depending on the topic and your background. Do you have a teachable skill?
This could be anything, from traditional topics such as English, math, science, to non-traditional topics such as farming, gardening, painting, woodworking, cooking, and much more.
And you can teach from the comfort of your own home via Skype! Check out the more popular tutoring sites below to see the types of teaching subjects they cover.
Do any of these teaching categories sound familiar? Do they? Then sign up!
For all my handy Casual Capitalists in the UK, check out DAD, an on-demand DIY advice network where you can sell your advice via video chat. For instance, someone needs help installing a dishwasher, they get matched with someone on DAD who can walk them through the process via a video chat. Pretty cool!
Click here for a more in-depth look at the tutoring option.
Remote Work Option #5: Arts & Crafts
If you are good at making stuff, then you can make some extra money with your unique items and crafts. Beautiful handmade and unique crafts are all the rage nowadays and this is something you can do even in rural areas. For example, you can make jewelery, clothings and accessories, knitted bags, furniture among other items. You can sell your creations through platforms like Etsy, Artisna, Artfire among others.
If you need a bit of inspiration, check out how this lady makes over $20K selling crafts online.
Check out these guide and other platforms on how to get started selling crafts online:
How to Make a Living Selling Your Crafts – Complete Guide
Remote Work Option #6: Photography
Despite the proliferation of cheap cameras and smartphones, a need will always exist to capture those special moments in a unique way. Family events and gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties, engagements, graduations etc are special occasions whose memories need to be captured in the best light.
If you have the artistic skills and the right equipment, this is a relatively easy remote job to get started with. Do a great job for each client(s) and through word of mouth you can expand your business in your rural community. Find out how to get started with professional photography here.
Additionally, you can offer some of your shots through online platforms that pay a certain amount when your photos are used. Check out some of the top sites that pay for images and get a feel for the quality required for top shots.
The internet and the sharing economy has opened even rural areas to opportunities that could only be enjoyed by urbanites. And while the opportunities in rural areas might not be as many as those in urban areas, you can still make a decent side income with a remote job in a rural area.
Sometimes it might require a bit of creativity to make a decent income in a rural area. Other times you need to repackage your skills and expertise for the digital space. What is evident though is this, where there is an internet connection, you can do some amazing things with the resources that you already have around you.
There you have it folks, a number of remote work options that could be your next killer side income gig. Take action now and commit to testing out at least one of these options in the next few days. What do you have to lose?
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in Feb 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Working as a freelancer is practically a one-person-army armed with a computer and a desire to be in control. You not only have to do your job, but also deal with all other aspects of running a business – even if you’re the only one involved in it.
This includes accounting, sales, lead generation, customer support, and the list goes on.
To run a successful business, you need a series freelancing tools to help manage everything as efficiently as possible. Life as a freelancer is always easier when you’re using the right tools.
So, without further ado, let’s talk business. Here are the freelancing tools you’ll need in your toolbelt on your journey to professional independence.
Freelancing Tools: Finding work
Depending on your freelancing niche, it can be difficult to find clients and projects. This is the reason you should take advantage of the many online platforms that bring freelancers and clients together. Upwork (Formerly Elance-oDesk) is the biggest such platform. It boasts 10 million freelancers and 4 million clients.
Not to mention that 90% of those who work on Upwork have been rehired by previous clients, which is pretty amazing!
Regarding freelancing tools, this is your best bet! Repeat customers are where freelancers really earn their money. Upwork, as discussed, also has tens of thousands of freelance skills that have ready-paying clients.
So if there’s a job out there for you, Upwork is likely where you’ll find it.
Freelancer is another platform you can leverage that is similar to Upwork. The only difference is that you have to bid on projects that you find interesting, rather than write a cover letter to the client who specifies a budget. LinkedIn also now has a jobs section, where you can find interesting freelancing jobs from companies who operate in your niche.
Although most jobs are for full-time positions, you’d be amazed at the times I’ve applied for a full-time position and sold the idea of doing it remotely on a part-time basis. You know your freelance market by now, so you can consider cold email outreach to companies in your industry.
Hunter is a fantastic tool that helps you find email addresses of specific companies. When you’re browsing a website, you simply click the Hunter button and it will pull emails belonging to that domain. You can then pitch your services via email.
Freelancing tools: Staying organized
It’s easy to lose sight of staying organized, especially when working on your own projects. And before you know it, your ideas and notes get scattered all over, ruining your workflow and productivity.
Trust me, I’ve been there!
This is particularly true if you have a multitude of clients and tasks to keep track of. You need a central location where you can keep track of your tasks, clients, and deadlines.
Consider using Evernote for example, a free note-taking app that allows you to take notes and sync them between multiple devices. You can keep your notes and ideas organized in groups, and synced for easy availability on all your devices.
Evernote also lets you include images, todo lists, attachments, audio recordings and even website excerpts in your notes. Your ideas don’t have to be dull, ever!
Evernote is my favorite freelancing tool; I couldn’t live without it. I have over 2,000 notes organized into various notebooks that are easily searchable and archived when no longer needed.
Check out this awesome video from Evan Carmichael on how to use Evernote to stay organized:
Another aspect of freelancing is keeping track of your schedule. Most freelancers choose to use Google Calendar, just because it’s so easy to use.
You can also sync your Google Calendar across multiple devices and different productivity apps. For scheduling and creating reminders, Calendly does an amazing job of allowing others to schedule time with you without constant back and forth.
Freelancing tools: Stay productive
If you tend to procrastinate and leave everything for the last minute (and who doesn’t from time to time?), then Habitica may be the right freelancing tool for you.
It’s an app that helps you stay on top of things. You’re rewarded for meeting deadlines, for instance. Tasks, like finishing work and sending your invoices on time, will help you unlock prizes too.
$30 may be a lot to fork out all at once, but Freelancy is totally worth it if you want to take freelancing seriously. This tool gives you the ability to easily track projects, timesheets, and invoices.
And CO is also a similar tool with a new of built-in freelancing tools in one cool platform.
A true freelancer’s dream, amirite?
Communication + project management = gold
When you’re managing multiple projects with different clients and teams, project management becomes synonymous with communication.
The chances are that you’ve even already had exposure to at least one of these at some point. But just in case that you haven’t, get acquainted with all of them. Most of your clients will require you to operate with one of this software.
From my experience, Trello is the most popular of these, and I most frequently use it and Trello to manage projects with clients.
Finances inside. Handle with care
Unless you want to get into serious trouble, you need reliable accounting software. Which – luckily – you can now find online for a relatively low cost.
There’s certainly no time for paper invoices these days, so… Be a professional and use the freelancing tools that are available.
Remember that finances are not something you want to forget or procrastinate about. Being thorough about your accounting is essential, not only for your reputation, but also your security and peace of mind.
You may be surprised to find out that most freelancers simply rely on standard emails for payment reminders and invoices. Avoid this at all costs. You’re better than that, and keep your reputation as a professional intact. I always suggest freelancers check out two amazing accounting tools: QuickBooks and Freshbooks.
These are both easy-to-use accounting software for the self-employed. Of all the successful freelancers I’ve run into, very few didn’t use one of the above accounting tools.
You must get your finances in order!
Come tax time, you’ll thank me for suggesting Freshbooks and QuickBooks because all your information is contained in easy to download reports. Also, Freshbooks and QuickBooks are great at keeping track of all your expenses so you don’t have to carry around a box full of receipts.
Google Drive is my personal favorite cloud storage solution, mainly because of how well it works with Google Docs. It also syncs with Evernote.
These two services give you access to all your important files from every device. What’s best, is that this is a great way to keep your work files separate from your personal files.
I consider Google Drive as my virtual filing cabinet, which includes all my important contracts, receipts, and work. As a freelancing tool, I couldn’t live without this system.
As soon as I have an expense, I scan the receipt, upload it to my accounting software, file it away in my virtual filing cabinet, and then…
Then, I violently toss the receipt in the garbage!
Freelancing tools: Your virtual office
As a freelancer you’ll miss some of the standard perks of being traditionally employed: free letterheads, business cards, office phone, mailing services, and much more.
Here are a few freelancing tools that will help you replace these systems.
Phone calls – A necessary freelancing tool
Phone.com is an all-in-one platform that allows you to set up your virtual office with a few clicks, including creating custom phone numbers, an auto-receptionist, video conferencing, and my two absolute favorite tools: voicemail transcription and call recording.
As a freelancer, we’re a busy bunch, so having our voicemails transcribed for us and emailed is a huge time-saver for me, and allows me to respond to clients quicker.
Call recording is also invaluable. Instead of taking crazy notes during a call, the call recording feature allows you to focus entirely on what your client is saying and how you should respond.
You can go back later to take notes!
Postage – Old-school is back!
Stamps.com is also another fun freelancing tool I use to save myself time and energy. If you are a freelancer who is going to be mailing a lot of products or doing outreach by mail, you have to try Stamps.com.
This service eliminates trips to the Post Office by allowing you to print postage on demand. You simply print the postage and shipping labels, attach them to your parcel or letter, and then mail it from anywhere in the world.
Stamps.com also offers a 4-week free trial and $5 credit in free postage.
Branding – Networking tools
Anyone who has ever had to create business cards, letterheads, signs, or any type of marketing material has heard of Vista Print. For a ridiculously low price, you can create yourself professional business cards that you can use when you attend conferences and other networking events.
Trust me, there’s nothing more embarrassing than talking to a potential client who then asks you for a business card and you come up empty-handed. Be ready with your freelancing tools, and have a kickass business card at the ready for that perfect moment.
Never underestimate the importance of online networking. In other words, you should take Twitter and LinkedIn seriously. If social media isn’t really your thing, you still need a profile on LinkedIn at the very least.
Aside from checking out your website and blog, potential clients will always check LinkedIn. Stay active on these platforms, posting thoughts about your particular industry, sharing news, and best practices.
Think of this as a way to force you to stay on top of the top news in your industry, which will also help you stand out as the expert.
One of the best investments I’ve ever made is in social media automation software like Sprout Social or Buffer. With these tools you can schedule all your social media posts at once which will then drip out over a set schedule.
For instance, say you’re a freelance architect and want to comment on industry news but don’t want to be tied to social media every day. You spend an hour review industry news, scheduling it in Sprout Social or Buffer, and then that content will auto-publish over the next week or so.
Manage your website and blog like a pro
When it comes to blog management, nothing compares to good-old WordPress. Simple, easy to use, it is the epitome of efficiency.
No matter if you’ve got your own blog or if you’re producing content for other people, some WordPress knowledge will always come in handy. Here is an amazing resource to help you set up your WordPress website.
Squarespace is also another great blog management platform that I’ve used in the past. This tools is a lot more user-friendly than WordPress, but is less customizable.
There is one important step you must take before getting the ball rolling on your website: register and host it!
You need to register your domain and then host it, and I always suggest you do this through the same web service. The best tools our there for this are HostGator and Blue Host, both of which will allow you to register and host your new freelancing website at a low cost.
Advanced Freelancing Tip: Brand yourself!
If you want to really accelerate your freelancing business then the best freelancing tool is the graphic design service 99designs.
This tool will pair you with professional designers who can help you develop a brand identity, logo, website, and other useful marketing tools like business cards and packaging.
By partnering with a professional graphic designer, you will set yourself apart from the millions of other freelancers who rely solely on other platforms like Upwork and LinkedIn for their branding.
What if these websites change their rules, or decide to close shop? Then where will you be at? All of you hard work developing your freelancing profile on these sites will be gone, which is why it’s important for you to create your own brand, your own identity, and a web presence that you own.
A professional graphic design service like 99designs can help accelerate this task.
Freelancing tools: Final thoughts
I’ve been a freelancer for quite a while now. So you can imagine that I’m all too familiar with those times when you feel a little lost.
When you’re looking for a specific piece of professional or even personal advice, but you’re not exactly sure what. Well, here you can find a number of blogs that are meant to inspire people like you and I to make the best career decisions possible.
To multitask like a boss. To balance work, family, and friends. This is not mandatory, but I suggest following them.
It’s always good to see what other successful freelancers are doing to improve their lives. Take charge of your new flexible career by adopting some of the above freelancing tools.
You will save yourself time and energy by adding to your toolbelt the right tools you need to accelerate your freelancing career, and ultimately your income.
Show your clients you’re better than the competition
Start your freelance business by publishing an eBook
How to get started
These days, everyone appreciates a good book…Right?
One book. Dozens of ways to use it.
This number is only expected to increase, with another study staying it will rise to 50% by 2020.
This is a big deal! In all, these freelancers earned an astounding $1 trillion in 2016. Yes, with a T.
More professionals choose to work independently every day, and believe me, if there’s one thing they all have in common, it’s how they wished they'd started earlier. As you will shortly find out, freelance jobs are everywhere, you just need to find them.
Now, you may think this is easy to say for a designer, a web developer, or a writer. They must be getting loads of gigs, right? I mean, isn’t freelancing based mainly on these types of jobs?
Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all. The freelance jobs are much more versatile than you may think. The freelance economy is becoming more professionalized with lawyers, accountants, insurance professionals, drone operators, and many more professionals being able to find work on digital platforms.
Don’t worry. They’re not in this industry because they couldn’t get a regular job. They’re here because being independent allows them to spread their wings in a way that the traditional job market never could.
In fact, four out of five freelancers state that freelance jobs are better than their traditional employment.
But let’s get back to you. If you still have doubts about whether you can make it in freelancing or not, I’m here to tell you that your abilities and passions can be marketed too. No matter what your skills are.
Except maybe if your expertise is in competitive dog grooming...