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Types of Freelance Jobs: Choosing Your Niche

Types of Freelance Jobs: Choosing Your Niche

Last week we spoke about how the freelance economy is booming, and what this means for you. Reports are now that somewhere around 30% of the American workforce are freelancers in some capacity.

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.

how much can I early as a freelancer

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.

love freelancing

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...

So many questions! Sorry to say, if this is your skill, you may be limited in your quest to find freelancing jobs.
But seriously, let’s take a quick look at the freelance jobs available. If we are to take a hint from the biggest platform for freelancers – Upwork – I’d say the opportunities are almost endless. In fact, every year freelancers with over 3,500 distinct skills earn a total of $1 billion on Upwork. So they know what they’re talking about!
Here are Upwork’s main work categories: 
Of course, for every category, there are subcategories. Lots of them. Let’s take the writing category for instance. You have article writing, blog writing, technical writing, resume writing, editing, proofreading, creative writing, and the list goes on.
Now, think about the creative writing sub-category. This particular field is so vast, that I can’t even mention everything it encompasses: Novels, poetry, short stories, screen-writing, dog grooming memories, and many others. Think of each of the above individual categories as a large tree, with the category acting only as the trunk at the base of the tree.
But wait, because I’m not even done talking about the opportunities of freelance work. Until now, we’ve only been discussing online freelance jobs. These are usually the easiest to look for and require the least effort.
However, that’s by no means a reason to ignore freelance job opportunities you could get “in real life.”

Look around. Someone needs your services

Photography and tutoring, for example, are two fields where demand always seems to outstrip supply.
If you’ve ever hired a photographer for an event, then you know that the going rate for these professionals is high.
The fees you charge also depend on how experienced you are and what equipment you’ve got, but who says you can’t start small and see how it goes? It’s always easier to expand when you already have a couple of gigs – however small – under your belt.
If you are fluent in more than one language, working as a tutor can be a great opportunity to put your skills to good use.
There are a number of tutoring websites like Wyzant, Chegg, or TutorMe, that give you opportunities to earn extra income acting as someone’s tutor. This can be done online, as well as in-person.
Maybe you play a musical instrument? Oh, and the school subjects that you excelled in but thought you’d never use them again now – guess what? There is someone out there who is in need of your help. And they hang out on the above websites.
You can now offer your tutoring services online or in-person. Likewise, as a photographer, you can find in-person gigs through websites like or Upwork. Or, you can submit stock photos to websites like iStock.
Of course, these are only a few examples of freelance jobs. Finding your niche can be tricky at times, because let’s face it, we’re all unique, with different abilities and affinities. Put simply, finding your ideal niche won’t happen overnight. But you’re starting to get the picture.
With digital freelance platforms, you’re now able to monetize any number of hobbies or skills. What is yours?

For freelancing jobs, you must know thyself

A good first step is looking at this Venn diagram.
We’ve got three circles:
  • What you enjoy doing
  • What you’re good at
  • What people will pay for

Your perfect freelance job should be in the middle of the diagram, where the three circles overlap. It’s important to acknowledge that not all skills – at least not on their own – are sought after.
Like competitive dog grooming! Not judging, just saying.
At the same time, let’s be realistic. Simply enjoying something does not make you good at it. I’m the best example for this. I absolutely love singing in the shower. But unfortunately (or fortunately), that doesn’t make me Justin Bieber (high-five to my fellow Canadian!).
When analyzing your abilities, passions, and the demand for them, honesty with yourself is the best policy. Again, you may need some guidance for that. You can talk with co-workers or friends to see what they think you’re good at. At the very least, it’s a good excuse to take them out for dinner.
Or, take a hint from the famous Friedrich Nietzsche who said that “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” Go for a nice long walk, kick a few stones, stare off aimlessly across a body of water, and think hard about exactly what your passions and skills are. 
Thanks Nietzsche, and Google auto-correct because that last name is a doozy!

What are your passions

Start with the fun stuff. The things you enjoy doing. Take a blank sheet of paper, or during your walk, and take note of the first thing that comes to mind when you ask yourselves the following questions:
  • 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?

Keep in mind that this section of your analysis and the other two below should be completely independent of one another. Your passion is different than a skill someone will pay you for. That’s for the next section.
Let’s move on to the things that you are actually good at.

Your skills

This time, think of the exams you sailed through in school. The subjects you always felt you could wing. The skills you got compliments on. The stuff people usually want to pick your brain on. The tasks that other struggle to complete but you find easy.
For me, it was argumentation. I love to debate. Even if I knew I was wrong intellectually, the process of playing devil’s advocate always sparked amazing creativity in me. My wife loves it too!

 (Note: No Glenns were hurt during this re-enactment)
But we all have those friends who are naturally gifted with numbers, or people, or their hands, or through their artfulness, or even dog grooming abilities. We all know people like this.
So what is your gift? It’s always good to ask others about this too. At times, we’re not even aware of the things we’re naturally good at.
Make it a point to ask five people today what they think your best skill is. You can always explain that you’re doing a self-assessment and want to know the top thing they think you excel at.
And now, it’s time for the third and final step.

Freelancing is all about marketable skills

Unfortunately, not all skills will land you freelance jobs, but the vast majority can. The best way to find out is to hit Google and see how many people are looking to hire for your particular skill set. As simple as that.
Are there blogs about your future freelancing job or skill? Are there job posters on Monster, Indeed, or other career websites hiring for your desired skill? If you search on Google “your skill + freelancing” or “your skill + upwork,” what comes up?  
Also check directly on Upwork and to see which types of jobs are being posted requesting this type of skillset.
By now, it should be clear what you should write under your name on that freelancing resume.
Good luck! See you all next week.
Glenn Carter
Expert Dog Groomer and CEO of ‘Indiana Bones and the Temple of Groom.’

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