When I first started freelancing, I got lucky. I happen to fall into one of the highest paying freelance jobs without actually researching it. But, the freelance space is way different than the “normal” job market. So, it’s important to know what freelance jobs pay the best.
To break it down, the three highest paying freelances jobs are: legal services ($96 per hour), developer ($58 per hour) and IT security specialist ($51 per hour).
And, here are some honorable mentions:
- Copywriter ($31 per hour)
- Online Marketer ($41 – $59 per hour)
- Graphic Designer ($35 per hour)
- SEO Specialist ($45 per hour)
- Article Writer/Content Marketer ($37 per hour)
- Game Developer ($22 – $53 per hour)
Of course, those are averages. Plenty of freelancers make way more. In fact, as a freelance developer, my standard hourly rate is $100 per hour. And, I’ve made as much as $500-$600 per hour on certain projects.
But, the highest I’ve seen personally is $1,000 per hour.
Highest Hourly Pay: $1,000 Per Hour
This is James Knight. He’s a freelance software developer and ex-Google employee. When he left Google and went freelance he, according to Bloomberg, doubled his salary and can make as much as $1,000 per hour… depending on the project.
Apparently, big companies like Airbnb, Pfizer and others are so starved for tech talent that they’ll pay this kind of money for freelance developers.
The thing to do here is research these companies. Find out which ones are hiring freelance developers, what services they’re hiring for and what programming languages they use. Then, go learn that language and put yourself out there.
What New Freelancers Make
That’s a lot of big numbers. It’s smart to look at them and use them to motivate you. But, you might be wondering what you can expect to make when you first start freelancing. Before you have a big portfolio and clout in your industry.
My rule of thumb is to take whatever the average is and cut it in half.
So, for example:
- Legal Services: $35-$60 per hour
- Developer: $30 per hour
- IT Security Specialist: $25 per hour
- Graphic Designer: $20-$25 per hour
- Writer: $25 per hour
In fact, when I first started freelancing as a web developer, I charged $25 per hour. Which was the highest hourly rate I’d every made in my life up to that point. But, it’s pretty low on the scale of pay for freelance developers.
This lower rate will help you get some initial jobs so you can build up your portfolio and your credibility in an industry. Then, you can incrementally raise your rates. For me, I went from $25 to $50, $60, $75 and finally $100 per hour.
Freelance Jobs That Are In Demand
The other thing you have to think about is demand. Often times, the more in-demand a particular skillset is, the higher the pay you can expect. If you do a Google search for this, you’ll find a lot of opinions. But, I prefer to stick to hard numbers.
And, those are a little harder to come by. But, we do have one source. Upwork does a quarterly skills index that lists the top 20 fastest-growing skills in the freelance job market. The nice thing is it gives us an indication of what’s in-demand right now.
Which is so important, because job markets aren’t static. They’re constantly evolving and changing and what was hot a year ago might be dead, today. So, Upwork’s latest report lists the following top 20 in-demand skills:
- U.S. Taxation
- Robotic process automation
- Explainer videos
- Computer aided manufacturing
- Financial planning
- Urban design
- Software documentation
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud
- Julia development
- Employee training
- Shopify templates
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Vue.js framework
- Leadership development
- Architectural rendering
If you’re like me, there’s a few surprises on there: explainer videos, Shopify templates, podcasting. I don’t know that I’d have guessed any of those if asked. Which, again, is why this report is so handy. Also, notice how many are IT/development related.
The Best Freelance Websites For Beginners
The last big question is “where do I find those jobs?” In case you don’t know, there’s a lot of controversy around this question. Someone will have a bad experience with a site, for whatever reason, and it’s suddenly the worst site ever.
But, let me tell you my opinion.
First, the best website to get freelance jobs from… is your own. That might not be the answer you thought you wanted, but it’s the truth. No matter what freelancing platform you end up using, you should always be building your own site…
And, working toward getting all your freelance jobs from it.
You’ll make more. The jobs you get will be more in line with what you actually want to do. It’ll become more consistent. It’s less competitive. And, the biggest thing… YOU own it. I spend a whole section in my Upwork course talking about this. It’s that important.
That said, freelancing platforms can give you a jump-start when you’re first getting started. I personally used Upwork to kick off my freelance career. So, here’s my list of top freelance websites for beginners:
Each one has its pros and cons, but these are some of the largest freelancing (and/or jobs) websites on the planet that are open to new freelancers. My recommendation is you create and account on all of them. Try getting work on each. And then, focus on the one that ends up bringing you the most work.
Finally, as I mentioned, if you decide to use Upwork, I’ve got an 8-hour course where I show you how to build your profile to rank higher in Upwork’s search, how to consistently find the highest paying jobs and best clients, how to bid on those jobs to get hired and all the little tactics I’ve learned for getting jobs on Upwork. You can learn how to get free access to that course by going here.