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7 Highest Paying Freelance Jobs For Earning A Steady Income


If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you’ll want to get started the right way in the career path that generates the highest income, right?

Many new freelancers think that way. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Although, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Just because a skill has a higher demand or pays well than the others doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best path to follow.

There’s a reason why some writers get paid $5 on Fiverr to write a 1000 word article while others make $100 for the same job somewhere else.

Getting paid well depends on your skill level, experience, and quality of work.

Having said that, it’s also important to know your market and see which type of jobs and skills get paid the most so that you can maybe start learning a new skill or plan for a future freelancing career.

For those of you who are interested in making a steady income or retiring early, here are the jobs that earn the most in the freelancing industry.

1. Programming And Software Development


(Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg)

Meet James Knight, a programmer who left a lucrative job at Google to pursue a career in freelancing. Now, he makes over $1,000 an hour working as a freelance developer.

Programming jobs, especially software and mobile app development, pays the highest for freelancers. Only because it’s a skill that’s quite difficult to master and there aren’t many good coders out there. So, the demand for good coders is pretty high.

If you want to make an income like James, start learning to code. And I don’t mean learning through free courses on CodeAcademy or Udemy. They’ll only take you through the basics. You’ll need to invest some money and time into learning and practicing to develop proper coding skills.

Of course, you won’t be able to start charging $1,000 an hour right away. You’ll have to gradually build up your reputation. If you have solid skills in programming languages like iOS and WebGL, you could start charging somewhere around $150 per hour, or more.

According to a recent UpWork survey, Bitcoin developers also have high demand. Most Bitcoin developers earn over $200 per hour.

2. Social Video Marketing

In a surprise turn of events, a new skill is born—”social video marketing”. The skill ranked at the third place of the UpWork’s Q2 2019 fastest-growing skills list. And for good reason as well.

A quick search on the platform showed that this skill pays over $150 per hour for marketers.

social-video marketing

It’s no surprise that this skill is in high demand. Especially given the rise of video content marketing. The booming social media channels such as TikTok, Instagram video, and YouTube, will keep this skill relevant for years to come.

If you’re skilled at creating video content, optimizing them for SEO, capturing audiences with new ideas and marketing strategies, this skill will help bring many gigs your way.

3. Web Design And Development

According to an UpWork statistics report, PHP Development is the most in-demand skill of 2015. Web Design ranks at the 7th spot.

There’s great demand for web designers. But, it’s worth noting that the freelance web design industry is pretty crowded right now because it’s easy to learn web design and start coding websites. Heck, even I did some web design work for a while and started my own web design agency. Spoiler alert! It didn’t go so well.

The best strategy would be to find a niche in the field. For example, Jonathan Wold made over $5,000 a month by building websites with WordPress and doing small theme customizations. You’ll probably be able to earn more if you offer the right kind of services to the right clients.

4. Content Marketing/Writing

Thanks to the boom in online marketing trends and the development of new methodologies, like Inbound Marketing, content writing is now considered as one of hottest fields for freelancers.

You don’t need to go anywhere to find proof of how well freelance writers are doing. Take me for example. Right now, I make around $5,000 a month (at least in most months) doing blogging work for businesses, writing, and content marketing work. And I know there are other freelance writers who do much better than me.

Although, not everyone can be a skilled writer. You need to write a lot, read a lot, and, more importantly, you’ll need a creative mind to write amazing articles that pay well. Your master’s degree in literature and the A+ essay skills from college won’t do you any good when working online either.

5. Graphic Design

Graphic design ranks at number 2 on the UpWork’s most in-demand skills list. And if you look at its top freelancers under the graphic design category, you’ll see some freelancers who make up to $85 per hour doing design work.


Infographic design has higher demand these days. Logo design, icon design, and illustrations pay pretty well too. But, like with content writing, to become a quality graphic designer, you’ll need to develop an eye for design.

6. Copywriters

Copywriters are different from content marketers and writers. These freelancers specialize in writing content for website pages, descriptions for products, services, etc.

The charge rates for copywriters depend on each freelancer’s level of experience and skill. Linda Formichelli, an experienced freelance copywriter, makes $250 per hour.


If you look at UpWork’s list of top copywriters, you’ll notice that they charge between $15 per hour to $100 per hour for copywriting jobs.

7. Video Editors

Freelance video editors in the US earns around $72,000 per year, while more experienced video editors make around $122,000 per year.

The demand for video editors in the freelance industry saw a rise in the last few years, thanks to the opportunities presented by platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you’re good with putting together video clips and creating awesome video content, this could be a great future-proof career to get into.

Bonus: Social Media Managers

Social media marketing is an important part of brand and business marketing strategies. Almost every business, including small local coffee shops to big corporate brands, now use social networks to promote their products and brand.

This opened up a massive opportunity for freelancers when most of these brands and businesses started looking for people who would manage their social media channels for them. Now, it’s an entire industry of its own.


Earnings for social media managers in the US range from $46,000 per year and up to $72,000 per year, according to PayScale. A quick search on LinkedIn brought up over 9,000 job results for Social Media Managers in the US alone. And over 2,000 jobs in India.

A Small Piece Of Advice

People are always looking for ways to get rich quick. Maybe all the stories about billion-dollar startup acquisitions and how people make quick millions with smartphone apps are starting to get to their heads.

As a result of the media hype, they don’t see the valuable message hidden inside all those success stories: It requires Hard Work to make money.

Did you think WhatsApp became a $20 Billion app overnight? It took them over 4 years to get there. It took almost 5 years for Mark Zuckerberg to make Facebook a success. He didn’t even make any money through the platform in the first few years.

The moral of the story is: Don’t try to follow a career path just because it pays well. If you want to build a steady income and survive as a freelancer, choose to do work that you’re passionate about, work that gets you excited every day, and work that challenges you to learn something new every day.

That passion and burning desire inside you will drive you to be better at what you do and improve your skills and eventually leading you to earn more than ever before.

Learn to be patient as well. Because it will take some time before you start earning a steady income. And remember, you’ll only have to work hard for a short while. Then it’ll be like a walk in the park.

Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.

Roshan Perera
Roshan Jerad Perera is a freelance writer, blogger, and founder of His main goal is to help others get started in freelancing and guide them toward a successful career and financial freedom.
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  • Pareesa Sep 2,2021 at 7:04 PM

    Hi there,
    I am struggling alot to learn content writing. I am very curious to master that skill but I am not able to find the right guidelines. Can you please suggest some YouTube channels or something like that with which I can master that skill and get finally started.

    • Roshan Perera Sep 13,2021 at 11:08 AM

      There are some good courses on Udemy by an instructor named Shani Raja. You can start there. But, honestly, you should just read more and practice writing if you want to get better at it.

  • King'ori Gitahi Sep 2,2021 at 12:58 AM

    Hi, I am new on the upwork platform. How do I get my very first work/client as a video editor? I run my own YouTube channel and edit my videos using adobe premiere Pro.

  • Amine Jun 21,2021 at 12:31 AM

    What about translation, does it have a good future?

    • Roshan Perera Jun 24,2021 at 2:10 PM

      Yes but only for the foreseeable future. New technologies are making translator jobs obsolete very fast.

  • Oluchi Jun 2,2021 at 10:35 PM

    Hello Roshan! Thanks for this wonderful article. I’m new to freelancing. I know a little bit of programming but good in the use of Microsoft office suite and Corel draw graphics (looking forward to acquiring more skills though). I love to write, and to also create nice designs. Pls as a beginner what jobs can I do with these skills?

    • Roshan Perera Jun 3,2021 at 2:09 PM

      You should first try to focus on improving one skill and get better at it. You need to be able to market your skills as a service. A little bit of knowledge is not enough. So practice and improve first. Then you can look for jobs.

  • RonB May 30,2021 at 4:59 AM

    I like your page! You seem to have understanding and knowledge I can trust. I’m working online as an English tutor… and Im burnt out. I want to start building a career developing & programming. The thing is there’s SO many choices and directions I can go. What is IN DEMAND right now, with good compensation. Looking for direction …

    • Roshan Perera Jun 3,2021 at 2:11 PM

      It really depends on which areas you want to pursue. There are many categories and sub-categories in web, mobile, and gaming development. You should try exploring a freelance marketplace to see if any of your interested skills have good demand.

  • Mr_P May 27,2021 at 6:42 AM

    Hello there! Please I’d like to make a $100 – $200 per day… But I’m having issues know the right skills to look into, I’m good at web researching, proofreading, but my typing isn’t so fast. I’m looking forward to learn some graphics editing and whiteboard video creations. My questions is, what are some small chops jobs that really wouldn’t take up to 30 minutes not to talk of an hour, that you think I’d be able to carry out, If focus on scouting for them, and most importantly the right website to opt-in for them. I really don’t mind working 12 to 18 hours per day! I’m hoping to gather funds for my flight training program and it cost about a $25,000 in Nigeria. So PLEASE and PLEASE some good advice really would help. I Pray that God crowns your effort in all that you do.

    • Roshan Perera May 28,2021 at 12:16 PM

      Those are some very specific requirements to have for a beginner. And I’m not sure why you’re looking for things you can do in under 30 mins since you’re willing to work 12 hours per day. Either way, you’ll have to work really hard and find a very niche skill that pays really well to earn that kind of money. Look into coding, data science, or blockchain.

  • Pramila Mestry Feb 5,2021 at 7:24 AM

    Hi Roshan, your website is really brilliant. Especially the tips and advice you have are crisp and very useful.
    I am an Academician with around 13.6 years of experience in teaching as well as writing. I have been working as a Content Writer and Editor and recently started building up my Freelance Writer profile. I wish to know the rates per hour for a freelance Creative and Educational writer for European countries and the USA.
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Roshan Perera Feb 6,2021 at 1:46 PM

      Thank you for your kind compliments. Regarding the rates, it really depends on the type of content you write. I’d recommend charging per project or per word instead of an hourly rate. Also try not to charge the same amounts as the writers in the US. You can use freelancing sites like PeoplePerHour to find the rates other writers charge.

  • Kush Sharma Jan 13,2021 at 7:32 PM

    Thanks Roshan. As a content writer, do clients expect you to do SEO optimization too or is it just writing?

    • Roshan Perera Jan 17,2021 at 9:35 AM

      Yes, most clients expect writers to optimize articles for SEO.

  • Shariful Alam Nov 13,2020 at 5:46 PM

    Crisp and informative article. I want to start freelancing job. I have more than 20 years of job experience. I believe I write well and recently I created few of websites using WordPress.
    Thanks for your nice writeup.
    Stay fine.

  • Iftekharul Islam Oct 24,2019 at 4:14 PM

    Thank you so much for the ‘Small Piece of Advice’, while many youtubers or blogers just use this tendency of teens to make them their customers you made us aware of our haste in making money online… Thank you again for the content brother, wish you good luck…

  • joly Sep 24,2019 at 7:55 PM

    What strategy did you apply to get customers who pay well? Was it on a particular type of content and requested on the dashboards?

  • Rose Oct 12,2018 at 2:56 PM

    Hi Roshan, l am a freelance scriptwriter but making sales has been quite difficult for some time now. So I’m thinking of learning a skill that I could offer online. Between copywriting and web designing, which would you advice me to learn? I’m Nigerian by the way. Thanks

  • Mathias Onah Oct 5,2018 at 11:28 AM

    How can I learn a skill online, I mean content writing any youtube that can help

  • Makk Sep 2,2018 at 1:20 AM

    Hi roshan i’m 3d disigner can you help me to find the best freelancer site for my skill ?? Thank you

  • Satinder Singh Aug 24,2018 at 6:06 AM

    Hello Roshan,

    I am working as a freelancer with Content Writer & Complete Digital Marketing Skills.

    Can you Give me a Chance to share my Relevant work Samples with your Niche.

    I am sure You Will be happy with My Quality Work.

    Waiting for your Kind Response.


  • Maria Jul 26,2018 at 2:56 PM

    Hey, Roshan! Thank you for interesting articles. I’d like just to ask you about the current situation. What are the highest paying freelance jobs in 2018? Are they still the same?

  • sureshk Jul 18,2018 at 1:42 AM

    Good insight.
    Honest remarks!

  • om parkash Jul 15,2018 at 10:59 AM

    Hi Roshan,

    Great article for persons who want to work as freelancers, can you please help me out that is there and any increasing benefit doing job in SAP.
    I am also interested in doing copy writing job can you help me with some basic knowledge how to start it.

  • Ron Jul 7,2018 at 3:43 AM

    Thanks for the article Roshan! Any idea if Data Analysis lends itself to the freelance industry?
    I’m a humanitarian relief worker looking to earn extra income on the side…

    • Roshan Perera Jul 8,2018 at 10:10 AM

      Hey Ron,
      Of course, there are plenty of jobs for Data Analysts in the market. There’s a site called Kaggle made specifically for data science. It’s worth checking out –

  • Nicki Jun 26,2018 at 1:45 AM

    I have managed to earn close to 3/4 of my full-time job income with freelance copywriting, so I can vouch for the freelance content writing/copywriting part. Here’s something that I wonder. Are there actually any technical jobs (e.g. car mechanic) that you can take up on a freelance or project basis and still earn well? Some of us might be more technical-based and can’t quite sit still in the office, so I am curious if there are anything in the freelance market that caters to these people.

  • anuj Jun 17,2018 at 12:32 PM

    very poor article.. all content is fake.. like you can make 1000$ per hour..

  • Brian Quinn Jun 2,2018 at 8:54 PM

    Very nice article. I’ve been an App Developer for almost 30 years. Legacy mainframe to web app in .NET MVC and recent MEAN stack. Even self taught myself Android native mobile. I’ve been sub contracting but the big Walmart with offshore projects have degraded the experience a lot. I’m attempting a shift toward complete remote work. Any ideas of who i should be reaching out to? Any advice on dealing with startups? I’d like to work with companies promoting growth here in the US.

    • Roshan Perera Jun 3,2018 at 5:34 AM

      Hi Brian,
      You should join Angel List – and keep an eye out for startups looking for developers. Some startups even offer equity for developer positions as well. With your background, you can easily land a full-time gig with a nice paycheck.

  • Saurabh Jun 1,2018 at 6:55 PM

    Hi! Thanks for the article! I’m reading it in June 2018. I’m a Core Java developer by profession. Which skill would you suggest to develop and freelance which can pay the most?

  • Daves May 8,2018 at 8:11 AM

    Hi Roshan. I am Latinoamerican. I read your article and I think is very good. I have only a few questions: what do you think, according to your experience, about the opportunities for the freelancers chemical engineers ?. Do you think that I must acquire different skills for work like a freelancer? Thanks for your time.

    • Roshan Perera May 8,2018 at 11:08 AM

      Hi Daves,
      Finding jobs online in your industry won’t be easy. You’ll stand a better chance if you focus on targeting local companies to offer your services as a freelancer. If you’re going to work online, you should learn a more profitable skill. However, you can join online teaching websites to tutor students using your knowledge.
      Good luck 🙂

  • Bodruzzaman Apr 13,2018 at 5:32 PM

    Hi Roshan,
    thank you for your great mind to help mankind. recently i create account on upwork. i have some experience on ArcGIS and QGIS, Google earth mapping, KOBO and ONA , database management, data visualization and also data entry. but how can i got client easily? and how can i earn at list $20 per week??? please help me.

  • Narisa Sringamratana Feb 10,2018 at 10:23 AM

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. I would like to change my lifestyle and earn money by online working as freelance.
    I would like to know what do you think about UX-Ui Design, referencing websites and 3D designer. I am interested in those 3 but Which one have the best demand and which one have the best paie. Thank you and sorry for my English. I am French speaking.

    • Roshan Perera Feb 10,2018 at 1:43 PM

      Unless you plan on joining a web design agency, it’ll be tough to find UXD jobs as a freelancer. It’s not impossible, just difficult. Not sure what you meant by referencing websites and 3D designer though.

  • Amit Goel Jan 16,2018 at 6:47 AM

    Hi Roshan – your website is very informative. I am CRM SME has spent most of my career in package application till now. do I have an option to work as freelancer?

    • Roshan Perera Jan 17,2018 at 6:11 PM

      Hi Amit,
      You’re in luck. CRM is one of the fastest growing skills of 2017, according to a recent UpWork report. You should study HubSpot CRM. It has a high demand.

  • rakesh kumar Nov 24,2017 at 5:40 AM

    dear author,

    your article is too good as read whole article line by line you have describe the exact feelings for beginners at freelancers “hard work” is the key of success.
    thanks for your appreciation.

    best regards
    rakesh kumar

  • Nirmala Oct 27,2017 at 6:45 AM

    Hi, Roshan, Its nice to see you helping others. I also at upwork, but my skill levels are typing and internet browsing only, so no work there.. I want to learn something and earn, can you give suggestion please..
    I have one question, learning app developing is eash na?..

  • Vishal Kumar Oct 23,2017 at 3:09 PM

    Hi Roshan,
    i loved your site and it’s engaging content about Free;ancing. I need your little Help, i want to be a web and software developer freeelancer for which i’m confused that i should start freelancing or start developing new skills and sharpen old one’s.
    I’ll be thankful to you, please help me out.

    • Roshan Perera Oct 23,2017 at 3:21 PM

      If you haven’t done any work yet, you should test out your skills. Design a free website template or collaborate on an open-source project on GitHub. It will help you determine if your skills are good enough.

      If you do a great job and get good responses from people, get started freelancing right away. Otherwise, spend time following online courses and polishing up your skills.

      Good luck 🙂

  • FS Zis@n Jul 10,2017 at 11:42 AM

    Hi, Roshan……I’ve some questions….
    #1.How can i be a successful in outsourcing?
    #2.Which job is perfect for me?
    #3.How much i can earn in 1 month??

  • Miles Jun 21,2017 at 11:49 AM

    Hello Roshan, your site is incredible, and I have taken some time to digest some contents in your website. I have been offering press release writing and distribution sites on fiverr, but recently there has been a decline in sales. I am Nigerian by the way, and I am doing my best to ensure that I come up with quality contents for my clients. My actual question is, are there any sites I could offer the above service which is less competitive than Upwork and Fiverr (I have tried upwork though yet no sales). I want to diversify and reach massive audience. If none, are there ways I can promote my service to get more clients willing to buy my services. I do not write generic articles, I am vast in public relations and I learn everyday. I really do not like being limited this much. Is there anything I need to know? Are there any resources that you have that would really help me out as a freelancer. Fiverr, Upwork, and are becoming so saturated. I’m checking out speedlancer by the way. I’ll be expecting your response ASAP. pardon me if there are any typos in this comment as I did not take my time to proofread.

    Kind Regards.

    • Roshan Perera Jun 23,2017 at 7:41 AM

      Hi Miles,

      Try this list for Fiverr UpWork alternatives –

      Also, start a blog and start talking about your industry while sharing your personal expertise. Branch out from freelancing platforms. It’s never good to be too dependent on such platforms. You’ll never know when they might change their policies or even ban you for some obscure reason.

      Good luck!

  • R30 Jun 20,2017 at 7:41 PM

    Hey, Roshan! First: Your site is awesome, it condenses a lot of information and your writing style is very pleasing to read.

    Second: I want to make 50 USD daily by working less than 4 hours a day. I know some programming/music/math/English (not a native speaker) and I’m interested in design/writing.

    How much time do you think it can take me to reach that goal? I like studying a lot and I’m mentally prepared to dig into any profitable activity in depth.

    • Roshan Perera Jun 21,2017 at 4:59 AM

      Hi R30,
      $50 per day is an achievable goal. Choose writing if you’re good at it. You don’t have to be a native speaker to write great content.

      First, build a great portfolio for your work. Submit some guest posts on popular blogs like Huffpost, Entrepreneur, etc. Depending on the industries you want to target.
      Then choose a good platform to promote your services (avoid common sites like UpWork). Speedlancer is an interesting site you should check out. It pays high rates for delivering jobs faster.

      How long it takes to achieve your goal will depend on how much time you can invest for working online and the quality of your work. If you work hard and have impressive skills, it shouldn’t take longer than 3-6 months.

      Don’t be afraid to charge higher rates.

      Good luck.

  • Cherokee Bell Jun 8,2017 at 7:10 PM

    Hello, I like to organize things. What are things I need to learn to become a “computer software/apps” organizer? Is this what almost anyone can do that knows soft./apps. ? I am starting over in my life (single w/ children, behind in computer skills, very willing to learn, am creative and resourceful).

    • Roshan Perera Jun 10,2017 at 5:53 AM

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by “apps organizer”?
      Send me an email and I’ll be happy to help out.

  • Shaas Apr 8,2017 at 1:01 PM

    Hello, i’m really excited when reading your posts. But can you give tips to new freelancers? I want to be freelancer but i don’t have past works that i can put in my profile. So how can i convince clients if i don’t have experience? I want to be a writer in marketing or copywriter.

  • Derek Arcila Mar 24,2017 at 4:49 AM

    Roshan, what strategy did you implement to get high paying clients. Did you niche down to a certain type of content and apply for them on job boards?
    Did you diversify by having multiple accounts on various platforms?

    • Roshan Perera Mar 24,2017 at 7:42 PM

      Hi Derek,
      Yes, I did niche down to offering my services through just one platform. And I quit common freelancing sites like UpWork. Best decision I’ve made. I was able to raise my prices and get better clients who valued my work.

      • Alli Sep 25,2017 at 9:59 PM

        I’m currently on Upwork and have gotten some decent clients through the site. I’m mostly taking screenwriting clients, but I think I could get more work copywriting. I am asked to ghostwrite and edit novels — as I am a published author — but no one offers payment that would make such tasks worth my while. 1) Should I stick to what I’m good at/know or should I try to diversify and get into more content/copywriting. I’ve done some work for a handful of clients in the area, but not a ton yet. 2) Where do you find these clients once you quit Upwork? I’d like to make a full-time income.

  • saket kumar Nov 16,2016 at 9:35 AM

    I am working as an android developer and i like your site, which is only site of its kind i come across…you r really doing great.

  • Om Krishna Uprety Nov 6,2016 at 2:45 PM

    Pragmatic article discussing ups and down of freelancer. Academic degree have nugatory value in making money in online business. The best way to make money from freelancing is to learn from the own mistake and never give up.

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