I’ll be honest. I never had any intention of working for myself. Nope. Not ever.
However, as often happens in life, one day about six and a half years ago now, I found myself in a position where I began working as a freelance writer.
Though I still have my days where I question why I traded in my badge and gun for a computer, pens, and paper, if I had my chance to go back in time, I’d do it all over again.
Working for myself has been difficult, but fun. Frustrating, but interesting. Challenging, but so very worthwhile. Plus, the only one I have to worry about now is myself.
If this is your goal—to work for yourself and by yourself—you may be wondering what types of things you can do to earn a decent living. The jobs you can do online in the comfort of your own home.
Well, wonder no more because here are a few options to consider.
Of course, I’m going to put this as the first option, but the reality is, if you like working for yourself, by yourself, and can put words and sentences together in a logical, easy-to-read fashion, freelance writing can be a great career.
ZipRecruiter reports that most freelance writers in the U.S. earn somewhere between $26,000 and $69,500 per year, which equates to an average of $30 per hour. Some make more and earn well into the six figures, and others make less. It all depends on how good a writer you are, how much time you spend actually writing, and how much your clients are willing to pay for your services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shares that the typical entry-level education for a writing career is a bachelor’s degree, but if you don’t have one, don’t let that stop you.
While I do have a bachelor’s myself, it isn’t in anything writing or journalism related (it’s in sociology, psychology, social work, and criminal justice). Instead, I’ve learned that as long as you have a decent writing ability and a willingness to learn, you can make a career out of crafting content for others, just like I have.
Plus, the BLS indicates that the writing industry is expected to grow 8 percent (the average across all industries is 7 percent), so there should be lots of work in the future!
To learn more about how to become a freelance writer, I do offer a book you can purchase on Amazon which outlines the steps I’ve taken to become a profitable writer. Or, you could also simply contact publications you’d like to write for and ask if they’ll accept a submission.
Sometimes all it takes is to put yourself out there and, before you know it, you’ll look back and realize you’ve been writing full-time for years.
Maybe your craft isn’t so much with words, but more so with placing images, pictures, and other graphics in a way that is appealing to the human eye. In this case, you could make a living working as a graphic designer who contracts with businesses to create the marketing materials necessary to help them sell their products and/or services.
According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for people working as freelance graphic designers is $58,000 per year. That being said, if you have the ability to create graphics that move (which Rasmussen College shares includes coming up with visual effects and animation for movie clips, trailers, commercials, and the like), that number increases dramatically, as the mean for motion graphic designers is more like $71,000 annually.
Because of the technology used to create modern-day graphics, some type of formal education will likely be required to work in this field. So, if this is the route you decide to take, you may want to choose a school that is accredited by the National Association of Schools and Design. You can find out which ones those are by doing a quick online search on this organization’s website.
Yes, I’m a Designer also recommends becoming familiar with graphic design software such as Adobe’s Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. The quicker you can master these types of programs (and learn industry terminology along the way), the closer you are to starting your solopreneur career in graphic design.
Social Media Specialist
Are you proficient in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a number of the other social media sites used widely today? Why not turn that talent into a career by helping business owners better connect with their target audiences on these types of platforms and become a social media specialist?
Small Business Trends reports that, currently, only about half (52 percent to be exact) of all small businesses post on their social media accounts every day. That leaves the other 48 percent in desperate need of someone who is both willing and able to do this type of work for them.
The average annual salary for a social media specialist is $41,409 per year according to PayScale, though it can range from $27,686 to $58,002 annually. The BLS adds that earning this rate of income not only requires some comfortability with the various social media platforms, but also typically involves having the ability to really understand the audience you’re trying to reach so you know what types of posts will get the best results.
If you’ve been able to create your own large following on the platforms you regularly use, you may be able to use that to get your first social media-related job. Alternatively, if you know a business owner who could use some help with his or her social media pages, you could always offer to run their accounts for free.
This gives you something you can show prospective clients as proof that you know what you’re doing. Plus, if you do a good job and get a positive testimonial from this business owner, you’ve got a quote you can place on your website.
App / Software Developer
Did you know that there are roughly 2.1 million Android apps and another 2 million apps available through the Apple store? Those are the numbers provided by Statista, and they don’t even include the apps available through the Windows store (669,000), Amazon Appstore (450,000), and BlackBerry World (234,500).
With new apps being released every day, you could put your software development skills to work and earn a pretty decent income as an app or software developer. According to the BLS, the average income for individuals in this field is $103,560 per year (which equates to roughly $49.79 per hour).
If you’re not sure whether you’d like to do this full-time or even part-time as a solopreneur, you could always go through the motions of creating your own app to see whether it’s the right path for you. Do-it-yourself platforms like Appy Pie, Mobincube, Appsbar, and BuildFire give you the opportunity to play around a little and get a good feel for what it’d be like, and many of them are free.
Maybe during this trial process you’ll create an app that others will flock to and make yourself millions selling it, putting you in a position where you won’t have to work ever again. That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
Coder / Computer Programmer
Another online business idea for aspiring solopreneurs like you is to become a coder or computer programmer. This type of job is way over my head, but if you know how to “speak computer” enough to be able to tell one what to do, then more power to you.
As a computer programmer, you would essentially be responsible for writing and testing computer programs for businesses and other entrepreneurs. The BLS states that the average pay for someone working in this type of position is $82,240 per year, or $39.54 an hour.
Though many coders and programmers have had at least some formal education, whether via a college degree or some other type of training course, if you’re a self-taught computer whiz, this may not even be necessary. All you have to do is prove that you can do the work and that your programming and coding skills work and you’re ready to go.
Like with many of the other online jobs, getting your first bit of work in coding or computer programming may require reaching out to local small businesses or entrepreneurs who can use your skills. This enables you to create a portfolio that can help you get even more jobs, thus beginning your new career.
If your skills and passion revolve around making sure other business owners are organized and on time, becoming a virtual assistant may be the perfect one-person business option for you.
Personal branding expert Chris Ducker shares that there are many tasks that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant. Among them are emailing, booking appointments, doing follow-up, creating reports, building databases, recruiting, taking meeting minutes, and more.
The average hourly rate for a virtual assistant is $16.28 per hour according to Indeed. So, if you work 40 hours a week, you can expect to make somewhere around $651.20. That’s not a bad income considering that the BLS just reported that the average weekly income of all full-time workers in the U.S. is $887.
Yes, it is a little bit less, but you also don’t have to maintain a vehicle to drive to work, budget in money to eat out at lunchtime, or buy a lot of fancy, expensive clothes. So, this helps make up for the difference.
To start this type of solopreneur venture, Randy Duermyer—operator of The Web Go-To Guy, digital marketing manager and writer for Market It Write, and Google Adwords and Analytics consultant for The Tree Geek—shares that the first step is to decide what types of services you want to offer and who your ideal client would be.
Duermyer also recommends creating a LinkedIn page or website so businesses and entrepreneurs who could use your skills can find you more easily. Job posting boards are another way to find contractual positions in this line of work.
If your goal is to work online in a career you can do for yourself and by yourself, these are just a few options to consider. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get to work together on future projects. In that case, I look forward to meeting you and seeing your work!