As a regular writer on Quora, a question I’m asked at least once a week is “Which freelance skills pay the best?” and my answer is often not what people were expecting. They’re often looking for a top five best-paying freelance skills or something like that, so they can decide which area to pursue. But there’s a different way to approach the question…
Turn it on its head
You can potentially earn a lot of money from any freelance job if:
- You’re skilled and knowledgeable in what you do.
- You can market yourself well and compete against others.
- You consistently deliver an outstanding client experience.
- You build up enough excellent feedback to demand higher market rates.
In other words, it’s much more about you personally and less about choosing a freelance skill that other people say pays well.
To become a successful freelancer, you need to be great at what you do. For most people, it takes a lot of time and effort to master a skill. This means it’s much easier to freelance in an area you’re already great at. Plus, trying to become a freelancer is difficult enough with the added difficulty of mastering a new skill.
As a freelancer, you’re competing against numerous other experienced freelancers, so you need to be able to convince clients that you’re worth hiring, which goes back to point #1. If you try to learn a new skill, it’ll take a long time before you can can compete against the best freelancers in the field, the ones who are commanding the best rates.
The simple fact is that you could pursue the best-paying freelance skill right now, but if you’re terrible at it and your clients are unhappy with your work, then you won’t earn much or build up a good reputation. The worst marketer will earn less than the best virtual administrator. It’s all about delighting your clients and establishing an amazing reputation.
The sad fact is that most freelance jobs don’t pay well from the start. You don’t just learn a skill, then suddenly command the best market rates. Many freelancers earn entry-level rates until they’ve gained enough experience and great feedback to compete against established freelancers and land the best-paying clients.
So, how do you choose which area to freelance in?
For me, the answer is simple. Freelancing presents the opportunity to get paid for what you love doing, whatever that skill may be. If you want a long-term, fulfilling freelancing career, then choose something you’re already great at and love doing. Don’t just choose a skill because it pays well, then discover you’re terrible at it or hate doing it.
If you’re not sure what to choose, do a self-assessment to see where your skills and interests lie, then match this to a freelance job—rather than trying to match yourself to a well-paying job. Once you’ve done that, work on marketing yourself and exceeding client expectations to build your freelance reputation. All of these ingredients together can lead to a very well-paying and long-lasting freelance career—one that you love.
Have you chosen your freelance area? Which did you choose? Comment below or get in touch.