Freelancers provide a variety of services across a range of different industries. But what freelance jobs pay the best?
The freelance jobs that pay the best are:
- Business consulting
- Web development
- Legal consulting
- Graphic design
- Software development
- SEO expertise
The Best Paying Freelance Jobs
Like any job, the rates you’re able to command as a freelancer depend on the industry, project, location, and your level of experience. For example, Payoneer’s 2020 Freelancer Income Report found that experienced freelancers aged over 55 earn double what freelancers under 24 earn. There will also always be extreme examples at each end of the pay scale in every industry.
In this article, we’ll look at average pay rates for freelancers and discuss seven of the highest-paying freelance jobs. But first, let’s take a look at some of the main trends in freelancing pay over the last few years, to find out what freelance jobs are in demand right now.
Note that all amounts quoted in brackets are estimates based on the current exchange rate, rounded to the nearest whole number for clarity.
Freelancing Pay Trends
The good news is that for several years there has been a general upward trend in freelancing pay rates across all industries. Between 2018 and 2020, the average hourly rate for a freelancer increased from $21 to $31 (£15.50 to £23), which is a 47% increase. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the average earnings of freelancers decreased slightly, likely due to the rise in the number of people freelancing, therefore increasing competition. For example, the average weekly earnings for a creative freelancer pre-pandemic were $583.33 (£430). During the pandemic, this fell to $406.70 (£300).
Do You Need Any Qualifications?
In the freelancing sector, formal qualifications don’t necessarily mean higher rates. Clients prioritise experience over qualifications, and freelancers with a high school level of education earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
The Freelancing Gender Pay Gap
Unfortunately, the freelancing sector is not immune to the gender pay gap. The percentage of females in the freelance workforce rose from 22% in 2015 to 39% in 2019. However, female freelancers still only earn 84% of what their male counterparts earn. While this is higher than the global average (64%), there’s still a long way to go!
So, these are some current general trends across the freelancing workforce. But which freelance jobs pay the most?
7 Freelance Jobs That Pay the Best
1. Business Consulting
Business consultants advise on specific business management issues. They help organisations improve performance, manage change, and increase growth. Business consultants usually have significant experience in their specific industry or management role. On Upwork, freelance business consultants earn between $28-$98 per hour (£20-£72), with many in HR management or IT security charging over $100 (£74).
Copywriters produce written content for businesses to use for their websites, emails, brochures, and other promotional materials. According to a ProCopywriters’ survey, the average daily rate for a copywriter in the UK is £379 ($513). That works out at £98,919 ($133,896) each year. This isn’t taking into account any days off however. So, the yearly salary of a freelancer will vary a lot depending on how many holidays they give themselves! With experience, the daily rate can go up to over £2,000 ($2,700).
3. Web Development
Most businesses have an online presence. To create and maintain their websites, organisations often hire freelance web developers. This is especially true for small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have the in-house capacity or knowledge to design and manage websites. While there is a lot of competition for these roles, the pay rates remain high. The average daily rate for a mid-level web developer is £250-£500 ($337-$675).
4. Legal Consulting
If you have a legal background combined with experience, freelancing as a legal consultant can be very lucrative. Legal firms, especially smaller ones, are increasingly seeking the services of freelance legal consultants to work on a particular matter or to provide advice on a specific issue. The rates for legal consulting vary greatly depending on your experience and area of practice. The average annual salary can range between $34,000 and $138,000 (£25,180 and £103,000).
5. Graphic Design
If graphic design is your area of expertise, then your earning potential is also huge. As a freelance graphic designer, you can expect to earn between £200-£400 per day ($270-$540) to create graphics and images for clients.
6. Software Development
Software developers design and build software to solve their client’s problems. They also monitor existing software to identify potential upgrades and troubleshoot any issues that arise. A 2020 study of jobs available on Upwork found that developers were the best-paid freelancers on the platform. Freelance software developers can earn between $25-$300 an hour (£18.50-£222).
7. SEO Expertise
Businesses know how important their search engine ranking results are, and so SEO expertise is in high demand. Organisations are willing to pay good money for SEO skills. The average rates for SEO experts range between $20-$75 per hour (£14.80-£55.50).
As you can see, several of the highest paying freelancing jobs are in the technology sector, and experts predict that this trend will continue.
What Freelance Jobs Are Most in Demand?
According to Upwork, the demand for freelance technology specialists is only going to increase. In particular, expertise in cloud computing, blockchain technology, and AI will continue to be in high demand for many years. So, if you have experience or qualifications in these areas, going freelance could be especially lucrative!