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Where the Freelance Money Is

Some freelance Solopreneurs are more likely to earn the coveted but elusive six figure annual revenue than others. Maybe you could, too, with some good luck and timing paired with skills that open doors. Here are six potentially lucrative occupations that attract freelancers.


Magazines do not often pay $2.00⁄word anymore and there are very few 5000 word articles being commissioned in this era of short attention spans, but allegedly a number of Solopreneurs still able to pull in big money through writing assignments of various kinds.

This category includes not only magazine and newspaper article generation, but also content marketing copy for white papers, blogs and newsletters. I am acquainted with two or three writers who make a respectable living in the latter category. There are occasional dry spells, but the money is there.


I have a friend who regularly gets assignments translating Arabic and German to English and vice versa. According to the American Translators Association, their certified translators average $72,000⁄year and those without that certification average $53,000 annually. As you'd expect, much depends upon the language you translate. No surprise that there is a big demand for Spanish translation, with Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), French, German, Japanese and Korean also showing strong demand.


Photography has long had the potential to produce a healthy income for freelancers. Wedding photographers have traditionally commanded large sums and they continue to do so, in spite of robust competition from videographers. Portrait photographers also command high prices - business owners and corporate execs need a professional headshot for websites, annual reports and other promotional uses.

E-commerce fattens the wallets of product photographers, who make items sold on-line look appealing. Food photography and fashion photography are lucrative sub-specialties. Those lucky enough to have an "in" with colleges and⁄or big corporations can make a nice living, as do those who have relationships with busy special event planners. The downside is that good cameras and Adobe Photo Shop editing software are expensive.

SEO Search Engine Optimization

Freelancers who hope to drive traffic to their website pay freelance colleagues for this potentially revenue-generating service. Those new to the field can expect to bill $50.00⁄hour and allegedly the best known can command up to $500.00⁄hour from big corporate clients. It is furthermore essential to be well- versed in the various metrics that prove your worth to clients, so that satisfied customers can be recruited to give testimonials that help you obtain more clients.

Mobile App Development

Writing software applications for cell phones and tablets lured one million freelancers to the field in 2010 and no doubt that number has grown significantly. App development is like a modern day gold rush, for better and worse.

As stated in an article in the New York Times, the majority are not making money in the app development business and that is the usual scenario. Author David Streitfeld detailed the apparently typical app developer experience in his comprehensive article (11⁄17⁄2012) and advised "don't quit your day job" as he compared developing for Apple to sharecropping. Still, you may be the one who can retire on the residuals of the next Angry Birds, Instagram or SnapChat. Another downside is that you must spend a hefty sum on the technology needed to test your apps in development.

Social Media Strategy

Millions of Solopreneurs and owners of businesses large and small feel that social media cannot be ignored. Smart business leaders have always known that marketing and brand reinforcement are ongoing initiatives. Keeping up with social media is time-consuming and understanding the platforms that yield the best ROI for your enterprise may require the services of a specialist.

If you can convince decision-makers that you know how to choose social media that encourages sales and you can plan and execute a social media campaign, you will be off to the races. Newbies to the field can expect to bill $25.00⁄hour and top-drawer known experts can allegedly bill $250.00⁄hour to big corporate clients.

Kim L. Clark is a strategy and marketing consultant who works with for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders who must achieve business goals. Kim is the founder and principal of the consulting firm Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn how your business can benefit when you work with Kim Polished Professionals of Boston.

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