Wondering where to get started with finding your first online job can be difficult. Maybe you’re looking for a full-time career or a side-hustle alongside what you’re already up to.
Here, we’ve listed twenty of our favourite and realistic jobs for freelancers and digital nomads, as well as some tips for avoiding scams, marketing yourself as a freelancer, and receiving payments from abroad.
Some of these jobs are perfect for entry-level positions and some will require some prior knowledge or skills. My advice is: if you have your eye on something you’ll require some skills for but know you’ll be able to manage one of these pathways immediately is to go for it now and use that extra free time to level up your skills in other areas.
Too many people stay at a position they hate only to feel too defeated or overworked to accomplish the goals they’ve set themself to go freelance in the first place.
That’s not to say life as a freelancer is a walk in the park. On average, freelancers work more hours than traditionally employed people and the unpredictable nature of your income, especially in the beginning, can cause immense stress.
But the lifestyle change is enough to give many people that mental boost or extra time to work on their passions.
Find the Perfect Online Job For You
Some of these options will be more suited to side gigs that you can fit alongside your main gig and many are full-blown careers that you can work on and hone your skills over the years to come. Here are some of the best online jobs for digital nomads and freelancers.
1) Freelance Writer
Freelance writing is one of the easier entry-points as a new freelancer and also one of the most difficult to develop to a high level and earn a living wage.
There is a lot of incredibly low-paid work floating around and unless you establish yourself within a niche (of a few niches), ideally one that’s known as being well paid, you’ll quickly find yourself working for below minimum wage.
Despite that, it’s an incredibly satisfying job, especially if you love the topics you’re writing about. Plus you really can work anywhere and on your own schedule.
First, you need to decide which style of writing you’re most interested in.
This typically involves writing copy for websites including sales pages, product descriptions, and home page text. It can also involve writing press releases and general writing for brands. There are plenty of courses you can take to nail the style you need for this and there is a lot of work available.
You have to be careful not to get sucked in with content mills (agencies that provide lots of work for very low pay) and approach brands yourself or find individual listings on job boards. It’s a good idea to niche yourself down to a sector (such as the luxury sector, or nonprofit) so you can significantly improve your skills nailing the tone you’ll need for that area,
Article and Blog Writer:
If you want to see your name on your work (unless you’re ghostwriting) then an article or a blog writer is going to be the way forward for you.
The range of topics you can write about is infinite and if you enjoy research, opinion-based writing, or want to share your knowledge with others then you will enjoy being an article or blog writer. You’ll need to get good at pitching as you’ll likely need to find your work yourself.
Lucrative sectors include medical writing, educational writing, and any kind of technical or finance writing. More challenging areas include travel writing, reviews, wellbeing, and food, though these are, by no means, impossible to find work in.
2) Online Teacher or Tutor
If you’re a qualified teacher then you should absolutely go down the tutoring route. There are many companies that will pay $50 – $75 an hour depending on your qualifications, with many ex-teachers earning their teaching salary online.
There’s also nothing stopping you from setting up your own online tutoring business if you have a specific skill that you want to share and are prepared to market yourself.
If you’re new to teaching or don’t have the right qualifications to become a tutor then there are plenty of online jobs to be had teaching English online to students (typically in Asia).
You’re typically paid around $20 an hour, though your hours are not always filled to capacity so you may find yourself getting less work than you wanted. Most companies also offer significant bonuses for referring other teachers.
Read More: A Complete Guide to Teaching Online
If you’re confident in your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and tone, why not hire yourself out as a proofreader? This is a skill you can offer on sites like Fivver and Upwork of you can set up a website and offer packages.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to small businesses and blogger who may want nothing more than a second pair of eyes on their content.
4) Social Media Manager
This is another standard entry point for people who want to work online with a steep learning curve if you want to be good at your job and earn well. However, there is no end to the small businesses and bloggers who need help with their social media.
Most people who run a business find managing their social media presence incredibly overwhelming and if you enjoy doing it then this could be the best option for you.
Make sure to take a couple of courses online and aim to specialise in one or two platforms. People who need help with Pinterest, for example, are more likely to look for a Pinterest specialist than someone who offers everything.
I’d also recommend having a website and work on building up your own social media presence for your professional brand. It’s unfortunate but many clients will look at your own social media to get a glimpse of what you can do. You can counter this by having great testimonials and examples of your successes on your website.
5) Graphic Designer
If you’re a professional graphic designer, you’ll probably be wary of the extent people rely on Canva these days. While it’s a great tool, making marketing accessible for people who don’t have the resources to pay a professional, that doesn’t mean people aren’t willing to pay top dollar for a fantastic graphic designer.
Anything from logos and branding, to illustrative; work there is so much demand for designers now. Showcase your work online, specialise in something specific and go find your clients. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to people who you think could use your help and politely show them what you can do.
If you speak more than one language fluently then picking up some work translating might be an ideal way for you to earn money. One of the biggest factors of translating is deciding what kind of translator you want to be.
Do you want to translate manuals, product descriptions, or general marketing texts? Do you want to enter the difficult world of literary translation or translation for TV and video games? Once you’ve decided the kind of work you’d ideally like to do as a translator then you can set up a website and start putting yourself out there for work.
Read More: 10 Essential Freelancer Tips for Beginners
7) Transcriber/ Audio to Text Services
If you’re looking to make a bit extra money, transcribing work is incredibly flexible and can fit around other online jobs easily. It can get quite boring to do it all day every day but if you enjoy it, there’s plenty of work to be found on job boards like Upwork.
Turning podcasts and youtube videos into blog posts or emails is also a way you can make money if you enjoy listening to audio and also writing. If you see that a blogger or small business also has a podcast or youtube channel then why not reach out to see if they need help?
8) Virtual Assistant
There are so many blogs, websites, and Facebook groups that can help you if you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant and it’s a wonderful way to start a business and choose the tasks you enjoy.
It’s ideal if you’re tech-savvy and a good communicator as you’ll need to communicate with the individuals you’ll be providing assistant too which could be anything from helping a small business out with their emails, scheduling their social media posts, content writing, taking calls, lead generation, or even managing someone’s schedule.
If you’re interested in this route, then having a website and a presence on Facebook or Instagram would be helpful, and listing your services on sites like Fivver could be helpful in the first instance.
Becoming a freelance recruiter can be a lucrative career option and is a position most companies end up outsourcing as perusing LinkedIn, reading CVs, and vetting prospective employees is a very time-consuming task.
This is an ideal position if you already have some experience as a recruiter but if not it’s still possible. You’ll need a fantastic LinkedIn page, take a look at other independent recruiters’ pages to get some ideas, and you’ll need to decide whether you want to become a corporate or agency recruiter.
Take some time to join FB groups with other recruiters to network and pick up the skills you need. This is also an avenue where taking an online course or two will be very helpful.
10) Freelance Reader
If you enjoy reading (even the bad stuff) and giving your opinions on what you read then this gig could be an ideal side gig for you.
Readers typically work with literary agencies and help them sort through the deluge of submissions they get by reading for them and picking out the gems. You’ll be provided with free infinite reading material and can be paid between $30 – $120 a manuscript.
11) Website Designer
If you’ve already got the skills to design websites then this is a fantastic way to earn money online. You’ll need some examples of your work (ideally on your own website).
If you’d like to acquire this skill, then a great way to get started is learning to make sites on WordPress for bloggers. Most bloggers want a certain style and will typically use a theme that will require some basic customization and tweaks to suit their vision. This can be an easy entry point for you.
You can then work on levelling up your skills by studying HTML and CSS (Codecademy is a great and free, place to learn), learning about great colour and font combinations depending on branding, and practice making more complex custom websites. Join some FB groups with other web designers to learn from other
12) Blogger/Niche Website Owner
This is by no means a quick way to make money but if you have a topic you’re passionate enough about and are prepared to essentially work for free for a few months (possibly up to a year) then the rewards are excellent.
It also comes with an active community and a wealth of free information (thanks to other blogs) about getting started. Your main initial investment will be in purchasing a monthly hosting plan and domain.
13) Freelance Bookkeeping/Accounting
With so many people starting their own online business, there’s one thing that each one will eventually need and that’s support with accounting. If you’re already qualified and know what you’re doing then this is a great way to pursue your career online and with more flexibility.
You’ll need to set yourself up with a website and service packages and be prepared to share on social media so people can find you. Aside from that, you’ll simply need your laptop and business insurance and you can find a steady bookkeeping career online.
14) Start a YouTube Channel or Podcast
Similarly to blogging, this isn’t a quick way to earning a steady income but, if you have a topic you’re interested in, this can be a great way to monetize it. These can also be wonderful ways to market yourself and your freelance job
You can easily talk about your industry online to help others access your industry, teach some of the skills you’ve had to learn, or listen to industry experts. With YouTube and podcasts, you’ll typically be looking at sponsorships and ad revenue as income.
15) SEO Consultant
If you’re interested in Search Engine Optimization and want to be working in an in-demand, everchanging environment that you will need to keep up with then this avenue could be for you.
Every website, blog, and business is looking to rank highly in Google search and there’s a complex world behind getting your contact ranking highly which most people have zero – to surface level knowledge of.
This is an industry where people will often take a cursory knowledge of and claim to be SEO experts which can be frustrating for people who dedicate time to their industry but also makes it easy for you to set yourself apart by putting in the work.
You’ll need to learn how to use WordPress since most websites are built on this CMS and take a course that talks about the terminology, the importance of user intent, how search engines work, as well as how to optimize content. Technical SEO is also incredibly important to the success of a website.
You’ll also need to properly understand Google Analytics and Google Search Console, luckily Google offers free courses to get to grip with this.
It’s a fascinating field and perfect for freelancers with a passion to get involved in.
16) Email Marketing Specialist
Much like social media management, email marketing is something many small businesses and bloggers are keen to outsource. It’s an incredibly important part of any business and also one of the most time-consuming.
To work freelance in this area you should typically have a background or keen interest in marketing. Tasks you’ll be doing include: creating and segmenting email lists, designing and writing emails based on a company brief, drive sales using effective campaigns.
If you’re interested in this area, then taking some online courses to hone your skills will be ideal and also deciding what kind of company/ area you’d like to specialise in. Finally, create a great LinkedIn profile and website to market your skills.
17) Photographer or Videographer
If you know your way around a camera then working as a photographer or videographer can be incredibly satisfying and lucrative.
There are many ways to approach this kind of career, though one of the first avenues is to get your work up on stock sites (BlackBox is fantastic for anyone sharing stock footage) and start selling prints. Take some time to learn about what kind of footage and photos sell best and also get to grips with what content is popular seasonally.
18) Voicework (Voiceover and Audiobooks)
If you’ve been complimented on your voice and have access to a decent microphone then getting into voice work could be for you. It’s a competitive industry but fairly easy to get started narrating audiobooks, a go-to site is ACX. Posting voice clips on your website, creating a showreel, and having your own podcast can be great ways to show off your talent.
19) Etsy Storeowner
Having your own store on Etsy is a great way to monetize a creative hobby of yours whether it’s making a physical item or a digital product. If you’re able to make printables or ebooks then this is something you sell on there with no further work after the initial output.
If you already sell viable products on your own website then there’s no harm also having them up on Etsy to increase the eyes on your items.
20) Software Engineer/ Programmer
If you’re a skilled programmer or software engineer then starting your own business and offering your services on a freelance basis is a wonderful way to work on projects you love. Make sure you know your rates compared to the speed you work to make sure you’re being paid fairly as the average client may have no idea how long a project can take.
How to Market Your Freelance Services
If you’re a freelancer and not working remotely for a company, then learning how to market yourself has to, unfortunately, become part of your skillset quickly.
We’ve gone into this in detail in our ‘guide to selling your skills and finding clients’ but some quick tips include getting a LinkedIn page up and running and share your freelance work and achievements there.
You can also get a personal website or portfolio set up, listing the work you offer and your previous achievements and projects, and researching clients and companies you potentially would love to work with and cold-emailing them.
Five Ways to Spot an Online Job Scam
- If it’s too good to be true, it often is. People always revert to this mantra and it’s true. Whenever I’ve almost fallen for a scam I’ve always at some point along the line had a gut feeling or a feeling that I’ve ignored. Too good to be true can be that the pay is too high or it sounds too easy.
- If you’ve been contacted rather than the other way around. It’s very rare that someone will reach out to you for a job and if this does happen, it will typically be a recruiter. If you’ve been reached out to by an employer and they seem overly enthusiastic, this is likely a scam. If you’ve got the job very quickly without the usual due process then this is another sign that you may be a victim of a scam.
- If the job description is vague, scammers don’t tend to put too much effort into the detail of the position. Real job ads will have specific requirements about your education, what you’ll be up to and what they expect of you.
- If you can’t find out much about the company or employer after a google search then consider this a red flag. Most people, and even small companies, have some presence online that you should be able to find.
- If you’re being asked to part with any money at all. Just walk away.
Where to Get Paid for Freelance Work
If you’re getting paid from multiple places in multiple currencies then I highly recommend a Wise bank account. They have the best transfer rates and it’ll also be easier when it comes to paying taxes if your online work is kept separate from your personal bank account.
You can now also get a personal or business debit card attached to your Wise account.
I’d avoid using Paypal where possible because of their fees and instead use Wise or Payoneer to receive money from abroad to avoid these hefty fees. You can then transfer this money to your personal account.
Thank you for reading this guide to finding the right freelance work for you. If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing.