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10 best freelance gigs of should 2017

If you don’t already have a side hustle, 2017 might be the year you finally get one.

According to Forbes, more workers than ever are taking on extra gigs outside of their primary employment – and a big percentage of those workers are opting to become their own bosses, too.

“Freelancers now make up 35% of U.S. workers and collectively earned $1 trillion in the past year,” reports business writer Elaine Pofeldt – and all trends indicate the freelance economy will continue to grow this year.

If you want to transition into freelance while you’re still working full-time (smart idea, by the way), here are some of the fastest growing-industries where you can stake your claim as a freelancer.

1. Marketing

As both digital and video marketing upend traditional marketing and PR services, companies of all sizes are hiring independent contractors to pick up the slack.

And while it’s true that you might not have the same clout as an agency team when you’re out on your own, plenty of marketing firms mix staff and freelance workers.

“According to ClickZ's The State of Creative Agency Land, 80% of respondents work in agencies that are partially staffed by freelancers, and 15% said that freelancers make up half of their workforce or more,” reports Michael Brown at HubSpot.

If you already have some marketing experience at a major agency under your belt and you’ve been thinking about going freelance, now may be the time. It’s already becoming an industry norm.

2. Business Consulting

A consultant is basically an independent contractor on steroids. You can get hired to share your insights about everything from branding to scalability and organizational planning – and make big bucks in the process.

Your expertise – and your experience – in a particular industry or niche is what will set you apart from other freelancers, explains Shannon Belew at The Balance.

“For instance, a marketing consultant may be hired to conduct competitor research, organize focus groups, oversee the development of an ad campaign and write a marketing plan,” writes Belew.

“For that reason, the work may occur as part of a long-term or ongoing commitment, as opposed to having a definitive start and finish date across only a few weeks.”

This long-term relationship can help you leverage more security – and better pay, too.

3. Graphic Design

Polished, innovative graphic design is no longer a luxury for even the smallest of companies – it’s a necessity.

And if you’re a graphic designer living in a major city or tech hub, your prospects for employment are not only high – they’re getting better all the time.

“Opportunities [for freelancers] have grown exponentially over time, especially in hip cities like Los Angeles, New York, Denver, and Seattle,” explain the editors of the Paychex.com blog, a resource about all things money, developed by the payment processing company. “Freelance graphic designers, for instance, command some of the highest rates in these locations, according to the AIGA.”

With a killer design portfolio and an hourly or project rate, you can take new clients by storm like the “hip” creative you are.

4. Web Development

Just about every company or entrepreneur out there needs a sleek online presence to attract high-paying clientele, which means they’ll need a savvy web developer in their corner.

The good news is you’ll be eminently hireable as a freelance web developer. To kick it up a notch, according to the CareerFoundry blog, you should consider niche-ing your services.

“Wanna stand out from the crowd? Find yourself a niche, find a web development course and upgrade your skills,” writes Emil Lamprecht. “While it’s great to be a programmer that can do a bit of everything, your value will be higher as an expert in just a few.”

The more you leverage your specific experiences to land interesting projects – and clients – the better off you’ll be. With a little know-how and some business savvy, you can make 2017 the year you jump ship from your desk job.

5. Social Media

While it sounds like a ton of fun to run a social media account, even for a corporate behemoth, the best social media managers are savvy, data-driven marketers who know what their skills are worth.

“As consumers increasingly look to connect with brands via Facebook Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more, social media managers who can oversee and grow those interactions are in demand,” confirms CNN Money, which named social media manager one of its top jobs of 2017.

Turns out when you know how to “write posts, guard against inappropriate comments, build memes, and direct customer complaints that come in via social,” you can find yourself a job in no time flat.

6. VA & Customer Service

When you’re an entrepreneur at the beginning stages of expanding your business, it can be tough to deliver high-level client services and get all the day-to-day business stuff done.

That’s where a bright, organized, and customer-responsive contract worker can make all the difference. And, according to the Financial Times of London, this sector of the labor market is still growing.

“The growth in the use of virtual assistants is partly demand-led,” explains Ian Wylie. “Time Etc, whose clients pay £19-£27 per hour, has been offering its services since 2007 and has grown to a size that makes it something of a bellwether for this service sector niche, complete with a US arm.”

Wylie goes on to explain that this growth is partly due to increased need for assistants – and partly due to an increase in the number of workers who want to enjoy the flexibility of freelancing.

As full-time budgets shrink and staffing needs increase, it’s ever more possible to work as an assistant – on your own terms – from home.

7. Content Marketing

Companies both large and small know how important it is to develop content their users depend on, from informative, branded blog posts, to engaging social media feeds.

But finding top-notch copywriters who can turn around client projects quickly isn’t always easy. That’s why content marketing pros have an incredible opportunity in the freelance marketplace, says Kerry Jones at HubSpot.

“Although content marketing has a low volume of [search] results [in a recent survey of job posts], it has seen significant growth,” writes Jones. “The number of job listings on Indeed containing ‘content marketing’ or ‘content strategy’ grew by nearly 350% between 2011 and 2015.”

This may be because content marketing was still getting off the ground in the early 2010s, but if you have a broad range of copywriting and online marketing skills, 2017 is your year to shine.

8. Software Engineer

In a survey of the best jobs for 2017, CNN ranked software developer #9 – partly because job growth is only expected to go up over the next ten years.

“From the games in a smartphone to the tools that map a genome, software developers write the programs that run our lives,” write the editors of CNN Money.

“The work runs across all levels of the process – research, design, writing and testing – and all the way to the final product,” the editors note.

Market yourself as a freelancer who’s experienced in one – or all – of these phases, and you’ll be set.

9. Video Production

As marketing firms turn their attention to video, they’ll need to hire experts who can wield a camera – and handle all the behind-the-scenes editing tasks that make a video go viral.

According to DCR Workforce, a vendor management system that also offers employer and data insights, video production job growth is on the rise.

“General video services – including video uploads, video broadcast, video production, and video editing – have experienced a job growth of 64.3 percent since 2014,” write the blog’s editors.

As with other forms of marketing, you’d do well to find a niche for your services – but employers also like to know that you have a broad range of skills to fill in the knowledge gaps of full-time staff.

10. Teaching & Tutoring

Traditionally, educators in the U.S. have made criminally-low salaries.

But if you’re good at working with people and breaking down complicated processes into easy-to-follow steps, you might be able to take advantage of one of the fastest-growing online industries out there: online education.

As online course platforms like Teachable and Skillshare make it easier for instructors to connect with students, now’s the time for you to finally launch your “Viral Animal Memes” course and rake in the dough.

Striking out on your own may be scary, but if you have the right set of skills it can be worth the risks.

Whether you’re an expert in shares, clicks, and likes, or you just want to break free from designing websites in your cubicle, the market is ripe for embracing the freelance gig economy.

Remember to test the waters first by taking on a few client projects while you’re still at your full-time job.

When you feel like you have the hang of it, start marketing your services and working those networks – you might be surprised at how well you do. And, if you’re like other freelancers we know, you’ll probably never want to go back to your 9-5!

Have you made the leap to a freelance career? Tell us how you transitioned from your desk job in the comments below:

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