How much can top freelancers earn in 2021? 

Xolo
Written by Xolo
on May 11, 2021

When you're considering entering into the world of freelancing, you'll definitely want to make sure you've chosen a field where you'll find plenty of work and be paid a competitive salary in exchange for your time and efforts. Here is a list of some of the fields that are most in demand in 2021, in addition to how much you can expect to earn:

How much can a machine learning engineer earn? 

What does a machine learning engineer do? As you probably guessed, the answer varies depending on your industry and experience! To put it simply, a machine learning engineer is responsible for building programs that analyse and learn from data and then improve their accuracy based on these learnings. A machine learning engineer will be hired to do everything from helping businesses to automate routine tasks, updating operational models, and ultimately figuring out how to do what every operational manager dreams of doing — build technology that will maximise the business' efficiency while optimising costs! 

ML engineering requires a strong foundation in applied math and algorithms, probability and statistics, and distributed computing as well as data science. This specialty also requires advanced knowledge of  programming languages such as Python/C++, R, and Java. A machine learning engineer in 2021 can expect to earn an average of $80 to $125 per hour.

How much can you earn in Programming and Software Development?

If you're wondering how much money you can make as a programmer or a software developer, the answer is, "Ummmmmm… a lot." Obviously your compensation rate will be in accordance with both your experience and the variety of coding languages you bring to the table, otherwise known as a programmers "stack." 

There's a reason that programming jobs, especially software and mobile app development, are the highest-paying freelance jobs out there. It's really hard work that requires you to constantly hone your skillset and adapt to an industry that moves at lightning speed. In 2021, a programmer at the top of his/her game can expect to bring in more than $1,000/hour. And while you obviously can't expect to earn this much when you're just starting out, a solid foundation in in-demand programming languages can earn you between $150 and $200 per hour. 

How much can you earn in Social Video Marketing?

If you're reading this and thinking, "What is social video marketing?" — know that you're not alone! This hot newcomer to the modern job market was ranked third on UpWorks Q2 fastest-growing skills list. And you have popular social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and everyone's newest favourite, TikTok — to thank for these skills being in such high demand!

What skills, you ask? Obviously creativity and video editing skills, for starters. But you'll also need to be able to optimise these videos for SEO and set yourself apart from the fierce competition who are all vying for viewers' eyeballs. If you can do all this, you're sure to have client's falling over each other to work with you. And as an added bonus, you'll be able to charge well over $150/hour for your time!

How much can you earn as a Content Writer?

Content writing is another freelancing opportunity that has experienced a major "glow-up" over the past few years. This is partially due to the fact that businesses across industries have grown to recognise content as a vital part of any healthy marketing strategy — hence, the term "content is king." The other reason freelance content writing has experienced a surge in popularity is that content writing is something that everyone assumes that they'll be dazzling successful at, right from the start! (Spoiler alert: it's not that simple.)

Successful content writers can bring in well over $5,000 a month crafting quality content for businesses. But before you get too excited, know that it takes more than just solid writing skills to find success in this field (though it certainly helps!). Good content writers need a deep well of creativity, fantastic research skills, and a solid understanding of both business fundamentals and human psychology. If you have the ability to inform, entertain and persuade your reader, all at the same time, then you'll have a bright future ahead as a freelance content writer! 

How much can you earn in Web Design and Development?

Web design and development have been riding high on a wave of demand over the past few years. But because of this demand, the market has become pretty crowded with new web designers. This might have to do with the fact that the barriers to entry in this industry are lower — it's relatively easy to learn the basics of web design and immediately start building websites for money. 

As a freelancer, it's always important to find a niche and specialise, but it's especially important in a crowded industry like web design. A web designer can expect to bring in between $20-$30/hour. This rate can be significantly higher if you've got both the skills and the tailored service offering for a targeted niche of clients.

How much can you earn as a Graphic Designer?

If you can believe it, graphic design holds the second spot on UpWork's most in-demand skills list where top freelance designers can make over $85 per hour. Graphic design is more than just having a "good eye" and some artistic talent. Top designers not only have to be up to date on all the latest and greatest design programs and trends, but they have to have a good understanding of business and marketing to ensure their design offers more than just aesthetically pleasing visuals.

Like so many other entries on this list, with graphic design it can pay to specialise in a specific industry or niche. Not only will it be that much easier to curate your offerings and keep your clients happy, but it'll be that much easier to gain recognition as being the best of the best when it comes to "logo design for artisan beekeepers based in Northern Europe." (A rather specific example, but that's exactly the point!)

How much can you earn as a Copywriter? 

While there is definitely overlap, Copywriter and Content Writer are two very different jobs. Both require creativity, research skills and you guessed it — solid writing abilities. But while content is a mechanism for teaching your target audience about the benefits derived from using your product or service, copywriting is where the persuasion and the hard sell comes in. 

An experienced freelance copywriter can easily earn $250/hour doing anything from writing website copy, to advertising headlines, to high-converting product descriptions. Many copywriters choose to specialise in a specific area or industry to streamline their product offering and attract a specific type of client. Copywriting means a significant chunk of your day will be spent both reading and writing. But if you've got a love for the written word and a passion for persuasion, copywriting could be your calling!

How much can you earn as a Translator?

If you're fluent in one of the more than 7,000 languages worldwide, you have a bright future as a freelance translator. As the world gets smaller and globalisation becomes the name of the game, companies are adapting their websites and marketing materials for new audiences who communicate in different languages. There's growing demand for translators who can effectively and authentically translate these materials into different languages. 

To be an effective translator calls for a lot of reading and writing — much like a professional writer would need to do. However, translators also need advanced analytical skills so they can fully grasp the meaning of the original text and then reproduce this same meaning into a second language. There are certain language combinations that will earn more than others. For example, Finnish to English, Japanese to English, Danish to English, English to Arabic, and English to Japanese are known for being in the very highest tier of  demand. German, French, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese also fall into the category of sought-after language skills. The median salary for a translator hovers around $50,0000 per year, with the top 25% in the industry earning closer to $70,000 annually. 

A freelancer at the top of their game will want to make sure that they can maximise their billable hours. Savvy freelancers use tools like Xolo Go to help them easily invoice clients across borders while minimising paperwork, so they can focus on doing what they love (and what makes them money!). Xolo Go automates complex, repetitive tasks like VAT calculations, allows freelancers to easily upload expenses to their freelancer dashboard, and gives a seamless overview of your cashflow in real time so you can run your business right!

For more in-demand freelance careers ideas, go here

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