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3 Cool Freelance Business Ideas | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

3 Cool Freelance Business Ideas

Date February 18, 2008


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I love researching freelance businesses. In fact, that’s really my intent for this blog—to help others find inspiring ideas so they can make the leap from employee to freelancer. When I’m snooping around for ideas, I use three criteria to determine if something warrants the freelance seal of approval.

I define a freelancer as anyone who owns (or wants to own) a business which provides 1) at least a middle class income 2) gives the owner the flexibility to work whenever and wherever they want and 3) the core business service(s) requires a computer.

Defining “middle class income” can be a little subjective. First, there’s no sense in starting a business if it leaves you worse off financially from your last job. However, if you plan well, you can actually afford to work less, thereby freeing up more time to do other things. Middle class income—to me—means you’re able to pay all your bills, sock a little away for later, and take time off every once in a while.

As for working whenever and wherever, I’m referring to time of day and work location respectively. I like to get up early and work in my home office. Others may like to work later in the day, or at night. It doesn’t necessarily refer to travelling the globe while maintaining a business. Granted, it’s possible, but may not be for you until you’ve established yourself. Personally, I can’t work if I know there’s a beach or swimming pool within a few hundred feet.

Finally, a freelance business should require a computer to perform the core service offerings. Here’s why I’m including this caveat: I have a friend who runs a lawn care company 5 months out of the year. The money is great. So great that he’s able to take the winter off, pay all his bills, and go snowboarding every weekend. Technically, he would qualify as a freelancer. But, he works like a horse all summer and has considerable expenses. For most people, this isn’t viable. That’s why I’m sticking with businesses that require a computer to be run successfully.

With that, below are three freelance business ideas with corresponding sub-niches.

Web Specialty Programmer/Designer

– Form designer/programmer: This is actually a two in one idea. You can perform the actual programming (with the help of tools) and the user interface design. How do you compete with the online form services? Security and extreme customization. Many default web host scripts are inherently insecure, exposing your script location for spammers. And, of course, you can integrate a form to match the look and feel of a site.

– PayPal site integrator: As more people become accustomed to PayPal (thanks in large part to eBay), more merchants are willing to use PayPal as their primary credit card processing provider. You’ll be advising clients on how best to integrate PayPal into their sites. Finding and recommending good online shopping cart applications will help to add value to your services.

– Membership site integrator: There are good membership scripts commercially available so you won’t have to do any programming. What you’ll be doing is setting up the script on the client’s Web host, adding test data, and making sure everything works. Once the script works, then you can complete the site integration to match the site’s look and feel.

Virtual Assistant

– MS Office Document Specialist: As Microsoft continues to upgrade their Office application, so too they require users to upgrade their skills. Your specialty is in knowing how each version works and, in turn, working with clients to customize documents, spreadsheets, and databases. You can also offer to convert documents into other versions, or, change files into PDF format for universal compatibility.

– Author researcher: You don’t have to work with famous authors to be successful in this business. Internet entrepreneurs are looking for people to research and write ebooks and articles. Instead of doing the writing, you can offer your services as a detailed research assistant. To further niche yourself, you can focus on a specific genre (science fiction, self help) or a specific topic areas (lawn care, networking).

Blogging Consultant

– Setup/training/design: There are many free blogging services available but they may not always be suitable for a client. You help others setup a blog and train them on how to use the application. The fun part is actually customizing (or designing from scratch) the blog template. I’ve seen designers offering custom WordPress designs for $500 a pop.

– Blog network builder: This is a service that can be offered to Internet marketers or others who want to build multiple blogs. Famous examples include B5 Media and WeBlogs. You may actually be called on to do the setup, designing, and continuous writing. If the networks you build are large, you’ll more than likely have to hire freelance writers for daily blog postings.

As always, I welcome your comments—especially if you’re currently providing these services on a freelance basis.

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One Response to “3 Cool Freelance Business Ideas”

  1. Nate said:

    Great post you pretty much hit the nail right on the head about being a freelancer.

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