Freelancing isn’t just for writers and graphic designers anymore. If you haven’t checked in on the gig economy lately, you may not have noticed that a wide variety of freelance careers are now possible — and more every day.

The gig economy is growing because the nature of work is changing. Professionals want more flexibility and control over their own fate. Employers (including individuals) want more flexibility in how they hire. And technology is making it possible to “go freelance” in some surprising ways. Ambitious and creative people are building freelance careers in fields you might not expect.

Sometimes the range surprises even us, but it shouldn’t. When it comes to the gig economy, keep this simple rule of thumb in mind: if it can be done on a project-basis, you can build a freelance career around it.

We’re maintaining this list of freelance jobs to give clear definitions and descriptions of all of kinds of independent contractor we come across in our conversations with Nation1099.

Best Freelance Websites Post

This list of freelance careers will help you:

  • Understand how to brand yourself to prospective clients.
  • Clarify what types of freelance jobs you want to pursue.
  • Narrow down the kinds of freelancers you need to hire for your projects.

We also have profiles of many freelancers working in these careers as part of our Meet the Indi series. Follow those links below to learn more about the day-t0-day life of a freelancer. (If you know someone in the categories below who we should profile, please contact us.)

Freelance Marketing Careers

Potential customers

Marketing has become a fascinating mix of art and a science in recent years, requiring creativity, analytical skills and a lot of tech savvy. Marketing has room for many types of specialized freelance jobs. Even if you are not currently looking for creatives in all of these roles, reading through this list of marketing-related freelance careers will give you a better understanding of the kind of work you need to prioritize to get your business out there.

Onsite SEO – Onsite in this case doesn’t mean they work on location at your offices. It means they work directly on your website. The onsite SEO helps businesses and their websites rank highly in search engines like Google and Bing. They research good keyword opportunities and implement them strategically into the client’s onsite copy . Many content writers double as onsite SEOs.

Offsite SEO – Similarly, offsite in this case doesn’t refer to whether come to your office at not. It refers to where on the internet they work their magic. Offsite SEOs build or generate backlinks to websites and specific pieces of content. They accomplish this through building relationships on social media, targeted email outreach and soliciting guest posts.

Paid Search Marketer – Also known as an SEM (search engine marketer) or PPC (pay per click), these individuals create and deliver targeted text ads (and deliver image and video ads as well) to search engine users. They create advertising campaigns, bid on select keywords, manage automation settings and drive types of conversion-ready traffic to websites via Google Adwords, Bing Ads, and, more recently, Facebook. More to the point, a good freelance SEM consultant will know which platforms are right for you right now as trends change.

Freelance Publicist – These creative marketing freelancers craft press releases and build relationships with editors, online or off. Publicists tap into their extensive contact databases in their niches to get valuable media placements for clients.

Crisis Management Publicist – A specific subsection of publicists who deal with the fallout from a clients’ PR blunders (What were they thinking?) and help recover their standing in the public eye.

A Freelance Public Relations Pro Discusses Acquiring Clients and Managing Crisis

Email Marketer – The person tasked with building a business’ email list and keeping their subscribers purchase-ready and engaged. They create newsletters, carry out opt-in strategies and drive subscriber action. They should understand drip campaigns, segmenting, how to use automation effectively and analytics.

Content Marketer / Strategist / Director – A general term used to describe a well-rounded marketing professional who creates or curates various forms of written and visual promotional content for businesses. This individual creates and executes an overarching strategy for their marketing and branding campaigns.

A Freelance Marketing Specialist On Standing Out in Today’s Gig Economy

Social Media Manager (SMO) – An individual who manages multiple social media channels for brands including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. They are responsible for planning posts, scheduling content and carrying out strategies to increase engagement and followers on these platforms.

Community Manager – While occasionally included in the SMO description, there is a difference between the two. A community manager is a proactive brand ambassador who ventures out into forums, tastemakers and social media platforms and starts conversations and builds relationships around the brands they represent.

E-Commerce Manager – A sales-oriented marketing professional savvy in SEO, paid search, web design best practices, e-commerce applications and branded advertising. Building a freelance career in this area doesn’t require being able to do all of these things, but you need to be able to give effective direction to other team members in these roles to ultimately drive more client sales.

Product Manager – The strategist and marketing architect of a specific product or product line. The product manager is responsible for deciding which features are necessary in the product, creating a release plan for it and determining a global strategy for marketing it. They give executive direction to all personnel working on their product.

Project Manager – The project manager role varies extensively by the unique demands of each industry, but the job consistently entails managing communications and milestones with  all the people involved with a specific project or multiple projects and seeing to it that clients receive their deliverables on time and to their satisfaction.

Digital Agency Director – A high-level freelancer who has assembled their own team of consistent subcontracted collaborators. This individual or solopreneur is able to offer clients an extensive suite of services from their team and functions more as the global strategist and customer service point person, rather than a creator of deliverables.

A Freelance Digital Marketing Director Puts His Past Experience To Work

Administrative Careers

Freelance admin

Virtual Assistant – A capable remote jack-of-all-trades. Virtual assistants help busy professionals — including other freelancers sometimes — manage their day-to-day responsibilities. A freelance VA might handle email outreach, social media upkeep, media requests, scheduling and other business-related tasks.

Lessons in Growth from a Freelance Virtual Assistant

Administrative Assistant – An individual who handles a variety of clerical duties for clients like appointment scheduling, information sharing and client documentation. Administrative assistants have also been known to manage some accounting and customer service duties.

Bookkeeper – Bookkeepers and are finding a lot of opportunity to grow freelance careers in the gig economy because the job lends itself to remote work. These are dedicated business accountants and specialists who know accounting software like Quickbooks. They manage reporting earnings and tax information for companies and individuals like other freelancers.

How This Freelance Quickbooks Specialist Find a Niche 

Freelance Writing Careers

freelancers working on typewriters

With the battle for best content raging, freelance writing jobs have also taken on a new level of specificity , and many of them require more online marketing savvy.

Copywriter – Copywriters create the promotional text that appears on websites, advertisements and other promotional assets. Their work is intended to establish brand authority, provide clear direction to the customer and drive sales.

This Freelance Copywriter Shares How She Builds Her Business By Being True to Her Personal Style

Content Writer – The copywriter’s long-form cousin. Content writers create blog posts, feature-length articles, ebooks, whitepapers, how-to-guides and other forms of branded content intended to grow brand authority, improve search visibility and build a dedicated following.

Freelance Journalist – The original freelance job. Freelance journalists write news and feature articles for online and print publications. Many freelance journalists also contribute opinion pieces on their topics of expertise on a recurring basis to a variety of outlets. Many journalists are finding that content marketing is a place where their particular skills are in high demand.

Professional Blogger – An individual of any potential background who has built an audience around their knowledge and has created a steady income stream via banner advertising, affiliate marketing or selling their own products.

Technical Writer – The meticulous people who create the instruction guides and manuals that accompany any new piece of software or technology you purchase. They excel at describing complex tasks in clear, logical and concise language.

Product Reviewer – Niche specialists in any field that create detailed reviews of new products, software, courses and services.

White Paper Writer – High-level content writers with analytical minds who consolidate data and customer feedback into encompassing case studies businesses can use for reference when attracting new customers.

Freelance Writing Jobs Guide

Managing Editor – Sometimes referred to as the “content editor,” managing editors shape the vision and mission of a publication’s content and oversee the process for soliciting, curating, scheduling and presenting the written (and sometimes non-written) content.

Proof Reader – Grammar and syntax experts who can quickly and efficiently line edit written content for publications, other freelance writers and businesses.

Translator – Not merely a speaker of multiple languages, but a person with a talent for converting text in one language to another, while maintaining its clarity, voice and style.

Graphic Design Careers For Freelancers

Design-related symbols

You need a freelance designer, but is a general graphic designer what you’re really looking for? Or do you need someone with a particular skill set or technical proficiency? The freelance careers below will help you sharpen your understanding.

Brand Identity Designer – These freelance creatives create the overarching look of a brand and the way a company presents themselves visually across all platforms. They don’t just create a particular asset like a logo or a package. They think about how the color palette, logo, logotype, fonts and illustration styles will work across all assets.

New to the Gig Economy: Notes from An Freelance Brand Consultant Who Just Took The Plunge

Graphic Designer – Freelance graphic designers create striking images and visual content. They commonly edit photos and other images together with text and color to effectively convey a particular asset’s message in a way that aligns with the overall brand identity.

Make an online portfolio banner

Digital Illustrator – As the popularity of this term has risen, so has people’s confusion over its distinction from the graphic designer. Graphic designers are mixed media specialists who bring various visual elements together into “graphics” for commercial use, whereas digital illustrators create original, from-the-ground-up pieces of art work for brands.

Digital illustrators are much closer to traditional freehand line artists (many use tablets and styluses to do their work). They often have fine arts backgrounds and wear fewer hats than their graphic designer peers (although you’ll see many creatives who do both).

How A Freelance Illustrator Primes His Creativity

A Freelance Children’s Book Illustrator Shares Her Inspiration

Mac Operator – A skilled design generalist who can manage most basic design tasks required by a business or publication. This role typically requires a solid understanding of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Animate. Their role is less creative ideation and more rendering creative assets in visual and animated form for online and print uses.

Logo Designer – A typography specialist who works with clients to create iconic logos and various branded images that suit the look, mood and philosophy of their brands.

Flash Designer – Animation specialists fluent in Adobe Flash who can add a special “visual pop” and movement to advertisements, videos, software programs, apps, websites and presentations.

This Veteran Freelance Animator Stayed In Demand By Keeping Up With New Digital Trends

Print Designer – Freelance creatives who specialize in design work that will ultimately be presented in a printed physical form. They understand magazine layouts, book formats, print advertisements, brochures, physical packages, textiles and many different forms of branded merchandise. (Pro tip from the editor. We think there’s an opportunity for “web native” graphic designers to get familiar with old school print and layout design to be effective at white papers and ebooks. We run into a lot of clients whose freelance designers are effective for their blog work but less effective at their longer lead magnets.)

Layout Designer – A subsection of print designer that creates visually appealing and easily readable layouts for magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, and other physical publications.

Package Designer – The type of print designers who specialize in converting brands’ graphic assets into attractive physical packages for their products.

(Editor’s note: We think there’s an opportunity for “web native” graphic designers to get familiar with old school print and layout design to be effective at white papers and ebooks. We run into a lot of clients whose freelance designers do excellent work for their blogs but who do less well on longer lead magnets.)

Freelance Web Design Careers

An example of the work a web designer creates

Hopefully, after this section you will never again be confused about the difference between web designers and web developers. It will also be the last day you are confused about the different types of freelance careers that exist in the web design field.

User Experience (UX) Designer – The user experience designer creates most of the visual elements that will compose a website’s overall look. This includes the logos, typography, images, banners, edited photos and color schemes present on the website.

User Interface (UI) Designer – The UI designer handles most of the functional graphic design on websites — the buttons, bars, tabs, breadcrumbs, and certain call-to-action texts. This is important work that ensures that the visitor quickly orients himself to the website and understands exactly where to go and what to do. Some freelance UX designers also handle the UI design.

Consulting Website Guide

Information Architecture (IA) Designer – The IA designer creates the frameworks that the UI designer guides the visitor to. The IA is tasked with creating categories and category pages for products and various types of website content. The ultimate goal of this work is to make websites easily navigable and help the user find exactly what they want as soon as possible. Freelance designers who work in this area typically have clients in ecommerce or with other large databases behind the web application.

User Interaction (IxD) Designer – When your cursor hovers over the “learn more!” button does it turn into a book icon or check mark? Does it turn blue? And what kinds of text pop when the cursor glides over the other buttons? IxD designers create the dynamic or moving elements of websites that bring the experience to life. It’s important and often very subtle work that the user rarely thinks about, but recognizes in its absence.

Freelance Web Development Careers

A web developer's screen with code

There’s a lot of confusion about where web designers fit into the roles of web development, and particularly front end development, which its sometimes considered a part of. Let’s cut through the confusion with the descriptions below.

Front End Developer – Front end developers write the code for the outward features the visitor to a website or application sees and interacts with (graphics, buttons, text, forms, widgets, menus, dropdowns etc.). They take the web design assets created above and integrate them across websites via HTML, CSS, and Javascript code.

Back End Developer (sometime called web programmer) – Back end developers build the internal structure of the website to hold the front end and design features. They tend to three crucial functions that get websites up and running:

  • the database – which holds the customer’s information digitally
  • the application – which stores and organizes the customer’s information in the database
  • the server – which houses the database electronically and allows it to communicate with the customer.

Back end developers work with the programming languages Ruby, PHP, Python and SQL, the latter of which is the language used for database management.

WordPress Developer – A newer industry term that refers to a developer and or designer of a non-traditional background. They are very fluid in quickly building and designing websites in WordPress, but may lack overarching web development skills outside of the platform.

Mobile Web Developer – The mobile web developer specializes in converting the layouts, functions and designs of standard websites into high-functioning mobile variations. Mobile web developers need to optimize the layout and images for viewing on smaller screens, adapt them for use of touch features, and make sure they perform well on all major mobile browsers.

Full-Stack Developer – The diamond in the rough who can do it all. The philosophy of the full stack developer is taking a website from the client’s initial idea and completely executing the design, front end development and back end development of it. They are able to directly handle virtually all major aspects of the development process and accordingly have a very wide range of multidisciplinary skills.

App Development Careers

Smart phone with app icons

What kind of freelance careers can you build in the world of app development? Smart phone apps are still an important market, though the gold rush mentality seems to have died down (or moved to new areas like chatbots). Still there is plenty of freelance work here for people who want to work with thoughtful companies.

Native App Developers – These platform-specific developers create the apps you probably use every day on your iPhone or Android device via Objective-C or Swift to coding on iOS or Java for Android. These creatives need to have a proficient coding background and overall knowledge of best principles for mobile user experience.

Web-Based Developer – A developer who creates online applications that work across mobile devices via HTML, HTML5 and Javascript. These apps excel in the compatibility department, but are not as intuitive for in-depth game development.

Hybrid Developer – Hybrid developers create apps with web-based code, but develop them for specific platforms, much like the native developer. This allows their apps to take advantage of smart phones’ physical features like cameras and storage.

Mobile Game Developer – Creatives who specialize in creating native and web-based games tailored to the touch-screen format of smart phone devices

Chatbot Developer – Some people are calling chatbots the next apps. Every company will want their own as a way to engage customers. You’re already seeing freelance chatbot developers and specialized agencies spring up to serve the growing number of brands who want automated chat applications for their sites and social media accounts.

Chatbot Designer – On the horizon is a freelance specialization in chatbot design by people who think about the voice and personality of the chatbot. After all, if your cosmetic brand’s chatbot sounds just like your competitors, it’s not likely to be effective.

Freelance Data Science Careers

Data scientists at work

One of the hottest freelance careers right now in the gig economy is undoubtedly data science.  When a field like this is new or still emerging, there can be a lot of confusion about terms. Here are the most important freelance data science jobs:

Data Scientist – They are able to take an organization’s mess of data, identify the questions it poses, create systems through machine learning that answer their questions and present their findings in a way that is understandable and actionable for the company. You might liken the data scientist to the “one-stop” full stack developer.

Data Analyst – A simplified version of the data scientist who is generally not expected to create and resolve their own lines of inquiry. They are typically given questions posed by the organizations they work for and to report back with their findings. The are also not usually expected to create the machine learning systems needed to answer these questions.

Machine Learning Researcher – The machine learning researcher creates the systems needed by the data analyst to make sense of the data. They need strong facility in languages like Python or C++ to code these unique algorithms.

Data Management Specialist – An individual who doesn’t analyze data but manages it within the databases of organizations. The data management specialist ensures that important information is clearly organized and easily accessible for all members of a company.

Data Engineer – The data engineer builds the databases that the data management specialist uses. They create the digital garages that store an organization’s valuable information and ultimately allow the data science specialists above to do their work.

Business Analyst – The business analyst is the industry expert on team who generates clear and actionable reports from the data analyst’s raw insights.

E-Learning Careers

The demand for high quality e-learning is growing every day. Many companies know they should offer more and better online courses, but aren’t sure what to do. This where these e-learning-based freelance careers come into play.

E-learning Consultant – E-learning consultants help vendors create better online courses and market them effectively to their target customers.

Instructional Designer – The instructional designer crafts an effective user experience for courses by creating intuitive modules and a logical flow of topics in the educational products they work on.

Photography Careers

Cameras hanging on wires

Freelance photographers need to be able to do many different kinds of jobs to create stable freelance careers. Accordingly, you will find that many of these creatives you encounter are able to take on a variety of the roles mentioned below. Still, we have found many examples of people building a freelance photography business through specializing in a particular niche.

Product Photographer – The product photographer creates shots that highlight the appeal of their subjects for the purpose of driving sales. They deeply understand the psychology of the viewer and use proper lighting, grading, shot composition and angles to capture the interest of the customer.

Advertising Photographer – The advertising photographer shares many skills with the product photographer, but has a more abstract and creative role. These individuals sometimes simply feature their subject, but more often create shots of scenarios that evoke emotional responses make the viewer desire a certain product or service.

Stock Photographer – These photographers responsible for creating inventory for companies that license royalty-free images that businesses can use for their own content. They understand how to capture ideas and actions in static images.

Fashion Photographer – A photographer with a distinct fine arts and/or fashion background. The fashion photographer specializes in highlighting the intrigue of human subjects and particularly the clothing items they feature.

Photojournalist – Like the freelance journalists discussed above, freelance photojournalists work on assignment to create images for news and feature articles in journalistic publications. They are able to synthesize full news stories into singular images and often work alongside reporters on assignment.

Documentary Photographer – Closely related to the photojournalist, but less focused on timely events and happenings. Documentary photographers are more interested in the day-to-day lives of people and cultures and conveying these stories through their individual photos. Like photojournalists, they often work with publications to get their photos out to the public.

How Cultural Photography Became This Freelance Photographer’s Niche

Portrait Photographer – This freelance photographer specializes in capturing the spirit of individual people. Portrait photographers might work on head shots for professionals needed for their business.

How an Independent Photographer Took the Plunge to Full-Time Freelancing

Real Estate Photographer – A photographer who works, as you might imagine, almost exclusively with realtors and is skilled at making properties look attractive to potential buyers. Their photos need to quickly catch the viewer’s attention.

Wedding/Event Photographer – A common freelance photography role in the gig economy. Wedding and event photographers understand how to capture people candidly and visually document the mood, excitement and emotion of important occasions.

Freelance Videography Careers

Video Equipment

We’ve heard it said that the traditional movie-making process is a good way to understand how the gig economy is trending in general. A group of creatives — who are in a range of contractor, subcontractor, salaried, and small-business owner roles — come together temporarily to work on one time-limited project. A loose network is built up so that they work together in other configurations again.

If you’re looking to carry out a video project for your business, you will rarely ever need to create your own team from scratch. It is more likely than not that you will either work with a general videographer who will oversee the entire project or work with a director who will have their own crew. Regardless, your relationship with your videographer or film team will be smoother if your understand the important language they work with.

Commercial Videographer – For most small businesses and companies, the well-rounded freelance videographer is often the best option. This individual is there for the initial brainstorm with the client, creates a plan for executing the video, shoots and edits the video, revises it with the client’s feedback and delivers a final version for a predetermined project rate.

This Freelance Video Producer Balances a Growing Business and A Growing Family

Director – In bigger productions, especially where actors with speaking roles are necessary, the director functions as the brain of the operation. While screenwriters are generally used in film, in most commercial capacities the director fleshes out the video concept with the client and guides the actors and other crew members on set.

Screenwriter – In film and television, screenwriters craft both the plot stories that unfold and the concrete aspects of how they unfold from shot to shot.

Producer – The producer is the point person who makes it all happen. They are responsible for locking down set locations, dealing with the all logistics of a shoot, keeping the project within budget, and making sure the crew is fed and happy.

Director of Photography (DP) – The director of photography is the person behind the camera. This individual should ideally have a film or video background, given the importance of their role in shaping the overall look of the video content.

Wardrobe Supervisor – A person typically with a fashion background who dresses the actors present in videos.

Makeup Artist – The makeup artist most often helps actors or speaking subjects in videos look their best in front of the camera. Some freelance wardrobe supervisors also handle make-up.

Special Effects Artist – For more advanced videos, special effects artists may be needed. These creatives are extremely technically savvy and skilled animators who can convincingly integrate real and synthetic elements in the video medium.

Stunt Director – If a video really needs a guy on a motorcycle jumping through a fiery hoop, you’ll need this person for sure.

Set Designer – The set designer creates the space or spaces that videos and, more often, films take place in.

Gaffer – Gaffers are on-set lighting technicians.

Video Editor – While some directors and many commercial videographers will edit their own projects, in larger projects a video editor is a must. They create the pacing of the video and flow of shots. This role can also be highly creative and requires a strong understand of filmmaking principles

Colorist – The colorist is really the mood setter for the video project. They create the individual color schemes that bring scenes to life. An incredibly important role and one that is far more involved than most clients realize. A great color job is one of the biggest indicators of a professional video project.

Production Assistant – Production assistants help the producer on the ground level to carry out any number of tasks for the purpose of keeping the shoot moving smoothly and on schedule.

Consulting Careers

Different types of consultants

Do you know the difference between a freelance strategy consultant and a management consultant? A lot of people don’t. Let’s get our terminology straight with the descriptions of these fast-growing freelance careers below.

Strategy Consultant – The broadest business consulting role. The strategy consultant analyzes an operation as a whole and points to specific problems or growth opportunities within it and how the business should approach such challenges. The purpose of this analysis is to develop effective plans that change the company for the better. The strategy consultant may or may not be involved in the implementation of the plans they develop.

Planning Consultant – The planning consultant is the other side of the strategy consultant’s work. The planning consultant helps businesses create organizational processes and timelines for enacting major changes on the ground level.

Management Consultant – While sometimes used synonymously with “strategy consultant,” the management consultant is focused concretely on the present and running a business to the best of its current capabilities. The management consultant does not explore ways companies can expand or change on a large scale.

Operations Consultant – The operations consultant helps companies deliver better products and results to their clients.

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Financial Modeling Consultant – The financial modeling consultant helps businesses determine the profitability of their future operations and planning by using rigorous mathematical calculations and marketplace variables.

Pricing Consultant – The pricing consultant helps organizations and business determine price models for their products or services that will help them meet their short and long-term goals and position them competitively within their respective markets.

Consultant Skill Checklist

Tax Consultants – Tax consultants help large businesses comply with and understand all of their unique tax obligations. They also advise on how their clients can mitigate their risk of any tax code complications with their own clients.

HR Consultant – The HR consultant creates systems and processes that help businesses to better attract, qualify, grow, manage and retain talent.

IT Consultant – The IT consultant helps companies determine which new technologies they need to integrate into their organization to accomplish their growth or better operations goals. They also strategize how companies can adopt these new pieces of software in the smoothest fashion possible.

Product Marketing Consultant – Distinct from the product manager in that they receive finished products to market and are not involved in their development. The product marketing consultant creates and carries out detailed visions for bringing products to the market — defining the unique value proposition, coordinating packaging that drives sales and getting people talking about the product.

Demand Generation Consultant – A demand generation consultant helps large businesses and enterprises tailor their marketing, outreach, branding and products to the needs and interests of their customers. They also help businesses understand how to properly inform their clientele of the need for their products and services.

Business Process Analyst (BPA) – The business process analyst helps companies work through the operational problems that dog them as an enterprise. The BPA does rigorous research and combs over internal data to create new processes that make employees happier and more productive. They often create workshops to help adapt their processes.

Consulting Marketplaces Jobs Guide

Freelance Music Careers

Rock musicians performing

As work in the gig economy has continued to move online, or to virtual outlets, “the stage” for freelance musicians, has also evolved. The music business has always been a difficult industry to navigate, but some creative solutions are bringing artist and follower closer together and presenting new opportunities to make a living in music.

Freelance Performing Musician – High-level performing musicians who often have gigs five or six nights a week. They may never have toured nationally or with a “big band,” but make themselves the go-to players in their area to create a steady income week to week.

Crowd-Funded Band – For some niche bands that have built a dedicated following around their unique songwriting, live performances and content, working directly with their fan bases in an artist-patron relationship is the best move. New services like Patreon, allow these passion projects to create sustainable freelance careers via fan subscription.

Band Manager – The individual who runs the business of the band. They are responsible for helping their band clients budget the projects, work through contractual negotiations, plan future endeavors and make more money. They take a percentage cut of their bands’ earnings, so their business usually depends on having a number of clients.

Booking Agent – The booking agent is responsible for landing tour and festival slots for their artist clients and interface with venues, promoters and other bands on their behalf.

Concert Promoter -The venue talent buyer’s freelancer counterpart. The concert promoter is an independent agent who is responsible for booking in-demand acts for venues, promoting them and working out a compensation package for the bands.

Touring Musician – These “hired guns” are in a sense similar to the original definition of a freelancer — a mercenary, armed with a lance, who went out on military campaign for whichever medieval king paid the most. A touring musician comes in peace but uses the same business model. Freelance touring musicians are excellent players who can quickly learn long sets of material and available to go on the road on short moment’s notice drop to join a band that needs an extra player or a fill-in.

Session Musician – An extremely experienced player with many of the same adaptive qualities of the touring musician, but this player has the extreme precision and consistency necessary for studio recording.

Front of House (FOH) Engineer – In lay terms you would probably call the FOH the “sound guy.” This is the individual who gets the levels right for each of their band clients for venues they work for. They are the ones sitting at the mixing board in the booth or in the tent out in front of the stage

Lighting Technician – Many venue FOHs do some rudimentary lighting work, but bands who want to create a more engrossing experience for their audiences sometimes bring on a consistent lighting technician to closely sync up with their music.

Tour Manager – The band’s negotiating envoy to venues and business presence on the ground level. Tour managers make sure their bands get where they need to be on time. They manage logistical challenges along the way (clearing customs, for example, or finding a replacement for a blown amp), and they handle the payment and other conditions owed by the venue.

Stage Manager – A truly professional roadie and individual that can wear many hats. A tour package’s stage manager gets bands’ equipment from the bus to the stage as safely and quickly as possible and makes sure the schedule of the event stays on track over the course of the evening.

Drum / Guitar Tech – Many stage managers also double as drum or guitar techs, who make sure that all the performer’s equipment is properly set up, tuned and ready to be played.

Pit Musician – The schooled musicians who provide the musical accompaniment for the theatrical productions that take place on Broadway or even in local community theaters.

Orchestral Musician – A musician who is booked for consistent roles within orchestras.

Freelance Conductor – The leader of the orchestra who guides the musicians through their performed pieces.

Wedding/Event Band – A group of musicians who may be booked for private and public events. Instead of playing for a group of fans who know their work, the event band’s job is to bring the life to the party.

Private Instructor – The freelance instrument teacher gives private instruction to help you improve on guitar, piano, violin, voice, etc. These lessons increasingly take place online via Skype. One way many professional performing musicians pay the bills is by giving freelance lessons before sets. They also do so by creating educational products, much in the same way a solopreneur might.

Transcriber – Notating music is time intensive, even for experienced players. Many musicians who want to offer education products hire dedicated transcribers to create the notation for their work.

Audio Engineer – The individual who does the actual recording of a band in a studio setting.

Producer – Sometimes the producer also functions as the audio engineer, but more generally, the producer is the overseer of an album’s vision and shape the overall sound of a record. They also help bands decide which songs make the cut in pre-production, evaluate compositional decisions within songs, solicit guest musicians for projects, and help bands perform at their best in the studio. The “director” of the album.

Pro Tools Editor — An audio engineer who specializes in the high-level grunt work of comping best performances in the editing software and smoothing out errors in the musicians’ performances.

Mix Engineer – In addition to the producer, the other most important individual to the overarching sound of a studio recording. The mix engineer does much more than “get the levels right.” They choose the proper samples and audio enhancements to bring the unprocessed music to life. You might think of them as the “colorists” of albums.

Mastering Engineer – The provider of the “finishing touch” in music production. While a fairly complex and technical role in its own right, mastering in simplified terms ensures that the loud/soft dynamics within compositions sit properly.

Composer/Songwriter – The constructors of ear-worms, responsible for many of the big pop hits you know all too well.

Orchestrator – Many bands like to supplement their recordings with a string section or other musicians. However, most bands don’t know about orchestration. A freelance orchestrator helps by creating scores for the guest musicians to perform on given tracks.

Jingle Writer – The musician’s most well-known application in advertising. Jingle writers create the addictive hooks that accompany advertisements.

Film/Television Scorer – The highly skilled composer who crafts the musical accompaniment to television shows and feature films. This role requires extremely fast turn-around and the ability to understand the viewer’s psychology and the impact audio can have on visual media.

Music Publicist – The point person for a band or artist’s press relations. Music publicists’ greatest value is their industry network of relationships. These relationships make all the difference between getting the great coverage, reviews and interviews or flying far under the radar.

Radio Publicist – A consultant of sorts who helps bands navigate the treacherous waters of radio. They recommend which tracks to promote and how to streamline them for radio. They act as the ambassador to radio stations on their clients’ behalf.

Building Design Careers

Freelance building professionals

Another tricky area we hope to clarify below. What makes an industrial designer distinct from an industrial engineer? What makes an architect different from and industrial designer? Read on!

Architect – The individual tasked with planning the design and structure of a building as a whole. While a technical position in many respects, the architect is concerned heavily with the aesthetics of the structure internally and externally.

Industrial Designer – A career role that is often confused with that of the architect. The industrial designer focuses on the minute details of a building and works to improve their aesthetic appeal.

Industrial Engineer – The industrial engineer concerns himself solely with the practical application of the architect’s plan into the internal structure of the building via the mathematical and mechanical systems (Where do the pipes run?)

Interior Designer – The aesthetically-minded individual who crafts the design scheme for rooms within buildings. The interior designer choose the color palette, the kinds of materials, furnishings and layout of these elements within their buildings.

Miscellaneous Freelance Careers

Various freelancers working together

As the gig economy continues to thrive, new types of freelance jobs seem to surface each week, with many of them falling outside the realm of what most people would think of as freelance careers.

Wedding Officiant – A state-licensed individual who can marry couples in secular or interfaith

How an Independent Wedding Officiant Thrives in the Gig Economy

Historic Preservation Consultant – Also known as cultural resource professionals, historic preservation consultants perform extensive research on buildings and sites that may have historic importance. They evaluate their findings and make recommendations as to their status. Oftentimes their clients are developers whose financing will depend on getting tax credits for maintaining the historical character of a renovated property.

Preservation Architect –  A preservation architect creates the plan for renovating or maintaining a historic site.

Interpreter – A career very closely connected to translation, but the interpreter’s role is oral, rather than text-based (in the case of the translator), and is accordingly most often done in person, but can now be done remotely via video chat programs. A freelance interpreter has the ability to translate on the fly while considering the speaker’s tone. In-depth knowledge of the speaker’s industry is often desired.

Career Coach – Career coaches are much like consultants for individual people’s professional lives. The can assist clients in finding and applying for new jobs, but also help them develop a healthier outlook on their work, productively pursue new professional horizons, and find more contentment in their work.

The Path To Higher Paying Clients – Insights From the Marketing Mentor

Life Coach – The life coach has some similarities to the career coach but focuses on their clients’ lives as a whole and help them figure out how they can affect positive change in their lives through action.

Small Event Caterer / Bartender – Chefs and mixologists who independently work small, private events.


That’s more than 130 different freelance career that we’ve identified so far. Do you think we missed any? Do you know of any colleagues who personify these gig economy roles? If so, please let us know in the comments.