Recent studies have shown that a record number of senior citizens are returning to the workforce during what should have been their retirement years. Due to a massive increase in the cost of living, this is not a choice they make, but a necessity.
There are five primary areas of business that seniors try to return to – four of which are professional positions and one in the service industry. But if you have your heart set on retirement, only to find yourself unable to make ends meet, you may hate the thought of returning to a typical workplace.
There, you are dealing with strict hours, preset salaries or hourly wages, coworkers you may or may not enjoy being around, and the grueling task of commuting and being at work eight hours a day while being told what to do.
Fortunately, senior citizens now have an alternative to help them supplement their income in a legitimate and ethical manner. For years now, many men and women have been working as freelance service providers, accepting online gigs or projects that they get paid for as solo entrepreneurs.
Below, you will find answers to the most common questions seniors have about pursuing this type of career in their golden years. As a freelancer, you won’t have the burden of starting a business that requires you to build a website and figure out how to get traffic to it.
Instead, you’ll set yourself up for success and learn how to be the top freelancer clients choose to work with based on your skills, time, and availability to meet the needs of their projects. Plus, you have the freedom to accept or decline work anytime you want.
Are Online Freelance Service Gigs Legitimate?
If you are a senior citizen, you can probably remember many instances of various scams going around that tried to take advantage of unsuspecting workers. For example, there might be classified ads telling you that you can earn hundreds of dollars for stuffing envelopes at home.
None of these jobs ever seemed to actually materialize, but people were hopeful nonetheless. With the invention of the Internet, scammers continued to hook people into losing money somehow with the promise of earning more.
But even though there are people who lack ethics in the virtual world, that doesn’t mean all opportunities, or even most of them, are not legitimate. Instead of responding to some sort of ad asking you to sign up to become a freelancer, you want to approach this career as a solo entrepreneur who works for clients doing a variety of gigs or jobs.
There are currently many “work from home” job listings that you will see online and off. With those opportunities, even the legitimate ones, you are still working for someone else on their time schedule doing the tasks that they require of you.
As a freelance service provider, you get to choose what types of projects you accept, what your price point will be, who you work with, when you work, and more. You have to make sure that you protect yourself against any type of illegitimate offers, even from clients and companies.
You can always conduct a search on Google to look up more about a client or brand that is considering hiring you. If they are on a platform where you are bidding on work, hoping to get accepted by a client, you can look at their ratings or reviews to see what other freelancers have set about working for them in the past.
If someone promises you something that is too good to be true, such as thousands of dollars to barely do anything, proceed with caution because it might be an illegitimate offer or someone who simply wants you to accept a job and then will renege on the majority of it after they get the little bit they actually needed.
How Much Money Can I Earn and What Do I Charge?
The money involved in freelance work it varies from project to project, skill to skill, and client to client. Much of it will depend on what kind of skills you bring to the table. But it is very possible for you to earn six figures as a freelance service provider online, even working part time or full time hours.
The first thing you want to do is conduct a little bit of research to see what other freelancers are charging for whatever types of gigs you want to accept from clients. For example, if you want to be a ghostwriter of non-fiction eBooks, you can see what others charge.
Look to see if it’s a per page rate, per word, or per project. Sometimes, people will list gigs where a basic project will cost one thing, but they increase the price according to add-ons that the customer or client requests.
For example, a graphic designer might charge a basic fee for a simple eCover. But if you want multiple formats of the file or a quicker turn around, or even additional revisions, they may bump the price up a little more.
Even with writing, there are different rates for someone who is writing a simple report about a nonfiction topic like health versus someone who is writing the sales copy for someone’s launch of an eBook on the same topic.
Sales copy generally brings in a much higher rate than normal writing, such as blog posts, social media content, or info products. You also might want to charge by the hour. This is generally not recommended because it is hard for you to prove how many hours you worked to a client.
Initially, until you have some sort of feedback on your profiles online or a client list built up, you may want to charge a little bit less than the competition. But you don’t want to go too far below because then it looks as if you don’t value your own skills or are not worth the price.
If you do start out a little lower than others, make sure you raise your rates as you have a proven track record for clients and customers to consider. As a freelance service provider, you also have the ability to negotiate with the client.
So for instance, they may want to pay you a higher rate for a single info product, but you might be willing to go down a little bit if they give you a project that involves five additional info products.
Where Do I Find Jobs for Freelance Work Online?
There are several different places you can find jobs as a freelance service provider, and we will get into the variety of different types of freelance work you can do momentarily. Some people, if they have the skill or desire, will simply set up a website of their own, even if it’s as simple as buying a domain name and hosting and installing a WordPress blog on it.
However, if you don’t want to take that route you don’t have to. You can always sign up on well known freelance platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr instead. Here, you can find clients to connect with so that you accept their jobs, complete it, and get paid for your efforts.
These two work in different ways. With Upwork, clients will typically create a job listing and you can then bid on the project for however much you are willing to get paid to do it. You will also be able to create a profile and portfolio, if applicable, so that clients can browse these pages and invite certain freelancers to work with them or at least bid on their projects.
When you complete a bid, the client then has the opportunity to consider everyone’s offers and select the person or persons he or she wishes to work with. Then, they pay a sum of money into escrow, which is managed by Upwork.
The two of you will communicate via a private message board on the platform so that you can ask questions, gain clarity, and submit your deliverables for approval. Once the client is happy with the work, they will release the funds in escrow, and that money will be sent to your bank account.
Both you and your client can leave feedback and ratings for one another. So you can always look at the ratings of a client before you accept work to see if they are someone who is troublesome or a pleasure to work with.
Fiverr Is different than Upwork. On this platform, you will be creating a profile as a seller. Then you will create a variety of gigs that people can hire you for. For example, you might have a basic gig charging $30 to write a 1,000 word blog article on a niche topic.
You can also have a standard gig where you might offer the same services, with 1,500 words and more elements like a data chart for $45, and a premium gig where you charge $60 for a long blog post of 2,000 words.
Again, both you and your client can leave feedback and ratings for one another. On this platform, you can also sponsor your listings so that they show up at the top of results whenever someone is looking for a particular gig.
As you begin immersing yourself in the world of online marketing, you will make friends with others who are in this industry and many of your clients will come via word of mouth.
How Fast Do I Get Paid for My Completed Projects?
The speed with which senior freelancers can get paid depends on a few factors. First and foremost, your own speed of skill. The faster you get things done, the quicker you’ll get paid.
Some people can write 5 pages a day and some can write 40. You might improve your speed over time, and get paid quicker. You also have to consider the platform you’re on. If you’re just networking on your own and someone was recommended to contact you, then you might get paid 50% upfront right away to secure a spot on your schedule.
Some clients are even willing to pay for a month’s worth of time ahead of time so that they’re never bumped from your schedule, but that comes after you’ve proven yourself to clients.
With other platforms, the funds are typically held in escrow until the client releases them. Most clients will stay in communication with you, releasing the funds immediately after delivery and approval.
But there are cases where you hit a snag and the client is unhappy and the platform might have to resolve the situation in a mediation type of setting. So it’s always good to assume the cushion of time before getting paid.
Some clients just aren’t in a hurry or might be traveling and not even check in on their messages right away. It’s always a good idea to require half upfront, with the other half due upon completion, so at least you have some milestone income to support you as a freelancer.
If you have a site of your own or have networked with others, then you can accept payment via Stripe or PayPal and have that deposited quickly into your account. Make sure you set up a tracking system to keep track of who owes you a certain amount of money.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
A virtual assistant (VA) is a freelance position in high demand these days. Many other entrepreneurs don’t want to hire on a fulltime or part time employee, so they use the concept of outsourcing to a VA instead.
As a virtual assistant, your tasks may range from handling email replies to creating a publishing schedule for their blog. You might be asked to log into their messenger and reply to customer service inquiries or upload listings to their online store.
Think of it like an executive secretary position offline. You’re doing some of the mundane, yet necessary work that the other individual doesn’t have time to focus on because they’re dealing with product creation, sales and networking.
Some Vas act as affiliate managers for the marketer. This means you’ll be networking with people who might promote the product for the marketer who hired you, sending them review files and joint venture pages that give them details of the upcoming launch while answering any questions they may have.
You might be hired as a VA by solo entrepreneurs, brands and corporations. Some projects may pay by the hour or by the project, so you’ll want to know how to charge for both scenarios.
As a virtual assistant, you’ll want to be highly organized and manage your time properly. You need to communicate with your client stay on top of what needs to be done and what has already been done.
You can find gigs as a virtual assistant on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr, but you can also set yourself up on LinkedIn or your own website to offer these services. If you have any kind of local events for online marketers, you may want to attend those and hand out some business cards offering your work as a VA.
With this type of freelance career option, you’re going to have a bit of flexibility as to when you work, depending on what you make clear to your clients, but you may have some deadlines to adhere to as well.
What Kinds of Projects Do Freelance Ghostwriters and Editors Take On?
Being a freelance ghostwriter or editor is a great way to put your skills to work from the comfort of your own home in your senior years. Many people think that this type of position is reserved for those who have an English or Journalism degree, but as long as you are capable of writing sentences that are free of spelling or grammatical errors, you can pursue this type of gig.
This is primarily because most content that is found online now is not written from a professional, academic viewpoint like you would have seen in your college years period instead, it is casual and conversational, meant to mimic how a reader would talk to someone, but without the slang.
There are many different types of people who hire ghostwriters and editors as freelancers online. Many Internet marketers will hire someone who can write their eBooks, blog posts, lead magnets, social media content, sales copy, email autoresponders and more.
For many of these individuals, they either lack the time or talent to get this work done on their own. And the need for online content is ongoing. They constantly need new blog content, new emails to be sent out, social media posts on a daily basis, and info products they can sell to their customers.
You may find fiction and non-fiction authors who hire you to help them with editing their projects. This may include simple editing for typos and grammar, or it may be a full manuscript edit where you are providing more detail and guidance.
As long as you have good command of the English language, you might be helping people who struggle with the volume of content they need, with cleaning up messy content they have created, or in simply communicating effectively if English is not their first language.
You’ll probably be using tools as simple as Microsoft Word, but they may also need you to use tools like Grammarly or Copyscape to ensure that the content is free any plagiarism.
Finding these types of gigs is easy. They have them on the previous platforms mentioned, and you can also set up your own website where people can contact you directly for services.
When you are offering this type of gig, you want to make sure that you have a portfolio that showcases your abilities to write in a variety of niche topics. For example, you may have one blog article about health, another about success, and so on.
It’s important to communicate clearly with your client ahead of time so that you understand what they want in terms of specifications like length and tone. It’s always a good idea to get an example of the type of writing they like so that you can adhere to that style.
Rates for ghost writing and editing will vary. Some people charge per word or by an hourly rate. If you charge by the page, you have to specify how many words per page you are offering to the client.
What Gigs Can Freelance Graphic Designers Get Hired For?
If you have graphic design skills, you may want to earn extra money as a senior freelancer with these gigs. You’ll be using software on your computer to create things like a logos, social media graphics, eCovers, graphics for their website headers, and more.
In addition to other online entrepreneurs who outsource this type of work to freelancers like you, you’ll also find that some other companies and publishers will delegate this work to freelance individuals as well.
You can find jobs through networking or your own website, but you can also create a listing on Fiverr or bid on jobs that you find on Upwork. Usually, there will be some sort of revisions built into the contract so that they can make tweaks, but you don’t want to be tied down to a project more than necessary.
This is the perfect freelance gig for someone who is creative and who understands how to use a variety of tools like Illustrator or Photoshop. Sometimes, you may even be able to use tools that have templates built in like Canva if the job is very simple.
In order to get jobs as a freelance graphic designer, you have to have a portfolio that you create to showcase your skills. Make sure you are showcasing different types of work, like a blog header versus an eCover, and also different styles for different industries or purposes.
Need to be careful when pricing your projects as a graphic designer, because every little thing the client asks for is something that you can charge for. For example, this includes turnaround time, revisions, or even different file formats.
What Does a Social Media Manager Gig Involve?
Social media managers are growing in popularity because of the ability of brands and entrepreneurs to reach their target audience on these platforms. Not only does the individual will have to now manage their own website, but they have to spread themselves thin across many different platforms where their target audience resides and try to connect with them.
Therefore, you can set yourself up for success as a senior freelancer by becoming a social media manager. Your job will very, but if they hand over the entire process to you, you’ll be developing their overall social media strategy to help them gain a strong presence on each platform.
This may include the creation of or outsourcing of content that will be posted on that platform. It may be in different media formats, including text, images, and video. They may have you be the go between with a writer or graphic designer or video editor who creates the content and then gives it back to you so that you can schedule and upload it.
They may rely on you to engage with their audience, which is an important factor in building a channel or profile on a social media platform. That means you’ll be responding in the comments as well as via direct messages.
If there’s an opportunity to collaborate with another influencer in a niche that they are in, they’ll want you to identify who would be a good candidate for that, and then reach out to them and solidify some sort of arrangement to cross promote or work together.
And they will probably expect you to be on top of the analytic data that is provided to each person, sometimes requiring a business account. This will tell you more details about what’s working and what’s not working on their profile on that platform.
You’ll probably will be working on sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and TikTok. People who hire social media managers include solo entrepreneurs as well as big brands, digital marketing agencies, and even nonprofit organizations.
Not only do you have to be on top of your time management, but you need to understand how to provide customer service and engagement with their audience, and be aware of trends that are evolving so that the person you are working for can leverage that to their advantage.
In order to get gigs like this, it’s helpful if you can show them how you have helped build engagement and following for certain profiles. Even if you start from scratch with a profile and build it up into something as an example, that helps them see what your possibilities are.
How Can I Get Gigs as a Voiceover Freelancer?
Many seniors are finding work as voiceover freelancers online. There are many instances when an elderly, authoritative voice or kind voice is necessary for the branding have a business or to convey a certain style.
This is a very fun freelance job to have, but it does require you to get set up properly ahead of time. There are many different things you can do as a voice over freelancer. One of the most lucrative options is to narrate audiobooks.
This might be science fiction, romance, or a variety of genres that need a grown voice to represent them, whether it’s a man or a woman. There are also companies who will hire you to voice commercials for them or even video game characters!
Another thing that many seniors get hired for as voice over freelancers is to simply narrate info products for digital learning courses. If the person who is creating the course doesn’t have a good voice or is not necessarily an English speaker, they may outsource this task to someone like you to do it for them.
In order to be a good voice over freelancer, you do have to have a setting that allows for you to have good recordings. This includes a setting that is free of noisy distractions period you can purchase inexpensive soundproofing materials on Amazon.
You also need to have comfortable headphones and a quality microphone that will record your voice accurately and without any distracting elements. You may be able to give the company or entrepreneur the raw file and have them edit it to their liking, but others will want you to provide them with the finished product.
That means you may need to have an audio editing software like Audacity. This is something that is easy to learn how to use, and you can polish up the recording before you give it to your client.
In order to get the best gigs as a voiceover freelancer, you need to have a portfolio that showcases your voice in different scenarios. Whether you are reading and narrating a book or recording a commercial, have a variety of clips that show what you are capable of, and make sure they are 60 seconds or less.
Not only can you find gigs as a freelancer for voiceover work on the same platforms as before, but you can also go to specific platforms where clients and freelancers connect just for voiceover work, like Voices.com.
Whenever you get your first gig, make sure you read through this script and look at your client notations and requests about how they want the narration to unfold. Warm your voice up and make sure your setting is free of noisy distractions before you begin recording.
Rates will vary, so you want to take a look at the competition and how they charge for various projects. The rates may be influenced by the length or time involved, or even how the project is being used.
There are some situations where you might be asked if you want royalties from an author’s audiobook sales or a flat rate payment. This will be something you have to consider based on the name of the author and their potential sales.
What Skills Do I Need to Work as a Freelancer?
The skills you need as a freelancer will depend on which direction you plan to take. But in general, there are some that are good to have across all paths. These include things like time management.
If you don’t know how to avoid procrastination and become productive throughout your day without having a boss to answer to, then you probably won’t do well as a freelancer. You have to know how to stick to deadlines and prioritize all of your tasks so that you get things done when the client needs them.
Negotiation skills are important in this line of work. Pay is flexible, and many will try to get you to lower your rates, so you need to be able to negotiate your rates if you want to.
No one is simply going to come offer you a job, so you have to be motivated to network, polish up your gig listings, and bid on projects so that you get hired. You also have to showcase enthusiasm and professionalism.
Another skill you must have is good communication. You need to be able to clarify with your client the details before starting, communicate as the project evolves so they know you haven’t disappeared on them, and exchange clear communications once the project has been delivered.
The other skills you need will be dependent on the projects you undertake. If you’re a ghostwriter, then you may need to learn things like search engine optimization if your client wants content optimized to rank well.
If you’re managing social media for a client, you may have to learn the skill of running paid ads if they want you to handle that aspect of their business for them. But this is something you can read up on and learn about.
Whenever clients leave feedback for you, make sure you are taking time to listen to their constructive criticism, and not simply lash out at them for having a complaint. Use this information to improve your skills so that you are one of the top freelancers people go to whenever they need your services.
As a freelancers, your best path is to be energized to get work and engage with your clients, deal with problem ones who just aren’t amicable, and build a base of loyal clients who hire you again and again because of your ability to complete projects to their liking.
How Can I Ensure I Have a Steady Flow of Work?
When you go this route, one of your main concerns will be whether or not you can consistently support yourself with this type of career. You have to have a steady flow of work in order to make that happen.
This is going to come naturally whenever you are consistent with your bids on projects, and do you regularly complete them on time and to the delight of your clients. Their feedback and ratings will help you garner more attention in the marketplace so that more people hire you, so your income will snowball.
You want to make time in your day not only to complete the projects that you have been hired to work on, but also to engage in additional marketing for yourself as a freelancer service provider.
You can do this on social media, on your own website, by networking directly with other individuals who hire freelancers, and by reading through job listings for freelance projects so that you can craft unique, impressive bids that get noticed.
Anytime you have the ability to over deliver for your customers, even if it’s by including one extra page or a different file format, or coming in ahead of schedule, this will go a long way in making sure that they hire you again and also recommend you to other people who need the same type of work.
If you do encounter a moment in time when your work flow has grown stagnant, you can always reach out to previous clients and tell them you have an opening in your schedule and see if they have any work they need completed.
Or, you can run a special on your gigs temporarily to fill the gap during that time. For example, you might have a special for a full eBook package that includes the eBook itself, along with blog posts, emails, social media content and sales copy for a discounted bulk price.
Just about every freelancer has been through a moment in time when sales seem to trickle in. To make sure you are okay in these situations, be sure to set aside a little bit of money every time you take on a project so that you have enough to get you through financially whenever work has temporarily dried up.
During these downtimes, not only can you ramp up your marketing, but you can also increase your skills so that you can attract clients who have other needs. That may be mastering a certain tool or learning a strategy such as sales copy, etc.
You might even network with new prospective clients where you offer them something free in exchange for feedback or testimonial that you can use. If you do a stellar job, they will often hire you for future projects on the spot.
What Mistakes Do I Need to Avoid as a Senior Freelancer?
All freelancers make mistakes in the beginning. It’s part of the learning curve of working for yourself. But there are some things you can know ahead of time that can reduce your frustration and setbacks.
For starters, make sure that in the beginning you understand how to handle your taxes. That may mean you meet with a CPA to see what works best for freelancers, and whether or not you need to set up some sort of legal entity and business banking.
Another mistake you want to avoid is in clashing with your clients. Even though some people are incorrigible, keep in mind that they will be able to leave feedback and ratings for you, so it’s often not worth it to engage in a hostile exchange with them because it will sour future prospective clients from working with you.
You don’t want to gain a reputation as someone who either ignores specific instructions for freelance gigs or who is routinely late in their deliverables. Make sure you are adding in a small buffer of time in case anything goes wrong during your project, such as becoming sick with the flu or having your computer crash.
If you are able to deliver your work earlier than expected, because nothing went wrong during that buffer time, it will go over well with your client and make you look even better.
If you are going to be late with the project due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure you don’t hide from your client. Communicate with them and let them know what is happening and what you are doing to remedy the situation so that they will have their deliverables as soon as possible.
Another thing you don’t want to do is go too heavy on undercutting the price of your competitors. You may think this will help you gain more clients, but it often makes you look unsure and unconfident about your skills.
It’s okay to slightly charge less in the very beginning, or when work is scarce and you want to attract more clients. But you don’t want to continually undervalue your skills to the point where it looks like you are not on the same level as your competitors.
In fact, you want to raise your rates as time goes on so that you are attracting the next tier of client that is willing to invest in freelance service providers who are at the top of their game.
You may get so excited about being offered multiple gigs at once that you accept everything. But if your time does not allow you to properly manage these projects so that you can meet each deadline, and you are overscheduled, you will be setting yourself up for poor feedback that will ruin your chances of future earnings.
Becoming a freelance service provider as a senior online entrepreneur is a great way to not only supplement your retirement income, but earn an amazing amount of money that allows you to enjoy your golden years in a manner that you deserve.