“I would like to freelance, but I don’t know what I would do. I’m not really good at anything. Freelancing doesn’t seem like something that would work for me.”
I hear this when I talk to new friends about freelancing. I can totally relate. Freelancing seems like something that’s only for those weird people on Instagram who post pictures from mountain tops with corny quotes.
This is why I wanted to look at five freelancers that are making money with completely unique services. These aren’t people who spend all day on social media posting motivational memes. They’re actually getting paid.
How do you become a freelancer?
You have to get paid to provide a service. This could be anything from personal training to dog walking (yes, dog walking is a huge market).
I got into freelancing by accident. I just wanted to start a blog about personal finance. I ended up writing about personal finance for other blogs. Then I sort of picked up random jobs as I went along. I even ended up working for a startup based out of Austin, Texas at one point.
I’m always impressed by those who can make money doing totally random things that nobody would even think of.
What are five examples of freelancers?
Trevor (transit historian).
Let’s start with the most random freelancing service.
Trevor was totally confused a few years ago. He had nothing going on in his life. He was feeling down on himself. I then introduced him to freelancing and he really liked the idea of making money on his own. At first he didn’t believe that you could actually make money on your own or that you could be in control.
I knew that he put together some mini movies in high school so I had him start with video work. I personally can’t edit anything and have always outsourced this service. Trevor started as a video freelancer. He would edit videos and do video-related work. He worked with Farhan (read his story here) and then found additional clients through him.
Then Trevor’s freelancing career took a turn in an unexpected direction. He started doing the following:
- Historical walks in the park.
- Presentations in retirement homes on transit history.
- Selling his own transit inspired merchandise (Trevor sells posters and other items).
Imagine getting paid to give presentations about local transit history?
I’m actually shocked because I felt bad for Trevor the first time I experienced him speak publicly (and the first time I saw him call a girl). For both occasions, he spoke quickly without pausing and he couldn’t even breathe. Now he’s going around giving presentations. Hopefully that young lady who had to endure his nervous phone call can see him in action.
Check out Trevor’s Instagram account to see him in action.
(Yes, that’s actually a rare shot of me with short hair.)
My brother Adrian wanted to become a barber at a young age. When he was in high school I would take him to get a haircut. We both got haircuts on a near weekly basis.
There was one problem.
Our barber had the worst customer service. He was pretty much always stoned. He was late. He couldn’t stick to an appointment time. He took forever to get anything done. Adrian got fed up and decided to teach himself how to be a barber. So we ordered a DVD set from some guy online (this was like 2010 before it was normal to buy courses and watch tutorials online). Adrian then worked a co-op term at a barber shop in his last year of high school. He eventually bought all of the supplies and started cutting hair out of the basement.
This is the upgraded barber shop (currently vacant as he’s in Australia).
Matt (makes tables).
Matt started making tables as a service. Now he has his own business. You can read up on Matt’s story. We’ve covered his story in the past.
Full disclosure: I have to call over friends to even put together Ikea furniture. I’m not handy at all. I think it’s pretty cool that Matt spends his days in the shop working on something that enjoys doing.
Are you handy? Can you build things? You’d be surprised by how many folks out there are exactly like me. They just want to pay for things to be done for them because they can’t build them.
Matt has his own shop where he makes tables and then sells them. Pictured below is one of the tables that Matt has built.
Every person reading this has something that they can teach for money. Theo wanted to make some changes in life, but he didn’t know where to start. He ended up taking part in my freelancing challenge many years ago.
How did it all begin for Theo?
“I put my tutoring service for classic literature up on Craigslist and braced myself for my first reply. It never happened. That pissed me off. I wasn’t going to go out that easy — so I doubled down. I diversified my tutoring options and got my name out there. Eventually I landed a first client. That client refused to pay me after my first session. He said I didn’t know the material. My quest for my first dollar was not complete. That client ended up sticking with me, and then the company I founded, for over two years.”
Luckily, Theo didn’t give up after he first few failed attempts. It sometimes takes a few tries before you get it right. Your freelancing career may even pivot into something totally different and that’s okay.
What are you good at? What can you teach? Put up on ad on Kijiji and see if anyone bites.
Talia (Instagram consultant).
This is my favorite one because I’ve become addicted with Instagram. I manage a few accounts and I’m always looking for ways to grow. Talia happens to be an Instagram consultant (not an Instagram passive income weirdo). She charges people to improve their Instagram accounts. She also makes money from her own account where she has over 90,000 followers. She’s one of the few people out there that actually profits from posting pictures of her meals.
How amazing is that?
Instead of attempting a write-up, I spoke with Talia to gather some insight about her story and what she does.
What type of freelance work do you do?
“I do freelance social media consulting, and I specialize in Instagram marketing. I used to be a freelance copywriter.”
How did you get into this?
“I got into freelancing on the side while working a full-time job. When I got caught in a round of layoffs, I decided to make freelancing full-time. In the beginning, I took any and every job that came my way, and that’s how I eventually found my path to Instagram consulting.”
Did you ever think that you would be doing this for money?
“No, absolutely not. I always saw myself as a ladder climber who sat behind a desk.”
How has freelance changed your life?
“It’s given me the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to do! Thanks to freelancing, I was able to pick up my life and move from New York City to Colorado where I can snowboard almost every day and still deliver my best work to my clients. Also, I can travel and work from anywhere without worrying about getting enough time off from work. That’s huge.”
Check out Talia on Do You Even Hustle to see how to rapidly explode your Instagram page. She didn’t hold anything back in that episode.
This is the Studenomics hall of fame for freelancers.
If you want to start freelancing, then download my freelancing guide for free. I self-published this about 6 years ago. I want to add your name to this list of freelancers. Life’s too short to be broke and miserable. Making more money will solve most of your problems.
For further reading, check out the following articles:
- Why you should always make more money.
- Freelancing vs. an online business?
- Finding freelance experience.
- Start an online business right now.
Below you can watch the most recent episode of Studenomics TV where we help you land your next freelancing client…
What will you do to start freelancing?
There’s nothing that’s too weird or quirky these days. You’ll never know until you try. So you might as well try to make some extra money because it beats trying to save pennies on coffee. Good luck and leave any questions that you have in the comments section!