Online Freelancing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

With unemployment taking a turn for the worst, most people are looking for alternatives to make ends meet. Online freelancing has become a top solution to meet this need. The only problem is, not many people are conversant with the trade and those that are, would rather remain tight-lipped to protect their income. If not, they will charge you a premium for the information most of which might not be helpful.

Nonetheless, there are still some great online freelancers that have been around long enough and appreciate the importance of nurturing and training new talent. To save you from the trouble of locating such souls (which is extremely difficult), I thought I should have a tell all kind of article on everything you will need to know about online freelancing and perhaps get you on the road to becoming a successful freelancer.

What is online freelancing?

There is no single description that one can use to define what online freelancing is. But I will try my best.

Online freelancing is a collection of jobs that you can do at the comfort of your home or at a work station that are facilitated by the internet.

Typically, there are three layers that facilitate online freelancing. There are the clients, the job sites (which we will discuss later on) and you, who’s going to be the worker. You will also need a payment platform, but that is a discussion for another day.

There is no single description that one can use to define what online freelancing is. But I will try my best.

Online freelancing is a collection of jobs that you can do at the comfort of your home or at a work station that are facilitated by the internet.

Typically, there are three layers that facilitate online freelancing. There are the clients, the job sites (which we will discuss later on) and you, who’s going to be the worker. You will also need a payment platform, but that is a discussion for another day.

Why become an online freelancer?

The benefits that online freelancing offers keep most people glued to the profession. It is almost impossible to find a job that offers similar perks. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to become an online freelancer.

  • Flexible working hours – if you hate your 8 to 5, you will love online freelancing. Here, you’re your own boss, you decide when you want to work and for how long. But, if you intend to make a decent sum, you need to be consistent and sometimes, the job calls for long working hours when you’re swamped with work.
  • Good remuneration – when starting out, the pay might not look good. Work is scarce and your rates might not be the best. But, as you build your craft, your rates improve and your client list becomes larger, the remuneration starts looking impressive. Maybe even more impressive than what you were previously making.
  • Basic skills – most if not all of the online working opportunities do not require you to even have a degree or advanced education. Just very good English both spoken and written and excellent research skills (you can work on this while on the job).
  • You get to work at home – forget the traffic, hiking fares and the hustles and bustles of getting to work. As a freelancer, your office will be based in your house. You can choose to have it elsewhere but, for stay at home mums that want to make some money on the side and dads that can’t stay away from their kids, this is the one benefit that seals the deal for them.

Actually, the two most common reasons for people to consider becoming an online freelancer are; the money and, the chance to work at home and spend more time with family.

What jobs can you do as an online freelancer?

When people first hear of online freelancing, they think it is just a platform where they can just continue to do what they do but, at home. But no! It is different. There are online jobs and lucky for most people that are just starting out, there are many jobs to choose from. Let’s look at some of them.


Writing is one of the most common tasks in the world of online jobs. There are different types of writing that you can venture into each of them requiring a different set of skillset and understanding. The best thing about writing is that you can learn as you go. However, initial training from a person that has been in the business long enough can prove to be very handy.

  • Article writing; It happens to be the most common and among the easier tasks. In article writing, you will cover all types of topics like product reviews, press releases, finances and you might cover some of the more technical fields like I.T and business. It basically depends on the client you’re working for and what their website is about.
  • Academic writing; if you’re fresh off university, you will love academic writing. Basically, this is about completing academic tasks for students that don’t have the time to do it. It also happens to pay very handsomely. Some of these tasks including homework, writing proposals and research papers.
  • EBooks; even though eBooks can fall under article writing, they require a more disciplined and seasoned writer. For that, we will cover them separately. Like articles, these also depend on what the client wants. But, you can also write your own eBook to sell as a side hustle. Usually, these are like long articles but have strategic flow to them. Cook books and recipe books will also fall under this category.


Compared to writing, transcription is lesser known but equally well paying. With transcription, there is more of a technical approach to it and getting training will definitely make it easier for you. Transcription is the conversion of an audio into written text. Of course, depending on the requirements of the clients, there are certain sets of rules that you need to follow. To be a transcriptionist or a transcriber, you need to have a keen ear and an eye for detail. Thankfully, there are applications like Escribe that make the conversion process easier. It also helps if you can type at least 40 words per minute (if you can’t it’s okay. With a little practice, you will get there).

Virtual assistant

If you have tried your hand at being a secretary, a virtual assistant is the equal in the online world. Other than having a passion to be highly organized and an impressive self-drive, you also need to have some little knowledge of most of the other online jobs. If not you could also opt to outsource the work to corresponding professionals in each of the fields. Typically virtual assistants charge per hour and the jobs are usually more demanding than some of the other online options. But, for the right person, it is a great job.


You have seen movies having subtitles, right? This is what captioning is about. Like transcription, you need to have a keen ear in captioning and above all, know how to work your way around the different applications that are required for the job.

Graphic design

To be a graphic designer, you must know your way around the Adobe suite and a couple of other high end applications. You also need to have a sound machine given the demanding nature of the applications.

With graphic design, you could set up a shop or you could source for your work online. The job is pretty interesting and requires a creative mind. In this line of work, communication is very important for you to get to capture the needs of your clients.


Currently, there are very few sites that offer these types of jobs. Thanks to the cunning ways of unscrupulous freelancers, most sites that offered microtasks collapsed. As the name suggests, these are simple and quick jobs that require relatively no knowledge or training. They include watching YouTube videos, liking Facebook pages and posts or signing up to certain websites. At times the job could include describing photos.

There you have it! These are the most common jobs that you can find online. Ideally, you will find clients that have different needs. All you need is to have an open mind and a willingness to learn. It is possible for you to learn more than one profession just to make sure that you have constant stream of work. you can also engage in more basic tasks like data entry and typing.

Are there any challenges online freelancers face?

Online freelancing is a job like any other. It has its ups and downs and, you have to be prepared for both sides of the coin.

Lack of work – the biggest challenge especially when you’re starting is going to be lack of constant work. There are days which will have you buried work and in others, work will seem like trees in the Sahara!

Inconsistent pay – with inconsistent work comes inconsistent pay. Unlike getting paid monthly, all online jobs are paid per task. The more you do, the more you earn. It is up to you to prepare and brace for those dry months. However, as you work your way up the ladder, the pay will not only be better but also more consistent.

Distrust – chances are, you will never meet your employer. Unless you’re working on some of the job sites that are dedicated to protecting writers, you will find bosses that want to take all your work and not pay for it. As a newbie, this will happen an awful lot. But, don’t despair. It will only be a matter of time before you develop the ability to sniff such characters out. You should also know that there are people that try to exploit the anonymity offered by the internet. So, you ought to be careful before transacting with anyone.

Becoming an online freelancer is a dream to most people. With enough patience, you’re assured of a decent income and if you’re always willing to learn, making a significant amount in this multi-billion dollar industry is very possible.

But, if you’re hoping that you can simply log on to some site and make thousands in a couple of minutes, unfortunately, this profession will not help you. It takes dedication, time and lots of learning to master each craft and impress your clients.

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9 Thoughts to “Online Freelancing: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started”

  1. Thanx so much. What are the requirement

  2. hi Lydia, the reqruirements differ depending on the profession you want to follow. But basically, you will need a computer (laptop or desktop) and internet and you should be ready to go!

  3. Miriam

    Which are examples of the microtasks jobs sites?

  4. Koroso colleta

    Interested to join

  5. Mike

    What are some of the creative writing/academic writing sites one can register?

    1. Hello Mike!

      Here is a resource that you’re going to find very helpful

  6. Hellen Wangariw

    am new here where do i start ?

    1. probably start by picking one of the online professions that you think you can do best and then get someone to train you. Hope the post was helpful in helping share the different professions you can consider.

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