What Are The Most Highly-Paid Skills For Freelancers?

By  Karen Banes

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Whether you’re freelancing as a side hustle, or going full-time, the amount you’ll earn will depend on the skills you have. Freelancing isn’t like having a job. No-one is going to pay you for turning up. Companies who outsource to freelancers are looking to fill in skill gaps in their own workforce and generate specific results, based on the skill they’re paying for. This means it’s definitely possible to make good money as a freelancer, but only if you have skills that are in-demand (and therefore  well compensated). Here are some of the most highly-paid skills for freelancers.


Copywriters are the people who write the words that sell or market a product or service, such as sales pages, web copy, brochures, and advertisement. That’s why good ones are in demand, because the return on investment can be significant and immediate. A sales letter may only be a page long, and an advert might only be a few sentences, but if that copy sells a million dollars’ worth of products then it’s money well spent, and easily justified.

Roy Furr in his writing for the American Writers and Artists Institute, suggests that top copywriters (those who are both highly skilled and want to earn top fees) should negotiate a payment-by-results style contract whereby they get paid royalties on the sales that their copy makes. This is because a new sales page might be quite short and therefore not seem as though it’s worth that much, but if it generates thousands, or millions, of dollars in revenue, then the writer should perhaps be compensated for this.

SEO Content Writing

While writing may seem like a single skill, creating search engine optimized content is actually a different skill set from copy writing. The aim here is to attract readers, leads and customers, not necessarily to sell to them. The skills needed may include researching and assessing keywords, as well as writing content that naturally includes them, and follows all best practices (from quality, to length, to keyword density).

SEO writers require in-depth knowledge of on-page SEO, as well as an understanding of off-page SEO/inbound marketing, to create content that works for companies. The content needs to rank well in the Search Engine Result Pages, and the titles and descriptions that show up in the results need to compel readers to click on and consume that content. Ideally they will also enjoy and share that content, and take some action, such as signing up for updates or even checking out a product or service, but generally speaking good content should not read like sales copy.

Content Marketing

This is related to content writing, and may well include creating, commissioning, or curating written content, along with images and videos. However it also goes a little further. It focuses on using the content to build a brand, attract traffic and leads, and ultimately market the company’s offerings.  It tends to involve devising holistic marketing campaigns, in a consistent brand voice, across multiple platforms.

Whereas SEO content writers are primarily concerned with on-page SEO, content marketers need a wider skill set focused on inbound marketing. They’ll need to know about how to optimize web content through using off-page SEO, such as building back links, and social media marketing. They’ll also need to know a lot about analysing results and targeting adverts and marketing materials, so they’ll need more technical skills than the content writers.

Social Media Management

Good social media managers are in demand, because buying decisions are increasingly made on social media. However, if you think you’d make a good social media marketer because you like scrolling through Instagram, think again. That’s only a small part of what social media managers do, and they do it with a very different mindset than the average user.

Social media managers are looking to support content marketing managers (in fact, social media management may be part of the content marketer’s job description) in creating revenue for brands by delivering paying customers to their websites and sales pages. Like the content marketer, their job can be fairly technical, focusing on data analysis to see which posts and adverts drive engagement, conversions and sales, and working to carefully target certain keywords, as well as working on ensuring the proper targeting and re-targeting of social media ads.

Video Filming and Editing

You’re probably aware that the top executives at a particular company are not the ones making all those TikTok and YouTube videos. When brands have a good presence on these platforms, they are employing either in-house staff or freelancers to make and edit the content.

Filming and editing skills are also needed to make web and TV commercials, marketing videos, training videos, and for the recording of events such as talks, lectures and conferences. In a world where visual marketing is vital, and videos can get millions of views and send interested customers into the brand’s sales funnel, those able to make compelling video content are highly in demand.


Whether you specialise in visual design, user experience, or a very specific design niche, you’re likely to find your skills are in demand. Design is another one of those things, much like written or video content, that we may not think about that much as a consumer, but that can greatly impact our decision as to whether to spend money with a particular company.

Eye-catching graphics, a beautifully designed website, or an easy, flowy, fun user experience can make the difference between us bouncing away from a site, or staying and paying for what they have to offer. For this reason, you’ll find brands are willing to pay generously for the type of design skills that they know will impact their customers and ultimately provide a high ROI.

Technical Skills

It is perhaps misleading to make this one category, because there’s such a wide range of tech skills in demand. In short, if you have skills in software development, coding, IT automation, AI and machine learning, cloud computing, or something similar, you’re set.

There are a wide range of roles available to tech-savvy freelancers. Excellent technical trouble shooter? You might want to offer advanced tech support in a specific area. Brilliant at developing apps? You may have noticed that almost every major brand has one or wants one (or wants their existing one improved).

The first step to becoming a successful freelancer is of course, developing the skills. If you already have them and are ready to start pitching the brands or agencies you’d like to work with, remember to lead with the results (and revenue) you can generate for them. As with any job, landing the lucrative pay deals is all about what you can do for the person paying you, in terms of increasing their return on investment.

About the Author

Karen Banes

I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website or follow me on

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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