Setting your own hours, taking vacation whenever you want, working from home (maybe even in your pajamas)… who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? These days, between the gig economy and the flexibility of a largely remote work world, it’s easier than ever to make money from an independent job.
So whether you’re a student looking for a way to pay for books and late-night pizzas, a free spirit who can’t stand the 9-to-5 life, or just someone looking to make extra cash from a side hustle, you’re sure to be a good fit for one of the independent jobs below.
10 of the Best Independent Jobs
1. Dog walking and pet-sitting
If you’re like most people on this planet, you probably enjoy your fair share of quality time with man’s best friend. Why not monetize that by becoming a dog walker or pet-sitter? This is a great independent job for its flexibility – you can work as much or as little as you want, filling a roster of regular clients or simply working when you have the time and need the cash.
Apps like Wag have made it easier than ever to be your own boss walking or boarding dogs for money. The advantage of using an app is that you get automatic access to a customer base instead of having to build one from scratch. An app or website also protects both workers and customers, creating and enforcing policies that keep everyone safe and make sure everyone gets paid fairly.
Whether you decide to go that route or start a dog walking or pet-sitting business from scratch, this is a great way to make money (and have some fun!), particularly in densely populated areas.
House-sitting can be a gold mine if you can manage to break in (no pun intended) to the business. Depending on your clientele and required duties, you can make upwards of $100 per night taking care of someone’s property while they’re out of town.
Obviously the responsibilities of the job vary widely, so make sure you get all the details upfront to confirm that you’re up to the task and are being paid fairly. For example, some house-sitting jobs consist simply of staying on the property or checking in regularly to ensure nothing has gone wrong, while others require taking care of pets, plants, or maintenance issues like pool cleaning. Sites like Housesitter.com can help you get started.
One of the most tried-and-true side hustles for students and professionals alike, tutoring is a popular independent job for a reason. Opportunities are endless and the potential income is promising depending on your experience, specialties, location, and clientele. While some of the highest-paying opportunities are in test prep (i.e., SAT or ACT prep for high schoolers), you can make extra cash tutoring in pretty much anything.
If you were that person in school who everyone was always coming to for study tips, consider selling your services as a tutor. Tutors.com is a great place to start building a client base, and tutoring is extremely easy to do virtually via Zoom or Skype, making location a non-issue when it comes to matching up with students.
4. Social media manager
Let’s face it, you’re already on social media all the time anyway. Why not make some money out of it? If you’re that member of your friend group who’s constantly getting likes and comments on your awesome content, you might be a great fit as a social media manager for a local business or entrepreneur. Like many of the jobs on this list, this is the type of job that can be full-time or part-time, and may be able to be done remotely depending on the kind of businesses/entrepreneurs you work with.
5. Independent sales contractor
Have your friends, family and coworkers always called you a “people person”? Do you enjoy a challenge and a healthy dose of competition? If so, you might be able to make a lot of money as a sales contractor. These types of jobs are great for people who want to create their own hours and work independently while still getting that social fix. Working as a sales contractor while going to school is also a great way to build job experience if you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do as a career.
6. Delivery driving
2020 was mostly a terrible year, but you’d have to admit it was pretty good for anyone working as a delivery food driver. Whether it’s Postmates, UberEats, InstaCart, or any of the other many food delivery apps out there, there are tons of ways to make money delivering take-out and groceries these days. And as with many of the best independent jobs, you clock in and out whenever you want.
Of course, this independent job requires that you have a driver’s license and a reliable car. But if you don’t mind spending time on the road, this can be a lucrative side hustle or full-time gig for someone who needs flexibility and independence. Throw on an audiobook, podcast, or killer playlist and rack up the dollar bills.
This independent job has most of the same advantages as delivery driving, and through the apps Uber and Lyft, it’s easy enough to get started as long as you meet the basic requirements – i.e., being able to legally drive and having a car. Of course, one major difference between delivery driving and driving for Uber and Lyft is that in the second scenario, you’re driving around actual people. This can be a pro or a con depending on your personality.
Babysitting isn’t just for high schoolers. This is a great independent job for students or anyone with free time on nights and weekends who wants to earn a little extra cash. If you’re great with kids or want a fun, energetic side gig, think about babysitting part-time or even starting a whole business.
Since it helps to have personal references when securing a babysitting gig, this business can be a little trickier to get into if you don’t have a lot of experience, but it’s certainly possible. Use your personal connections or try an online service like Care.com to start lining up clients.
9. Sell services on Fiverr or TaskRabbit
Odd jobbers, this one’s for you. When you’ve got a Saturday afternoon to kill and someone needs a couch moved, why not make a couple bucks? Or maybe you’ve got a special skill, like fixing phones, designing logos or organizing homes, that you’re ready to monetize. The skills you perfect and connections you make working these kinds of gigs can even help you build a foundation for your very own business.
10. Freelance writing/blogging
Are you that person everyone is always going to for grammar and spelling advice? Or maybe you’re constantly getting laughs from your friends with the amazing yarns you spin. If you’re a gifted writer or storyteller, consider becoming a freelance writer or blogger. This independent job is great for travelers or anyone who hates the 9-to-5 life, since you can usually work any time, from anywhere – as long as you’re good about meeting your deadlines.
There are a few routes you can take when it comes to freelance writing or blogging. One option is to sell your services to several different clients. That way, you can work as little or as much as you want and gain experience and knowledge in a variety of fields. An advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to generate ideas or build a platform and readership – you just write what’s assigned. Try sites like Freelancer.com to get started. Just note that you’ll likely need to show writing samples to prove your skills.
If you’re an ideas person and want more freedom, though, you might consider another option: starting and monetizing your own blog. Obviously this comes with the challenge of building an audience from the ground up, and you’ll need to create original, engaging content on an ongoing basis for it to be profitable. But it’s absolutely doable, and possibly very lucrative, with the right amount of drive and effort.
Tips for Success
Being your own boss has tons of advantages, namely freedom and flexibility – but a job is still a job, and being boss is no different. Check out the tips below to set yourself up for success on whatever independent job path you choose:
- Finding clients: When you work for yourself, you don’t have the advantage of an established client base. It’s your job to market yourself and form connections with people who will hopefully become clients. Luckily, the internet can connect you with tons of people at once, but you’ll still need to prove your value with personal references and, in some cases, examples of past work. And don’t stop at Craigslist posts and job boards – make some elegant-looking flyers and post them on bulletin boards in local coffee shops, book stores, or other establishments related to your business.
- Staying professional: Uncle Ben said with great power comes great responsibility. The same goes for the freedom you get with being your own boss. You may be working for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be professional. When it comes to communicating with clients, choosing headshots for your promotional materials and online profiles, and sticking to your schedule and engagements, treat your independent job like any other job.
- Covering your bases: When you work for yourself, you don’t have upper management to go to when a customer doesn’t pay you on time or constantly cancels their appointments at the last minute. Businesses have policies and contracts for this reason – you should do the same. Decide on some policies that you and your clients should adhere to, such as cancellation policies and when and how you will get paid, put it in writing, and get all parties to sign.
- Crossing t’s and dotting i’s: Another thing a traditional boss usually handles is the not-so-fun stuff like business insurance and taxes. The last thing you want is to get audited because you didn’t handle your books correctly. It may be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor or CPA to ensure you’re following all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to your business and income. For example, many cities require independent workers to file for a business license.