Jump on the new trend of freelancing in retirement

How freelancing can help you finally retire. Well, sort of.

Quick notes

·      Retirement is becoming increasingly difficult for many Americans

·      Becoming a freelancer can be challenging but worth it

·      Consider specialized knowledge or skills you have which might be valuable to others

These days, many folks at or near retirement age are finding that they can’t actually afford the retirement they always dreamed of. Disappearing pensions, delayed social security payouts, and inflation are all eating away at retirement savings. Most middle- and lower-class Americans are finding they simply don’t have enough. To combat this, many people have kept working longer and longer. Some have given up the idea of retiring altogether.

Others have the financial ability to retire, but find meaning in work and have a hard time stepping away from a busy, productive life. These people struggle with boredom and sometimes even depression during traditional retirement.

Luckily, whichever camp you find yourself in, the solution can be the same. Taking on freelancing gigs can provide something meaningful to do during your golden years, and also help pay off that second mortgage and provide a higher quality of life. Freelancing in retirement can take many forms, which is why almost everyone can find a way to start bringing in extra cash through freelance gigs.

What is freelancing?

Simply put, freelancing is the process of exchanging services for money without working directly for an employer. As an example, if you work for a lawn care company and receive a paycheck, you are an employee. If you are hired by your neighbor to take care of his property, you are working as a freelancer.

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The word “freelancer” was originally a medieval term for a knight who could be hired by anyone because he owed no allegiance to any specific lord. Today we don’t use the word to refer to people hired to fight, but instead for someone hired to complete a task as an individual instead of as part of a larger company.

Freelancing in retirement can look like many different things. You could do anything from making custom quilts to pet care or childcare, or even translation or transcription services. The possibilities are almost endless.

If you are good at art or have really nice handwriting, you can sell custom artwork or calligraphy. You can even offer simple services for people who might not have the time or desire to do them. Shopping, creating flashcards for students, or dog walking all fall under this category.

A good first step is to consider your expertise and skillset. If you’ve stayed current in the industry you worked in, you could probably start consulting or training people as a freelance industry trainer. For example, if you were a teacher, you could work as a tutor.

How to find freelancing gigs

Looking on freelancing websites is one of the quickest and easiest ways to find work, but it often isn’t the best paying work. Once you have done some freelance gigs, you can start charging more for your services. Many people set up their own websites after they have completed their first few gigs. Of course, you don’t have to do that. Other freelancers use only websites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or Craigslist to find freelance gigs.

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Some freelancers don’t even use the internet much at all. If they have a strong social network with a need for the services they are offering, then often they will find enough work through friends and family.

One of the best freelancing gigs is writing, but only if you’re good at it. And we don’t mean novel writing either. It’s extremely rare for novelists to make enough to pay the bills. Sorry to crush your dreams of becoming the next J. K. Rowling. The good news is, many places are willing to pay for articles to publish online or in print. Often, they are looking for people with specific expertise or perspective that you might be able to provide.

If you can write technical articles, grants, or sales and marketing copy, you are really in business. Or you could write a blog about your industry and monetize the traffic. Writing can be a hard industry to break into, but the potential is real.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

Learn about the benefits of continuing to be gainfully employed as well as tips for landing paying work post-retirement.  

Learn about different methods to pay down debt and decide which one is most likely to help you succeed.