3 Steps for Turning Your Existing Skills Into an Online Income
Despite the massive boom in freelancing, many baby boomers and Gen Xers still have the impression that developing an online income is unrealistic or somehow out of reach for them.
Their thinking goes that you need to have advanced skills in a technical field like programming or web design to build an online income.
But in fact, there is huge demand for all sorts of skills on freelancing networks, meaning no matter what your career background, you can find good-paying assignments online. Better yet, clients on freelancing platforms actually prefer to hire boomers and Gen Xers because of their experience and professionalism.
So, yes, you can turn your existing skills into an online freelance income you control…starting as soon as today.
But first you need to understand that you’re not going to go from the exact job you’re in now (or recently retired from) to an extremely similar position as an online freelancer. That rarely happens. The world of online freelancing works differently.
Visit a major freelancing platform and you won’t find traditional job postings. Clients are not looking to hire workers (at least, not openly). They’re looking for people to complete specific individual assignments.
To build a good online freelancing income, you take on some of these assignments, starting out with small easy ones you can complete quickly in your free time.
Based on your performance on the simple stuff, some of your clients will give you larger and more lucrative work. In many cases, this also leads to repeat assignments, so typically you end up working regularly with two or three core clients.
The great advantage of online freelancing—why it’s perfect for those of us approaching or enjoying retirement—is that you retain complete control of what you do and how often you work.
Want to replace your existing salary with a full-time portable income? That’s doable. Want to work 10 or 20 hours a week, on a schedule you decide, so you can live richer in retirement? Online freelancing is your ticket.
And, surprising to many, you can earn doing something you actually enjoy.
Many boomers and Gen Xers find that the expertise they use to earn online comes from their personal lives rather than their careers. So, before you start applying for freelancing gigs, consider your hobbies and interests as well as your professional skills.
For example, do you coach Little League or help organize fundraisers for a local charity? Do you have a lifelong passion for photography? Do you have an avid interest in genealogy, or a certain type of art?
When combined with skills like proofreading, editing, writing, creating presentations, etc., these are abilities you can use to build a freelancing income.
So, if you’re ready to start earning online using your existing skills, these should be your first steps:
1. Make a Comprehensive List of Your Skills
Find a comfortable place and sit down with a notepad. Start listing not just your occupations over the decades, but the skills you used in those occupations. Analysis, project management, customer service, writing, experience with various software packages, training skills…you likely have hundreds of abilities to jot down, but for our purposes 20 to 30 will do.
And as mentioned above, you want to consider non-career skills as well.
2. Sign Up on a Freelancing Network
There are over 150 job and project networks online where you can find small assignments. And these networks are estimated to have well over 300,000 open assignments every day.
Working on all these systems requires a profile. It is like a resume but must be crafted differently. (For help building your profile and getting started on these networks, take part in our upcoming project. Find out more here.)
3. Start Small With Simple Assignments
Take on small, one- to two-hour assignments to showcase your skill set and begin building a four- to five-star rating on your preferred platform.
This is a critical aspect of working online. You want to grow your reputation by working on smaller assignments and satisfying clients.
Working on simple assignments over a period of two to three months will propel you to the meatier tasks and longer-term relationships that will help you build a stable freelance income.
This is a process I have seen work time and time again with boomers I have helped explore online freelancing.
There is the retired teacher who now proofreads articles and training programs for websites. She helps her clients avoid embarrassing mistakes that would lower their credibility in the eyes of their readers.
There is the nurse from San Diego who retired early so she could travel through Latin America. After decades of helping taking care of people, she now produces articles with health advice. In many cases she is drawing on the same skills and knowledge she used in her career. The difference is, she files her stories online, and can earn from any place she travels.
Then there’s the schoolteacher and gardening enthusiast who is proofreading for a gardening website, but doing it from a small, beachside town in Latin America.
I could go on and on. The opportunities are real and they are out there. So, put aside any lingering doubts or worries about trying something new. Earning online may work slightly differently, but it’s a genuine way to unlock the earnings you need to retire in the time and place of your choosing.
By Winton Churchill