Steal These Freelance Business Ideas

If you’re a freelance web worker in 2013, man, these are exciting times. Am I right?

A few years ago, “going freelance” was a viable option only for those with a handful of skillsets: web developers, designers, illustrators, copywriters, and maybe a couple others.

But things are changing and changing fast. We’re in the midst of a web startup boom. Folks are launching innovative ideas all over the place. A few that caught my attention recently are Informly (your most important stats all in one view), Leeflets (a simple CMS, can’t wait to see the beta), Post Status (content stream of hand-picked WordPress News), Tweaky (marketplace for simple website tweaks), ManageWP (manage all your WP installs in one place), just to name a few of the top of my head. Everywhere you turn, someone is gaining traction with a new, pain-busting solution.

But this is not a post about coming up with the next winning starting idea.  It’s about the opportunities this startup culture presents for freelance web workers.

Are you getting tired of churning out WordPress website after website for clients?  Is managing SEO for clients getting more competitive and less rewarding?  Have some specialized skills but don’t know how to package and monetize them?

Here a couple ideas that I think are perfectly under-served and ripe for some talented freelancers to go after and make a name for themselves.

Now, obviously I haven’t taken the time to validate these (you’d do that by talking with potential customers, etc.). But I can tell you these are things that I’d pay someone to do if they rock at that particular skill.

Startup Data/Metrics Analyst

I’ll give you access to my Google Analytics account, my KISSmetrics, MixPanel accounts, and any other tools I use to track metrics of my startups, and you give me the actionable take-aways from that data.  You analyze the data week to week, find the trends and patterns, figure out what’s working, what’s not, and put it in a simple report that’s easy for me to digest and do something with.

It’s so crucially important for startups to be data-driven these days.  But many startup founders (like me) aren’t data hounds.  I excel at wireframing ideas, building things, and strategizing.  But when I start looking at rows and columns of stats, conversion rates, and the like, my eyes glaze over.  I get it, I just don’t enjoy it.  And when I don’t enjoy doing something, I don’t give it the time and attention it deserves.  That’s where you come in.

You could give your clients weekly reports, customized to their situation.  You can charge by the hour, or put together monthly retainer packages.  Or maybe even charge a percentage of increased revenue you generate for your client.  There are lots of ways to run with this.

Full Service Blogger

Newsflash:  (Killer) Content Marketing became insanely important in the last year or two.  Much more-so than ever.  Google’s algorithm changes, coupled with the increased reach of (real) social media (that is — real people recommending real content that gives them real value), makes content marketing a must for any web-based business.  In other words, your startup better come with an awesome blog.

But building an awesome blog takes tons of time and dedication.  Most startup founders and small teams don’t have the time, particularly if they’re bootstrapped.  So it’s something that must be outsourced.

OK – so hop on Elance and hire a few writers, right?  Well, it’s not that easy.  A truly effective blog requires much more work than just typing 800 words on a weekly basis.  Keyword research, topic research, editorial calendar development, expert interviews, source attribution, list-building, emailing articles, networking with other bloggers and influencers, guest blogging, social media promotion, article imagery, etc.  ALL of these things need to be dialed in if your startup’s blog will be worth it’s investment.

So here’s what I’m suggesting to all of you freelance writers:  Go beyond just being an “article writer” and be a “full service blogger”.  Do all of the things I listed above.  Your deliverable to the startup is an awesome blog that runs itself (run by you).  Dayne at Ghost Blog Writers is on the right track with this idea.  There has never been a better time to pursue this path.

Podcaster

Lets take this content marketing path a step further, shall we?

Building trust in your space by pushing out great content isn’t just about blog articles.  Podcasts have been around forever, but seem to really be catching on with a wider audience in recent years.

A podcast is a very effective channel for building an audience and building exposure for your company.  But like anything else, podcasting is a lot of work.

Sure, technically, it’s easier than ever.  But creating and sustaining a killer podcast is no easy task.  You need to plan show topics, schedule big-name guests, plan your questions or talking points, edit the audio or video, upload to YouTube or other channels, email your list, yadda yadda.

What if startups could hire a freelance podcaster?  As a freelance podcaster, you’d dive into the startup’s space and learn everything you can about it. Research who the big names are, the hot topics, etc.  Then you host and broadcast the show on a weekly basis, and build that audience for your client (not to mention, making a name for yourself in the process).

Startup Video Producer

Every startup needs an engaging video to put on their homepage, explaining what they do in a 60 second nutshell.  It’s as much about video production as it is about copywriting and marketing.

As a video producer specializing in web startups, you bring these mix of skills to the table and help your startup clients tell their story and convert more visitors to users.

There are a number of folks already rocking this service, like Shawn Hesketh and Piehole.tv.  But there’s more than enough room for more specialized video producers to get in the mix.

Other Ideas?

I could go on all day brainstorming new and different business paths for freelance web workers, capitalizing on today’s rise of the small web startup.

I think it’s kinda fun to put together value packages and pricing models for these things.  If anyone ever wants to bat some ideas around just for kicks – you know where to find me :)

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Discuss

  • http://www.mikepearcedesign.com Mike Pearace

    Great post Brian!

  • http://rootbuzz.com Tom Harrigan

    Hey Brian, I did a startup roundtable with a company called SEOmetrics last year, they have something like the data/metrics idea you were describing, might be worth taking a look at if it’s something you could use.

    • Brian Casel

      Cool! Good to hear somebody’s doing that.

  • http://psssoftware.net/ phpguy

    w3c validating pages and websites
    speed optimizations
    conversion analyiss in its simplest form (ab/testing)

    I really liked your first one wouldnt that be the coolest job :-)

    • http://Natmobi.com Eric

      The prevailing term for a person that specializes in increasing conversions by using data is “growth hacker”

  • http://www.about.me/Stanley Stanley Griggs II

    Great Post.

  • http://preeminentproductions.com Anthony

    Awesome! Great ideas. I’m right there with you on the first suggestion of providing weekly analytics. It’s funny, because I would like that for myself, but ironically am planning to offer that service with the project I’m about to launch.

    • Brian Casel

      Great way to find a good pain point to solve. Solve it for yourself first!

  • Eliza

    This is a great post. Cool ideas!

  • http://keirabui.com/ Keira Bui

    Very great post! I’ve just started a new blog and I wish I could hire a ghost writer already. I won’t do that because I want to get better at writing but still… :)

  • http://bluefantail.com Elijah Murray

    Already working on one of those ideas–at least in some variant ;)

    Brilliant list! Glad to see someone is still thinking.

  • Bill Horvath II

    Just FYI, most of what you’re talking about here is covered by hubspot.com.

    • Brian Casel

      That may be a positive for a solo freelancer as well, since they can offer a lower-cost, more personalized service than a bigger company like HubSpot.

  • LM

    Re: Startup Video Producer

    Videoigniter.com is more cost effective for start ups

    • Brian Casel

      Cool, haven’t seen that one.

    • http://www.piehole.tv James Kennedy

      Hi LM

      Nice work on the videoigniter.com landing page. Just FYI; our pricing starts at the same level as you guys do.

      James

  • http://www.cebutravelbug.wordpress.com Koi

    I guess I’m gonna switch being a podcaster..LOL! This post is beefy with relevant information.;)

  • http://kickstartwedding.com Hisyam

    How about video interview producer? I would pay for someone to make once-a-week interview videos with my users.

    • Brian Casel

      Do you mean public interviews for consumption? Or user interviews for your own internal learning/feedback? If the latter, then I think that job is best done by the startup founders. Learning from customers is maybe THE most important thing you can do. Not something to be outsourced.

      • http://kickstartwedding.com Hisyam

        I meant video interviews for public consumption.

        • Brian Casel

          Ah yes. Would be great to outsource a public video series. I can tell you from experience that the process of finding and booking guests and pre-interview prep is very time consuming. BUT great interviews are an incredibly valuable form of content.

        • http://www.piehole.tv James Kennedy

          I like this idea. We run a voice over website called piehole.co.uk and we do weekly blog posts about our customers, but a video interview would be great. Getting a consistent setup (light, sound etc) is a bit of a pain. Even someone who records themselves answering standard questions on a ‘black screen’ with white writing. I think some filters could be put on the interviews to give them a consisten look and feel.

          It think having an interview with someone on our site would, IMHO, create a much better link with our customers and I’d expect it to limit churn.

          James

  • http://inform.ly Dan Norris

    Hey Brian thanks for the mention mate and I love this idea for this post. The problem I see though is that a lot of freelancers are trying to get out of the trading time for money thing and want to move out of services.

    All of the things mentioned here are services. Sure they are pretty unique but if freelancers already have a skill then wouldn’t they be better served by using that skill to develop a more product-focused business.

    You mentioned Tweaky that’s a great example of taking a service type business and turning into a product type business. I think this is the kind of thing that freelancers could have a crack at.

    • Brian Casel

      Thanks Dan – yes you’re right. These are definitely service ideas, not very scalable (unless you build out a team around the idea).

      I guess the point was that there are opportunities out there in the world of startups, that don’t require you to invest in building your own product or take a full-time job at someone else’s startup.

  • http://www.benlinford.co.uk Ben Linford

    Great post, great times.
    I definitely think web business efficiency is a good space to get into.
    It would come with a somewhat lesser risk in terms of entry too, as it’s obviously B2B.
    If you could nail a percentage of increased income too, you really can make the most of the relationship with existing clients.
    You could almost ‘live off’ of a small number of clients that you choose to excel with.

    • Brian Casel

      Ya that’s an interesting one. I always prefer B2B ideas. The % of income could work, though the terms would have to be very clearly defined from the outset.

  • http://www.sproutmobi.com Ben Rogers

    Hey Brian,

    Great suggestions. I especially like your call out for video services. This was something we recently realized we needed on our site. We used a service called Wyzowl that did a great job.

  • http://webgrrrl.net Lorna

    I’m hearing a few of my friends who are WP theme developers lamenting their fates after the Envato + WordPress + GPL storm. I mentioned to them about branching out into WP website optimization consultation, focusing on responsive designs (a dash of SEO doesn’t hurt). As for me, I’m working on my own pain-busting solution called WPFork, which allows people to package their WP installed with pre-installed themes and plugins as they choose. Mere plugin and backend development just isn’t cutting it for me now.

    So, excellent article, Brian. And timely, too.

  • http://www.towoglo.com/ David Shallcross

    Being in the online freelance industry, i must say that the freelance industry is getting more and more competitive. A well written article, does highlight some important points. I do believe that its important to show your advocacy in your field. Its important to engage in blogs, articles etc. and contribute something extra. Creating a social presence is also important in the field of freelancing. Lets not forget that the freelancing market is growing by the day and the competition is getting tougher..

    To all the freelancers out there! Towoglo is offering a free 1 year premium membership. So dont miss this golden opportunity and join in soon! http://www.towoglo.com

  • http://www.towoglo.com/ David Shallcross

    A well written article i must say! I must stress on the point the freelancing industry is booming like never before. The competition is getting more intense. it’s vital that the freelancer shines in his or her field. The freelancer needs to engage in the online communities and show their advocacy. This would make them shine and be more vocal. It also increases the credibility of the freelancer, which would in turn help the freelancer get more contracts. Its all about being visible online.

    A big shout to all the freelancers! Towoglo is offering a free 1 year premium membership to all the freelancers and companies. So dont miss this opportunity and join in soon! http://www.towoglo.com

  • fame

    Hi, I need advice please. I am a hotel management graduate and I have also done Masters in hospitality. I need ideas for new business with small capital investment. I have good knowledge of food and beverage and other hotel related stuff and events.