CNBC make it 2024-02-14 10:50:51

3 in-demand freelance jobs that you can do from home—one can pay $500 an hour

More Americans are experimenting with freelancing, either as a side hustle or a full-time career. 

The number of professionals freelancing in the U.S. hit an all-time high in 2023, increasing to 64 million people, or 38% of the U.S. workforce, from 60 million the year earlier, according to recent research from Upwork. 

Businesses are increasingly relying on freelancers to save on headcount and real estate expenses, Yoav Hornung, head of verticals and innovation at Fiverr, tells CNBC Make It

But the services businesses are hiring independent contractors for are constantly changing, Hornung says. For example: In recent months, Fiverr has seen a marked increase in requests for AI professionals, including video editors and prompt engineers, who can help businesses leverage AI technologies to be more efficient or profitable. 

In addition to AI services, here are three of the most in-demand freelance services for 2024, according to Fiverr, including what professionals on the platform are charging for them. All of these gigs can be done from home and pay over $100 per project:

Video editing 

Video editors work in post-production, assembling raw footage into finished packages using different software applications. Two kinds of video editing have seen “huge demand” as of late, according to Hornung: AI video editing and social media video editing. 

Between January and July 2023, searches for AI video editors increased by more than 625% on Fiverr. These creators leverage AI to customize video backgrounds, generate voiceovers and enhance audio and visual elements, among other services.

Video editing for short-form content is another in-demand skill. “The increasing popularity of ‘snackable’ content in the form of Reels, Shorts and TikTok has spiked demand for freelancers who can make snappy, engaging content for brands,” Hornung says.

Video editors on Fiverr typically charge at least $100 per project. 

Social media management and content creation

Social media managers and specialists develop, edit and promote content across different channels for a client or organization to engage with and grow their audience.

The value of a strong online presence for brands and businesses has “never been higher,” says Hornung, as more people — especially younger consumers — shop on social media platforms. 

One skill that will be “especially valuable” for freelance social media managers to possess in 2024, he adds, is the ability to create content that feels “authentic and genuine” for clients as more consumers demand authenticity and transparency from the brands they support.

Social media managers and specialists charge at least $150 per project.

Mobile app development 

Mobile app developers are software engineers who create apps for smartphones, tablets, computers and other devices. These professionals typically work alongside graphic designers and data scientists. 

Globally, people recorded nearly 77 billion mobile app downloads during the first half of 2023, up 3% from 2022, according to, a data analytics tool. 

Hornung points out that, on Fiverr, searches for “app development” have seen a consistent increase since the start of 2023. He explains that more brands are adopting mobile-first strategies to meet consumers’ growing preference for interacting with businesses through their phones versus computers or in person.

Mobile app developers charge at least $500 per project. 

If you’re considering a freelance career or side hustle in any of these fields, it’s not enough to learn the technical skills you’ll need to do the job — what sets the most successful freelancers apart, says Hornung, is their soft skills and endorsements. 

“Trust is king,” he says. “Investing in soft skills such as communication and organization, and proof of how you’ve used these skills, can go a long way in establishing trust between freelance professionals and their clientele base.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

The salary negotiation trick that works ‘time and time again,’ says ex-Goldman Sachs recruiter

It’s never been easier to see how much a job will pay before you go into an interview.

More than a dozen states, cities, counties and Washington, D.C. have passed pay disclosure laws, where employers of a certain size are required to list the salary range of an open job. And more than 1 in 4 workers in the U.S. now lives in a place where they’re entitled to see pay ranges on job ads.

But once you have that information, how can you actually leverage pay ranges to negotiate a job offer?

It’s as simple as asking one straightforward question in a job interview, says Chanelle Howell, 31, a New York City-based recruiter who’s interviewed hundreds while working for Goldman Sachs, Bridgewater Associates and through her own consulting company.

She recently gave this example: Say you’re interviewing for a position that states the salary range is $100,000 to $150,000.

In an interview with the hiring manager or recruiter, ask: “Can you tell me what skills and experiences separate the $100,000 candidate from the $150,000 candidate?”

This question will prompt the interviewer to explain their compensation strategy for the role. For example, they might say a candidate in the top end of the range has a certain number of years in the field, managed a certain number of people, led specific projects or is an expert in specific skills.

Use this information to then shape what skills and accomplishments you can discuss based on your own background. The key is to repeat these qualities throughout your interview, Howell says, to help build your case for why you’re a star candidate.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to acing your interview and landing your dream job

Then, “later in the negotiation process, you can use their literal words to justify why you deserve more money,” Howell says. By the time you reach final conversations and get a verbal offer, it’s time to run through how you meet the expectations of a top-paid candidate, then counter the offer with your desired pay at the top end of the range.

“The key is to push your potential employer to quantify exactly why someone deserves that dollar amount and then to create your story around that,” Howell says.

Put another way, “get them to give you the answers.”

What to do if you don’t know the salary range

Even if you don’t live in a state or city where pay range disclosures are required by law, you can still point out that it’s a growing practice and that you’d like to apply it in your situation: “Given new pay transparency laws, a lot of companies are sharing pay ranges with candidates. Can you share the range for this role?”

Howell says she’s seen this strategy work “time and time again” among the people she coaches. One recent client who works in marketing used this framework to negotiate a 20% increase in the initial offer, or a roughly $15,000 to $20,000 boost.

Of course, in addition to presenting herself well during the interview, “she was the best candidate,” Howell adds.

Some job descriptions may list salary ranges that are too wide to be helpful. In those cases, still ask what puts a candidate at the top of the range. For example, a recruiter might say the top of the range is reserved for someone with decades of experience, or a level of seniority you don’t have yet. If that’s the case, Howell recommends asking what the median pay level is expected to be, and what helps a qualified candidate stand out even a little more than that.

And just because you don’t get the very top of the range right away doesn’t mean you won’t work your way there. Howell says it’s possible the posted range includes the salary growth expected of the role after a few years.

Remember that the base pay range doesn’t always consider total compensation, Howell adds. Other elements like a signing bonus, performance-based bonuses and equity can be negotiated at a later stage.

That’s especially important as wage growth has slowed following a post-pandemic rise.

Ultimately, “your first calls with the recruiter or hiring manager are fact-finding missions to use those tidbits of information to build your case at the end and state why you deserve more money,” Howell says.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

32-year-old former Google employee: I saved $400,000 living at home with my parents for 12 years

In 2012, I graduated from college and got a job at Google. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive places in the U.S., and my Asian parents always said that renting was a waste of money.

So after I finished school, it just made sense for me to live at home while I got on my feet. Even though I planned to get my own place at some point, I ended up living at home for 12 years. When I moved out this past December, I had $400,000 saved and invested from both my 9-to-5 income and earnings as an entrepreneur.

While it wasn’t the path I anticipated, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Here’s why I don’t regret it:

1. I wasn’t bombarded with bills 

Living at home, I didn’t have to worry about bills, car payments, or rent. At Google, they even provided a shuttle service to work and sometimes clothes.

In my early 20s, my meals were split 50/50 between my parent’s cooking and the Google cafeterias. As I got older, I did the majority of my cooking and grocery shopping, often buying in bulk from Costco.

Without these expenses, I found that I was more thoughtful about the financial habits I wanted to establish, without struggling to make ends meet or going into debt. 

2. I became a pro at managing my money 

I’m lucky to have family members who are knowledgeable about money, including my dad, who is a financial advisor and insurance agent. Their biggest piece of advice was “don’t let your money just sit in a bank.”

So I joined a financial wellness group, created a consistent budget, and set up three emergency funds (with three to six months of expenses) in high-yield savings accounts and credit unions.

Using Vanguard founder John Bogle’s 10 investing principles, I learned to invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs. I also maxed out my retirement contributions at work.

3. I learned to prioritize self-care  

There were times when living at home took a toll on my mental health, but I made a real effort to prioritize self-care and personal growth. 

I allocated about a third of my annual budget to things like a gym membership, weekly therapy sessions, self-help books, and a career coach to bolster my overall well-being.

4. I was able to pivot to a new career

Like so many people in the tech industry, I was burned out in my job. So in 2017, I left Google and the 9-to-5 grind, to focus on what I was really passionate about.

In 2018, I started teaching yoga, and five years later, I pivoted to another passion of mine: music. I opened Claudia’s Music Studio in 2021 and have been happily teaching full-time ever since. 

In the winter of 2022, most of my students were on break. With time to spare, I found myself visiting my local Costco store a few times a week. I got to know the staff, and one of the managers jokingly said: “You’re always here, you should do something on social media.”

Inspired, I started an Instagram account called Costco Claudia. I try on the latest Costco styles and have 183,000 followers and counting. It’s grown from a fun hobby into something of a new career path.

5. I got to choose a home that is right for me

In December 2023, I moved into my first place in Fremont, California. I currently sublet a one-bedroom for $2,000 a month.

For utilities, I spend about $255 a month: $92 for water and trash collection, $68 for internet, and $95 for electricity. I’m still frugal and love thrifting and bargains. I even bought most of my home furnishings from Costco.

The apartment is a 10-minute drive from my parent’s house. I didn’t expect to live at home for as long as I did, and I know I’m not alone, especially in the Bay Area where one in four millennials and three in four Gen Zers do the same.

There can be so much stigma around living at home, but I know it was the best choice for me. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, and I’m excited for my next chapter. 

Claudia Chee is a Bay Area native and former Google employee turned entrepreneur. Today, she is a piano teacher, the owner of Claudia’s Music Studio, and a social media influencer who enjoys sharing her love of Costco on Instagram.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

How two lawyers worth $2.3 million tackled their biggest money fight

Rachel and Brian are married lawyers with a joint net worth of $2.3 million.

For them, “money has been representative of fun and freedom,” Rachel, 51, told bestselling author and Netflix star Ramit Sethi on a recent episode of his “I Will Teach You to be Rich” podcast. Their last names were not used.

But recently, Brian, 56, revealed he wants to retire in the next year or two.

“That completely paralyzed me,” Rachel said on the podcast.

The revelation led to a major fight. Rachel is anxious that Brian is underestimating how much money he will need to actually stop working and they would become dependent on her income to make ends meet. Brian wants Rachel to feel secure, but he’s confident that he’s well-positioned to retire soon.

The couple earns a combined $270,000 a year. Their only debt is around $96,000 on a mortgage on one of their homes — they own the other one outright. Between their retirement and brokerage accounts, they have over $1 million invested.

Here’s why they asked Sethi for help.

Separate finances, separate relationships with money

Part of the reason for Rachel’s shock when Brian told her he wanted to retire early is that she didn’t know how much money he had already saved. The couple has kept their finances separate for the entirety of their eight-year marriage.

“What separate accounts usually reveal is that the couple never had a series of specific conversations about money,” Sethi said on the podcast. “Almost always, separate accounts reveal that they don’t have a joint rich life vision together.”

That felt true for Rachel. “It was like we were from two different universes and we weren’t even speaking the same language,” she said.

While Sethi emphasized it’s OK if a couple wants to keep their money separate, he wanted to get to the bottom of Rachel and Brian’s differing attitudes toward money.

They both grew up comfortably, with parents who paid for college and grad school. But Rachel’s parents were a teacher and a librarian, whereas one of Brian’s was a bank CEO. This led to varying comfort levels and different money lessons.

“You worked as hard as you could in order to bring in money. You saved it for some indeterminate period,” Rachel said, characterizing her parents’ mindsets. Some of the major financial help from her parents came with a condition, like helping her buy a house so they could get a tax write-off. She was later laid off and struggled to pay her mortgage.

Brian, on the other hand, admitted he was spoiled growing up. And as a young adult, his parents gave him the down payment for his first house.

“I was a little bit more sheltered with money,” he said. “I probably didn’t have the appreciation for it.”

It’s not about the number

Ultimately, “the way you feel about money is highly uncorrelated to the amount in your bank account,” Sethi told the couple.

The argument about Brian’s desire to retire early wasn’t actually about having enough saved. It came down to their differing views on money, the couple realized.

Rachel realized she was holding onto fear and anxiety about losing her house or falling into financial turmoil because she had been through that before. Similarly, Brian’s confidence stemmed partly from the fact that he hasn’t had the same financial difficulties as Rachel.

After speaking with Sethi and walking through their options, Rachel and Brian both see that they could have avoided this argument altogether by talking through their emotions and having regular money conversations.

“There are usually a lot of different paths to a rich life,” Sethi said. “But in order to find the best path, you have to acknowledge how you feel about money.”

Check out the full podcast episode here.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

3 ways to make yourself happier, says a psychologist from Finland—the happiest country in the world

For six years and counting, Finland has been the happiest country in the world.

But it’s a common misconception to think the people there are simply born with a positive outlook on life, says Frank Martela, a Finnish psychology researcher and philosopher. “It would be more accurate to say that Finland is the country that has the least unhappy people in the world,” Martela tells CNBC Make It.

That’s largely due to three tenets, common in Finnish society, that help foster happiness, Martela says:

  1. A strong sense of community and relatedness
  2. Doing good deeds for other people
  3. Finding a clear purpose for oneself

Here’s why they’re so “crucial,” and how to incorporate them into your daily life, according to Martela.

Community, charity and a clear purpose

“Having people around you who care about you, and whom you care about, makes people happy,” Martela says. “Luckily, that can be true even in very dire material conditions.” Even without a stable home, people can find happiness by hanging out with friends, visiting families and connecting with others over card games or other fun activities, studies show.

As for doing good deeds for other people, a 2023 Ohio State University study of 122 people with anxiety, depression and stress found that performing acts of kindness for others gave them a greater sense of life satisfaction and happiness. These can be small actions, like telling someone they look great today — or bigger ones, like helping out a colleague on a project or buying a thoughtful gift for a loved one.

“When you help someone, when you [have a] positive impact on others, your own happiness and sense of meaningfulness increases,” says Martela. “In situations of crisis, opportunities to help each other are typically plenty, and this helps also to build a sense of solidarity.”

Finding your “purpose” may be the hardest of the three. If you’re unsure about this one, make a list of what makes you happy in life,” Harvard University visiting scholar Suneel Gupta advised in his recent book “Everyday Dharma: 8 Essential Practices For Finding Success and Joy in Everything You Do.” Then, figure out what ties those things together.

″[A] strong sense of purpose also makes it easier to tolerate bad conditions,” Martela says. “In fact, focusing on changing those conditions is one obvious source of purpose that could animate the person and help to find meaning in their present situation.”

Institutions play a big role in Finland’s happiness

There’s another “key” aspect to Finland’s overall morale says Martela: “Well-functioning governmental institutions. I tend to say that governments can’t make people happy, but they can remove many sources of happiness.”

Affordable health care and education, for example, are aspirational goals in many countries across the world. For Finland, it’s their reality. “How your country is running has a huge impact on your happiness,” Martela says.

If you’re surrounded by economic, political or social unrest “no amount of mindfulness or gratitude diaries or other popular interventions” will significantly impact your happiness, he adds.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.