CNBC make it 2024-02-15 10:50:45

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.

This CEO built his company for $60 in one weekend—it brought in $80 million last year

Noah Kagan’s book “Million Dollar Weekend” isn’t about getting rich quick.

The multimillionaire founder and CEO of discount software firm AppSumo would be the first to tell you that he didn’t become wealthy overnight.

But by acting quickly and decisively when he realized he had a good idea on his hands, he put himself in the position to succeed. It took Kagan, now 41, just a few days in 2010 to found AppSumo, a company which brought in about $80 million in revenue last year.

Kagan’s idea: copying MacHeist, a site that offers discounted software bundles for Apple users, and making a similar service available for PC. Kagan emailed the founder of Imgur, an image-sharing service popular on Reddit, and offered to promote a discounted version of the software in exchange for a percentage of what he sold.

Then he reached out to Reddit’s founding engineer to ask if he could advertise the deal on the site for free.

“Why not?” Kagan recalls hearing. “Our users love Imgur. They’ll be thrilled to get a discount.”

He paid a developer in Pakistan $48 to build a website with a PayPal button and spent $12 on a domain name. One weekend, $60 down, and he was up and running. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you may be able to ensure that history repeats itself, Kagan says: “Literally, you can copy my model.”

Here are three steps he recommends for anyone looking to start a successful business in 48 hours.  

1. Get started now

Your natural instinct when looking to start a business may be to learn as much as you possibly can. You might spend days taking courses, reading books and watching YouTube videos to build up your expertise. But ultimately, you’re wasting time, Kagan says.

“You’ve got to start today. You can’t keep watching videos,” he says.

What does that mean? It means that you’ll likely have some ideas that don’t quite get off the ground and others that outright fail from the jump. Consider these experiments rather than failures, Kagan says — experiences you can learn from.

Successful entrepreneurs, Kagan writes, “take action first, get real feedback, and learn from that, which is a million times more valuable than any book or course. And quicker!”

2. ‘Practice the skill of asking’

Starting a small business, as Kagan describes it, is really a series of asks — a process you’ll have to get comfortable with if you want to succeed.

“You have to practice the skill of asking,” Kagan says. “Asking someone to be your customer, asking someone to be your partner, asking someone for feedback on your idea.”

The scariest part about asking is the possibility that you’ll be rejected. To assuage that feeling, Kagan reminds himself that, in the grand scheme of his life, none of the people rejecting him will end up being all that important. He even goes so far as to set a rejection goal for himself when rolling out a new idea or initiative.

″‘This is going to suck. Let me aim to get at least 20 rejections,’” he says he tells himself. “That alone helps me accept that I will get rejected and turn it more into a game versus a blow to my self-worth.”

3. Find a problem people will give you money to solve

When launching a business, you shouldn’t be looking to drum up excitement from a product. Rather, you should be looking to find existing demand and satisfy it.

“The most important thing is that you’re solving a problem people are excited to give you money for,” Kagan says. “You have to find a thing.”

Your process may lead you to many things that don’t work. Kagan’s mishaps include forays into online gambling (“no one came”) and lawn care (“no one wanted to give me money”).

When you have a potential hit on your hands, though, you’ll know it, he says, citing his company’s foray into offering discounted alternatives to popular software solutions.

“I asked people if they were interested in a DocuSign alternative,” he says. “I did $3,000 in 24 hours.”

Once you find something that works, double and triple down, Kagan says.

“The best business is the one that works,” he says. “I started three other businesses that did similar things. And when I finally cancelled those and really focused on the one that worked, that’s when my business really took off.”

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.

39-year-old millionaire who rents: Why I’m ‘so much happier’ not being a homeowner

Growing up in New York as the eighth of nine kids, my immigrant parents had big homeowner dreams for me.

So in 2013, at 28, my husband and I bought our first home: a two-bedroom, 1,496-square-foot house in Charlotte, North Carolina for $101,000. We had a 10-year-mortgage.

Having a real estate portfolio became a huge part of my financial identity. I thought it meant I was finally an adult. Over the course of a decade, we bought and sold three properties: our first home, a four-bedroom house, and a two-bedroom condo. I also paid off $300,000 of debt and made my first million. 

By 2019, I was a proud homeowner with a paid-off mortgage. During the pandemic, however, my goals changed, and I wanted more flexibility. So in 2022, we sold our property and started renting again.

Here’s why I’m so much happier now and don’t regret leaving homeownership behind.

I feel like my space is more manageable

Today, we rent a 1200-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in Charlotte for $2,553 a month.

We used to spend $3,400 on our monthly housing expenses when we lived in our four-bedroom, including $750 every month for maintenance and DIY projects. We also kept $20,000 in an emergency fund for unexpected issues, like when our washing machine flooded our laundry room.

Now we outsource maintenance headaches to our property manager. Our emergency fund covers closer to five months instead of three, and we sleep better at night.

Since downsizing, I’ve cut the time I spend on chores in half. And we love living with less clutter after discarding and donating many pieces of clothing and furniture.

I have access to the amenities I want 

Living in the suburbs during the pandemic, I felt a little isolated. It made me realize how much I wanted a walkable environment.

At my rental, I can easily stroll to restaurants and parks, and I’m a five-minute drive to theaters, museums and galleries. Our building has a rooftop, co-working space and gym, and holds many community events. 

Before landing on our apartment, we put in a cash offer in a highly competitive market for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo — without any of the amenities we wanted. We still didn’t get it. 

Had we moved into that condo, we would’ve been spending about $1800 more a month just to have access to the same kind of services. I’m glad we didn’t settle for something we didn’t like as much, just to say we’re homeowners.

I can invest more in myself and my future

With our money no longer tied up in real estate, we invested the proceeds of the property sales in more flexible options, like high-yield savings accounts and CDs. The passive income we’re getting from those investments now is enough to cover roughly $2,500 worth of monthly expenses.

We’ve been able to focus more on saving for retirement, too. Even maxing out our 401(k), IRA and FSA accounts, we still have money left over for other expenses, like traveling.

I’m an entrepreneur and financial educator. Thanks to our new living situation, I can invest more into growing my business and skills, set aside funds for conferences and networking events, and cover fun self-care activities like yoga, stand-up comedy, dance, and acting classes.

I wouldn’t change a thing 

I want to be clear that I don’t think it is a poor decision to own a home, and it isn’t financial folly to rent, if that’s what you feel is right. The flexibility of renting has given us the confidence to explore moving abroad, and maybe even own a home again in the future.

Many people still ask me why I’m renting when I can afford to buy a place, but I’ve learned to stop justifying it to others with different values. So the last time I was asked, I simply responded: “I’m happy where I am.” 

Bernadette Joy is the CEO of Crush Your Money Goals and a first-gen Filipina-American money coach. She has helped thousands ditch debt, master their savings, start investing and find financial peace. Bernadette paid off $300,000 of debt in three years, and became a millionaire in her 30s. Follow her on Instagram and YouTube.

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.