The Ultimate Guide To Independent Contractor Jobs In 2021

15

Min Read

David Maina

Whether you’re looking to start a side hustle or dump your 9-to-5 job, you’ve probably considered taking on some independent contractor jobs. You’re not alone.

The gig economy has seen a surge in independent contractors in recent years.  And it’s easy to see why. Independent work offers much more flexibility, freedom, and autonomy over traditional jobs. You can also earn more when freelancing; top freelance earners report can rake in an annual salary as high as $11500.

If you are already working as an independent contractor and you are looking for other jobs, we'll talk about other options. Be sure to use Bonsai's 1099 business expense tracker to automatically maximize your tax savings throughout the year.

In this guide, we’ll demystify independent contractor jobs. Read on to understand what they are, their types, and how you can get started.

What are independent contractor jobs?

An independent contractor is someone who typically tackles projects under an agreement or contract. Sole proprietors, people working under Limited Liability Partnerships, and freelancers with incorporated businesses fall under this category.

That said, what are the benefits you enjoy as a contractor?

Benefits of 1099 jobs

Let's discuss the many benefits to being an independent contractor or your own solo business.

You’re free to take on work that interests you

Traditional jobs normally deny you the freedom to tackle projects that excite you the most. You may find yourself in a loop, doing the same old things that sip the enthusiasm out of you.

You can follow your own schedule

By working on your own time as an independent contractor, you reduce the chances of feeling overworked, and you can always take some-much needed rest whenever you please. A lot of independent contractors work remote or work from home. There's a lot of freedom that comes along with being a contractor.

You can increase your income

You decide the price of your services, so you can always demand higher pay. Besides, companies normally offer higher compensation to independent contractors, as they’re not eligible for other benefits and contractors need to pay for tools or resources on their own.

You get tax deductions

The IRS considers your home-based business a small business, so you get to enjoy more 1099 tax deductions.

Drawbacks of 1099 jobs

Although there are many advantages of being an independent contractor, there are also a lot of drawbacks. Let's talk about a some of them.

You pay for your own employee benefits

Working from home means you’re paying for your health and disability insurance out of pocket. A W-2 employee on the other hand would get insurance benefits from their employers.

You deal with complicated tax paperwork

Employees get to avoid the hassle that comes with processing their own tax returns. Being self-employed, you’ll have to deal with them, and you can easily get overwhelmed. Bonsai Tax can help you organize all of your receipts and track your business expenses so you can relax when tax season rolls around.

You have to endure feast and famine

When freelancing, you don’t enjoy the job security that comes with traditional work. Your monthly income can quickly dry up when you’re out of work.

What are the best independent contractor jobs?

The best part about self-employment is that you have the freedom to choose a contractor job that excites you the most, depending on your experience and expected income.

That said, we’ve divided this section into two:

  • 1099 jobs that require no experience
  • 1099 jobs that offer the highest pay

Independent contractor jobs that require no experience

Unsurprisingly, these jobs don’t offer the most attractive payrolls, but they allow you to dip your toes into solopreneurship.

Transcription

With a functioning desktop, a good pair of headphones, and a reliable internet connection, you can start transcribing online. It’s simple: you listen to an audio clip and you type what you hear. A fast typing speed, attentive listening, and a good command of English are the only qualities you need to thrive as a transcriptionist.  

After picking up enough experience, you can advance to legal, law enforcement, and medical transcription where you can command better pay.

Luckily, with the increasing demand for podcasts, the transcriptionist’s profession is unlikely to die out soon.

Virtual Assistance

A virtual assistant is one of the most in-demand online professions. The reason? Many companies want help but don’t want to incur the costs of hiring office staff. They instead opt for contract workers who can offer support remotely.

As a virtual assistant, your day-to-day duties may include: managing emails, creating online content, managing social media accounts, bookkeeping, among others. You’ll regularly be in constant communication with your team, so a reliable internet connection is a must-have.

Requiring little-to-no experience, virtual assistance will remain one of the most popular independent contractor jobs. You can start off as a TaskRabbit 1099 worker and offer this service part-time or full-time on the platform.

Delivering groceries or food

Delivering groceries is hardly the most glamorous work. You might be surprised, however, by how the 1099 job is in demand. People rarely ever get enough time to do the things they love, let alone go grocery shopping or get food. By taking this chore off their hands, you can save them some much-needed time, while also pocketing some quick cash. It's fairly simple to sign up to be a GrubHub 1099 or Instacart 1099 grocery shopper and start generating leads automatically.

To take your business to the next level, you can automate it. And thanks to the internet, automating such a business is an easy affair. You can set up a company email address where your customers send their orders. They can then pay online through PayPal or Stripe.

As you win more business, you can then combine trips to save time. You can buy all the groceries at the same time in one store, avoiding taking multiple trips.

Research Studies and Surveys

Participating in research studies allows you to get some quick bucks with minimal hassle. Psychological studies, for instance, can compensate you with a per-hour rate ranging from $10 to $60. These studies often aim to uncover deeper insights into human behavior, so you can expect various memory, learning, and decision-making tests.

Alternatively, if you want to take part in less intrusive studies, you can try out simple surveys. For example, you can sign up with Survey Junkie. A site formed in 20005, it rewards you for taking part in surveys and providing feedback to companies on their services or products.

The problem with surveys, though, is that you’ll have to participate in so many of them, to ever make a living as an independent contractor.

Thrift Store Flipper

A thrift store flipper buys goods from a thrift shop aiming to sell them at a higher price. Flipping can routinely earn you some profit with the right strategy. And the key lies in a twofold approach.

First, you have to find a thrift shop selling discounted items. Some stores often set aside a couple of days a month have sales where they get rid of their goods at a low price so that they can accommodate the incoming stock.

Second, clean your items and repair them if necessary. You can then sell the item at a higher price on sites like eBay. By following a profit-making formula, you can quickly turn flipping into a worthwhile independent contractor job.

The best part? You don’t require a huge investment to start flipping. Buying goods from thrifts can barely hurt your pockets, as they generally go for lower prices. Even if you can’t find buyers right away, you’ll still be incurring meager losses.

Dog Walking

Love dogs? Why not meet some new furry friends, walk them, and get paid! You can become a Rover 1099 dog walker and start walking dogs as a part time service.  You can take dogs in your neighborhood for a quick 30-minute walk, an hour walk, or dog sit them for an entire day.

Dog walking is fairly easy way to make money. You don't need to be a professional to be a qualified dog walker. Take a stroll around the community park with someone's dog and you can charge upwards of $30 an hour.

Rideshare Driver

Becoming a driver as a Lyft or Uber 1099 contractor doesn't require any training or resources other than your phone and car. You don't need to spend money on marketing or learn how to drive your car. It's a simple way to make money as a driver offering ride sharing services in your city.

Since these ride-share apps use a system to adjust prices in response to supply and demand, you can make really good money during busy hours of the days or holidays. If you drive during New Year's Eve, Christmas, Halloween or any other special occasion, the services fee will be quadrupled or even tripled. It's a good idea to plan when you work during busy hours. You can easily be a Uber or Lyft 1099 driver full-time and make good money.

High-paying independent contractor jobs

Lucrative 1099 jobs often require you to have some experience or extra schooling.  Compared to the ones mentioned above, they offer a much better income stream. If you’re dumping your old job, then these offer a more realistic chance of replacing your previous income. They include:

Realtor

If you have a passion for real estate, then this is the 1099 job for you. As a realtor, your work involves managing, renting, or selling houses to people. Negotiation skills are a must-have if you’re to make the job profitable. You’ll often meet customers who’re determined to bargain, and you’ll need to stand your ground. You'll receive a 1099 for rent income which means you can write off expenses from your taxes.

You’ll have to take a couple of courses to break into the industry. They can be an invaluable investment down the line, and you’ll reap the benefits in both your business and your lifestyle.

Becoming a realtor can be very profitable; you normally pocket about 3% of the value of each home you sell. Some brokers often even earn over six figures annually.

Freelance Copywriter

Over the years, freelance writing has become the go-to choice for people seeking independent contractor jobs. For laid-off journalists, it's their most obvious option as they shift to freelancing. For those passionate about writing, it offers the perfect opportunity to turn their hobby into a consistent income stream.

You can choose various freelance writing avenues. Copywriting, SEO blog writing, and Technical writing are just a few of them. You don’t need much to get started, even though the profession is one of the most lucrative in the independent contractor world. You can take a few online courses to get acquainted with it. And with time, you can hone your craft and start commanding higher rates. Not to mention, you can work from home or while you travel and still make money.

The future for the 1099 job seems bright, as companies are increasingly setting up websites and blogs. These firms will need written content to grow their online audience and increase traffic to their blog.

Graphic Designing

Similar to freelance writing, graphic designing isn’t going out of the market any time soon. A plethora of websites crop up daily, and they need neat designs to improve user experience. To add to that, print magazines and newspapers are also increasingly transitioning to the internet.

Your duties may include creating attractive logos, images, and other page elements for these sites. You’ll design creative, aesthetically pleasing layouts that entice readers to remain on the websites.

An affordable design school can provide you the tools necessary to become a sought-after online graphic designer.

Financial Planning

Financial planners are independent contractors who help people better understand their finances and make better investment decisions. They advise clients on crucial matters such as filing taxes, accounting for expenses, and retirement.  

To earn more as a financial planner, you may need to get certified. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers a certification that can help you stand out from the sea of other financial planners, but you’ll have to satisfy their demanding requirements.

Where can you find jobs for independent contractors?

Finding work is probably the biggest obstacle you have to overcome on your journey to self-employment. You have to consider that you’re competing for gigs with thousands of other eager freelancers. That’s why you’ll need a strategy to land more gigs.

Even though there are hundreds of job boards on the web, we’ve highlighted the three main places you’re more likely to land an independent contractor position. They include:

Indeed

Indeed is our top pick because of the sheer number of 1099 jobs available there. At any time, you’ll find thousands of independent contractor jobs. Whether you’re looking to be a house cleaner, dog walker, or financial planner, there’s a independent contractor gig for you.

With its advanced filtering feature, you can refine your search, focusing only on the jobs that suit your skillset. Even better, the platform can send you regular notifications whenever users post new jobs, allowing you to quickly apply to new roles. You can also register your account easily, set up a job alert, and start responding to gigs immediately.

If your search isn’t successful at Indeed, you can try out other alternatives such as:

  • Glassdoor: A platform that started as an anonymous review site for employees, it has transitioned into one of the best job search engines on the web. You can register for a free account and start exploring some of the job listings.
  • Zip Recruiter: Its unique ‘Get Recruited’ feature allows companies to reach out to you whenever an ideal position arises. You can also search for gigs in its huge listings catalog using select keywords.

Upwork

Upwork is a platform that connects companies to independent contractors from around the world for long-term or short-term work. A favorite for independent contractors, the marketplace allows you to apply for gigs in your niche. As you win more projects and more clients love your work, your rating improves and you win more jobs.

The platform has three types of jobs:

  1. Hourly: The most common types of jobs, they involve clients stating the number of weekly work-hours they want and the price they can afford.
  2. Fixed-rate: Clients state the specific amount they’re looking to pay. For instance, a gig where you’re writing a 1000-word blog post for $50.
  3. Milestone: It’s a mix of both fixed and hourly job types. For instance, a gig paying $30 a week for social media posts.

Upwork can be a difficult hunting ground for budding freelancers. To thrive in the platform, follow some of these tips:

Take your time when setting up your profile

Ensure you pick a professional picture, where your clients can clearly see your face. Make sure your bio includes some of the main keywords you want to rank for. Fill out your profile completely so that Upwork can prioritize you over other freelancers.

Personalize your pitches

Clients receive hundreds of pitches from other freelancers on Upwork. Resist the temptation to send templates to multiple clients. Include each person’s name in your greetings and tailor each pitch according to the job’s requirements. Oftentimes, if you deliver a thoughtful proposal, you'll stand out from the rest of your competitors.

Maintain constant communication with clients

Ensure you answer revisions as soon as your client requests them. Avoid leaving their messages unanswered for long stretches of time. Never miss any deadline, otherwise, you risk losing your clients. Thank your customer for their feedback, even if you may not necessarily agree to it.

While Upwork is by far the leading freelance website, there are other sites you should consider. They include:

Freelancer

It shares a few similarities to Upwork; bidding to potential cusotmers, exploring gigs based on rates and skills, and receiving notifications for relevant gigs. Where it differs, though, is in its ‘contests’ feature. You can test your strength against other freelancers from all over the world by applying for competitions.

Guru

The platform’s main problem is that even though registering for an account is free, you have to pay a fee to enjoy the marketplace’s benefits. Premium proposals, for instance, incur a fee, and only paying members can access them.

LinkedIn

What better way to land more freelance or indendent contractor work than leveraging the largest networking platform for professionals? LinkedIn not only allows you to apply for relevant independent contractor gigs but also enables you to build relationships with potential clients.

The key to unlocking LinkedIn’s full potential is simple. Send connection requests to decision-makers within your industry. Like, share, and comment on their posts until you become a familiar face. When the time’s right, message them, introducing yourself and the services you provide.

Note that, similarly to Upwork, you need to optimize your profile page with the right keywords. So, when potential customers browse for your service, your profile appears among the top results. Your headline should answer three simple questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What service do you provide?
  • Who do you provide your services to?

To demonstrate your expertise as an independent contractor, you’ll also need to perfect your bio. Freelancers often ignore their bios, even though they’re probably one of the most important parts of LinkedIn profiles.

Avoid being rambly; use the first few lines to explain what you offer and its biggest benefits to your target companies. Detail some of your most impressive results, if any. At the end of the bio, share your contacts. Also, whenever you complete a project, ask for testimonials from your customer. They’re the perfect social proof.

Like Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and Glassdoor, LinkedIn also has a job search board. The networking platform sends you a daily job alert of any new, relevant gigs whenever they’re posted.

Do you need a resume to get 1099 jobs?

For sites like Indeed, Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, a resume may be necessary to be considered for a 1099 gig. However, for marketplaces like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer, you may not need to write a resume to get your foot in the door. You’ll mostly find yourself writing long proposals which act as a cover letter.

With writing and graphic design gigs, you don’t have to undergo the hassle of building a resume. You can simply create a portfolio featuring your best work and showcase it to potential customers. Note that the portfolio doesn’t have to be too extensive, either. Two or three samples are enough to demonstrate your design, writing or whatever skills you need for a project.

How can Hello Bonsai help you as an independent contractor?

When you're new to the world of freelancing, a lot of things can be overwhelming. Between invoicing for unpaid work, sending over contracts, and preparing winning proposals, you can get swamped, and your freelancing dream can quickly turn into an ordeal. Bonsai can help you manage all aspects of your work, from tracking payments, organzing tax receipts or managing expenses to handling clients, so you can focus on what you do best.

David Maina
David is an experienced B2B financial copywriter, specializing in content related to accounting, financial planning, and small businesses. Over the years, he has helped fintech brands win more traffic and skyrocket conversions with engaging, long-form content. A nerdy interest in numbers, and passion for creative writing drives him to create financial content that's truly unique. You can reach him at financeandinsurancewriter.com

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