One of the best things about being a freelance writer is being able to tell people what I do for a living. Sure, there are other professional writers out there, but there’s still something satisfying about being able to say I get paid for writing about comic book characters, charity galas, and freelance writing (thanks, Hectic!).
But as strange as my job may sound to some, there are other freelance careers that truly strain credibility. From watching movies to crying at funerals to acting like a terminally ill hospital patient, here are ten of freelancing jobs people really can’t believe you get paid to do.
Here’s a job any animation fan has dreamed of working in at some point in their lives. Voice actors provide the voices behind your favorite cartoon characters, company mascots, and documentary narrations.
But voice work extends much further than the entertainment industry. Ad agencies use voice actors to provide voice overs for their commercials. Companies need voice actors to record the greetings on their voice mails. And in this digital age where everything can be done online, a voice actor may even provide the disembodied voice that guides you on a virtual tour of your new house.
The cool thing about voice acting is it’s a relatively easy field to enter. You can purchase a professional microphone online (experts recommend the RODE NT1 Microphone with scarlet condenser), use free online software to record and edit your voice, and start auditioning for voice work. The Audio Book Creator Exchange (ACX) connects voice actors with authors who want to turn their books into audiobooks. Other websites like The Voice Realm help you find even more voice acting opportunities in industrials, virtual tours, and more.
Ever dreamed of working as a costumed mascot? Professional stilt walker Todd McClain has been a costumed character at practically every theme park in Southern California, including Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland. He also runs his own business where he plays his own character, Captain Tall Tale, at birthday parties and special events.
To develop his unique skill set, Todd took gymnastics and networked with the circus community. He recommends that performers study gymnastics to gain better body awareness and learn the fundamentals of physical performance. Look for gyms that take adult students as well as schools that teach special skills like circus performance or parkour. You may find professionals you can network with there.
Building a unique act that allows you to connect with your audience is also important. Aside from stilt walking, Todd is well versed in storytelling and puppetry. This makes him far more marketable than a performer who simply wears a costume.
How would you like to be paid for watching movies from home? That’s how a growing population of YouTubers have been earning a living. These “movie reactors” record videos of themselves laughing, crying, and commenting on full-length movies, and then post those reactions on websites like Patreon and YouTube where viewers can pay subscription fees to watch the movies with them.
Movie reactors can earn income from Patreon subscriptions, YouTube ad revenue, live chats with fans, and even merchandising. The most successful movie reactors know how to connect with fans over social media and promote their reaction videos through sites like Instagram, TikTok, and more.
Don’t want to invest the time to build your own YouTube channel? You can also become a freelance “Netflix tagger” who watches Netflix programs and labels (or “tags”) each piece of content with keywords to help other viewers find the shows and movies they want to watch. You’ll be helping Netflix build specific sub-categories that match viewers with highly specialized content.
To sign up for a Netflix tagger job, visit the Netflix careers website and see if they have any openings. You can also get paid for watching videos, playing games, or taking surveys on sites like Swagbucks or InBoxDollars.
Remember when you used to pretend to be sick to get out of school? Well, here’s where you can get paid for those skills. And the weirdest part? You’ll actually be helping students with their schoolwork by faking sick!
Standardized Patients (or “SPs”) are freelance medical actors hired by hospitals and medical schools to help train doctors, nurses, and medical students. SPs typically simulate different types of medical illnesses or injuries, requiring doctors and students to assess them, figure out what they’re suffering from, and design a treatment plan. SPs also help medical professionals refine their bedside manner and interpersonal skills so they can treat patients better in the real world.
You don’t have to be a professional actor to become an SP, but possessing a good memory is important, especially when you’re given long medical cases to memorize. SPs are typically paid between $20-$25 per hour, although some medical exams can earn you several hundred dollars a day. To find SP opportunities, look up medical schools in your area and see if they have a Standardized Patient program and start networking with other SPs to learn about other medical actor openings.
Do you love weddings? Are you fine with always being the bridesmaid and never the bride? Then becoming a Professional Bridesmaid may be the ideal freelance career for you!
Just ask Jen Glanz who posted an ad on Craigslist offering her services as a bridesmaid-for-hire and received 250 responses from people all around the world who wanted Jen to help them with their weddings.
So, what does a professional bridesmaid do? Jen’s been known to work with brides anywhere from a year to three months before the wedding. She’ll get the bachelorette party favors, help the bride pick out the bridesmaid dresses, and function as the bride’s “voice of reason.” During the wedding itself, she’ll deliver a speech she wrote, dance, and keep the bride hydrated.
Jen’s business became so popular she hired a team of professional bridesmaids and started a training program to help others with their own unique wedding businesses. Considering the U.S. wedding services industry is currently valued at $57.9 billion, hiring someone to be your best friend during your wedding honestly just makes sense.
If you know how to cry, wail, and show extreme sadness on command, you may be able to get a job as a professional funeral mourner. In China, freelance mourners may only attend a funeral for half an hour, during which they’ll sob and loudly lament the passing of the departed (despite having never known them). You do want to make sure you don’t strain your voice, especially if you have other funerals to attend.
For their services, some professional funeral mourners earned an annual income of 200,000 yuan ($28,000) back in 2019. While some mourners consider this a hobby, they’ve been able to use their earnings to buy a house and even send their kids to college.
Fortune cookie writers create those sayings on slips of paper inside fortune cookies. These might be predictions of the future, advice for how to live your life, or motivational quotes.
These writers must write concise messages that allow for multiple interpretations. However, some fortune cookies are created for special occasions like weddings, requiring you to create more specific sayings. You might also work for a company that lets you write some outrageous predictions (ever open a snarky fortune cookie that told you, “You will die alone and poorly dressed”?)
So, how do you become a fortune cookie writer? Well, you might start by contacting a fortune cookie manufacturing company like Wonton Food Inc., Oakland Fortune Factory, or Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and start networking to see what small, mid-size, or large company needs help writing fortunes. Be sure to have a portfolio ready that displays your witty, insightful, and deep sayings.
And if you do end up becoming a fortune cookie writer, don’t be surprised by the impact you make. James Wong, the official fortune cookie writer for Wonton Food Inc. relates how one recipient tried to sue the company after their fortune didn’t come true. Alternatively, another man won $344 million dollars by using the lucky numbers in his fortune, so there is that!
Now here’s a freelance gig with some obvious perks. Luxury house sitters look after a homeowner’s property while they’re away. Responsibilities may include staying on the property during evenings and nights, taking care of pets, and looking after plants.
The job doesn’t necessarily pay a lot — some house sitters get paid $25-$80 a night, but being able to hang out in a high-end home while the owners are away is usually incentive enough. This is also considered a nice side hustle for real estate professionals who can find prospective clients by housesitting.
If you’d like to get started as a luxury house sitter, you can start by creating an online profile on a website like Trusted Housesitters. There are membership fees with these sites, however, so you’ll want to take that into account when you sign up.
If you ever find yourself in South Africa, you might want to consider this freelancing position, especially if you have experience at animal care. Ostrich farming is a serious business, and owners and breeders will hire “ostrich babysitters” to watch over baby ostriches and make sure they don’t escape, get eaten by predators, or peck each other.
While this may sound like a fairly low-key job, you should know that ostriches are territorial birds and have been known to attack people if they feel threatened. Grown ostriches are known to run up to 60 miles per hour and can kill a person with a single kick. So, yeah… some unique job hazards and considering ostrich babysitters tend to make $10 per hour (100 South African rand), you might not like the compensation. Still, you do get a cool job title…
Hang out on the freelance marketplace Fiverr for a while, and you’ll find freelancers offering some pretty unusual services, including psychic readings. Psychic gigs might involve drawing a person’s soul mate, looking into someone’s future, performing tarot card readings, or casting love spells — all for $5 to $50+ per session. Many of these psychics actually have several repeat buyers.
If being a psychic isn’t for you, there are plenty of other unconventional gigs you can offer on Fiverr. Just look at e_russett, a Level 1 Seller who creates 30-second videos where he screams his client’s name (or other requests) into a bush. Then there’s Level 2 Seller wllshapespeare who uses his expertise in puppetry to record personal messages from Cookie Monster. Who says there aren’t new freelancing opportunities being created every day?
Becoming a freelancer is an adventure, but as you can see from these unusual freelance jobs, some of those adventures are a bit more exotic than others.<tweet-link>While there will always be a need for freelance writers, accountants, and graphic designers, if your tastes tend to run in a more unconventional direction, you can always take the road less traveled.<tweet-link>
Ready to learn more about that great adventure that is freelancing? Then spend some time checking out Hectic’s blog and Hectic guides to get some insider knowledge on how to build a freelancing career that’s profitable, rewarding, and yes — fun to brag about at parties. Get started today!