With a life expectancy now past 80 years, today’s retirees are more likely to die earlier of sheer boredom than of anything else if they don’t stay active. This is, after all, the baby boom generation we’re talking about. Is Mick Jagger playing shuffleboard? Is Bill Clinton going to bingo? No. But they don’t have anything to prove anymore. And neither do you. (See also Want To Retire Early? Think Again.)
More likely, you want to keep using (and selling) the skills you’ve honed over a lifetime, but on your own terms. That’s what makes freelancing such a good bet for a post-retirement career. The internet has vastly expanded your access to freelance opportunities, not just in your neighborhood but around the globe. It opens up possibilities of remote work in many professions, leaving you free to be wherever you want to be.
Rethink The Possibilities
Once you’re free of the rat race, you can find a niche that suits you best, and lose the components of your full-time work that you never liked anyway. Creative professions like graphic design and publishing have always hired freelancers. But a surprising number of other professions do, too. Think how your skills might be adapted to the wider world of freelance opportunities.
Just a few examples:
- A Teacher: Can prep students for the SATs, tutor immigrants in English, teach an online course, grade examinations or offer video instruction. Community colleges often need good people to teach a couple of adult-education courses each semester. Teachers who have a hobby, like cooking or yoga, can find a second act sharing their enthusiasm via coworking spaces or city tour organizers.
- A Doctor: Could serve as an expert witness for a law firm, write a health blog for consumers or the medical community, be a cruise physician, take part-time hours in a nursing home or hospice.
- A Bookkeeper: There are millions of small business owners out there who know how to fix a car or bake a cake, but lack the time or expertise to keep accurate books for accounting, taxes and payroll purposes. If you’ve retired from similar work, update your business software and set yourself up, with as few or as many clients as you choose. (You might even consider getting certified and listed as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor.)
Best Freelancing Jobs For Retirees
Finding The Gigs
Most job search databases include freelance, part-time and telecommuting listings, but that’s just the beginning. You may find a specialized freelance job search site for your field. For instance, 99designs.com is geared toward graphic artists. A quick Google search could bring up one or more sites for professionals in your field.
Some websites are devoted entirely to freelance jobs. Elance.com and Guru.com act as middlemen between companies with projects to outsource and freelancers with the right credentials. Beyond the match-making phase, these sites provide their own platforms for project management, scheduling and even payment. Flexjobs.com focuses on telecommuting jobs and prescreens them to make sure they’re legitimate.
Prefer to start small? Register at TaskRabbit.com and browse their listings for your city. The site is used mostly by time-pressed individuals in need of someone to do a chore they can’t handle on their own.
Before You Take The Plunge
There are a few things you can do to prepare for your freelance life, and keep it going in the future:
- Brush up your online identity. Make sure your latest resume is on LinkedIn, with current contact information. (Find tips in How To Use LinkedIn To Get A Job.) Get beyond the site’s basic resume-posting functions. Join interest groups. Scan job listings. Endorse some colleagues and get endorsed.
- Keep up with your closest connections on Facebook, and in the real world. They are the ones who will reach out to you if they hear of freelance opportunities.
- Use Twitter to post and follow stories of interest to your profession. It’s a good way to keep up on the news, and share it. Don’t forget to update your Twitter bio to make sure it reflects your freelance status and specialties.
- Stay involved in your community. Get active in the groups you always wanted to join but never had time for. Face-to-face networking still works.
The Bottom Line
Once you get started on the freelance life, your biggest problem might be juggling too much work. Try not to forget that you’re “retired.” (To get yourself launched, read Resume Rules for Freelancers.)