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5 Career Options With Flexible Schedules

More frequently, students entering the workforce are searching for career opportunities that offer increased flexibility. No one wants to sit behind a desk in a poorly lit cubicle day in and day out, counting the seconds until it’s time to go home. If the thought of getting dressed up and heading to the office bright and early every day for the rest of your life makes you gag, we’ve got just the list for you. Here are a few career options to consider that aren’t your typical 9-to-5 commitments.

1. Blogger

Creating a blog is easier now than ever before, with online templates and tons of examples to look to for inspiration. But maintaining a blog is hard work! It takes someone truly passionate about a topic—fashion or human rights, literature or sports—to turn a vision board into a scrollable reality. The perks, of course, are that you get to work from home (or your local coffee shop or book store or even outdoor park) and you get to create your own schedule.

Jordan Chapman, a sophomore at Emory University and creator of The Hat Logic, explains that, contrary to popular belief, bloggers don’t just sit around taking selfies. It’s true that, without her blog, she may have never discovered her love for fashion photography, but her job has also allowed her to discover so much more about herself. She has learned to work with others from a remote location and has grown to welcome constructive criticism, all while enjoying the many travel opportunities that have come her way since the launch of her blog, including trips to Paris and Amsterdam.

Like with any other career path, success in the blogosphere doesn’t come overnight and several years can go by before your hard work rewards you with significant financial returns. Jordan says that the key is consistently marketing yourself and your blog as having a clear and identifiable theme or persona. This will help your existing audience relate to you more, attract new and like-minded friends and followers and, hopefully, grab the attention of professional brands you’d like to work with. Lauren Conrad did it and so can you!

2. Freelancer

If you have a special, marketable and in-demand talent, then this is ideal for you. You’ve probably already heard of freelance journalists, but anyone who’s willing to work for more than one brand or company on paid projects of varying lengths can essentially be a freelancer. Maybe you’re good at something highly technical like graphic design, website construction, app development or videography or maybe you speak and read two or more languages fluently.

There are tons of online resources available to connect you with potential clients seeking very specific services. Freelancer.com, for example, is a searchable database that allows freelancers and employers to join a network of more than 20 million users. Employers are able to add their service requests to the archive of more than 10 million jobs while freelancers are able to browse relevant opportunities using pre-determined categories or keyword searches.

Melanie Green, executive editor of Melanie Green Editorial Services, works frequently with freelance writers and other creatives. Beyond job-hosting platforms, she suggests approaching companies that you think have a regular need for the services you offer. As a writer, these may include newspapers, magazines, marketing companies or even universities. Start by asking if there’s anything you can do to help them; then, once you’ve established a relationship and a name for yourself as an expert in your field, start negotiating short-term contracts.

Networking becomes especially important when you are hoping to earn a livable income as a freelancer; you are largely responsible for securing and negotiating every job opportunity you receive. You are your own office manager, keeping up with multiple simultaneous projects, reaching out to potential clients and promoting yourself on relevant professional platforms, all while producing quality work for each individual client.

Freelancing is no easy task, but with an unwavering sense of commitment and excellent time management skills, you can become so renowned for your skills and expertise that clients begin to seek you out. 

3. Personal Trainer or Fitness Instructor

Who says you can’t get paid to work out? If fitness is your ultimate passion and you love helping other people, you just might have a future as a personal trainer or fitness instructor.

Becoming a certified personal trainer is a major commitment, but the long process will pay off in the end. As a certified fitness instructor, you’ll be able to teach classes at full-service health and fitness clubs, specialty studios and even some medical facilities—all of which allow you a much more flexible schedule than a regular 9-5. Plus, you also have the option of going into business on your own. You can offer personal training classes at your home, your clients’ homes, your favorite beach pavilion or even on YouTube. Some personal trainers also offer virtual training packages for remote clients!

4. Photographer

The list of self-taught photographers is, by this time, ceaseless. In fact, we’d be lying to ourselves if we said that we’ve never once listed one of our interests as photography. What may seem like an amateur hobby can actually become an enlightening career—one that not only pays the bills, but also leads you to the most unexpected of places and people.

There are so many ways to strengthen your skills as a photographer—from books to online workshops, college classrooms to apprenticeship opportunities. If you have a camera and a vision, it’s not too early to start curating a portfolio that showcases your talents. Seek out mentors already established in the field and ask them to take a look at your work; be open to feedback and work on your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to share your work online for feedback from unfamiliar people either and some great exposure (no pun intended). Plus, who doesn’t like sharing her opinions on the Internet.

As a beginner, offer your services at reduced prices to the people closest to you. If you are a recent grad, advertise photo packages for college and high school graduation portraits or even campus events coverage for student organizations. Typically, students have lower budgets and are willing to take a chance on someone they recognize as one of them.

Before you know it, you’ll hone in on your own unique style that people—hopefully clients—will come to appreciate, and your clientele will expand. Your nomadic dreams of traveling across the state or country or world on your own schedule photographing people’s stories, unimaginable landscapes or exotic wildlife will be closer than you think.

5. Interior Designer

If you light up (and cringe a little at the same time) when someone starts talking to you about their “aesthetic” and your Pinterest board is filled with photos of themed rooms with all their unique furnishings, you’re probably an interior design buff. Your creative and colorful mind could never be contained by the seemingly dull existence of a 9-5 job!

As with blogging or freelancing, the first step is to market yourself and your styles appropriately. Social media platforms with an emphasis on photo sharing are a great place to start, escalating later on to a website of your own. In fact, your design genius knows no bounds. Forget websites; aren’t apps the future anyway? That’s what Anne Courtney, wardrobe stylist and interior designer, must have told herself when she created Hutch (formerly Homee)—an app that allows interior designers to work with clients via a text-like service with built-in shopping features.

Even if you think you’re not ready for an app or a website, being an interior designer still affords you the luxury of working in a different space every day. What could be more inspiring for your craft?

Related: 7 Reasons You Should Snag That Startup Job

Whether you work at an office from 9 to 5 or you enjoy a more unconventional work schedule, the expectations aren’t entirely different. Hard work is an important factor of success in any field, on any schedule. In fact, some might argue that it’s even more significant if your schedule is constantly in flux. The burden is on you to stay organized and determined and to put in the extra effort when needed. Whatever you decide to do career-wise, aim to build a life for yourself that is as happy and as fulfilling as you have always imagined it to be. You deserve it.

Sydnee is, above all, a pizza enthusiast who occasionally drinks green juice for online documentation (because pics or it didn’t happen). Her lifelong social ambitions include hanging around with Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey at Central Perk at 11:30 on a Wednesday. Lover of the East Coast and the world’s worst cook. Follow her on Instagram @lovesydneemarie.
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