I need my main character to have lots of free time, but not be independently wealthy. His job shouldn't be too technical (e.g. not a programmer), but should be doable remotely. What kinds of non-technology consulting can people do from home? I think I want to stay away from editing (too meta for a novel), as well as anything else that's time-consuming or hourly.
1How much free time? And how sober is he willing to live? A part-time job could work if he has few expenses and no expensive hobbies. Would it work if he's on vacation/sabbatical instead?– user54131Mar 9, 2022 at 11:46
2Does his job affect anything crucial, or are part time and home working arbitrary? What's "too meta"? Stock-market speculator; gambler; solicitor, particularly in "boiler-plate" fields; stamp (or anything) collector; on-line buyer and seller; writer; proof-reader; artist; designer Particularly since lock-down home-working, stick pins in the Internaional Standard Classification lists ilo.org/public/english/bureau/stat/isco/isco88/major.htm anda throw out I think this would be better suited to SE Worldbuilding and even there, you'd be Asking stackers to do your work– Robbie GoodwinMar 9, 2022 at 18:04
Match the job to the personality and story:
The number of jobs in the world is so vast, that to give a universal answer to this is impossible. But evaluate your needs for the character, and choose a profession that is tailored to the needs of the story.
I wanted to have a character who was knowledgeable about weapons in a society where her people were limited to technical jobs. So I had her father be a gun smith, and had her help him in his shop.
What kind of story is this? Why does your character need all the free time? Do they need the means to jet around the world (or to other planets), or do they spend lots of their free time fixing stuff themselves to save on money? What do they need to do to make your story flow?
- INHERITANCE: If you inherit a house, that takes care of a lot of financial worries but doesn't make your character independently wealthy. Or perhaps they own a rental property that makes a bit of money, but most of it gets eaten up paying someone to manage the place and keep it up. My family in Kansas were farmers, and the land stays in the family, but when my grandparents died, no one wanted to farm in Kansas. We rent the land out, which makes a modest income, but still own it (there could even be rules in inheritance that they can't sell it to anyone outside the family). So they could be a LITTLE independently wealthy, but not enough to make them rich.
- SPECIAL SKILLS: A person who needs to be extremely physically fit might be some kind of extreme athlete who sells videos of themselves doing stunts on bikes, skates, while mountain climbing, etc. A person fighting ghosts might be a psychic medium, who is sought out by the needy.
- SPECIAL INTEREST: You can pick a job that is just interesting to your audience. But make it something you know or can research. Anything can meet your needs if they are really good at it. A mercenary, bank robber or a drug smuggler might make a lot of money working relatively little, and have a really interesting story arc. A semi-famous landscape artist might only work as much as they need to to make money, and no more, painting what they want. Maybe they are a Feng Shui consultant, and travel to places a lot to tell people about the spiritual flow of their buildings.
As a college professor I volunteered to rewrite several college brochures; designed to hand out to prospective undergraduates (high school) and graduate students (for Masters and PhD programs) describing the benefits, research areas, success stories, etc. We handed these out at various shows.
I did the writing (I am a professional copywriter as well), but I found a free-lance graphics artist that did different kinds of art work for these brochures; from photo-editing to original artwork. I wanted these to be visually interesting and appeal to the high school students specifically.
Her pay was good, she worked from home, she had no specific hours. She also had a pre-schooler to care for. At the time, she came in for meetings; but today I'd have been happy with Zoom and email attachments.
Even the copywriting (the profession that writes advertising "copy" for print, direct mail, radio, catalogs (online or physical), TV) can be done entirely from home by phone/Internet; the product is typically just words, perhaps some formatting to fit photos.
The same goes for music, for radio or TV you can hire freelance composers to supply background music. (Yes that is an art form, to support/evoke emotions).
The same goes for animations, there are freelance animators that focus on ads, there is enough work to make a living there, if you're good. Just look at the animation in existing TV ads.
The same goes for voice overs in Radio; especially men with particularly resonant deep voices, but many women as well. It can be difficult to articulate clearly in a radio ad and still sound natural; there are professionals that do that. And of course you can hire impersonators, if you are aiming to be funny.
Speaking of which, many joke writers are freelance as well, if your hero can pull that off.
There are freelance editors as well, for video, for sound, and for text. I know you don't want a book editor, but video and sound engineering can be freelance work from a home studio. My college used a free lance video/sound editor to put together over a dozen HR employee training videos, about sexual harassment, security, experimental ethics and other rules of the road.
Get your head out of the print; there is a world of art, video, music and sound out there, even dance choreography (for TV commercials) and freelancers are embraced for these tasks by business, because most of them need these services intermittently and don't want to pay a full time employee.