Freelancing Foreigners: Making Some Extra Mao

Freelancing Foreigners: Making Some Extra Mao
Nov 15, 2016 By Trey Archer ,

Source: Wikipedia

Many see China as the new land of opportunity. Certainly, there is a lot of money to made in this country, and the job prospects are great. While many foreigners come here to work one job, others make a few extra mao by taking on freelance projects. If you’re interested in making more money (hey, who isn’t?), here are some of the best options available to you.


Acting is a popular freelance job. There are many TV shows, programs and movies that need foreigners as extras and/or even more high profile roles. From Japanese who can play WWII soldiers to Europeans who can be 19th century colonizers, there are roles out there for just about anyone.

Modeling is another popular part-time job. I actually know a few Russians who make quite a lot of money off part-time modeling. If you’re too sexy for your shirt and are the next Derek Zoolander, check out Model Management and/or eChinaCities jobs for openings.

If you’re looking to make some extra cash doing something you love, start a band and play at local venues. I’ve seen Filipino bands in just about every major city, along with other American, Brazilian and European groups. If you rock, simply go up to a bar owner and ask if they’re looking for entertainment. That’s what one of my friends in Chengdu did, and she got 1,000 RMB per night for a solo act.

Payment in the entertainment industry is usually by gig or show. Depending on how high profile the job is, you can make thousands of RMB per night.


This may go without saying, but there are thousands of part-time ESL jobs out there. If you’re tired of teaching English, remember that there are other subjects that you can teach on the side as well. Spanish, German, Italian and French are all popular languages that Chinese people want to learn, while prepping for the SAT, GMAT and other high-profile acronym tests are also in in high demand. Check your local listings, like Smart Shanghai, Jobs in Beijing, or Shenzhen Jobs for opportunities near you.  

Teaching jobs are usually paid by the hour. In bigger cities, you can make anywhere from 200 RMB and up per hour for tutoring certain subjects.


There are numerous freelance writing and editing jobs out there. The best place to start is by contacting any foreign language website, magazine, etc. to see if they are looking for writers or editors. Most of the time they are, but if not they’ll contact you in the future when an opening arises. Be prepared to submit a sample article, as they’ll most likely want to test your writing abilities before you start handling larger assignments.

Voice-overs are also extremely popular and they pay quite well. They usually require native speakers of certain languages, English being the most prominent. You literally get paid for reading a script in your native language! How easy is that?

Freelance writing and editing is usually paid by article and/or word count, e.g. 500 RMB for one 1,000-word article. The same goes for editing. Voice-overs are usually paid by session, e.g. 1,000 RMB per a two-hour session.


Bartenders, waiters and bouncers are in demand. If you have a bit of experience in F&B and can work a night or two a week serving up food or drinks, simply go to your favorite expat hangout and ask another one of the foreign staff if they’re looking for an extra hand.

If you’ve got a bit of muscle under that shirt, become a bouncer. I had a friend who served as a bouncer one night a week and made 2,000 RMB a night! In all honesty, he wasn’t the most intimidating bouncer, standing under 1.8 meters and weighing in at around 75 kilos…

F&B and bouncer jobs usually pay by the hour. You also get the privilege of having free drinks behind the bar!

Special events

I recently did the Spartan race in Shanghai a few weeks ago. Before the event, I noticed how many employees the organization hired just to work that one single day. Events like concerts, the Color Run, marathons, etc. could very well use your foreign expertise and linguistic abilities for the day. However, these are a bit harder to land since they’re not advertised online. You may want to contact the organizer directly if you’re interested.

Special events usually by by the day, but don’t be expecting too much as word on the street says they pay pennies.


And last but certainly not least, don’t forget about face-jobs. There’s no way we could finish an article about freelancing foreigners in China without touching on this infamous part-time performance. Face-jobs are those that merely require a foreign face to show up and... well, that’s about it – just show up. Some Chinese organizations believe it will give them more credibility if they have foreigners working for them, and if they don’t actually need foreigners in their industry, they’ll hire you for the day to show off to others; appearance is reality.

Furthermore, there are reports that some Chinese will hire you as a fake boy/girlfriend. This article by Foreign Affairs explains the process in detail, and says that you can advertise your service on Taobao for anywhere from 1,000 – 10,000 RMB per day. Talk about shaking that money maker!

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Keywords: Freelancing in China freelance job


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would like to get some freelance job

Mar 31, 2017 18:31 Report Abuse



Its always goo to have some extra money

Jan 21, 2017 05:39 Report Abuse



I've made a few extra mao in my time. A few mao here a few mao there. It all adds up. Nothing illegal about it too.

Nov 18, 2016 00:03 Report Abuse



WTF ECC? Telling people to work illegally and get deported? Freelancing is illegal. You could at the very least warn people.

Nov 15, 2016 08:00 Report Abuse



it's called thinning out the competition...

Nov 15, 2016 11:02 Report Abuse



It's because ECC is a front for the CCP and they want foreigners to work illegally so they can catch them and deport them.

Nov 15, 2016 22:09 Report Abuse



Agreed. Freelancing (for most foreigners) is illegal. Anyone who says different has an agenda. It is illegal to work in China beyond the scope of the work that is specified in your employment license. And yes that does include working at a different work unit than the one on said license.

Apr 10, 2018 13:05 Report Abuse