7 Freelance Skills Currently in High Demand
Freelancing is the preferred mode of employment for millions of people in the U.S.
According to a recent study by UpWork, our independent workforce is nearly 57 million strong. The freelancing workforce contributes more than $1 trillion to the economy annually, according to recent data reported in their 2017 study. And by 2027, a majority of Americans are forecasted to become freelancers.
And yet, a scarcity of talented freelancers is one of the biggest challenges facing staffing firms today. That bodes well if you’re looking to make an employment change and become your own boss.
However, not all freelancers are in demand. Your success as a freelancer in many ways relies on the skills you possess. To find out how your skills align with market demands, read on.
1. Software Development Skills
Software plays an integral role in our lives, personally and professionally. The need for software exploded in the past few decades thanks to the Internet, smartphones, and cloud computing. Today's software enables us to do everything on our smartphone from checking our bank account to watching a movie.
It’s not just specialty companies developing software. Many corporations create their own programs to cut costs, increase productivity, and drive sales. And all of that requires humans with software development skills.
If you're a freelance software developer, you can earn a lot of money — as long as you stay on top of your game. For instance, the in-demand programming languages can change often, so, staying on top of your skills and specializing in the right skill set will largely determine how much you’ll make.
For instance - the Java programming language has been around for more than two decades but is still used in several open-source programs. That makes Java developers an in-demand profession. Companies are also looking for developers experienced in Python, C/CPP and PHP among other languages, according to data featured on GitHub.
There are options when it comes to obtaining the necessary skills to become a software developer — college, coding classes, and online courses can all be effective. Keep in mind that depending on their skills and level of experience, freelance software developers can make as little as $24,000 per year to as much as $398,000 per year, according to a study reported by Zip Recruiter.
2. Blockchain Creators
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may have plummeted in price but blockchain, the technology that underpins it, is alive and kicking.
Blockchain projects are increasing as major corporations embrace this technology. Digital payment companies are using it to authenticate payments quicker. Manufacturers are deploying it in the supply chain to fight fraud, and startups are cooking up new ways to use the technology.
That’s good news if you’re a blockchain developer. Companies want to boost their blockchain prowess and will pay for that talent. According to the Blockchain Council, salaries for jobs in blockchain development typically range from $150,000 to $250,000 annually. Freelancers command upwards of $200 per hour for their skills. There aren’t enough qualified developers to hire, which can send the ranges higher in certain areas. Plus, if you possess specific blockchain skills, your value as a job candidate increases.
Many blockchain developers have a background in coding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start from scratch. Colleges are starting to add blockchain courses to their curriculum. There are also seminars organized by blockchain companies and industry groups that teach you specific platforms. DIYers can find a treasure trove of information online to learn from.
3. A Knack for Search Engine Marketing
Thanks to the Internet, we can look up anything. No question needs to go unanswered, and no fact must go undisputed. For this reason, businesses and people providing information often find it difficult to stand out online. That’s where search engine marketing comes in. The holy grail for most businesses is to appear at the top of Google Internet and mobile search results. Appearing near the top of the search results increases the odds you’ll be noticed by the 4.1 billion Internet users who are conducting more than 5 billion Google searches each day, according to a recent study.
Achieving high listings in search engines requires specific marketing skills that many companies lack. People who know how to use the Internet to drive clicks and views a particular brand’s way are in high demand.
The job requires a combination of marketing know-how and soft skills, including flexibility and resilience. Search engine marketing is always evolving. A keyword that’s trending one day can seem like a faint whisper the next. You have to be able to learn and adapt to the trends in real-time.
The good news is that obtaining the necessary skills is easy. If you’re good at it, you can earn a respectable living. On an hourly basis, SEO marketers typically charge $75 to $150.
4. Content Writing
For many companies, blogging has become an important part of their marketing strategy — driving traffic and business their way. But not every organization has the in-house staff to pen blogs. That’s where freelance content writers come in. Writers can earn anywhere from $0.06 to more than $1.00 per word, depending on their experience. According to PayScale, freelance writers make an average of $23.85 per hour.
To make it as a freelance writer, you have to be able to write, but that's not all. Adaptability is a must-have skill. One day you may write a blog post about mortgage rates and the next you might write about Instagram marketing. Being able to adapt to different assignments easily will serve you well. Top-notch researching skills, accuracy, and search engine optimization knowledge are also helpful skills to have. The whole reason for the blog post is to drive traffic to a company. If you don't include the correct keywords in your blogs or articles, it defeats that purpose.
5. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Engineers
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are important technologies that are leading all sorts of technology innovations. Often used interchangeably, Artificial intelligence is the idea that machines can carry out tasks and become smarter along the way. Machine learning is the instructions given to the machines to make those decisions and learn.
Skills in both areas are in high demand. And it's on all levels. AI and data science professionals are in need, but so too are people to manage the groups. Some of the skills AI and machine learning freelancers are getting paid top dollar for include network analysis, computer vision, and Chef, which is a programming language and neural networks. And according to Money, those gigs can earn you more than $100 per hour as a freelancer. Plus, if you have expertise in a specific area, you can expect to command a lot more.
6. Data Science and Analysis Skills
Thanks to the Internet and smartphones, companies can collect a lot of data on consumers. However, many companies lack the internal know-how to analyze the data and turn it into something actionable. That's where data scientists come in.
A freelancer with data science skills will be able to use scientific processes, methods, systems, and algorithms to extract insight from the reams of data being collected. Some of the data is structured while some in unstructured, posing a challenge to the less skilled.
Data science freelance jobs can be broken down into different segments. Some data scientists have a college degree, and experience in programming and statistics. There are also data management professionals who are good at navigating big databases, and marketers and strategists who analyze the data to spot trends. As a freelance data scientist, you can expect to make $93,000 a year, according to Zip Recruiter.
7. User Experience Design
User experiences have always been important to companies, but with the proliferation of smartphones and social media, creating user experiences has gotten even more important. Recent technology has also sparked a huge demand for people skilled in creating better experiences for its users.
Known in the tech world as UX designers, these people are tasked with designing the process of acquiring and integrating a product. That covers everything from usability to function. Freelance UX designers can work in a bevy of industries and companies in the online and offline worlds. Freelancers can bring in around $100,000 per year, although some salaries can be as high as $275,000, Zip Recruiter states.
Freelancing has come a long way from the days of database programmers or technical writers. There are now many ways to make a living without having to log 9 to 5 hours. And, if you possess some of the red-hot technology skills that are currently in demand, and the ability to change on the fly, then you are well on your way to having a high paying job while participating in the freelance economy.
Are you a freelancer? Which of your skills is most in demand?
Barbara Brown is a freelance writer and content marketing expert. She writes about dozens of topics for several digital blogs and platforms. In addition to her writing work, she also consults clients on content marketing projects. She lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts.
All content provided in this blog is supplied by Barbara Brown and is for informational purposes only. Barclays takes no position as to the views, and makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.