There are 53 million freelancers in the US and this number continues to grow, making it a compelling avenue for many professionals. With so many self-employed workers making a living in the gig economy, and a growing number of companies opting for freelance labor, there is certainly a high demand for freelance skills. Of course there are pros and cons to being your own boss. For instance, it takes a high degree of structure and organization (both financially and operationally) to handle several projects at once, and the uncertainty of not knowing when your next paycheck is coming from can be too stressful for many. But this particular career path can also be rewarding and provide a high degree of independence and flexibility most traditional jobs don’t offer.
The most highly valued freelance skills
While not all careers translate well to a freelance lifestyle, there are many skills that are perfectly suited for this kind of work. If you fall into one of these roles, then it’s likely that you’ll be an attractive prospect to an array of clients. But what if your field isn’t listed below? No need to worry. If you’re intrigued by a freelance career path, there are numerous avenues that offer great opportunities. Take a look at our list of popular freelance skills that can help you land take the next step in your professional journey.
1. Developer (coder, programmer)
Programming has been, and is currently, one of the most in-demand careers in the world. Since seemingly every business, organization and creative project needs a strong online footprint, there is a need for qualified professionals to build it.
Freelance developers often specialize in different areas depending on their experience and interests: For instance, front-end developers turn code into graphic interfaces, while back-end developers focus on databases, scripting, and architecture building. To succeed as a freelance developer, you will want to be proficient in the most in-demand coding languages, including Python, Ruby, Java, Swift, and more.
Creative design is a particularly popular field of work that can include graphic design, motion, or web asset creation. Experienced freelance designers often find more work than they can take on, but there’s a catch. To succeed, you’ll need a diverse portfolio to be able to show prospective clients the types and quality of work you can produce. A solid design portfolio is essential, and something you build over time, so keeping on top of industry trends, learning new tools, and developing your skills before going freelance is key.
3. Writer or copywriter
Today, writing is still one of the most popular jobs in the gig economy. With content being declared the king of modern marketing, companies have hefty budgets for producing high-quality articles, blogs, guides, press releases and other types of written content.
To become a freelance writer, you should have highly developed writing skills, stellar grammar, and a talent for storytelling. As with designers, having a robust portfolio is essential to showcase your work and attract potential business.
Working as a freelance marketer can mean a number of things: anything from running paid Facebook campaigns, to overhauling an entire website’s messaging. There’s a huge and thriving community of freelance marketing professionals, strategists, and consultants in the US. What do they all have in common? Honed digital skills.
Marketers are tasked with ideating, executing, and optimizing digital strategies that cover every touchpoint in the consumer journey. This means they must have a robust knowledge of digital fundamentals like SEO, data analytics, user experience, conversions, CRM marketing, and more. The diversity of skills required in the marketing space drives the demand for all types of marketers across industries.
For publishers, advertising firms, and global corporations, localized content is one of the most effective marketing avenues. In some countries and cultures, it could also be the only way to connect with potential customers. That’s where freelance translators come in. Mind you, professional translators are not only fluent in the languages they translate to/from, but they also have a background and work experience in their field of translation. If you want to venture into freelancing as a translator, play to your strengths and take on work that’s related to your experience.
To be successful as a freelance photographer or video producer, you’ll have to dazzle clients with a solid body of work showcasing polished content production and editing skills. An understanding of digital distribution channels is also a plus, as clients are constantly looking for assets tailored to individual platforms. With a few years’ work experience in this area, the right equipment, and a solid portfolio, it will be much easier to break into this market. 7. Accountant You’d be surprised to know how much demand there is for a good freelance accountant or bookkeeper. With an eye for detail, robust excel knowledge, industry awareness, and a solid grasp of tax laws and best practices, self-starting accountants will be able to tap into the SMB market without much trouble. Plus, remember that other freelancers also need help with their bookkeeping. 8. HR manager For any growing or established company, HR management is a fundamental part of their business. This is also a type of freelance job that you can do either remotely or from the client’s office. To be hired as a freelance HR manager, you’ll need to have experience in a similar role, so it’s not a suitable option for a complete beginner or those looking for a career change.
9. SEO professional
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), sometimes called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is an exciting field in the digital world. As one of the more popular freelance jobs, SEO comes with a long list of required technical skills, including an understanding of link building, Google algorithms, keywords, and more.
As a public relations or brand communications specialist, you won’t be short of freelance opportunities. This is a diverse field that covers media relations, product launches, brand awareness campaigns, brand activations, native advertising, and much more. To be successful, you’ll need experience in storytelling as well as a strong understanding of the competitive landscape. It also helps if you have a robust list of industry and media contacts to leverage.
As you can see, freelancing spans a wide range of careers and industries. If you want to pursue this kind of work, start with some research to make sure that there is a freelance market for your skills and experience. Check freelancing platforms, job boards, and talk to others within your industry. Once you have a clear understanding of the opportunities available to you, start drafting a clear pathway to kick-start your freelancing career.
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