Freelancing skills that are in high demand in 2021

Xolo
Written by Xolo
on April 07, 2021

An estimated 59 million Americans — around 36% of the workforce — were freelancers in 2020. If you like the idea of choosing your own clients, having a flexible schedule, and/or working in your pajamas — you've come to the right place!

Here are some of the most sought-after freelancing skills in the current gig economy:

Amazon Web Services Development

Giant companies like Pinterest, Netflix, and Airbnb turn to AWS for cloud storage. AWS is so big that the content it stores accounts for about 40% of all the content on the entire internet! With so much at stake, AWS and its customers do everything they can to prevent cyberattacks and decrease the downtime caused by system failures.

If you’re well-versed in cloud storage, there are a couple of opportunities here. First, you could work directly for AWS as a troubleshooter. Alternatively, you can manage cloud service for one or more of AWS customers.

AWS offers numerous online courses to bring you up to speed. This is a highly lucrative gig for tech-savvy types interested in freelancing online.

Potential earnings: $62 per hour

Artificial Intelligence Development

Were you a top math student in school? Are you into algorithms, computer science, and machine interaction with humans?

What was only recently the stuff of science fiction is now being expanded to solve real problems and make life easier for humans. Approximately half of businesses are now using machine learning as part of their existing operations, while the other half are currently in different stages of development. 

AI is a wide-open sector that requires all sorts of specialists. You might write scripts for smart devices like thermostats, alarms or home automation gadgets. You could program biometric security software or even build robots! After getting your feet wet on the freelance side of things, you could very well clean up by launching your very own product line!

If you’re a proud brainiac and math geek, this pioneering field could be the perfect place for you!

Potential earnings: $54 per hour

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Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Programming

If you even have a solid grasp of what these words even mean, you’re well on your way to a lucrative career!

Simply put, blockchain is a specific type of database that collects and stores new information in — you guessed it— "blocks." The system "chains" each new data block to the previous one in chronological order. Blockchain is the record-keeping technology which serves as the basis for the popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. It’s a ledger, so to speak, for cryptocurrency transactions, and the way the data is secured within the blockchain makes it extremely secure.

For this reason, companies are spending billions on blockchain coders and managers — if they can find them, that is! If computer programming is in your skillset, you'll be in high demand. And if you're interested in learning more, there are a wide variety of online courses for learning this complex coding language.

Potential earnings: $84 per hour

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@hidd3n?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Kevin Horvat</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/hacker?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking

No business, large or small, is safe from cyberattacks. Hackers get more creative all the time, and their schemes are at times even more sophisticated than the technology they exploit!

Companies are projected to spend more than $1 trillion on cybersecurity by the end of 2021. Specialists are needed to protect sensitive information, expose system weaknesses, create protocols for the event of a breach, and train employees on cybersecurity awareness.

Somewhat counterintuitively, qualified hackers are in high demand. Ethical hacking is a burgeoning field in which the "good guys" imitate black hatters and attempt to breach systems. Armed with their on-the-job insights, they can then advise companies on how best to patch holes in existing security systems while building even better ones in the future!

The severe talent drought in this field is expected to drag on through 2021 and beyond. If digital cloak-and-dagger sounds appealing, add ethical hacking to your freelancing tool belt!

Potential earnings: $86 per hour

Data Analysis

Business software produces mountains of data. Results that used to take days to interpret are now reported in real time. All that’s missing are qualified analysts who can exploit the information to the companies’ benefit.

Data analysts make sense of it all. Not only do they gather, organise, and analyse business reports, but they present them in a way that laypeople can easily understand. They share insights on trends and areas where there is room for improvement.

Hard skills for this freelance opportunity include business savvy, attention to detail, and some coding experience.

Potential earnings: $45 per hour

Graphic Design

Images on websites, blogs, social media pages, and infographics make a strong first impression and engage viewers. They also play a more important role in society than many people realise. It would be harder to find a hospital, airport, or even public restroom without graphics! Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, graphic designs have helped to educate the public and promote safety practices in major cities like New York.

The possibilities are endless. You could use your artistic talent in web design, interface design, employee training materials, video game user experience, or marketing.

You likely already have a strong portfolio to showcase your talent, and you should also level-up your skills with a few Adobe design courses.

Potential earnings: $36 per hour

Mobile App Development

This field should see 22% growth from 2019 through 2029. That’s not surprising. We love our apps, and we depend on them for everything from ordering a pizza to purchasing a home.

Apps that highlight products and services have to be designed, coded and tested across a full range of mobile devices. As long as people can’t function without their phones, you can count on steady work — even especially as a freelancer!

IOS and Android use their own specific coding language. You can learn both or specialise in one or the other.

Potential earnings: $58 per hour

Photography

It takes practice and patience to earn a reputation in photography, but the eventual rewards make it all worthwhile!

You could take this in countless directions including weddings, family portraits, journalism, wildlife and nature, commercial promotions, fashion, food, and many more. And when you’re not working for someone else, sell your work on stock photo or e-commerce sites!

Brush up on your editing software skills to maximise your earning potential.

Potential earnings: $40 per hour

Social Media Marketing

The number of social media users around the world is expected to surpass 3.4 billion per month by 2023. That’s about a third of the entire global population! Can you say job security?

Social media marketing is one of the most versatile freelancing gigs on this list. Each campaign is designed with a target audience in mind. That could include everything from angsty teenagers for one product and extreme sports enthusiasts for the next. Campaigns are also tailored to specific platforms.

In short, there’s no such thing as a typical day at the office and these freelancers are never bored!

Are you known for your creativity? Are you familiar with the idiosyncrasies of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other popular platforms? If so, you’re well on your way to driving traffic and generating sales. Lots of businesses would be glad to add you to their arsenal of freelancer talent!

Potential earnings: $30 per hour

Video editing skills are in high demand in 2021. Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@jakobowens1?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Jakob Owens</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/video?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>.

Video Editing

All the experts agree that video is the best-performing type of digital content. By 2020, close to 1 million videos will cross the internet every second!

You don’t even have to enjoy filming to like video editing. In this role, you’ll take raw footage and film clips and turn them into beautiful works of art. It’s storytelling through imagery!

Videos are far subtler than traditional sales pitches, but they’re also more memorable. If you need proof, ask your parents about Coca-Cola teaching the world to sing back in 1971.

Go to YouTube or search “video editing software” online to grow your knowledge and skill.

Potential earnings: $20 per hour

Virtual Assistance

Freelance Virtual Assistants, or VAs, save companies a ton of money. If you're comfortable wearing a variety of different hats, you’ve got a bright future as a VA! The more roles you can fill, the more in-demand you’ll be. Examples of freelancing online include admin duties, marketing, web design, accounting, and customer service.

Here’s another perk to being a VA: you don’t have to stick to just one industry. Anybody can use the help you have to offer. That means you can try different things and gauge your own interest. You can then narrow in and specialise in one field, such as finance or education, or diversify to keep things interesting!

And if you're up to date on the most common types of software, there’s nothing standing in your way!

Potential earnings: $26 per hour

Voice-over Acting

Don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it! This is a fun, fast way to make some decent money.

Voice-overs have been around since forever on both radio and television. This kind of acting is simply reading from a script without appearing on camera. You needn’t have a voice like James Earl Jones to be successful, but your voice should be a versatile instrument that can convey an array of messages and emotions.

Voice-overs are used in video games, audiobooks, podcasts, webinars, cartoons, documentaries, and much more. Voice-over actors, much like singers, continually train and practice to expand their vocal range.

Potential earnings: $43 per hour

Website Design/Development

These skills continue to be mainstays in freelancing online.

Designers ensure that web pages are attractive, well organised, engaging, functional and easy to navigate. You should be experienced in coding languages, but this job also involves creative thinking and an eye for design.

Freelance developers can focus on front-end, back-end, or full-stack specialties. Front-end is basically anything on a website that users can see and interact with. Back-end developers concentrate on all the inner workings that are invisible to the average visitor. They’re also the troubleshooters that fix bugs and glitches. And full-stack developers are able to do it all!

When a website is successful, word spreads. This makes it one of the most challenging and lucrative freelance jobs out there!

Potential earnings: $49 per hour

Writing and Subspecialties

E-books might be the first example that comes to mind, but someone also has to write all the content for digital news publications, e-magazines, corporate newsletters, business and personal websites, business profiles, blogs, advertising copy, video scripts and technical manuals. The list goes on and on.

Many successful freelance writers specialise and become authorities in one niche such as law, parenting, gardening, classic car restoration, or ancient Roman history. For internet content writing, it pays to know a lot about search engine optimisation, or SEO.

Writing also has several sub-specialties like editing, copywriting and proofreading. If you’re a stickler for grammar and like working independently, writing is the way to go!

Potential earnings: $48 per hour

Many would-be freelancers are eager to throw their hats into the ring until they confront the long list of admin chores. It’s one thing to be your own boss; it’s quite another to handle all the paperwork that you’re used to having done for you.

That’s where Xolo comes in. Our software and services for freelancers include client invoicing, expense tracking, banking, accounting and more. We can even help you launch your own company and serve as an ongoing source of support and advice. 

Spend your valuable time honing your freelancing skills and marketing yourself. Leave the rest to Xolo!

Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash

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