To see where freelancers are making their living all you need to do is follow the money! We did a few things here:

  1. We looked at the skillsets most sought after by those employing freelancers.
  2. We looked at what industries were requiring the most freelancers
  3. We took a look at the fastest growing industries by revenue
  4. We accounted for industries that might be lacking in revenue but hiring freelancers as they are leading the US in fundraising

Let’s start with the skillset.

This list by Upwork has the top 100 in-demand skills for freelancers, but we also looked into some other resources and lists as well. We combined them into one list that paints a more broad picture in terms of what is in-demand.

Powerpoint & Presentation Creation

For many industries and occupations, presentations are a way of life. Unfortunately, we aren’t all presentation designers — and for most of us, our time is better served performing our actual roles than spending hours designing presentations. Hiring out presentation designers that can take raw data and bullet points, and put them into a beautiful set of slides can save time and ultimately deliver a better end-product.

Accounting & Bookkeeping

If you run a small business then you know how much of a pain accounting and bookkeeping can be, sifting through excel files and spreadsheets. While we tend to do this ourselves when starting out, getting to a point where we’re bringing in enough revenue to hire this out can feel like a true milestone. A common theme you’ll see is by hiring out a professional to do these tasks, management is able to focus more on revenue-driving activities.

Content creators are killing it in the freelance economy.

Copywriting, Report Writing & Content Marketing

We’re lumping these all together, and while they can require different skillsets they all fall under the commercial writing professional’s skill set. Ecommerce companies need to produce copy for products, service businesses need the right copy to set their businesses apart, and pretty much all companies today rely on steadily producing high quality and easy to consume content for their audiences.

Graphic Design

If you run a small business or startup this is probably one of the first areas you look to get help. From logos to websites, freelance graphic designers are and will probably always be in-demand. In fact, freelance graphic design jobs are estimated to grow 13% in 2020, with the digital freelance segment set to grow by an incredible 61%.

Website & Product Design

All businesses have a website in the modern economy, from law firms to health professionals. When you factor in the number of legacy industries moving into the digital space, you can only imagine the need for competent web designers. Not only that but as companies look to productize their businesses even more over time, the need for web and mobile app designers increases as well.

Can I take your picture?

Photography & Video

This is for both content creators and editors. While we used to think of freelance videographers and photographers as those who catered towards weddings and other events, the need for high-quality content across industries has created a heightened need for freelance content producers and editors. Whether we are talking about fashion products or office shots for the hiring page, photo and video freelancers will continue to be in-demand.

Virtual Assistant

While a bit generic, these freelancers provide support services to other businesses remotely, and usually to an executive or business owner. Whether it is managing calendars, billing, social media, etc. virtual assistants are on the rise specifically with startups and smaller agencies and service businesses.

Sales, Marketing, and Operational Admin Work

Differing than a virtual assistant, many companies are now outsourcing basic tasks related to sales, marketing, and revenue-generating activities as opposed to hiring in junior talent. This allows executives more time and freedom to focus on closing business as opposed to generating and working leads.

Social media is one of the fastest growing freelance gigs.

Social Media Marketing & Community Management

Every business understands the value of community and how social media can help build and maintain that community. The problem is we aren’t all social media experts — and we definitely don’t all have the time needed to build and interact with our communities 24/7. Platforms like Cloudpeeps have even built entire businesses out of helping companies build and manage their communities via social.

Web & Software Development

We all knew this one was coming. As all industries move into the age of the internet the fact remains there are still more open opportunities for developers than there are developers to fill.

Industries

As new industries develop and new types of businesses mature, the demand seems to increase for both full-time and freelance workers within those industries. Startup founders and business owners seek outside assistance as domain experts looking for specific help in areas that are foreign to them. Whether that is design or accounting these industries and types of businesses are seeing extraordinary growth in freelance opportunities this year.

First, let’s start with what 99designs, one of the leading freelance design platforms, found in terms of industry-specific freelance opportunity growth.

Cannabis Businesses

99designs actually stated that within the Cannabis industry, CBD was the vertical growing the most. With the industry expected to grow to $16 billion by 2025, according to Cowen & Co., demand from CBD-related companies for freelance help has been increasing at an incredible pace. They found a 1,568% increase in businesses in this field looking for work on their platform since 2015 and a 61% increase in the past year.

Biohacking

This is a broader term that encompasses the latest health trends and technologies. This includes things like diets, intermittent fasting, sleep tracking, and IV hydration therapy. According to 99designs, they had a 445% increase in the number of businesses hiring creative freelancers since 2015 and 71% in the past year.

Plant-based Foods

We’ve all witnessed the success fo companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, but there are a ton of fast-growing companies in the space, and even more service businesses that cater to individuals on vegan and plant-based diets. They stated there was a 214% increase in the number of businesses in this field looking to hire creative freelancers since 2015 and a 20% increase year over year.

Cutting Edge Industries

Another thing to look at is which industries are on the cutting edge of technology and finally coming into the mainstream. While there are more examples, the following three industries check both those boxes as well being both business and consumer-facing with a global reach.

Blockchain

The global blockchain market is expected to surpass $20 billion by the year 2024, up from $2.1 billion in 2018. Currently, almost 70 percent of banks are experimenting with blockchain, and the number of blockchain-related job postings on LinkedIn has more than tripled in the last year. Like many deep-tech businesses, the need for help in marketing, design, and other areas outside of the technology development itself grows with the increase in business activity.

Artificial Intelligence
AI is pretty much everywhere these days. What was once a scary concept for consumers, AI is now a big part of our everyday lives. Expected to become a $27.6 billion in the near term, the opportunities for freelancers within the space will steadily increase as older industries continue to adopt the technology.

The Internet of Things
In 2020, IoT is expected to be positioned to make a massive impact. Already a $580 billion industry, the opportunities for freelancers (especially designers) will only increase with the mass adoption of consumer-facing products.

Follow The Money

While we hinted at using revenue and market size with the last few industry segments, a great way to see where the freelance job opportunities are is simply looking at 2020 revenue growth. These industries are healthy now, and only continuing to grow.

IBISWorld provides the “Fastest Growing Industries in the US by Revenue Growth (%) in 2020” in the graphic below.

Beyond market size and revenue growth, there is one other major way to follow the money in order to see where the opportunities are currently, and where they’ll continue to be. By looking at what startups are being funded, we can see where VC’s believe real growth will come from over the next ten years. Funding averages are a great way to look at this. Embroker provides a look at the average total of funding raised by industry and how this data correlates to each industry’s average revenues.

So those are the ways you can see where freelance opportunities are currently, and where they’ll continue to grow. If interested in all things future of work and freelance related, head over to the Snipply Blog where we’ll be releasing a full guide for both freelancers and those looking to build a freelance team.

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