The days when freelancing was looked down upon, and associated with low-paying data entry jobs, online surveys, and scams are long gone. Nothing wrong with data entry and online survey jobs, but there is so much more that freelancers have to offer.
As the industry grows, and as technology continues to advance, businesses are looking to hire highly skilled freelancers. Here are the 9 most in-demand freelance jobs in 2017, based on research done by freelancing sites Upwork , Cloudpeeps, , Freelancer, and based on my observations as an Upworker over the last four years.
1. Social Media Management
In the simplest form, a social media manager (assistant) is a person entrusted with the monitoring, filtering, contributing, guiding and measuring of the social media presence of an individual, corporation, product or brand. It’s just like managing Apple’s Twitter account or Safaricom’s Facebook page.
You’ll need a couple of key skills to be a social media manager. First, you must be good at graphics production (you might need to use images, videos and other multimedia). Popular tools to help create images are Canva, PicMonkey and Jing.
Secondly, you need to have an aptitude for writing as social media is 90% text. Third, you must possess a customer-service mindset to be able to communicate well.
Finally, you will need to keep up with the social media marketing trends. Searchengineland states that Instagram and video will continue to be hot in 2017.
2. Content Writing and Blogging/SEO
This is the form of writing aimed at helping websites to become more visible on major search engines (such as Google and Bing). This is why content writing and blogging are tied in with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
This is one of the most important skills required online today due to increasing Internet use. As more websites are created, the owners have to apply all measures to remain at the top of popular search engines. As such, they are in constant need of great SEO content writers and bloggers.
Good SEO writers understand how to use keywords in the content they write, and they write articles that contain keywords that people are searching for. They also know how to write articles that are engaging to the reader, avoiding obsolete SEO practices such as stuffing articles with keywords.
3.Virtual Assistant Jobs (VA)
I joined Upwork back in 2012, when it was oDesk, and I must attest to the fact that I am increasingly seeing more VA jobs being posted, quite unlike two or three years ago.
A virtual assistant can be compared to a personal assistant. The only difference is that VA’s work remotely; their offices are online. VA’s are hired to perform different tasks such as, bookkeeping, WordPress, data entry, calendar management, and writing, among others. If you can do those tasks, then this might be your gold mine!
Udemy Course: Work From Home As A Virtual Assistant
VA jobs are some of the most in-demand jobs in 2017. These jobs are in high demand due to the startup revolution that is happening, and the business owners want to focus their time on core tasks that make them money, while they delegate the rest.
4. Email Marketing Specialist
The money is in the list, so said the unknown person. And the list here, simply means email subscribers.
According to the gurus, email is a much more effective way to connect to your followers than social media. I think I’ll agree with the gurus here. Email is such an integral part of our lives now. I’ve heard people talk about quitting social media but I’ve never heard anyone say that they will quit email.
So what exactly is email marketing? Email marketing is the use of email to communicate commercial messages to a target audience. If you’ve been online for some time, you’ve definitely received emails announcing price slashes, car deals or online courses. All those are examples of email marketing. You can make a living by investing in this highly sought skill.
Email marketing managers need to have great writing as well as analytical skills.The latter means being able to accurately measure open rates (how many people opened the email) click rates, (how many people clicked through to any links in the email) and conversions (when the customer takes a desired action, for example, buys a product)
5. Ecommerce Specialist
E-commerce refers to any form of commercial transaction conducted over the internet. It can also involve the buying and selling of goods online. Popular e-commerce platforms include Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce.
Clients are looking for ecommerce specialists who can help them increase sales and profits. A passion for digital marketing is a must. You will also need analytical skills to help your clients grow their ecommerce stores. You also need to demonstrate to your clients that you are up-to-date with industry trends.
On Upwork, you can find Shopify Specialists who help customers “customize their Shopify theme, add product images, track user analytics, and manage customer orders” among other things.
6. App Developers
The image above is an example of an App Development job post, put up on Upwork.
Do you use Facebook on your phone? If you are a freelancer, you probably have the Paypal app, right? Among the apps on my phone is the Dropbox app for file sharing and the Mycelium wallet for bitcoin, which allows me to send or receive bitcoins on my phone. These applications are created by people through a process called App development.
And app development jobs are not going to slow down anytime soon. More businesses are realizing how important it is to have, not only a web presence, but a mobile presence too. Mobile apps are an important marketing tool for business owners in 2017. You can see this locally too. Look at all the commercial entities coming up with Apps. Equity Bank have the Eazzy App, as does Co-Op Bank.
To succeed in this industry, you need four main skills. First, you have to be creative. Second, you must be good at backend computing. Third, you must possess programming (coding) expertise. You need to be familiar with PHP, Java, HTML5, among others. Finally, you must be familiar with either mobile or computer User Interface designing. Having both is an added advantage.
7. Animation Jobs
You’ve probably watched animation movies where objects like logs and stones speak. In Kenya, we’ve all laughed at the hilarious XYZ and Faiba characters. Basically, that is what animation entails.
The freelance animator needs to understand the basic principles of animation, the terminology, what frames are, and the various methods of animation. They need to understand how a sequence of drawings can become a moving picture and so much more. It’s a laborious process but one that is in-demand currently.
Udemy Course: Character Animation For Beginners
The video below shows a whiteboard animation, often used to communicate messages in a unique and easy to follow way.
This skill is in demand , as more people are embracing animation as a better way of reaching out to the audience. You can access similar jobs on the major freelancing sites mentioned in the previous job (App development).
8. Design Jobs
Design jobs are also one of the most in-demand jobs in 2017. Design involves the creation of graphical content aimed at specific objectives. For example, when I write my eBooks, I hire a graphic designer to create an attractive ecover, one that will grab the prospective buyer’s attention and increase the likelihood that the buyer will buy the book.
Graphic designers create logos, CD covers, movie covers, wedding cards, flyers, posters, social media banners and artist graphics, just to mention a few.
You need to be skilled at using software such as Adobe Photoshop, In-design, Illustrator and Corel Draw. You can find design jobs on the major freelance sites. There are also sites like 99designs, Dezeen, and Design Jobs Board which solely list design jobs.
Talking of design jobs, I must also include web-design. The world we are currently living in today is highly competitive for businesses, and if you don’t have a website where prospective customers can learn about your company or product, you are unfortunately lagging behind. All the same, you may have a website, but do your customers get a good experience when they visit it. A good website is easily navigated, is compatible on different browsers, and doesn’t take ages to load. It also has a simple and aesthetically pleasing design. These are all things that a web designer can do.
9. SEO Experts/Consultants
This too, is one of the most in-demand freelance jobs in 2017. SEO Consultants are people who review and analyze websites so as to improve the site’s rank in search engines. For example, if your site is on page 2 on Google for a keyword like “beautiful head gear” the SEO specialist can help you get to page 1 of Google, and hopefully at the very top.
Udemy Course – SEO 2016: Better Search Engine Rankings With Safe SEO
An SEO consultant should possess skills such as identifying SEO industry trends, conducting website audits, understanding keyword analysis, and know a variety of legitimate link building strategies. All in all, their aim is to get their client’s website higher in search engine rankings.
Now, to add on to these most in-demand freelance jobs, here a few more skills that might be in high demand as we progress in 2017. You might want to grasp a few of these:
I could have sworn that this was a dinosaur that became extinct about ten thousand years ago. Not so actually!
Swift (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial) is a cooperative owned by the financial industry, which supplies secure and standardized messaging services as well as interface software to investment managers and banks. Financial market infrastructures such as treasuries, securities and payments, are included as well.
If you stick around this emerging industry, you might find a job that will suit you in the SWIFT network.
Stripe is a payment system which allows people to use debit and credit cards online. Again, it allows people and businesses to accept payments over the web. Some people are already in this field, helping website owners to create payment experiences on their sites or mobile apps. Expect more opportunities along this line, in the near future.
Although this should fall within social media marketing, it is still an emerging opportunity. Concisely, brands and individuals who target Instagram users are in need of people who can come up with ways of reaching more audiences in this platform. You might need skills such as graphics creation, a passion for writing, an expert eye for catchy images and perfect socialization skills.
User Experience Design
Also known as UXD, UX, XD or UED, this is the process of enhancing the satisfaction of a user of a product. This can be achieved through improving the usability, accessibility as well as pleasure provided in the interaction with the product(s). In this case, you can be employed as the “tester” for products whereby you use the products then provide feedback that can be used in improving the products. It is a new but very promising industry.
Zendesk Customer Support
Zendesk is an organization that creates software aimed at enhancing customer relationships. As such, organizations that use the software (and those that will increasingly start using it soon) will need people who can setup and use the program. Some required skills might include LiveChat, WooCommerse and Gmail integration.
As you can see, there has never been a better time to become a freelancer. The online work revolution is happening and you can become a part of it. And if you already are, learn some new skills because technology, just like time, waits for no one!