Gone are the days when freelancing just meant an alternative for those who could not find jobs. While once it was a euphemism for job-hunting, now it is a whole career path in itself. More and more individuals are now choosing self-employment since it offers them greater autonomy. Moreover, companies too are choosing to add independent freelancers to their roster. In fact, freelancers are expected to make up a majority of the US workforce by 2027.
You might wonder why companies love hiring freelancers so much. The reason is that they are more cost-effective and offer specialized skills. And that’s the key element here that you need to focus on – specialized skills. One of the disadvantages of an increasing population of freelancers is that there exists a huge number of them who offer the same skills. If a huge chunk is offering the same skill, it isn’t really a specialty anymore.
And this is exactly why you need to set yourself apart. You have to ensure that you are unique and offer distinct skills that are in demand but not commonly found.
So make a New Year resolution to learn a new skill that is beneficial for you.
You can choose from this list of the top 10 skills that are going to be in high demand for freelancers in 2020. Some of the skills are ones you might expect to be fairly common by now. But you’ll be surprised to know that there aren’t many freelancers out there who are adept at them.
1) Virtual Assistant
The name is pretty explanatory for this one. The trend of hiring virtual assistant freelancers has only recently caught on. But don’t think that being an assistant isn’t a skill that doesn’t require any training or specialization!
You need to brush up on several skills under the broader term of ‘Virtual Assitant’, such as excellent communication skills. Since you won’t be meeting and discussing tasks in person, it’s vital that you understand all the information virtually to keep things running smoothly. You also need to be well-versed in executing administrative tasks such as conference calls and writing letters and emails.
2) Writing and Editing
There is always someone out there who needs you to write a term paper, news article, script – the list goes on. This is why polishing up on your writing skills will never let you down. With the huge demand for fresh content, you’ll never run out of writing projects any time soon.
Even if you don’t want to be the one writing, you can always edit. However, editing is not to be taken lightly. You need a sharp eye and extreme attention to detail. Chances are, people aren’t going to send you small articles to edit. Instead, it’ll be more like entire books and play manuals! And not to mention, you’ll have to stick to a deadline as well because most documents are time-sensitive affairs.
One thing about writing and editing is that it gets easier over time. The more you do it, the less time you’ll take.
3) Graphic Design
With the rise of the startup culture, there is a great demand for freelance graphic designers. This is because startups prefer hiring designers who are willing to work on a project basis.
But you might be scared to venture into graphic designing because you’re thinking, “I’m not creative at all”. However, lucky for you, you don’t have to be! Graphic designing is a skill after all, and any skill can be learned.
You need to focus on strengthening your knowledge about design principles. There are also numerous applications that you should be proficient in, like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. And for those who naturally have an eye for design, then they should hone that skill to take on freelancing projects.
One important thing for freelance graphic designers is that they need to build up a portfolio for themselves. That’s what companies are going to look at and decide if they want you or not. So put together a portfolio of your top 4-6 design projects.
With spreadsheets, companies have to sift through rows and rows of data to find something meaningful. That is a very time-consuming process, which is why they prefer outsourcing the task to freelancers. Knowing how to work spreadsheets is the one skill that never seems to go out of style.
As long as data remains relevant (which is always), spreadsheets are going to stick around. Data is the most precious currency, so anyone who can organize, present and analyze data is a highly valuable asset.
In short, you need to be able to uncover valuable insights from the heaps of data.
Here’s a list of some functions you absolutely need to brush up on if you’re learning spreadsheets for freelancing:
- Pivot tables
- VLOOKUPS and HLOOKUPS
- Index and Match
- If with And/Or
- Sum and Average
- What-If analysis
5) Customer Service
Customer satisfaction is at the heart of a company’s success. And to ensure such satisfaction, there are several companies who provide 24/7 support. This means they’re always looking for customer service representatives who are willing to work at odd hours, usually after the regular 9 to 5 workday. So if you’re willing to most likely work through the night, this might just be the one for you.
Keep in mind that customer service requires a lot of training. You have to first understand what the company does, what they’re selling, all possible solutions to a client’s problem, and so on.
You also need to learn skills such as:
- Effective and clear communication
- Problem-solving ability
- Ability to deal with tricky situations and difficult clients
Apart from all these, a key skill for any customer service representative is knowing how to extract valuable information from the random information customers throw at them. Customers might not clearly communicate their problems to you. But you need to be skillful enough to understand what they’re trying to say. It sounds tricky, doesn’t it? This is why opting for customer service isn’t for everyone.
6) Online Video Creation
A major chunk of online marketers uses video content since it’s clearly more engaging. But creating such appealing videos is no easy task. It requires learning several applications, the most prominent one being DaVinci Resolve.
You also need to constantly keep learning, because there’s always some new trend that attracts more engagement. For example, the current trend that is continuing into 2020 is motion graphics.
Moreover, video creation is also linked to social media marketing. With the continuous popularity of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, companies require video content that specifically targets social media. So as a freelancer, you can choose to market yourself either as an online video creator or specifically as a social media video creator.
Similar to graphic design, freelancers learning the video creation skill need to make a portfolio for themselves. This should include 2-3 of their best-produced videos.
If you don’t want to create videos, you can instead choose to edit them. There exist many jobs for freelancers who know how to edit videos. While this requires the same knowledge of software and tools, it also requires additional expertise. You need to have an eye for detail. This includes noticing and fixing the smallest of things such as the alignment of elements etc.
7) Relational Databases
Big data is all the rage these days. But there aren’t many experts out there who know how to properly deal with such huge volumes of complex data. In fact, big data analytics is one of the most scarce skills found out there. This is why businesses are going to be looking for independent contractors who are experts in relational databases.
Keep in mind that this is an extremely technical skill. So jump in only if you know you can see it through to the end. Freelancing in relational databases involves storing and analyzing data to help businesses with key decisions. However, you’ll be working with powerful tools to manage data without having to rely on programmers.
You’ll need to learn software such as MS Access. Being proficient in SQL is the minimum requirement if you’re thinking of venturing into databases. Lucky for you, there are several free courses online that provide in-depth knowledge about relational databases and their applications.
8) Accounting and Bookkeeping
This might come as a surprise to most because why hire someone when you could just use accounting software instead. However, there’s still plenty that software cannot do. For example, tax codes and deductions are an enigma that you can’t solve using the software. Moreover, some small businesses simply can’t afford to invest in software. This is why freelancers who provide accounting services continue to be in demand.
As a freelance accountant, you will have to carry out mundane tasks such as supervising, examining and recording the cash flows of your client. All this work can become boring after a while. So only opt to freelance in accounting if you’re excited about it. Otherwise, you’ll start to regret it after a point.
Freelancing in accounting and bookkeeping requires great attention to detail. Moreover, you’ll need to be extremely punctual in regularly updating the books so you’re ready for tax day. If you’re great at setting and then sticking to a budget, then you should look for bookkeeping opportunities.
9) Blockchain Development
Blockchain development has become the hottest skill in the market. Believe it or not, there’s been a 6000% hike in the requirement graph for blockchain development. Since there don’t exist enough Blockchain experts so far, there is a huge opportunity here for freelancers.
However, blockchain development is a skill that you should only venture into if you are technically sound. There’s a long list of languages you need to be comfortable with if you want to opt for this particular skill. C++, C#, SQL, JQuery, HTML, XML, and CSS are just the basic requirements on the road to honing the blockchain development skill.
You can also narrow down your offering even within blockchain development. Figure out if there’s one aspect you’re good at or want to stick to. For example, you can choose to excel at either creating prototypes or full-blown applications. But before deciding, make sure to go online and check if there are enough job opportunities for what you choose. Even if you’re great at creating prototypes, you might not want to choose that if there aren’t enough jobs for it.
10) Low Code Development
According to Gartner, mobile apps are projected to have the most impact on business success by 2020. This is why enterprises are now focusing on building apps that are optimized for mobiles specifically.
To do so, they need to hire specialists who are familiar with low-code development tools. So if you’re going to look into this skill, you need to master software solutions such as Salesforce Lightning. Again, this is one of the more technical skills in demand for the upcoming year. Make sure you can keep up before you choose to freelance as a low-code developer.
Another thing to keep in mind is the work environment you’re getting into. Low code development is a very fast-paced environment. You’ll have to collaborate with other professionals to rapidly create and deploy applications. While that is an exciting place to work in for some, others might not be up to the task. So keep that in mind if you choose to grow your resume as a low code developer.
Time to Choose a Skill!
With the year wrapping up, it’s time to move on to newer things – like a new skill perhaps! There’s a wide array of skills you can choose from, ranging from technical skills to some soft skills as well.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that each skill has its own set of challenges. Some require knowledge of several software applications, whereas others simply need someone who’s detail-oriented and whatnot. So don’t dive in blindly into a skill without reading up on it a little. If you end up choosing the wrong skill, you might feel a bit overwhelmed.
Now that you have a whole list of skills that are high demand in 2020, which one are you going to select?