Are you one of those people who didn't want to return to the office after the Covid-19 lockdowns? Many employers were unreasonably frightened that WFH policies would decrease productivity. In reality, numerous studies revealed that working from home had a positive impact, with many employees doing more in less time.
It's no surprise that for the second year in a row, we have seen a huge spike in freelance workers. Managers learned they could coordinate projects remotely, so there's one less reason to hire locally. Moreover, the global talent pool is much bigger, and there's a better chance of finding a suitable professional.
But not all professions are equally attractive. You must pick carefully what you specialize in, or you might be left with only a few low-paying contractors.
Before discussing actual disciplines, it's best to understand what makes a freelancer attractive to contractors, and a T-shaped analogy best illustrates it.
The upper horizontal line represents soft skills and self-development. As a freelancer, you must effectively manage your time (you can use time management techniques, like Pomodoro) and learn to multitask.
Time management is essential while working from home, and most freelancers have at least a few contractors simultaneously, outlining the importance of multitasking. Soft skills like communication and negotiation are crucial for finding new projects and discussing salaries.
The vertical line represents your in-depth knowledge and is where you specialize. Before freelancing, gaining some in-company experience is best because you can learn valuable skills from more experienced co-workers. However, if you're on a senior level, you can feel safe knowing you will find freelancing opportunities.
Now let's see which skills will be in demand for the foreseeable future.
The demand for cybersecurity specialists is enormous and keeps getting bigger yearly. The two main reasons for this are the complexity of the discipline and the fragile structure of the World Wide Web. The Internet has rapidly expanded over the last decade, including online banking, video game microtransactions, and cryptocurrency. And where there's money, there's a crime.
Fortune reports that there are more than 700K open cybersecurity positions. Companies desperately seek penetration testers, information security specialists, cybersecurity software developers, malware engineers, and ethical hackers. Senior-level cybersecurity specialists earn more than 100K per year.
Pro tip: as a freelancer, you will have to deal with cybersecurity one way or another. You will be handling confidential business data, and securing it is up to you. Prepare essential CySec software like a Virtual Private Network, protect business accounts with a password manager, and use file encryption to store confidential information safely.
Big Data is a game changer for most businesses. The Internet provides access to an unprecedented amount of information, which can be used to improve business decision-making. Getting and aggregating such data is harder than it sounds.
Coursera reports that the demand for data scientists will grow by 23% until 2031. You can specialize in data-gathering by mastering proxy and API technologies or choose data analysis if you have strong critical thinking.
Currently, 71% of businesses have a website. The number is increasing as e-commerce platforms grow, as does the demand for web designers and front-end developers. Moreover, many companies prioritize freelancers because building a website is often a one-time project.
We also recommend looking for job opportunities with Cloud Computing businesses. It’s a rapidly expanding industry with Cloud storage solutions replacing corporate server networks. Cloud system designers can expect regular well-paying projects.
Businesses require unique written content to promote their services. The e-commerce competition is so fierce that content writers now live through their golden age. Once again, contractors prefer freelancers, and you can start your writer's career on platforms like Fiverr or Upwork.
You can specialize in SEO writing, technical writing, copywriting, UX writing, ghostwriting, and blogging. Although they don't make as much as cybersecurity seniors, you can find lucrative projects and enjoy a much more chill freelancing.
ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, is a hot topic, with many voices arguing it will replace content writers, front-end developers, and dozens of other disciplines. That's highly unlikely.
What is highly probable is that ChatGPT (and similar services) will become a widely used support tool. You will still have to write your own articles or code, but ChatGPT can help generate ideas, locate bugs, and automate manual tasks. Mastering this tool will probably give you an advantage in the near future and assist with all discussed professions!
Pro tip: If you want to feel financially safe, look into money-making apps, which can help you earn additional money so that even during the transition period between contracts, you have a stream of income.
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