Hey there, we’re coming to the end of a magnificent decade. Bid farewell to 2019 and hello 2020! 2019 was a whirlwind of a year: a bumpy one for the world, but for the freelancing industry, it’s undoubtedly rewarding. Thanks to the Internet, with one simple click, you’re connected with the world and surrounded by an unprecedented lot of information and opportunities that can blow your mind. In 2019, we saw a proliferated growth in the freelancing industry that up to 70% of freelancers turned to online marketplaces to find clients and this number is expected to increase even higher in 2020. The growth was primarily driven by younger generations with 47% being millennials. Gone are the days of working from nine-to-five in an office with a clinical and monotonous layout. We’ve witnessed a massive transition from traditional work to freelancing, working part-time, or the gig economy to be more general.
That’s why you should know clearly where you stand in this transformative change and what you should be pinpointing on. For a freelancer-to-be, suppose you’ve known the rosy and bumpy parts of the freelancing industry. Next, it’s time to fixate on the question of what, how and where:
Wanna scrounge up more details? Go back and read Freelancing 101 and Qualities/ Tips for a successful freelancer. Truth be told, you can find many articles online telling you which path is the most promising one, but what you need to do is read through this detailed ultimate guide and you’re free to sail through the unknown 2020! With that said, a good start can set the tone for your journey ahead; knowing what you’re aiming for is so potent that it will work much better than any Xanax or therapists out there. (wink) I’ve listed the top 8 fastest-growing freelance industries in 2020 you don’t want to miss. Some are pro-technology and IT-related while others are more for creative minds. Following trends indicate what is typically in urgent needs or requiring specific expertise. Job descriptions are quite similar to those of desk-jobs. Freelancers (independent workers, remote contractors, side-hustlers, self-employed) can follow the bandwagon and know what to work on next.
In our daily lives, we’re “logged in” basically 24/7. Computers are indispensable and our world is dominated by technology. In fact, anything that connects to Wi-Fi has become the 21st century necessity for Gen Z and 90-year-old grannies. You can tell how high the technology penetration is. Projects from website maintenance, website design to cyber security are growing at a rapid pace. In fact, there’s been a huge demand for freelance cyber forensic expert or ethical hacker in the past 5 years. If you are born a technology enthusiast, your expertise meets a universal demand. Following are the top four fields you can eye on.
Every industry is now adopting blockchain technology and shaping our future world, meaning that more and more freelancers are expending efforts to make themselves relevant to this trend. With blockchain, financial inclusion is soon foreseeable, making everyone more economically empowered. Under this premise, enterprises and startups are tapping into this trend and willing to pay freelancers in a more timely fashion. After the cryptocurrency bull market of 2017, demand for blockchain developers has been increasing without a pause. By 2019, the growth is 5 folds over 2018. According to Blockchain Council, the average salary ranges from $50-$100 per hour. That is 150K-170K per year.
Creativity and digital native combined is the threshold of a successful web designer. UX designer was the second most in-demand in 2019 while UI (user interface) comes in at third place. These two are easily linked, but essentially they’re two different professions. An eye-catching UI sets the stage for the entire webpage with visual design being the core. While for user experience, designers have to scratch underneath the surface, such as interaction design, content strategy, and psychology aspect, etc. As demand far outstrips supply, salaries spike. Companies are willing to pay more to recruit talents. According to a report released by Onward search, on average, a UX designer can earn from 77K to 114K; if you’re savvy at both UI/UX, then you can earn up to 99K to 153K. The survey focuses solely on the U.S., but UX design is no doubt one of the potential options freelancers can think about.
It’s no brainer that the world runs on software, besides, as Gen Z is coming of age, the demand for responsive and interactive software will only grow. Therefore, companies are looking for outsourced software developers. If you know how to test, design and debug software, this might be the right field for you. I can give you my word: a freelance career in software development is one of the most profitable project-based gigs you can find. Like any developer, freelance software developers need to excel in some languages to score a new gig, be that Python, Java, Ruby, Swift or C. Over 25% of freelance software developers earn more than $50/ hour. Salary for freelance software developers is around 77K-91K.
Real story alert! Smartphones took off when my mom was in her mid-30s. (Moms are so sensitive about their age, so do the math yourself and you’d figure out when is it.) By then, she somehow passed the prime time to learn how technology works; for example, she asked at least 5 times how to take a screenshot of her favorite K-POP idol on her phone. She refers to it as a “young people” thing. Even though it’s not a serious tech support problem, you can tell technical support freelancers are so important that we hinge our lives upon them. Customer-centered companies need engaging support expertise to provide help on all kinds of issues on behalf of them. The annual salary is around 69K.
Next, we are moving to freelance trends that are more for creative minds. 21st century talents do not limit solely to computer literate. In fact, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration are the skills you should hone in 2020 and many years to come. Here are the 4 trends that are pertinent to the qualities I just mentioned.
Infographic designer, logo designer, icon designer, webpage designer, layout artist, photo editor are all in the pack. You got to create graphics for printed and electronic media. Creative professionals provide customized work, which is more attention-drawing than one-size-fits-all templates. Graphic designers are at the forefront of creating visual concepts that target audiences effectively and captivate their hearts. No matter you’re just a budding designer or simply hoping to supplement your income with a side hustle, you can find tons of work that revolves around your skillset. Annual salary is around 56K.
Most businesses agree that marketing is integral to their success. When it comes to cutting expenses, marketing is always the last to consider. Marketing strategies can be a matter of life-and-death for any company. It comprises of a comprehensive multi-channel approach including content, social media, copywriting, public relations; better yet, companies might anticipate you having skills in SEO(will be elaborated on later), brand management and customer psychology. All these channels aim for one simple goal: help companies get the most out of their efforts. The average salary is 54K-66K annually.
Content editing and journaling are highly in demand. Writing profession is often misunderstood as most people believe that great writers are so rare; they have to be either poverty-stricken or struggling with lifelong illness to write something that makes history. That may stand true for some great writers yet I have to say, folks, the all holed-away-from-society scenario is largely romanticized. The basics hold true though, as long as your language is accessible for your intended audience and you have a coherent story structure, you’re good to go. Commercial writing includes everything from web content to ghosting writing to manuals to journalism and advertising. So, there are a lot of opportunities for you to capitalize on. Companies are tapping into the global market; therefore talented writers who’re good at English, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish will be welcomed everywhere they go.
Another niche for freelance writers is SEO specialists. Optimizing your website for Google search engine can direct more organic users (or potential customers) to your website. How? Target the right long-tailed keywords and before you know it, your website will be on the first page of Google. Translation also takes up a huge proportion. Google Translate isn’t taken seriously by most companies, it’s more for travelers. Even though some claim that not long in the future translators will be replaced by AI-powered translation apps, I think hiring a professional translator is still a more practical option. According to Glassdoor, content editing can earn around 57K annually; journalists: 44K; SEO specialists: 50K; and translators: 45K.
Good administrative work keeps everything on track. Many might link administrative work with secretaries. Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada anyone? That secretaries are always fetching coffee and running errands are the old-school stereotypes. Administrative work is actually a multifaceted industry, including proficiency in training and onboarding, data entry, customer service, projects related to sales or visual work. While some freelance administrative assistants don’t earn as much as other tech-driven independent workers, you can always pick up valuable industry-specific online courses to sharpen your ability, and eventually, walk off with a higher salary. In the good old days, you have to be there to do the work, but now you no longer have to do it on-site. Companies are getting sneaky, they’d do anything to save employer overhead costs (ex. Cut desk space/employer insurance), so hiring a freelancer to do the work sounds feasible. Positions include administrative assistant, virtual assistant, office manager and coordinator. The average salary varies from 35K to 61K annually.
Trends mentioned above cover various fields and I do hope you find your element in them. If none of them suits you, no worries. These trends are the most fast-growing industries in 2020 but not the only ones. Photographers, video editors, copywriters, social media coordinators, etc are all in demand. For those who want to expend efforts to the more recent trends, Duolingo, Udemy, or edX are great places to immerse yourself in new fields of knowledge.
I’ve rounded up the top 8 industries for freelancers in 2020 and which types of jobs tend to be the most profitable ones. Here’s a recap if you want a straight-to-the-point version: Blockchain is the most lucrative option, followed by UX designer and software developer, tech supporter, graphic designer, market consultant, wordsmith, and administrative freelancer. This is just for your reference since some industries have a huge gap moneywise. What’s next then? As a freelancer-to-be, you know the drill— always invest in yourself; no matter what your expertise is, keep up with the trends, and most importantly, choose a type of freelance job in line with your preferences, one that make you happy and satisfied.