Top 15 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills (2024)

Technical freelance skills are in high demand. Driven individuals who want to increase their earning potential through a freelancing gig or side hustle should take the time to learn desired skills to land more contracts (and make more money).

As companies seek to trim their overhead and supplement their existing workforce, freelancers are more important than ever. The flexibility freelancers provide on a project-by-project basis is excellent for organizations lacking the funds to hire permanent team members.

The freelancers benefit from this agreement, too. Whether moonlighting after their day jobs or seeking to break into a new career, freelancing provides new avenues for making money.

Austin Belcak, LinkedIn influencer and job search expert, explains just how convenient it is to change careers: “If your career doesn’t make you happy? The barrier to change has never been lower. All you need is WiFi and a little elbow grease.”

But what skills are most in demand? Should freelance workers specialize in one field, or should they adopt a “jack of all trades” strategy? We can help determine which approach makes sense for you by looking at the most in-demand skill sets for freelancers.

What Is Freelancing?

Freelancing involves doing any kind of work for a company that is not a permanent employer. Some companies hire freelancers to complete specific projects, while others employ them on a retainer or hourly basis. Most freelancers invoice the company for work completed and then receive appropriate payment.

Because freelancers are not permanent employees, they do not receive many of the same benefits as workers. However, the trade-off is that they have additional flexibility for when and how they complete the work.

Freelancing is a lucrative side hustle to make additional income or a permanent way to build your own business.

The Rise of Freelance Work

Freelance work is increasingly popular, especially among highly skilled workers. Nearly 51 million people earned income from independent work in the United States in 2021, a marked increase from the previous year. Nearly 3.4 million people decided in 2021 to pursue freelance work as a permanent means of earning income.

The rise in platforms to facilitate freelance work — like Fiverr, Upwork and social media — has made it easier for consultants to connect with clients. Most freelancers are in highly desirable fields like computer programming, writing, IT work and marketing. In fact, freelance work contributes nearly $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy.

According to an Upwork survey, 74% of freelancers enjoy the flexibility that comes with working remotely and setting their own hours. However, freelancers have their own unique set of skills since many of them are self-taught. Some of these skills are in higher demand than others.

Freelancers must prove their worth and market their top skills to ensure they land contractors and find success.

What Are the Most In-Demand Freelance Skills?

Whose skills are in the most demand? It may not be surprising that clients value highly technical skill sets above others, like sales or account management.

Web developers, copywriters and other marketing professionals with specialized knowledge command great earning potential if they invest in the right training. The best part about most of these skills is that they are easy to develop through free (or close to free) online learning.

Once you put these skills into practice and have tangible results to show, add them to your resume or profile to attract clients. Diana YK Chan, one of LinkedIn’s top job search creators for 2022, puts it this way, “It’s important to leverage LinkedIn as a marketing tool to increase your marketability, visibility, and searchability.” Take time to showcase your skills online to show potential clients you’re professional and effective in your work.

1. Website Design

Web design is an essential skill in today’s digital economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 13% increase in job availability, so this field will grow throughout the decade.

Web designers create and maintain layouts for websites on both desktop and mobile devices. Some designers may also work in web development.

The best thing about web design is that you can learn skills without taking formal courses. Abundant resources online teach would-be designers the ins and outs of the trade with little investment beyond time.

2. Copywriting

Copywriting falls under the general umbrella of writing and editing, and there is no shortage of projects for talented and skilled writers to find.

Most copywriters expect to command a median rate of $33 per hour, but specializing even further — like in technical writing or UX copywriting — nets even higher pay per project.

Projects that involve copywriting include:

  • TV and radio advertising
  • Magazine advertisem*nts
  • Blogs and website content
  • Social media posts

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO experts are in high demand as the search engine landscape becomes even more competitive. The best part about learning SEO skills is that the landscape is constantly shifting. This means professionals who flex their skills and technical knowledge have a chance to earn lucrative contracts.

SEO consulting routinely leads to full-time work for freelancers who want to own their own businesses.

Like copywriting and website design or development, transitioning to SEO work is easy with free, robust learning materials available online.

4. Graphic Design

Graphic designers create visual concepts like:

  • Website graphics
  • Postcards
  • Flyers

Top 15 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills (1)

Some graphic designers are also illustrators who use specialized software to create incredible layouts, fonts and visual elements. Graphic designers, on average, ask for a median of $25 per hour.

5. Social Media Marketing

Good social media managers are hard to find because of the unique skill set necessary to thrive. Social media marketers work on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Equal parts community management and copywriter, freelance social media marketing professionals take on work for multiple clients at once.

6. Website Development

While website designers create the look and feel of a website, web developers build the back and frontend technologies to make it work.

Website development is just as important as design, but developers demand even higher salaries due to the coding knowledge required. Recent surveys indicated the average salary for a web developer is $69,000 per year. Compare that with web designer salaries, which fall around $57,000 per year.

Freelance website development professionals even choose to support clients and their websites after a project is complete, adding retainer hours to contracts.

7. eCommerce

eCommerce skills fall under several umbrellas, including SEO, copywriting and even web development.

Other essential skills exist that are specific to eCommerce, like knowing how to manage inventory and fulfill orders (or put those systems in place). Having this skill set will open plenty of doors for freelancers.

Burgeoning eCommerce freelancers learn the required skills to work with platforms like Shopify to help other businesses grow.

8. Data Analytics

Most business owners do not have time to dig into data analytics. Being able to market as a freelance data analyst helps expose freelancers to a wide range of business types. Data analysts primarily use quantitative and qualitative skills to help businesses make better decisions.

Interpreting the data and forming a narrative helps freelancers with this skillset make excellent money — anywhere from $62,000 to $99,000 per year.

9. Video Production

Video production — from shooting video content to editing — is another skill set that is easy for freelancers to learn via online tutorials but offers enormous benefits because it is a specialized skill. Would-be video professionals use their phones to produce high-quality videos for YouTube or other channels and level up to professional equipment after honing their skills.

The high demand for these types of pros continues to grow, with nearly 17,000 jobs available at the time of publication.

10. Accounting and Bookkeeping

Freelance bookkeepers are a real asset for companies who do not want or need a full-time accountant. Skilled bookkeepers cost an average of $37 per hour, but the time saved by outsourcing the work helps business owners focus on what matters — running their business.

11. Information Technology

Information technology (IT) professionals are another in-demand group for companies of all sizes, but sometimes budgets preclude them from hiring a full-time IT staff. Freelance IT staff take several paths to a career, including:

  • IT help desk work
  • Security consulting
  • Network administration

Average information technology salaries for full-time employees fall around $77,000.

12. Application Development

Freelance app developers for iOS and other devices make quite a bit of money — with hourly rates ranging from $61 to $80. Unlike web developers, who focus on building websites to work on any platform, app developers focus on specific devices.

13. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is a growing field that includes machine learning, procedural content generation and more. AI engineers who want freelance work earn anywhere from $35 to $65 per hour and work on various projects. This work requires skills in:

  • Programming
  • Math
  • Problem-solving
  • Database work

14. Blockchain

Blockchain technology underpins cryptocurrency and NFTs. It is an exciting new frontier for development.

Blockchain experts command a good salary for their knowledge as companies expand their efforts in the sector. Blockchain developers and engineers make anywhere from $30 to $59 per hour.

15. Excel

Companies hire Microsoft Excel freelancers for many reasons, whether to prepare data for presentations, create displays or review Visual Basic formulas to ensure spreadsheets function correctly.

Excel has been around for nearly 40 years. It offers no shortage of applications for freelance work.

Final Thoughts on Freelance Skills

For professionals seeking opportunities for extra income or a way to break out of their current full-time role, cultivating freelance skills provide new, exciting outlets for creativity. In addition, freelance projects shore up gaps in someone’s resume.

Top Takeaways

Top 15 Most In-demand Freelance Skills

  • Highly technical freelance skills offer a pathway to more income.
  • Developing freelance skills with online tutorials and resources is easier than ever before.
  • Choosing a freelance skill and specializing in it allows for greater flexibility in your career.

(Reporting by NPD)

Top 15 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills (2024)
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