Whether you are an experienced freelancer, or considering making the leap into freelance work, knowing the best freelance skills to have is essential to your long-term success.
Thankfully there’s plenty of data out there on the most in-demand skills. We’ve had a look at that data, and put together a list of the 21 best freelance skills to have on your resumé, in 2020 and beyond.
The skills we discuss are broadly split into two sections: practical, “mainstream” skills, and technical skills geared around specific programs and technologies.
Often, lists of desirable skills focus solely on technologies and programming languages, which is all well and good if you are a techie! However, we know that may not play to your strengths, so we look at more general skills in this article too.
Where is Our Information From?
These predictions are in part based on industry data from freelance job boards like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, and sources such as Udemy. We’ve also looked at what sites like Linkedin have to say, and added our own insights and knowledge.
The most successful freelancers are always learning new skills based on current and future trends. It’s a way of staying one step ahead – and you can start doing the same TODAY.
So, as you read through our lists, be sure to consider potential training opportunities. If there’s a skill that you think you could feasibly learn, why not think about a course, with a view to selling related services freelance?
Let’s get started.
In Demand Skills for Freelancers: General Skills
1. Video Production
Video streaming accounts for 60% of all internet traffic. No wonder then that video production skills are in such high demand. That content has to come from somewhere, and who better to produce it than you?
Of course, being a successful videographer requires more than just technical skill. You also have to have a creative flair and original ideas, which isn’t necessarily something you can teach. It is for that reason that video production is considered to be a real art – and why there’s lots of money to be made.
Why not take a look at some of the most popular videography courses here?
2. Audio Production
One word: podcasts. (We even have our own on this site, if you’d like to check it out!)
62 million people in the US alone now listen to podcasts every single week. That number is likely to increase over the coming year as consumers and businesses alike realise the medium’s potential. After all, podcasts are easy to listen to, highly accessible, extremely cost effective to make, and easy to distribute.
There’s plenty to learn about the art of podcasting, from sound editing to distribution to lining up advertisers and sponsorship deals.
Take a look at some great introductory books about podcasting here.
All the time there are products and services to sell, there will continue to be a demand for sales representatives. Selling isn’t something everybody can do, and it’s something many people aren’t that comfortable with.
For that reason it’s not just us who are confident that sales skills will continue to be in demand among freelancers in 2020 and beyond.
Be sure to look out for opportunities with start-ups as well as bigger companies. It’s also worth noting that plenty of big firms take on salespeople as fully-employed remote workers, as well as freelancers, as you’ll see from our list of companies.
4. Digital Marketing
If you know about digital marketing, you’ll find it’s one of the best freelance skills to have to offer in 2020.
Companies need freelancers who know the intricacies of digital media platforms such as social media and email, and how to use them to their fullest potential.
There are a number of skills involved in digital marketing, from SEO (search engine optimisation) to social media management to copywriting (see below). One of the best things about learning digital marketing skills is that it’s quite easy to pick up a relatively specialised skill – such as learning how to make the most of Pinterest, or how to profit from Facebook ads.
Copywriting skills are in particular demand for 2020. Copywriting is defined as writing “advertisements or publicity material.”This is distinct from general writing work.
Copywriting is all about convincing people to buy things. It’s an art all of its own and incorporates psychology and persuasion. Those who are good at it can earn a LOT of money.
This course on “writing to sell like a pro” could be a good starting point.
Remember earlier when we said that video streaming accounts for 60% of all consumer internet traffic?
That includes animated videos, which puts animation among 2020’s best freelance skills. The great thing about animation is that it can be used in a variety of mediums, from short films and adverts to video games, motion graphics and visual effects, giving you plenty of choice of where you want to apply your skills.
Animators, according to Glassdoor, earn an average of around $70,000 per year.
I know what you’re thinking: aren’t illustration and animation pretty much the same thing?
In some ways, yes, as both animation and illustration require traditional 2D drawing skills, but the difference is that most illustrators don’t then bring those designs to life. Plus, most animators possess 3D animation skills, while not all illustrators do.
Ultimately it depends on which medium you prefer. There are a number of avenues you can take: from marketing to courtroom illustration, and from film storyboarding to fashion design.
8. Virtual Assistance
The beauty of being a virtual assistant is that you don’t need to have any formal qualifications or specialised training.
As long as you’re organised, flexible and reliable you will be able to find freelance work, whether it’s working for entrepreneurs, startups, larger businesses, or simply individuals who need help organising their lives.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, the more specific skills you have, the better. Think anything from “soft” skills like shorthand and audio-typing, to tech skills, such as the ability to use a wide range of different applications.
We have a detailed article on becoming a Virtual Assistant here.
9. Online Collaboration and Remote Working
Remote working is on the rise across the world, with some countries now approaching 50% of people working regularly from home. That was before the virus outbreak that’s leading the news at the time of writing, and causing many people to suddenly need to work without going into an office.
As a result, there’s increasing demand for all kinds of freelancers who can assist with the trend. This includes IT specialists who can set up remote working arrangements, HR officers to manage a home-based workforce, and people skilled in using collaboration software.
Finally, for this section, we predict that freelance accountants will be in high demand this year. And that’s hardly set to change at any time either!
A new company is formed every minute in the UK alone, and every single one of them requires an accountant. Everything from initial company formation to regular tax returns needs the help of a financial specialist.
Also, while this may seem like a rather depressing take, accountancy is rather recession proof. When companies start to struggle, they still need accountants to help with insolvency and liquidation.
The Best Technical Skills for Freelancers in 2020
Originally created to serve as a secure record keeping technology for the Bitcoin network, Blockchain has quickly evolved to become one of the business world’s most valuable solutions.
It’s already being used in industries such as shipping, healthcare, farming, food safety, entertainment and gaming, thanks to its secure, distributed model.
It’s just a matter of time before more sectors become privy to its advantages and jump on the Blockchain bandwagon. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, now is the time to get acquainted with the technology and master its uses.
There’s a blockchain specialisation course here, available online and delivered by Buffalo University.
12. Cloud Computing
In 2019, cloud computing was both one of the most highly sought after skills, and one of the highest paying areas of IT.
Cloud computing remains in enormous demand for 2020. That’s good news for freelancers looking to capitalise on their expertise in this area. For optimum results, be sure to look into AWS Big Data. It’s set to be one of the year’s top emerging tech skills. You can’t go wrong with Kubernetes either.
Coursera is offering courses and specialisations in Amazon Web Services.
13. UX Design
Another up and coming skill is UX (User Experience) design.
If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a very diverse discipline that draws on a variety of aspects including business, market research, design and technology, and even psychology. Its purpose is to make online products, services and experiences more intuitive and engaging, whilst maximising efficiency and enhancing branding.
Naturally, there are a lot of skills involved with UX design, including wireframing, prototyping, and interpreting data and feedback. Right now, Magento-related UX design for eCommerce stores is in particular demand.
TIP: LinkedIn Learning is a good place to find a wide-range of Magento courses.
14. Artificial Intelligence
According to Udemy, AI is set to go mainstream this year.
Amongst the most in demand freelance skills for 2020 will be Python, a programming language based on Object-Oriented Programming, and Machine Learning. The latter is a subdivision of AI that provides systems with the ability to automatically learn and develop from past cases without being explicitly programmed.
DON’T MISS: Coursera has a Machine Learning course delivered by Stanford, and you can access if for free, with the option of paying for a certificate at the end if you wish. Find all the details here.
15. Data Science
Interestingly, Python is also widely used in data science – another reason for it to be on your radar if you’re looking to build cutting-edge skills.
However, you’ll need a lot more than Python if you want to score the highest paying gigs in data science, moving forward. One of the fastest growing skills is Hadoop, an open source ecosystem for analysing “big data.”
16. Digital Design
A skill that’s always been widely popular with freelancers and businesses alike, graphic design will continue to be in demand in 2020.
To make sure you’re at the forefront of what is already a competitive field, be sure to stay up to date with the latest training, and the latest versions of Adobe’s Creative Cloud applications.
17. Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
Unlike graphic design, computer-aided manufacturing hasn’t always been a high demand freelance skill, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in 2020.
Indeed, over the next year and beyond, CAM (the use of software and computer controlled machinery to automate a manufacturing process) is set to be hugely popular, especially in the fields of mechanical, electrical, industrial and aerospace engineering.
18. Scientific Computing
It’s fair to say you won’t become a master of scientific computing overnight!
This is a discipline that requires extensive education at degree level and higher, as well as a keen mind for solving complex scientific problems. Still, you know what they say; it’s never too late to learn. So if you’re not yet trained in the art of scientific computing but want to add this to your skillset, get researching courses today.
There’s an introductory course in Julia, a popular scientific programming language, here – and you can get started for FREE.
19. Web Development
According to PeoplePerHour, 380 new websites are created per minute.
That’s great news for freelance web developers, but to secure the best projects, you will need to stand out from the crowd. Sure, you can put together basic websites with little more than WordPress knowledge, and some freelancers build businesses around that.
20. Quantum Computing
We’ve all heard of theories such as entanglement and superposition (we have?!, Ed.) But for most of us the application of quantum physics is well beyond our skillset.
If you’re one of the fortunate few that possesses this expertise then you’re in luck, because there’s a new skill in town that requires practical use of this knowledge. It’s called quantum computing, and is a new kind of computing that could help to produce significant breakthroughs in medicine and science. Incredibly, it is possible to start studying it online today!
While plenty of best freelance skills roundups are listing new kids on the block such as Python, SQL – the stalwart of database programming – tops CNBC’s list of desirable skills for 2020.
With SQL databases used in all kinds of websites and applications, the need for expertise in it never goes away. It’s often a component part of modern data science and AI projects too. It’s definitely a skill that won’t go to waste on a technical freelancer’s resumé.
IBM’s Data Science Certification is definitely worth diving into, and covers both SQL AND Python.
So there you have it – a comprehensive list of the best freelance skills for your resume in 2020 and beyond.
What’s most exciting is that you can work to add almost all of these are skills to your repertoire straight away. In many cases, there are even FREE training options open to you.
So don’t waste any time. If you don’t get learning, other freelancers will, and you wouldn’t want them getting ahead of you, would you?
- For some tips on getting started in freelancing, check out this episode of our podcast.
- Got the skills but need the clients? Check out this huge article.