If you want to maximise your earning potential, and have people chasing after you to work for them, it’s crucial to have a good idea of the most in-demand freelance skills.
The Upwork list of the most in-demand freelance skills for 2022 has just been released, and serves as a great starting point for understanding the best freelance skills to focus on.
With that in mind, this detailed guide reveals not just what those skills are, but also how to learn them.
While you’re here, you may also want to read our recent predictions on freelance trends.
- Where Do We Get Our Skills Information From?
- The 10 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills For Tech Positions
- Upwork’s Top 10 Most Sought After Marketing Skills in 2022
- Top Ten Marketable Skills in Customer Service and Administration
- Time to Start Your Freelance Journey
- While You’re Here
Where Do We Get Our Skills Information From?
Upwork is one of the biggest freelance work marketplaces in the world. Each day they match freelancers with contracts from entrepreneurs, small businesses and even Fortune 100 Companies. That means they’re well-placed to predict freelancing trends.
Upwork’s report, based on gross services volume from January 1, 2021, to October 31, 2021, shines the spotlight on businesses’ digital, relationship and customer connection needs for the coming years.
So, what are the most sought-after freelance skills for 2022? And how can you get in on the act? We’ve scoured the world’s top course platforms to find ways that you can upskill to meet the demand.
The 10 Most In-Demand Freelance Skills For Tech Positions
Companies of all sizes are relying on independent talent to grow their digital business. You’ll find that some of these skills overlap, but we’ve found some great, reasonably-priced courses to help you master them and start working as an in-demand tech expert.
People take superb web design for granted nowadays. We expect a website to be user-friendly and don’t even notice the design unless it gets in the way. That’s because skilled designers have structured the website to be easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and to fit your device perfectly.
Good web design is a critical function of all business websites in the 21st century. An excellent user experience fosters audience trust and brings people back time and again. Poor experiences can send your target customers running to your competitors.
No wonder web design is the top in-demand technical skill on the list.
Where to learn web design:
You can gain web design skills with the newly updated Complete Web & Mobile Designer in 2022 course on Udemy.
This course will teach you how to design for all types of devices, using the best practices in the design industry. You’ll learn how to work with the latest tools through a mixture of practical exercises and video tutorials ,and finish with a fantastic design portfolio ready to use when you apply for freelance contracts.
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems on the internet. According to SkillScouter, it’s seen a yearly growth of 17%.
So, it’s no surprise that thousands of bloggers and website owners are searching Upwork for WordPress experts to design and manage their sites and help them solve website problems when they arise.
WordPress skills include work on theme design, website building, coding and content publishing, so there is a wide range of jobs to go for. Programmers and developers are sought after as front-end developers, WordPress engineers, UX designers and more.
Where to learn WordPress:
LinkedIn Learning has a couple of excellent learning pathways to help you learn WordPress skills on the design and building side.
If you’re a WordPress novice, the “Become a Junior WordPress Developer” course will help you build a solid foundation.
“Become an Advanced WordPress Developer” is the course for you if you want to market yourself as someone with multi-level WordPress skills.
If you haven’t tried LinkedIn Learning before, you can start learning with a one-month free trial. Then pay a monthly or annual fee to continue with unlimited access to all their courses.
Web programmer, engineer, developer… All these jobs are similar in that they center on the non-design aspects of websites. The “behind the scenes” nitty-gritty stuff, if you will.
A web programmer listens to what the owner and designer want for their website and then writes, tests and puts up the code to make it happen.
Coders need a broad knowledge of programming languages — one is not enough — and should always be prepared to upskill. Fortunately, most programmers love their work and are thirsty to learn the latest codes.
Where to learn web programming:
The Complete 2022 Web Development Bootcamp is an affordable, jam-packed course that aims to teach you the skills to become a Full-Stack Web Developer.
Cascading Style Sheets — aka CSS — is generally used with HTML and defines the style of a web page, i.e., the text, color, font, spacing, etc.
Without CSS, you’d have to repeat the programming for these features on every page of your website. That’s a lot of extra coding if you have a large website, and the site would have a sluggish load time.
With CSS, you write the rule once for a tag, and it’s applied to all that sort of tag. That makes website building and maintenance a lot easier to do.
Where to learn CSS:
Reading and writing CSS is one of those essential skills you’ll need if you want to be a web developer or coder.
If you’re an absolute beginner, this is the course for you. It starts from scratch and can be done on any computer or web browser. It assumes you know nothing and begins from there.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and HTML5 is the gold-standard version that you’ll need to know if you want to write code and develop websites and apps.
It’s used to structure a web page, with title, headings, body text, paragraphs, images etc. and looks like this:
<title” Page Title<.title>
<h1 An Example of HTML</h1>
All of which tells my computer that my web page heading should be “An Example of HTML”
Where to learn HTML:
You’ll have noticed that many of the courses on this list include HTML. Still, if you’re a confused beginner, we’ve discovered an engaging self-paced HTML5 and CSS Fundamentals Course on edX.
This is a great course if you just want to get a feel for HTML and programming because it’ll cost you nothing to get started on the Limited version.
(If you’ve never heard of edX, feel free to check it out in our comprehensive review.)
Finally, in our “must-have” list of programming languages comes PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, to give its full title.
PHP is an older, general-purpose scripting language still used on many websites today. It’s relatively easy to learn (a big plus if you’re a coding novice), and it’s versatile, meaning that it can be used on any platform or web browser. Because it’s been around for 25+ years, PHP has well and truly had the bugs taken out of it. And if something does go wrong, there’s a wealth of support around to help you fix it.
Where to learn PHP:
Coursera has a PHP web-building course as part of its Web Applications for Everybody Specialization.
Like many Coursera offerings, you can start this course from the University of Michigan for free and pay if you want your work assessed and to receive a certificate.
If you’ve spent time shopping on the web, I’m sure you’ve encountered Shopify. This commerce platform is subscription-based and allows anyone to start up and manage an online store.
One of the significant benefits of using Shopify is that the software will integrate your physical and online stores if you have a physical store. That makes it easy to sell from both.
Although Shopify sounds easy to use, as usual, there’s a lot to learn about successfully managing and marketing a store. That’s why many businesses want to hire a professional to take that off their hands.
Where to learn how to become a Shopify Expert:
Shopify beginners will benefit from this Bestselling Udemy course: How to Become a Shopify Expert (From Zero to Hero!)
This newly-updated course gives you an in-depth understanding of how Shopify works. The best part is that you don’t need technical skills to benefit.
It’s a good one to take if you want to sell products on Shopify, too, because you’ll build your website during the course.
API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it’s the software that helps two different applications to talk to each other. When you post your latest Instagram story, send a message on WhatsApp or even check your bank balance from your phone, you’re using an API.
Mulesoft has a great little video that explains how APIs are the unsung, behind-the-scenes heroes that keep us all connected.
So many websites use APIs now that you’ll need to understand them forward, backward and inside out if you want to work as a skilled freelance web developer.
Where to learn API:
The REST APIs with Flask and Python Course is for both beginners and software developers who want to expand their skill-sets.
If you’re unfamiliar with Python, the first part of the course gives a complete Python refresher. And if Python’s easy for you, skip that part and go straight on to developing your first REST API.
It’s more important than ever for businesses to coordinate their brand image to appeal to their ideal customer.
One way they connect with their target markets is through striking visual images. Think product packaging, static logos, social media graphics and cleverly designed gifs.
Graphic designers use layout, color, font and sound design principles to produce all these visuals that brands need to promote their physical and online business.
Where to learn Graphic Design:
Coursera offers a well-reviewed beginner-level specialization. This learning path aims to teach students the principles of good graphic design for work in interface design, motion graphics and editorial design.
It includes five courses: Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Introduction to Typography, Imagemaking, Ideas from the History of Graphic Design and Brand New Brand.
Upwork’s Top 10 Most Sought After Marketing Skills in 2022
Marketing connects brands with their audiences, increases sales and drives traffic to your website and store. And while traditional print, radio and television advertising still have their place, online marketing is now more important than ever.
Here are the top ten online marketing skills that businesses need to succeed today.
Social Media Marketing
Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok are the biggest social media platforms – where brands connect with their audiences by publishing engaging content.
Businesses, charities, celebrities and even governments use social media to see what people are saying about them and respond accordingly. They put up highly-targeted social media ad campaigns and share strategic content that will provoke a response from their audiences.
Social media marketers need to understand many skills, including strategy and planning, engagement, analytics and advertising.
Where to learn Social Media Marketing:
Coursera’s Facebook Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate is a six-course program developed by digital marketing experts.
It offers applied learning projects to help you practice your new skills. And, once completed, you’ll gain access to the Facebook Certification Career Network, a new job search platform for Facebook Certified Professionals.
In lead generation, marketers aim to attract a target audience by offering helpful content and incentives to sign up for a newsletter or free download, coupon etc. Once the lead (target customer) is on their email list, the marketer can guide them through a series of emails — called a sales funnel — to eventually sell the product.
Lead generation is a vital skill for businesses today because it allows them to build visibility and expand their markets. Clever content nurtures customers to become repeat buyers, thus growing revenue and expanding their business.
Where to learn Lead Generation:
This LinkedIn Learning course includes lessons in developing goals and objectives and defining a target audience, and campaign development and execution. It aims to teach sales and marketing strategies and lead generation skills through videos, exercises and a project.
Facebook is still one of the biggest social networks, with more than 1.4 billion users every month. That makes Facebook a prime place for promoting a brand, product or service.
Businesses, bloggers and more run Facebook Groups, pages and boosted ads to generate traffic to their websites and connect with their audiences.
The platform has changed in a way that users wouldn’t have dreamed of ten years ago when they first connected. It is part of the global brand Meta and includes Facebook Live, Marketplace, 360 videos and more.
According to Hubspot, 20% of the world’s population uses Facebook every day. Yet, only 48% of businesses believe that their Facebook marketing is effective. No wonder Facebook is amongst the most in-demand skills on Upwork’s list in 2022.
Where to learn Facebook skills:
Meta offers many free online courses to help build your skills on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.
They also offer certification courses to give you marketable credentials when you’re applying for freelance work as a Facebook manager or marketer.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about helping businesses get their content as near to the top of the Google rankings as possible. It’s specialised work that often uses specialised techniques and tools.
SEO professionals are in high demand because the right SEO can give a brand massive exposure. But get it wrong, and you’ll languish on page 5 (or worse) where no one ever goes.
Where to learn SEO:
ClickSlice, a leading London SEO agency, offers this Digital Marketing course on FutureLearn. You’ll learn the processes involved in launching effective SEO, Google Ads and cold email campaigns from scratch.
FutureLearn offers a free 7-day trial and then a monthly payment, so the course could prove to be relatively cheap if you power your way through it quickly.
Instagram is a visual social media platform from Meta that does wonders for brand awareness and trust by allowing businesses to connect more personally with their audience.
Brands can use Instagram stories to keep themselves top of mind with users, and to keep them up to date with what’s happening at live events and promotions.
For example, The Revenant is an annual Ultra Adventure Run in New Zealand with thousands of global fans. While most people can’t attend in person, an Instagram expert keeps them up-to-date by posting race information, video snapshots, interviews and images throughout the three-day event.
Where to learn Instagram skills:
You’ll learn all the skills you need to create and grow Instagram accounts and to become an effective Instagram Social Media Manager or marketer in this highly-rated Udemy course.
Videos cover everything from picking a compelling name, through research and analytics, to using tools like Buffer, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and more.
Strategic marketers don’t just produce fancy campaigns and eye-catching images. They’re also number crunchers who know how to research and interpret data to help plan a brand’s best product development, pricing and market positioning. They plan and execute campaigns and evaluate the results in increased sales and brand awareness.
Business owners and managers need people who understand modern marketing strategies to sell their companies’ products and services.
Where to learn Marketing Strategy:
Edinburgh University offers a Professional Certificate in Digital Marketing Fundamentals on the edX learning platform. The certificate includes two, self-paced courses and covers content marketing, e-commerce, UX and web design, social media, SEO and more.
Social Media Management
As we’ve seen, businesses use many social media platforms to connect with their customers and increase understanding of their brands and products.
Most brands pick and choose platforms based on where their users congregate. So a fashion brand is likely to be active on Instagram and Pinterest. In contrast, a marketing expert is more likely to be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.
It’s often far too much for one person to manage a business, create content and manage all the necessary platforms. Hence, many need a Social Media Manager to keep on top of all that.
A Social Media Manager’s most desirable skills include creating and uploading enticing and relevant posts, images, pins etc., as well as scheduling, advertising, replying to and moderating comments.
They also work with content and copywriters, marketers and other team members to produce and coordinate posts on all the platforms where the business has a presence.
Where to learn Social Media Management:
This comprehensive Teachable course from “Work From Home Mama” covers all the social media management skills you’ll need to get started on this freelance path.
Modules include Billing and Taxes, The Rules of Being a SMM, Graphics, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram skills. It also covers how to pitch to clients and how to set yourself up for business.
Email marketing is one of the most in-demand marketing skills of the 21st century. Although many predicted that social media would see the death of email communication, the opposite is true.
Too many times, businesses have been burned by algorithm changes to trust their marketing solely to social media channels. That’s why savvy companies cultivate their email lists to communicate directly with their customers. And it’s why some days, your inbox floods with more newsletters than you can read in a day.
The best email marketers know how to cut through the noise and create a newsletter that people actively look for and open.
Where to learn Email Marketing:
ConvertKit is one of the world’s top email marketing platforms (we use it at HomeWorkingClub!) So who better to turn to when you want to learn about marketing emails, newsletters, landing pages, sales pages and automated sales funnels?
Market research helps entrepreneurs refine their product ideas and established businesses to see what’s working and explore the viability of their creative teams’ latest ideas. Without research, companies don’t know how effective their marketing campaigns are, nor how to adjust them if they’re not working.
So it’s not surprising that research makes the top ten list of the best freelance skills in marketing. Market research skills include data collection, analysis, communication, data visualizations (graphs, charts, software, etc.), and understanding human behavior.
So, to be a top market researcher, you’ll need to understand statistics, software, data analysis and see people as more than just numbers.
Where to learn Marketing Research:
Finding the story in the data is one of the top skills that you’ll need as a marketing analyst and researcher.
In this beginner Marketing Research Specialization on Coursera you’ll learn how to:
- Compose a professionally packaged research plan or proposal.
- Analyze data
- Design effective questionnaires and surveys
- Develop and deliver data insights.
The course includes video lessons and a project designed to help you put your newly-learned skills to work.
Top Ten Marketable Skills in Customer Service and Administration
Administrators are the glue that hold businesses together. They keep track of all communication and ensure that organizations run efficiently. Customer Service staff are equally vital, because they are the people who talk to the customers on a daily basis.
Here are the top ten customer service and admin skills that Upwork clients are searching for in 2022.
Providing responsive and caring customer service is an absolute must for businesses today. Customers vote with their wallets and their reviews. So when things go wrong, companies should bend over backwards to fix them. Those one-star ratings and scathing reviews can cause severe damage to a company’s reputation and bottom line.
Customer Service reps communicate with customers via phone, online chat and email to answer questions, take orders and fix problems. The quality of service reflects directly onto the brand.
Desirable skills include compassion and empathy, software and technology skills, clear communication skills, efficiency and understanding of the products, possible problems and how to solve them.
Where to learn Customer Service:
This LinkedIn Learning pathway will help you build Customer Service skills. It includes problem-solving and troubleshooting processes, strategies for handling abusive customers, making customers feel heard and valued, and much more.
As a customer support team member, you’ll probably work on the call desk or the live chat system, answering queries and resolving customer issues and complaints.
Users appreciate prompt service and speedy answers to their questions. Another must is handling stress and de-escalating situations with an angry customer on the phone. So-called soft skills include being a good listener and empathizing with the customer’s frustration.
Where to learn Customer Support:
Alison is one of many places to find training courses for freelancers.
This free Alison course from the Workforce Academy Partnership teaches the basics of Customer Service and Support Skills.
Virtual assistants offer communication support to online businesses by reading and replying to incoming emails and inquiries and writing company newsletters. They may also write business emails and communicate with travel firms and suppliers.
Admin assistants need to get the right tone in their emails. They need to reflect the brand voice, but emails should also be concise and error-free.
Where to learn Email Communication skills:
This course from Coursera is in the “Improve Your English Communication Skills Specialization,” It includes videos, readings and quizzes to hone your skills in writing subject lines, introductions, announcements, requests, apology emails and more.
People who offer phone support can work in call centers, dispatch, or at home. They interact with customers, confirm appointments, take phone orders and coordinate with other team members.
In another form of phone support, freelance jobs may involve making sales calls to potential or past customers. Charities, for example, often make calls to past donors to ask for a further donation to the cause.
To work on the phone, you need excellent communication skills, a clear speaking voice, and to know how to support the customer and resolve their problem. You may also need sales skills if the role involves sales calls.
Where to learn Phone Support and Sales:
This Phone Sales Training Course teaches students how to make cold calls to sell products and services on the phone.
According to Helpshift, 62% of customers say they still prefer to use email to communicate with brands if they have a query or problem. That’s because they can write when it’s convenient instead of spending ages “on hold.”
However, the company must respond as quickly as possible to avoid eroding customer trust, and that’s where your email support skills are invaluable.
Where to learn Email Support:
The Hubspot blog has this informative article about email support skills which includes 23 email templates to help you welcome, support, renew, refund and retain customers.
There are accepted ways of communicating in business workplaces, including behavior and strategies that help people relay information clearly, so that colleagues and clients don’t misinterpret it.
Effective communication helps businesses maintain and improve the company culture. It promotes productivity and prevents frustration and confusion.
Knowing communication etiquette is a valuable skill for freelancers who communicate on video calls, emails or project management tools like Trello or Asana.
Where to learn Communication Etiquette:
Business Etiquette: Master Communication and Soft Skills is a self-paced, short course on FutureLearn.
It introduces soft skills like communication, time management and listening, and how to present yourself. It also includes a section on email etiquette, so it would be a valuable course for learning about email support and email communication, too.
Online Chat Support
Have you ever had a problem or query and breathed a sigh of relief when you see the online chat support has an actual human at the other end? When someone promptly answers your question or fixes a problem, your estimation of the whole brand soars.
Live chat is an essential dynamic communication tool that more and more businesses are implementing on their websites. It optimizes sales conversions by increasing customer satisfaction, boosting efficiency, and reducing costs.
Where to learn Online Chat Support:
Answering Product Questions
Being able to answer product questions is another in-demand Customer Service skill.
Companies need support people to answer product questions on their own websites and others like Amazon Product pages.
Answering product questions doesn’t just create a positive customer experience. It also has SEO benefits for the company because of the valuable keywords used in the answers.
Where to learn Answering Product Questions:
Udemy has many customer service courses on its books.
The Customer Service Mastery Course promises to teach businesses to stand out from the crowd by giving great service and being creative with new ideas on creating loyalty in their customers.
Online data entry jobs involve copying information from one form to another. For example, you might receive handwritten notes and type them into a Word Doc. Or, you could receive data in a Google Doc and transfer it to a spreadsheet.
Many data entry jobs can also fall into other job categories, e.g., transcription, proofreading and Virtual Assistant jobs.
You’ll need to have fast, accurate typing skills and understand the basics of spreadsheets (e.g., Excel) and word processors (e.g., Microsoft Word or Google Docs.)
Where to learn Data Entry:
If you’re a complete beginner, then this Data Entry course could be exactly what you’re looking for. It includes plenty of examples and practice files to help you build the skills and understanding you’ll need to win Data Entry jobs on Upwork.
Busy businesses need administrators to keep their offices and procedures running smoothly.
Administrators communicate with clients and staff, write emails, take notes, record the minutes in meetings, answer queries, and do 1001 other small but essential jobs.
As an administrator, you need excellent communication and time management skills. You’ll also need fast, accurate typing skills and to understand the software and word processing programs used by the firms you work for.
Freelance administrators often work as Virtual Assistants for small online businesses, bloggers and startups.
Where to learn Administrative Support:
The pathway includes note-taking, communication, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint training. Microsoft Teams and more.
Time to Start Your Freelance Journey
So there you have it – the 30 most in-demand freelance skills for 2022 and where to learn them.
It’s exciting to think that you could open up a bright new way of working for yourself by investing a little time and money in yourself now.
Freelancing is very different from working nine-to-five for a company.
It’s not the same as remote work, either. With freelancing, you are your own boss, and you’re running a business by contracting your expertise to other companies.
There are many skills to learn, apart from training for a specific job or industry.
- What taxes should you pay?
- Where do you find jobs?
- How do you manage when too many jobs flood in? And conversely, when you’re going through a lean patch?
That’s where our Freelance Kickstarter Course kicks in, taking you step-by-step through the process of launching a freelance business.
It will stop you from going around in circles and help you realize your dreams and create a brand new, exciting freelance life.
While You’re Here
Once you’ve upskilled and are ready for work we’ve got plenty of articles to help.
Try our mammoth list of 125 Legit Companies That Hire Homeworkers for inspiration.
Or if you’re interested in searching the Job Boards our 25 Sites Like Upwork article gives you plenty of options.
If you’re still wondering what sort of freelance or remote work you’d like to do, check out these helpful posts:
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com