As far back as the 1200 AD, a group of mercenaries offered their service to fight for any nation or person that paid them the most. These people were later, in the 1800s, referred to as army of ‘freelances’. A similar practice has since escalated into most professions in modern times, with greater influence and impact due to digital technology.
Today freelancing is the lifestyle of pursuing a career without making a long-term commitment with one employer. Usually, people who freelance are self-employed; they decide who they work for and for how long. So if you call them corporate mercenaries, you wouldn’t be too far from the origin of the word. The jobs that freelancers do are called gigs, and the freelance market is referred to as the Gig Economy. The gig economy is an important part of the labour market, and it will become even more important during and after the corona virus pandemic.
Tens – if not hundreds – of millions of people around the world lost their jobs within the few months of economic lockdown. Millions of freelancers also had fewer to no gigs to work on, since many businesses were closed. But as companies resume, many businesses are likely to cut down manpower cost by limiting full-time employment and the associated costs. If done effectively hiring freelancers can be cheaper for businesses. This will create more demand in the gig economy. So what are some of the big freelance skills that are likely to boom after this pandemic? I’ll give you 10 of them in this article.
Table of Contents
1. Strategic Independent Consulting
Post pandemic, businesses will likely prioritize independent consultants when possible over full-time employment that attracts fixed cost. We are likely to see demand for seasoned strategy consultants to help companies revise plans and market scenarios; digital skills are critical in reaching customers and for business continuity; finance expertise to help plan cash flows and cut expenses; HR talent to manage employee morale, and guide how to manage pay cuts or employee separation, and other specific skills like AI and innovation.
Businesses will need independent consultants who can help implement impact projects. It’s an important time for freelancers to assess their strengths, sharpen their skill profiles and think about new products and services they can offer.
2. Courier Delivery Service
The demand for home delivery during lockdown has created enormous opportunities for courier and delivery services, especially those that support intercity delivery. Many small and medium scale businesses that deal on physical products will want to embrace e-commerce to reach more audience and minimize cost. More consumers will want the convenience of shopping online and having their item delivered to them. This has created an increasing demand for freelance delivery services. Whilst this is not a specialized skill, the shift in customer expectations around home delivery created in lockdown will likely continue post lockdown and remain in high demand.
3. Leadership Training and Consulting
As the economy emerges out of COVID-19, leadership training will be in high demand to help managers facilitate changes, lead their teams and support them in developing the leadership skills that are clearly important post-pandemic. Also, freelancers and remote workers need the ability to work effectively as part of a distributed workforce. The lockdown has made it clear that workers need to thrive outside of traditional office settings. Businesses will need to train their workforce to develop the required leadership skill to thrive in this adjusted working arrangement.
4. Digital Marketing
COVID-19 has forced many old fashioned businesses, especially in developing countries, to embrace technology. Everyone is learning technology tools and wants an online presence. Many businesses will reduce workers and automate processes, and those that are slow to digitize their business models before the pandemic are now gearing up. Freelancers with up to date digital marketing skills including social media, Email, Search Engine and Influencer marketing, will be better prepared to serve these new adopters as well as old clients. Also, people who can teach how to be productive in the digital and gig economy will also likely be in demand.
5. Finance expert
Established businesses that were seriously affected by the lockdown will be needing financing. Startups will need to raise capital. Capital lending and investing will be on the rise. These businesses will need industry finance experts for due-diligence and expert advice to secure needed funds from the right sources.
6. Software development
There is a demand spike for quality engineers and software developers. As remote working becomes mainstream, there’s interest in tools that help employers track productivity, as well as interest for experts in data and information security, and designing remote work. The remote ecosystem is likely to explode after the pandemic. This will likely create massive demand for freelance software developers and engineers to help build and maintain tools to function in this ecosystem.
7. New Technology Specialists
This crisis has shown how companies depend on digital and information technology solutions. We are likely to see a focus on digitalization in education, health, finance and other sectors. IT specialists skilled at AI, cybersecurity, machine learning, internet of things and big data will be in high demand.
Also, technology skills around autonomous warehousing, drone delivery, robotics and 3D printing are in the fast lane to adoption. During the lockdown, Senegal, for instance, was reported to have developed a ventilator with 3D printing technology at the cost of $60 compared to the $10,000 cost of a regular ventilator. There will likely be demand for IT specialists with these new technology skills
8. Remote HR Consultants and Project Managers
One of the important tasks that await businesses after the corona virus pandemic will be managing their human resources; who should stay and who should leave, who should be hired and who not to hire. Another important task will be how to handle projects; whether to have projects delivered in-house or to outsource. There will likely be a demand for strategy execution work like project and portfolio management.
Freelance HR and independent project managers will be needed to help define and execute these tasks. Freelancers in this space will need to step up their online presence and work on publishing and networking to secure gigs around this need.
9. Digital Content Development
Content is the vehicle to reach the audience through digital channels; text, visual and audio content. The increasing demand for businesses to ramp up their digital presence and marketing strategy will equally require the skills of content creators. Freelance writers, copywriters, creative designers and video content creators will be needed to come up with engaging, inspiring and viral content as the economy recovers.
10. E-learning Design Experts
For over a decade, there have been predictions of online education going mainstream to rival traditional education. This change seemed to be gradual over the years. But this lockdown had given online education the moment it’s long waited for.
The corona virus outbreak caused schools; primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to close down. With no one knowing how long students will have to stay at home, this reality has forced creative destruction in the education sector. Entrepreneurs and schools are leveraging technology to deliver online learning to students and faculties. The world is going through a mandatory giant online education experiment. The aftermath could accelerate changes in the education industry that were already at play.
This has created a demand for e-learning experts and online education designers as well as for software developers in this space. We may see an increasing demand for this skill even after the corona virus is defeated.
The GIG economy is here to stay and increasingly gaining momentum. More businesses will prefer hiring freelancers for specific jobs than employing full-time workers which often comes with a high fixed cost. This means more gig opportunities. But at the same time, many people have lost their jobs during the lockdown.
So the freelance market will grow even bigger because more people will transition from full-time employment to freelance, which will create more competition in the freelance market. The smart thing you can do as a freelancer is to invest in building your online presence so that prospective clients can easily find you. Regardless of the field, you are in, you have to develop your digital marketing skills.
Are you a freelancer? What are some of the changes you are seeing with securing gigs your field? We’ll like to read your thoughts in the comment section below.