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Craving a Freelance Career? Here’s Where the Jobs Are

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freelance jobs

For many young people, building a career as an independent pro working on your own has tons of upsides. You get flexibility with your time, no office drama and often a zero minute commute (though certainly there are downsides and costs as well). Plus, the uncertain economy and dearth of job security is pushing more and more Gen Yers toward the gig economy.

So if this sounds like you and you’ve decided the best way to build your career is as a freelancer, what skills and sectors should you target?

The Hottest Sectors in Freelance Nation

Online jobs portal Freelancer.com has some data to guide you. Each quarter, the site releases a report detailing what sorts of jobs are most in demand on its platform, giving young people who are interested in building freelance careers a sense of where the picking are richest.

So what are the hottest sectors in freelance nation at the moment? Here are the trends Freelancer.com says are worth paying attention to:

  • Android jobs ricochet back as Apple iOS jobs stagnate: iPhone jobs tapered to a modest 8 percent growth as developers waited for the release of iOS6 in September. Buoyed by the weak iOS6 launch, Android saw a huge 16 percent growth in jobs during the last few months.
  • The interactive web continues to fly: HTML5 jobs grew 44 percent this quarter as businesses and entrepreneurs scramble to bridge the gap between their fixed and mobile clients; jQuery, the javascript library of choice of interactive web apps increased by 32 percent. PHP jobs rose 19 percent as Zend co-founder Andi Gutmans promised increased mobile functionality for the lingua franca of the Web. CSS and MySQL similarly saw strong growth, up 19 percent and 18 percent respectively.
  • Confidence returns to Facebook jobs in the wake of the IPO flop: Jobs that require using Facebook made a recovery this quarter with 11 percent growth. That’s after an abysmal drop of 14 percent in the previous quarter, when the company’s share price plummeted.
  • Internet marketing rebounds: A flurry of updates from Google sent the online marketing industry haywire in this year’s second quarter, resulting in slumps across a broad range of categories related to search engine optimization. After a period of uncertainty, the industry has bounced back, delivering moderate growth for internet marketing (up 12 percent), SEO (up 12 percent) and link building (up 8 percent).
  • Content is king: We’ve seen a new focus on content and user experience as internet marketing experts wise up to Google’s endgame. Reflecting this is a surge in jobs related to WordPress (up 27 percent), proofreading (up 26 percent), user interface (up 23 percent), graphic design (up 21 percent) and logo design (up 2 percent). In the words of Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, “Content is King!”

The takeaway from all this should light a fire under the decidedly non-technical, according to Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie. “Every industry we can think of is quite abruptly turning into a software business, and every job function is increasingly being performed using software tools in the cloud,” he says.

You’re a Digital Native… and a Telecommuting One, Too

Luckily, Gen Y are digital natives, so we should have no problem polishing up our tech skills to grab the most in-demand jobs in the gig economy. And if the online, at home nature of these types of jobs worries you, don’t fret too much on that account either. As Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of remote- and part-time jobs site FlexJobs, explained in an interview with CBS MoneyWatch, Gen Y are telecommuting natives as well.

“The recent graduates from the last few years have really been putting a priority on flexibility and have a much higher comfort level for freelance work than prior generations,” she says, adding that Gen Y is also much more comfortable with work as an activity rather than a place. “They just don’t see a building as a defining structure of where you do things,”

Have you managed to use the demand for these jobs to your advantage? Tell us how in the comments!

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=172339646152677 Spark Hire

    Great post! More and more Gen Y’ers are turning to freelance and telecommuting jobs for the flexibility they crave. As an added bonus, these jobs still allow Millennials to do work they love and develop their skills. A great way to apply for some of these virtual jobs is to record a video resume or suggest a video interview. This way the employer looking to hire freelance help can get a more personal feel for you and what you would bring to the table. Plus you can show off your communication skills and passion better than through email or phone alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35602133 Adrienne Sheares MA

    Great article. Generation Y has been making lemonade out lemons, finding/making opportunities for themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003246494965 RL Foster

    I’m a GenXer with a GenY frame of mind. Love these articles!

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  • Zara Thompson

    Great article!