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9 Best Freelancer Skills to Learn in 2021 [+Video]

It’s is an inevitable matter that every freelancer should have a set of skills that enables them to Make Money Online. If you are a freelancer then you already have some skills that bring you good jobs & projects. You can always learn more and improve your existing ones.

Also if you are new to this whole freelancer thing, you need some practical skills that give you a jump start towards online jobs and businesses. In this article, you’ll learn exactly that; the most important skills that every industry and business demands.

coloring pencils in a holder
There are lots of skills to pick for freelancing, but not all are suitable. You have to find true skills that you have or will develop passions for them.

By knowing the most demanding skills out there, you can start learning them. If you master one or two or get familiar with a couple of them, then you will receive a job and you can make some good money on the internet. But first, let’s learn what skills are the most demanding ones right now.

Top 9 Freelancer Skills to Learn in 2021 [Video]

Watch this video from my YouTube channel if you’re not in the mood of reading an article today.

This is a Different List!

If you searched Google and got here, which it’s usually the case, then you should have seen some other articles with longer lists. I like to think (and write) logically. That is why I devised a list with items that follow a set of criteria I haven’t seen on other websites.

There are skills, for which the demands are high in the sky, like blockchain programming, AI development, robotic engineering, etc. Clearly, you can’t learn such skills over a period of a few months, even if you are the most hard-working person on earth.

a confused woman in front of a laptop
It is never too late to learn a skill, so don’t get mad at yourself for not becoming a rocket scientist.

Such complex skills usually require formal educations and courses that would take years. They are really demanding, I’m not denying it, but they are not something a new freelancer can learn and make money online quickly.

So if you are, for instance, a well-educated AI developer from MIT, then congratulation. Don’t waste your time here and go make some ground-breaking discovery in the field of artificial intelligence.

2 robotic engineers testing a robot
Some skills require formal education and experience alone won’t land you some jobs. Like medical science or complex engineering degrees that can’t be obtained without proper education.

But if you are going to become a freelancer and make some money online or Start an Online Business, Welcome. Someone like us should have an online business to make use of AI anyway! Right?

This list consisted of skills that are easy to learn and anyone even without proper education can do it, and make a lot of money doing it! Learning these skills won’t take too long, and they are actually practical and pay good, unlike some skills that are a Total Waste of Time.

Most Demanding Freelancer Skills For 2021

Here’s the list I was talking about. To sum up, everything that I’ve been saying up until this point, I’ve used certain simple criteria to devise this list. Therefore these skills are…

  • Demanding among all kinds of businesses and industries.
  • Demanding on freelancers’ marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.
  • Practical and pay good money.
  • Easy to learn and require no formal & long term educations.
  • Can actually be learned in a couple of months.
  • Suitable for everyone with all kinds of backgrounds.
freelancer working from the comfort of his home
The best thing about freelancing is working from the comfort of your home. If you experience it and make money from home, then it will be too hard for you to get back at your desk in the office!

Now let’s jump to the list and see what is demanded right now so we can decide which one to learn first, and enjoy the freedom of working from home as a successful freelancer.

1. Graphic Design

The inseparable part of every business is graphics and presentations. Everything from company forms, papers, business cards, presentations, to advertisements, marketing, posters, product designs, and packaging will require the work of graphic designers.

Basically, every business, company, or industry that wants to look good among its competitors, will require a graphic designer to do the work. This is, without doubt, one of the most demanding skill a freelancer should learn. Even freelancers’ marketplaces are full of jobs and gigs with such titles.

A graphic designer working with Photoshop
You can master graphic software such as Photoshop or Corel in a few months, and with some creativity, you can design anything.

You can be a graphic designer. You can learn this skill in a couple of months thanks to the power of YouTube. What you should know is that there are a lot of areas in graphic designing, and it is better to master a few of them, while having a gist of the rest.

Let’s say you can master designing spectacular business cards, awesome posters, and amazing presentation slides, and learn the basics of other areas of the side. Knowing how to design office sets, web arts, banners, etc. helps you in general, and you will look like a true professional too.

Some example of poster graphic designs
All companies require graphic designers for all sorts of related jobs. Graphic design is always a top demanding job.

What all graphic designers should, have to some extent, are creativity and ideas. You will learn how to obtain them along the way and how to think creatively to deliver better works.

Oh! One more thing. Graphic designing is not just the items I’ve mentioned (2D). You can become a 3D designer too. It takes longer to master 3D graphics, but it pays more and there is less competition for receiving a job offer.

Many 3D animation production companies, architectural & engineering firms, game developers, and movie production & visual effect firms will require 3D designers for their projects.

Two 3D designers working on project
With the current advancing technology, everything can be made 3D. Professional 3D designers are always busy because the market is always looking for freelancers with this skill.

Besides the fundamentals of graphic design that you have to learn, getting familiar with some software is also a key factor for all graphic designers. On top of my mind, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe illustrator are the best software for 2D designing but remember if you are a good illustrator and cartoonist, you have already made yourself good job opportunities. Also, Autodesk 3D Max, AutoCAD, and Maya are the top ones for 3D designing.

2. Website Design

This is another skill that basically anyone will need for some reason. Not only businesses and companies need a website, but also people like doctors, lawyers, authors, and many others will need one at some point. On top of all, stores and shops are always interested in having an online shop on the internet.

So website design and development is truly one of the skills a freelancer should learn. There are many levels to design and develop a website. Yes, programming involves, but only a little. Developing complex websites and eCommerce stores will require sophisticated programming knowledge.

A web developer programming on laptop
While web development as seen in this picture is complicated, designing and creating a website will require minimum skills of some ready-to-launch software and services.

But these days with WordPress and WooCommerce, you can create a website or an online store (or both) with just a few clicks, without writing a single line of code.

Such skills are great and demanding in freelancer’s marketplaces. Besides, you can find local business owners or people who are looking to have a website or store. You can then help them and make money without knowing how PHP or Python programming language works.

two women talking about website
Since everything is online now during this pandemic, everyone is looking to a website. You can be the one who makes them a website. This is especially practical for local markets and businesses.

By learning a few Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. you can easily create a website looking exactly like what your customer wants. Again thanks to YouTube and many resources, you can learn how to install and use WordPress, and how to make a professional-looking website.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of the most important skills that a freelancer or a Business Developer should learn. SEO is a small part of business optimization, required for companies that have online footprints (website, social media account, etc.).

What SEO means is that you have to produce content, whether written, sound, or video, in a way that search engines value and show it to people who searched a specific keyword or phrase.

seo specialist
An SEO specialist usually looks for what value to search engines most and edit the site content accordingly.

For example, you are running a travel agency selling tours to Italy. Those who want to go on their vacation to Italy will probably google “Italy tours” and if you did a good job on your website SEO, Google will show your website higher on the results page.

SEO is a practice that can be performed On-page as well as Off-page. They are the two main types of SEO. In addition to this, SEO can be performed white-hat, gray-hat, and black-hat, which I’, not going to talk about it here. In general, SEO requires a set of sub-skills that are not so complicated:

  • Site SEO Audi
  • A/B Testing
  • Keyword Research
  • Competitor Research
  • Internal & External Link Building
  • Content Providing
  • Keyword Integration
  • Title & Tag Optimization
  • Image & Alt Optimization
  • Meta & Description Optimization
  • Search and Website Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Search Engine Algorithm Research
  • User Experience Research & Optimization

There are more but all can be fallen into these that I mentioned. Don’t panic! If you want to learn SEO, you’ll probably learn all of these in just two weeks. Some of them, like search engine algorithm research and competitor research, are ongoing, but they are still simple and easy to comprehend.

google console dashboard seo
With today’s wide variety of tools and online services, learning SEO and understanding how it works is as easy as reading some data from a chart making decisions based on them.

I just learned SEO in one month, and I’m still learning new things when I accept a new job offer. I can confidently tell you that SEO is something all kinds of online businesses need, and if done correctly, there will be a huge cost-saving in the long run, since some forms of advertisements won’t be required anymore.

And one more thing. SEO is no longer a practice solely for written content. Today’s complex algorithm that Google or other search engines employ can actually understand voice, sounds, music, images, videos, and even what you say on the video. That’s how YouTube auto-generated subtitles work.

seo data on laptop screen
One particular new area in SEO is voice recognition SEO. With all the home assistance out there (Google Home, Alexa, etc.) it’s important to understand how a voice search is being processed and done.

Therefore SEO is not just for websites. Social media accounts, YouTube channels, podcasts, etc. will require SEO as well. So remember as a freelancer, you SHOULD learn SEO skills and know how to perform them!

Read More: Business Development Skills

4. Digital & Social Media Marketing

Publicity is what nearly all companies are seeking on the internet. You as a freelancer should have the proper skills to give them what they want. Digital marketing and social media marketing are the skills you need to do just that.

Digital and social media marketing both fall within the marketing category which is a complex practice of increasing sales and revenue for a company. It is a part of business development and always provides plans for promoting products and services to the general public, either offline or online.

a city street full of advertisement
Everywhere you look, there is a running marketing and advertisement campaign that consciously or subconsciously affects our decisions when it comes to buying products and services.

Digital marketing covers social media marketing as well. It includes all the efforts you take on the internet and use all tools and platforms to promote a product, service, app, website, etc.  Understanding the notion of digital marketing is not hard, especially if you are an active internet user and use different social networks and media to interact with your friends and family.

All you need to know as a Digital Marketer are:

  • Knowing Online Medias & Networks
  • Knowing All Platforms for Effective Advertisement
  • Being Able to Use Online Services (surveys, analytics, graphs, etc.)
  • A/B Testing
  • Data Analysis and Insight
  • Understanding Customers Experience (UX)
  • Content Strategy
  • Market Behaviors
  • Negotiation Skills (soft skills in general)
  • Ability to Manage & Automate Tasks

I probably can list you 100 more things required to become a digital marketer but not all are required. It is required, however, to know them briefly, which won’t take too much time. A good marketer like a business developer should know everything and master only a few of them.

digital marketing data on laptop
One important skill in Digital Marketing is managing a lot of tasks at the same time. When it comes to marketing, we are talking about many departments cooperating. This will require perfect management skills.

Social media marketing is like digital marketing and is actually a subcategory. It promotes services and products on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. A social media marketer is someone who generally takes control of a company’s social media account and makes it better.

This is a more fitting skill for freelancers. It is more friendly with freelancers’ online marketplaces and it’s generally easier to do than the overall digital marketing. The skills are interchangeable between digital and social media marketers, but the extent of their usage would be only limited to specific social media that a company has at its disposal.

social media apps
You can even find local clients who are wishing to promote their goods on social media but don’t know how to do that. Hopefully, you do and you’re in business.

There are some additional skills involved when we talk about a freelancer doing social media marketing. A social media marketer should know how to:

  • Use important social networks. (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn)
  • Automate certain tasks on social networks.
  • Increase followers on social networks.
  • Generate leads by researching customer experience.
  • Write creative titles and descriptions.
  • Design attractive posts.
  • Use keywords & hashtags effectively.
  • Manage different (usually several) social network accounts.
  • employ soft skills. (negotiations, customer relations, conversation skills)

That’s all I know, and I think it’s a pretty comprehensive list of skills involved in both digital and social media marketing. If you know anything more that could come in handy, leave a comment down below and I’ll add them to this list.

5. Writing & Editing

This is a pretty useful skill that everyone already has but only a few really know what it actually is. Writing and editing are skills for which there is a lot of demand on freelancers’ marketplaces.

If you have good creative writing skills, know grammar well, and how to edit texts, then your already in business. With such skills, you will also need to know, to some extent, about SEO that I explained earlier.

writing blog post on wordpress
In addition to SEO, learn how to use WordPress. Most of your future clients probably use WordPress to run their websites.

Many freelance jobs you’ll find about writing and editing will directly concern either writing a well SEO optimized content for some website or editing one by optimizing its on-page SEO. Therefore we can say that search engine optimization skills and writing/editing skills have some sort of relationship when it comes to writing content for websites.

Other job opportunities for freelance writers and editors are ghostwriting books, articles, papers, reviews, etc., or editing them. Amateur writers who want to publish their books on Amazon (or hardcover publication) should meet certain criteria in their work.

writing outdoor
The key to becoming a good writer & editor is writing and reading a lot. Run a blog for yourself and publish posts regularly to improve your writing skills. Also by reading more you will learn new sentence structures and grammar that will help your editing skills as well as writing.

Since they are amateur, they will look for someone who can properly edit the book and make it ideal for the required criteria. If you want to be a good writer and especially a good editor, it’s better to be familiar with such criteria as well, so it will be you to the rescue when a novice writer wants his/her book edited for publication.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be English. Local businesses and companies all over the world and across all languages will require writers and editors. Learning English as a second language is great if you aren’t a native speaker of English because it will bring you a lot of opportunities from all around the world, and not just your country.

Writing and editing is required everywhere. All companies will need you to write their blogs, content, etc.

I am a native speaker of the Persian language since I’m originally from Iran, but I also learned English as a foreign language and used it to get a lot of projects and jobs overseas. It also helped me get my first job, back in 2008 I think, as an international communicator for an Iranian company.

6. Copywriting

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

This is a brilliantly written piece of Rolls-Royce advertisement published in 1958 in The New Yorker. It was written by the father of advertisement, David Ogilvy, and it is the example they will show you in any copywriting course you might attend.

rolls-royce ad in the new yorke (1958)
The original photo of the Rolls-Royce ad in The New Yorker (1958)

David Ogilvy could simply write “This is a quire car. Go and buy it!”, but instead, he wrote this brilliant title that actually gives you the feeling of how quite new Rolls-Royce is. You can actually sense the silence when you are driving with it on the road at 60 MPH. Isn’t it cool, advertisers can do this to us with just some words?

Copywriting is the practice of writing for the purpose of marketing, promotion, and advertisement. I like to define copywriting as extra-creative writing, in a way that you can change people’s minds about something. There are a lot of examples of copywriting. They are always around us in all ads we see online or offline.

pepsi ad
One good copy on Pepsi’s marketing campaign that you might have missed.

Copywriters write a price of sentence, title, ad, inspirational quote, or ask an essential question that tempts people, either online or offline to do a specific thing. It could be buying a product, watching a video or movie, trying new software, app, or service, joining a club, cause, or a newsletter, etc.

Copywriting is an inseparable part of every marketing campaign. All companies, businesses, and industries will need a copywriter for their business. Even if there is no marketing and advertisement in question, companies still need them for the purpose of writing catalogs, brochures, website banners, and user manuals.

clickbait is not your friend ad
A piece of copy in the form of an informational poster.

Usually, most creative writers can become successful copywriters. There are many courses to take and many books to read about copywriting that can help you in this way, but in the end, creativity and writing skills play a major role in such skill. If you are one, then there’ve never been more demands for good copywriters than before.

But don’t be afraid of how much copywriting can be difficult. It is certainly not something you can learn and master in a few months. It will take years of experience to write a piece of text that changes people’s minds into buying something, that maybe they don’t even need. But you can always practice and study. This could be one of the best skills a freelancer could learn in the long run.

7. Photography & Videography

When I’m talking photography and videography skills for freelancers, I don’t really mean to shot outstanding portraits of celebrities or film a Hollywood scene. What I mean is to know the basics and shoot some photos or videos (or both) that can be sold as a stock resource.

a photographer taking photos from city
Stock Photography is one of the skills that a freelancer can learn over time and enjoy every moment of it. Start with simple cameras, and switch to better ones when you learned the basics.

To learn these skills, you don’t need to be creative like a writer or a film director, not you need to have the best equipment to take a crystal clear image. All you need are some photography tips on YouTube, a camera (an iPhone camera is more than enough), and ideas.

Photo of a busy street in Istanbul
A stock photo that shows a busy street in Istanbul, Turkey. Licensed by Dreamstime

You can take a look at stock photo websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto to know what is a good stock photo. Head out and start taking some pictures. It’s that easy. Trust me on this one, you don’t need a high-end DSLR and a big lens to shoot a stock photo.

I started taking photos as a hobby back in 2008 or 2009. I used my phone camera, and back then, they were 5 Megapixels max. I just photographed for fun. I didn’t even realize that I could sell my photos online.

boğaz köprüsü istanbul turkey by Mehdi Rashed
This is a photo of Boğaz Köprüsü, a beautiful bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. I photographed this recently when I was out for a walk. I always carry my camera with me, just in case.

I bought a small camera later but by the end of 2010, I purchased a Canon 60D DSLR, that I still have and it still works even after 10 years and more than 50,000 photos. I’ve only used the standard lens kit, and never bought any fancy equipment to take photos or even a new camera since a lot had been rolled out since then.

So when you watched some videos to learn what is ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and all the other photographic terms, decide what to shoot. Got the ideas? Good! Now choose a time of the day when there is good light so you won’t end up with noisy photos. Grab your camera and go out to shoot some good stock photos.

Photo of an old factory
Another example of stock photography is this old factory. It is not a professional photo and doesn’t require any special equipment. It’s just a photo! Licensed by Depositphotos

When you took good photos, and you have to do this every few days, go back home. Choose the best photos, edit them a little, play with brightness, contrast, colors, etc., just don’t add any watermark if you want to sell them online. In the end, submit them to a stock photo marketplace (or to all of them) and make money.

Just remember the factors that lead to more sales are:

  • Suitable titles, descriptions, and tags.
  • Large size, at least 4000px by 3000px.
  • Sharp images with minimum noise.
  • No excess editing & filtering.
  • No watermarks.
  • Regular uploads.

Also, you have to check with the marketplace to see what kinds of photos can’t be sold there (like images with brands, logos, and company names visible), and what kind of photos require releases (generally, photos where people’s or models’ face are visible). You have to check the quality criteria too to make sure your submissions won’t get rejected.

Photography is not only for shooting stock photos and selling them online. You can learn some tips for product photography. Local markets that are selling their goods online usually need a photographer to take some good photos of their products.

a woman taking photos from a product
Product photography is simple and can be done at home. You just need a good camera. In some cases, a phone camera can do the job just as well as a DSLR.

Apart from product photography, other areas can also land you a lot of good jobs and money. Industrial photography, architectural photography, food photography, and events photography can be good freelancer skills to make some good money.

It is a bit hard to compete in stock photography markets. If you got a good camera and a sturdy tripod, take stock videos. There is a lot less competition in selling stock videos and the prices are a lot higher, although quality criteria are also higher.

videographer walking on the street while filming with camera
If you don’t know what to film for stock videos, just grab your camera, walk down the part or street, and film your commute. Just hold the camera still and shoot. Time-lapse videos are good ideas too. You’ll need a small sturdy tripod and some patience.

You can learn photography while you are doing something else. What is good about it is you can go anywhere and have your camera with you. If a good photo opportunity came up, then take some photos to sell online. Learning the basics of this skill for a freelancer, which is enough for stock photography, takes a month or two. Plus you don’t really need those expensive gears, and it’s a fun hobby too.

8. Video & Audio Editing

One of the top demanding skills in many freelancer marketplaces is video & audio editing. There are a lot of YouTubers and podcast creator that need help with the editing of their contents. Many of them are either too busy to edit videos & audios themselves or don’t have the required skills. It’s mostly the former that forces them to outsource the task.

a video editing software
Learning how to simply edit a video is easy. You just need to know how to add some texts, effects, and how to cut a piece of video. It will take a week or two.

There is not much to say about editing video or audio (or both). Jobs posted online usually simple editing with a few ready-to-apply filters and adding some texts. What you need to learn is not complicated visual effects and industry-grade video and audio editing.

The basics are not much and you can learn then in a matter of a week. Best, but also simplest, video editing software that I know, and use, are Adobe Premiere & Camtasia. For audio, you can use Adobe Audition or Audacity. Latter is open source and free and is considered a professional audio editing software.

an audio editing software
Even easier than editing videos, is audio editing for freelancer jobs. It’s fast and simple and there are lots of software on the internet, many of them for free.

To sum this up, learning these two skills, video and audio editing is not hard. Anyone with a basic knowledge of computers can make it in a week, or maybe two. The result on the other hand is great because the market is always filled with offers requiring these skills from a freelancer.

9. Translation & Transcription

Translation and transcription skills are also demanded by many individuals and firms. There is a good market for such jobs on the internet. Many famous translation firms usually outsource their tasks on Upwork and Fiverr. Many individuals need translators too.

meaning of dictionary in dictionary
The translation is one of the most useful skills you can have. I learned English Translation ways before my formal educations and I had my first actual job. By knowing another language, you can basically do anything.

The technical issue here is that you have to know a second language if your first is English, or English if your first language is something else. If you search, there are a lot of local companies and firms that require someone who knows English.

Translation & real-time interpretation for their foreign guests or business trips abroad, speaking and writing for international communication, and general language knowledge for the R&D department.

a man transcribing an audio file
Transcription is easy. If you want to actually make use of transcription, learn English if it’s not your first language. There will be more opportunities.

Besides that, transcription is also required. There are always demands for transcribing audio and video, and create subtitles for videos, maybe for the purpose of translation or presentation.

In general, these are good skills to learn if you want to do some freelancer works. Translation, however, is a bit more complicated but can be achieved by taking language courses and watching educational films.

The Bottom Line

I’ve just written 4,700 words up to this point. I can continue writing even more than 10,000 because there are much more skills that you can learn and can use to make money online. The issue here is time, which I’ve explained a lot about the Notion of Making Money Online.

I will continue updating this article and will add more items every now and then. Remember to bookmark the page and check it out once in a while to see if anything new is added.

Read More: Dogecoin Explained

If you want to add anything to this list, tell me in the comments. Also, tell me which skills in this list you want to learn first. Leave a comment down below and ask any questions you might have.

Also don’t forget to share this article on social media, because if it helped you, it will defiantly help others too.

Thanks & good luck!

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