Remote work is an extraordinary thing. What other gig can give you the potential to earn six figures a month by doing what you’re good at and working whenever you’re most productive regardless of what time that is, all without having to set foot outside your house or even your room?
There’s a catch, however. For you to “live the dream,” so to speak, your skills have to be both formidable and relevant. For instance, you might be excellent at making cat videos or vines (Is Vine still alive? I digress.), but it will all be for naught if there’s no demand for it on the freelancer market.
So, if you’re an aspiring freelancer who would like to make a good living in telecommuting, which skills should you make it a point to learn?
1. Social Media Management.
Surprise, surprise. Given how prevalent online shopping is these days, is it any mystery why just about every brand is scrambling to carve out a memorable presence on social media?
Great at coming up with striking posts online? You may want to discover how to channel that skill into developing social media marketing campaigns for various businesses online or managing day to day interactions with customers.
Social media managers average between USD67,750 to USD94,250. It certainly beats pointlessly scrolling through your feed every day, doesn’t it?
2. Instagram Marketing.
This photo-sharing application has become so popular that it merits its own entry on this list.
Because pictures speak a thousand words, a single, well-placed post on Instagram can easily bring in significantly impressive sales figures as well as serious brand recall. No wonder professional Instagram influencers are paid upwards of six figures for posting selfies (ick) with certain products!
Not a photogenic influencer? Don’t fret. Brush up on your product photography, and you can still earn a cool USD15 per hour as an Instagram marketer, more once your flat lays begin to rake in likes and tags.
3. Natural Language Processing/Twilio API Development.
Ever since voice-activated assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo became all the rage, natural language processing has become one of the most in-demand freelancing skills.
Because this gig can get very technical (to enable a machine to understand the human language, you need to have a background in linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence), the most proficient in this industry can command annual salaries of well over USD100,000. Crikey.
4. Amazon Marketplace Web Services (MWS).
This refers to an integrated web service API that helps sellers on the massive e-commerce site with exchanging data on orders, listings, reports, and payments.
If you know how to work with python, you’ll definitely find a niche in this dynamic environment, especially since online retailing is on the upswing these days.
5. MySQL Programming.
Depending on how experienced you are with web-scripting languages like PHP, you can earn as much as USD 99,187 a year on average in this industry. Any skill that allows you to contribute to the world’s most popular open-source database definitely pays off in the long run.
6. Brand Strategy.
Branding is no longer restricted to products and services. Public figures like politicians and celebrities have come to rely on it immensely too, so there’s been an increased demand for professionals who specialize in crafting and maintaining personal and public brands alike.
This endeavor generally involves coming up with positioning recommendations, defining brand elements and tones, and generating and interpreting market research. If your day job already involves similar tasks, you can try your hand at freelancing as a brand strategist online and see if the remote work lifestyle works for you.
7. Machine Learning.
This term pertains to a computer’s ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.
It might sound a little creepy, but machine learning also happens to be the fastest growing category on major remote work sites like Upwork. Some of the best machine engineers who specialize in this field actually work from home, and they can earn an average annual salary of USD114,826.
8. Customer Support (CS).
Yep, these days, you don’t necessarily need to rent out a big office to provide companies with after-sales service. There are quite a few companies online that employ remote CS specialists, but if you’re not keen on talking to people, you can still get involved in this field by helping customer service software companies program their products into existing apps, API’s, and mobile SDK’s.
9. SEO/Content Writing.
One way to increase visibility on search engines is to constantly come up with fresh, relevant, and engaging content that also happens to contain the right keywords. This is where content writers come in, they’re in charge of constructing articles about trending topics and keyword prompts.
10. Virtual Assistance.
As more and more companies downsize and restructure, they’ve been turning to virtual assistants to manage administrative tasks like scheduling meetings and appointments, responding to emails, and even going over expense reports.
The average hourly rate for a virtual assistant is USD15.56, though you can command a higher rate as you get more experience and once you have regular clients.
Job security as a freelancer can be daunting since it’s hard to predict where your next gig (and thus your next meal) will come from, at least in the beginning. What we should remember is that as with traditional employment, some skills will be more valuable than others, and that these in-demand capabilities also change over time. We simply need to keep ourselves updated on what they are, and to constantly level up our existing skill sets to stay competitive.