Good news for freelancers with digital marketing skills. A new survey from the freelancing platform Upwork found that marketers are increasingly looking for freelancers with specialized skills to fill gaps in their own teams.
The study, released at the end of November, asked 1,000 US marketing bosses and hiring managers about the roles they find hard to fill. Among the most in-demand abilities were inbound marketing, demand generation and social media know-how. According to UpWork, hunger for these kinds of skills has grown more than 150 percent year on year.
What’s driving the demand? UpWork’s SVP for Marketing, Rich Pearson, puts it down to a mix of factors.
First, digital transformation has shaken up the industry, meaning many marketers are constantly in need of new skills to produce the kind of marketing that their audiences want.
At the same time, Mr Pearson explains that freelancers offer a more flexible alternative to the traditional route of using a fully-fledged agency:
“agencies have long been the primary solution to help fill these skills gaps, but with the increased availability of freelance talent, marketers have a new, more cost-effective option for getting work done.”
This change is profound. According to the survey, a full 58% of marketing departments across all sectors use freelancers in some capacity, and almost three quarters say that companies who fail to adapt to this evolution will face competitive disadvantage.
Perhaps most significantly, 92% of marketing managers and hiring teams report that without being able to find a freelancer, they would be forced to delay, cancel or extend their projects.
What does this mean for freelancers, then? On one hand, the data indicates there’s a lot of work out there – they will just need to go find it. On the other hand, it also shows that the demand is for freelancers with ever more niche skills. Knowing the basics of SEO simply won’t cut it in today’s market – in-house clients expect a lot more.
The skills that freelance marketing experts will need to win business and stand out are becoming ever more diverse. Indeed, a different study released by UpWork earlier in November singled out Salesforce services and HubSpot marketing as some of the fastest growing skills for freelancers in Q3 2017, as well as Instagram marketing and Final Cut Pro X.
So, there’s no time for freelance marketers to sit on their laurels just yet.