This Year’s Fastest-Growing Freelance Industries

Looking to expand your freelance business in 2020? Then it’s important to stay aware of the industries seeking help most frequently from freelancers. 

CBD businesses, astrology-related companies, “biohackers” involved in boosting people’s mental and physical performance, and makers of vegan and plant-based products are placing the greatest number of requests for freelance help on 99designs, a platform that matches designers with clients, according to new research from the company.

“Whenever there are new and growing industries, there tend to be few experts in the area,” says Pamela Webber, COO of 99designs. “When it’s an industry that’s undeveloped, and there are no tried and true marketing and distribution activities, it really is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to build expertise in the area very quickly and take advantage of a trend.”

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Although 99designs’ findings reflect trends solely in hiring designers, they point to opportunities for other types of freelancers, such as freelance writers, according to Webber.

“Content marketing is a very prevalent marketing tactic for a lot of companies,” notes Webber. “Finding writers who have authority on the topic can be challenging in these newer industries. Freelancers who are in the thick of it and are seeing these trends and can capitalize on them can quickly become an expert in that area.”Today In: Small Business

CBD businesses: Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active ingredient in marijuana and is now used in food and drinks, health and beauty products, pet products and more. With the CBD industry expected to grow to $16 billion by 2025, according to Cowen & Co., demand from CBD-related firms for freelance help has been off the charts. There was a 1,568% increase in businesses in this field commissioning work on the platform since 2015 and a 61% uptick in the past 12 months.

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Biohacking: With trends such as intermittent fasting, sleep tracking and IV hydration therapy going strong, there has been a 445% increase in the number of businesses hiring creatives on the platform since 2015 and 71% in the past year. 

Vegan and plant-based foods: The number of vegan and plant-based food brands seeking work on 99Designs has trended upwards since 2015. There has been a 214% increase in the number of businesses in this field commissioning creative work since 2015 and a 20% increase year over year. 

Astrology: Not everyone believes in astrology, the study of how planets affect human behavior, but the industry is booming. One indicator: Sanctuary, an app for Zodiac readings, raised more than $5 million in venture capital from Five Four Ventures. 

99Designs has seen a 209% uptick in design and logo contests from companies such as horoscope apps, podcasts and spiritual consultancies since 2015 and a 127% increase over the past 12 months. 

These are just a few of the industries that are trending. To spot future opportunities to establish valuable expertise, Webber recommends checking Google Trends frequently. “You want to happen upon an industry that is thriving, growing and maybe is hard to break into,” Webber says.  

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Trends change quickly. Last year’s trending industries from 99Designs were healthcare using artificial intelligence, personal coaching, influencer agencies, and drones and drone-related businesses. In 2018 they were cryptocurrency firms, cannabis companies, virtual reality startups and experience-travel businesses. 

Of course, lists alone don’t tell the whole story. Often, a freelancer’s own experience is the best guide to what’s trending. “In freelancing, it’s always about ‘Who is coming back to you and asking for your work?” says Webber. “Who is referring you to their clients? It really gives someone who is looking to switch areas of expertise and start anew — or a more junior career freelancer an opportunity to kickstart their career.”

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