The Best Freelance Jobs

freelance jobs working from home

By Jessica Stillman

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 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 pickings are richest.

More:Freelancers: 10 Ways To Get A Full-Time Corporate Job

So what are the hottest sectors in freelance nation at the moment? Here are the trends 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 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.

More:Freelance, Part-Time Jobs: A Viable Option Or Last Resort?

You're a Digital Native -- and a Telecommuting One, Too

Luckily, members of 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 and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.

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