The most searched-for freelance roles for 2023
To predict which freelance professions could be most in-demand for 2023, we’ve analysed Google search data to map out the leading terms in the last calendar year.
Up from second place in last year’s analysis, ‘freelance writer’ was the most searched term by the end of 2022. ‘Freelance copywriter’ also takes second place.
So, what are the other popular freelance niches in 2023?
Google search volumes for selected freelance professions, January to December 2022
From 2016 to 2022, our analysis showed ‘freelance copywriter’ recorded the highest increase of any freelance-related term. In 2023, this profession held three places in the top 10.
The wider figures confirm creative jobs are igniting search interest. ‘Freelance accountant’ is the only profession from outside the creative sectors that makes the top five – up from position seven when we crunched the numbers in 2022.
Interest in freelance accounting continues the upward trend we observed last year.
Search interest in social media freelancing has also skyrocketed. There were just 210 searches for this term in February 2018. But with more people than ever searching for social media freelancing in 2023, it seems this decidedly 21st century role has cemented its place in the freelance market.
So, except for accounting, freelancing in 2023 is dominated by creative and digital pursuits. This could suggest an emerging divide between traditional professions, which still work under a standard employment model, and creative fields where there’s more demand for independence.
Changing demand in response to economic pressures and working preferences could shift the dial further in 2023.
The importance of freelancing to the UK economy
Freelancing means many things to the people who make their living independently – plenty of freedom, a dash of responsibility and the opportunity to shape your own income. Some self-employed people work full time, while others are employed elsewhere and use freelancing to pursue a side project.
It’s a popular way to work and do business. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were around 4.3 million (external link) self-employed jobs in the UK as of December 2022.
Since 2020, the number of freelancers in the UK has remained relatively steady, even as the labour market has seen big shifts. Even the surge in employment vacancies in 2022 didn’t win back solo professionals in huge numbers, according to the figures.
2023 brings a fresh perspective to the world of work. Due to the cost of living crisis, as many as 47% of us could be looking for an income-boosting side project alongside their main job. What’s more, traditional employment vacancies were down to 1.1m as of December 2022 (external link). Despite the uncertainty for existing freelancers, these side hustles could become more permanent for some.
Back in 2020, we reported that one in four Brits said they had a side hustle. Professor Bernd Vogel, the founding director of Henley Centre for Leadership, predicts side-project freelancing could double by 2030 (external link).
All this activity isn’t just a sign of entrepreneurial spirit – it’s also economically valuable.
According to a white paper by Henley Business School, side hustles generate £72 billion for the UK economy (external link). To put it another way, that’s roughly 3.6% of yearly GDP.
In 2023 and beyond, more people might reap the rewards of solo professionalism.
Opportunities and risks for freelance professionals
Freelancing can bring plenty of opportunity for flexibility, plus the chance to carve out your own path. Upskilling in emerging professions can give some freelancers an edge – for instance, by getting up to speed with the latest software knowledge.
On the flipside, many freelancers may follow their heart. For professionals caught in the daily race, freelancing can be a low-commitment way to try out creative projects. Some eventually turn their passion into a full-time business.
The level of risk and benefit can change as economic factors shift. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) found freelancers’ confidence in the UK economy (external link) took a hit between the first and second quarters of 2022. Day rates and costs (external link) struggled to keep pace in the third quarter – but as global economic prospects improve (external link), many freelancers could find they’re still able to enjoy the benefits of independent work into 2024.
Changes to IR35 in April 2021, in the end, didn’t come – a blow to many freelancers. The IPSE remains hopeful that further changes could be announced by April 2023 (external link), which could bring a welcome boost to freelancer confidence.
The government’s website (external link) also has useful resources.
Despite the freedoms, freelancers also take ultimate responsibility for the impacts of their work. This means many freelance professionals may need to weigh up their insurance requirements to guard against potential risks such as client complaints, accidents and court cases.
At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.