What’s the future hold for remote writing jobs and freelance work in 2021?
There’s the obvious…2020 changed the game for freelancers, remote writing jobs, and life as we know it. Thanks a lot COVID-19!
But once we get past the little thing about a global pandemic, what’s in store for freelancers in 2021?
This year, we decided to take our annual forecast in a bit of a different direction.
Instead of just tapping writing coach types, we also asked some regular, longtime, hard-working freelance writers what they’re seeing out there in the trenches.
We got responses from all over the world. And if you’re thinking it’s more gloom and doom, think again.
There’s some hopeful stuff in here that’s a direct result of shifts in the global economy, digital marketing, demand for remote writing jobs, and freelance work to adapt and grow.
If you’re looking for ways to move up and earn more with remote writing jobs and freelance work in 2021, NOW is the perfect time to chart your course and get started.
How fast will demand for remote writing jobs grow, and where are the opportunities, as the economy rebounds?
Check out what these 14 experts had to say about freelancing in 2021.
1. Craig Cannings
Chief Learning Officer at FreelanceU.com
Demand for digital content will keep growing
BrenÃ© Brown once said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace to innovation, creativity, and change.” While 2020 may have presented significant challenges personally and professionally, it also compelled many freelance writers to get creative and make necessary pivots to thrive in this uncertain economy.
The opportunities for freelance writers will be significant in 2021 particularly in the area of content marketing. The consumption of digital content was at an all-time high in 2020, given this time of social isolation. This trend will continue in 2021 with new opportunities in blogging, article writing, newsletter creation, video scripts, podcast show notes, digital books, and much more.
With many industries suffering from travel to hospitality, it will be important to identify those industries that are stable (and even growing) during this global pandemic.
A few to target in 2021 will be:
- eCommerce companies
- Software and tech businesses supporting:
- Remote work
- Digital products
- Luxury products or services for the wealthy
Freelance writing rates will be stable and may even grow in certain areas as writers niche down and specialize in certain areas.
- For example: I recently came across a writer who specialized in ghostwriting recipes and cookbooks. Her rates weren’t cheap, given her expert positioning in this market.
A few more things to expect in 2021
- Freelancers will need to market “outside the box” in order to find great new clients.
- LinkedIn will continue to be an ideal platform for making meaningful connections with a target audience.
- Niche online communities such as Facebook groups will continue to be a great place to add value, make connections, and identify new opportunities.
- Niche marketplaces such as WeWorkRemotely.com, Contently, and Constant Content will be worth a look for decent-paying writing gigs.
There has never been a better time to be a Freelancer than right now. The idea of working remotely with a team went mainstream in 2020, which will inevitably direct businesses (that typically operated in-house) to shift towards working with talented Freelancers.
2. C. Hope Clark
Author & Editor at Funds for Writers
The pandemic is opening doors to more remote writing jobs
- Lighting for Zoom meetings
- Online organization tools
These are things that can help you become the professional, not a hobbyist, (And use it for that tax write-off.)
Where are the opportunities, as the economy rebounds?
With the wide-open mentality of change comes opportunity. Instead of pitching a department article in a publication, pitch a series. Instead of a blog post, pitch ten. I’ve been approached about writing:
- Magazine articles
- And campaign speeches without even advertising because of my online presence as simply a writer.
Niche-building has always been smart and savvy. But people across the board are now open to hiring writers. I even expect ghostwriters to see an increased demand.
Your opportunities are as good as your networking and your website, both of which need to be polished and frequently managed. Anything and everything is open to freelance.
What will happen to freelance rates?
What marketing strategies will be most effective?
- I gave local businesses, politics, and service more attention since I was basically sequestered to a limited locale, and in turn they gave me more attention.
- My charity work writing speeches for candidates for school board rebounded in book sales and requests to write anything and everything anyone needed.
- While we’ve always known it to be smart to saturate locally, the effort really matters more now as we become more attuned to where we live since we’ve been so confined.
- We seem to want to see our hometowns thrive more now. Sure, I’ve seen coffee shops and small businesses drop dead, but I’ve seen the smart ones explode with business because they embraced their community.
Writers are and can do the same thing. Why not use the networks of everyone you know locally and let your name recognition grow through them?
You want to help them and they want to help you. The pandemic has taught us that word of mouth is intensely effective.
So many more businesses know me locally now than before COVID. Communities are gleaning their own before going outside that circle. Capitalize on it. Use those community networks.
Anything else you think is coming in 2021?
More paper will go under in terms of magazines, in my opinion. We’ve exponentially grown into online reading.
3. Colleen Diamond
Freelance writer & professional editor
It’s time to become a business-savvy freelancer
We’re entering a period when the market will – at least for while – value substance over style.
Writers who can back up their content, either by hiring an editor or fact checker, or by providing/retaining documentation of their sources, will be most esteemed.
This is an essential backlash against the “Fake News” era – at least in the US. I hope we are welcoming an era of intellectual discipline, growth, and responsibility.
Speaking of responsibility, note this article regarding the creation of a “small claims court” for intellectual property theft.
I anticipate that publishers will tighten their permissions requirements of writers.
And there are some things you can do to stay in the game:
- If you don’t submit written permission in a format that passes muster with their legal department, you don’t get to run the content.
- Pay attention to professional liability clauses in your contracts, and know your legal exposure.
- Consult a professional
- Get errors and omissions insurance
- Create an LLC
4. Ed Gandia
Founder of High Income Business Writing
More employers will hire freelancers for remote writing jobs
No one knows how long this pandemic and economic slump will last. But I predict that once this is over, businesses won’t go back to their previous employment levels for a while.
What makes me say this?
Right before the virus hit, unemployment was at record lows – lows we hadn’t seen in over 50 years.
I believe that a lot of these companies were overstaffed. They’d forgotten the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis.
But now, companies are spooked. They won’t want to hire full-time employees like they did before, at least not for a while. And I’m not the only one making this prediction.
- In a Freelancer.com survey of more than 20,000 respondents, 61.5% of businesses said they’re going to increase their use of freelancers instead of hiring full-time staff after this is over.
As these businesses continue to ramp up again (which is already happening) many will bring in freelancers before they start adding full-time employees – at least for several key functions, including marketing.
For the 2008 crisis, it took until about 2016 for that to change. And I predict it’s going to be the same now. It might even take longer this time.
This is good news for freelance writers who position themselves well, especially those who demonstrate that they’re much more than order takers and can help clients with some content marketing strategy and content planning efforts.
5. Alexis Grant
Author of The Money Guide for Freelancers
Your online presence is essential to landing freelance work
While competition for freelance writing assignments might stiffen in 2021 as more people choose or are forced to become freelancers, the ways to stand out won’t change.
Have a polished website, portfolio or LinkedIn profile that shows you pay attention to detail. Once you land a gig, follow through on what you said you’d do.
Believe it or not, it’s rare to find writers who meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work consistently.
Do what you promised, and editors will clamor to hire you again.
6. Amber Gibson
Food & travel journalist
Demand for food & recipe content is rising
I specialize in travel and food writing. Many budgets have been cut at publications I had written for pre-pandemic, and story angles have shifted dramatically.
I think there is greater demand for recipe development and home cooking stories versus writing about restaurants right now.
Travel writing will come back though as there is pent up demand from travelers and more need than ever for travel advice from experts once international borders reopen.
Freelance rates at some spots might stay low for a while as they struggle to recover ad revenue but opportunities will be out there.
- As freelancers we need to be more discerning with where we choose to write.
- Recognize when you have a valuable story and hold it for higher paying publications.
I started writing for several new outlets during the pandemic and am glad to have diversified my portfolio and roster of clients, building new relationships that will serve me well moving into 2021.
7. Andrea Hubbert
Founder of Hub + Company
More organizations will hire freelancers to fill staffing gaps
In a way, 2020 has been a bit vindicating for freelancers who’ve previously had a hard time convincing corporate buyers that contracted work is viable…sustainable profitable.
As recent as 2019 there was a hesitancy among companies of all sizes and across all industries to hire freelancers-especially in remote working roles.
In 2020, I saw a change in attitude. Many of the organizations that didn’t want anything to do with freelancers started realizing the benefits of tapping into our on-demand expertise when filling skills gaps within their workforces.
I predict that this shift in hiring practices will outpace full-time employee recruitment next year as organizations attempt to continue to fight marketplace uncertainty.
8. Cindi Kerr
Freelance rates for research-driven projects will rise
I believe freelance writing will be in increasing demand in 2021 as more industries recognize the value of using freelancers.
Rates will decline for cookie cutter pieces requiring no research, while the demand and pay will increase for unique, well-researched pieces.
I believe the events of 2020 have resulted in the growth of freelancing in general, as well as the need for good freelance writers.
As restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and other service industries reopen in 2021, I think there will be a need for freelance writers in those industries.
More predictions: There are opportunities for growth in virtual technology in both B2C & B2B. Finally, traditional industries going “green” will present opportunities for freelance writers. For example:
- The International Energy Agency expects wind and solar energy to overtake natural gas and coal before 2025 and, as wind and solar energy become more wide-spread, the need for writers in these industries will increase.
- There are also growing opportunities in consumer product industries such as food, clothing, vehicles and electronics. Businesses across all sectors are recognizing that consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. From tennis shoes and cars to cell phones and exercise equipment, companies are responding to consumers who value the environment by changing how they source, manufacture, and package their products. Green writers who also write for consumer industries should see increasing opportunities in 2021.
9. Williesha Morris
Content needs for software, audio & video keep growing
I think demand will see an uptick due to COVID and continued slashing of full time hires.
Opportunities: P2P messaging (think text messages from causes and candidates) and internal messaging platdorms similar to companies like Slack and Discord.
There appears to be online project management software for every industry, personality and budget imaginable! Check startups in those areas.
Also take a look at companies that had remote work pre-COVID. There may be less overall disruption and better marketing budgets.
And the demand for audio and video (podcasts are still doing well) will only go up year after year. Consider script writing, interviewing and research.
Freelancing rates: Rates will stay the same and (as always) dependent on how much you know your worth and your talent!
Marketing strategies: Email and LinkedIn, also consider networking and the job listings in the Den and in industry Slack groups.
The pandemic will not go away in 2021. Don’t expect immediate effects from vaccinations. The industries that are struggling now will still struggle next year.
Diversity, equity & inclusion: Though a lot of this may be performative, expect to see a continued focus on “diversity, equity and inclusion.” Every company is hiring someone for DEI if they haven’t already and there may be a need for content.
10. Fermin OtaÃ±ez
Expect content needs for travel & tourism to take off
The rebound opportunities lie in the travel and tourism industry. The World, Travel, and Tourism Council recently announced their own predictions for the coming year. This industry can expect a lot of cash and customers. People are also desperate to go out. And that’s great news for freelance writers and remote writing jobs.
And estimated 121 million jobs were impacted in travel and tourism, and $ 5.5 trillion USD was lost during the pandemic. WTTC and other global leaders in travel and tourism are on a mission to push affordable tourism aggressively.
It’s a golden opportunity for writers and marketers to offer a multitude of services.
If you’re looking for travel and tourism writing opportunities, check out “Accelerating the Global Recovery” and list of participants that helped develop this plan:
- Private investors
- Hotel chains
- Travel agencies
Then pitch your services and content ideas about timely topics like:
- Affordable offers for travelers
- What you need to know about travel insurance
- Information for travelers regarding risk assessment and awareness
Companies in travel and tourism or ties to the industry will be desperate for effective marketing that can attract clients, so they can reactivate the economy, and start seeing some profit, also.
How fast will freelance writing demand grow in 2021?
It will be huge. In order to go back to the regular “steady jobs” kind of economy, there is a need to reactivate the economy. Freelancers can expect more one-time projects, followed by long-term retainers, based on performance.
What will happen to freelance rates?
Especially in travel and tourism, rates for freelance work may shoot through the roof. Why? We know exactly what these businesses need and what their customers want. If you’re an expert in this niche, you can charge a lot.
What marketing strategies will be most effective?
LinkedIn marketing is pretty solid. Sending direct emails to marketing directors works. Networking through social media is another method that is not explored often enough by freelancers.
And for travel and tourism writing, direct messages on Instagram pages receive a pretty fast reply. This matters because the travel niche relies heavily on visual marketing. Often times, the media manager responds to these messages.
Anything else you think is coming in 2021?
As the economy reactivates, other sectors will come to life again. And that will be the time for freelancers to do as much prospecting as possible. Companies will be starving for content to bring their customers back, and will pay a hefty rate to those who can help them.
11. Mahevash Shaikh
Freelance mental health writer
Holistic health content will become more mainstream
My prediction for 2021 is that health writing will become more holistic.
Health content won’t just focus on physical health (which has typically been the default meaning of health so far). Instead, health content will also address mental health topics.
Why? Mental health and physical health are linked – and together constitute health.
Due to the pandemic, the world is finally understanding and accepting just how much mental health matters and impacts physical health.
12. Angelina Singer
Copywriter and editor
Freelance opportunities will skyrocket in 2021
Freelancing is going to skyrocket because everyone may still opt to work from home.
It also affords scheduling flexibility for families which may be useful if online learning continues.
Additionally, companies may not be able to hire new employees so freelancing allows writers to work for themselves.
Want to land more remote writing jobs in 2021?
Ingenuity and enthusiasm are what set you apart.
Clients want us to convey excitement for their projects, and to approach their narratives and ideas from new angles they never would’ve though of.
That’s what makes you rise to the top of the slush pile, in my opinion.
13. Steve Slaunwhite
Freelance writers with a niche + LinkedIn profile will attract better clients
LinkedIn marketing wins. LinkedIn will become increasingly important as a platform for marketing your services.
If you don’t have a decent platform on LinkedIn as a writer, you’re going to be invisible to many clients.
Low-paying work is still a time-suck. Those writers who make the brave decision to jettison low-paying work to make room for better-paying clients will be in a much better position to succeed and grow.
If your schedule is filled with low-paying work, you’ll never get anywhere. Actually, you will. You’ll get miserable!
Niche-focused writers earn more. Writers who focus on specialties or niches where there is high-demand and little competition can do very well.
- For example, not many writers write for medical device companies; a high-demand, low competition niche.
If you cultivate that specialty, you can write your own ticket to success. There are many other niches like that.
14. Carol Tice
Founder of Freelance Writers Den
The key to winning as a freelancer: Master your mentality
Writers who succeed will be the ones who aren’t overwhelmed or demoralized from the 2020 recession, and understand there is a ton of opportunity out there. And that it will only grow, as 2021 winds along.
Process your trauma around all that’s happened and really get that we’re on the upswing! If you can, it will give you a massive advantage over most writers out there.
Lessons from the last economic downturn
My experience from the 2008-9 downturn is that many writers will be traumatized for years to come.
They’ll hold off on actively marketing, while continuing to believe rates must be low and that there are few good writing jobs available.
That wasn’t true even in the worst of 2020 — many writers who continued to market actively were fully booked and earned very well.
The key to freelance success in 2021
Winners will target the industries that have thrived through 2020 — such as tech, remote tools, and e-commerce — as well as recovering industries where companies need to pivot or reopen, such as travel and hospitality.
Changing times mean they need content writing that explains it all!
Freelance prediction for 2021: It’s a year of opportunity
Still wondering what freelance writing will look like in 2021?
With some global insights from freelance writers, marketing professionals, and copywriters, it’s a year of opportunity.
Now is the perfect time to set goals and get to work to move up and earn more.
What are your predictions for remote writing jobs in 2021? Share your ideas in the comments below.