Everyone seems to talk about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming for their jobs, and that freelancers will probably be worst hit, thanks to AI systems that can design, and build websites, generate code, write content, even produce videos, and music. However, the leading freelance marketplace Upwork recently concluded in a survey that AI is the second most sought after skill in freelancing. The same study also revealed that the relationship between businesses, and freelancers is set to change over the next few years, with more businesses looking for good solid talent, with not just generic know-how but very specific skills.
They are increasingly open to remote workers and freelancers for their short and long term needs. 59% of managers said in the Upwork survey that they are looking to hire ‘flexible talent’ like freelancers, and other temporary talents, and this trend is only set to rise.
No AI project is the same for two companies. Each business needs custom solutions and freelancers can sit perfectly between the business goals and the technology. So what you need is a solid grip on the basics of AI and the resourcefulness to adapt to different business environments. To help you with that, here are 6 surefire ways to begin your freelancing career and excel in it.
1. Specialize – Become Really Good At One Thing
This has been age-old advice given to freelancers in pretty much any field, and yet, new freelancers continue to get baffled at the prospect of limiting their expertise to a very niche skill set. Won’t you be better off being an all-rounder and catering to a wide range of clients? Why would you pick just one direction and limit yourself to clients of one kind only?
Well, you should choose the latter, as it’s what highly paid smart freelancers do. Like we said earlier, AI is a self-learning discipline and most of the generic things that ‘all-round developers’ tend to do will be easily done and dusted by AI in the next year or two. There won’t be much of a demand for jack-of-all’s. Somebody who knows a bit of Python, a bit of TensorFlow, a bit of R and mostly, knows how to do the basic stuff will only attract clients at the shallow end of the pool.
The high paying clients need specialized talent. They need someone who is extremely well versed with TensorFlow and can create customized solutions for their business, or someone who knows R like the back of his hand. Instead of marketing yourself as a run-of-the-mill AI professional, consider becoming a freelancer with established skills in algorithm development. Find the field you like the most and try to become the authority in it, by leaning everything there is to learn and taking up multiple projects of it.
2. Seek Out an Internship
No amount of learning AI can give you what a real project on real solutions to real problems can. Sure your dream as a freelancer is to call your own shots, work on your own time and basically, live the good life. An internship is pretty much at the opposite end of that spectrum, where you are constantly under pressure, being rushed for deadlines and being treated like a trainee who needs to run errands at all times. But, this step is crucial at the beginning of your career.
You need to be acquainted with problems businesses deal with and what it takes to solve them at scale, in a defined timeline. You need to watch the experienced people go about chiseling new and custom solutions for legacy problems.
You need to work in a competitive environment to hone your skills and most of all; you need the proof you can show to future clients, that you have worked on some quality projects and have the skill and experience they need. An internship will help your resume get pulled out faster from the piles thereof and establish you as a credible AI professional.
3. Participate in Kaggle Competitions
Kaggle competitions can be your big breakthrough if you are skilled. Given the number of competitions open, you can pick one and work really hard at developing a fantastic solution for it. If you do a good job, you can not only win a handsome reward which can be a much needed financial aid at this stage, but also add some stars to your resume and gain valuable experience along the way.
4. Maintain an Up to Date LinkedIn profile
You probably know this but we’ll reiterate just so you take a fresh look at your profile and jazz it up where needed. In the professional world, keeping up appearances translates to maintaining your LinkedIn profile. Something you updated six months ago and hasn’t added too much since then is less likely to attract any clients.
Visit your profile regularly, use a good headshot and write a great bio that is professional with a dash of humor and neatly sums up your strengths. Add details of your work experience and projects, follow influential people from the industry and interact with some good relevant posts, so that they show up in your activity. All of this goes on to establish you as someone who is in tune with the trends, is super aware and knows where the world of AI is headed.
5. Create Some Content Yourself
Okay, you’re an AI freelancer not a content creator, we get it. So you don’t have to create a blog or a YouTube channel and post regularly. However, if you can, writing a blog post here and there or occasionally sharing your knowledge and experience in the form of online content and establish you as an authority in the field.
You can write occasional guest posts for leading industry blogs as a starting point. These serve as fantastic add-ons when applying for freelancing jobs. You could also create a website, as most freelancers like to, to showcase your skills and attract clients.
6. Start with Freelance Marketplaces
This isn’t general advice, and definitely not for long term. However, if you are just desperate to begin working and get your first client, you can always go to Upwork or Truelance and other freelance marketplaces to look for jobs that fit and apply. Choose the jobs you apply for carefully and do not fall into the downward spiral of bidding.
Pick clients who have a history of paying well, quote a rate that’s fit for your time and stick to it. There are good clients on these sites, though few and far in between. Seek them out and you can find rewarding opportunities. Once you begin, look to branch out and use this experience to prospect other clients.
If you’re an AI enthusiast looking to become a well-paid freelancer in this exciting field, there are several different ways to approach this. The opportunities are immense. AI itself, and its sub-sections like machine learning are increasingly becoming a business requirement and everyone from small startups to large corporations are deploying technologies like chatbots, big data analytics, voice recognition, deep learning, and so much more.
You could tell that AI is the next big green pasture for freelancers. Smart freelancers willing to up-skill themselves by continuously learning, and staying on top of the latest trends are close to being immune to the AI-induced job drain.
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