Today you’d be hard pressed to find any sector of the economy that has not been affected by artificial intelligence.
It can range from artificial intelligence software completely replacing humans in certain tasks or a case of humans leveraging AI technologies to better perform their jobs. In fact, it is at the center of most digital transformation strategies today.
What does the proliferation of AI mean for freelancers?
Artificial intelligence in its different forms is directly impacting the way freelancers look for work and deliver on their tasks. Not to forget that freelancers make up 37% of the U.S. workforce, according to a survey by Statista.
Some of the freelance jobs that have been threatened by AI include article writing, web development, and graphic design. Currently, we have software that can write complete articles, build complete websites, and generate 3D books covers and animations.
Check out my previous article where I explore whether AI can really completely replace web developers and designers.
In order to stand out as a freelancer you have to up your game.
In this article we are going to look at 5 ways you can stand out and make your services irreplaceable by AI software.
Let’s get started.
1. Upgrade your skills
Let’s admit that a well developed AI software is faster and more efficient than a human.
However, there is one bottleneck to AI software - they work based on pre programmed logic. This means that they may not be able to upgrade their skills to adapt to current customer demands, like a human would do.
If you are on a tight budget, then what’s a better way to get started upgrading your skills than by taking these free online courses on greatlearning.com? You can brush up your freelancer skills in data analytics, machine learning, and cyber security, among others.
For an AI-powered software to pick up new skills, it will first have to be reprogrammed.
What does this mean?
It means that if you’d like to stay ahead of AI software as a freelancer you have to upgrade your skills and knowledge to match current market needs.
Contrary to popular belief that freelancers aren’t formally educated, a survey by Statista established that 69% of freelancers in the US have at least a bachelor’s degree.
For example, Jasper, a popular AI software for writing articles was originally trained by reading just 10% of the internet, and that was before the Covid19 outbreak. It means it cannot write about emerging trends or current issues.
So once you enhance your skills by reading more widely and taking online courses, AI software will be no match for your freelance services.
2. Build your personal brand
Between a freelancer and a full time employee, who do you think is more prepared for eventualities in the workplace?
I’ll bet my chips on the freelancer.
Competition in the freelance workplace is so cut throat, even for simple gigs like web design, that freelancers are always armed with various techniques for winning gigs.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by PayPal, web design is the most popular skill among freelancers, where 36% of the surveyed freelancers identified as web designers.
One of the ways you can thrive as a freelancer in the face of artificial intelligence technologies is by building your own personal brand. It is what will make you stand out from the competition, and a true freelancer cannot downplay the place of personal branding in the gig economy.
And by competition I mean both humans and machines.
When it comes to personal branding, nothing beats having a personal website and a real social media presence. In fact, AI powered tools like Wix can help you put up a website with a service page, a portfolio and contact page in a matter of minutes.
Once a prospective client checks these out, he’ll be able to establish that you are credible, skilled and can be trusted to deliver.
3. Leverage AI tools for efficiency
Okay, first calm down.
Regardless of what is tossed left, right and center, that AI is taking up freelance jobs, the fact of the matter is that professional freelance services are not going anywhere.
It is just not possible to take out humans in all sorts of labor and work.
In fact, in this article on in demand freelance jobs, we find the fields where artificial intelligence is heavily deployed, like digital marketing and programming, being the most in demand freelance skills.
**Instead, you should think of AI like a tool that you can actually leverage to become more efficient and productive while working on client projects. **
This way, instead of the thought of artificial intelligence sending chills down your spine, it’ll actually light up your face as it’ll enable you to do more work, while putting in less time and effort.
For example, if you are an SEO writer, you can leverage artificial intelligence tools like SurferSEO to quickly come up with article drafts and outlines.
Since such tools save you the time in repetitive research, you are able to dive right into writing and impress your clients with great content.
4. Focus on great customer experiences
I agree that artificial intelligence intelligence tools can perform tasks faster and more efficiently, but can they provide the human touch? The touch you need to keep a client satisfied and happy?
Well I’m not very certain about that.
As a freelancer in 2022, you can capitalize on the opportunities that AI creates and fill them while making your services even more indispensable. I mean delivering exceptional customer experiences to your clients.
For example, common freelance fields like marketing require a human touch.
It’s primarily because great communication is key to landing a marketing gig and executing the marketing campaign. So if you can create amazing visuals and display data to your prospective clients, you’ll prove that you actually understand their problems and needs, much better than a bot would do.
In fact, you can use AI tools to collect precise data about your clients' customers, then use it to help them optimize their services for better returns on investments.
5. Leverage networking to build a community
If you’ve worked as a freelancer for any significant amount of time, then you’ll attest to the fact that your network is very instrumental in your growth as a freelancer.
At the early stages of your freelance career you’ll find that most of your gigs will come from friends and connections you had made earlier. Once you work with your immediate connections, they’ll open up the way to growth through referrals.
So if you want to thrive in the face of AI software, you should direct a good amount of your efforts towards networking and building connections.
Despite the trendings applications of AI in different industries, we are yet to conceive an artificial intelligence powered software that can network and build connections with friends and family… heck, AI is not a human, so no brothers and sisters.
Your network could include other freelancers, past clients and future prospects.
How do you build a network?
My favorite place to find like minded freelancers is at coworking spaces and meetup.com groups. Apart from your network referring you clients, you’ll also share ideas while staying up to date on emerging trends.
I’ve found great people to fall back on for motivation and accountability here.
We’ve established that while artificial intelligence might sound synonymous to the word ‘danger’ for a freelancer, it’s actually not the case.
In fact, if you follow the tips we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be able to take your freelance career to the next, even in the face of growing artificial intelligence technologies, and thrive in your field.
What’s more, a recent study established that 64% of freelancers reported improved health after jumping ship to freelancing, from their traditional jobs.
What I’ll underscore is to always look at AI as an aid rather than a threat.
Talk about coming up with article drafts and outlines, generating templates and wireframes for your designs, and creating boilerplate code for your websites. It really is a great boon for freelancers.
I hope this article has opened your eyes to the various ways you can thrive as a freelancer while everyone’s crying foul to artificial intelligence.
What do you think about the future of freelancing?
Please share your thoughts below.