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Freelance tech jobs boom, NFTs and crypto plunge following crash

By Shannon Williams
Tue 12 Jul 2022

Jobs for Software Development (up 47%, from 2,076 to 2,076 jobs), Statistical Analysis (up 16%, from 1,459 to 1,698 jobs) and Local Jobs (up 12%, from 2,268 to 2,541 jobs) rank as the highest growing project category for Q2 2022, according to Freelancer.com's quarterly Fast 50 Report.
NFTs and crypto-related jobs saw the biggest declines in Q2. Non-fungible Tokens (NFT) decreased by 49% (from 2,801 to 1,431 jobs), Bitcoin jobs decreased by 48% (from 1,044 to 542 jobs), Ethereum jobs were down by 34% (from 1,779 to 1,176 jobs) and Blockchain jobs dropped by 33% (from 4810 to 3,226 jobs).

This is a considerable difference in comparison to previous Fast 50 reports, which saw NFT jobs as the highest growing category last quarter and Blockchain jobs booming in Q1 2021.

"The hype has died, the bubble has burst and we've entered crypto winter. Jobs for NFTs and crypto have dominated the past few quarters of our Fast 50 report, but as you can see they're now falling sharply," says Matt Barrie, chief executive at Freelancer.com. 

"What we can learn from the new data is that appetite for tech related skills is growing, particularly in software development, security and machine learning," he says. 

"This is a ripe opportunity for anyone with these types of skills to begin freelancing."

The data reveals that jobs related to tech, software and statistics dominated growth in the quarter. Software Development (up 47%, to 1,959 jobs) took the top spot for fastest growing job in Q2, followed by Statistical Analysis (up 20%, to 1,648 jobs).

Jobs for Statistics (up 14%, to 2,309), Computer Security (up 7%, to 1,141), Machine Learning (up 5%, to 3,357) and Network Administration (up 5%, to 1,555) all ranked in the top 10 fastest growing jobs.

A talent shortage for tech jobs has been a persistent challenge globally. A recent Indeed survey reports that 86% of hiring managers say its challenging to find and hire top tech talent. Management consultants Korn Ferry predict that more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030, with the US potentially losing out $162 billion due to the inability to find more high-tech workers.

"Freelancers are not only an immediate relief for the tech talent shortage, but also a long-term solution to help organisations source niche tech skills and capabilities," says Barrie. 

"Appetite for a cloud-based workforce has grown due to this reason. We have worked with several enterprises across the globe, such as Deloitte, NASA and IBM, to help source the technical skills they need for these specific projects."

Crypto-related jobs suffer sharp decline in Q2 2022

In Q2, the world entered crypto winter, a popular term used to describe an extended period of losses and declines of cryptocurrency.

There are a series of economic factors which impacted the industry as a whole, beginning with the collapse of TerraUSD (UST) and its base currency, Luna. Terra is an algorithmic stablecoin that is pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar and backed by reserves to maintain the peg. Once UST lost its peg, it sent its base currency Luna spiraling out of control and wiped US$40 billion off the crypto market within a matter of days.

This ripple effect has sent shockwaves through the crypto market. Bitcoin experienced a major crash, dropping below US$20,000 for the first time since 2020. Ethereum also suffered similar losses, crashing from a high of US $4,878 reached in November 2021 to US$1,661 in June.

A majority of other cryptocurrencies followed suit, resulting in the global market capitalisation crashing to US$969 billion from a high of US$2.9 trillion back in November 2021.

Larger economic factors also had an impact, such as global equity markets down by more than 20%, US inflation reaching a 40-year high of 8.6% in May, and central banks all around the world increasing interest rates to curb inflation.

Major cryptocurrency exchanges began laying off employees. In June, popular crypto exchange Crypto.com laid off 260 employees, while Coinbase laid off 18% of its staff.

As a result of the crypto market turmoil, freelance jobs relating to crypto were heavily impacted. Over one year, jobs for Bitcoin dropped by 80% from 2,610 in Q2 2021 to only 542 in Q2 2022. Ethereum experienced a similar drop in interest, from 2,820 jobs in Q2 2021 to 1,176 jobs in Q2 2022.

NFT projects go from the fastest growing to fastest falling job category

Interest for NFTs ground to a halt for the first time since peak popularity back in January 2022, with Google Search trends showing interest for NFTs hit 0 at the end of June.

Sales of NFTs experienced hiccups throughout the quarter. In June, cumulative NFT sales reached a 12-month low crashing to US$1 billion from a high of US$12.6 billion earlier this year. The NFT of Jack Dorseys first tweet, which was famously sold for US$2.9m in 2021, could only attract a top bid of US$6,800 when resold in April 2022.

The NFT job category was the highest growing job type over the last 12 months, but interest has plummeted by almost half (49%, from 2,801 to 1,431 jobs) over the last quarter. This also had an impact on NFT-related jobs, such as Smart Contracts (from 1,842 to 1,445) and Caricature & Cartoons (3,189 to 2,506) which equally dropped by 21% in Q2.

However, while demand for both crypto and NFT projects are down, there are still many clients on the platform that are turning to freelancers for support. For example, many businesses will use the platform to help integrate Bitcoin payments into their websites, or post projects hiring Blockchain experts to help with adding NFT elements into game applications.

Contests, which allow clients on Freelancer to crowdsource many ideas for their projects, still remain as a popular method for employers who are looking to source ideas and designs for their NFT projects.

Skills for new freelancers: Graphic Design, Website Design and Web Development

In June, Freelancer reached another milestone by surpassing 60 million registered users on the platform. With many new people joining the platform, there's one question many users wonder - what is the best skill to have for new freelancers?

According to the data, Graphic Design, PHP and Website Design rank as the most in-demand type of project posted to the platform, followed by HTML and Photoshop.

Design is the leading category for job type, making up almost half (49%, 145,975) of the 306,000 jobs posted to the platform in Q2. Web development is the next leading category as PHP, which is the programming language related to website development, and website design also rank in the top five jobs.

These two project types are a great starting point for many people who are interested to begin their freelancing journey. A popular way for many new freelancers to get experience freelancing is through winning Contests on Freelancer. Both graphic design and website design are popular job categories which are posted as contests. Local photographers, researchers and trades pave way for Local Jobs growth

Local jobs, which are jobs performed by freelancers in the client's location, was the third fastest growing job category.

In Q2, Local Jobs grew by 12% (from 2,2268 to 2,541). Many freelancers are turning to the platform to hire local photographers and videographers, such as freelancers who specialize in weddings. Another popular category for local jobs are trades, such as site inspections and location certification, and auto services.

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