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These 5 in-demand marketing skills can pay up to $100 an hour, or more

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Key Points
  • Freelancer site Upwork rounded up its most in-demand marketing skills from January 2021 to October 2021.
  • Social media marketing saw a 25% year-over-year growth in demand, and experts charge between $13 and $150 per hour.
  • Search engine optimization experts charge between $15 and $150 per hour.

Despite financial hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, 2021 was a record year for new business applications, according to the Census Bureau. December 2021 alone saw 418,380 applications in the U.S.

As these businesses grow and develop, they'll need to find their customer base and get their name out there. If you're looking to pick up some freelance work or a build a side hustle, there may be plenty of opportunities to assist. The field of marketing in particular offers "an easy way to get started," says Margaret Lilani, vice president of talent solutions at Upwork.

"You don't have to be a marketing expert to do a relatively small first project in the marketing space," she says. Employers might not necessarily look for a marketing degree, but rather some experience in the specific skillset they need, like lead generation. Projects can pay anywhere from $50 to as much as $1 million, depending on your background and their scope, she says.

Upwork rounded up the most in-demand marketing skills on its site from January 2021 to October 2021. Here are five of them and how much they pay.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing refers to a company's use of apps and sites like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok to build its brand and find a bigger audience.

"Social media marketing is an area that not every company is comfortable with. More than likely, you're not going to have that skill in house," says Lilani, adding that, "we've seen massive growth in [demand for] social media marketing purely from the need." The term experienced a 25% year-over-year growth in demand on Upwork between 2020 and 2021.

And it's not the only platform that's seen demand for the skill skyrocket. "Nearly half of the 50 companies on LinkedIn's top startups list listed social media marketing as a top skill" they were looking for, says Andrew McCaskill, a LinkedIn career expert.

Social media marketers on Upwork charge between $13 and $125 per hour.

Lead generation

Lead generation refers to the process of finding and attracting potential users and buyers with the use of tools like email marketing and social media ads. It is a multifaceted skill set that spans a variety of marketing techniques. Experts may need an expertise in a given field to understand where their employers' potential customers spend their time.

"Every business wants to grow, every business needs to grow," says Lilani. "And it's really hard to grow if you don't know where your leads are."

Lead generation experts on Upwork charge between $10 and $100 per hour.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization refers to the process of using the best words and phrases in the copy of your website, from the url to its various pages, to ensure that when people search for a product you're selling, a search engine will surface your site.

"When anybody is going in and searching online, if they are in an area where your company or your business is relevant, you want them to be able to find you," says Lilani.

SEO experts on Upwork charge between $15 and $150 per hour.

B2B marketing

Sometimes businesses serve other businesses, rather than the general public. Maybe they're a production company making commercials for local restaurants, for example, or they're manufacturing packaging material for other companies to ship out products.

Business-to-business work can be "highly lucrative," Angelique Rewers, CEO of BoldHaus, a consulting firm that helps small businesses land corporate clients, previously told Grow.

B2B marketing experts on Upwork charge between $15 and $180 per hour.

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Marketing research

Part of a marketer's job is to understand the business landscape of the company they're working for. Specifically, their job is to understand the company's customer base by collecting data about it. They may look into what's piquing the interest of customers, why they might need the company's product or service, and what they might be looking for in the future.  

Marketing research experts on Upwork charge between $12 and $150 per hour.

"What we see is, many of our clients and our hiring managers like to assemble what they call a virtual talent bench," says Lilani. "And so while one project may only last a couple of days or a couple of weeks, there are always follow up-projects that come behind it. And so once you establish a relationship with that freelancer, they can be on your virtual talent bench on an ongoing basis."

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