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10 In-Demand AI Skills Freelancers Should Learn Now

09/07/2023
6 minutes

There’s a common saying in business that you should “fish where the fish are,” in other words, focus your efforts in the places where you’re likely to find success. When it comes to freelance tech work today, there are plenty of metaphorical “fish” in AI.

From writing effective prompts for AI chatbots to knowing how to test deep learning models, understanding the nuances of AI systems and how to use them gives you a valuable edge. Read on to learn which skills are best suited for freelancers who are looking to reel in some new business.

The top AI skills for freelancers

The freelancing platform Upwork recently analyzed data from the first half of 2023 (January to June) to see which AI-related skills companies sought out when hiring freelancers for projects. Here are the top 10 generative AI skills and tools that companies looked for — and the courses and paths to take to start learning them today.

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1. ChatGPT

No surprise here, ChatGPT is a hot skill that AI practitioners should know if they want to find generative AI work. If you’ve played around with the chatbot in your daily life, you know how powerful and versatile ChatGPT can be. You can take your ChatGPT knowledge to the next level with our free course Intro to ChatGPT, then try our ChatGPT case studies to sharpen your prompt engineering skills. If you want to learn how to stay ahead of AI advancements, you can check out our course Learn the Role and Impact of Generative AI and ChatGPT.  

2. Natural language processing (NLP)

NLP is the range of methods that computers use to process language with AI. NLP is the reason why ChatGPT can understand our written requests and autocorrect can predict what we’re going to type next. You can learn all about how computers work with human language and complete a portfolio-ready project in our skill path Apply Natural Language Processing with Python.

3. TensorFlow

This framework is used to develop, train, and test deep learning models. Companies like Google and Airbnb use TensorFlow to integrate machine learning capabilities into their products, so it’s a well-known framework to have listed on your resume. If you know Python and NumPy and are familiar with the basics of machine learning, you can take our skill path Build Deep Learning Models with TensorFlow.

4. Image processing

Language models and machine learning algorithms can be used to describe and classify images, a technique known as image processing. Image processing comes up in diverse scenarios across lots of different fields. For example, image processing can be used to enhance the visual quality of an image, detect objects in computer vision tasks, or analyze medical imagery. You can delve into this field in our course Deep Learning with TensorFlow: Image Classification.

5. PyTorch

PyTorch is an open-source framework with an optimized tensor library (based on the Torch library) used for deep learning. You can install PyTorch for free — just make sure you have the NumPy module first.

6. AI content creation

Organizations are looking for talented folks who know how to use AI to create content — from blog articles to social media posts and more. In the course Prompt Engineering for Marketing, we’ll walk you through how to leverage ChatGPT to create marketing content.

7. Midjourney

Using Discord bot commands, you can enlist Midjourney to create images, animations, and other artistic output based on text prompts. Midjourney can be used to quickly make advertisements, logos, thumbnails, or prototypes. You can also use the text-to-image bot as a brainstorming tool when you need inspiration. Want to learn more about other business cases for AI-generated images? Try the case study Creating Marketing Assets with Generative AI to learn how to use DALLE-2 to make logos and other images.  

8. AI chatbot

Creating an AI chatbot that can simulate human conversation is a great way to get introduced to AI — and coding in general. In our skill path Build Chatbots with Python, we’ll teach you how to use the beginner-friendly language Python to create rules-based and generative chatbots. Already know some Python? You can jump in with the bite-sized course Language Models in Python: Generative Chatbots.

9. Model tuning

A key step in deep learning workflow is model tuning, the process of configuring parameters and experimenting with a model to fine-tune its output. Read this article to learn more about how neural networks are applied to real-world scenarios, and where model tuning comes in.

10. Stable Diffusion

Another text-to-image AI tool, Stable Diffusion uses a diffusion model to generate visuals that are similar to the material it was trained on. The result: You can create high-quality photo-realistic images from any natural language prompt. For example, here’s how Stable Diffusion interprets the prompt: “A freelance web developer using AI tools.”

We asked Stable Diffusion to generate an image of “a freelance web developer using AI tools.”

How to start freelancing in AI

Getting a freelance side hustle off the ground can take a lot of time and effort (especially if you’re also balancing learning to code or working a full-time gig). Here are some general tips for freelancing in the age of AI.

Familiarize yourself with AI applications

As a freelancer, you might be expected to work with a range of different tools depending on the client’s needs. It can be hard to keep up with all of the buzzy new AI applications that are launching as developers tap into generative AI’s potential. While you don’t have to be an expert in every single AI tool, you should know the similarities and differences between popular AI tools and how to choose the right AI solution for a project.

Unlike a full-time employer who may pay for continuing education or provide on-the-job professional development, freelancers have to make time for learning, researching, and practicing these tools outside of billable hours. Signing up for a Codecademy Plus membership is a great choice for freelancers who want to continue building in-demand skills for projects at their own pace.  

Revamp your resume

As you pick up more AI-related skills, you’ll also have to update the way that you market and offer your freelance services. Adding AI terms to your resume or professional website is one way to get discovered and hired for work.

According to a LinkedIn report published in August, there’s been a 75% uptick in LinkedIn members adding AI-specific keywords each month since January. The top terms that people use on LinkedIn to attract new AI business include “GAI” (short for generative AI), “ChatGPT,” “prompt engineering,” and “prompt crafting.”

Network the AI way

Finding clients and maintaining relationships (not to mention following up on invoices and keeping track of contracts) is a huge part of freelancing. See if there are ways you can streamline your process using AI. For example, you could use generative AI to help you write follow-up emails to clients. Or you could have ChatGPT help you develop a marketing strategy for your freelance business. If you want even more ideas, read this blog about how to network with ChatGPT.

Be sure to read the blog for more freelancing advice, including tips for finding freelance tech jobs and questions to ask yourself before going freelance.

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