Freelancer issues Fast 50 Q1 report: Bitcoin boom drives half a million jobs online It’s the “world’s largest” freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace by number of users and jobs posted, and it has released its quarterly Fast 50 Report for Q1 2021.

As the world rolls into its second year stymied by the Covid-19 pandemic, two major themes have emerged from Q1 2021 Fast 50 Report: people are determined to find alternative or replacement income by starting their own projects, and established businesses are embracing machine learning.

The Fast 50 quarterly index revealed “an incredible 500,000 jobs were posted during Q1 2021. During the same period the number of skilled freelancers and employers joining the platform surpassed 51 million registered users.”

In-Demand Skills in the Fast 50 Q1 2021 vs Q4 2020

Bitcoin Boom Boosts Blockchain

Blockchain Technology had the fastest growth in the quarter up 59% to 2207 jobs. As the underlying technology behind virtual currencies this growth coincided with the period in which the Bitcoin price went “to the moon” (US$29,333 to US$58,000+) and there was intense activity in trading and speculation in the currency.

Paypal and Tesla recently joined other major companies including Home Depot and Starbucks in accepting payment by Bitcoin and it’s certain from the fast 50 report other businesses are gearing up to follow.

Blockchain is also integral to the trend in trading of NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens). NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, videos, and other forms of creative work each of which is unique. Famously, digital artist Beeple sold the NFT one of his pieces for an eye-watering US$69 million during Q1 2021.

This user asked Freelancers to use blockchain to help build NFTs for trading cards similar to NBA Top Shots (which has generated over $230 Million in gross sales, according to its creator Dapper Labs).

Image: NBA Top Shot

Artificial Intelligence Becoming Mainstream

Developments in AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning are filtering through to mainstream use with the number of jobs requiring the Deep Learning skill set up 23% to 1,307 jobs.

One job with a budget of US$3,000 was looking for Freelancers to use AI to automate the analysis of scientific medical publications. The job poster required automation to keep abreast of developments in the 100,000 papers published each year.

Late in Q1 2021, IBM and posted the Cloud Data Challenge offering US$40,000 in prize money for the use of AI to predict real-world outcomes that address social impact and climate challenges.

Business Builders Mindful of Costs

Microsoft Office skills were less in demand this quarter, (down 27% to 3,160 jobs). As were jobs asking for help with Word, (down 20% at 8,166 jobs). The productivity suite suffered a number of outages late in 2020 related to a software upgrade which may have had an impact. In addition the surge in freelancing and remote work resulting from the Covid-10 pandemic is making businesses and individuals more familiar with cloud-based work.

A large company is more able to carry the cost of software licensing, the individual entrepreneur or the freelancer looking to keep costs low will seek out apps that are low cost or free, such as the Google Workplace suite.

Emerging From Lockdown – Local Jobs

During the last quarter of 2020 with much of the world in quarantine the demand for Local Jobs collapsed. This quarter saw a bounce back (up 23% to 2,390 jobs) as people came out of their forced hibernation and needed to “get stuff done”.

House & Home Instead of Travel

With the global travel and tourism market still depressed meaning nowhere to go and some money to spare, home remodelling continues to boom. Interior Design jobs (up 20% to 3,597 jobs), Building Architecture (up 17% to 4,936 jobs) and Home Design (up 16% to 1,561 jobs) are all in the top 50.

Typical of jobs in this skill set in Q1 is this project to create a 3D rendering of the exterior of a planned home.

Building a Side-Hustle

Demand for web and app building continues to rise with multi-platform coding languages rising again, Vue.js (up 17%, to 1,868 jobs), Flutter (up 15% to 2,915 jobs), and ExpressJS (up 14.5% to 1,436 jobs).

This design for an online juice ordering website was completed for US$450

Demand for the Blog Writing skill is also up (23% to 2,233 jobs) with new sites needing to be populated with content.

Writing related – Translation services are still in demand with German (+44%, 3,859 jobs), French (+24%, 2,970 jobs) and Spanish (+18%, 1,461 jobs) the major languages. This reflects a trend from the Q4 2020 Fast 50 where the pandemic prompted a surge in the U.S. of demand for e-commerce sites.

Customers Are Back

Indicating more green shoots of a post-pandemic recovery is the rise in the number of Customer Support jobs (up 13% to 2,428 jobs) as businesses get back online and commerce ticks up. Related skills Customer Service and Call Center were also up 11% (to 2,151 and 1,270 jobs respectively).

Which jobs went down during Q1 2021:

Ecommerce and Shopping

The demand for help in setting up online shopping sites, such as Shopify is down 13% but the interest in operating this alternative income stream remains high with 4,870 jobs posted.

Lockdown Learning Wanes

Education and Tutoring jobs were down 18% to 889 jobs in Q1 2021 probably indicating that the desire to use lockdown time to learn a new skill has waned as the Covid crisis drags on.

The Fast 50 Report tracks the quarterly movement of the top 50 fastest growing and declining jobs on the site’s global online marketplace that spans 247 countries, regions, and territories. The Fast 50 Report is the leading indicator of trends in online jobs related to industries, technologies, products, and companies.

The full list is below:


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