Top 3 most in-demand freelance skills in 2021 

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The three most in-demand freelance skills in 2021, based on Kolabtree data. A look at how the pandemic and the freelance revolution has changed the way we source talent. What are the specialist skills that companies are increasingly turning to independent contractors for? 

In 2020, Kolabtree saw a unprecedented number of clients for a variety of tasks, ranging from science writing to data analysis. The increase in remote working culture across the globe also saw traditional brick-and-mortar companies being more receptive to working with freelancers and remote teams. As companies realize the benefits of working with freelancers, it is likely that they will increasingly outsource some of their activities to the growing pool of experts available on demand. Here is a list of the most in-demand freelance skills for 2021.

1. Medical writing & science content writing (Life sciences/Pharma)   

The demand for medical writers during the COVID-19 pandemic increased by 50% on Kolabtree. The majority of these projects came from biotech and life science organizations looking for help with developing authoritative marketing content.

Effective communication is the backbone for all kinds of organizations: businesses, research organizations, universities, non-profits. However, as the amount of content that is produced grows, quality control has to become stricter. This means that publishers have to invest a considerable amount of time in making sure that their content is accurate and informative, apart from being compelling and interesting. 

Producing high-quality content is especially a challenge for the life science and pharma industry, where scientific writers are typically hired to write technical documents. Scientific writers are also needed for marketing communications, especially when for B2B campaigns. Biotech marketing and sales managers often look for freelancers who can help with developing: 

  • Sales brochures,
  • White papers, 
  • Press releases, 
  • Blog articles,
  • Website landing pages,
  • Presentations, and more. 

Freelance life science writers are a great asset in pharma/life science organizations and can help craft well-researched content for specific target audiences.  

Scientific writers may also be hired to review and verify content. In the era of fake news and misleading information in the media, journalists and publishers often need the backing of an expert before they go live with an article that contains information about ongoing research or a sensitive topic. During COVID-19, there was a large demand for experts who could verify publishers’ content and make sure it was accurate. It’s no secret that Google also favours quality and authoritativeness: their E-A-T guidelines make this clear.  

2. Statistical consulting 

The demand for freelance data scientists and statistical analysts has grown by over 25% on Kolabtree. We notice this trend specifically in academia and healthcare industries.

Industries across sectors, especially healthcare and life sciences, are churning out vast amounts of data on a daily basis. In clinical research, the role of a statistician involves designing and optimizing studies for the best outcomes, while also interpreting results accurately. In hospitals and healthcare organizations, doctors and nurses often need support from medical statisticians to analyze outcomes and identify ways to improve patient care. 

However, statisticians who work in these organizations are often overtasked. Smaller organizations may not have access to experienced statisticians who can work on their projects immediately, at short notice. Researchers looking to publish a paper face a severe lack of statistical support when it comes to verifying their data for publication. The availability of on-demand statistical analysis freelancers has made it easy for organizations to access statistical consulting services as and when required.

3. Regulatory compliance support

Kolabtree saw a whopping 250% in the demand for independent medtech consultants and freelancers in the last year. This shows that the medical device industry, which has traditionally worked with contracting agencies and CROs, is now more open to idea of working with qualified experts on one-off projects.

The bulk of the medical device projects we received were related to regulatory compliance in the US and EU. This is unsurprising, given that there were businesses worldwide trying to get PPE kits, masks and other medical devices to market in a very short time. Kolabtree’s freelancers worked remotely with medical device companies who were applying for specific regulatory pathways such as FDA’s EAU or 510(k).

Across industries, taking a product to market involves meeting regulatory compliance requirements that determines that a product is safe and effective. Whether you’re launching a food product or a medical device, a loophole in your regulatory compliance strategy can mean heavy losses and product recall. It can also cause irreparable damage to your reputation.

Working with a freelance regulatory consultant can help you asses gaps in your strategy and make fixes that help you comply  with all required standards. For example, if you’re developing a medical product, you can work with FDA submission experts and CER writers to develop the right documentation required for compliance. Product development consultants can also help you meet ISO standards and country-specific requirements.

The most in-demand freelance skills for 2021, in a nutshell, are subject expert writers, freelance statisticians and regulatory compliance consultants. We expect that the increased availability of such experts will spur the growth of the expert economy, and lead to a win-win situation for both employer and employee, science and business.


Kolabtree helps businesses worldwide hire experts on demand. Our freelancers have helped companies publish research papers, develop products, analyze data, and more. It only takes a minute to tell us what you need done and get quotes from experts for free.


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About Author

Ramya Sriram manages digital content and communications at Kolabtree (kolabtree.com), the world's largest freelancing platform for scientists. She has over a decade of experience in publishing, advertising and digital content creation.

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