Growth Strategies

The Surprising Tasks Your Competitors Are Outsourcing

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
3 min read

For better or worse, entrepreneurs often want to do everything themselves. But here’s a hint: Your competitors are probably outsourcing a lot of their key company functions to freelancers.

Some of the fastest growing outsourced jobs in April, May and June included PowerPoint presentation preparation, accounting and report writing, according to a survey by of more than 300,000 job postings.

These are not just side projects being tossed to freelancers. The way that business owners are using freelancers is “rapidly changing,” as business owners are handing over some of their most core functions to freelancers, says in its second-quarter trend report.

Related: The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Tech Startups

Demand for PowerPoint preparation jumped by 35 percent in the second quarter from the first quarter. Demand for accounting services shot up 23 percent and demand for report writing increased by 20 percent, according to the report.

Meanwhile, employers' need for less mission-critical services has been falling off noticeably. Demand for converting PDF files to text files has plunged by 38 percent in the second quarter, demand for copywriting has fallen off 14 percent and demand for ghostwriting services has dropped 12 percent in the latest quarter. says there is far less demand for those skills which require little or no sophisticated knowledge or training.

In addition to the larger trend of business owners increasingly relying on freelancers for core functions, the analysis revealed a few other labor market shifts.

3-D printing is booming. In recent months, this method of overlay, additive manufacturing has become increasingly popular and is becoming ever more mainstream. For example, earlier this month, shipping giant UPS unrolled a pilot program making 3-D printers available in some stores across the country. Demand for 3-D rendering jobs increased 17 percent in the second quarter over the first, while demand for 3-D modeling work increased 13 percent and demand for 3-D animation increased 13 percent, according to

Related: Need a Prototype? 3-D Printers Coming to UPS Stores

Designers are busy. Business owners don’t need to pay expensive agencies to get their design needs met. Demand for freelance illustration work shot up 20 percent in the second quarter and demand for freelance Photoshop design increased by about the same amount. Demand for logo design rose 9 percent during the quarter. In addition, entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to the crowd to determine what works and what doesn’t, a much cheaper alternative to paying elite design agencies, according to “2013 will be viewed as a year of unprecedented disruption, with tectonic shifts in the design and manufacturing industries as they struggle to adapt to the unstoppable rise of crowdsourcing and 3D printing,” says CEO Matt Barrie in a statement.

Demand for Android app creation is greater than demand for iPhone app creation. Demand for freelance Android development work shot up 15 percent in the second quarter, according to Meanwhile, demand for iPhone development rose 10 percent and demand for iPad development dipped almost 3 percent.

Related: Co-Founder of Square Wants to Save St. Louis, One Programmer at a Time

Check out the infographic below for a summary of the findings from’s latest survey, including the shifts mentioned above.


Click to Enlarge+

Freelancer Nation: What Your Competitors Are Probably Outsourcing


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