12 Freelancers Share Their Industry Predictions for 2018

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I know, I know. Every year people release these prediction blog posts stating what will or wont happen in the next year. But I have done some of your job for you and brought together some great minds from various industries, to give you a broad view of what to look out for in 2018. Thank you to all of them for taking the time to share their predictions. Enjoy!


Simon Cox – Digital Consultant in Lingfield

In my field of SEO it is difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen next week let alone where we will be by this time next year. The pace of change for SEO has been increasing exponentially over the last two years making it more difficult to game the system.
Prediction 1. Google will continue to dominate the search space.
Well no sharp intakes of breath for this one. There are thousands of Search engines out there but we are still really only optimising websites for the big G. Everything else really is inconsequential, unless you are in a niche – or China, but the good news is that mainly what works well on Google will work for the other search engines.
Prediction 2. Voice searches will be all the latest gossip.
The rise of Alexa and Google home devices that you can have conversations with has a lot of people in SEO both worried and excited. Excited because here is a new way of searching, a more natural way and worried because a voice search will only return one result – not ten to a page for the user to choose from.
Prediction 3. Good websites will win.
Sites slapped together from a theme and a set of stock photos with some content stolen from the competition will not cut it anymore. Your site needs to be the following:
– Well spoken – engaging content is the only way
– Well built – validated code means a more efficient website
– Well educated – the site is accessible to everyone and the UX provides for their needs
– Well quick – that’s not just a website, that’s a very fast website
– Well ‘ard – security cannot be neglected
Prediction 4. Grid layouts!
CSS Grid will finally take off – I have already launched one site with a complex grid layout and a second relaunching in January. We will start to see some glorious layout design as well.

Prediction 5. Amazon takes over
If you are in any form of ecommerce you need to get your products on Amazon – it really is dominating retail. The biggest booming industry will be white van courier companies.


Maija Ziga – Freelance Graphic Designer in Manchester

This year I am working towards a wider range of clients within my niche / sector and hopefully take a bigger step forwards and start working with more international clients as well as national. I will focus on more specific type of brands and design aspects – mainly because as a designer I feel that I can design and create, but the one that comes the most naturally to me is minimal, simple and clean design, which I will be focusing on. I’m also changing my workflow process to make it more tailored to each client individually.

Whilst I’m doing this – I am rebranding my own site and updating its content – until then bear with me and keep an eye out for an all new start! 🙂


David Sayce – Digital Marketing Consultant in London

Crystal ball time! First off I am hoping that in amongst all off the buzzwords there is ‘back to basics’ review. All too often businesses jump on to the buzzwords without a greater understanding of the wider picture. A good example of this is Featured Snippets, without and already good SEO strategy in place it will be a difficult journey! Get ready for 2018 run a digital audit and know were you are and then were you should be.
Further dilution of 10 blue and less traffic
The SERPs are looking much busier than they were only a few years ago. Featured snippets and answer boxes will be the aim of position Zero, and other elements such as knowledge graph will become much more prominent. All these changes to Google results will impact traffic to the site.
Voice search
Alexa, Siri, Cortana…. We have been talking about Voice search for a while, 2018 will be the year it takes hold. Google recently said that 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches, and the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search
Trust – Google quality updates – SSL – speed
Google will continue to work on quality updates, along with mobile first indexing, SSL and speed will become even more important
Ready for 25 May? The new Data Protection Regulations will have a huge impact on business, not least Marketing, Trust and accountability are key as GDPR is baked into business processes ‘by design and by default’. And don’t forget PECR is being updated too with the new ePrivacy Directive toward the end of 2018, these will work together:
GDPR – The right to protection of personal data
ePrivacy Regulation – A persons right to a private life
AI (and Blockchain)
While still mostly a buzzword these will start to have real and greater impact on business through 2018
Structure markup
It’s been around for quite a while, but continues to be under used, markup will gain more importance
Integrated Digital marketing
I’ve been work on integrated approaches to marketing through most of my career, however we still see too much soloed within businesses. Time to change.

Other areas for 2018:
-Greater though around UX
-Data driven and smarter content
-Understanding journeys
-Video, in various forms
-Headless Content Management Systems (CMS)


Elliot Taylor – Web Developer in Brighton

2018 is going to be a critical year for the WordPress project, where I spend most of my time. By April there should be a new way to manage your content called Gutenberg. This will disrupt how users manage their content. It may be a rocky road to start. It may frustrate the requirements of the enterprise world. It will make WordPress more accessible for non-technical folk.
Considering the scale of the WordPress ecosystem (25% of the web runs on it), this has the potential to shake things up. When there is disruption, there is opportunity, wherever you work in digital. One to watch.

My second prediction for 2018 will be the decline of brochure sites. This will be brought about by the rise of platforms such as Facebook, AI and voice recognition. A whole segment of the freelancer market may well fall away, and freelancers should be prepared to diversify their work. Many of the functions a website fulfilled will be handled by the Alexas and Siri’s of the world. For example, if you want to find out the opening hours of your a shop you won’t visit a site you’ll ask a computer. A restaurant might not spend their money on a site, instead of managing it at little cost just as a Facebook page.


Andrew Allsop – Digital Marketing Consultant in Manchester

I don’t know if this is as much as a prediction as it is a hope, but I really hope that more marketers are smart in using the data at their disposal to prove the impact of their work on revenue.
The increase and ease of implementing analytics tools over the years means theres more data available than ever before, but I find more people are using it to confuse people into spending money than they are to prove they’re MAKING money: Facebook and Google are the worst perpetrators of this.
My hope is spurred on by tools like Zapier, Clearbit, Hull.io and Ruler Analytics that are allowing marketing, sales and revenue to not only become ‘aligned’ in a soft “we-sit-around-the-same-table’ sense, but in a way that all of their data is interconnected and they’re working together, towards common goals that are unarguably proven by proper analysis.

Tools like ad networks, website analytics, CRM and revenue management are now able to connect seamlessly – let’s use this to our advantage and finally close that gap between marketing and revenue, and make marketing an unarguable part of a businesses commercial activity, not just a nice to have.


Ciara Wood  – Freelance Marketing Consultant in Devon

We can’t talk about 2018 without mentioning GDPR. Personally, I think this will give the marketing world the much-needed shake-up it needs. While it may seem a little scary, isn’t it better to be marketing to a smaller group of people who want to engage with your brand? An inevitable impact of GDPR is that inbound marketing will be increasingly important to attract new customers.
Customer over channel
Over the years there have been so many new methods of attracting customers that, ironically, I think many marketers have become guilty of prioritising the channel over the customer.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of marketing is ‘the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’. We have more insight than ever before about our customers and target markets. I believe we will see marketers using market segmentation at a much more granular level to ensure their brand delivers content, propositions and experiences that customers want.

Afterall, the reason Amazon was able to enter the crowded UK home insurance market at the end of 2017 wasn’t down to underwriting capability. It was because they have a strong brand, deep customer insight and vast digital capabilities. They can hire in or partner for the insurance and underwriting expertise. I’m keen to see who else will use their marketing clout to disrupt markets. I’m excited to see what 2018 brings!


Claire Gamble

Claire Gamble  – Independent PR Consultant in Manchester

From a PR point of view, 2018 will be about ‘doing’ rather than ‘talking’. It’s increasingly difficult to get your name and brand talked about – the media and digital landscape continues to rapidly evolve, consumers are tiring of marketing messages and there’s more noise to compete with.
It’s no longer enough to rely on churning out press releases and commenting on every possible topic in the hope of generating some coverage. If you don’t have anything worth talking about, you’ll have to do something worth talking about.
There are valuable PR opportunities out there for those who can show they genuinely have a different approach. This might mean new ways of looking at their business, creating new opportunities, building new ventures, collaborating with others or giving back to their communities.

By pursuing new projects, initiatives and partnerships, businesses will create conversations and interesting stories, as well as give themselves the opportunity to engage with target audiences – both face-to-face or online. And of course, this ‘doing’ approach is about more than PR opportunities – it will help businesses align themselves with their values, build new relationships and generate new prospects.


David Ashworth  – Freelance Technical SEO Consultant in Manchester

Within digital marketing, I believe If you have a specialist skill set that can be delivered either alongside or independently of a business’ existing digital strategy, then there are great opportunities in 2018 for you as a freelancer.
As a technical SEO specialist with a web development background, am confident that no matter what a website’s objectives are, and whatever approach is being undertaken be it from an organic, paid or social angle, a campaign will not be able perform to it’s maximum capability if the website has technical issues that need to be resolved or developed to ensure maximum visibility – and that the solutions can be delivered relatively quickly with demonstrable results, which don’t require long term contracts.
I would say other niche skills that will be in demand are UX and CRO – because no matter what direction a business takes to drive traffic to their site, if your website doesn’t provide the best possible experience and path to conversion, it is missing out.

If you have a niche skillset, now is a great time to go freelance, as I predict more and more businesses will be open to your services as the gig economy continues to grow.


Nic Morgan  – Video Content Producer in Birmingham

Now this is an interesting one…
There are so many new adaptations of video such as VR and 360, however, I still believe that good storytelling, with a focus on visual aesthetics, is still the best way forward for video.
VR is going to take a while to warm up and needs more time to develop, I think VR will make its way into more living rooms in the next few years, when the wearable tech is less cumbersome. When major content providers such as Netflix start producing feature films using VR, that’s when it will start to take off.
But for me VR’s natural home, apart from gaming, will be in training and education where the user can learn new skills or let school kids experience blasting off into space.
360 has been around for a few years now and I feel that it has its place and does give a viewer something more, but it has to be used in the right context.

For years now YouTube has been the hive for so much bad video and I truly believe that good production values and a professional perspective will shine through. So i guess in conclusion I would say that you are more likely to capture someone’s attention by producing “traditional” professional video content to promote your brand, than relying on your intended audience to strap a VR helmet on in their living room……..for now. “


Zack Neary-Hayes – Freelance SEO Consultant in Leeds

I think 2018 will be an interesting year for SEO. It has the potential to be more open and democratic as it looks like Google are committing more to distributing good advice and resources, which is great.

On top of this, I see SEO making further roads to be more about the overall user experience. We’ve certainly been heading in that direction for the past couple of years, and it feels like 2018 could be the tipping point where Google stops placing as much emphasis on traditional ranking factors, such as backlinks, to something that paints a more complete picture of how users interact with and value a website.



Johanna Werb-Pieterman – Web Developer in Orkney

PHP and Javascript remain the most popular development languages and the following are some thoughts for the direction webdesign/dev might take in 2018:
– The ‘above the fold’ idea will finally die a death and people will accept and embrace the idea of the ‘long scroll’ displaying a ‘storyline’ with CTA’s.
– More widespread use of push notifications and customer service chatbots such as Quriobot guiding visitors to and through websites in a new engaging way.
– The return of the static website! Not suitable for everyone’s needs, but if possible go for it as static websites are faster, safer and cheaper to develop.
– More is less! Is minimalism really only for luxury brands and artists? Maybe the kind of ‘brutalism’ a la Balenciaga is a step too far for most, but simplicity is a good thing to strive for to share your message provided navigation remains intuitive and easy to use as too often these designs fall down on poor nav.
– Some other things to come to mind… Animated logos, bespoke illustration, more authentic photography, the use of AR and cinemagraphs…

Lots to be excited about and experiment with I think!


Peru Buesa – Online Marketing Strategist in Brighton

There is a growing trend for connecting with your customer through a shared reality. A celebrated example of this is Asos stopping to Photoshop their models’ stretch marks.
Instagram is saturated with perfection and aspiration. The problem is perfection is the realm of the robots, while humans need to surrender to the realm of flaw (which in turn, makes life so much fun). And we humans are not getting any better!
We small business and freelancers have an advantage to connect easier with the reality of our potential clients through our communications. Your customer is a human being even she’s dressing a grey suit.

User experience
As a popular SEM Rush ranking factor research suggested, user experience metrics (such as pages per session, bounce rate and average session duration) have a massive correlation with higher rankings.
It is evident that with the advent of voice search and sleeker and more intuitive devices, content creators need to provide sleek and intuitive digital experiences if they want to be rewarded by Google.
Make your site a mirror of your user’s mind. Forget about rules or strategy. Understand your customer’s motivation and infuse what they want on your copy, your images, your videos and your page structure.


head shotCol Skinner (aka Me) – Freelance Digital Advertising Expert in Manchester

Amazon Ends the Google-Facebook Duopoly
With over 70% of us searching on Amazon at some point during a product buyer journey, it’s inevitable that Amazon’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) and it’s unique ad placements will attract a share of 2018 budgets. The success of that spend and the breakdown will be an interesting thing to watch out for in 2018.
Voice Search
With voice searches reaching 20% of the total search formats, 2018 could be the year where we see that critical mass be enough to interest advertisers keen to capitalise on those searches. We may well see SEO strategies take the first steps to optimising for this new medium, closely followed by paid media advertisers jumping on board as or when platforms allow.
Mass Personalisation
With AI and big data conjoining in 2018 we will see advertisers accessing a new wave of sophisticated behavioural targetting. This will include a new layer of consumer data including likes and dislikes as well as search, social and purchase history.

Video Becomes All-Persuasive & All-Pervasive
I have personally seen advertising featuring video gain more and more of the conversion share when doing ad campaigns. In 2018 this will go next level with static display and image adverts dying off to make way for intelligent, dynamic and attention-grabbing video, social, native and paid content ads.


Title photo by Michal Lomza on Unsplash


Thank you again to all those who contributed their predictions. Do you have an industry prediction for 2018 you would like to share? Comment below:

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On January 15, 2018