How to Harness AI’s Competitive & Cooperative Skills for Work


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The ongoing emergence of newgenerative artificial intelligence (AI) applications signals a shift in the way work gets done. It’s a change that’s happening rapidly—and is embraced by some of the world’s most innovative companies.

The innovators aren’t just limiting themselves to doing business as usual either. They’re embracing AI disruption and thriving through their use of new technology.

The 2023 Work Innovators report sheds light on how and why these companies—and their leaders—excel in times of change. While a number of factors play into these successes, embracing new systems and hiring for specific skills is a big part of the process.

You too can think (and hire) like a work innovator who’s ready to embrace AI as part of a digital transformation. Here’s how.

Establish a system of innovation

When conducting research for the Work Innovators report, we weren’t merely looking for companies using generative AI.

Staying in line with the broader mission of the Upwork Research Institute, we sought to understand the fundamental practices driving innovative companies forward—independent of the technology they used.

Interestingly, our findings revealed that many of the companies we spoke to lacked a formal generative AI strategy. Those that did have a strategy in place, though, were more likely to be a work innovator.

Work Innovators are 2.9 times more likely to han an AI strategy in place.

This finding makes sense: work innovators typically exhibit a systems mindset.

Traditional business models often rely on a linear mindset. This way of thinking looks at inputs and outputs, and in order to make change, you typically need to isolate parts of processes. This isn’t bad—but it isn’t always the most effective way to work, especially within a large organization.

A systems mindset, on the other hand, allows business leaders to look at interconnected relationships within said system—in this case, a company. With this mindset, work innovators can look at how new relationships form as connections evolve. It becomes easier to see how connections are central to business operations, too, as it’s harder to isolate single parts of an organization when you have a systems mindset.

By taking this big-picture view of their organization as a system, work innovators can better recognize their team members’ skills and abilities. They can also evaluate the capabilities of the technology their teams use.

Embrace a systems mindset to enhance AI innovation

When we apply this thinking to AI, it becomes easier to determine which parts of a system are appropriate for a machine to handle, and which parts need a human touch.

Because work innovators are more likely to use a systems mindset, it makes sense that they’re excited by the use of AI in business—they can see exactly how it fits into their company, and what benefits AI can bring.

47% of the leadership of high-performing business are actively incorporating generative AI into their daily operations.

Work innovators with a systems mindset can also see where connections are made between work done by a person and work done by a machine. This, in turn, helps them hire the right skill sets to support innovation.

Identify important skills for AI innovation

Innovators typically need to source two types of skills for success when working with AI models: competitive and cooperative.

Balancing these two skill sets in the organization makes it easier for leaders to plan hiring needs, build agile teams, and continue advancing work faster than non-innovator competitors.

What are competitive skills?

Competitive skills are human-centric—they can’t be easily replicated by a machine. Such skills can include:

  • Emotional intelligence: The capacity to understand and regulate human emotions through self-awareness, empathy, and clear communication
  • Strategic thinking: The ability to analyze a current state and develop the steps necessary to reach a goal state—including an awareness of risks and potential
  • Creative problem solving: The ability to think outside the box and develop unique solutions that move innovation forward while working within any fixed limitations, such as budgets
  • Critical thinking: The ability to see all sides of an issue, evaluate the validity of arguments without bias, and dissect complex problems into discrete parts
  • Ethical decision-making: The process of choosing steps, alternatives, and solutions based on moral implications, consequences, and ethical considerations

What are cooperative skills?

Cooperative skills, on the other hand, are those that humans use to leverage the ability of a machine or algorithm.

These skills include:

  • AI literacy: An in-depth understanding of how algorithms, machine learning models, and neural networks work—along with their impact on real-world human productivity
  • AI fluency: An ability to plan, strategize, and work with AI systems in ways that will bring the organization and its stakeholders closer to meeting key goals
  • Algorithmic communication: The ability to communicate human needs to machine algorithms, such as through prompt engineering
  • Data analysis: The ability to understand algorithmic outputs and data in order to make decisions and advance work

Build a team with competitive and cooperative skills

To use AI like a work innovator, you’ll need to first take a step back and make sure that you know why you want to use AI. What’s the business problem you want to solve?

From there, taking a system-wide view is key. You know what your problems are—now find out where they’re happening. Are you dealing with a human problem? A machine problem? Or is there a breakdown happening when humans and machines interact?

This will help you decide whether you need to improve your technology, source new team members with competitive skills, or focus on strengthening the cooperative skills in your workforce.

Improve your tech stack

If you aren’t already using AI—or you find system breakdowns happening when AI is supposed to carry out specific tasks—then it’s time to upgrade your technology.

You can integrate AI into your workflows in countless ways, from hiring AI developers to build custom applications to using AI tools with a dedicated purpose (such as generating social media content).

42% of work innovators already have large language models in place, compared with just 19% of their peer

Upskill existing team members

If you find that you need more competitive skills in your company, you may be able to enhance your existing team through training and development.

Find the people in your organization with great emotional intelligence, strong decision-making skills, and creativity. Think about where and how you can best use their competitive skills within your own system—and seek out training tools to help them continue to strengthen these skills.

Add skills with independent talent

You can also add select skills to your team as needed by embracing flexible talent.

A flexible talent model allows you to bring in independent talent with specific experience—great when you need a key cooperative skill.

Leaders who create an environment where flexible talent models thrive are 111% more likely to believe their teams have the right skills mix to meet goals effectively.

This unlocks tremendous flexibility for a changing workforce and allows innovators to always have the bestAI talent available to them.

Transform into a work innovator

Staying at the forefront of innovation involves understanding your system, embracing AI technology, and leveraging the power of flexible talent.

But these aren’t the only points of focus for the most innovative companies operating today. To learn more about how work innovators function—and take steps to work like an innovator throughout your organization—read the completeWork Innovators report.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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25 Digital Side Hustles for Anyone Looking to Make Some Extra Cash

25 Digital Side Hustles for Anyone Looking to Make Some Extra Cash

As a marketing professional, you can choose from many different focuses and niches within marketing depending on your interests and strengths.

Businesses in nearly every industry need your skills to promote their products and services.

If you’re interested in marketing, these are some side hustles to explore and consider.

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Digital marketing allows brands to reach and engage their target audiences online. Some businesses may be interested in e-commerce and driving traffic to their website, while others want to grow brand awareness by creating content. Social media marketing focuses on using platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to communicate and advertise with consumers.

You need creative and analytical skills for digital and social media marketing. On the content side, you could focus on brainstorming and creating graphics, audio, copy, or video. Another aspect of marketing is strategy—figuring out how to promote the content for campaigns, whether by running ads or SEO. Marketers also need to be able to measure the effectiveness of these campaigns and provide recommendations based on their findings.

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Social media managers are in charge of a brand’s social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Depending on the company’s size, you may be the one posting content and writing captions, or you may facilitate content creation by working with copywriters, graphic designers, and videographers. Social media managers make sure that content is on-brand and communicate with other stakeholders and teams.  

Example of responsibilities:

  • Grow the number of followers
  • Increase engagement (likes, comments, shares)
  • Manage the editorial calendar
  • Respond to comments and messages
  • Create content
  • Review and report analytics

Range of hourly rates: $14-$35/hr.


Paid ad campaigns are often an important part of a brand’s social media strategy. Businesses can run ads on social media platforms to help grow their following and expand their content’s reach. Social media ad specialists develop the ad strategy, set up campaigns, and monitor progress to determine and follow a budget and maximize the return on investment (ROI).

Example of responsibilities:

  • Create social media ads
  • Optimize paid social media campaigns
  • Set relevant KPIs
  • Report social media campaign analytics
  • Plan and execute paid social media campaigns
  • Track conversions

Range of hourly rates: $15-$40/hr.


Online ads can drive traffic to a brand’s website and products. When you type a search query into Google, the first few products or websites that show up are typically sponsored ads. These companies bid against competitors for specific keywords and queries. Another popular type of ad is a display ad. Third-party websites that have high traffic can make money by displaying ads for other brands on their site.

Online ad specialists help brands create an ad strategy. In this side hustle, you help determine what types of ads the business should run, then set up the ads, monitor the results, and optimize them as needed.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Create optimized ad copy
  • Track conversions
  • Report analytics
  • Plan and execute ads
  • Develop an ad strategy

Range of hourly rates: $15-$40/hr.


Youtube channel managers take ownership of a brand’s YouTube channel. This side hustle can focus on strategy and optimization or content creation and facilitating video shoots. YouTube channel managers are often responsible for scheduling and posting videos while monitoring traffic and responding to comments or questions.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Schedule and publish videos
  • Write SEO-optimized video descriptions and metadata
  • Edit videos
  • Shoot videos
  • Create thumbnails
  • Respond to comments
  • Manage content calendars
  • Measure video performance
  • Report analytics

Hourly range according to $45-$59/hr.

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Instagram is a popular social media platform for creating engaging visual content. As an Instagram marketing specialist, your job is to know how to use the platform as a brand, from strategic best practices to the latest trends. This side hustle can be creative and fun as you work with brands to grow their following and create content that gets likes, shares, views, and comments.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Manage content calendar
  • Keep up with trends
  • Post stories, reels, and posts
  • Create content
  • Research hashtags
  • Boost posts and paid ad campaigns
  • Collaborate with influencers
  • Respond to direct messages (DMs) and comments
  • Manage Instagram Shops

Hourly range according to $20-$26/hr.

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TikTok is a short-form video social media platform loved by Gen Z. Brands on TikTok can engage this often hard-to-reach audience with short, trending videos. Brands work with TikTok marketing consultants to create fresh and original content to help stay relevant while spreading brand awareness and increasing sales. If you’re familiar with TikTok and enjoy content strategy and making videos, this can be a fun and creative side hustle.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Create videos
  • Keep up with trends
  • Maintain the TikTok shop
  • Research hashtags
  • Post content
  • Manage the editorial calendar
  • Collaborate with influencers
  • Respond to DMs and comments
  • Run ads

Hourly range according to $20-$26/hr.

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On Pinterest, brands can post pictures and videos of their products and services while curating an aesthetic that fits their image. As a Pinterest marketing specialist, your job is strategizing how to use the platform to accomplish the brand’s goals. You may find yourself creating content and curating boards or running ads and diving into analytics.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Post pins
  • Create and join boards
  • Run ads
  • Optimize copy and metadata with SEO
  • Research keywords
  • Track conversions
  • Report data
  • Lead the content strategy
  • Manage the shop
  • Keep up with trends and best practices

Hourly range according to $20-$26/hr.


LinkedIn is a networking platform for professionals. Recruiters and headhunters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates for open positions. Having a profile that stands out to recruiters can help job seekers get more interviews. LinkedIn profile consultants help professionals update their LinkedIn, providing recommendations for improvement and even rewriting sections as needed.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Create an engaging headline
  • Improve profile SEO
  • Recommend profile improvements and suggestions
  • Tailor the profile to the types of jobs the client wants
  • Help choose a professional profile picture

Hourly range according to $20-$26/hr.

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Internet content is created and consumed at a fast pace. Instead of having to wait for something to find its way to a bookstore or newsstand, or to air on TV, an endless supply of entertainment and information is placed at our fingertips. Successful content creators know how to stand out and make an impact.

As a content creator, you can get paid to work with brands to create the content they need. Think about what you enjoy doing most. Some people enjoy diving into a topic and writing an in-depth story, while others prefer creating pithy headlines or captions.

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Content writers are storytellers, writing articles, case studies, and other forms of digital content for brands. A content writer’s goal is to create high-quality thought leadership pieces to engage readers and encourage them to take action. Content writers know how to create in a brand’s voice using the right tone and messaging while integrating SEO and call to actions that feel natural.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Pitch ideas for articles
  • Research topics
  • Interview subjects
  • Create SEO-friendly content
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Edit and proofread
  • Work in brand style guidelines

Range of hourly rates: $15-$40/hr.


Copywriters focus on conversions and actions. This type of writing is persuasive and usually short-form, like headlines or ad copy. Copywriting is typically more sales-driven compared to content writing, which is often informative. As a copywriter, you may have to communicate a message and drive action while working with limited space and character restraints.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Write copy for marketing materials
  • Ensure messaging is consistent with branding
  • Proofread and edit
  • Collaborate with designers
  • Revise copy based on feedback

Range of hourly rates: $19-$45/hr


Blogging can become a side hustle if you get enough traffic to monetize your blog by advertising or affiliate marketing. Most blogs have a central theme that the creator is comfortable working in, whether it’s lifestyle, fashion, parenting, or nearly anything else. You could also earn extra income blogging by being a guest blogger or ghostwriter for someone else’s blog.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Researching topics
  • Ghostwriting
  • Promoting and reviewing products
  • Replying to comments
  • Researching keywords
  • Creating SEO-friendly content
  • Tracking analytics
  • Collaborating with influencers

Range of hourly rates: $15-$35/hr


Podcast producers are the behind-the-scenes magicians who make podcasts possible. As a producer, you may be involved in researching guests and topics and then writing the script for the hosts to use. Podcast producing can include editing audio clips and also the administration side of production, such as booking guests and doing pre-interviews.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Writing and editing scripts
  • Researching topics and guests
  • Developing a marketing strategy
  • Monitoring performance
  • Booking guests
  • Deciding on topics and storylines
  • Maintaining podcast schedule

Hourly rate according to $30/hr.


As an e-book writer, you can publish your own books or write e-books for clients as a subject matter expert or ghostwriter. E-books are fully digital, not printed, so you can earn more for every book sale when you self-publish. Businesses often use e-books as gated content to get leads from potential customers. These e-books dive deeper into a subject that is relevant to the business and will interest readers.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Research topics
  • Ensure information is accurate and up-to-date
  • Edit and proofread
  • Revise copy based on feedback
  • Collaborate with designers
  • Format e-books

Range of hourly rates: $18-$40/hr.


The voices you hear narrating a marketing video or tutorial are often the work of a voice-over artist. If you have the right recording equipment and a pleasant and easy-to-understand speaking voice, you can work as a voice-over artist to earn additional income. The client will typically give you a script to record, and then you send over the finished audio file so they can add it to the marketing video.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Record audio clips
  • Edit audio files
  • Read scripts
  • Add audio files to videos yourself
  • Make changes based on feedback

Hourly rate according to $16-$24/hr.


Designers bring ideas to life using digital software and tools like Adobe Creative Cloud. They create visual content that brands need to showcase their products and services to clients. Designers typically have a niche, whether that’s static images, layouts, or video. Think about what aspect of design you’re most interested in to start explore your new side hustle.

Design can be a broad term for digital art. Some designers like the technical aspects of design, working with layouts and user experience. Other designers enjoy creating brand-new illustrations from scratch.


Web designers focus on the visual aspect of building a website—the front end. This is what the user sees. Web designers consider the user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI), everything from navigation and layout to color palettes and fonts. Many web designers use Adobe Creative Cloud for mockups and wireframes and then build their designs using HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

Example of Responsibilities:

  • Create wireframes and mockups
  • Collaborate with web developers
  • Design layouts
  • Add imagery
  • Decide on typography
  • Test and debug website

Range of hourly rates: $15-$30/hr.


Graphic designers are digital artists who take ideas and turn them into visual concepts. Brands use content for their marketing campaigns and advertisements. As a graphic designer, you could specialize in logos, banners, brochures, infographics, or social media graphics, depending on what you enjoy creating most.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Using software to create digital graphics
  • Choosing colors, fonts, and layouts
  • Revising graphics based on feedback
  • Adhering to design best practices
  • Maintaining brand guidelines
  • Presenting ideas and mockups
  • Collaborating with copywriters and stakeholders

Range of hourly rates: $15-$35/hr.


Brands need pictures of their products and services to use on their website, social media channels, and marketing campaigns. As a product photographer, you stage these products and take high-quality pictures based on the client’s needs. You will also need to edit the images and make sure they’re ready for production.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Stage products
  • Set up lighting
  • Edit photographs
  • Research product and company
  • Adhere to brand guidelines

Range of hourly rates: $15-$37/hr.


Video editors take raw (unedited) video footage and seamlessly piece it together to tell a story using software like Adobe Premier Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and Final Cut Pro. During this process, an editor may also add special effects, music, audio, and graphics. Video editors follow the script or storyboard to take the footage they’re given and turn it into the final product, like a social media reel or instructional video.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Editing short- and long-form video
  • Correcting lighting and colors
  • Adding graphics
  • Selecting music and sound bits
  • Creating rough and final cuts

Range of hourly rates: $15-$30/hr.


Companies hire consultants and strategists to help with specific challenges or projects their business is experiencing—they focus on big-picture agendas. These types of roles are often contract and short-term, working the length of the project and then moving on to another client. As a consultant or strategist, you should be a subject-matter expert, able to analyze your client’s problem and pitch a solution that you can implement once approved.


Public relations (PR) consultants develop or improve a brand’s communication strategy to build their public image. A PR consultant may be in charge of a publicity campaign, product launch, or handling a crisis. As a PR consultant, you may draft press releases and organize press conferences for important business announcements.  

Example of responsibilities:

  • Drafting and issuing press releases
  • Organizing and scheduling press conferences
  • Planning business events (product launches, investor dinners, grand openings)
  • Scheduling interviews and public appearances
  • Editing press releases
  • Ghostwriting speeches
  • Managing media relations
  • Analyzing public opinion

Hourly rate according to $25-$32/hr.


Companies initially hire brand strategists to define their branding—how they want customers to see their business. These strategists help a company find its voice, which includes everything from messaging to tone, fonts, and imagery. Brand strategists figure out the best way to position the company against competitors. Companies may also hire brand strategists to update their existing branding. This is called a rebrand.

Example of Responsibilities:

  • Conduct market research
  • Create buyer personas
  • Establish brand guidelines
  • Design promotional campaigns and product launches
  • Perform SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis
  • Oversee and implement rebranding
  • Develop brand positioning

Hourly rate according to $29-$36/hr.


Personal branding consultants are similar to brand strategists, but instead of working with companies, they work with individuals. Entrepreneurs, influencers, and public figures hire personal branding consultants to create, improve, and manage their brand, which is their public persona. Personal branding consultants help their clients position themselves as experts in their field and advise on what types of content and channels to use.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Defining social media strategy
  • Building an online presence
  • Conducting competitive analysis and audit
  • Developing personal brand guidelines

Range of hourly rates: $50-$98/hr


Search engines like Google use algorithms to determine what websites to show first when someone types in a search query. SEO consultants help brands create content that ranks highly (shows up first) for keywords and queries that are relevant to their business.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Research keywords
  • Build links
  • Write SEO-friendly content
  • Optimize web pages
  • Audit existing content

Range of hourly rates: $15-$32/hr


Businesses want to compile as much information as possible about their customers so they can engage them at every stage of the buyer journey. Lead generation campaigns often collect emails, which can then be used for email marketing. Instead of having to manually do every task, implementing automation, like sending an email with a coupon to a customer who left an item in their cart, helps to save time.  


Email marketing specialists focus on the email aspect of a marketing campaign. They build emails and templates, send them to the targeted audience, and then analyze the data. As an email marketing specialist, you should be familiar with email best practices and up-to-date with the latest compliance and regulations. Some email marketing specialists know coding languages like Java, Python, and HTML to build customer emails, while others work in drag-and-drop email marketing software.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Copywriting and proofreading
  • Designing emails
  • Managing email lists
  • Monitoring campaigns
  • Analyzing and reporting email KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Building email templates
  • A/B testing
  • Implementing marketing automation

Range of hourly rates: $15-$40/hr


Marketing automation specialists use software and other digital tools to increase efficiency and productivity through automation. This helps to eliminate repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks that don’t need to be hands-on. Once you set up the workflows, these software programs and tools can complete the tasks independently. As a marketing automation specialist, your job is to create workflows and trigger campaigns for automation.

Examples of responsibilities:

  • Analyzing campaign performances
  • Creating email marketing trigger campaigns
  • Scheduling social media posts
  • Integrating marketing automation software
  • Building workflows and automation maps

Hourly rate according to $25-$31/hr.


Customer relationship specialists (CRM) are experts in CRM software like Salesforce and HubSpot. They help companies implement these systems and use their features to improve marketing campaigns and efforts. CRM specialists tailor the system to their specific needs and integrate any other software and apps.

Example of responsibilities:

  • Implementing CRM software
  • Creating and optimizing workflows
  • Integrating 3rd-party applications
  • Analyzing data and creating reports
  • Managing customer data

Average hourly rate according to Glassdoor: $34/hr.

This article originally appeared on Resource Center (Upwork is a company that helps businesses find talent and people find work) and was syndicated by


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