What Will the Metaverse Mean for Freelance Creatives?By Halley Bondy March 17th, 2022
The Future-Proof Freelancer series explores ways in which freelance creatives can ensure career longevity. From improving accessibility and inclusivity to exploring AI copywriting assistants and more, this series will cover some of the skills freelancers should learn today to stay competitive in the marketplace of tomorrow.
Picture this: You’re an in-demand creative writing coach, and a client needs advice on breaking into virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) games.
When it’s time to meet, the client dons a VR headset and meets your avatar in a palatial virtual library. The two of you exchange pleasantries. You then literally “walk through” the process of constructing a narrative for a game, via a fully immersive, 3D presentation—kind of like you’re a virtual tour guide.
Though these specific virtual experiences are not yet widely available, experts predict that there will one day be few limits to what creatives—including copywriters—will be able to do in VR/AR.
There’s no sign that metaverse innovation is slowing down. After Mark Zuckerberg announced his vision for the metaverse in October 2021, blockchain virtual worlds generated more than $500 million in trading volume, according to DappRadar. In the EU alone, Meta (formerly Facebook) has plans to hire more than 10,000 workers over the next five years to turn its metaverse vision into reality.
To stay a step ahead of this emerging sector, freelancers should examine what it might mean for future career opportunities—even if they seem like science fiction. Here are a few predictions about what freelance creatives can expect as the metaverse begins to manifest.
Copywriters will need to adapt their skills for 3D environments
Opportunities in the metaverse are purely speculative right now, but some industry analysts predict that many jobs for copywriters and other creatives will be similar to the ones available today. For example, brands will continue to need ad copy to promote their digital products or experiences, according to copywriter John Paul Hernandez, who has explored writing opportunities in the metaverse.
“You have really talented engineers and minds behind the metaverse, but someone has to write the story that people are going to be living out,” Hernandez said.
“For writers, I would liken it to when they had to adapt from print to web and social media.”
Brands will continue to need scripts for video content, presentations for virtual gatherings and events, and marketing copy for their products. There may even be design and copywriting opportunities in niche markets like digital real estate.
“For example, if you want to buy a house and I’m the realtor, I can show you augmented reality of the property,” said Hernandez. “There will be a whole industry for selling virtual land and spaces—and you’re going to need writers for that, [specifically for] company descriptions and ads.”
But while UX writers and advertising copywriters today are largely focused on content consumed in two dimensions, in the metaverse, they’ll need to adapt their copy for a more multifaceted environment. Calls to action (CTAs), for example, may involve nudging users to perform haptic gestures or some kind of physical activity versus simply saying, “Click here to learn more.”
Learning the metaverse language may be paramount to survival, according to Charles Hambro, CEO of SaaS gaming platform GEEIQ. “For writers, I would liken it to when they had to adapt from print to web and social media. Now, they have to move from social media to the metaverse,” he said.
“World-building” will continue to grow as an industry
If you’re looking for a metaverse-esque experience that already exists, look no further than online gaming platforms. Creatives can already build and sell infinite types of digital products on Roblox.
“If we look at Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse, I think it’s still far away because we’re limited by the hardware,” Hernandez said. “No one wants to be in these headsets for a long period of time.” But in Roblox, which is a massive digital environment, there are already people who spend a lot of time on the platform. “It’s happening now, and there are a lot of opportunities to start thinking about,” added Hernandez.
Currently, game designers can make money on Roblox if their game gains traction in the virtual world. This means that anyone involved in game creation (writers, voiceover artists, etc.) can also profit.
Hambro noted that the term “gaming” in this context is a little misleading. Instead, he suggested creatives familiarize themselves with the “world-building” universe.
“I think the word gaming throws a lot of people off… Roblox is really beyond games. It’s a platform of digital experiences,” he said. “I would encourage creatives to consume as much content on these platforms as possible to understand these communities, the economies, what makes them tick, and the culture and the language around it.”
The avatar industry will begin to blossom
Very likely, avatars will become critically important in the metaverse, bringing to life a whole new industry around customization.
“Brands [will probably be] willing to pay more for higher quality and a more humanized customer experience.”
Individuals will use avatars for personal branding, socializing, and gameplay, but brands will also likely create digital ambassadors and interactive customer service chatbots. These digital creations will need professionally crafted scripts, character profiles, stylists, and more. Additionally, these avatars will live in full-on immersive environments rather than websites, calling for sound mixers, creative producers, digital interior designers, illustrators, data visualization specialists, and more.
“Not only will there be opportunity, but brands [will probably be] willing to pay more for higher quality and a more humanized customer experience,” Hernandez said.
Avatar clothing and accessory design may be another emerging industry. Although the landscape is still nascent and quite competitive at the moment, examples of opportunities among big brands are on the rise. Recently, Tommy Hilfiger and Gucci hired designers to create digital clothing, partnering with GEEIQ to connect to the virtual economy.
Personal branding and community opportunities will become fully immersive
Hernandez dreams of a day when creatives will be able to build immersive experiences and welcome visitors to them—such as the aforementioned library—in lieu of simple portfolio websites. Authors could hold readings in such hubs. Writers could take the idea of “showing, not telling” their stories to whole new heights, working with designers and photographers to create truly immersive journalism. People from all over the world could attend creative networking events in 3D avatar form.
“Right now, there’s not a digital version of meeting someone in the coffee shop. That’s what the metaverse is going to provide,” Hernandez speculated. “There is a huge need for a community that’s not bound by geography.”Image by miakievy