Every aspiring freelance warrior dreams of the day they’ll be able to enjoy a life of financial stability and a long line of clients waiting to get in touch with them. The old freelancing lifestyle! It’s very possible to get to that point in your freelance business. I’ve seen and met freelancers of different fields who are able to achieve these goals. But to do so requires a lot more than just getting the job done. I discovered that freelancing even with award-winning skills is just one section of the success pie. If you want freelance clients to keep coming back
, you have to give them a reason to come back. A lot of that has to do with how they feel and what they experience when working with you, and so you want to give them the most positive experience—bordering on life-changing, if any. And this is key when learning how to be a freelancer. Ready to use your freelancing skills to make a huge difference in your clients’ lives? OK then… Let’s master these top 10 freelance skills:
Freelancer Skill #1: Marketing
20 years of experience as a designer or writer won’t get you anywhere if no one knows you exist. Often, we don’t think that learning how to be a freelancer actually involves learning how to be a great marketer! You have to continuously market yourself. Get the word out that there’s a freelance expert that clients can hire to turn ideas into viable products. Let people know that you have the skills they need to make their dreams become actual projects. Marketing may sound sleazy and distrustful, but it’s the lifeblood of any business. If you want yours to succeed, you have to market your freelancing business consistently and effectively for your target clients to know you have the services they need for their businesses. The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to come off as scammy or suspicious. By simply being yourself and letting people know you have value to offer, that’s marketing that can draw people in.
Freelancer Skill #2: Professionalism
What separates the successful freelance experts from the rest of the crowd is their level of professionalism. These freelancing professionals see themselves as a business and not as a contractor for hire. They know that they’re in this for the long-run, so they have to treat their businesses with respect. This means being firm with their rates, treating their clients well, knowing when to say “no” and doing the work necessary to meet their monthly and yearly business goals. Strive to maintain a good level of professionalism with every single person you encounter in your business. In return, people will look to you with the same level of respect and professionalism. This is one of those “stand-out” skills to remember when you are looking at how to be a freelancer.
Freelancer Skill #3: Self-discipline
Maybe this is the most important quality as without it, you’d never be able to handle your work and the freelancing life at the same time. The freelance profession will give you plenty of opportunities to do interesting and fun things, things you like. You’ll be tempted to do them every time an opportunity presents itself. But if you do – you’ll end up playing chess, walking the dog, drinking beer, and whatever else you like doing literally all day! But then, while you’re having fun, your freelance work will suffer. You’ll miss deadlines, you’ll upset your freelancing clients, you’ll lose those clients and potentially – money. Having fun all the time is always at the cost of a job well done. Setting a working schedule, including freelance working hours
, is paramount for the organization of your daily activities – work or play. Another critical skill in learning how to be a freelancer which does not get mentioned very often!!!
Freelancer Skill #4: Persistence
Freelancing can be hard sometimes, especially in the beginning when your email inbox is full of rejection letters and not that many interview invitations. Not to mention no progress on your goal which is to actually land a paying freelancing gig! Learning how to be a freelancer is to learn to not give up when the road is steep or has bumps. It is of crucial importance to be persistent and to not stop looking for great freelancing clients. You will need just one or two to notice you and give you a chance to prove your freelance capabilities. Then it gets easier.
Freelancer Skill #5: Initiative
If you have been an employee for a long time in the “wrong company”, you may be used to being dependent. Meaning – you may find it normal to have someone constantly checking up on you, following your every step, checking your work, and telling you what to do. The moment you move into the freelancing world, you have clients, and not “keepers” who call themselves “the boss”. You no longer will be told what to do. You need to take initiative. You need to ask questions. You need to suggest ways to improve the project and the overall outcome. All of this is highly valued by your client. They want the independent view that your freelance status can provide. When you show initiative, you show that you are highly interested in completing the project on time and with high quality. And who knows – maybe this client will give you another freelance project soon enough.
Freelancer Skill #6: Flexibility
Being flexible will help you in situation assessment and decision-making. It will also help you when you are looking for ways to diversify your portfolio and skills and looking for new opportunities and freelance trends
. All part of learning how to be a freelancer in growth mode! You need to know how to analyze information. You need to be ready to adapt; to learn new things if the workforce market demands it. Your flexibility as a freelancer will allow you also to take rush jobs from clients who need a task to be completed urgently, with short and quick turnaround time. This type of last-minute tasks are not mandatory, of course – you can always decline if you are not available. And you can certainly ask for more money for doing the work. However, if you are flexible and do the job despite the short notice and quick turnaround time, this client will appreciate it and will remember it. This client will call you again for other freelance assignments because they will know they can rely on you in hard times, too. Learning how to be a freelancer with flexibility makes you a very desirable service provider.
Freelancer Skill #7: Communication skills
In most cases, freelancers work exclusively online. They communicate through email, chat, voice and video calls, and similar programs to communicate – online, through a computer, almost never in person. So, your communication should be well thought and precise, at all times. Reply to emails within 24 hours. If you can’t do it for some reason, send an email confirming you got the message and telling the other party when you will be able to give them what they asked for or answer their questions. Watch your language and tone. You might be a lot sweary in your communications with your mates… but don’t be with your clients. They may be a bit sweary too, but the only place you might join them is on a skype CALL… where nothing gets written down. Rule #1 on How To Be A Freelancer: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. You never know who else sees the documents you send to the client!
Freelancer Skill #8: Track The Changes
If the client wants changes, always have a written confirmation of those changes. Otherwise it will turn into a cat fight when it comes to payment. And NEVER start work changes requested by the client which will cost them more without getting your customary 50% up front. You are a freelance professional, not a Credit Union! It’s not being penny pinching, it’s being prudent and risk averse. It will also test whether the client was trying it on to see if they could get you to do it for free. And nowhere in the unwritten book called How To Be a Freelancer does it state “Work for free is good…!!”
Freelancer Skill #9: Show the Passion
If you want to rock on as a successful freelance business owner, the best way to do it is to choose a niche in which you know that you’ll love the work you do. That’s a niche which you are passionate about and where you can grow and thrive—one where you don’t mind staying up until 2 a.m., because that’s what’s needed to deliver the best work to your clients. Passion, skills and success will most often go hand in hand. If you can’t resist improving upon your skills and work because you are passionate about what you do, you’re going to succeed. Constantly learning hoe to be a great freelancer is your objective. Finding the right niche means you’ll be able to deliver awesome results for your freelance clients. Those are results that you will feel proud of, results that will make clients want to hire you again and again. You can raise your income, improve your skills, and love the work you do (or at least most of the work you do).
Freelancer Skill #10 Constantly Evaluate
You don’t need to master all of the 9 characteristics I’ve been through to perfection to succeed at freelancing or being an entrepreneur. But it’s very important that you are aware of your strong and weak sides and, preferably, work to improve the qualities you lack. This will improve your chances of succeeding as a freelance business owner. Being a business owner isn’t a walk in the park. Yes, you’re your own boss, and you’re in charge of what you do and when you do it, but there’s a flipside to that. Freedom includes the freedom to suffer—there’s no safety net, and when things go wrong—you
have to take responsibility. You have the responsibility of ensuring things go right, too. If freelancing and entrepreneurism were as easy as some people make them out to be, everyone would be a freelance business owner. Did you know that one third of people in the US think that owning their own business is more scary than jumping out of a plane! It’s worth taking a minute to think about this, before you quit your job, or if you have already quit and things are not going so well, and ask yourself, “Can I truly
see these characteristics in myself?” If the answer’s “no”, then ask: “Am I willing to learn to overcome my weaknesses and learn what I’m lacking?” And it’s okay at that point to say no again. Owning a freelancing business isn’t for everyone. But learning how to be a freelancer is not complicated, so if you want the freelance life, then find a good course or mentor, and have a go!