An NPR study released in 2020 showed that 2 million Americans had started freelancing in the prior year, fueled largely by the pandemic. Today, more than one third of the workforce performs freelance work. Even though we specialize in training freelancers to write direct response copy, we are aware that that there is a core skillset that increases your chances of success as a freelancer in any industry. We asked freelancers to weigh in on these critical skills.
Communication and Organizational Skills
Freelancers have been more in demand amidst the pandemic. Since the competition is much tougher than before and there are lots of experts in a niche market, how can a freelancer become a preferred candidate?
One skill that will always be relevant no matter what the industry is great communication skills, whether written or oral. How can you ace an interview with the client if you can't express your thoughts well?
Another one is the ability to organize tasks. Clients will always be willing to rehire a freelancer if he is efficient in his tasks.
The Big 3
Freelancing is about convincing the client that you're the right person and getting an appropriate price. The ability to negotiate will give you a huge advantage over other candidates and can remarkably boost your earnings.
Some clients are stressful to work with. Having multiple clients at one time can also be stressful. Learning to cope with stress can increase your productivity and quality and result in better reviews after getting the job done.
This one is important. Having to deal with many projects can be painful. If you're a procrastinator or a social media addict, you will suffer. Learning to manage your time correctly will you get the job done quickly and give you more time for yourself without getting the clients upset.
Sales And Marketing Skills
As a freelancer, the most important skill is being able to sell yourself. To be able to pitch to clients and find work, you have to be a salesperson and a smart marketer. Sales and marketing skills can be useful in literally any field of life, and not just work.
Additionally, time management and discipline play a very important role if you are a freelancer. You can't be a successful freelancer without the discipline to finish work on time. Discipline bridges the gap between goals and achievements.
Direct Response Copywriting
Direct response copywriting is a persuasive form of copywriting that compels the person you communicate with to take action once he's finished reading. No matter your industry, there's always some back and forth, usually via email, before a potential client finally says yes. If you use the principles of direct response copywriting to craft witty emails, you will be getting positive responses from your clients a lot quicker.
Microsoft Office Skills
Microsoft Office expertise will always be helpful. I think this is a very important skill that every freelancer needs to learn as almost all tasks revolve around using Word or Excel. Knowing how to navigate Microsoft Office will allow you to finish more tasks at a faster pace so it is an important advantage whatever your industry.
Ability To Work in a Different Time Zone
If you’re a freelancer, chances are you’re going to be accepting a lot of work from overseas clients. What most freelancers love about their job is that they can work flexibly according to their schedule. It will set you apart from others if you can use that flexibility to work the same hours as your client does. The biggest advantage of this work arrangement is that it eases communication between the freelancer and the client, reducing delays and misunderstandings that often happen when you don’t work during the same hours.
Reliability, Consistency, Attention to Detail
Regardless of what freelance work you do, the qualities that will make you stand out are reliability, consistency, and attention to detail. A huge number of freelancers fail to tick these basic boxes.
When clients hire a freelancer, they want the work done to a high standard with no aggravation, and they want the work completed at the time agreed. Many freelancers underestimate the importance of these things.
The Ability to Work Anywhere, With Anybody
When a business hires internally, it has to worry about finding people that fit the culture it has created. Freelancers, however, are often hired to produce a small set of deliverables, irrespective of whether they fit the company culture or not.
I've learned to fit into any dynamic, work within any team, and ensure that I am productive in any workspace. This means my clients don't have to worry about anything other than the solution I offer. This keeps clients coming back!
I have seen it in the workplace and with clients. One who communicates well will often get rewarded. As freelancers, you won't always get the results for clients you wish. When that is the case, the only thing between them firing you and giving you a chance is the communication you had with them. Communication instills trust, and trust is one of the most [important] factors with freelancers.
Social Media Experience
An essential skill that every freelancer should have is social media knowledge. Knowing even the basics of social media and having a presence on one or several social platforms will allow freelancing professionals, no matter their industry, a medium to advertise and showcase their work. It can be an effective tool to help them reach potential clients and increase their credibility and authority. The best of all is that it can be free.
Related to the above, I believe that communication skills – either in writing or oral formats – can give a competitive advantage to anyone. Being good with words will allow freelancers to put their message out there in a compelling way, attracting the right audience.
4 Key Assets
It’s much easier to build trust and foster solid relationships if you have great listening skills. It shows that you’re an excellent communicator and it’s something that every company across the board is looking for in an employee.
Just like listening, your ability to connect with other people makes you a huge asset. If you’re in sales or customer service, it helps you understand and build a better relationship with the people you’re dealing with. It also works well if you’re a manager handling a team.
Social media management
This is one important technical skill that any company values. These days, most companies have social media accounts for easier communication with their customers. Having the expertise to manage social media will make you valuable to anyone.
Every company needs to secure their sensitive data and provide that extra layer of protection from any potential breach. As an IT security professional, your services will be much needed.
Visual Communication Skills
Visual Communication Skills, communicating by photography, art, drawings, charts, and graphs. Visual communications make your work presentation attractive, and it is a huge advantage no matter which industry.
Your company might be a small company that doesn’t have a visual communication designer, and they will be very happy to have you. Even if your company has one, you might not be able to trouble the visual communication designer with your work presentation each time. At any level, visual communication makes information easier to understand and easier to share. It enhances your email communication too.
Advance With These Skills
Communication skills are important for freelancers irrespective of the industry they work in. It would be even better to say that good communication skills are essential for every professional. It is only with good communication skills that you can interact effectively, help people understand what you are saying clearly, and influence your clients. So, as freelancers, we should develop excellent communication skills.
Time management skills
Freelancing provides you with a lot of freedom, but if you don’t manage your time well, you may end up losing your clients. This implies that time management skills are crucial for your success in any industry.
Active listening skills
Active listening is an important skill that is crucial for your success as a professional. If you can make your clients feel heard, they’ll choose you over and over. Why? This is because today, there are not many people in the world who practice active listening. Everyone is waiting for their turn to speak, creating different answers in the mind, and all this prevents complete listening. As a result, clients feel unheard.
Being confident is important in every profession whether you are a freelancer or a full-time worker. If you are not confident of your skills and abilities, how can your clients trust you? So, confidence is a skill that you need to develop sincerely. For this, two things can help you. The first is inculcating confident body language and the second is self-improvement. You have to keep growing better and better in your wor,k and as you keep undertaking your journey of self-improvement, your confidence level will naturally increase.
Being a reliable person means that your clients can trust you to fulfill all their expectations sincerely and diligently. So, cultivating reliability skills is important. If you are reliable, your success will be certain. But, to become a reliable person you’ll have to ensure that you meet all the expectations of your clients without any faults.
Your clients will come to you with various kinds of problems depending on your choice of career. So, cultivating good problem-solving skills is a must. If you can solve any problem your clients come up with, you will certainly climb the ladder of success. Further, the development of critical thinking skills can help you solve problems with ease.
At times, you’ll be faced with hard decisions in your career. For example, you may have to choose between assignments when they have close deadlines. Under such circumstances, you’ll need decision-making skills to take the right path. Moreover, even while working on certain assignments, you’ll have to make some important decisions. So, the development of good decision-making skills can help you succeed in the professional world as a freelancer.
Ability To Be Taught
The thing I love about freelancers is how versatile they are. With the gig economy growing exponentially from the pandemic, freelancing has become quite competitive. In response to the influx of freelancers, some of us have developed skills that enable us to work in a plethora of industries.
A skill that not all freelancers have is the ability to be taught. It’s easy for some of us to get stuck in our niches and forsake all other industries, but for those that educate themselves and are lifelong learners, I’ve noticed that they always have a gig. They are a commodity.
Another skill that all freelancers should have, but some don’t, is the ability to dig in and stay the course. Discipline is not many people’s strong suit, but self-discipline is what sets some freelancers apart.
Freelancers also need a lot of grit and creativity. You have to be able to adapt and think outside the box at times.
Sales and Networking Skills
I believe that regardless of your industry, you need to master your sales and networking skills. It can be a bit intimidating, and let's not talk about the thoughts that go on in between our ears in battling self-doubt or imposter syndrome. Learn to communicate the value your service provides. It is important to be persuasive and not pushy when it comes to sales. Customize your conversation to the needs of the individual. Position yourself as a solution.
When it comes to networking, it is better to be interested and not interesting, to be intentional in making connections and listening. Ask questions and practice associating unique pieces of information to an individual. People appreciate when you recall conversations; it could be as simple as remembering their names. Networking is about learning how you can add value to other people's personal or professional lives. Discussions do not have to be mechanical; you can add your personality to the process.
Practice always makes progress. Every interaction is an opportunity to work your skills. And over time, you can build your confidence. Start today, even if your voice is shaking. There is always room for growth.
Persistence, Management Skills, Passion for Learning
The gig economy is here to stay. But while hard skills are also essential in freelancing (like they are in corporate employment), soft skills like persistence, management skills, and a passion for learning will give freelancers an advantage no matter what industry they’re in.
Persistence, for example, will be one of the most important traits, especially today, where the pandemic has compelled everyone to look for alternative sources of income. With many people turning to freelance to sustain their lifestyles, the supply of freelancers has driven the competition for remote work even higher.
Not everyone may be able to land freelance gigs right away, so people who are planning to become freelancers will need to show persistence if they genuinely want to pursue this type of work. I know of so many people who were actively looking for remote work for around three years before they were able to land their first-ever client.
Management and business skills would also be advantageous. As a freelancer, you won’t only need to manage your time and workload, you also need to figure out your long-term goal and the direction you want to go since you’re providing your services to various clients.
Lastly—and I can’t stress it enough—you need to love learning. Even if you already have the hard skills required for your current industry, it pays to stay relevant with the changing times.
Sometimes, clients may ask you to perform tasks that aren’t in line with your core responsibilities, so you need to have a passion for learning. This is a lesson I learned the hard way when a client previously asked me to perform a couple of web development-related tasks. My core niche was in finance, so I really had to exert time and effort to learn what I needed to perform the web development tasks.
Start with Sound Decision Making
Decision-making and good judgment
This involves analyzing any situation and deciding which path to take. The problem can have any outcome, and making a decision shows confidence and sound judgment.
Initiative and motivation
Taking the initiative to perform tasks is a highly sought-after skill.
Good communication skills
Having good communication skills is essential as it will help you convey your point precisely. Proper articulation helps in getting your message across without any ambiguity. Good communication helps you in getting things done if you're a leader.
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