Being a good freelancer isn’t necessarily limited to being good at the work you do. Although you provide quality results you still need to find jobs, manage your time between tasks, motivate yourself to finish and deliver the work on time or simply know how to sell yourself. When you become a freelancer you’re basically on your own and you will have to do the work of multiple departments (Sales, Accounting, Marketing, Customer Service, Management etc.). Becoming a freelancer is like having your own small business, where you’re both the boss and the employee at the same time.
1. Sales Skills
Selling yourself is important as it will help you win jobs or get better-paid contracts. This skill is one of the basic ones you need as you will have to apply it to your Profile Overview section (in case of freelancing platforms), to your proposals or when negotiating with customers via e-mails, messages or Skype interviews.
Here are some basic tips from Forbes on How to Sell Yourself.
I believe that the main reason why many fail in becoming successful freelancers is that they give up too fast. Yes, you may not get too many jobs in the first weeks and yes, the first jobs won’t be paid that good, but this will change in time. Freelancing is a stairway which you have to climb step by step. But you will need persistence in order to do this and the power to try again and again until you make it.
Read this article on PickTheBrain with tips on becoming more persistent.
3. Time Management Skills
Having a sloppy schedule will ensure you nothing but failure. It’s true that freelancing allows you to work at any hour you please but you have to organize your tasks so that you complete them in a timely manner. Effective time management is crucial when you’re up against numerous jobs and here are a few questions that you should ask yourself:
- Which are my most urgent tasks?
- When should I complete these projects?
- How many hours will it take for me to complete each?
- How many hours should I work on each of them daily so that I finish on time?
Call us old-fashioned but although we use Asana to allocate and manage our teams’ tasks, we still work with Excel in order to have a better view when organizing next weeks’ work.
The five columns that you see are the working days of the week, while for every employee, each day has 8 squares allocated to it, which represent the working hours of that day. Each contract has its own color. This allows us to see if we can take any new projects and helps us allocate the tasks to whomever is free at the moment.
Of course, you may not need something as complicated as this, as you’re working alone. You could you just use Asana or some other simpler software like Wunderlist.
4. Customer Service Skills
I wrote an article about how you can improve your customer service skills as a freelancer and why this is important. Basically, customer service could make the difference between you and your competition and although you may not see this as a primordial trait, I found that one of the reasons clients’ return to order more is the fact that they had a great customer experience.
When you’re an employee, there’s always someone to watch you and reprimand you in case you’re wasting time, didn’t do the work right or haven’t met the deadline. As a freelancer, it’s all about habits and keeping yourself motivated. I can tell you from my own experience that it is much easier to watch your favorite TV show, browse Facebook or find new methods to waste time than work on the job you’ve been given. But this, in return, leads to angry customers and negative reviews. Which you don’t want.
Here are a few tricks that I use in order to get myself going in the morning and keeping myself focused on the tasks:
- Wake up early
- Make a list of your daily tasks
- Exercise once in a while
- Keep distractions away
- Reward yourself
Flexibility is a trait that all freelancers must possess, no matter what. If you’re new at this you will soon find out that some months are loaded with work, while others not so much. When you’re facing a high volume of job offers you must accept them so that you make enough money to also cover the months that won’t go so well. This means working late hours and adapting your daily schedule to your work and not the other way around.
For me, flexibility in a freelancer’s life also means having the skills that I’m presenting here today. As I was saying in the start of the article, you will need to do the work of multiple departments and learn things you’ve never thought you’d be capable of doing. This means that you should be able to adapt to different circumstances.
7. Money Management
I talked about this one in the article called 15 Reasons Why Freelancing Isn’t the Right Choice for You. You need to be prudent with your spendings and make sure that you save some money for rainy days. Experts say that you should save three up to six times the average amount that you spend monthly. And I agree with them. The thing is that even if you’re having a lot of work this month, nothing guarantees that the next two will be the same. Plus, by having money put aside you will be more confident when negotiating the fee for future contracts. With no money saved you will just accept any contract that crosses your path as you will need finances for rent, food and other basic stuff. This means that you may be accepted low-paid jobs and this may hurt your motivation.
If you’re overspending, try keeping track of your daily expenses and see where the money go. Or use a money management app like Toshl. It’s a great way to become wiser with the money you spend.
You may not already possess all these skills but everything can be learned. I wasn’t good at managing time or money either when I started but I self-educated myself and managed to improve myself. I also sucked at persistence but, as I didn’t have anywhere to turn to, I was forced to insist until I started getting more and more jobs. Don’t fear to become a freelancer if don’t yet have some of these traits. You will acquire them in time.