5 Most Valuable Skills to Succeed as a Freelancer

According to a recent study from UpWork, the freelance industry increased by 36% since 2020. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the desire to work for yourself, by your own schedule from anywhere in the world is higher than ever. If you’re thinking of making the leap, here are 5 valuable skills you will need to succeed as a freelancer.

1. Time management

Time Management is an absolute must when you have no task-giving or deadline-setting boss. This is arguably one of the most valuable skills to succeed as a freelancer. You need to estimate the time it will take to complete each project accurately – and stick to it unless you want to lose a customer and get a bad review.

To have good time management, you should know your working speed. How many words or lines do you write per hour? How long does it take you to draw one logo?

Take at least three measurements, preferably at different times of the day and on tasks of varying complexity. Write the results down, then compute the average.

That’s your speed. Use it when estimating completion times. Add 20% on top as a reserve for emergencies.

The next ‘must’ of good time management is not to plan too tight.

Allow yourself at least a few days between completing one big project and starting on another. This way your whole schedule will not collapse if the first project gets disrupted.

2. Efficiency

This one is more about money. You may have excellent time management and complete hordes of gigs on time, but still fall short of the sums you were going to earn.

That happens when you sell your work too low and/or pick a wrong kind of projects.

Look at how much other freelancers charge for the same work you do. Then look at their portfolios. Can you say these guys are twice as good as you? No? Then why should you come at half their price?

Raise your rates every few years to match your growing value as a professional.

When choosing new projects, prioritise your well-being above all. Carefully weigh all you get against all you spend, including the pain of dealing with a troublesome client or taking time away from family.

Do not let anyone push you into what does not feel right. That’s your life. No one knows it better than you.

Avoid getting emotionally over-attached to any projects or customers. Keep it first and foremost business. Remember you are here to make money – and it is the money that ultimately counts.

3. Marketing

To land well-paying gigs, you need to be visible. And so, the third most valuable skill to have as a freelancer, is Marketing. As a starter, post the links to your freelancer profile to all your social media pages.

Offer your services to friends and acquaintances who may take interest. Do the work for them at half the price on the condition they post a five-star review. You need as many of these as you can get to be spotted by more customers.

As a full-time freelancer, be sure to create a personal website showcasing your portfolio and services.

Look for blogs and social media communities dedicated to your professional area (or to freelancing in general) and negotiate a guest post.

The next step is writing for ‘real’ media – newspapers, magazines and journals.

At the advanced stage of your career, publishing a book where you share expert insights into your field is a power move to get ahead of competition.

You can make it a free ebook – this way more people will get to know about you and possibly spread the mouth.

4. Precision

That refers to the correct use of spoken and written English, which is extremely challenging when English is not your native language.

However, it is not uncommon even for native speakers to make grammar mistakes and confuse similar words like ‘effect’ and ‘affect’, or ‘rise’ and ‘raise’.

Take care to speak and write correctly. Flawless language builds trust in customers, while spelling and grammar errors detract from it.

If your writing is plagued with mistakes, start reading more books in English, preferably those coming from large publishers (those are most carefully proofread). That’s the best way to get used to the correct usage of words and structures.

To practice precise word choice in speech, take language sessions via Skype with native speakers, watch movies and TV series in English and search for user-friendly grammar guides online.

5. Thinking Outside of the Box

The final in the top 5 skills to succeed as a freelancer in our list, is creative thinking. Take time to consider how you can enhance the value you provide to customers. That’s a chance to stand out and get them ordering from you again and again.

There is no fool-proof plan for improving this skill – it’s actually out of the box! Just don’t be shy to try new things and unconventional ways of solving problems. By the customer response, you will see what works.

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