There has been a rise in the freelance economy in the recent times. And this rise has brought a pool of freelancers who want to work in a flexible manner and are held responsible for their own success. They are given freedom to work according to their will and this, in turn, demands them to have soft skills like other professionals. Many a times freelancers deal with professional clients who are in the habit of adopting work ethics. So in order to build a long-term relationship with them, freelancers need to focus on soft skills.
13 Essential Soft Skills For Freelancers
Soft skills are necessary for freelancers to help them to create a first impression and ensure smooth communication with the clients and fellow freelancers. You can communicate in an effective manner which would help you to win contracts over the time. It is not just enough to have the expertise and technical know-how when working as a freelancer. One also requires a set of soft skills in order to handle the flexible work environment. Some small changes in habits and attitudes along with the professional skills would make a big difference.
Below we have listed some soft skills which should be adopted by a freelancer in order to succeed:
#1 – Discipline
When you work as a freelancer, you are your own boss and also there is no annoying co-worker sitting beside you who keeps a check on your work. This may look as an advantage but consequently, it turns out to be a disadvantage. You may become very lenient towards your work when there is no one to keep a check. There are always many distractions on the web which may keep you from working regularly. But if one is disciplined towards their work, all these hindrances will not matter.
It is important that you develop a habit of being disciplined and hit your deadlines, otherwise, clients would lose interest in you and won’t award you a job again. Lack of discipline would make you ruin your career as you won’t be able to handle the workload.
#2 – Communication skills
Communication is an essential part of freelancing because if you want to get work, you would have to communicate with your client. Be it through emails, Skype, video calling, messaging or any other form, you cannot avoid communication in the field of freelancing.
Good communication helps you to interpret your statements and understand the work provided by the client. This way you would be able to deliver the work according to client’s need. Handling all of their requirements and making them happy would put you in their good books which eventually would get you more work. If there is lack of communication, you would not be able to understand your client’s requirements. Regular communication would help you build trust between you and your client so that you both can work towards a common goal.
#3 – Teamwork
Every freelance project consists of a lot of freelancers working together. Like for a particular project someone would be responsible for the content, another person would look after web designing and a different person for SEO. All people working on a project would have to interact with one another if they want to collaborate. One must inculcate teamwork skills and understand their role and other freelancer’s contribution to the project. This would also help the client to smoothly carry on the work without any hindrance. Many times you would have to work with people who speak a different language, live in a different country or have a different approach towards work. Teamwork skills would help you to work with them seamlessly.
#4 – Organizational skills
When you work as a freelancer, you lack a proper organization working with you. So you need to have organizational skills if you want to get going. As there is no HR department, IT department or accounts department, you have to take care of all the tasks. It is only possible if you possess some organizational skills. As a freelancer, you are responsible for your work as there would be no project manager or team leader who can remind you of your duties.
Being organized means planning all your tasks and setting priorities. Once your schedule is on track, your productivity would also increase, which would eventually reflect in your work. Moreover, you would take less time to complete a particular task. You can get organized by setting milestones so that you know which task should be completed at that time. Your client would also be happy to receive his work on time. While Google Calendar can be used to keep a track of your deadlines, Outlook can be used to arrange all your files and folders.
#5 – Stress management skill
It is vital for you to deal with stress if you are working as a freelancer. While freelancing, you are not accompanied by any co-workers, so you have to cope up with all the workload and stress. Without stress management skills, you will break down under work pressure and deadlines. Stress is a huge problem for freelancers as there is a tough competition in the industry. There is a pool of freelancers available who would be ready to do a task at a lower price. Even when you are an expert in your field, you would be losing out on clients as they are getting work done at a lower price.
With stress management, you would be able to keep competing and getting the attention of new clients. Successful freelancers never fuss over small things and keep themselves occupied with work. They deal with all the distractions and maintain a balance between work and life. Stress is one such thing which can ruin your whole freelancing career. Always remember that there is also life outside freelancing which may be getting affected because of it.
#6 – Problem-solving skills
It is essential for a freelancer to be a good problem solver as problems occur unexpectedly and they must solve them in order to continue working effectively. Problem-solving skills means a person should be able to identify a problem, analyze it and then come up with a solution. As a freelancer, you would have to face many challenges like clients not paying on time, not getting time to work, not able to complete the work before deadline, working for very less amount, not getting good reviews etc. but you will have to recognize these problems and search for a solution to them.
The better you deal with your problems, the better freelancer you would become. Problem-solving also involves flexibility, many of your challenges would disappear if you are flexible with your working manner. No two clients are same, and every project would come with their own challenges. So you should be flexible enough to work in every kind of environment along with solving problems.
#7 – Presentation skill
Presentation technique not only applies to you but your work as well. You should present yourself in a professional manner and your work in an arranged way. There are many tools like projectors, powerpoint presentations, and charts through which you can present your work in a better way. In this era of competition, you need to stand out as sometimes even the best of the work is not appreciated due to a shabby presentation. Well-arranged work would also make it easier for your client to get an understanding of your task.
#8 – Time management
Whether you work at a small scale or a large scale, time management is a must. Time is valuable and you should know how to manage it properly. Before committing to your client, you should make time estimations according to the workload. Always keep some extra time in hand so you can complete your tasks before allotted deadline. Be picky about taking projects and manage your work according to time limitations. Overstuffing yourself with work would not only create a mess but would also prevent you from completing your work on time. Time management helps you to plan so there is no chaos in the end.
#9 – Networking skills
Being a freelancer, one should be good at networking, online or offline. As freelancers do not work on a monthly salary basis, they have to search for work themselves. Networking helps them to meet new people who by any chance may be looking for a freelancer to get work done. Through networking, you can easily find your potential clients who are related to your fields. Talking to new people and interacting with them online would be beneficial in the long run. Moreover, a freelancer should also be active on social networking sites to know about any freelancing requirement.
#10 – Research and development skills
As a freelancer does not have any research and development team, they have to do all of this work by themselves. This involves keeping themselves updated with the recent trends in freelancing market related to their fields. They also have to keep up with the latest technologies so that they can cope up with the cut-throat competition. Freelancers must also keep searching for new clients or else they may have to sit idle once their current project completes.
#11 – Public relationship skills
A freelancer does not have any PR team working for him. So he has to promote his freelancing business. He should be able to market his expertise and experience in the field so the potential clients can notice his work. It is crucial for a freelancer to inculcate public relation skills because good relations with clients would not only get them repeated orders but would also improve their goodwill in the market.
#12 – Professionalism
Although you are working as a freelancer, you must never forget professionalism while working with clients. One must always use professional language while communicating with their clients. Even while discussing work, professionalism should be maintained. You should also reply to your clients on time because making them wait is nothing but unprofessionalism. If you and your client disagree on anything, it should be solved by coming to a conclusion which lies in the interest of both the sides.
#13 – Positive attitude
Having a positive outlook is very important when you work as a freelancer. One should be optimistic about their work when they start a project. A positive attitude would help you to maintain a healthy relationship with your client as you would be satisfied with the pay and would also work with full zeal. If you are not positive about your work then you won’t be able to do full justice to it.
To Wrap It Up
Your freelancing career is a long journey along with a lot of adventures. And to survive in this journey, you must possess the above soft skills. It is not enough to be an expert in your field; you should also look at the other essential things along with it. The soft skills are the first thing that a client would notice about you, even before you start working on the project. So making a good impression, in the beginning, would keep the things smooth until the end. Freelancer is nothing but a one-man army because he himself has to inculcate the qualities of all the departments which a big company has. Soft skills help you to present the best version of yourself in front of the clients. Forgetting the importance of soft skills would not get you freelancing work anymore. Even if you think that you possess all the above skills, then also there is a space for some improvement. Keep working on the above mentioned soft skills and you will find yourself in a better place than before.