While everyone wants to be a freelance (all credit to the freedom which comes along with it), being one is not easy. A freelancer is like a mini entrepreneur who needs to do a lot of tasks other than just the assignment. A freelancer is his or her own admin, sales person, accountant and for that matter, everything. Hence, a freelancer must have a large gamut of skills apart from being an expert in his or her own field. These skills or personality traits are must-possess and crucial for a freelancer’s success.
Passion to Learn
They say, “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you”. That’s the power of learning. With such a rapid changing world, things are evolving at a rapid pace. If one does not keep pace with it and stays abreast, he or she might just lose out in the longer run. The rules of the Game are changing fast, if the players don’t increase their speed, the game shall be lost.
One needs to learn both soft and hard skills. Hard skills related to the profession you are in and soft skills related to nurturing your personality. A fine balance between the two is imperative for a long freelancing career.
In a regular job, your boss will give you work and you will finish it. As a freelancer, you are your own boss (Isn’t that the top reason you wanted to be one?). So you have to generate your own work. Finding leads and that too quality ones is going to be tough but not impossible. There are multiple ways by which you can generate quality leads and market yourself:
- Maintain a strong portfolio and keep enhancing it as per market dynamics.
- Use your friends and family for the initial leads. Later extend this to their networks, and their networks, and so on.
- Use Social Media to generate leads. Keep posting regular updates there and keep engaging with your potential clients by solving their pain points.
- Don’t send a template pitch. Make customised pitches for each client.
The negotiation process in the end with the client is the most vital step to close the deal. After a lot of efforts, you got the lead, the client and you had a synergy and now you have a foot in the door. You wouldn’t want to lose the deal.
A lot of people fumble up at this process, because they don’t have the right negotiation framework with them. Negotiation in itself is a vast subject and will need a separate blog post, but sharing some important points here.
Know what your objective is and you will know where to drive the negotiation. In some cases, you might want to charge high to earn a good amount of money. While in some cases, you might just want to work with the client considering it is a high profile client. In some cases, you might want to work because the assignment gives you a learning opportunity. Focus on your objective and don’t be rigid. Don’t try to optimize for more than 1 thing. If your primary objective is getting satisfied, close the deal.
For you to be a great lead generator or a negotiator, communication skills are the most important factor. First of all, don’t worry if you cannot write GRE Level English. Communication is not only about writing good English. It is making your listeners understand what you intend to make them understand. For this you need to understand what time suits your listener, what communication medium he or she is most comfortable with, what tone of language should you be using.
Communication can make or break deals. Right communication can do wonders and poor communication can be catastrophic. So don’t undermine this skill and keep working on it.
Time Management Skills
Freelancing is not the same as working in an office environment. No one is going to come and check whether you have done the task or not. Plus apart from doing your professional work, you have to do a lot of other tasks also. Generating more leads, Discussing with clients, Meeting deadlines, Generating invoices, following up for payments, etc. To do all this efficiently, time management becomes all the more important skill for freelancers than a regular job-going professional.
Making schedules, to-do lists, and dividing your time according to your productivity is the key to a great time management strategy.
In any case, these are not the only skills a freelancer must have, but these are the top 5 skills which a freelancer should have and constantly improve to have a thriving freelancing career.
Ashutosh works as a Product Manager at Refrens.com – India’s most powerful platform for freelancer’s finances and growth. He has helped some renowned technology companies with their product. An avid reader, here he shares his thoughts on the soft skills which are required by a freelancer to succeed.