Freelance work is not for everyone, or at least it takes some skill development to get to a point where success is possible. The good news is that dedication to acquiring or improving particular skills gives a lot of professionals a fair shot at a long-term career in freelance work.
The following is a look at some of the most important skills that you must hone over time to increase your efficiency and income as a freelancer.
Maintaining time structure and discipline is one of the greatest challenges freelancers face. Traditional employment has a defined income that correlates with a structured and predictable work schedule. Freelance work does not come with a packaged structure. Instead, you must create your own by utilizing time-management skills. A disciplined daily work schedule, calendar and to-do list are some of the simplest and most effective tools for time management.
Prioritizing the projects that you enjoy and that provide the most income contributes to effective time management. In some cases, say “No” to work that you don’t like or that doesn’t lead to efficient income.
It is tempting to operate with a laissez-faire approach to organization when you work alone. Don’t fall into this trap. Organizational skills closely align with your ability to manage time effectively. For many freelancers, electronic organization is as critical or even more so than organization of physical documents. Create an electronic filing system to designate and recall work documents and communication easily. Use programs like Outlook, Google Docs, Google Drive and others to help.
As a freelancer, you are responsible for generating and maintaining business from clients. Thus, marketing skills are vital to building and growing your operation. HubSpot Academy offers a lot of free, valuable online training courses and certifications to help you grow your digital marketing skills. Leverage your website, blog, email, social media and other digital platforms to attract and retain clients.
You also have to manage the finances of your freelance operation. Use Quicken or another simple personal account tool to track your revenue and expenses. Check out our recent Freelancer’s Guide to Cash Flow Management for more information on the importance of managing inflows and outflows of cash in a freelance business.
Most freelancers communicate with clients primarily through electronic channels like email. Communication is important as you look to earn business and keep it. Early on, you may have to create project proposals to win business. When working on projects, clients like to know how things are progressing. Beyond email, Google Docs and other platforms allow you to share task management updates with clients. Transparency is also beneficial to build and maintain trust in your relationship with customers.
These skills are invaluable to freelancers that are serious about earning a strong, stable income working independently. Even if you have some ability in these areas, the more you can refine these talents, the greater your income-earning potential!