So you're thinking of becoming a freelancer? That’s great! Freelancing is an awesome way for you to start your own business and do something you love. If you are just starting out, you might have some doubts about whether you have what it takes to succeed. It’s not uncommon for freelancers to start, struggle and then phone it in when they are not making as much money as they would like. I don’t want to see that happen to you. There are a handful of essential skills that if practiced, can turn anyone into a successful freelancer. These are the top three skills you need to become a successful freelancer.
⏰ Time Management Skills
This one might seem obvious. You might think you are good with time if you show up to work ten minutes before 9am or you are good at planning out your day. TIme management for a freelancer is a constant battle of priorities. If you are working from home, there is the extra layer of family life and daily errands that you need to navigate. The study of time management draws in everyone from the first year university student to the CEO of a fortune 500 company. The principles are largely the same but there are many ways to approach how you spend your time.
For some people, time management is about working in short bursts throughout the day. They might work for 30 minutes on and then take an hour off before getting back in the ring for another 30 minutes. If this works for you, that’s great! Others like to put in five hours before even getting up to go to the bathroom. Again, if that is your preferred method of working, roll with it. There is no one approach that fits everyone. You need to know what works for you. The most important part is to have a system. Don’t think that you can wing it and make it work. You need to study and practice time management because it is essential. If you can’t figure out time management while making $300 a week as a freelancer, you will absolutely struggle when you are earning $2,000 a week.
🗣 Communication Skills
There are freelancers that prefer to work alone simply because they don’t enjoy working with people. This makes sense. Freelancing allows you to work on your own terms in as much solitude as you like. The fatal mistake here is that you are assuming that you won’t be communicating with anyone outside your bubble. The opposite is true. You will need to be reaching out to people constantly and getting on calls almost daily. If that statement hits you with a wave of anxiety, don’t fret. Communication is a skill that can be refined and perfected. It won’t happen overnight and it can get uncomfortable but it is essential to your success as a freelancer.
Communication is more than just sales skills. Communication is about understanding your clients needs and their motivations for contacting you. Having this deeper understanding allows you to empathise for their situation and come up with solutions. Communication is also incredibly important when things go wrong. Freelancer can be messy. Deadlines can be missed, mistakes can happen and misunderstandings are not rare. Having the ability to navigate these disputes can leave you on a much better standing with your client. Learning about influence, persuasion and negotiation can have an insanely positive affect on your freelance business.
📑 Organisational Skills
Freelancing can be attracted to these who can’t stand corporate environments. The freedom, flexibility and autonomy can feel liberating once you have left the office environment. With that being said, going from one extreme to the other can cause chaos. To be a successful freelancer you still need to hang onto some of those organisational skills that keep companies operating. You are responsible for setting your own schedule. This means you need to have a set schedule of when you will be working. Why is this important? There are several reasons. The first is that when you are booking clients in for calls, you need to make it clear when you are available. This benefits both you and your client. For example, you wouldn’t want your client calling you when you just sat down in bed. Similarly, you want to make sure you are ready and looking your best before you jump on the video call so it is good to have a call scheduled into your calendar.
Organisational skills go beyond just scheduling out your day. You will need to stay on top of your client pipeline. When are you prospecting for leads? How are you keeping up your invoices and accounts? Do you have a goal in terms of what you want to be earning 12 months from now? Taking business courses can help you refine your organisational skills if they don’t come naturally to you. Once you get these habits ingrained you can enjoy the flexibility but for now that are still essential for getting started.
🤔 Where do I even begin?
If you find that you read through these skills and more feelings of doubt and dread are popping up, you are not alone. We have prepared a freelancer foundation worksheet to help you go over the basics. Everything you need to get started is outline and all you need to do is fill out the questions to get your business on the right track. It’s free for now so download your copy and let us know how you go!