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The road to success for freelancers is paved with hard work and determination. But it takes a lot more than these to really achieve your dreams.
Sometimes, you need concrete skills to work on.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 7 of the most essential freelance skills to learn if you are serious about boosting your success. And, for each one, we’ll offer a quick idea on how to start developing this skill.
Since you are your own boss, there is no one else to line up professional development opportunities for you. And that’s a good thing. If you wanted someone else to tell you what to do all day, you would get a desk job.
Likewise, your clients are going to be incredibly annoyed if they have to teach you basic skills. Imagine a copywriter, for example, who isn’t familiar with Google docs. If this is a client’s preferred means of managing files, it’s on the writer to develop those skills.
For these reasons, self-learning is one skill that you are going to want to develop. You should stay abreast on the latest strategies and developments in your field. But that’s not all. You also need to be comfortable learning peripheral skills as well.
Get comfortable teaching yourself new things by reading tutorials, watching videos, or scouring discussion forums. A great way to practice self-learning is to commit to learning a new skill that is way out of your comfort zone.
If you know zip about cars, for example, you could learn how to change your oil (and then actually do it!). Once you can learn something uncomfortable and difficult, you can probably learn anything you’ll need to for clients.
Marketing is going to be a major means of acquiring new clients, especially before you have developed much of a name for yourself. Even when you do have a steady supply of referrals coming in, marketing is a freelance skill to learn to apply every day so that your business can snowball from a side gig to a full time income.
Learning marketing for freelancers isn’t always easy, because it often involves stepping out of your comfort zone. But anything worth learning takes work. One easy way to get started is to commit to doing some form of promotion every single day.
This can be as simple as answering one question in an industry related online group. Over time, you will develop a name for yourself as a knowledgeable expert, and clients will begin to find you.
Hand in hand with marketing, copywriting is one of the most important freelance skills to learn because it can be the difference between lots of clients and none. Whether you’re selling yourself on a freelance marketplace like Legiit, email outreach, your own website, or elsewhere–odds are good that most sales will be made based on your ability to communicate through writing.
For starters, check out our guide on How to Write a Service Description. This will cover some of the most important concepts involved in selling yourself through the written word. If you aren’t a strong writer, though, it’s a skill that is learned just like any other skill: through repeated practice over time. A great way to do this is to start a blog in your niche and commit to writing on it weekly.
Not only will you slowly become a better writer, you’ll also be creating a valuable resource that will likely land you sales. Your blog becomes a sort of digital business card that builds trust with potential clients by showing them that you know your stuff.
Communication is key to both getting and keeping clients. Something as simple as sending a message to confirm you received the order can be the difference between a repeat client and a one night stand. Effective client communication doesn’t have to be difficult. In the end, it’s just about treating people the way you want to be treated.
A simple way to work on this skill is to remember these three F’s of communication: fast, friendly, and forthright. Don’t leave clients waiting days for a response. Always treat them like people, not paychecks. And be honest rather than salesy (i.e., you’re not a used car salesman).
Never forget that you’re running a business. If financial planning is important for a household, it’s even more crucial for a business. You can’t grow, for example, if you aren’t profitable. And you will never know how profitable you are without effective financial planning.
We put out a great post on Financial Planning For Freelancers that is worth a in-depth look if you are serious about this skill. One really easy way to start is simply to schedule a monthly meeting with yourself for an hour or so.
The only goal is to tally your revenue, expenses, and profits for the previous month and then set goals for the next month. This will at least put you in the mind set of business finance and likely lead to more active steps on your part down the road.
As business grows, you’re going to have a lot to do. Client follow-up, order fulfillment, business strategizing, and more. Key among freelance to skills to learn, then, is finding ways to maintain productivity despite a heavy workload. After all, you won’t be able to grow your business if you are buried in it.
While there is no silver bullet, you should start by trying one of these two things: (1) Set a daily work schedule–and stick to it! (2) Make a to-do list at the beginning of every work day.
And while we’re on the subject, don’t confuse multitasking in the workplace with productivity. The goal is task management, NOT task distraction.
Finally, there comes a point in every freelancer’s life when they realize that they can’t do it all. Eventually, if you want to scale, it’s time to start delegating. Even if you want to maintain a strong hand in your day to day operations, you can find ways to free up a lot of time just by outsourcing mindless tasks.
One of the primary reasons we have trouble delegating is because we don’t want to relinquish control. So a logical way to ease into the idea of giving someone else control of an important piece of your business is to relinquish control in less critical areas of life.
Every day, take an active effort to trust someone else to do something for you that you usually do yourself. Maybe you only like your coffee when you prep it “just right”. Tomorrow morning, let your significant other or roommate do it for you and see that it’s not the end of the world. Then wake up, get back to growing your business, and keep it Legiit.