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The Most Important Soft Skills Freelancers Need to Develop

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You’re an expert in your respective field and you’re confident that a stellar freelance career lies ahead of you. I know the feeling because I’ve been there. Freelancing gives you a lot of freedom and hope in the very beginning. While this is an excellent opportunity for establishing your reputation and earning an income, there are several additional essentials to keep in mind.

Freelancers, like all other professionals, have to focus on soft skills. The importance of soft skills is huge, regardless of the field that you’ve chosen. They play an important role in finding new clients and building long-lasting relationships with those.

In my experience, I’ve found out that certain soft skills happen to be much more important for freelancers than others. Here’s a list of the top ones, as well as the reasons why they can help for the establishment of a successful career.

Organizational Skills

Do I really need to go into detail about this one? As a freelancer, you’re the only person responsible for keeping yourself organized and getting the job done. If you don’t have the discipline, chances are that you’ll quickly ruin your career due to an inability to handle the work load.

Think of it this way – you are a freelance developer with the task to create a unique website. Without the proper organization, your task will encounter many barriers on the way, some of which can be detrimental to the entire project.

Organizational skills are much more important for freelancers than for other professionals who have a supervisor or who work in a team. There will be no assistant to schedule meetings, no team leader and no project manager. You will be responsible for all of these tasks.

Being organized is all about coming up with a work routine that’s sustainable. Learning how to prioritize tasks is another key to a well-organized work day. And finally, planning some time for editing and final touches is a must, since there won’t be anyone double checking your work once you are done.

You may need some time to find the right work flow in the very beginning. Experiment with different set ups until you identify the one that will deliver the best results in your circumstances.

Communication Skills

This is another essential. Whether you’re a provider from essay service or a professional freelance developer, you will have to communicate with clients. Every client you will be working for is different and therefore, they require different things. Being able to handle all the requirements and make every client happy can only be a product of highly developed communication skills.

Many clients’ complaints arise due to the fact that aspects of the collaboration have not been communicated clearly in advance. You simply can’t assume that your clients know what they’re looking for or understand what working together will entail. Just about everything has to be discussed in advance for the purpose of managing expectations.

Delays in communication are as unacceptable as poor communication. This is where organizational and communication skills start working together.

If you want to work outside of a corporate establishment, you have to master the art of talking to others. Just about every aspect of your career will depend on this skill – your ability to acquire new clients, your ability to negotiate the right terms and conditions, the execution of the project, the follow-up and the chance to form a long-lasting partnership.

Even if you’re an introvert at heart, you can still learn how to communicate concisely, effectively and politely. Getting in touch with your client every now and then to offer an update doesn’t take that much and it can help you accomplish a lot.

Problem-solving Skills

This is a label that I don’t particularly like due to the fact that it happens to be vague and many people don’t really know what it entails. Problem-solving skills is also a phrase that happens to be so overused in resumes that it has turned into the absolute professional cliché.

Problem-solving, however, revolves around a set of skills that prove to be invaluable for freelancers.

The term is used in reference to a person’s ability to identify a problem, understand its scope and come up with a viable solution. It entails a sense of self-awareness and a lot of professional skill for the purpose of figuring out when a major issue has occurred.

In essence, problem solving brings a number of skills together. It involves analytical thinking. It also builds upon a person’s creativity, project management abilities and conflict resolution skills.

Problem-solving usually also necessitates a lot of flexibility. As a freelancer, you will face a range of highly specific challenges with every single client that you work with. There will be no universal formula for addressing such problems. Rather, you’ll have to be quick on your feet for the purpose of turning the situation around.

Leadership

Why does a freelancer need leadership skills? You may ask. After all, freelancers usually work on their own instead of managing teams. You’ll be correct to an extent.

A leader is usually confident and capable of demanding attention. Leaders don’t give up in the face of a challenge, rather, they feel stimulated by it and ready to push forward.

While being a freelancer will give you a lot of freedom, you will also hold 100 percent of the responsibility for your successes and your failures. You don’t have to be a natural-born leader in order to succeed. Still, you will need to be in charge for long-term sustainability of your career.

Leaders maintain a focus on self-improvement – a key to being a competitive freelancer.

Stress Management

This is a soft skill that doesn’t get spoken about very often. Once you enter the arena of competing against other freelancers for the attention of clients, you will understand just how important effective stress management is.

When asked about it, many freelancers point out stress as a major problem. Self-employment is completely different from working for somebody else. It requires a change in mindset, a change in work habits and everyday routines. Making the adjustment could be a serious challenge in the very beginning.

This is why successful freelancers have to be capable of dealing with stress in an effective, productive manner. A conscious effort will be required to prevent burnout and feeling overwhelmed by everything that freelancing entails.

Being organized is a part of effective stress management. Dealing with distractions, not fussing over the small things, scheduling and taking enough time off will all play a role in the maintenance of work-life balance.

If you are a freelance developer who’s given a task to handle, you need to organize your time in a way that won’t stress the client. Delays and unexpected problems happen with almost every project, but being able to anticipate such issues and leave some space to fix them is a must when it comes to stress management skills.

Teamwork

This one may come as a surprise but freelancers and people who work on their own need teamwork skills. Very often, they will be a part of a bigger whole, regardless of the fact that they work on their own.

Imagine the following scenario – a freelance developer is hired by a client to work on a website page. Depending on the situation, the developer may have to interact with a web designer, a copywriter and a project manager representing the client.

Being a freelancer involves working with people, even if these people are located on another continent. If you can’t be an effective communicator and a contributing part of the team, chances are that you will not be hired by the client again.

Building your freelance career is a journey and an adventure. While being an expert in the respective field is the most important quality you possess, there are several other essentials you’ll also have to focus on. Don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills. These are the first ones you’ll demonstrate when attempting to impress a client. Their absence could make it much more difficult to land a gig and be 100 percent satisfied with the income generation method that you’ve chosen. 

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