10 skills which no freelancer can do without


We often talk about how many things are needed to be successful as a freelancer, but we rarely say which exactly, mainly because they really are a lot. Everybody who has tried out being a freelancer for at least a year or two, knows just how vast the required skillset can be. For those of you thinking about going into freelancing and wonder what they could do to increase their chances of success, here are the 10 skills you are absolutely going to need:

For those of you thinking about going into freelancing and wonder what they could do to increase their chances of success, here are 10 skills you are absolutely going to need.

Hard vs Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

When we talk about the skills a person needs for a particular job, you will often come across the phrases ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’.

So what exactly is the different between the two? 

Hard Skills: teachable, measurable abilities that are crucial for a particular job. These skills can be clearly defined and are often learned rather than natural.

Examples of hard skills:

  • Expertise in a coding language for a programmer
  • Ability to build a WordPress website for a web developer
  • Expertise using Sketch for a web designer
  • Knowledge of WordPress and Yoast Plugin for a writer

Soft Skills: Soft skills, on the other hand, are more so personality traits that can aid a person in a particular job. While these are not absolutely crucial for a job, they are extremely helpful and can make all the difference between success and failure.

Examples of soft skills:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Mood
  • Critical thinking 

Freelancers will need different hard skills depending on what field in which you specialise. Of course, a freelance writer is going to need vastly different hard skills than a freelance programmer.

When it comes to soft skills, however, there are particular character traits that will serve all freelancers well. It’s these skills that we’ve focused on below:

Must-Have Freelancer Soft Skills

1) Confidence

All freelancers need to have confidence in what you can do and your abilities. If you don’t believe in yourself, potential clients won’t either. Confidence is not a given and can definitely be learned by doing your job to the best of your abilities and being able to realize what you have achieved so far.

2) Selling your ideas

Convincing others that they need your services is essential when you’re your own boss and completely responsible for your income every month.

Furthermore, you need to be able to do that in a short amount of time, whether that’s via writing, through your website, or face to face. Potential clients will go through a number of freelancers and you need the ability to make an impact quickly in order to keep their attention on you and your services. 

3) Time Management

Being able to create schedules and, more importantly, keep them, will decide how well your business does. Freelancing is different from working in an office environment – nobody will check in on you leading to much less external pressure. You’ll have to find out what works for keeping your motivation levels high and keep your schedule organised with minimal procrastination. 

4) Long and short-term planning

Whether it is about keeping a deadline or knowing where your business will be headed in a couple of years, planning is often what makes the difference between good and great freelancers. 

Freelancers not only need to manage their own time and workload on a weekly basis, but you should also be able to picture a long-term goal for the direction you want your business to go in. 

5) Passion to learn

This fifth tip cannot be stressed enough – virtually every freelancing field is extremely dynamic. The rules of the game can change in a matter of months. It is your responsibility to constantly better yourself and learn new relevant skills that will keep your services current and appealing to new clients.

6) Efficient communication

You’re going to need to communicate a lot, mostly with clients. And it has to be done efficiently. You should be able to convey in a short and precise manner what exactly you can offer and under which conditions. On the other hand, you have to understand why the other side communicates in a certain way. This entails reading between the lines, spotting red flags and understanding client expectations.

7) Handling stress

Stress and burnout are easy to wave off if you’re not currently in a comparable situation, but they can be a real challenge. Keeping a clear head and not overworking yourself will be one of the deciding factors in whether your business stays afloat after the first several months.

8) Persistency

Not giving up and being patient is also a must – whether you’re hunting for the next freelance project, waiting for clients to respond, trying to expand your network or working on a particularly cumbersome task, you have to learn to keep at it until you achieve your goal.


Must-Have Freelancer Hard Skills

While all freelancers will have a different set of hard skills depending on what you do, there are a few that all freelancers need to acquire in order to successfully run your own business. These are: 

9) Accounting and finances

As a freelancer, you are your own finance department. Determining where you should invest to improve your business, keeping up with taxes, growing your business and having a personal life all at the same time can be hard. 

So before starting, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the financial framework that goes hand in hand with your career choice.

10) Marketing

Do the words LinkedIn, SEO or networking mean anything to you? If not, you’re probably not ready to start marketing a freelancing business of your own. Getting exposure is one of the most difficult things in the beginning, so you should know how to give yourself every bit of extra boost you can.




Soft Skills Training: How to Improve as a Freelancer

If you’ve read that list of soft skills and feel like you’re missing some character traits that could be helpful, don’t despair! It is possible to learn and improve soft skills, even if they are not necessarily measurable.

You’ve already done the most essential step: you’ve recognised what soft skills you need to improve on. Having that awareness is essential if you are going to improve on something that may not come naturally to you, whether that’s poor timekeeping or a lack of confidence.

Next, your soft skill training should take the form of both research, and practice. Read books on how to become a more confident person. Find a mentor who is a natural-born salesman and try to emulate their sales technique. Read up on the Pomodoro technique and time blocking.

Practicing these soft skills in your freelance business every day is the best way of turning them into a habit, and eventually, into a natural part of your personality. It may take time - but it is definitely possible to change and improve your soft skills.


How to correctly present your skills in your freelance profile

Freelancermap include an entire ‘skills’ section where you can list what you are good at, your knowledge and experience.

You should use this space to list both your hard skills and your soft skills.

Note, however, that simply listing that you are confident and a good communicator is not going to make a big impact.

Better is to show that you have these soft skills without explicitly listing them. You can do this by being assertive in your pitches, responding in a timely manner, and remaining polite and professional when you communicate with potential clients. This will make a far bigger impact than simply telling them that you are great at communication.

We recommend to start with the years of experience that you have and to list your hard skills, though.

Here's an example of how you could sucessfully present your skills:

If you still don't have your freelance profile on freelancermap, feel free to create your free account to connect with companies and clients worldwide.

Freelancing can be tough and it’s definitely not for everyone. But nobody has ever learned how to swim without touching water! Mistakes are a natural and important part of the learning process.

Go out there, give it your best and see whether you have what it takes to be successful in freelancing.

Good luck! We’re happy to be by your side in this exciting journey.

Pic: © lassedesignen - shutterstock_193036472

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