Written by: Saskia Steyn
The freedom that comes with freelancing grows more and more attractive with the growth of the gig economy. There are certain traits and habits that successful freelancers develop to ensure their business keeps growing.
There are many challenges that freelancers face in the industry of course. Freelancers are the only group of working professionals that can be discriminated against on the basis of age, sex, race, and so on without any consequence. They do not have any unions or basic legal rights to protect them from discrimination. That is for some a great hurdle to be dealt with in order to become successful and well established.
If you are a well established freelancer, maybe the information will not be news to you. But being new to the game can lead to many unanswered questions and the overwhelming feeling of being lost.
Being a freelancer comes with new challenges and responsibilities that you might not be used to if you were previously an employee. Here are some traits that every freelancer should have to ensure success in a competitive field.
Traits of a successful freelancer
Working towards success as a freelancer is no easy task, but by practising these traits and improving them, increase your chances. No matter the field you are experienced in, whether it is writing or web development, these traits are good habits to have.
- Learning by doing
Regular employees receive training on a regular basis, why shouldn’t freelancers? Never make up excuses to learn new skills, if you don’t have the money or resources, the best way to learn is by doing.
Sometimes a client will want a bit more than you are capable of, so learn that new skill. It improves your skill set and allows you to offer that service to the next client. New skills can also be a motivator to attract new clients, and before you know it you are swimming in work.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to know everything before you start offering and promoting your services. Learning on the job is perfectly fine and many freelancers do the same thing.
Arguably one of the hardest aspects of being a freelancer is self-management. You are in charge of your own motivation, workload, and time.
There are many articles on the internet about the perfect routine for freelancers and how important it is to keep track of time spent on projects. This further emphasises the importance of self-management for freelancers.
Tracking time is vital as a freelancer, it shows how much resources you spend on each project, and how much time you waste during a day. Tracking your time can be an eye opener for any freelancer and it comes highly recommended in the sector.
- Managing finances
Bringing in your own money is a feeling that can only be described as success. However, with money comes managing your finances, setting up contracts, sending out invoices, and filing your taxes.
Thanks to online tools, these tasks don’t take up a lot of your time as a freelancer, but they need to be duly completed, each month. A successful freelancer is always on top of their finances, and by doing this you will ensure that revenue services don’t come knocking at your door.
Failure is an aspect of freelancing that you cannot avoid. However, the way that you deal with it is an important trait any freelancer will need for a successful career.
One of the key traits of being a freelancer is resilience. Resilience will offer happiness in your career, because you won’t be giving up on your dream. Wanting happiness in your career and the drive to accomplish your dreams needs resilience to help motivate you when facing new challenges
Remember, it is not about how many times you have failed, but about how many times you have tried again.
Just like traits are important, so are the steps that you need to take. Being successful does not just fall out of the air one day. It takes time, discipline, and hard work. Here are some steps you can take to greater your chances of success.
- Join a freelance platform
The best way to get your name out there and to start raking in clients is by making use of as many freelance platforms as you can. This allows you to create a profile where you can specify all of your skills and showcase some of your work.
It also allows clients to have a conversation with you online to ensure that you are able to meet their needs. Once you have built up connections on these platforms, you can move away and only deal with loyal clients.
Read about joining a freelance platform and the benefits it holds.
- Publicise your services
After you have joined these platforms, it is always best to not rely on them too much. Don’t sit back and wait for the platform to do the work for you. Create public profiles for yourself where clients can see the work you are doing.
With these public profiles, you can connect with friends and family and subsequently grow your following and network. Having a website that showcases your work will also encourage your network to make use of you.
- Specify your niche
A common mistake is to generalise skill sets. When creating a profile, indicate exactly which niche you specialise in. Instead of just having “writer” on your profile, replace it with “technical writer” or “website copywriter”.
When a client seeks out a freelancer, they will have a specific idea of what they need. Thus they will rather make use of the freelancer who fits their needs better.
This will also ensure that you attract the correct clients and not just anyone who needs to have a bio written by the end of the week.
- Be active and responsive
Creating a profile and not actively posting to it, won’t bring in any clients. Especially if you are new, clients will tend to look for someone more experienced. Therefore it is important to always post actively on social media and freelance platforms.
Keep your rates within your experience, especially if you are new. This will attract clients who have a smaller budget and earn you the opportunity to build your network and loyal client base.
Always answer any queries that a client might have about your services, and be honest and open about it. There is nothing worse than trying to recruit a freelancer only to find that they don’t reply to their messages.
- Work with the same client again
Working with the same client again can only happen if you delivered impeccable work the first time around. So, always go above and beyond and voice that you are open to work with them in the future.
Accepting new projects from the same client will be easier, because you already know how they work, what they like and don’t like.
It is also important to ensure that you go beyond their expectations, every time. This will motivate them to keep using your services and also recommend it amongst their contacts.
- Don’t hesitate to work with others
Being a freelancer means working by yourself, right? That is not always true. Sometimes a project is just too big for you to complete by yourself. So, if you know someone who can assist you with the project you have accepted, do it.
However, it is always important to inform your client that you will not be completing the project on your own. Usually a client won’t decline, as they will realise that they will receive the project quicker and above expectations.
Remember to never take credit for someone else’s work. Disclosing that you will be working with someone else shows true character and that you are committed to producing excellent and timely work.
Being a freelancer comes with many responsibilities and obstacles. The best you can do for yourself is to join a community where freelancers are accepted and supported. At the European Freelancers Week (#EFWeek) we strive to eradicate discrimination against freelancers and independent workers. Read our manifesto and sign the petition if you agree with our beliefs.