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4 Skills of a Successful Freelancer

Freelancing takes dedication and perseverance. But that's not all it takes to be successful. Take your freelance success to the next level with knowing when to say no, using criticism, taking new opportunities, and promoting yourself.
A woman stands on a ladder in the sky looking in the distance.

Freelancing isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain set of skills not just to be a freelancer, but to become a successful freelancer. Whether you’ve dabbled in freelancing or you’re no longer traditionally employed, four skills are essential for any full-time freelancer. But don’t be dissuaded just yet. The great thing about skills is that you can always develop them if you don’t currently have them. And then you can strengthen them further down the freelancing road. If you don’t already have these skills, pick one or several and start working on them. Before you know it, you’ll have what it takes to become a successful freelancer.

Know When to Say No

Saying yes to every project or proposal that comes your way will undoubtedly give you a lot of business. However, many projects will be low-paying or non-paying. Saying yes to everything can reduce your profit and overburden your time which you could be using to make a name for yourself and landing large clients. Your time is valuable. Make the most of it by learning how and when to say no. But when you do say no, do so professionally. You don’t want to burn any bridges on your way to success. After all, you never know if you’ll have to cross that bridge later in your career path.

Apply Criticism

Whether the criticism or feedback you receive is constructive or vindictive, a successful freelancer will take those comments into consideration. If a client complains about your turnaround time, think of ways you can quicken those times for future clients. Or maybe you could make your turnaround time perfectly clear in the initial contract. Have you received a project back and the client wanted a few changes made? Look at those comments and use them to fuel your improvement. It can be easy to take complaints, comments, or criticism personally, but this will only poison your relationship with a client and hurt your professional confidence. Don’t let it. Use it to be a better freelancer.

Recognize New Opportunities

As a freelancer, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. You find the same types of clients and you do the same type of work. But a successful freelancer will find new niches, new markets, and new opportunities. Challenge yourself. If an opportunity scares you a little, it means you have something new to learn. Seek out new opportunities to expand your outreach and strengthen your brand.

Learn to Promote Yourself

Depending on your personality type, it might be difficult or even embarrassing for you to talk about yourself to others, especially in a professional setting. Even though your skills and qualifications are listed on your resume or in your portfolio, you will still need to send emails and cover letters to promote yourself. You’ll need to promote yourself on your website and in your marketing materials. The trick is to find the right balance. Shoot for confidence, but avoid conceit. You want to sound confident in your abilities, but you also want to show the client that you are open to suggestions and requests.

While these may start out as behaviors, if you keep with them they will turn into skills. In a world of economic and professional insecurity, freelancing can be a great side job option or it can completely replace your full-time, traditional job. With these four skills, you’ll land gigs, find new clients, and strengthen your freelance reputation.

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