Freelancers have their own niche, whether it’s writing, photography, web development, design or any other field. They are good at what they do, experts in their respective fields. But just because they can design an innovative app, doesn’t mean they can be successful as a freelancer. Regardless of skill set and background, every freelancer must refine a certain set of skills that can propel them to the next level of success. Soft skills are those necessary characteristics that augment the skills of the trade, enhancing interactions and job performance. Developing soft skills often proves to be useful beyond the freelance world as these skill sets often transcend the work-life boundaries.
Interpersonal Relationship Skills
One of the greatest strengths of any good business owner is their ability to connect on an interpersonal level. As a freelancer, you may feel that your work stands for itself and growing your interpersonal skills is unnecessary. But you need to be able to connect with your clients in order to maintain and more importantly enhance those relationships. Some of the easiest way to grow client and partner relationships is through effective communication. It’s imperative to respond to emails in timely manners, follow through on requests for information and be willing to ask pointed questions when more details are needed in order to complete a job. Communications should be specific and business-oriented. Be cautious including personal information into business communications.
Don’t rely on your memory to keep track of your assignments. Many freelancers are excellent multi-taskers, but the amount of knowledge needed to keep several balls juggling in the air, takes up precious brain real estate. Miss one deadline, one assignment, and you may lose a great client. There are host of tools that can help keep clients and assignments organized including editorial (or assignment) calendars, files with detailed information for each client and virtual office assistants.
Motivation and Self Discipline
Perhaps one of the most difficult skills to master as a freelancer (or any other job for that matter) is staying motivated. There is no boss breathing down your neck and it’s up to you to find the self-discipline to stay off of Pinterest in the middle of the day when work needs to be completed. (However, Pinterest can be a source of motivation. Finding motivational quotes is a great way to remind you of the success that comes with hard work.) Another great way to stay motivated is to develop a 5-year plan. Create specific, measurable goals which can be crossed off as they are completed. For instance, plan to land your first nationally recognized client within 2 years. Develop a step-by-step road map to getting there. As you move through the steps, recognize each mini-success. Creating a sense of accomplishment helps to maintain motivation. Sometimes we all need a pat on the back. In the freelance world, it may be up to you to do it. Being a freelancer provides you with opportunities to grow in your craft and as business owner. There multiple layers which need development in order to escalate you to the next level. Your soft skills are lifelong skills which can be carried from client to client, throughout your career. Developing them is just as crucial and keeping up to date on the latest trends in your respective industry.