This isn’t a guide how to be a successful freelancer. It is more about what qualities and personal traits you’d need to succeed as a freelancer.
Maybe this is the most important quality as without it, you’d never be able to handle you work and life as a freelancer.
Being a freelancer, you will have plenty of opportunities to do interesting and fun things, things you like. You’ll be tempted to do them every time an opportunity presents itself. And if you do – you’ll end up playing chess, walking the dog, drinking beer, and whatever else you like doing literally all day!
But then, while you’re having fun, your work will suffer. You’ll miss deadlines, you’ll upset your clients, you’ll lose clients and potentially – money. Having fun all the time is always at the cost of a job well done.
Setting a working schedule, including freelance working hours, is paramount for the organization of your daily activities – work or play.
Being a freelancer can be hard sometimes, especially in the beginning when your email inbox is full of rejection letters and not interview invitations. Not to mention your goal to actually land a job!
It is of crucial importance that you believe in yourself and your skills and abilities.
It is of crucial importance to not give up when the road is steep or has bumps. It is of crucial importance to be persistent and to not stop looking for clients. You will need just one or two to notice you and give you a chance to prove yourself. Then it gets easier.
Time management skills
This is not about working hours. It is about estimation – how much what type of task would take; how many tasks you can complete per day or for a certain period of time, and so on.
Planning your time wisely and following your plan are of crucial importance for your productivity. If you do it well, your client will be happy – and so you will be in the end of the work day or work week.
Check out an old post I’ve written about using Google calendar for better time management – it can get you started on the whole time management thing 😉
If you want to be treated as a freelance consultant and not like an employee, you need to prove your independency and earn the trust of your client. Being professional is the best policy. What does this mean?
To sum it up in a few words, professional freelancers let their work speak for them. They always do their job on time and with the agreed quality; they keep their promises and honor the preliminary arrangements with their client; they communicate well and in timely manner; they are honest; they are ethical… basically, everything that you, as a freelancer, would expect from your clients!
If you have been an employee for a long time in the “wrong company”, you may be used to being dependent. Meaning – you may find it normal to have someone constantly checking up on you, following your every step, checking your work, and telling you what to do.
The moment you become a freelancer, you have clients and not “keepers” who call themselves “the boss”.
You no longer will be told what to do. You need to be initiative. You need to ask questions. You need to suggest ways to improve the project and the overall outcome. All of this is highly valued by your client.
When you show initiative, you demonstrate your interest in completing the project on time and with high quality. And who knows – maybe this client will give you another project soon enough 😉
I have mentioned before my principles as a freelancer. I would suggest you think carefully what your principles are and always stand by them.
Nobody likes to be misled or lied to, especially if they pay for high quality work and professional consultation. Being a freelancer, it is your responsibility to do your job. If you compromise on your principles once, I promise you it won’t be the last time.
You will start working with clients who are twisting your arm for money, control, low quality work for less money, and more. There are plenty possible scenarios. The only way to keep your reputation in tact and to reduce (if not eliminate) the stress at your work place is to stand by your principles, always.
Determination and responsibility
As a freelancer, often you will have to make decisions and to take responsibility both for the decisions and for your own actions. You will have to own both your successes and your failures. You will benefit from the ability to assess the situation and make decisions on the spot, too.
If you don’t have these skills yet – don’t worry. Your work will teach you – that ability comes with experience. When you do have it, it will definitely be your advantage. Clients seek and appreciate determination and responsibility. Well, excluding bad clients, of course – they don’t.
Being flexible will help you in situation assessment and decision-making. It will also help you when you are looking for ways to diversify your portfolio and skills and looking for new opportunities and freelance trends. You need to know how to analyze information. You need to be ready to adapt; to learn new things if the workforce market demands it.
Your flexibility will allow you also to take rush jobs from clients who need a task to be completed urgently, with short and quick turnaround time. This type of last-minute tasks are not mandatory, of course – you can always decline if you are not available; or to ask for more money for it.
However, if you are flexible and do the job despite the short notice and quick turnaround time, this client will appreciate it and will remember it. This client will call you again because they will know they can rely on you in hard times, too.
In most cases, freelancers work exclusively online. This is especially true for non-American, non-British, non-Canadian and other leading countries freelancers. So most freelancers use exclusively email, chat, voice and video calls, and similar programs to communicate – online, through a computer, never in person. Therefore, the communication should be well thought and precise, at all times.
Reply to emails within 24 hours. If you can’t do it for some reason, send an email confirming you got the message and telling the other party when you will be able to give them what they asked for or answer their questions. Watch your language and tone.
If the client wants changes, always have a written confirmation of those changes.
One of the next posts would be about communication with clients as this is a very important part of the freelance daily work.