7 Skills Every Freelancer Needs In 2021
The demand for freelancers is increasing, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era, with many businesses hoping to find high-quality, flexible professionals whilst cutting down on costs.
What’s more, having embraced the work from home lifestyle, an increasing number of professionals are choosing to go it alone and start their own freelance business.
But what does it take to be a successful freelancer in 2021?
Freelancers aren't just skilled in their craft, but they also have a variety of entrepreneurial, business and soft skills that help them to do their job effectively.
If you're thinking about starting your own business this year but you're not sure you’ve got what it takes, don’t give up just yet. Here is a list of 7 skills every freelancer needs to succeed.
1. Communication skills
Communication is so important in any job but especially in a freelance role. Whether it’s dealing with customers, clients, vendors or anyone else for that matter, freelancers must be able to communicate effectively.
And there are several aspects to this including speaking, listening and writing. This is because effective communication doesn't just mean being able to talk to someone face to face. Rather, freelancers must be able to:
- Listen carefully to briefs and instructions whether these are given over the phone, via video chat or in-person. They must be able to quickly understand what customer or client wants and eliminate any room for mistakes
- Craft coherent emails as this is a huge part of communicating in the business world. These emails might be used to share briefs, map out plans, discuss products or any number of other things. As such, it’s vital that these are well-written, easy to understand and don’t leave room for misinterpretation
- Speak clearly and concisely on the phone or take part in video calls. This is more important now than ever with many people working remotely and rarely (if ever) seeing their clients in person
So, as you can see, perfecting this range of core communication skills is vital for any freelancer to go about their role on a daily basis.
2. Time management
Time management not only means making good use of your time and working towards maximum productivity but also ensuring you stick to deadlines. It can also mean showing up between certain hours of the day, managing your workload effectively and attending meetings at the agreed-upon time whether in-person or virtually.
The tricky bit is, because freelancers work for themselves, it is completely up to them to manage their time effectively. There is no boss breathing down their neck and no manger to prompt them if they fall behind.
But there will still be upset customers or clients if they don't deliver when they said they would!
This usually means that freelancers need to get good at managing calendars and using other online task management tools to help them stay on track.
Much like time-management, freelancers must always be able to motivate themselves, even on the toughest of days. This means not only finding the motivation to get the work done on time but also keep setting and achieving business goals and bouncing back from any setbacks you might face.
Self-motivation is crucial for freelancers as without it, you could find yourself falling behind on your workload or even slowly giving up on your business altogether.
There could be any number of problems you face as a freelancer. Firstly, if you're working with challenging clients or on a project that isn't going to plan, you need to work out how to deal with this in the most professional and effective manner.
Similarly, when promoting your business and selling your services, you need to let businesses and potential employers know how you can help them to solve their problems. For example, if you're a marketing professional and a company is struggling to boost their SEO efforts, how can you help to solve this?
So, as you can see, problem-solving is a very sought-after skill for freelancers for a number of reasons.
5. Personal branding
Freelancers are usually responsible for their own marketing and personal branding - particularly those running their business under their own name. And if you want to land more clients, you have to get your name out there. This is usually done through the more basic digital marketing techniques such as building a website, social media accounts and professional profiles like LinkedIn.
This is a truly valuable and important skill to have in today’s competitive market, especially with the number of talented freelancers out there is currently on the rise. If you want to beat out the competition and build a name for yourself, you must be able to effectively promote your own personal brand.
6. Graphic design skills
This might seem like a strange skill to need if you're not a freelance graphic designer but hear us out. No matter what you do for work, at some point you might want to design your own logo, create your own website or make up Pinterest images for your blog. All things that can help with your personal branding.
Alternatively, you might find that your clients ask you to send over media packs or create infographics for them to accompany your other work. Either way, you're going to need some basic level of graphic design skills.
Luckily, there are some handy tools out there that can help beginners to get a basic grasp of graphic design. For example, sites like Canva offer free templates and tools to help you get to grips with creating your own designs.
So even if you're not a pro, in 2021 it helps to have some basic understand and ability of graphic design.
Last but not least, today’s freelancers must be able to adapt to this ever-changing world. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything it’s that flexibility and adaptability are the keys to success! After all, freelancers will not only be dealing with changes in workload and their own personal circumstances but they must keep up with the changing needs of businesses. The pandemic has drastically changed the way a lot of businesses operate with an increasing number of traditionally brick and mortar businesses now embracing selling online and utilising remote working.
This could mean changing the way they work to accommodate clients, being flexible on working hours or taking on new training to keep their skills up to date. Either way, it’s clear that adaptability is going to be an important skill in 2021.