Apr 05, 2017

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The 4 Soft Skills Every Freelancer Needs And Why

With the rise of the freelance economy, workers are becoming more and more independent. But this newfound freedom brings a harsh reality – everyone will need to be responsible for their own growth and success.


Having the technical abilities necessary to complete an assignment should naturally be a top priority for you. When you’re equipped with high-quality expertise you are able to market yourself to some considerable freelance clients. But you may end up feeling hamstrung if you lack a set of skills that isn’t as tangible as your technical know-how.

It’s never too late or too difficult to learn them, though. Prepare yourself for the opportunities and challenges of freelancing by brushing up on these four vital soft skills.

1. Learn to manage your time effectively

Whether you’re an experienced freelancer looking to expand your business or you currently work a traditional 9-5 and want to branch out into the exciting world of moonlighting, you’ll need to know how to manage your time properly.

No matter how busy you get, you need to remember that your time is valuable, and shouldn’t be given away lightly. The key things to keep in mind while you work your way up the freelancing ladder are:

  • Pick your clients carefully
  • Give yourself generous time estimations
  • Be picky about the work you commit to doing
  • Treat freelancing as a job at all times


2. Keep yourself motivated to do your freelance work

Seeing as freelancing puts you in charge of your own schedule, there’s an ever-present risk of allowing yourself too much downtime. Or putting yourself under too much pressure and experiencing burnout. This is where motivation comes in.

Ensuring you remember exactly why you started freelancing in the first place is a good way to stay motivated.

Whether you’re trying to earn yourself more money, build your experience base, or put money away for the future, bearing those goals in mind at every stage will enable you to remain focused.

That motivation is often not enough though, and chances are you’ll experience a dip in focus at some point or another. Practice these techniques for keeping yourself on track at all times:

  • Make a schedule and hold yourself accountable to it
  • Work in an office-like space
  • Remember to take breaks during assignments


3. Improve communication with clients and peers

91% clients who are unhappy with your communication abilities will not choose to do business with you again.1

Without the skills to communicate professionally and efficiently with potential clients you may find that your freelance business struggles to grow. No matter your technical abilities, clear communication is indispensable to a successful freelance career.

The benefits of good communication range from improving your relationship with clients and ensuring no confusion arises around the assignment, to upping customer satisfaction and increasing the likelihood of a recommendation to the client’s peers.

According to freelance coach and marketing consultant Diana Marinova, these techniques are essential to improving your communication skills2:

  • Use proper, professional language
  • Reply in a timely manner to clients and queries
  • Ensure everything is in writing – no verbal agreements
  • Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to


4. Negotiate your pay appropriately

Discussing money with clients is always a tough task, and advice on negotiation tactics is one of the most common questions asked of experts in the field.3

Asking for too much money for your time could see you landing almost no clients. And if you undersell yourself you may find that you become flooded with too many requests for work.

Being able to successfully determine your going rate is essential to maintaining a good freelance career, especially in an environment where almost two-thirds of freelancers are paid less than the national average.4

Make sure you’re earning well by practising these tactics:

  • Work out your Minimum Acceptable Rate (MAR)
  • Don’t undersell yourself by charging for time taken – take your expertise into account
  • Consider what the competition charges
  • Incorporate supply and demand into your negotiations


Soft skills will enable you to best present yourself to clients in the freelance space, but you’ll need to acquire the right technical skills before you can put yourself on the market.

Ready to get the hard expertise necessary to become an in-demand freelancer?

Master the skills you need to make money on the side with an online short course from our portfolio.


1 HelpScout

2 Diana Marinova

3 Lifehacker

4 The Media Online

Filed under: Talent management