Rather than working for someone else, a growing number of professionals are choosing to become freelancers in order to create their own career paths. The freelancing industry is growing every day.
In fact, freelancers are predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing.
Freelancing attracts people who want more work-life balance, the ability to choose their own schedule, and the opportunity to take their income and futures into their own hands. It's no wonder so many people are dreaming of leaving their 9 to 5 jobs to start working for themselves.
But freelancing isn't as easy as it may seem. It takes a lot of work to run a successful freelance business. Of course, you need to be skilled in what you do but you also need to possess certain characteristics in order to make it.
Here are eight traits you need to become a successful freelancer.
Freelancers can't afford to have days where they just slack off. You can't rely on a boss or a manager to keep you going on the days you don't feel like working. Additionally, there's no one else around to push you to work harder. It’s all on you to control and motivate yourself.
If something needs to get done, you need to possess self-discipline in order to make sure you stay on top of your important tasks. Without self-discipline, you won't be able to make progress or accomplish the goals you've set.
If you want a successful freelance career, you need to make a website that looks professional, get business cards made, create a LinkedIn profile, etc., to appear competent and experienced. But it's not all about how your freelance business looks. You also need to handle clients with professionalism if you want to keep them around and get repeat business. Because, after all, businesses want to work with professionals.
For instance, while you can work from home in your pajamas as a freelancer, it's a different story when meeting with clients. For those meetings dress appropriately, be on time, offer great customer service and conduct yourself professionally overall. Remember, you own a business now so you need to behave like a business owner.
When you make a promise, you need to deliver it. And when you set a deadline, you need to meet it. Reliability is key to running a successful freelance business. Your clients rely on you to provide what you said you would. If you fail to provide what you promised in a timely manner, it can really hurt your reputation. When you set a deadline, be sure to stick to it.
In order to avoid missing deadlines and failing to deliver, don't set unrealistic goals for yourself. If a client wants something done in a couple of days and you know it'll take you longer, don't agree to it. It's better to come up with a more reasonable deadline instead of rushing to complete work or not delivering the work on the date you said you would.
At your previous job, you may have grown accustomed to your boss checking up with you all the time. Furthermore, you could rely on other people to make decisions that would move the company forward. As a freelancer, it's all up to you. You're in charge of making the decisions and growing your business, so you need to have initiative.
For instance, you need to come up with fresh ideas and put them into action to wow your clients. But, taking initiative isn't just about pleasing your clients, it's also what will allow you to make savvy business decisions for yourself and make the most out of your resources.
5. Organization and time management
As discussed, it’s imperative that you meet deadlines. If you don't get work completed on time, clients probably won't want to work with you again. While meeting deadlines is partly to do with being reliable, it also requires a lot of organization and time management skills.
If your work desk is cluttered with important documents or you can't find files you need on your computer, it will slow down your work process. You may even miss key elements of a project due to your disorganization.
Not only do you need to be organized for your clients, you also need to be organized for yourself too. For instance, perhaps blogging is a part of the content marketing strategy for your freelance business. If you keep forgetting to post on time, you could be missing out on attracting new clients and generating leads. Organization and time management are important to ensuring your business runs smoothly.
As your own boss, you get to choose what days and what hours you want to work. For instance, maybe you choose not to work on Mondays because they're a busy day at your house with lots of chores to do and errands to run. With freelancing, you have that priceless type of flexibility.
But, your flexibility shouldn't just benefit you. You need to make sure you're flexible for your clients as well. Your client might need a project done by Tuesday, requiring you to work long hours on Monday to get it done. Being flexible is important in order to please your clients. Happy clients mean more repeat business and maybe some client referrals too.
Freelancing isn't all gumdrops, lollipops and sunshine. When you have your own freelance business, there are bound to be really hard days, dry spells with little client work, and many moments where you just want to give it all up and return to a job with a steady paycheck. To become a successful freelancer, you need to have persistence. Persistence is what will keep you motivated on the really bad days. You're able to push through any difficulties and come out on top.
Persistence also pays off in winning clients. Instead of accepting a no, you can keep pushing with marketing and sales until you change their mind.
Many freelancers start off not knowing much at all about running a business. Whether it's how to develop a marketing strategy or how to keep accurate accounting records, many freelancers don't have a complete picture of everything needed to keep their business running smoothly. Instead, they just learn as they go. That curiosity to learn new things is what got them into freelancing in the first place, but it's also what allows them to grow their business. To be a successful freelancer, you need to be constantly improving your skills and learning new things.
As a freelancer, you should be reading publications related to your industry, listening to podcasts, watching tutorials, and taking online courses on a regular basis in order to learn everything you need to know. This constant curiosity and need for learning will allow you to take your freelancing business to the next level.
Do you possess these characteristics? If the answer is yes, then get out there and start your successful freelancing business. Even if you feel like you weren't born with some of these characteristics, if you put in a bit of work, they can be learned. With hard work, you can master anything.