Running a business is often associated with making a profit. Without profits, no business would survive in the long-run. Businesses aim to create more revenue, which means they want to achieve significant results with the freelancers they pick. Freelancing is competitive. Anyone can explore it, but it takes dedication to master it. Here are ten skills to have as a freelancer if you’re serious about rolling with the veterans. Because, to become a master, you must first become a student.
For the most part, when you give your email address to a business, they either use it to send you promotional messages or sell it to a company that will, but more on that later.
These promotional messages don’t write or design themselves. Business owners all over the world are desperate for freelance marketing experts who know what grabs a user’s attention and ticks all the right boxes. It’s often far more efficient and, at times, significantly more cost-effective than hiring an in-house marketing team. It’s a necessity, with 63% of business owners labeling it as the most important expense for a company’s growth.
You’ll need a good hold over social media, email, automation, market research, and analysis. These are skills that will aid you throughout your freelance career.
If you can market like a pro, they never say no.
2. Tear down the banking system
There’s no question that blockchain is reshaping the future of the banking and fintech industries. With an immutable record of every transaction, it’s nearly impossible to change, reverse, or hack any movement of value on the network. And though distributed ledger technology isn’t as well integrated with our lives as most other banking and financial platforms we use today, it is slowly, but steadily, permeating its way down to the consumer level.
With institutional investment in blockchain on the rise, freelancers are in high demand from players having deep pockets. And, if there’s one thing blockchain gets right, it has to be payments.
3. Painting with words
Toddlers tend to find writing difficult. Writing can be frustrating, painful, and mind-numbing. This can also be the case for adults. So, if you plan to freelance, it’s essential to be able to write well and edit better.
While the writers of centuries past wrote fantastic epics, elaborate plays, and thought-provoking poems, modern-day virtual scribes write everything from advertising copy and listicles to social media content and technical manuals. Editors scrutinize each letter, making sure everything is worded perfectly and, at times, fix articles that read as if they were translated from English to Swahili and back. All this is done all at a cut-throat pace.
4. Point and click
Ideas don’t make themselves, and those fancy marketing graphics seen on Instagram certainly don’t either. Behind each design, there is a designer who spent hours pouring over their computer, making something that their client would appreciate.
Pro tip: Never go to your client with just one finished design. They’re always going to want changes, so keep a few iterations as separate save files.
Graphic designers aren’t cheap, and the market for recruiting them lies in the world of freelance. With freelance jobs in this field expected to grow by around 13% in the next year, strong and reliable graphic designing skills will give you an advantage.
5. Point and shoot
Our generation of professional bathroom mirror selfie-takers has given birth to the common misconception that a photographer does nothing but press a button to click a photograph. But this isn’t necessarily true — not only do they need to have a strong grasp over lighting conditions and framing, they also require experience working with image manipulation software like Photoshop and Lightroom. Which, if you post your selfies to social media regularly, you probably already have (just kidding).
Despite a decrease in demand for photographers in traditional media, there has been a more than 37% increase in demand for commercial and portrait photographers over the last five years, according to an Australian study.
Additionally, this line of work can lead to visits to various shoot locations. Not everyone wants their engagement photos taken in the washroom, regardless of how good the lighting is.
6. Be Excel-lent
Bundled in with Microsoft’s Office suite, Excel is arguably the most underrated and powerful software tool available for consumer use. The ability to arrange and manipulate data sets of almost any kind can be invaluable to some, and quite valuable to many businesses.
If you can learn and understand how to use macros, PIVOT Tables, VLOOKUPs, and the other formidable tools at your disposal in a spreadsheet, you could be hired to tutor others, analyze data sets and provide insights to clients that need an expert opinion.
Also, Excel can help you generate graphs and charts on the fly with minimal effort, which could be useful alongside the point above about graphic design.
There’s little point in having quality content on a website if no one can find it using a search engine. That’s where SEO, or search engine optimization, can be incredibly helpful. Using the latest information about search keyword trends and curating content to ensure it doesn’t get filtered out as spam, SEO can take web content from having virtually zero exposure to going viral.
To advertise your skills, even more, having a professional website can be useful. Just make sure it shows up when potential clients google it.
8. Website theatrics
Creating a website that is reliable and secure is no mean feat, and with the quality of web development today, this skill is often taken for granted. Freelance web developers need to be flexible. They need to stay updated with the new, innovative technologies emerging every year.
Web developers are tasked with designing websites people gawk over. They set the stage for smooth online experiences. Smooth animations, fast loading pages, and the right layout can lead to much more positive user experience, and businesses love creating great user experiences.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks — you name it. The Internet is probably using it somewhere. And if you can handle both the back-end and the front, all that’s required is a good personality and being open to trying new things.
9. Communication Skills
While this skill won’t directly be applicable in terms of the kind of work you can get, strong communication skills are of paramount importance, especially when dealing with picky clients. The ability to communicate well shows confidence, and that you’re of a higher standard than the random guys asking for bobs on Facebook, trying to make a quick buck using MS Paint for graphic design.
Communication is also key to conveying ideas. If you don’t understand what your client wants or can’t explain issues with a task, you’re going to have a tough time.
10. Wearing a watch
Time management can be hard. When freelance work piles up, it can be quite overwhelming. With the freedom to choose your work hours comes the responsibility of delivering on time. And any freelancer, regardless of skill level, won’t be able to play the big leagues if they aren’t able to stick to deadlines.
In a world where time is money, make sure you capitalize on yours in the most efficient way possible. If not, you might end up with too much time on your hands if you catch my drift.
Of course, learning every skill on this list will take you so much time, likely, you won’t have any left to do some actual freelancing. So pick a niche, and delve into it. Because businesses won’t pay for a jack of all trades when they can have a master of one. Because it’s not about the skills you learn to freelance, but the experience of learning things along the way. And to be honest, the learning never really ends.
Freelance is a journey — find yourself, discover what you love, and chase it. Remember that Yoda was a baby too, once upon a time. And know that the only thing worse than not following your dreams is not having any in the first place.