As a freelancer, you have the freedom to work and manage your core business activities at your own pace.
This sense of freedom gives many people the perception that being a freelancer is easy. On the contrary, being a successful freelancer relies on having the skills and motivation to effectively manage your projects and scheduling... and without being told how to do it, either.
So what separates a successful freelancer from the rest?
Whether you dream of becoming a freelancer, you already freelance or you’re an employer looking to hire a new freelancer – these tips will help you identify the qualities of a successful freelancer.
Without having a manager looking over your shoulder every 5 minutes, you need to have the discipline to structure your day.
A productive freelancer takes time to organise their day and establish the goals, objectives and deadlines they must achieve. What projects will I be submitting by the end of the day? How will I structure my breaks into the schedule? Do I need to allocate time for meetings?
With self-discipline, you save your colleagues and clients from the hassle of chasing after you so they can focus on more important business instead.
2. Good Communication Skills
As a remote worker, the level of interaction with your colleagues is mostly limited to your online capabilities. From email to instant messaging and video chat – your environment lacks the capacity to have face-to-face conversations with other people.
Therefore, having good communication skills is essential to being a successful freelancer. Whether it’s receiving feedback from clients, requesting information from your colleagues, or keeping your employer updated on progress – you need to keep your workforce in-the-loop about your business activities.
3. Remote Work Experience
While you don’t need previous experience to be an effective remote worker, it does mean you have experience handling the unique challenges of being a freelancer.
As an employer, by hiring a freelancer who’s capable of managing themselves without being asked to – you avoid having to hold their hand throughout the experience.
Before hiring a freelancer, ask about their work ethic, how they schedule their day and what they’ll do to maintain communication with you. This’ll save you from the costly burden of hiring someone who’s only going to drag down your productivity
Being a good communicator is more than just answering phone calls and replying to messages – it’s about being there when you’re needed most.
Whether it’s an urgent request, last-minute task or updates on your current project, a good freelancer should be upfront about their availability and be flexible during times of urgency.
By reducing waiting times between messages, emails and phone calls – you increase productivity for the whole team.
5. Familiar with Technology
According a report from the Freelancers Union, 69% of freelancers said technology has made it easier to find freelance work.
The influence of technology has also influenced how effective we are at working remotely. With more and more people working away from the office, remote workers need to have a basic understanding of technology and how to incorporate it into their business activities.
From managing emails to uploading files online, integrating the latest software and mobile technology – a good freelancer can adapt to the latest technological innovations and processes.
Workers who struggle with technology risk not only being left behind, but dragging the team down too. If your colleagues are constantly having to stop work to troubleshoot your tech queries, you risk reducing productivity among your workforce.
6. Able to Resolve Conflict
Just like any job, there’s always the potential for conflict to occur among your workforce. But unlike a conventional job, you don’t have the space to settle differences face-to-face.
Managing conflict in a remote workforce relies on handling the situation peacefully and with respect to the parties involved. Good freelancers understand the importance of this. That’s why handling the matter face-to-face (or through video chat) is always preferable to instant messaging.
Take the time to arrange a meeting in-advance, so that everyone has time to analyse the situation from a fair and balanced perspective. This way, the conflict can be resolved peacefully and from a perspective that understands everyone’s needs.
7. Leave Room for Play
A common misconception of being a freelancer, is that you have the freedom to take breaks whenever you like.
This may be true for some people, but in reality, the desire to constantly work harder to deliver that project is also common. Therefore, it’s important to set aside time to unwind and relax in a space away from your work desk.
Set aside short breaks throughout your day, along with an extended half-hour or one hour break. Pick an activity that you find relaxing and helps take your mind off work – so pretty soon you’ll be feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that big project.
What characteristics do you possess? Let us know in the comments below!