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10 Skills Every Freelancer should master to Maximize Income

Updated on October 21, 2014
Good communication is the foundation of a successful freelancing business
Good communication is the foundation of a successful freelancing business | Source

Just like every other profession, Freelancing requires that you master certain skills if you are going to maximize your income. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned Freelancer, you can benefit from sharpening or acquiring these essential skills. Freelancing is not for the faint of heart and if freelancing is what puts food on your table and what pays all your bills, you could benefit financially from the advice that is about to follow. Although the advice is skewed towards freelance writers, the information is useful for freelancers in every field. In the case that you only freelance as a means of supplementing your income, you too may realize that freelancing can be financially rewarding and can in fact become your main income source.

  • Communication is vital
  • Communication is a core skill that every freelancer should have. Whether it is written or oral communication, you should know how to express yourself in such a way that the messages that you send come across clearly and achieve what you intend for them to achieve. You will be speaking (whether orally or in writing) with people on a daily basis and you will need to be understood if you hope to make a success of freelancing. If you deal with persons who speak a different language than you do, communication for you is even more important. If you work online, email will become a main means of communication and you should know what does and what doesn’t make an effective email message. If you haven’t yet, you should learn everything you can about email etiquette and business communication. Listening is of utmost importance. Be willing to listen actively to your clients. What exactly are they saying? What exactly do they require of you? Ask the right questions and use the most appropriate tone. If your communication skills are wanting, there are several business communication courses available for you to take advantage of.
  • Time Management

As a freelancer, you set your own schedule. Time management is a skill that will help you to prioritize and to become more productive. The buck stops with you and there will be no one telling you when to do what. You are the one who will decide how you will spend every minute of each day. If you spend 5 hours of your day checking email or hanging out on Facebook, and one hour watching television and spend another hour having lunch, you won’t have much time left in the day to do anything productive. The ability to meet deadlines is an attribute that every successful freelancer has since you will be required to complete projects within set time periods. Time management skills will help you to allocate your time more effectively in order to maximize your productivity and by extension, your income. How many hours will you spend writing, marketing, reading and answering emails, having lunch, networking, making telephone calls, planning? Honing your time management skills will help you to answer these questions.

  • Multi-tasking - Becoming a more efficient freelancer

A freelance writer wears many hats – owner, manager, marketer, accountant, proofreader, editor, public relations officer, receptionist, customer service representative etc. Every freelance writer should master the skill of doing several different tasks at the same time. In many cases, you are a one man show and you must complete every task yourself. How will you do it without driving yourself nuts? The fact is that you must learn how to juggle your many roles. Freelancing requires that you effectively complete several tasks simultaneously. You may be working on a special project but you still need to market your service, you still need to bid for jobs, you still need to be putting out new content. Learning how to do everything simultaneously without compromising on your quality is a skill that every freelancer should master.

  • Problem solving - Thinking on your feet

Can you effectively solve problems? The chances are high that if you are a freelance writer, you will encounter problems. What will you do if you have a job that is due for submission today and your computer is suddenly affected by a virus? I remember having my computer upgraded and the technician failed to reinstall Microsoft Office. To make matters worse, I couldn’t reach him on his phone or via email. Oh boy can you imagine the panic that I felt knowing that I had projects to complete that required me to use Microsoft Office? Well, I had to solve the problem. I couldn’t throw my hands up in the air and cry. Clients were depending on me. I had to take the decision to visit an internet café and complete the work there. Never mind that using the café was not a part of my budgeted expenses. At the end of the day, I got the job done on time with no compromise on quality. If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to be able to think on your feet and be willing to be creative in solving problems. There is no escaping this.

  • Marketing - an essential skill for freelancers

The fact that you may be a good writer does not necessarily mean that your marketing skills are in tact. As a freelance writer, you need to market yourself and your skills and this is not a skill that is easily mastered. However, with dedication and commitment, it can be done. Every freelance writer should spend time polishing their profiles, building an effective portfolio, and actively offering their services to potential clients. Marketing entails effectively promoting your work, distributing your work, pricing your services etc. Remember that freelance writing is a competitive field and you must know how to make yourself shine above all other service providers. Creating a personal brand that attracts clients to you and your work is something that you need to know. Do you have an effective website, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account? How are you letting others know about your awesome services? Good marketing skills will ensure that you have a steady flow of jobs and a satisfied and growing clientele.

Marketing skills help you to effective promote your services
Marketing skills help you to effective promote your services | Source
You don't have to be an "Octopus" to be effective at multitasking
You don't have to be an "Octopus" to be effective at multitasking | Source
  • Money Management and Business Planning Skills

This is a skill that freelancers often overlook and take for granted. Budgeting, forecasting and cash flow management are skills that will help you to ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover all your bills and still have money left over to live a comfortable lifestyle. As a freelancer, you will need to be able to accurately forecast your income and expenses, and to allocate any money you have effectively to cover all your costs. How much are you prepared to spend on marketing? How much do you hope to make from writing books, article writing, affiliate marketing? Will you have enough money to pay for your internet and telephone service when the payments become due? How much will you pay yourself? The answers to these questions should not be arbitrary. You should have a written plan that informs every decision that has a cost attached to it. Remember that freelance writing is a business like any other and needs to be managed as such.

  • Negotiation - Getting Paid What You are worth

Are you a skilled negotiator? Do you know how to get what you want using your persuasive and creative thinking skills? If you bid on projects for example, negotiation skills will help you to not only make a competitive bid but it will help you to ask the right questions to get the compensation and terms that you desire. Just as you would negotiate for a salary package for a regular job, you will need to negotiate on a continuous basis as a freelancer. The best negotiators get the higher paying jobs. Invest in honing your negotiating skills. It makes a tremendous difference to your earnings.

  • Decision making

Are you capable of making well-informed, solid decisions that you are prepared to stand by? As a freelance writer, you will need to make decisions on a daily basis. Which projects will you bid on? How much will you bid? What price will you set for the ebook that you’re writing? What will be your hourly rate? Should you revise your ebook in response to negative reviews? Will you offer copywriting services or SEO optimization services or both? Every decision that you make in this profession will impact upon your business. Being a proficient decision maker will help you to quickly make good decisions that will yield positive results for you and your business. A good decision maker spends little to no time second guessing themselves.

  • Stress Management - Learning how to relax and have fun

The truth is that freelance writing can be a stressful profession. At the end of the day, all responsibility for your success lies squarely on your own shoulders. Finding effective ways of alleviating stress will ensure that you remain healthy and productive. Something as simple as learning how to breathe deeply can go a long way in making you more effective. Recognizing when you are stressed and being prepared to take the necessary steps to alleviate stress are skills that can easily be mastered.

Stop for awhile and take an inventory of your skills. How well do you stack up? Spend some time working on those skills that you fall short in and continue working on those that you are already good at. Remember there is always room for improvement. Invest in improving where necessary and you will feel the positive effects in your pocket!

Budgeting is a must for the successful freelancer
Budgeting is a must for the successful freelancer | Source

I want to hear from you

Which skill do you need to work on most?

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© 2014 Keesha Metcalfe


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    • Keesha Metcalfe profile imageAUTHOR

      Keesha Metcalfe 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica

      Thanks Zainab. Yep, communication does open doors and we all need some more open doors if we are going to succeed. And it's such an involved skill....writing, speaking, listening, much to master!

    • Zainab Tarawali profile image

      Musu Bangura 

      4 years ago from Nation's Capital

      These are some great points you made here. I think communication is the biggest one. It opens doors and helps you build good relationships that are effective for your business. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Keesha Metcalfe profile imageAUTHOR

      Keesha Metcalfe 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica

      Thanks Rajesh3raj and Prakash Satyarth. I hope we can all make some more money by sharpening our skills. All the best with your businesses :)

    • Prakash Satyarth profile image

      Satyarth Prakash 

      4 years ago from India

      Very informative hub.

    • Rajesh3raj profile image

      Rajesh Kumar Giri 

      4 years ago from Delhi, India

      Of Course it is an informative article that will help me to develop my own affiliate and freelance business to add extra bucks.

      voted up for you.


      Rajesh Kumar Giri

    • Keesha Metcalfe profile imageAUTHOR

      Keesha Metcalfe 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica

      Thanks Fiddleman! Glad I was able to help.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Excellent and informative hub.


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