In recent years, freelancing has emerged as a popular and liberating career choice, especially after the pandemic. Through freelancing, people experience flexible schedules, creative autonomy, and the potential for higher earnings.
A survey by UpWork found that freelancers make up a significant part of the U.S. labor force. In 2022, freelancers contributed $1.35 trillion in earnings to the U.S. economy, a $50 billion increase from the previous year.
Despite its promising advantages, this career path also has its challenges. Freelancing demands unique skills to survive in this competitive field. This article will delve into the core skills freelancers need to build a thriving and sustainable career.
Basic Freelancing Skills
Freelancing covers a wide range of specializations and industries, each requiring a unique set of skills to succeed. However, there are some universal skills freelancers need to excel in any field, including the following:
To establish yourself as a freelancer, you must have at least a working knowledge of the field you plan to enter.
Understanding the quirks and characteristics of your chosen field is a valuable skill. As a freelancer, you won’t have a boss or colleagues to handle other aspects of the job. Knowing how the industry works helps you navigate the field with confidence and efficiency.
As a freelancer, you must reach out and communicate with clients and collaborators. You need to develop good communication skills to foster positive professional relationships.
Clear communication is highly valuable in every phase of all your projects. It helps you reach deadlines and deliver quality work that satisfies your client’s needs and expectations.
When working freelance, you are in charge of your rates and setting expectations with your clients or collaborators. You may need to negotiate with them to get fair compensation for your work.
Many freelancers use contracts to ensure clarity when communicating their rates and the scope of their work to clients. Contracts help ensure you and your client are on the same page and have fair expectations of one another.
If you don’t have a personal accountant, you must handle your financial matters independently. These include invoicing, tracking your earnings and expenses, and filing your tax returns. You may also need accounting skills to apply for or manage an online personal loan.
These skills are vital for better financial management and legal compliance. Investing in accounting software can make financial tasks easier. You can also consult an accountant for advice and skills training.
Working independently as a freelancer means having to look for clients yourself. To attract clients, you need to market yourself and promote your services. There are several ways you can do that, such as the following:
- Social media. Building a professional social media presence can help you reach and attract potential clients. Set up accounts on platforms your target clients frequent, like LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook. Make sure you showcase your previous work, as these accounts can serve as your resume or portfolio.
- Blogging. Establishing a blog can take a lot of effort, and building an audience will take a while. However, you can attract larger audiences and new clients with quality content and good search engine optimization practices. A well-crafted blog can also build your credibility as a professional.
- Building a portfolio. A portfolio allows you to showcase your work to prospective clients. Having one ready at all times can help you gain clients quickly. You can also publish your portfolio online and encourage potential clients to contact you.
- Referrals. Word of mouth can be a highly effective marketing technique. Maintain positive relationships with your clients and ask them to refer you to their colleagues or professional network.
You have greater control over your time as a freelancer. However, this freedom also comes with the responsibility of managing your commitments to reach deadlines and deliver quality results.
It’s also common for freelancers to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. For this reason, project management skills are essential. You need to know how to prioritize and schedule each task to accomplish them on time.
Project management skills allow you to stay organized and proactive to achieve your goals.
In-Demand Freelancing Services in 2023
These days, you can freelance mostly with any skill. Businesses and institutions are always looking for talented people to work with and hire.
Here are some of the most in-demand freelancing services in today’s market:
The tech industry is full of lucrative gigs for freelancers. Developers and other tech professionals can make a stable income from freelance tech jobs. Here are some of the most in-demand freelance skills in tech:
- Web development. Front-end, back-end, and full-stack developers are essential for building functional websites for various purposes
- Mobile app development. Mobile app development has roots in traditional software development but requires specialized skills to make the programs work on mobile devices.
- Web design. Web design helps ensure websites and web pages remain user-friendly and functional.
Marketing is an essential part of running a business or organization. Freelancers in this field help brands reach their target audiences to increase sales, boost engagement, and achieve business goals.
Here are some of the most popular freelance marketing services today:
- SEO. Search engine optimization involves various techniques to help websites rank higher on search engine results, which helps increase organic traffic.
- Social media marketing. Social media has become one of the most preferred marketing tools recently. Brands often hire specialized social media managers and marketers to help them organize and execute campaigns.
- Digital marketing. Digital marketing involves various disciplines using online and digital media channels to promote a brand, product, or service. Aside from social media, it includes email marketing, web advertising, text messaging, etc.
Many creatives have found a home in freelancing. Different brands and organizations need creative visual and audiovisual content for marketing and other purposes. Here are some of the most in-demand creative skills for freelancers today:
- Graphic design. Graphic design covers various techniques for creating visual content that conveys a desired message. It has applications in marketing, web design, media, and other industries.
- Video editing. Video editing involves manipulating video content to convey a message. It may also include editing accompanying audio elements.
- Illustration. Illustrations can include decorations or visual interpretations of a text, concept, or message. It has broad applications like web design, media, marketing, video games, etc.
Many businesses, especially startups or small enterprises, require occasional consulting services for new campaigns or initiatives. Here are some of the most sought-after freelance consulting services this year.
- Accounting. Accountants can help businesses track their financial flow, offer financial advice, and assist with legal and tax matters.
- Recruitment/talent sourcing. Companies often don’t need to hire people all the time. Working with freelance recruiters allows them to get quality talent and allocate their resources efficiently.
- Bookkeeping. Bookkeepers track and record a business or organization’s financial records. They also help with generating various financial reports.
Customer service/administrative support services
Businesses require these services to enhance customer satisfaction and ensure they accomplish the necessary tasks in their daily operations.
Here are today’s top three most popular freelance customer and admin support services:
- Email, chat, and phone support. Freelancers in this field help businesses connect with their customers through email, chat, and phone channels.
- Virtual assistance. Virtual assistants offer remote support to a client. They may specialize in different fields of expertise, such as administrative support, social media, appointment scheduling, etc.
- Data entry. Data entry jobs entail entering or updating information in a database or system.
Jumpstart Your Freelance Career
Freelancing often requires one to be a jack of all trades. While learning and applying various skills can be demanding, this working style can also be rewarding. Continuing to learn and develop one’s skills is vital to succeed as a freelancer.