This growing trend is also contributed by our evolving market place. With more small businesses entering into the economy, there’s been an increased demand for skilled individuals to offer specialist advice/consultancy on a flexible/contractual bases. With the possibilities of the internet and the growth of online networks designed to connect employers and freelancers, it’s now very possible to create a sustainable career from freelancing wherever you may be in the world. Freelancing now applies to a range of industries at various experience levels- from VA’s, designers, writers, trainers and marketers, to name just a few.
However, choosing to become freelance is a whole different ball game compared to the traditional permanent employment route. Before you decide whether to join the self-employed clan, you must be confident you have the qualities to thrive in the freelance world. Below is an outline of the key attributes a successful freelancer needs to possess to help you gage whether freelancing might be the right choice for you.
As a freelancer, you will be working with a range of clients with different needs, priorities and challenges. It’s therefore essential that you can quickly adapt to your client’s agenda. There may be times where you feel a clash in personalities but you must be prepared to cast this aside and focus on the job in hand. As you get more experienced and have secured regular work you may be able to be more selective as to whom you work with, but at the beginning you’ll need to be flexible to ensure a healthy pipeline of work.
As a freelancer, you’re more likely to be targeted by defined outcomes since your client will have bought you on board for a specific piece of work. Often this means you have the independence to work how and where you want, as long as the outcome is delivered as desired. Consequently, you won’t necessarily have the structure of the 9-5 office day, as well as the close support of colleagues. As a result it’s essential you can rely on yourself to manage your time and stay focused.
There’s a false assumption that being a freelancer is a piece of cake, where you get to sit back and be on your own time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As a freelancer, you are essentially running your own business and need to juggle a range of commitments from doing the day to day work, PR and communications, business development, ensuring your accounts are done and having a strategic direction of where you want to focus your work. It’s a fine balancing act that requires a sharp, business savvy brain to make it all come together.
Freelancing is not for shrinking violets. In order to gain clients, you have to be confident enough to pitch and sell yourself to secure contracts. As you’re solely responsible for the services you are offering, you have to be able to communicate how you’re doing against milestones and be directly accountable to senior clients.
As your solely accountable for the work you get in and delivering to your commitments, there are likely to be low times when you may not be bringing in the clients as thick and fast as you’d like or struggling on a complex project. As you don’t have a permanent team to fall back on, you must be able to pick yourself up from the dark whole and keep going.
Passion and an Innate Desire for Self-Development
As a freelancer, you’ll be competing for contracts time and time again, and it’s your passion that will make you shine out from the competition. Not only that, your passion will give you the drive to invest in your own
development, keeping abreast of emerging trends and your skills fresh in your chosen field to deliver to your clients demands. As Seth Godin explores in his book Linchpin, in today’s evolving working world the focus needs to be on making ourselves ‘indispensable’ so employers need us rather than we need them. This is never more true than for the gallant freelancer who is responsible for driving their own career and offering consistent value in the marketplace.
In conclusion, freelancing is not the easy option it is sometimes wrongly assumed to be. However, if you possess the attributes above and are willing to invest in your own self-growth, freelancing can provide a deeply rewarding employment path where you can thrive, on your terms. For many that is an incentive enough in itself.