8 Soft Skills Freelancers Need to Compete in the Gig Economy
The gig economy shows no signs of slowing down. And in the competitive world of freelancing, hard skills and certificates can only get you so far. Every freelancer must be equipped with nontechnical skills to have a successful career.
Whether you know it or not, you likely already have a set of soft skills that have gotten you to where you are. But if you don’t know where to start, we’ll be breaking down some essential skills that will help you stand out among the rest of the freelancers.
Not sure you’ve got what it takes? No worries! The best part about soft skills is they can continuously be built upon.
How Soft Skills Affect Freelancers in an Online World
There’s no doubt that an online world can be challenging to navigate. Chatting through emails and instant messages can sometimes make it difficult to understand how the other person is feeling. That’s why soft skills are the gateway to passing along:
- Positive vibes
- Social skills
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are interpersonal skills. Unlike technical skills, soft skills depend solely on personality and communication. Learning the right soft skills can take your freelancing career to the next level.
8 Soft Skills Every Freelancer Needs
Every freelancer needs a specific set of soft skills if you want to succeed. Even if you don’t have all the skills listed below, targeting a few of them will be important as you move forward in your journey. These are the in-demand soft skills that will attract you to prospective clients.
1. Strong Communication
This is one of the best soft skills you can develop as a freelancer. Much of the communication is done online or over the phone rather than in person. Communication skills are key for understanding people, and situations, and handling any client concerns.
It’s also important to develop active listening skills as a part of your day-to-day life so that you can understand everything the client is expecting. Strong communication skills will help to fully exert oneself in the job duties, and this will also help you market yourself for the next job.
2. Problem Solving
Career success relies heavily on problem-solving skills. There may be multiple occasions where freelancers run into problems. It could be:
- Physical, such as WiFi issues
- Personal, such as a client not quite getting an idea you pitched
With proper problem-solving skills, it should be easier for freelancers to take a step back and assess the situation. Then, find another way to get the work done and keep everyone happy. You can build up your problem-solving ability by practising with logic puzzles and other fun brain-boosting activities in your free time.
3. Ability to Take Criticism
Criticism is hard. It’s hard to accept that someone didn’t like your work. They may have even told you it wasn’t your best (even if you spent hours perfecting it). This is a case that happens way too often in freelancing.
The right soft skills will allow you to not only accept criticism in a positive way but also learn from it. The next time you’re writing or completing work for this client, make changes and adapt to their expectations.
4. Stress Management
Stress management is one of the top soft skills for any job. If you can manage your stress in a productive way, congratulations! That’s an exceptional soft skill, especially for freelancers.
It takes time to find different coping mechanisms that work for you and, in many terms, are job specific. Stress management definitely gets better with more and more professional experience. But it is a huge part of personal development. As a freelancer, you’ll quickly develop skill sets like this.
5. Time Management
Time management is one of those popular soft skills that are a must-have for freelancers. Completing your own work promptly is challenging. There may be days when it feels like you just can’t get anything done.
Finding ways to develop this soft skill is essential to making it as a freelancer. Most of the time, you’ll have a plethora of projects all due on the same day. The stress of that alone can cause one to procrastinate. You can manage time more effectively with project management software tools like automatic time tracking. Some platforms, like Indy, let you keep track of time and organize tasks to help you easily manage multiple projects at once. Using productivity tools like these is a great way to help you develop better time management.
6. Unique Creativity
The best part of being a freelancer is that you get to become an expert in your field. Becoming an expert not only includes the hard skills that are vital to creating good work. It also depends largely on creativity. There will be times when clients give you a sentence and expect you to do an entire project out of it.
This is where your creativity comes in handy. It also comes in handy when you’re marketing yourself. Whatever the reason, freelancing is a job where creativity needs to shine at all times.
7. Strong Interpersonal Communication
Interpersonal communication encompasses both verbal and non-verbal cues when chatting with clients, and these are skills employers are constantly looking for. Specifically, because you are marketing their business. Freelancers and clients do a lot of work together. The relationship has to be strong and feels good to both parties. This not only depends on communication but also on interpersonal skills.
8. Strong Work Ethic
Freelancers need to love working and also have a strong work ethic. Work ethic skills are vital to not only completing work on time but also getting more work. Clients will be willing to work with you when they know you’re willing to:
- Go the extra mile
- Make corrections
- Meet quick deadlines
How to Sharpen Your Soft Skills
Like every other aspect of life, there’s always room for improvement. Soft skills are no different, and they can be sharpened over time. As freelancers become more experienced, soft skills tend to improve. Use these tips to improve the soft skills you have today with these four tips.
1. Ask For Feedback
Feedback is definitely a special aspect of freelancing. It provides freelancers with a chance to get better at taking criticism. It also provides confidence where confidence is due.
Asking for feedback also lets clients know that you’re serious about your work. When clients know you’re serious about getting better, they’re more apt to give you more work and feedback to help you improve.
2. Make a Checklist of Soft Skills You Want to Improve On
There are some soft skills that definitely come as second nature to us. In that case, there’s probably not much room for improvement on those. This means it’s important to know which soft skills may be lacking in your day-to-day activities.
Write them down! This is the first step to improving. Write them down and do some research on how to improve on each soft skill. This will be huge for you as you go forward. Keep track of the progress you are making as well. And be proud of yourself when you reach a point where your improvements show!
3. Practice Active Listening Anytime You’re Receiving Feedback
Active listening may be a soft skill in itself, but it’s one that will be extremely beneficial throughout your career. Active listening helps you complete better work. You will also have a much better understanding of what’s expected of you.
4. Find online classes
Some soft skills may not be able to be taught; yes, that’s true. But, they can be worked on. There are tons of online classes that will help you develop different mechanisms to:
- Deal with stress
- Develop time management
- Handle work environment anxiety
Self-reflection is key to improving your soft skills. Pinpointing what works and doesn’t will help freelancers work with various clients. There are tons of different ways to practice self-reflection. Some ways are through journaling, meditating, or exercising.
Don’t Stop the Learning Here
Freelancing is a world of continuous growth. There’s no doubt that soft skills are important to your clients as well. Working on your soft skills will help you develop into a more desirable freelancer.
As a freelancer, there’s no doubt that you’ll quickly become an expert in your hard skill (if you’re not already). But as for the soft skills, sometimes we freelancers could be lacking. That’s totally OK! Thankfully there are plenty of ways to not only improve soft skills but also develop some new ones.
Key Takeaways of Soft Skills in Freelancing
Nontechnical skills are built up throughout life. There may be certain jobs where the soft skills required are far between, but in freelancing, the soft skills we’ve mentioned above are required if you want to keep growing. Developing these character traits will help you land more jobs.
Career growth depends on effective communication and other new skills that are obtained over time. Soft skills on a resume have always been important. There’s no difference in the world of freelancing. There may not be a hiring manager, but the client will surely judge your soft skills during the interview process.
For freelancing and other jobs, knowing the difference between hard and soft skills is essential to be a successful job seeker. So, keep working on those soft skills, and rise to the top of the freelancing totem pole.