Freelance skills are in higher demand than ever before. Gone are the days when freelance skills were considered less valuable than traditional 9-to-5 skills.
Freelancing has become a profitable choice for many Millennials and new generation workers around the world. Individuals who have the right freelance skills now have the liberty to work from home, choose their mode of work, time, and clients, and call themselves a freelance worker.
The Annual Freelancing in America Study, conducted by Upwork, backs up the facts about acquiring freelance skills as a profitable career choice. 64% of the professionals with in-demand freelance skills have gone into this type of work by choice.
Now let’s take a look at some must have freelance skills that can help you grow as a freelancer.
High-Paying Freelance Skills in 2021
The following are some of the most popular and fast growing freelance skills that can benefit you for a lifelong career. We have also mentioned several tools and resources to help you attain them.
Social media has been a dominating stem of marketing ever since the last decade. Facebook has been the pioneer of social media marketing and was the first to start the new trend of advertising and marketing through it. Then the likes of Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube followed.
Not to mention today, social media marketing has further been extended to influencer marketing where famous influencers of the said platform are hired to market the products.
Freelance skills pertaining to social media marketing are not as complicated to understand and master. Basically, anybody that has figured out how to market themselves through their personal profiles on these platforms can easily become a social media marketer.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of online traffic by increasing the website’s visibility or web page for the targeted audience.
To have the freelance skills of SEO management is simply using the right media to gain online viewership and user engagement for your website.
It is the main reason how websites are ranked and shown on Google or how videos are found on YouTube and so on. SEO has extended many advanced ways to web page owners to gain desired traffic which makes it an overall attractive skill among other freelance skills one could have.
3. Writing, Editing, and Rephrasing
Freelance writing has to be one of the best freelance skills one can acquire. Apart from having significant value and profitable returns through major demands in the market, freelance writing can become your very own business.
Platforms like Fiver and Facebook can become your client hub, where you can easily find clients, customers, and potential writers to hire.
And the next thing you know, you will have a team of writers catering to said, clients. You can even extend it to writing, essay editing service, rephrasing paragraphs without even having to gather in one place.
4. Photography and Editing
We all know Instagram has been one of the major social media platforms for organizations and individuals alike. Instagram has become a hub for showcasing freelance skills.
Therefore, you must have come across, or may even be following your favorite celebrity accounts, photography, artist, or digital editing accounts.
Not only has photography gotten a modern twist ever since Instagram paved its way with filters, but the designated editing tools, especially for photography accounts, has made it the best platform to monetize and earn as a freelance photographer.
You can build a community, showcase your art, gain likes, followers, and even clients all on one platform, for free. You can polish your photography freelance skills and still conduct your business.
You probably have already heard about Blockchain because of the increasing popularity around cryptocurrency. But what many people dismiss about Blockchain is that it is more than just background software for the virtual currency system like Bitcoin. It can be one of the best freelance skills one can possess.
Blockchain to put it most simply, is a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that makes the history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through the use of decentralization.
However, it is an emerging technology that is being experimented in combination with artificial intelligence and machine learning, making it an attractive choice among other freelance skills for both remote and corporate workers.
There are many tools available online if you want to learn and acquire the freelance skills of Blockchain development. Platforms like Solidity, Remix, Parity, etc. offer detailed courses and practical learning towards Blockchain.
6. Graphic Design
Graphic design can be a game-changing attribute for organizations and individuals alike. As jobs for graphic designers are estimated to grow by 13% by the year-end of 2020, the field is one the most attractive freelance skills acquirable at the moment.
Graphic design has changed over time with the tools updated by Apple, Adobe, and other developers that create such software platforms. It is now easily become a commercial problem-solving technique for business branding and marketing.
You will be able to note a high demand for professional designers once you set out to become one with your freelance skills set. Graphic design is also not limited just to brand imagery on profiles, websites and catalogs. You can now have graphic design merchandise including t-shirts, mugs, keychains and other accessories.
7. Excel Accounting
Excel accounting is the most basic accounting. Even if you are a fresh accounting graduate looking for a chance to gain practical experience and a way to earn a quick buck, this is your ultimate opportunity.
Acquiring accounting and associated freelance skills should not be difficult, as you have already studied the basics in high school or college. And freelancing with it should be majorly in your favor as you take online clients that are usually owners of SMEs and new startups looking for basic accounting.
8. Web Designing and Developing
Web design, in its simplest form, is the maintenance of a website or webpage. Apart from the basics, mainly web design and web development consists of coding and user interface (UI).
There is a demand for such freelance skills because of the numerous businesses now moving towards digital and online operations.
Also, as Google continues to roll out updates for websites to comply, every website owner wants to have a professional web developer in contact to get the job done efficiently. The best part is that there are many platforms available online for free if you are looking to polish your skills.
9. Customer Service
Whether it is a startup or a big organization, customer service has become a necessary extension to make the valued customers feel important. Other than that, it is essential to have a stable connection with your customers, especially if you are a product owner or a service provider.
Without customer service representatives with their impressive freelance skills to bridge communication barriers between the company and its clients, many corporations will not possibly survive in the market.
Customer service itself may not be considered a skill. Rather, communication skills are what make such freelance skills valuable and highly demanded, even if you want to work remotely.
Also, because you basically have no time or language barriers, you can opt to work for an international organization as a freelance customer service representative.
10. Affiliate Marketing
Considerably new amongst all of the other freelance skills mentioned on this list, affiliate marketing has quickly gained recognition within the last 4-5 years. As people understand the profitability attached to the medium and also the fact that how easy it is as a freelancer.
Affiliate marketing is basically a branch of commission-based marketing where you are hired by a company or entrepreneurs to sell their products and get online traffic, clicks, and engagement on their webpages.
The more successfully you can do this via the official affiliate links provided, the more commissions you earn. The best part about affiliate marketing is that you can expand the operations to others and reap benefits yourself as the cycle continues.
11. Wellness Coach and Therapy
Mental health has been up for debate for almost a decade where people have not been readily accepting that such illnesses exist. However, much credit goes to the courageous people who spoke about it and created awareness.
That is why today, people are recommended to prioritize their mental health and well-being over everything else that might be harmful or causing hindrance. That is why freelance skills focusing on mental health have started to become popular.
Wellness coaches and therapists have been in demand ever since people have started to recognize mental health as an essential part of their lives.
Of course, there is no doubt that in order to acquire such freelance skills, you need to have the educational expertise like a psychology degree to practice it legally. Therefore, if you have the right educational background, becoming an online virtual wellness coach or therapist can become your full-time job and life-long career.
12. Tutor and Teaching
Providing online teaching, tuition classes, and academic aid has become a suitable profession for many.
They can assist students as a private teacher, check assignments, and even conduct parent/teacher meetings, all virtually. There is even a demand for such teachers who can assist students online with school work because it allows a personal connection making it comfortable for both parties.
Branding can be a vague concept and quickly become confusing for many people who want to acquire it. To understand the concept of branding, one must simply be able to distinguish between a product and a brand.
A product can be generic, whereas a brand helps us distinguish it and associate it with a different company manufacturing it. Branding is basically the idea and image people have in mind when they talk about a specific product.
For instance, the water of any type will look the same. But we base our preferences over different brands of water like Aquafina by Pepsi or Dasani by Coca-Cola.
14. Book-keeping for SMEs
Small and medium enterprises usually are short on budget and have to perform even the most basic of operations within a certain price range. Leveraging this opportunity can be beneficial for freelancers who know freelance skills like bookkeeping.
When smaller and newer startups aren’t able to afford the advanced accounting and finance software to keep records of their finances, they would prefer knowledgeable personnel with key freelance skills to take over.
Bookkeeping is simply the recording of financial transactions and is a necessary part of accounting for a business.
You are not even required to be on the location to cater to corporate needs. The data would be provided to you, and you can easily organize it from a financial viewpoint.
A budget is a financial plan that is derived for restricting the financial transactions of an individual or an organization.
Budgeting is one of those freelance skills where you can make efficient budget plans for individuals and organizations alike by looking at their weekly, monthly, or annual spending and sales and confine them with their consent on a more organized way to conduct these operations.
Soft Freelance Skills toLearn
This section is written by Richard Conn, the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications. He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia. Richard has written for sites such as Cincopa and Multibriefs.
Below we have mentioned soft skills that are the best freelance skills to learn in order to gain clients and impress them. These give you keen insight and make you a high level performer that most clients will want to engage long-term.
These skills will help you freelance successfully, and regardless of what hard skills you have to offer, these soft skills will help you endlessly to land and retain clients.
Freelancing is mostly about having the right attitude, and most of these skills have some value of emotional intelligence attached that contribute to this attitude. There is an overlap in the skills mentioned below because they work together to create a freelancing persona aimed at success.
Here are the eight best freelance skills to learn or hone:
Teamwork is necessary for freelancers, despite them being mostly independent workers. They need to be able to work with other freelancers. For example, a developer working on building a website needing to work with a graphic designer.
Freelance writers often have to collaborate with other freelance writers, too. The corporate world requires that people collaborate extensively and work in multiple settings with diverse groups.
We all are aware that teamwork makes the dream work. A freelancer who values their independence and can also work well in a team, has greater chances for success as compared to one who cannot work with others. You need to be intrinsically motivated and not have your clients monitor you like a boss.
Collaboration is one of the most essential professional competencies, and includes networking as well. Not only do you need to maintain existing relationships with stakeholders, you need to be able to constantly create new ones with clients, freelance colleagues, and via the online talent marketplaces on which you depend.
Learning how to collaborate, especially in a digital environment can be overwhelming. It’s important to take advantage of the multitude of tools that can make things easier for you.
Think: social media channels, email and instant messaging apps. And, as you grow, you can look into more ways to be easily accessible communication wise. Tools like all encompassing website builders such as Squarespace or a video conferencing tool are just some suggestions.
Your collaborative efforts should help you make lasting impressions on clients when they see a freelancer who isn’t too independent and is willing to work with his or her peers.
If the pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it is that change is inevitable. To be able to easily adapt to that change is a trait necessary for success in any field. That’s why adaptability is one of the best freelance skills to learn.
Be flexible in your work and willing to adapt to the changes in the market. Rigidity is for the untalented. If you have what it takes to make your mark in your field of choice, especially as a freelancer, be willing and able to adapt easily.
Don’t worry about compromising your reputation and don’t cave in easily, but work to come to a mutual understanding or compromise.
Therein lies your ability to accept someone else’s judgement and impress your clients by being willing to listen to them and not remaining stubborn.
Develop your ability to adapt to different clients’ preferences. You will have many who will take your word for it as you are the subject matter expert, but many will try to force their opinions.
To freelance successfully across the board, you have to give importance to your client. You need to keep a balance between what is important to you, to maintain your standard of work, and what pleases the client.
Negotiation is perhaps one of the best freelance skills to learn, if not the best! You need to be able to discuss multiple matters with a client that will bring you to a negotiation table. Whether it is your hourly rate, the time you require, or other issues.
With the freelancing setup, it is possible that such negotiations take place via email or through a freelancing platform, making it all the more difficult. Not to mention that you need to be able to negotiate successfully in a short amount of time.
Negotiation is an essential soft skill because your finances are wholly dependent on it. As a freelancer, you want to be able to make the most out of every project. Negotiation helps you reach a compromise and a successful negotiator is one who doesn’t let the other party feel like they have lost, while not losing their own stance.
Successful negotiation requires strategizing and cooperating with the client, while also being on top of your game at persuading them to be on your side. To be a good negotiator you need to ramp up your listening skills, leave your ego behind, empathize but do not absorb their problems, expect a compromise, and always be prepared.
19. Problem solving
Problem solving is a skill that is necessary for most professions and is also a transferable skill that can be used in multiple situations and contexts. You would find it hard to come across a line of work that doesn’t face any problems. Problem solving for freelancers requires critical thinking.
Assume you are a web content developer and were asked to help drive traffic to a new website using search engine optimization (SEO).
Fierce competitors are already ranking first for the given keywords. How can your client rank more highly in search engine results, considering they are new entrants in their niche?
That is a problem, and to solve it you need to firstly approach it with a cool and level head. Thinking about relevant keywords and other web traffic drivers can be a good place to start.
Most problems look impossible when you begin, but if you break them down and start working your way up, they become easier. Think about Plan Bs and workarounds.
Problems are inevitable, it is how you tackle them that defines you. Accept the challenge and commit yourself to coming out on top. Critical thinking oftentimes requires thinking outside the box.
20. Time management
Time is perhaps the most precious resource you have. Most freelancers work on an hourly basis, which means every minute literally counts. Most freelancing projects are time bound. Respecting the client’s deadline or even exceeding them can be a measure of an excellent work ethic.
You can add tremendous value to your time sensitive freelance projects by submitting them on or ahead of time. Your client will be willing to hire you again if you respect deadlines.
If you are ever about to miss a deadline, make sure you inform your client beforehand. If you find the right VoIP phone service provider, it should be easy to stay in touch with clients, wherever you are. Make the best use of your time so you do not have to scramble at the last minute.
21. Interpersonal and communication skills
With most platforms for freelancing being online, digital customer engagement is another vitally important skill to have. To engage and communicate effectively is one of the most important abilities to have for a freelancer, especially in a culture that relies so heavily on acronyms and lingo.
Freelancers must be able to articulate what they do and why it is valuable for potential clients. Being able to write and speak well is critical for success.
Freelancers usually end up communicating with clients using email or text, and that makes the ability to write a commodifiable skill. Have a strong command of the language, so you can be confident while communicating.
Your communication skills will not only come in use when you are negotiating with a client, but also when you are creating reports, presenting your work, or attending regular meetings.
22. Patience and positivity
Freelancing can be hard. You could have days where no new work comes in. The key is not to give up. Keep at it. Keep hunting for the next freelance project, because there is enough work out there.
Some clients take longer to respond, but don’t give up hope. Apply on different platforms and expand your network. While all this might seem cumbersome, you need to do it and do it patiently.
Remaining positive in the face of not having enough work is a mindset rather than a skill. Staying positive can be hard. Even when you have enough work, sometimes you can feel overburdened and unable to meet deadlines, and it is hard to be positive. However, committing yourself to being positive whatever happens can be an invaluable skill to have.
Approach all new projects with a positive attitude and see how it helps make your work better. Maintaining an optimistic outlook is important for freelancing success. It shows clients that you have a healthy attitude and while you can’t be positive all the time, it is good to focus on things you can control and be positive about working to improve those first.
23. Stress management
Burnout is a common concern amongst all workers. The major problem with freelancing is that you do not have a method to the madness. Organizations have a standard for time off, for sick leave, and casual leave.
Freelancers are usually working as per their convenience from the comfort of their home, and they find themselves working even when they are sick, with no time off (not paid, anyway).
This is because you get paid for the projects you complete, by the hour, and there is no concept of paid leave. If you want a holiday, you have to forego work and that means a hit on your income.
Freelance burnout is a real challenge. Working every hour of the day can do more bad than good. You might stress yourself so much that you need a lot of time off, and that can really affect your standing amongst other freelancers.
It is a competitive world and your clients will easily find another freelancer. So take care of your health, work only as much as you can handle, and organize your work days. Take weekends off and make sure you spend time with family.
Best soft freelance skills to learn for the business side
Among the in demand soft and hard skills to develop for your freelancer profile, there are some that are very important for the business side of your freelancing.
There are some skills that are needed in addition to your technical skills and the above listed soft skills. These are not soft skills as such, but areas of business you need to know a little about if you want to have a successful freelancing business.
You own your finance department if you’re a freelancer. You are the CFO and the CEO. You need to know where to invest your profits, keep up with your taxes, and to know the answer to the question: what is demand forecasting and how can it help your business?
All this is necessary to grow and maintain your business. Demand forecasting can help you organize your calendar and is important for future planning.
Familiarize yourself with the financial network, so you do not have to outsource your taxes and accounting work as that can be expensive. You could also use a freelance accounting tool to help.
As a freelancer you are 100% responsible for your income every month, which means that you need to focus a major part of your time trying to win clients. Convincing clients that they need your service is an important skill to have.
The freelancing market is growing broadly and that means that while there is a lot of work, there is also a lot of competition. Your potential clients will have a number of freelancers to consider, so you need to make an impact and do so fast.
You need some degree of salesmanship, so clients can ‘buy-in’ to your pitch. You need to have decent freelance marketing skills to be able to represent yourself as someone who has a reputation for being great at what they do.
In the age of social media, it would help to use your LinkedIn or Instagram profile to create visibility. In the digital age, too, having a website for your freelance profile would not go amiss. Your website needs to be search engine optimized so clients can Google you. You need to get exposure so you can have as many clients as possible reach out to you.
A good freelancer needs to be his or her own manager. That makes the difference between an average freelancer and an exceptional one. Managing time can be one aspect, but managing your workload and setting long term goals is also vital for your freelance business.
A successful freelancer is one who knows which direction their business is headed in a couple of years. Try to be one-step ahead as you map out your future.
With all the technology at hand: project management tools, online courses to develop new skills, social media and email management to using a cloud phone service, these are options you have at your disposal for whenever you need them.
Since you are your own boss, it’s important to be able to continuously foresee ways to change and improve your services and maximize productivity and growth.
Do you have the freelance skills to make good money?
Freelancing is a growing work trend. Soon enough, many of the newer generations will prefer to make a living through freelancing.
You can easily make things work while staying within the comfort zone of someone starting off as a new worker without any experience and maximum space for trial and error.
Hopefully, you can leverage one or more of the freelance skills we have mentioned in the list and master the art that is freelancing!
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