Whether you’re a software developer, content creator, graphic artist, or accounting whiz, freelancing undoubtedly has its perks. While the market is competitive, the world of freelancing offers attractive advantages, including the ability to work remotely and set your own hours.
In fact, it’s the way of the world these days, with an estimated 1.2 billion freelancers globally. In 2020 alone, freelancers in the US gleaned a whopping $1.2 trillion, even amid the global pandemic. Many freelancers are also highly skilled, with Medium noting that around 45 % of freelancers have IT, marketing, web development, machine learning, and AI backgrounds.
Despite the highly skilled freelance market, it is imperative to keep your finger on the pulse with regard to innovations in the field. Having an online portfolio to showcase your work is undoubtedly important, but some fantastic tools can enhance your business skills and allow you to run a business successfully. Whether you’re a solopreneur or building your own enterprise, this guide can help you to survive and thrive in the freelancing terrain.
1. Upskill yourself online
In 1597 English Philosopher Sir Francis Bacon proclaimed that “knowledge is power”. Hundreds of years later, this sentiment rings true. While formal education isn’t always a must, it is undoubtedly important to keep up to date with trends in your particular industry and understand what is expected from clients. This will ensure that you’re ahead of the curve and set you apart from the competition. Freelancing undeniably opens up a world of variety and possibility to those who embark on the path, and upskilling yourself is one such way to stay ahead.
Happily, some fantastic online platforms offer incredible courses by industry professionals. Lynda, Coursera, and Udemy are three such websites, offering the chance for freelancers to expand their knowledge and upskill.
The flexibility factor is another incredible advantage of these courses – much like freelancing itself. Complete assignments and tutorials at times that suit you best, and be sure to write notes as you go so that you can always revisit topics when needed.
Another fantastic way to upskill yourself and expand your knowledge is to attend webinars. They’re usually free or minimal cost and can enhance your knowledge and expand your network. Investing a little time in your education can yield positive long-term results.
2. Utilize freelance project management software
Freelance project management platforms are a fantastic way to streamline business operations and boost productivity. Part of the beauty of freelancing is the dynamic nature of the work and projects. However, this also means that there is often a lot happening at once.
Project juggling is usually the norm for freelancers, and this is why freelance management tools like Indy have gained such popularity in recent years.
Whether you want to send enticing business proposals and impress new clients with professional templates, generate efficient invoices in a dash, or communicate with clients and colleagues online, these platforms have much to offer and can take a lot of the day-to-day stress out of freelancing.
3. Use online accounting tools
When you run your own business or embark on a freelancing career, you suddenly have to become an accountant, too, especially in the initial stages when you might not have the finances to hire an accountant. Luckily, many great accounting tools online can help you correlate your finances, ensure tax compliance, and send invoices with ease. Top accounting software programs will usually offer the following features:
- Tracking expenses
- Generating and sending invoices
- Scanning receipts
- Tracking time and projects
- Generating reports for your books and tax purposes
Some top accounting software options include:
- Zoho Books
- Quickbooks Online
Different plans will cost different amounts and are usually billed monthly or annually. Spending a little on quality accounting software can enhance your business operations and ensure that everything is above board.
4. Work on soft skills too
Soft skills are just as crucial to growing your business as hard skills. While you might be brilliant at your trade (IT skills or graphic design), soft skills are essential if you want to maintain excellent business relationships and solve problems as they arise.
Soft skills are classified as “a combination of personality traits, behaviors, and social attitudes that allow people to communicate effectively, collaborate, and successfully manage conflict.”
Soft skills include:
- Communication skills (verbal, written, visual, and active listening)
- Problem-solving abilities
- The ability to successfully work in a team (important for freelance collaborations)
Working on these skills can seriously boost your business and will result in more clients and return ones at that. Some key ways to boost these skills include:
- Being open to feedback
- Communicating with various stakeholders regularly
- Emphasizing the importance of teamwork and collaboration
- Taking leaps outside your comfort zone to engage with new projects and environments
- Actively working through conflict, even when it’s difficult
- Adapting to changes with a positive mindset
5. Get organized
Successful businesses prioritize organization to ensure that they hit deadlines and deliver quality work. Part of running a prosperous business is ensuring that all the admin is taken care of, especially in the initial stages when you might not be able to hire an assistant.
This is why so many freelancers are utilizing online platforms like Indy. Indy offers a full-suite of 9 essential tools for freelancers, including:
- Proposal templates
- Contract templates
- Invoice generator
- Time tracker
- Task tracker
- Project tracker
- Online communication portal
- Space to upload forms and files
Indy tools can be easily accessed via mobile or desktop, and a centralized dashboard makes the platform easy to navigate. Whether you want to send brilliant proposals to prospective clients or communicate with colleagues as you collaborate on a big project, Indy has it all.
Starting out as a freelancer can be exhilarating and somewhat daunting, but following these top tips can boost your business savvy and produce fantastic results.
What are some of your top business skill tips? We’d love to know.