5 Traits of a Successful Freelancer

successful freelancer

For many of us, becoming a successful freelancer is the modern dream: a chance to wave goodbye to the 9-5 slog, pick and choose your hours, and work on projects that excite you. At least, that’s the theory.

In practice, making it as a successful freelancer takes a level of dedication, self-belief and entrepreneurial spirit that far surpasses the demands of traditional employment. The rewards are there for those who are willing to ride the freelance rollercoaster, but many fall at an early hurdle because they fail to understand the work involved.

A successful freelancer in any industry has certain necessary traits. Here are five you will need to make the switch from employee to self-employed.

A willingness to sell

As a freelancer, you are providing a service to a customer or a group of customers designed to meet their needs. In other words, you are solving a problem for people in exchange for money. Consequently, a willingness and ability to sell yourself and your services in non-negotiable.

You can have the world’s most perfect solution to a client’s problem, but unless you are able to convey your authority in a way that makes them want to buy from you, you won’t make any sales.

Getting to a ‘yes’ is a multi-step process. First and foremost, your potential client needs to be aware of you. Next, they need to find your proposition more attractive than your competition’s. Finally, they have to decide to hire you. Each of these steps requires you to sell yourself and your service confidently and persuasively.

Creating a brand

Which leads us nicely to our next point. In order to sell your freelance proposition effectively, you need to make yourself marketable. In other words, you need a brand.

What makes you, your knowledge and your expertise superior to others in your sector? What are your unique attributes? Why should potential clients feel confident to hire you?

These questions are answered by creating a brand – a clear, sellable message about who you are and what you do.

Knowing your worth

Once you’ve done the hard part of securing a client, it’s time to make some money. This is where it’s crucial to be confident of your true value.

Undercharging clients, providing work for free, and underestimating the scope of a project are all cardinal sins when it comes to successful freelancing. Without sick pay, holiday allowance and the security of a monthly paycheck, it’s critical to be paid what your worth when work comes your way.

Delivering on your promises

One of the best ways to get new work as a freelancer is through referrals. If you do a great job for one client, they are likely to recommend you to others. For that reason, you must ensure you deliver on your promises – if possible, ensure you overdeliver.

Setting yourself up for success in this area starts at the contracting stage. Be careful to clarify client expectations at this early stage, set KPIs and other deliverables, and iron out any misunderstandings before work starts.

Building a network

Freelancers are solely responsible for their personal motivation, standards of work and development. But that doesn’t mean they have to do everything alone.

Creating a network of like-minded individuals with complementary skills and services is vital to freelance success. In other people, you will find an abundance of learning and working opportunities, not to mention support in a world that can be very lonely.

Freelancing can be a highly fulfilling, freeing mode of work. But successful freelancing is only available to those who work hard and back themselves with confidence. If you are willing to do that, the rewards are waiting.


Kate Jones writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

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