3 Skills You Need to Be a Successful Freelancer (Apart From Writing)

Set yourself apart from the crowd and build a powerful legacy.

3 Skills You Need to Be a Successful Freelancer (Apart From Writing)
Photo by Stefan Vladimirov on Unsplash

Set yourself apart from the crowd and build a powerful legacy.

When I quit my job to become a full-time writer, I thought all I’d have to do is wake up, scribble notes on a journal, and then spend the whole day reading and writing.

The truth couldn’t have been farther from that.

If you want to be self-employed in today’s digital age, there’s so much more you need to do to become successful.

In this post, I’m listing the three essential skills that I have developed over the past year of my journey into freelance writing. Of course, every person’s story would be different, but I’m sure freelance writers would be better off if they learned these three skills.

No matter at what point you are in your journey of freelance writing, read on for some actionable tips that come from my experience.

1. The Skill of Painting Powerful Pictures

When you’re pitching to a client for work or submitting work to an existing client, each conversation can go either of the three ways:

  1. They love what you showed them and accept your proposal immediately.
  2. They *sort of like* what you showed, but require more time to make a decision. Usually, this is followed by several follow-ups and an eventual decision that might be a watered-down version of what you initially proposed.
  3. You either get ghosted by them or face outright rejection.

How do you make sure that most of your conversations have the first response, i.e. immediate acceptance?

To do that, you need to polish the skill of telling your story in a way that impresses the person and also makes sure the gravity of all the work you’ve done is being conveyed.

Call them presentation skills or pitching skills, but in the end, it comes down to how well you can tell a story.

If you can convey all your points clearly, make sure that your impact on the work is highlighted, and the needs of the client are being addressed, then you’ve done an incredible job.

Pitching to new clients with whom you’ve never worked before is one of the hardest parts of this journey of being a freelance writer. But if you keep these points in mind, then it doesn’t have to be super difficult.

2. The Skill to Get Your Way

No matter how amazing a client you get, negotiation will always be a part of your life as a freelance writer.

Even if you find amazing clients who don’t bargain for your rates, there’d come a time when you have to discuss with them and negotiate something better for yourself. And that’s why it’s super important to learn the skills of negotiation as a freelance writer.

I haven’t read any books on how to influence people, but here are two tips that I learned from experience:

1. Make sure they know you got their back

While negotiating, always focus on what the other person has to gain.

For example, if you’re asking for higher rates, don’t mention this as the first point in your message. Instead, mention all the value you can deliver for the higher rates and how it will benefit the client in the long run.

2. Allow them space to say no

Make sure that no matter what they answer, you’re not going to be burning any bridges. The client’s decision will not hamper your existing relationship in any way.

Make it clear that they have nothing to lose by saying no but everything to gain by saying yes.

3. The Skill to Back Up Whatever You Say

Every writer can write their opinions or tell their own story, but only a few skilled ones can present an accurate unbiased picture of the reality.

Doing extensive research to support your article and then presenting it in a clean and professional way is what’s going to separate you from other freelance writers competing for the same level of success.

The skill of research also comes in handy when you’re pitching to a new client.

It’s easy to use a scrapping tool, get the emails of relevant people, and copy-paste a template to send hundreds of cold emails in a day. But such blatant automation rarely gives any results.

Instead, if you spend that time and energy researching everything about the company before you approach a contract, you can save yourself the hard work and also get some amazing results.

That’s why the skill of research is so important in your journey as a freelance writer.

Closing Thoughts

No, it’s not easy being a freelance writer. But the freedom you get to choose the kind of projects that excite you and to decide how many hours you work in a day is what makes this one of the most coveted professions of this generation.

I dived into freelancing without knowing anything about what this industry would demand. And to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as I did, here are the three skills you need to develop if you want to be a successful freelance writer:

  1. Pitching or presentation skills to throw light on your contribution to the project.
  2. Negotiations skills so you don’t lose out on how much you deserve without making the client feel bad.
  3. Research skills to back up, whatever you’re talking about and to present it in such a way that leaves the reader satisfied.

What other skills would you add to this list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Want to be a successful freelancer but struggling to find good clients? Check out my 90-day guide to finding your first high-paying freelance client. You’ll find 5 pitching secrets, 2 email templates, and a solid framework to get your freelancing career started.

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