What Does It Take To Be A Successful Freelancer?

By Alyssa Gregory
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laptopMaking the move to working for yourself isn’t always easy, regardless of how prepared you are. And if you’ve become self-employed as a result of circumstances beyond your control, it can be even more difficult. Being successful at freelancing takes a combination of freelance-friendly personality characteristics and an ability to face and conquer challenges. Here’s a look at the benefits, challenges and some must-have characteristics and traits that make a freelancer successful.

The Benefits

Being self-employed comes with a great set of benefits. Not only can you get rid of a long and unproductive commute and wear whatever you want, but you are the boss. Now, that’s a benefit. Here are a few more:

  • You set your own hours.
  • You choose the work you do.
  • You have unlimited earning potential.
  • You can work from anywhere.
  • You get to reap the rewards from your hard work.
  • You can take time off without clearing it with anyone.
  • You can tend to family, house, and other non-work issues.

One of the biggest plusses I’ve found from being self-employed is that your career is what you make of it. You can get rid of all of the limitations and definitions — such as being a “Web Designer” or a “Programmer” — and create your own perfect career that’s a combination of everything you love without the things you don’t love. You have control of your future. It’s an exciting prospect.

The Challenges

While they can be vastly different from your office-working counterparts, freelancing has it’s own set of challenges. One part of being a successful freelancer is being able to handle whatever comes your way. Things like:

  • Not getting paid
  • Having difficulty finding work
  • Not having a marketing budget
  • Being unable to get health insurance
  • Having difficulty networking
  • Feeling isolated
  • Dealing with difficult clients without any support
  • Facing burnout

Unfortunately, all of these things are common freelancer challenges. But the challenges themselves are not a reason to ditch your freelancing dreams. You just need to be prepared to deal with them if and when they happen.

The Must-Have’s

Most freelancers, business owners and others who are self-employed have similar personality traits, lifestyles and other characteristics that support their success. You will need at least some of the must-have items on this list in order to be successful at freelancing:

  • Drive
  • Passion for what you do
  • Practicality
  • Networking ability
  • Hard work
  • Discipline
  • Thirst for knowledge
  • Time management skills
  • Support from family and friends
  • Risk-taking mindset
  • Patience
  • Thick skin
  • Good communication skills

The most important traits you can have as a freelancer, I think, are drive and passion. Many of these other items can be learned and improved with time, but you are either driven to succeed or you’re not. And you need to love what you’re doing to sustain that kind of drive on a long-term basis. Those two traits are a powerful combo, and I don’t think I have ever met a successful freelancer who made it the distance without having both.

What do you think makes a successful freelancer?

Image credit: layoff

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