Essential skills to become A Successful Freelancer In Nigeria

Want to know how to become a successful freelancer in Nigeria? Here are some key skills that you will need! Becoming a freelancer sounds great on paper. After all, who doesn’t want to be their own boss, work on their own terms, and have a more flexible lifestyle? While those benefits are real, the skills required to be a freelancer (and remain one) are often overlooked.

While an employee only has to be good at their primary skill, a freelancer has to learn all sorts of other skills to accommodate their increasingly demanding workload. As an entrepreneur, you need many other skills to run your freelance business.

1. Self-Learning

One of the most important skills you must have as a freelancer is a self-learning. While an employee can be trained by their employer and given development courses, freelancers have nobody to rely on but themselves. They have to be self-motivated to learn new things and upgrade their skills.

This requires a lot of conscious effort and setting aside time for regular skill development. But the real tricky part is deciding what to learn. It’s one thing to be instructed on what to learn by your employer, and a whole other thing to figure it out yourself.

Whether to learn a complementary skill on top of your existing skill or further polish your craft, that’s a decision you will have to make by yourself. You can read books, watch videos, buy courses, ask other freelancers to share some tips, etc.

2. Time Management

While it’s true that freelancing brings a lot of flexibility to your life since you don’t have to work fixed hours, it also makes it really easy to procrastinate. You might find yourself wanting to delay a project because you think you have enough time to do it later, but that can become a problem very soon.

Using time management tools to create a schedule and stick to it is a great way to avoid wasting time and plan out your day. The more disciplined you are as a freelancer, the easier it will be to not get sidetracked by constant distractions and waste those valuable hours.

3. Logical Reasoning

There are going to be a lot of times when you will have to justify your actions as a freelancer. Perhaps a client wants to know why you opted for a specific approach for the project they assigned you, or maybe they are unsure how the amount due on this month’s invoice is so much higher than last time.

If you are not able to reason with your clients and explain to them why something is the way it is, they might doubt your expertise and cut ties with you. This is also why you might face trouble finding new freelance clients. To get better at reasoning, it can be a good idea to talk to other established freelancers and understand why they do what they do.

4. Quick-Thinking

Reasoning and quick thinking go hand-in-hand. Not only for communicating with clients but also for maintaining a productive workflow. The faster you can think and connect the dots, the less time it takes to do research and get a task done.

Remember, a task done quicker is a service charged higher because you are helping your client save valuable business hours. That’s also why it is a good idea to charge your services on a per-gig basis rather than per hour. The latter punishes you for being a fast worker.

5. Problem-Solving

Your job as a freelancer is to understand, clarify, and solve your clients’ problems. And this would have been an easier task if clients knew what exact problem they were trying to solve. But that’s rarely the case.

Most times, you will have to diagnose the issue and figure out what needs to be solved. These complex problem-solving skills are what separate you from others and help you carry yourself as an expert rather than a replaceable service provider.

6. Accepting Criticism

While self-learning has its place, some lessons come in the form of criticism, and most of them will come from your clients. Maybe you didn’t do enough research or forgot to follow the style guide. All these mistakes are a part of the journey, and accepting criticism is one of the key things clients look for when hiring freelancers.

But make sure to distinguish constructive criticism from non-constructive criticism. The former is situational, specific, and suggestive. The latter is inappropriate, untimely, unprofessional, and inconsiderate of your side of the story.

7. Adaptability

Being adaptive is critical to your freelance business because it helps you counter bad circumstances such as an economic depression. For instance, many fashion outlets and tour companies lost business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but e-commerce seemed to hold up quite well.

The point here is to understand where the money is in the economy right now and steer your business in that direction. It might be more profitable and perhaps even necessary for your freelance business to switch from the industry you currently serve to the one that’s currently booming.

8. High-Risk Tolerance

It’s not news to anyone that freelancing is a risky career choice. Unless you have signed a long-term contract with your client, financial stability is always a challenge for freelancers. Some months, you might get a ton of work and have really good business; other months, you might struggle to find new projects.

Plus, having no benefits like paid leaves or vacation is another bummer that you have to account for as a freelancer. The only leaves you can take are the ones that you allow to yourself, so make sure they are taken at the right time and for the right duration to avoid overlooking pending work.

9. Financial Literacy

One of the signs you’re not ready to be a freelancer is that you don’t have a good grasp of basic financial and economic concepts such as taxation, budgeting, inflation, depreciation, opportunity cost, time value of money, and more.

As the owner of your business, you need to maintain clear written records of your income and expenses, goals, accounts receivable, tax payable, depreciation realized on work equipment, and inventory (if any). Without these records, it’s going to be very difficult to ascertain whether you’re actually making any meaningful progress.

Freelancing is a great career choice, but it’s not for everyone. It requires a very specific set of skills on top of the one you are selling. From self-learning to time management to risk tolerance, it’s a constant balancing act that’s hard to practice and harder to master.

If you are willing, learning these above skills will help you stand the test of time and become a seasoned freelancer. Be sure to practice them regularly to train yourself and find the methods that work best for you.

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