As a freelancer, your ability to earn a living is completely down to you. Firstly, you must have the skills organisations need, and secondly, you must be able to market those skills in such a way that prospective clients will contact you when they need them.
While that might sound relatively straightforward, the trouble is that there are thousands of other freelancers in your sector just like you. In fact, in the UK, the dramatic growth of the freelance economy means there are now 2 million freelancers across all sectors.
With such a large talent pool for prospective clients to choose, you can’t afford to sit back and hope that your skills as they are now will continue to attract new clients for years to come. To stay at the top of your game, it’s essential you continue to build on your skills. But what steps can freelancers take to stay ahead of the curve…
As an employee, you’re likely to have an appraisal on a regular basis to identify the areas you’re doing well and others where there’s room for improvement. Training programmes will then be formulated to fill those gaps. One of the benefits of being your own boss is that this kind of formal procedure is no longer necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s something you shouldn’t think about yourself.
Take some time, even if it’s just a few hours a month, to think about what you have done well, what you could have done better and the projects you’d like to have been involved in but didn’t win because of a lack of skills or experience. You can then identify measures, such as online training courses, that can help you bridge that gap.
Sometimes, the need to add new skills to your arsenal might be more about where you want to be and less about addressing your clients’ needs. For example, you may have had a change in your personal circumstances that means you need to work less while maintaining the same level of income. Alternatively, you may have identified an area that you’re really interested in or that’s potentially more lucrative that you don’t currently have the skills for.
As a freelancer, it’s important you take stock of where you are now and think about where you’d like to be in the next few years. You can then start putting the stepping stones in place to get there.
Client feedback is invaluable. While it’s always lovely to get glowing feedback from customers about how brilliant you are, the most valuable feedback you’ll ever receive will identify areas where you could improve. Constructive criticism, although hard to take, should be acted on and not dismissed. Responding more quickly, offering more support to those who are new to your area of work or costing projects more clearly will all make you a better freelancer.
Improving your skills as a freelancer is not all about removing your weaknesses. The reason you’re in-demand is because you’re extremely good at what you do. Focusing on your strengths and making sure you stay at the cutting-edge of your industry is vital. That could be by learning the latest techniques or investing in new software that allows you to offer the best possible service.
Taking part in sector-specific conversations online and being a part of professional associations or trade bodies can make you aware of the latest developments in your industry. Peers in the same field will often have insights into new areas of work or help to stimulate ideas that you had not previously considered that could take your business to the next level.
As a freelancer, you’ll be used to doing things for yourself, so this route to upskilling should come naturally. A simple Google search can be the starting point that’ll eventually lead to relevant books or magazines, subject-specific blogs, online forums or training providers that can provide the skills you need.
Take your freelance skills to next level
At LynxPro, we are partnered with eCourses4You, a training provider that can deliver professional certifications in Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, project management and more. We can then help you connect your specialised skills with the clients and ICT projects that need them the most. Search for your next role today.