9 Soft Skills All Successful Freelancers Need to Get Booked Out

Freelancer Digital Business Manager Bootcamp

There’s a lot of talk about technical training as a freelancer – mainly the skillsets and experience of the services you want to offer like business management, copywriting, design, and bookkeeping but what about the soft skills?

We forget that soft skills – work ethic, and communication – play an equally important role in your success as a freelancer.

Those are the components that take you from a solid B- freelancer to an A+ freelancer.

And honestly? Most success as a freelancer can be credited to soft skills.

They are a huge contributor to your growth as a freelancer in terms of charging higher rates and acquiring a more desirable client base – soft skills lead to referrals and glowing testimonials – it makes finding and landing new clients much easier over time.

Today we’re covering the soft skills every successful freelancer needs.

*A note here before we dive in – a disclaimer if you will – soft skills are really essential to success but only if they don’t come at a sacrifice to your mental well-being and self-care.

Establish boundaries so that you don’t compromise yourself for someone else.

It’ll never be worth it to sacrifice your mental or physical well-being and health for a client – and it’s detrimental to your career long-term.

Let’s continue with the 9 key soft skills that make you an A+ freelancer who gets booked out.

🔑 Stellar Communication

First up – you guessed it.

Communication is key.

If you aren’t willing to communicate and work on your communication skills, freelancing is going to be difficult.

We hear people talk about communication all the time – so why is it that so many freelancers are still not communicating the way they should be in order to keep clients happy?

Communication can solve 95% of the issues that pop up during a project.

Here are the 3 best practices for client communication:

  1. Keep Your Client Updated.

Oftentimes, we think – ‘oh, we caught up with the client last Monday. They know what’s going on – they can put 2 and 2 together and figure out what I’m doing.’ – They can’t.

Keep your client informed of what’s going on. Give them updates. When in doubt, ask your client how often they want updates and then do what they ask. Set an alarm for yourself so that you don’t forget.

If you use a tool like Slack maybe implementing a daily updates channel on what’s happening would really make your client feel like communication matters to you.

It will provide clarity and transparency on what you’re doing and the status of your daily to-do list.

A client cannot read your mind – they don’t know what’s going on on your side of the screen.

If you don’t give them clarity, it sends them into this loop of wondering,

Are they even doing any work? What’s going on?’

It makes them stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated and it won’t matter if you deliver your project and it’s done – the process of working with you due to that lack of communication was a stressful process.

If you agreed on a timeline and you’re going to be late – let them know – and don’t let them know last minute.

Let them know earlier that it’s going to be late.

It’s so simple – keep them informed of what’s going on and you’ll already be doing so much more than tons of other freelancers out there.

If you’re moving on to the next part of a project, just send a quick ‘Hey! Heads up that I’m now getting started with XYZ. I’ll probably have that over to you by XYZ.’

Now the client doesn’t have to stress – they know when they can expect the next step from you.

2. Get Crystal Clear Clarity About the Task and Expectations Upfront.

Crystal Clear Gif

This can be the biggest issue that derails a project – lack of clarity on the timeline, deliverables, updates, communication, expectations, and quality standards from day 0.

Do not skip getting clarity on what EXACTLY needs to be done, by when, by who, how often, how much, and to what degree.

You will kick yourself HARD for it later – It’s easy to jump into situations excitedly assuming you are both on the same page – then weeks later, when the deliverable is not what they wanted, it’s nobody’s fault but it ends up being a bad experience for both sides.

Get clarity on the expectations upfront, get it in writing, and explain to the client why you are getting this detailed clarity – you want to protect them and ensure they’re getting exactly what they’re expecting.

3. Manage Expectations As Soon As Possible

If you notice a client’s expectations are unrealistic – manage those ASAP.

Don’t just assume it’ll be fine later down the line – it will only get worse later down the line.

Clearly explain what you can realistically do for them and what that will look like.

This will avoid unexpected disappointment on both sides.

❤️ Empathy

Empathy is an underrated skill but this soft skill will help tremendously not only in working with people and understanding their emotions but also in understanding what a client needs because a lot of what we (as human beings) need is sometimes hidden between the lines of what we’re not saying.

Strategically, being empathetic gets you far because you can better understand people and put yourself in their position to understand what they’re worried about and where they want to go.

For example, If you notice a client keeps procrastinating on an important task – instead of being annoyed that they’re not doing it, ask yourself – why might they be procrastinating?

Knowing their personality, what may be going on?

How may I make this task easier for them?

🧠 Problem Solving

Problem-solving skills are important for life in general and your growth as a freelancer.

problem solving skills

There are people who come upon an issue, and their immediate reaction is, “I can’t figure it out – you figure it out for me.”

Understandably so – there are certain things in life we all enjoy having done for us, things we’d rather not deal with.

But when it comes to freelancing, you can’t default to that because a client hired you to make their life easier.

If you’re always coming to them with problems, you’re not making their life easier.

A good rule of thumb, if you come to a client with a problem, make sure you have already been to page 109 on google search results and are still coming up empty-handed.

🔥 Confidence

Just be confident‘ they say. Ok. Great. Helpful. Thanks.

Confidence will go a long way but it’s not something that comes easily when you’re just getting started and that’s okay.

As much as possible, try to source confidence from somewhere, whether that is your work ethic, your soft skills, experience if you have some already, your dedication, or from your ability to solve problems, and how hard you’re going to work.
inspire yourself gif

Source that confidence from where you can – clients respond to confidence.

It instills trust – and it will take time to build up, but that’s okay.

Just make sure you ARE building it up and not spending all your time trying to knock yourself down.

🙂 Kindness

As in life, kindness will get you a long way in your freelancing career.

Be a good person.

There is not too much explanation needed here. Just-be-kind.

Kindness is free

People want to work with nice people.

👍 Good Work Ethic

It’s no secret – many of us are people pleasers.

And it should come as no surprise that as freelancers, you’ll tend to carry that trait through – always trying to go above and beyond in search of validation and praise from clients.

Don’t use that need for validation to fuel your work ethic only – it can only work well up to a point.

People-pleasing is a double-edged sword – wield it carefully.

Key work ethic practices:

Do what you say you’re going to do.

This is one of those basics that seems so obvious – but people still don’t do it.

They promise the world and then deliver a half-eaten banana.

Don’t be that person.

It’s always better to underpromise, and overdeliver than the other way around.

Overdelivering is always a good option when you can – if you promised to do XYZ, maybe you can deliver WXYZ.

Care about what you’re doing.

Care about the quality of what you’re creating.

If something is not quite right, don’t hand it off to the client – figure out what’s wrong, try again and uphold your own standards.

⏳ Organizing Yourself & Time Management

Organization and time management are non-negotiables as a freelancer.

Pro Tip: Do weekly planning to be sure you know what’s coming up for each client – Grab this Free Notion weekly planning template for freelancers here!

Do things ahead of time and add buffers and padding into your timeline estimations so that you are prepared for the worst.

Also, show up early for meetings and calls and take notes.

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It’ll go a long, long way.

🏃‍♀️ Proactivity

This one is not talked about as much as it should be – In my opinion.

The best freelancers are freelancers who take initiative.

They’re the ones a client wants to pay more money to and the ones that get recommended to everyone.

Because they’re showing that they’re invested – they’re coming up with ideas, solutions, and helping foresee problems.

They’re showing that they care and that they’re in it as much as the business owner – they’re giving additional value.

It’s easy to think ‘Well that’s not really within my job description. I’m just going to do what they delegated to me and that’s it.

And that’s totally 100% fine – but just know that taking initiative and being proactive is how you stand out because most people are not proactive.

Most people do not take initiative.

Most people don’t step one toe outside of their job description.

If you’re that person who comes with ideas, solutions, and tips a good client will recognize that and reward it.

🔍 Be Detail Oriented

Finally, this is one of those soft skills that give you superstar status.

Want to really make your clients happy and at ease? Double-check your work.

If you’re thinking, “I’m just not detail-oriented! That’s just not who I am.”

Being detail-oriented is not a genetic thing – it comes with building little habits.

You can build detail orientation into your processes as freelancers.

✔️ Double check your work – go through it once and then go through it again.

✔️ Install Grammarly so that your small typos and grammar mistakes are caught.

✔️ Double-check your links in an incognito browser before you send them to a client.

✔️ Before you submit a project, go back and read the original agreed-upon scope of the project to ensure you’re not forgetting anything.

✔️ Proofread your emails.

💫 Bonus Tips: Freelancer Magic Thoughtfulness Dust

And finally, this is optional.

It never ever hurts to sprinkle a little bonus magic dust by being thoughtful.

fairy dust gif

You can always surprise and delight your clients with thoughtful gifts or bonuses.

Get them a gift for their birthday or business anniversary or another holiday they celebrate. Here’s a video on our favorite places to get gifts for freelancing clients.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be something they mentioned in passing or a celebration of a business milestone.

They’ll appreciate it and think of you every time they see it!

There we have it, breaking down how to be a top-notch A+ freelancer based on our years of experience working with dozens of different freelancers as digital business managers.

Check out the full video below and let us know what soft skills you think are most important for successful freelancers!

YouTube video
Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!

What's in this post?

Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!