54 million Americans worked as independent contractors in 2016 and the number has substantially increased ever since. By the year 2020, 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancing. With the average price for a good online worker, especially a software developer touching $1k, many people are encouraged to learn technical skills and offer their services as a freelancer on different freelancer marketplaces.
Freelancers in the U.S. alone contribute 1.4 trillion to the economy every year and the worldwide stats could be well speculated based on these numbers only.
Freelancing is freedom, the very idea of being self-employed and working from home at your own pace is unparalleled. With the growing success of being empowered by working from home and raising your efficiency, many big companies in the world are also encouraging work from the home model as it has multi-facets to maximum productivity.
As a freelancer who has been self-employed for almost about two decades, I have observed many success and failure stories. I have seen freelancers failing and quitting who were well destined to reach the top and I have also seen Freelancers acing the game even though I tipped them off as a complete failure at the beginning of their careers.
When I started observing the freelancing patron and behavior of freelancers closely, I realized, it is not only the skill that makes you go places.
Truth be told, skill is just one attribute, and of course, you have to be talented enough to be skillful to get a job done but freelancing is far beyond the skills-set to have, I mean — as far as tasting success is concerned.
On a cold winter night in 2010, I was having a conversation with one of my clients on Skype who wanted to talk to me in person and see how I converse.
His perception was, that people from Asia are usually poor people as they belong to third-world countries, English is not their first language and he did not want to waste his money on hiring someone who would find it extremely hard to apprehend the project requirements and get the job done.
Within a couple of minutes of our video call, he brought my attention to my communication skill. He was impressed, to say the least, and told me why he was skeptical to hire someone from my country amid a lack of knowledge, and speaking English.
With that worry set aside, his next observation was my communication skill and in no time, I was complimented not only for my accent but also for my ability to convey ‘how I plan to get his work done, my timeline, and other nitty-gritty details about the job.
I want to make a confession here. I was never a great or talented graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination. If you ask me, honestly, I was not even close to being average but the one attribute that stretched my freelancing career this long was my ‘communication skill’.
It was my ability to communicate with my clients that enabled me to prolong my career and make a living from freelancing.
Communication skills not only fetched new clients but also helped a long way in retaining old clients too, which I believe, is 60% of your success as a freelancer. You can’t find new clients every day, nobody can. But, if you can satisfy your clients by communicating regularly with them, not only you can convince them to pay you top dollar by signing monthly contracts but they also get the confidence to refer more clients your way.
According to Harvard University, it was revealed that client retention is extremely necessary for business growth. You can only do good work, and retain clients if you have good communication skills. Your technical skill is secondary, even if you do not have a proper skill set, you can hire the best people to work for you and get the jobs done.
This is one solid reason why successful people like Jack Ma always hire people who are smarter than him.
So, if you want to become successful online, as a freelancer, or in your business — raise your level of communication, work hard on this skill only and the chances of your success will increase tri-fold.