I don’t like the term ‘soft skills’. It gives the impression of something rather vague, fluffy and...well, weak. In reality, soft skills are crucial for building a successful freelance career.  


But first, let’s consider hard skills. Hard skills are the more obvious technical abilities that you bring to the table as a freelancer. For instance, this might mean being a master of photoshop, a makeup guru or an SEO wizard. 


Though it’s hard to swallow, in today’s world, almost anyone with a laptop or smartphone can become an ‘expert’ through some savvy Googling. Whilst clients of course hire you for your specialised expertise, there’s so much more you can do to really stand out, generate repeat business and forge a long-lasting relationship with your clients, regardless of your field. What makes you different?


This is where soft skills come into the picture. So what are they? Broadly, they could be described as interpersonal skills, social skills or emotional intelligence. 


More specifically, they include:


  • Being a good listener

  • Effective communication 

  • Creative thinking

  • Teamwork

  • Conflict resolution

  • Problem-solving

  • Empathy

  • Adaptability

  • Time management

  • Organization 


You wouldn’t need to list all these off in your CV, job proposal or covering letter, but if you can convey that you possess some or all of these attributes, you immediately become much more appealing to clients. 


What’s more, it’s especially important to demonstrate these qualities when working in a remote team, where your personality won’t automatically shine through. 

A brunette woman in an armchair, smiling on the phone whilst also looking at laptop

Imagine this. You’re a client who’s hired a freelancer. Although they do the job itself fine, otherwise you’re getting the bare minimum. They’re slow at replying to emails, and answer with a simple “yup, got it”. They show zero evidence of going the extra mile or bringing fresh ideas to the table, and make no attempt to integrate with other team members. 


Not exactly inspiring, ey? Chances are, you’re going to start searching for someone else to do the job - someone who instills a greater sense of confidence and trust. Someone who believes in your mission! A freelancer is not an employee, but should still care about the project, the client and their objectives. 


Clients need to know that you’re motivated, passionate and personally invested in their project. It’s not just about meeting deadlines, but being a creative individual who is actively engaged and attentive.


In essence, these so-called ‘soft’ skills mustn’t be underestimated, as they’re the key to making yourself indispensable to your client’s business.