Here are 7 of the most common personality traits to success for an individual freelancer and developer who wants to succeed online
Working from home can mean you are doing things without anyone above you (a manager or a boss). It is the best part of being a freelancer. Still, it is vital for an individual freelancer, especially developers, to remain disciplined and motivated and work towards being a success.
So here are some of the critical quality and personality traits that a freelancer has to have to be a success, especially the developer freelancers.
1. Has a Positive Attitude towards Working
As a freelancer, you work directly with clients. Often clients aren’t technically very sound to be able to judge the quality of work.
In such a scenario, there may be a temptation to get things done faster rather than with quality. This is where the attitude comes in the picture, and it will be the sole reason for the success of the freelancer developer in the long-run.
Work for a client as you may work for yourself and try to deliver the highest quality of work you can. If you don’t have such an attitude, it may not take you a long way.
I have hired so many freelancers to outsource, and often it is the quality of the work that hasn’t been at par for me to continue working with them.
They are more focused on delivering the deliverables.
I always focus on delivering my best deliverables to each of my clients.
If you don’t have that attitude, you are mainly driven by money to be a freelancer who isn’t the right path any freelancer should be walking.
Recently I answered the question to one of my blog reader about should one accept an Offer if he is paid less but get exposure. My answer to such questions will always be yes. Because for me, freelancing is more about being able to learn something new all the time than the money I am being paid for my skills.
Yes, I agree at some point of time in life, you may have to work only for money, and there is no denying about it. It is life, and if the demand is extra cash, get it. The point I am trying to make – you shouldn’t be driven only for money.
2. Is Able to Say NO to Clients
Opportunities don’t come linearly one after the other. If you accept everything that comes your way in that order, there won’t be time for a better opportunity that may come at a later stage in your freelancing career
So make sure you aren’t taking everything that is being thrown at you.
You have to pick and choose wisely. It will give you room to breathe and can determine as a freelancer developer how successful you become.
One can’t expect to grab opportunities linearly and have exponential growth.
You have to be very lucky enough to get good opportunities early in your career, but I think the best ones will come very late. So if you are too occupied when better opportunity knocks at you, you won’t be able to grab it. Have some bandwidth for the next opportunity, but don’t take up anything that may sound “just good”. Wait for the best that aligns with your overall long-term goal.
I know it is very tough to say NO, and though I have learned the hard way of saying, it needs learning as early as possible.
3. Is Prepared for Failure / Setbacks
A failure or at least a few setbacks in the first few months of being a freelancer is the key to bigger success in the future. It helps overall development as a freelancer.
You will know what works and what doesn’t. Who are with you and who isn’t.
Be prepared for failure, and don’t be too much bothered about it. Give your best shot, and either it will work, or it will be a learning experience.
Early failure is the key to long-term success, and if you aren’t failing early, chances are you will have failures at a later stage when stakes are high.
Moreover, time will change. Good times will be followed by bad times and vice versa.
At times one will make a lot more money. Then there will be a time when you will make less than you expect. At one point you will have more clients than you can handle and then there will be a time when you are looking for new clients.
The life of a freelancer has ups and downs. When chips are down, one should be willing to put in extra effort and use the time to develop new skills that can help grow in the future.
4. Believes There is No Overnight Success
Freelancing is a long-term game, and I think every developer freelancer should be in it for success in the long term. If he expects overnight success, it may prove fatal.
I once told my colleagues about how I was able to charge $2900 to one of my clients for a task. Everyone was fascinated with the amount, and no one looked at the journey. There is so much work involved in getting to a point where I can make that kind of money from one single client now.
If you only focus on how I am doing today, you will see things from a different perspective than you should be. There were clients where I was even paid much less per hour when I started.
Rome was never built in a day. So are careers. It will need the experience, the expertise, and the exposure, which only comes with time. There is no substitute for time.
5. Works towards Building Health
Once you are freelancing for the long term, you will focus more on being more healthy to be able to work for years.
More often, an individual freelancer is trading time for money. The more time one can work, the more money he can make.
If you work for 16 hours daily, the chances of being able to work for an elongated period diminishes considerably. Hardly an individual can do it for a couple of years to a maximum of 5 years before feeling the pain: physically and more so mentally.
Now consider only working for 8 hours a day and on some days extending it to 10 hours as and when needed. One can continue working for at least 15 years, if not more.
So you prefer working 16 hours for a maximum of 5 years or 8 hours for at least 15 years?
Less is more, and often, it means you have a free mind to look for even better opportunities.
6. Learns to Manage the Finance
A famous Warren Buffet Quote is what every freelancer should live by.
Don’t save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving. – Warren Buffet
As a freelancer, print the quote and stick at a place where you can see it daily.
Time can change very fast. So always try to achieve financial freedom as a freelancer.
Check out how freelance developers can manage finances.
One more point I will add to be able to control finances is – Don’t be a gadget freak. It helps in controlling the finances.
There are so many gadgets that no one can buy each of them.
I had purchased my iPhone in November 2014, and Facebook notified me about it recently. I remembered it as bent. It bent within the first month of use. I continue to use it though I can afford a new one. Gadgets are for your use and not for a show off on social media and with your friends. There is no limit to how much one can show off.
Make sure the decision to buy them is based on need. I recently changed my MacBook to MacAir, but it is not because I wanted a new Mac but because I needed one.
7. Keen on Learning Non-Technical Skills
As a developer, you may be technically very sound, but for a successful freelancing career, you will need more than just technical expertise.
Here are some of the key non-technical skills one must have as a freelancer.
- Communication skills
- Estimation skills
- Negotiation skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Delegation skills
- Time management skills
- Marketing skills
As a freelancer, one has to wear many hats, and trying to learn them to a certain level can help shape your freelancing career.
8. Ready to Listen to Clients
For any business to succeed, one should listen to the customer and see what are the major pain points of the customers.
As a developer willing to be a successful freelancer is no difference.
The most successful of freelancers are happier to listen to their clients’ in detail before making a suggestion. It helps them understand the pain points of their clients in a much better way. Treat clients as important and build expertise by listening to them.
9. Has Problem-Solving Capabilities
As a developer freelancer, if you wish to continue programming, you need to have the problem-solving capabilities. If you are stuck at a point, you should be able to find a solution or at least a workaround for the problem.
The problems may not be related to programming. So one should be ready to deal with those non-programming problems related to accounting, taxation, or even installation of some tricky software.
As an example, I once had an issue setting up a development environment on my localhost for CakePHP. CakePHP requires intl PHP extension but my localhost XAMP version of PHP didn’t have it. I tried everything but the extension that was getting installed on my MAC was in the default PHP instead of the PHP for XAMPP.
The workaround I had to finally used was to set up the dev environment on my shared hosting of SiteGround.
10. Is Ready to move Technologies
There is no denying fact the technology space and more so for the programming expertise is fastly disruptive in nature.
Hardly anyone knew about the popular JS-based frameworks a few years ago and soon they have become part of so many CMSes.
You have to keep the creative thinking on and be prepared for the needed changes in your expertise to be able to be a developer freelancer and remain to charge better rates and be a success over an elongated period of time.
Self-education is the most important aspect of being a so-so freelancer or an ultra-successful freelancer. You need to keep up with the learning curve and often take a step or two back to take the big leap forward.
Self-education can help you achieve it. So it is important a freelancer allocate the right amount of time and the right kind of effort to self-education.
As a freelancer, unlike jobs where you may be paid even for taking the training, you have to learn without getting paid and this is when most freelancers make a mistake and aren’t ready to take one step back for a leap forward.
11. Has a Long-Term Vision
In an hourly pricing structure, the more a freelancer works the more money he can make. If one doesn’t have the right vision, one can end up taking a lot of work to be able to make extra money.
He may not say no to any of the work thrown at him or he may not work towards increasing his value by enhancing his expertise. One can be driven to work towards the short term benefit of making more money now.
12. Willing to Learn Negotiation Skills
Negotiation is one skill every freelancer has to develop over time and if he doesn’t he may end up getting paid too little for his time.
It is one skill that every freelancer develops over time but successful freelancers make sure it doesn’t take too long to have the right mix of negotiation skills.
Clients will want to get the most done out of the freelancer and there is nothing wrong with it either. If a developer freelancer wants to be uber-successful he should be willing to negotiate well with clients.
13. Is High on Communication Skills
The better a freelancer can communicate in emails and proposals, there are higher chances of winning more clients.
If you are able to communicate your expertise in a proposal easily, you have higher chances of winning the client’s trust and win projects.
Communication and command over the English language can give the much-needed edge for a freelancer.
14. Is Open to Delegate Work to Others
Even if you are the best person to get something done, it is not all about getting things done yourself. Taking help from others to get it done either via outsourcing or hiring can be the difference between break-even freelancers and ultra-successful freelancers.
Apart from getting things done, a freelancer is good at, one should also look to delegate work to complement services to provide a much larger set of services. A web developer can delegate the web design aspect and vice versa.
15. Develops a USP With Time
Last but the most important aspect is, don’t be “yet another” person who does the same thing as every other freelancer does. Over time look to develop your unique part of being a freelancer.
The main thing that distinguishes the barely doing good and high on success as a freelancer developer is the ability to develop a USP.
As a developer, after a certain point, you won’t be hired only for your programming expertise but also for being better in communication, good attitude, better problem-solving capabilities, or even clients prefer working with you.
You are unique on this planet and so make sure your services also has the unique combination of all skills put together that very few of the other freelancers can provide. It becomes your unique selling proposition.
16. Is Disciplined
Freelancing needs a lot more discipline than doing a job. Work can easily move into your personal life.
You need to develop habits. Moreover, one needs to have a lot of discipline to be able to work as a freelancer working from home.
One can start too early and end the day too late. Continuous work can become tiring very soon.
It can be too difficult to escape and disconnect from the connected world of email and social media.
One has to understand when you need to disconnect and when you want to disconnect. One can only be achieved with discipline.
Overseas client’s working hour is often when you call off for the day. You need to let them know about it and remind them often as well.
17. Make Decisions
You are responsible for all your actions.
The best part of being a freelancer is, you choose what you want to be working on. However, it is the toughest part as well.
There will be no one to let you know what may be the right choice of direction for your freelancing career. So you can end up working in a technology that may not be too much in demand. May need to start all over again and make a move in a totally new direction.
I have seen it is too tough for people doing a job to start all over again but as a freelancer, you should be ready to start all over again.
Knowledge is power as a freelancer because once you start again, the path you chose will be based on your understanding of what may work in the future. So it is important to keep expanding your worldview to be able to take the right decision.
18. Wear Marketing Hat
As a developer, you write code.
As a freelancer, the sole responsibility is not only confined to development but the complete process from client interaction to deliverables to getting paid. Even the deliverables can include other than development aspects like design, hosting, etc which may need outsourcing.
Marketing is not natural to developers but as a freelancer one should be willing to wear multiple hats and marketing hat is one of those difficult hats that one should be willing to wear as a developer.
Freelancing doesn’t mean working all the time nor it means you can be too laid back either. You have to keep the balance of work and personal life and plan towards the long-term vision.
Moreover, you should love being a freelancer more than anything else. Money can drive you initially but it will not drive beyond a point.
As a freelancer, you need to love the lifestyle of a freelancer. The life of a freelancer is not easy. It may look beautiful to be working from home but it is tough to be able to work from home.
Love programming, love debugging but more importantly love for being a freelancer and there is no substitute for your love to be a freelancer.