Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful freelancer. Several qualities that differentiate a freelance success from a freelance failure are simply character traits that are difficult to alter. Still other factors can be learned. Here are three keys to freelance success; all things that you can actively work to improve upon in your own freelance career:

Planning – Just as business owners should create a business plan for their new business, a freelance professional should create a variation of a business plan for their freelance career. Without understanding their target market, competition, and goals thoroughly, it’s nearly impossible for a freelancer to reach their maximum potential. Proper planning is also essential for a freelancer to be able to set appropriate rates and fees, which is a common problem for new freelancers.

Networking – You don’t have to be a natural social bug to be a success when it comes to business networking. When working as an independent professional, getting a gig will sometimes simply come down to who you know. Meet other freelancers in your industry or related industries (for example, a freelance content writer could benefit from knowing freelance copywriters, because leads can be passed back and forth). Also make an effort to meet industry professionals and leaders who might become clients, or who may think of you and refer to for work in your area that they later hear about. You can network in more traditional environments, such as by joining professional organizations, or you can network a great deal online through forums, social networking sites, blogs, etc.

Marketing Ability – It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if you can’t effectively market your services to potential clients. You have to make them aware of you, and be able to “sell” them on your services as compared to your competitors. It’s a good idea to learn about the principles of marketing, and then learn about more specific tactics and strategies once you better understand how they work.

Work to improve those three areas, and you’ll improve your freelance career as well. Put time into planning, network with those who can help you, and learn to position yourself through your marketing efforts, and you’ll be well on your way to freelance success.

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