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5 Soft Skills You Need to Succeed as a Freelance Developer

Neil KokemullerNeil Kokemuller
July 26, 2018

Technical skills are usually what people think of first when describing the traits of a good developer. And technical skills are necessary for the profession. However, in the freelance game, developers also need several soft skills that make them more valuable to clients.

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The following is an overview of some of the essential soft skills that you must possess or build if you want to succeed as a freelancer developer.

Empathy and Service

You can only make money as a freelance developer by consistently satisfying the needs of clients. To do so, you need empathy and a service-oriented attitude.

Empathy enables you to approach projects and problems with a desire to understand your clients’ needs and to work toward a strong solution. You won’t always get things right the first time. Thus, it takes extra time, energy and effort to correct mistakes and complete the work as agreed upon.

Communication

Developers rarely work alone. Collaboration throughout projects is common. In addition to clear communication with employer contacts, you need to communicate well with other technical and support professionals involved in projects.

Face-to-face communication skills are helpful, but for global freelance developers, the ability to interact well electronically and on the phone is just as vital.

Adaptability and Flexibility

The technology and parameters for development change all the time. Freelance developers must adapt to the changing times and continue to learn new skills. Clients want to hire freelancers that are capable of meeting their needs right away, not after you take the time to learn current methods.

Flexibility is important as well, as each client may have different requirements for project processes and workflows. Being too rigid can cause poor relationships, limited repeat business and few referrals.

Self-Discipline and Time Management

Even with diverse projects, development work can get monotonous. It is tedious when you have to write code that includes seemingly endless and predictable patterns. You also won’t have the luxury of someone constantly reminding you to stay on task. You have to manage tasks completely on your own.

Time management is a key component of effective self-discipline. Create a structured work schedule that includes periods of work time with intermittent breaks to clear your mind and refresh. Focus on the most important and time-sensitive tasks early in the day. It is likely that your eyes and mind grow weary as the day goes on, which inhibits efficiency and effectiveness.

Problem-Solving and Accountability

Development rarely progresses in a straight-line manner. Encountering problems and glitches during development and testing phases is normal. You need a positive problem-solving approach that you can repeat systematically to optimize efficiency.

Accountability is a closely related soft skill, which developers need when sorting out problems with clients. Acknowledge that you aren’t perfect, take accountability to remedy problems quickly and learn from mistakes.

Conclusion

These are among the most important soft skills for freelancers in the field of development. If you feel like you struggle in any of these areas, make self-development a priority moving forward. Strengths in these areas help set you apart from others vying for the same work.

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