At some point during one’s freelance career, there is a question that is always asked: “Where do I stand when it comes to freelancer skills?“. Everyone goes through that phase at some point or another. But, it’s mainly people without a “standard” profesional background that are plagued with these doubts. It’s the case when a teacher starts working as a freelance content writer, or when a transcriber starts subtitling. There is overlap between those profesional fields. But still, they keep asking themselves if there are maybe some skills, prerequisites, tools or basic processes they are not familiar with.
That doubt only grows over time and affects every aspect of their freelance career. Even for more experienced freelancers, these are the kind of doubts that stop them from leveling up, and ultimately, getting paid more. Having a global understanding of the range of expertise/skills in demand in your profession becomes a must. Even more important, is being able to place oneself within that range. Being able to assess your own freelance skills is the key to a satisfactory career advancement.
Analyzing the skills of your freelance career
Imagining the freelance career as a straight line can be useful (even though it’s anything but). Analyzing skills will then consist in reviewing all the skills asked of a beginner and progressively get to the skills needed to be an expert in your field.
If we take web development as an example, one end of the line would be a basic mastery of CMS like WordPress. On the other end, you would have people that can code a fully customized website using Ruby On Rails or advanced stacks. Between these two extremes, there are people that can customize a CMS down to the littlest details, DevOps professionals and much more.
For content writers, beginners would be those who are able to write a basic blog post. The experts would likely be able to deliver SEO-optimized, evergreen content that creates trafic, convinces the reader and links to other pieces of content in accordance with the client’s global SEO strategy.
Note : This linear representation of the freelance career is extremely simplified. It gives the impression that a WordPress expert is less skillful than a DevOps professional, which is not necessarily true.
As a freelancer, you are tasked with creating that linear representation of the freelance skills in your field. Find out what kind of work is asked of professionals and beginners alike. You can use all kinds of public freelance profiles on various platforms for your investigation. Consider using the rates they ask for, as a means of determining each level of expertise and the skills they possess.
Assessing your own level and planning accordingly
Self-assessment of your own freelance skills needs to be one of your tools for career advancement. It doesn’t serve any purpose to know where you stand skill-wise, if you’re not planning on improving.
Once your self-assessment is done, you generally have two choices. In the first scenario, you come to the conclusion that you already have the freelance skills required for the next level. You can then level up your freelance career. Obviously, this won’t be an automatic process. You need to know how to grow your rates and/or find better paying clients.
In the second scenario, your assessment shows the gaps and shortcomings of your profile, compared to other freelancers at the same expertise level. You have to get up to speed. Be it by taking training courses or by developing self-learned skills, any means are valid to upgrade your skill set. Being complacent in this scenario is the sure way of ending up in a place where your clients find better services elsewhere for the same price. Not to mention the fact that you’ll definitely stagnate without any chance of progressing your freelance career.
This may seem obvious to some people. But, there are still too many freelancers that undermine their own freelance careers by not having a clear idea of their skill level. This kind of confusion stops them from negotiating better rates, improving themselves and getting rid of the “imposter syndrome” that plagues most freelancers.
In conclusion, you should always do an assessment of the different skills and expertises that make up the arsenal of freelancers within your industry; be it for beginners or world-renown experts. By imagining a graduated spectrum with those two profiles at its extremes, you can position yourself and plan your next step accordingly, in order to further your freelance career.
The illustrations on this page were provided by PixelTrue.