Top 5 Essential Skills to Learn for Online Freelancers

Today’s job market is vastly different from the one our parents grew up with: the gig economy is in full swing and most professions are far more multifaceted than ever before. 

Online freelancing has provided an alternate path in giving us the ability to work and make money from anywhere in the world. In many ways, it has made our lives easier — but instead of the typical 9-5 inconveniences come a more demanding job market. One in which online freelancers must have more skills to offer than ever before.

But what exactly are these extra freelance skills and how can they push freelancers above and beyond the competition?

5 Essential Freelance Skills

These 5 essential freelance skills are not exclusive to any one particular field of work. They are universal in their utility and should be mastered by anyone hoping to make it as an online freelancer.

These are vital skills to learn and understand, irrespective of the particular field you work in. They are the tools you need to facilitate your career as an online freelancer.


Oral Communication


This one may come as a bit of a surprise. 

Sure, texts and emails have chipped away at good old fashioned talking to some extent — but oral communication is still going strong. In the age of Zoom calls and online job interviews, oral communication is as important as ever. This goes doubly for online freelancers, as the role itself requires you to communicate with your clients and colleagues effectively. 


You need to hold people’s attention and articulate yourself properly to gain a person’s trust, which goes a long way in helping you to secure job opportunities. Mastering top audience attention strategies will help you to promote and demonstrate the skills you have to offer. 




Writing skills are not all too dissimilar from speaking. The principle underlying both remains the same: communication. As I mentioned earlier, the only thing competing with oral communication is texts, emails, and IMs… and you’re going to see an awful lot of those as an online freelancer.

Every correspondence you have with a client is an opportunity for them to gauge your competence. If you fall short in expressing yourself, it may spell trouble in other ways. That’s exactly why it is incumbent upon you to learn how to effectively master business English skills.

Knowing how to write and comprehend instructions will ultimately make your client’s life much easier which, in turn, will make your life much easier! 


Time/Task Management


Freelancing is most notable and revered for the freedom it provides to those who choose to work within that framework. It allows you to have the utmost autonomy over where, how, and when you work.

But this freedom, as gratifying as it is, is not for the faint of heart. Oftentimes, it proves to be a rather hefty battle with yourself. It requires you to hold yourself accountable, and many aren’t used to that sort of self-inflicted pressure. 

As an online freelancer, your primary duty is to keep track of deadlines and tasks — especially if you’ve got more than one client. Knowing how to efficiently schedule your work habits and ensure that jobs are completed on time is one of the most important skills to learn in this business. 




You might not be a marketing freelancer by trade, but you’ll need to know how to think like one. 

With online freelancing, half the battle is securing job opportunities. The only way to do that in today’s saturated job market is to effectively market not just your skills but, most importantly, yourself!

You are your own brand — so act like it. 

You’ve got to go beyond your Upwork profile and ensure that your overall online presence is conducive to a fruitful freelancing career. That means social media, your very own blog or website, and perhaps even YouTube tutorials or podcasting. These are all stellar avenues to help demonstrate your skills and show your worth to potential clients. 


Financial Skills


You are your own business. You need to learn how to run things like a business — it’s that simple. 

That means budgeting properly, learning your way around an invoice and how to keep track of them, and thoroughly researching tax codes for freelancers like yourself.

Sure, it’s only one person on your payroll and your expenses are relatively low, etc. But you still need to understand good business and financial acumen — albeit on a micro-scale — to ensure that you make money and keep it!  


What have we learned today? There’s more to freelance skills than meets the eye!

No matter how proficient you are in your particular skills or trade, you must master these 5 essential freelance skills if you hope to make it as an online freelancer. Being an effective graphic designer or coder will only take you so far, you need to have the skills to bring in and retain clientele, as well as manage your affairs efficiently. 

Working is only half the battle, the other half is getting to the work. 

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