Soft Skills as a Freelance Developer: Navigating Client Relationships and Building Trust

Compare your rate with 1000+ freelancers in our database!

If you’re a freelancer developer you may have all the technical skills you need to succeed: coding skills, the right tools and equipment, and commendable years of experience. But there may be one thing holding you back from reaching your full potential, – soft skills.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the important role of soft skills in freelance development, focusing on how it can help you navigate client relationships and build trust. By the end of this article, you have learned how great soft skills can set you apart from the rest and what are the actionable steps to improve them.

Importance of soft skills in freelance development work

Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you, as a freelancer, interact with others, collaborate to solve problems, and handle tricky work situations. It is the ability to communicate, work as a team, adapt to changes, manage time, and lead your project, among others.

So why is it important, wel there are some big advantages when excelling at soft skills:

  • Client Satisfaction: You understand your client’s needs better, communicate effectively, and exceed their expectations – the foundation of impressing your clients and securing future work.
  • Collaborative Work: You collaborate effectively with other developers, designers, or marketers, resolve conflicts, and work together towards a common goal.
  • Business Development: You network, communicate, and negotiate to attract new clients, build long-lasting relationships, and grow your freelance business.
  • Competitive Edge: In a highly competitive market, you set yourself apart from other freelancers with your soft skills, the combination of having technical skills and soft skills sets you apart.

The Four essential soft skills for freelance developers

According to a study by LinkedIn, 57% of leaders said soft skills are more important than hard skills. But what soft skills should you strike off the list? Here are the four most essential ones to develop according to the experts.

Clear communication

As a freelancer, how well you communicate with your clients determines the success of your business. Clear and consistent communication ensures that expectations of others around your are understood and met. You also prevent the risk of misunderstandings and conflicts, which can delay your projects and harm your reputation in the market. This is important for every type of freelancer, but for developers especially since other stakeholders likely find your work an enigma to understand how it is build and works. For remote work communication becomes an even bigger factor.

For example, imagine you’re a freelance web developer working on a project for a client. Throughout the project, you’ve been communicating with the client via email and providing regular updates on your progress. However, when you deliver the final product, the client is unhappy with the result and tells you that it’s not what they were expecting. After some back-and-forth, you realize that there was a miscommunication early on in the project. The client had a different vision for the final product than you had understood. This miscommunication could have been avoided if you had clarified the client’s expectations early on and ensured that both parties were on the same page.

Effective communication is not only about conveying information, but also about active listening, asking questions, and providing feedback. By actively engaging with your clients, you can build trust, establish clear expectations, and ultimately deliver high-quality work that meets their needs. Therefore, developing excellent communication skills is essential for freelancers to succeed in their careers.

The communication checklist to keep by your side during freelance development work is:

– Make time to communicate.
– Communicate frequent. Even if there is no value to be handed over.
– Never skip small talk and try to establish a more personal connection.
– Ask questions and follow up questions.
– Strive for clarity.
– Keep it with the facts and not tell stories.
– Take notes and remember what was told.
– Prepare for meetings en presentations.
– Ask for feedback.

Problem-solving approach

Let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer working on a project for a client. You’ve been asked to create a logo for a new product, but the client is struggling to articulate what they want. Rather than giving up or creating a generic design, you research the client’s industry, ask questions, and develop multiple design concepts that align with their brand identity. By taking this proactive approach, you demonstrate your problem-solving skills and show that you’re committed to delivering quality work that meets the client’s needs.

Having good problem-solving skills is an important quality for freelancers. Clients like to work with freelancers who can solve problems creatively and deliver high-quality work, even when things don’t go as planned.

In addition to helping you win more clients, problem-solving skills can also help you navigate difficult situations that may arise during a project. Critical thinking helps overcome obstacles and deliver quality work on time, no matter the challenge – technical, communication, or creative.

Ultimately, problem-solving is about being adaptable, resourceful, and willing to take initiative. By developing this soft skill, you can position yourself as a valuable asset to your clients and set yourself up for long-term success as a freelancer.

Time management

When working as a freelancer, it’s common to juggle multiple tasks like different projects, deadlines, and clients. This can be overwhelming, but careful planning and prioritization can help you stay organized and meet your deadlines while delivering high-quality work.

To manage your workload and schedule more efficiently, try using productivity tools like calendars, project management software, or time-tracking apps. They can help you stay on top of things and ensure that you get everything done on time.

Effective time management also involves clear communication with your clients. Let them know when you’re available, the expected delivery time for your work, and keep them updated on your progress. This can prevent misunderstandings or conflicts and build a trusting relationship with your clients.

Learning how to manage your time effectively also helps to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Setting boundaries and taking time for self-care can prevent burnout, keeping you productive and creative in the long run.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence involves understanding and managing your own emotions and being aware of the emotions of others to guide your actions.

Ask yourself:

  • How well do I understand my own emotions and how they impact my work and interactions with clients?
  • Am I able to effectively manage and regulate my emotions, even in challenging or stressful situations?
  • How well do I perceive and understand the emotions of others, including clients and colleagues?
  • Can I effectively communicate and empathize with others, even when their emotions may be different from my own?

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that emotional intelligence accounts for nearly 90% of what differentiates top performers from their peers. As a result, many companies now prioritize emotional intelligence when hiring freelancers.

For example, when a client provides feedback on your work, it’s easy to take it personally and become defensive. However, emotional intelligence allows you to detach yourself from the feedback and recognize that it’s not a personal attack. You can then use the feedback to improve your work and enhance your relationship with the client.

Conflict resolution is another example where emotional intelligence comes into play. As a freelancer, you may experience conflicts with clients, team members, or other freelancers. With emotional intelligence, you can approach these conflicts calmly, listen to others’ perspectives, and find a resolution that works for everyone.

By developing your emotional intelligence, you can increase your chances of success in the competitive world of freelance work.

Summing Up

The importance of soft skills cannot be overstated when it comes to succeeding as a freelancer. While technical skills are necessary, it’s the ability to communicate effectively, build trust, and solve problems that sets successful freelancers apart from the rest.

Take the time to assess and improve your emotional intelligence, and set yourself up for building strong relationships with clients. Don’t underestimate the impact that soft skills can have on your freelance career – they just may be the key to unlocking your full potential.

Compare your rate with
1000+ freelancers!

Join the movement, share your rate and get access to our database.