How to manage your career development as a freelancer

Want to develop your career as a freelancer? Discover five strategies for setting goals, building a professional network, and staying motivated.

The outlook for freelancers in the United States is promising, considering how experts predict that the gig economy will continuously grow in the coming years.

Over the years, more people have turned to freelance to gain independence over their work lives. Reports show that the United States currently has 70.4 million freelancers, but this estimate can balloon up to 90.1 million by 2028. 

One of the major factors driving the growth of freelancing in the United States is the ease of connecting with clients and finding work. Notably, platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr enable freelancers to advertise their services more conveniently.

Although a freelance career offers so much freedom to professionals, its unpredictability and inconsistency cause serious issues when planning for career development.

Common career development struggles

Freelancers often struggle with career development planning due to the nature of their jobs. Because freelancers typically work on a project-by-project basis, they may not have the stability or long-term vision to plan for their careers effectively.

As a result, it is more difficult for freelancers to set goals, identify opportunities, and take the steps needed to advance their careers.

But, despite the challenges that freelancers face when career planning, they can still build successful and fulfilling careers. However, they must be proactive in several aspects to make things work.

Six ways you can manage your career development as a freelancer

Fortunately, there are ways to manage a freelance career while aiming for professional development. Study these six tips and identify which ones best apply to you.

1) Set specific goals

Freelancing can be a career, but you are solely responsible for career development. In this setup, identifying specific goals is crucial for your growth and progress. Doing so pinpoints which skills you need to develop, which opportunities you should pursue, and how to track your progress over time. 

Moreover, setting goals help with communicating your aspirations to potential clients and opening new opportunities.

2) Learn new skills

Continuously learning new skills is essential to managing your career development as a freelancer. In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving job market, staying current and relevant is crucial to success. 

In addition, learning new skills expands your range of services and expertise, making you stand out more in the overly saturated freelancing market.

3) Network and build relationships

Strong professional relationships can provide valuable resources, support, and opportunities for growth. Especially when you are still a newbie, no stranger would readily teach you how to build a freelance career.

Networking with other professionals in your field will help build your reputation and secure repeat business and referrals. Taking the time to cultivate professional relationships can pay off in the long run as you work to advance your career.

4) Stay up to date with industry trends

To be competitive and relevant, you must understand the industry’s latest developments and trends. Some of the easiest ways to stay updated with industry trends are by reading trade publications, attending industry events, and participating in online communities or forums.

It is not enough that you know that freelancing can be a career because you should commit to ongoing learning to unlock professional development.

5) Build a strong portfolio

A strong portfolio is indicative that you know how to build a freelance career and the sacrifices you need to undergo to succeed.

Since your portfolio is a marketing tool highlighting your skills, experience, and achievements, it should be well-organized and easy to navigate. Investing in your portfolio can effectively bolster your position for success as a freelancer.

6) Brand yourself

Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills, values, and personality that sets you apart from others in your field. It is how others perceive you, and it influences how clients, colleagues, and industry professionals remember you.

Building a personal brand for your career requires self-reflection, strategic thinking, and ongoing effort to maintain and strengthen your reputation. 

The freelancing hustle never ends

Freelancing can be a career, but freelancers should always look for new opportunities. Their daily hustle is challenging and time-consuming. In addition, no one will walk you through how to build a freelance career. However, this can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for those who are motivated and hardworking.

Joseph is a writer at Skill Success. After college, he decided to take law, however, after four years of uncertainty, he decided that lawyering was not his destiny. 

Joseph then decided to pursue content writing as a full-time career. He aims to keep on growing in the following years to become an even more competitive professional in this craft.