8 Habits of Productive Freelancers Your Old Boss Can’t Deny

By Angela Tague, Contributor, on January 9, 2017

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Curiosity is inevitable. About five years after I left my full-time newspaper job, I received an email from an unknown sender. The message asked how I launched into my self-employed career, then probed for tips and habits of productive freelancers. Then, the name dawned on me: It was the person who filled my old position. I even had a previous boss question my career path. Our conversation directly reflected his work frustrations and, more importantly, his envy of my success.

Now, each year, someone from a past workplace gets curious and reaches out to me to learn how I built a thriving career as an independent contractor. It’s not surprising; after all, KRC Research and Work Market teamed up to survey 200 CFOs and line-of-business managers about workplace productivity. A whopping 83 percent of business leaders consider freelancers and contract workers more or equally as productive as their full-time employees.

What Does It Really Mean to Be Self-Employed?

When you’re self-employed, you need to hustle if you want to earn a paycheck. Daily. That directly translates into consistent productivity. Another part of the report that doesn’t surprise me in the least is that 69 percent of business leaders reported their company was less productive than it should be. When I was in a supervisory role with a previous employer, I often had to guide staff away from personal activities, such as browsing the web, checking personal cellphones and chatting on social media. They were paid by the hour, whether they were being productive for the company or not. They didn’t have as much dedication to productivity or the success of the business as the employees in management roles.

I’m the toughest boss I’ve ever had. When you don’t have a set salary or hourly compensation, you get razor-focused on completing projects, so you can earn a living. If you goof away the day, there’s no pay, business growth or financial security. Here are eight habits of productive freelancers that’d make upper-management at most companies do a double take and consider allocating the funds for a new employee to a few part-time independent contractors instead.

The Best Habits of Productive Freelancers

  1. Spend a portion of each day marketing and promoting their company and their clients to secure future work.
  2. Don’t work nine-to-five. They efficiently push forward until the job is complete, but they’ve also mastered time and project management, so they don’t succumb to burnout.
  3. Can explain their products and services without hesitation, at a moment’s notice.
  4. Respect each client as an equal who can provide referrals or more work in the future.
  5. Take time to learn new things about their industry through conferences, continuing education or self-study.
  6. Build a network of like-minded colleagues to brainstorm ideas and overcome challenges with regularly.
  7. Don’t get complacent. They’re always looking at trends and trying to stay one step ahead of industry shifts.
  8. Have confidence and passion for their work.

Productive, successful freelancers are notoriously dedicated, motivated individuals; they have an impeccable work ethic. At the end of the day, they need to impress every single client and colleague to maintain a positive image and prosper as business people. And big bosses are taking note, according to the KRC Research report: “71 percent of business leaders believe that contractors are specialized workers that can be more skilled than full-time employees, while 72 percent believe the increase in specialized labor on-demand is increasing their company’s productivity.”

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