Freelancers have to learn a ton of skills like how to find clients, determine what to charge, and make sure they get paid. With all the hot tips freelancers are given, there's one that's more important than all of them: be good at what you do.
Photo by Gabriel Garcia Marengo.
This seems like it should go without saying. After all, who's applying for jobs they're not good at, right? Except, as business site Inc. points out, that happens all the time in staff positions. People who got in at entry level jobs can get promoted to jobs they're not ready for and sit pretty on a salary. Freelancers don't have that luxury. The best way to get and keep a job as a freelancer is to be the absolute best at what you do:
Many of these tips are good, which is to say that they help some people and don't necessarily cause harm. By my long experience doing freelance work is that there is something that is forgotten by many but which makes a major difference to your business.
Get better. Get really, really good at what you do.
I've seen many writers, designers, programmers, consultants, and the like take umbrage when criticised by a client. It's not easy and clients are often wrong. Unfortunately, they're often right.
Learning all the marketing tricks and networking gimmicks won't help you if you can't get this down. Being amazing at your job is your foundation. If you have an impressive portfolio of work, but you suck at networking, you can still get some work. If you get one job, you'll probably get called back for more if your client is blown away by what you can do. However, if you're pounding the pavement 24/7 to sell a half-assed product, you're going to have a hard time as a freelancer.