How to create a good freelance career development plan – 4 tips

How to create a good freelance career development plan - 4 tips

Understanding how to create a good freelance career development plan will give you speed in the freelance industry. This career development plan is what will guide your path to greatness as a freelancer and that is why you must take this article serious.

Over the recent years, the freelance system has established itself as an increasingly popular career prospect for many workers. This boom of the freelancing job system can be mainly attributed to the flexible work hours and conditions of the system. Additionally, the freelance work system positions its workers as their own boss, bestowing them the power to work on their own preferred projects which interests them. This also allows them to receive undivided profits from their income earnings Before going any further let us first briefly discuss the meaning of freelancing itself.

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is an independent and contractual working system or arrangement that deals with rendering services to different clients and even organizations that require them. It is a project based working system with the most of their works with their clients being project-related.
The advent of freelancers is the modern world has shown huge potential for development, with experts predicting that it will contribute immensely to the growth of the  gig economy in the coming years.

This motion is also supported with the fact that over the years, more people who desire to gain independence and control over their professional career have turned to the freelance system. This has significantly increased the population of freelancers in the market with reports showing that the United States alone has over an estimated value of 72 million freelancers as at 2023, with the value expected to soon reach a 100 million before the year 2028.

A notable factor driving the growth of freelancing in the global world is the relative ease of finding works and connecting with clients. This can be done via online platforms like Upwork and Fiverr which allows freelancers to promote their services to reach more clients. In addition to this, the hybridization possibility of freelance jobs with other jobs also makes people view freelancing as a very ideal job option. This is because, by the flexibility offered by freelancing, people are provided the opportunity not to give up their previous job while still actively participating in freelancing jobs.

However, although the freelancing system offers much benefits in terms of accessibility and flexibility, the unpredictable nature of the system coupled with inconsistent income earnings is a matter of serious concern for most freelancers. These pose as serious challenges for most professionals who wish to advance their career in the freelance system.

With all that being said, career development for freelancers is the most crucial aspect of the job system. This is because as the nature of the contractual work is based on clients varying demands and income uncertainty, it would be highly beneficial for freelancers that they further develop their skills and seek new knowledge. This will boost their expertise and experience, allowing them to upgrade their skills which will enable them to perform various tasks required by their clients.

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This article will provide detailed information on the creation of a career development plan in freelancing giving insights on the meaning of career development plan and tips on how to create a good freelance career development plan. ,

What is a career development plan?

Before we proceed, you might want to check out this article on 6 tips on how to manage periods of low work volume as a Freelancer. Now back to what a career plan is, a career development plan is a personalized tool which consists of specific actionable steps or an outlined plan of actions that a work professional uses in the achievement of his career goals.

It can be said to be a realistic roadmap that includes tasks to be performed such as upgrading skills, gaining experience that coincide with with achieving your overall professional goals. It should be viewed as a roadmap to one’s career success.

A good career development plan will help to simplify the difficult and overwhelming task of career advancement, breaking it into smaller actionable steps to work with.

Since we are now conversant with the meaning of a career development plan, let us explore the qualities of any career development plan.

Qualities of a good career development plan

A good career development plan should be able to work in line with the specifics highlighted below;
1. Career goals definition
2. Identify strengths
3. Identify weaknesses and setbacks
4. Highlight your skills
5. Creates certain career milestones
6. Specify how to overcome these obstacles
7. Keeps track of your progress.

The 4 tips to create a good freelance career development plan

The 4 tips to create a good freelance career development plan – Picture credit:

Listed below are the key steps to consider when crafting a good career development plan in the freelance system. It includes strategies that should definitely be implemented for any successful freelance career. These are;

1. Freelance skills assessment

Before a professional can decide to develop his freelance career, first there is need for one to identify his areas of strengths and weaknesses that might require improvement. This will be crucial to to best known where you rank and stand amongst other freelancers in the market.
To do this you should conduct skill assessment on yourself, with the options of working with your professional network or a career coach for your skills assessment proving more effective.

Most freelance skills assessment process requires that you identify if you possess the technical, niche-specific skills that is necessary for a freelancer of your field to succeed in the industry. You should check to see if you are still using the latest, relevant software, gadgets and technical expertise as your peers in the industry. You should be able to give yourself an honest rating or review using an ordinal or numerical scale in comparison with other like-mind freelancers like yourself. Evaluation should also be based on the opinions and feedbacks of your colleagues and clients alike, with attention closely given to the complaints (if any) and changes of client demands.

For more technical freelance skills like programing, coding and freelance jobs that usually requires high proficiency of computer software, online assessment tests are available that will evaluate your digital skills, with the results of these tests indicating the relevance of such skills according to the latest standards of work trends.

Due to the evolving nature of the freelance industry, with freelancers increasing by the minute, upgrading your skills this age and time is crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage over other freelancers in the industry. Hence it is also important to learn new skills as well. This will expand your range, increasing your expertise and the services you can render to potential clients. This will increase your versatility within the freelance industry, distinguishing your brand in the oversaturated freelance market.

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2. Identifying and setting career goals

After knowing  yourself- the skills and abilities you have to offer your clients, the next step should be mapping out your career goals. You should know that this process will be a solo mission and will be performed by you alone. Hence the career goals and objectives should meet specific requirements of achievability, relevance, measurability and time specifications. For instance, your aim might be to increase your weekly income by 10% before the next month. It now falls back on how your abilities and skills to be able to actualize this aim. In this regard, it is similar to sole proprietorship as you are similarly solely responsible for your career advancement.

This goal setting process usually requires that you identify specific objectives that are key to your career growth and development. This step is very much important as it will highlight the skills that you need to develop, the types of career opportunities to explore and will help monitor and track your progress over time.

When clarifying these goals, it is essential to be clear and specific so that you can refer back to them. You should remove items that seem irrelevant or unrealistic when reviewing your long-term goals as they will only waste your time and potentially demotivate you in the long run.
To aid productivity, it is important to organize your goals, arranging them with ranks of importance and achievability with detailed steps showing how to actualize them.

For many freelancers who might experience some form of difficulty in setting goals, here are some examples of different ways you can set goals to maximize work performance.

  1. Understanding the fundamentals of Python in the next 6 months
  2. Learning graphics design alongside my photography in the next year
  3. Creating an AdSense approved website this year
  4. Reaching and maintaining a 4.5/5 client review.
  5. Obtaining another certification in the next 6 months
  6. Increasing my client base by 15% in the next 3 months.

Some experts also recommend that long-term and short-term goals are set separately. This motive will not only help you to monitor your progress better but also to boost your focus and motivation.

There are many benefits imbued in setting clear career goals as a freelancer as it helps maintain focus, boost professional growth and keep your workflow in the right direction. It also serve as a way of monitoring your progress and keeping track of your successes.

3. Building a professional network

This is a critical step for career development and advancement as a freelancer, particularly for newbies who are new to the game. Networking with other like-mind professionals in your field of specialty will allow you to connect and build good relationships with potential clients, mentors and experts in your field. This professional relationship will can prove useful, being a valuable source of information, resources, support and opportunities that you require for you career growth.

Also networking with freelance experts and other seasoned professionals can help to build your reputation whilst providing mentorship opportunities. This mentorship will greatly boost your professional career advancement, being beneficial for your long-term development as it would upgrade your skills, build confidence and even foster collaborations through referrals. This will pay off in the long run as you seek to advance your freelancing career, as having an experienced freelancer as a mentor will help you to better thrive and excel in your career.

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Learning how to effectively network is crucial to establishing one’s freelancing career and this can be done by joining online communities related to your niche. These online communities consists of  freelancers with similar career interests and goals. Networking via these communities will help you to communicate your challenges and experiences to other freelancers who are able to give back their unique opinions and solutions.

The creation of online communities has many benefits as you will be have access to first-hand information about the newest trends and skills now available in the industry. Also this connection might aid you to freely access new opportunities like job postings or seminars that might have been previously out of your reach.

In addition to online communities, another way of networking is by attending professional industry events. These might range from seminars, conferences, meetings, webinars and workshops. It is almost sure that you will meet freelance experts who much more further in their careers that you can mentor your freelance journey. These mentors might offer mentorship opportunities which we have previously discussed.

Tips for professional freelance networking

  1. Attend physical or virtual networking events like seminars, conferences
  2. Join social media communities of professionals
  3. Join professional groups that are in line with your goals and objectives.
  4. Actively participate in the online communities
  5. Ask relevant questions that you might have about the niche
  6. Share your insights and opinions on the platform
  7. Meet with experts in their DMs or even physically for mentorship opportunities

4. Personal branding

For any worker that is working independently and on a contractual basis, personal branding is of the utmost importance. You should always remember that your personal brand is a combined result of unique skills, personality and values that distinguishes you from other freelancers in the field. It will be the first impression your potential client and even colleagues would develop straight up, influencing how they perceive you and prompting their decision as whether to work with you or not.

It is for this reason that your personal brand should effectively communicate who you are, your services and why you are the best obvious choice for your potential clients. Though it’s important for your brand to be attractive and inviting, it must also exhibit credibility and professionalism. To this end, crafting a personal brand requires strategic thinking and self reflection to build and maintain a good brand image and reputation.

Most freelancers utilize developed websites and even apps where their services are freely accessible to clients on the social media. Some even rely on social media accounts and handles to maintain an active online presence on the net.

To effectively brand their website and accounts the following tips should be adhered to

  1. The portfolio of the freelancer should be displayed on the website, highlighting the skills they offer with necessary qualifications and certifications.
  2. The website should showcase good visual content that is visually pleasing. This will better attract more clients to your site
  3. Professionalism of conduct on website- being professional in dealings with clients and with fellow colleagues and competing brands
  4. The use of active, trending social media hashtags to boost your content engagement
  5. Having a consistent branding strategy across all media platforms and websites to create a cohesive media presence.
  6. The content of sites and social media handles should meet SEO standards, ensuring it tops the results on search engines

Israel Otoijamun

Israel Otoijamun is the founder and CEO of With years of experience in the digital space, I have earned a lot from freelancing, both on Upwork and fiver, thanks to my digital skills. My goal for creating this platform is to help digitally skilled people earn a living through their skills online, irrespective of their location and background. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have enquiries. E-mail: ✌️

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