4 killer skills every freelancer should develop to be successful

Knowledge Development and Upskilling
March 3, 2024
2 minutes
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From years of working as an EA, having the chance to work with experienced founders and the best teams, I observed that the people have worked with and admire have a few things in common:

  • They are great at storytelling
  • They negotiate fruitfully
  • They can freaking SELL
  • They adapt to changes

4 killer skills to develop

Let’s break it down.

1. Storytelling

Having the skill to communicate an idea or thought in a way that stirs the audience's emotions is one of the best skills to have. And it's not just about excellent communication but telling a relatable and digestible story that sticks.

Think of the best YouTubers or podcast hosts you've listened to and why you were hooked. Was it just the content?

Think of Apple, Nike, or Adidas and how they do their ads. They market their products but it does't feel sale-sy. And that’s because their marketing is good storytelling. Storytelling is appealing and it works because humans love stories. Stories are what connect us because everyone has them. I once saw a tweet saying that storytelling + data analytics are a deadly combo. I agree. The impact would be remarkable if you combine storytelling with some other skills. As a freelancer in this digital world, applying good storytelling in your marketing strategy would differentiate you from others.

2. Negotiating

Every good entrepreneur I know is good at negotiating. It's one of the skills that I want to improve on as an online EA and entrepreneur. When I was a newbie, I've always associated negotiation with money or business. But when I got involved in conflict resolution at work, I realized that negotiation plays a considerable role in keeping a team and relationships intact. Importantly, negotiation is more than just getting your way or your desired results. Sometimes, it's achieving an outcome that benefits both parties. In the business world, the best negotiators are the ones who know what they want, what shots to take, and when to take the shot.

3. Selling

The most influential people are the ones who can sell. And it’s not just about selling products. People who are great at selling ideas, services, and opportunities thrive. If you sweep the internet right now to check influencers who are killing their game, you'll realize how good they are at selling their lifestyle, ideas, and products. Think of your client call, proposal meeting, and/or interviews - they were a form selling. For freelancers, it's important to acknowledge the fact that we're here as service providers. And the best way to reach our target clients is to have the conviction in the services we offer and excel at selling them.

4. Being Nimble

When I go through job descriptions, especially looking at startup jobs, the usual term I come across with is "agile." This term has been around for years now and has been a common term in the startup world. But just recently, in two job role posts, I read the word "nimble," and that got me curious. And voila, I realized it's the term I've been looking for to describe someone’s ability to adapt, learn quickly, and iterate fast. It means being able to implement and fail fast but also adapt and iterate quickly. Being nimble in this fast-changing world (especially where AI is embraced) would be a really great asset.


In order to become a successful freelancer, it's important to develop a set of key skills that will set you apart from the competition. Specifically, developing your storytelling abilities, negotiating skills, branding and sales skills, and ability to be nimble will make you an asset to any client.

Actionable Items

  1. Practice telling stories that are relatable and engaging.
  2. Learn negotiation techniques that focus on achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.
  3. Develop your marketing and sales skills to better communicate your value to clients.
  4. Work on being nimble and adaptable in order to keep up with the fast-paced digital world.

By focusing on these key skills, you'll be able to grow your freelance business and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

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I'm Jelly, main writer and owner of TEE, and I've been a VA for more than 10 years now. The Executive Enabler has been created in the hopes to help and guide new VAs in their journey.

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