Qualities of a great freelancer

The following are qualities that I consider core things I look for in freelancers I use when outsourcing work and getting things done. They are also the things that each and every freelancer working on jobs for Rolled At possess.


You may remember the guy who bored you to death on the phone, but you’ll remember the one you related to and laughed with a whole lot more. They’ll also become a pleasure to work with and you’ll use them more often. I can’t tell you how put off I am by the lack of a personality in some freelancers I talk to.

A love for the job

Clients don’t want their leg humping, but they do want someone who wants to do the job they have available. Someone who wants to see the product of their work come alive at the end of everything.

Chances are if you don’t love making websites, the ones you’ll be creating won’t be very good once your finished. The first question I ask anyone when I talk to them the first time when I’m adding a freelancer to my list is ‘do you love what you do?’ and if the answer isn’t yes with a convincing follow up statement then they don’t last passed that first question.


Can you wait for a job or are you going to be asking me every day about it? Are you going to blow off a huge list of insults at a client when they merely suggest a small change? Patience in my mind, is something that every freelancer needs in order to be a freelancer. You need to be patient in order to wait for a client getting back to you, to hear back from a job follow up and patient with your work too. If your forever complaining that something is going wrong instead of simply looking for a solution then your going to be closing doors instead of opening them.


Don’t work with frameworks? Someone else’s code? Pre-built scripts? Other people’s CSS/XHTML? These are all basic examples of lack of flexibility in some areas. Whilst they aren’t vital ingredients of a web development freelancer they do effect your ability to get work if you aren’t a specialist or established.

A speciality

The freelancer who specialises in one area and becomes a guru is someone that can – providing the speciality is of importance – become a cornerstone of a business. A talent in one area can be what gets you hired over someone else for a particular job, and it can be something that allows you to make more money that someone who generalises over multiple areas of knowledge. They do a better job, they have more experience and in most cases they take less time to get things done.

4 Responses

  1. Henry

    I totally agree with all of the above, since I have been freelancing for 15 years now.

    Kind regards

  2. Simos

    Totally agree too Jamie – we’ve actually noticed that the most flexible freelancers (in terms of being able to adapt their proposal to the job at hand) and the bids with the most ‘personality’ are the most successful on our site People Per Hour http://www.peopleperhour.com

    @Jamie – where are you based? UK?

  3. Jamie Huskisson

    Yeah – England

  4. Yann

    I think personality and love for the job would apply to anyone, not just freelancers. It could be part of a “Qualities of a great girlfriend” post too ;)

    Specializing is definitely key… I specialize in minimalist clean user centric designs and although it would have been easier to specialize in making cheesy flash splash pages at first… now I’m getting the rewards of my original strategy by getting clients who come to me for this specific qualities. Plus, the whole “love for what you’re doing” comes back into play: that’s what I love, that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what people hire me for, and yes they pay me “more”… Life is good ;)

    Flexibility can be important depending on what you do… I’m flexible in the sense that I’ll always try to learn new things and incorporate something different every time, push myself in new directions… But more often than not, I”ll turn down updating preexisting websites built with tables (I specialize in semantic XHTML/CSS for my designs…) or poorly coded sites because it’s just not economically viable in terms of time invested… Instead I usually try to sell them a complete redesign, which is generally what they really need anyway, they just don’t realize it.

    I got a little carried away here… What I originally intended to comment on was the “patience” bit. I think part of it comes from experience. When you first start as a designer, you put 100% effort in making the best design possible and your ego gets smashed into pieces when you get comments from people who don’t know anything about design. “How could they?!!” you think. When that happens a few times, you start to realize a few things (well, some designers don’t… I know a couple ;) and you change your approach. You start to really understand (not just conceptually) you’re not designing for yourself but for your client. Instead of making the “best” design, you make the most adapted to their needs. And here comes the little trick I learned that I wanted to share: when you get your client’s comments back, instead of internally fighting their opinion and thinking “your version makes so much more sense,” think about it as a new challenge: “how am I going to incorporate these new crazy changes without effecting the design quality/integrity/functionality/etc…” Then clients. feedback becomes a chance to improve yourself and your craft instead of a source of frustration… And everyone wins – you don’t even need “patience” anymore :)

    Wow… that was a long comment, sorry about that!

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