When aspiring or young freelancers come to me eager-eyed and ready to work, one of the first roadblocks we often hit is their limited knowledge of the digital tools they need to do their job effectively within remote teams. Sadly this limitation sometimes sends these new freelancers back to where they came from, without trying.

Here’s an example: let’s say you want to become a professional freelance writer working in a remote team. To succeed, you must know how to collaborate and share documents (with the right permissions) via Google Docs or Notion. You must know how to find attractive feature images that fit your client’s style guide with Pexels or Unsplash. You must know how to create accompanying social media images with a tool like Canva.

You must also know how to navigate WordPress so you can publish or submit your article for review. And before getting to this submission, publishing, and distributing, you must have passed done some keyword research where you dig deep into Google Search or a site like BuzzSumo to know what has been written on your topic and what angle to focus on. If you want your article to hit the hearts of many while passing Google’s algorithm rules, you may use a tool like Hubspot’s Headline Analyzer to pick a high-score heading.

After all is done, you face the promotion aspect. Publications and clients often expect you to promote the published post on social media to get more eyeballs and links back to their site. These are typical expectations, and executing them well separates exceptional freelancers from those who struggle. A new freelancer, however, may find it overwhelming, but that’s no reason to stop.

Letting all you have to learn to overwhelm you and push you to quit before you start is self-sabotage because you know what? Most of these tools are easy-peasy, intuitive to use, made with users in mind, and go further to train new users through video tutorials, blog posts, and customer support.

If a job needs you to learn how to use a specific tool, you owe it to yourself to learn it quickly to fit into the team and work productively.

My first job as a freelance writer was for a company specializing in search engine optimization for small businesses. I remember walking into their office, determined to get out of there with my first writing job. After my pitch, the busy CEO spoke to me for barely ten minutes more before deciding to give me a shot at the rate of 20 cedis (barely $4) per article. That was meager pay, but I was over the moon. I could call myself a paid writer now, and I did all I could to learn about their industry, tools, and clients. 

Through that job, which went on for quite a while, I learned about SEO, remote working tools and got my first paycheck as a professional freelance writer. Imagine if I had walked away because I didn’t know much about how SEO worked then. That would have been a starting opportunity lost.

That was 2014; now I make way more than that, not only in writing but also through other skills I’ve picked up working closely with business owners.

Why do I share this story? To urge you to not give up because of all you have to learn yet. 

The next time you talk to a client or an established freelancer, and they go on and on about all you need to know and the tools you must use, take a deep breath and don’t let fear take over. You can learn whatever you need to learn with interest, time, and practice. You have to believe that you can and keep at it until it gets easier.

Don’t be scared of all you have to learn. Just get started.

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