How to Decide Whether to Invest in an Online Training Program

Webinars, interactive training, videos, coaching, etc. It seems like the Internet is filled with training programs-many of them targeted at freelancers.

As a freelancer, it can be difficult to know what to do about all of the online opportunities available. While some can be eliminated right away, most of them sound really good and beneficial. But no freelancer can afford to take part in all of them.

If you’re a lifelong learner like me, you’re probably also wondering how to get the most benefit from online training.

In this post, I’ll share some of the criteria that I use to decide whether to invest in a training program.

The Online Training Dilemma

There are so many training programs available online that I could spend all day every day doing nothing but training. But that wouldn’t be a wise use of my time. Also, since many of the training programs have a hefty price tag, purchasing too many of them can hurt my pocketbook.

The thing is, an online training program can be good without being right for you. You need to figure out what type of training you should invest in.

6 Ways to Evaluate a Training Program

Here are six of the criteria that I use to decide whether to invest in an online training program.

  1. Who is providing the training? When it comes to online training, it’s especially important to consider the source. Is the training being offered by a well-known and respected expert in your field, or is it being offered by someone you have never heard of? Do your research or you could wind up wasting your money.
  2. What do the reviewers say? Even a respected expert can sometimes come up with training that isn’t worth your time. That’s why I always check to see what others are saying about the training. Yes, I know that not all online reviews can be trusted. But if the review is from a reputable site, I definitely pay attention.
  3. Do I have the time? The best the training in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t take advantage of it. To get the most from training, you need to make sure that you actually have time in your schedule to do the training. Just purchasing it won’t be of any help.
  4. Do I have the money? Some online training courses can be quite pricey. I’ve seen online courses that cost as much as a college course. When this happens, I have to ask myself whether I would be better off just attending a course at a local college.
  5. How will this training benefit my business? If the training is for your freelancing business, then the training should help you to grow your business in some way. Will the training help you develop a marketable skill? Will it connect you with project leads? Know what you expect to gain from the training.
  6. What other benefits come with the training? Many online training courses come with added perks, which can include newsletters, online forums where you can ask questions to the trainer or other participants, and sometimes even private job boards with work opportunities you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

There are so many free training courses available that deciding whether to take a free course requires special consideration.

Is Free Worth It?

A growing number of training courses are being offered for free, but don’t be deceived. Free training isn’t always what it seems.

There are a number of excellent free training courses out there. For example, I recently completed Google’s free Power Search training. I expect this to benefit me because, as a writer, I rely on the search engines to help me research topics.

But other free training courses are little more than an extended sales pitch for something more. And even if free training doesn’t cost anything, it does take your time.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with training, there are steps that you can take to make sure that you get the most from your training.

Make Online Training Work for You

Here are some steps you can take to get the most from online training:

  • Schedule a specific time for the training. If you are not sure how much time would be needed, ask.
  • Know what you expect to gain from the training. You are more likely to get something from the training if you have a goal.
  • Participate. Do the homework. Interact with others taking the training and with the instructor if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Take advantage of the extras. If your training includes extras like forums or job boards, do use those extras.
  • Apply the training. Make an effort to use the training within a week or so of taking it. If you don’t apply it, you’re likely to forget it.

Your Turn

Do you invest much in online training? If so, how do you decide which training to take?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by mrsdkrebs