That means you’re responsible for your own professional growth and development. Take this responsibility seriously, because this is what keeps you in-demand and able to charge higher than your competitors do.
However, keep in mind that you need to continually improve two areas of skills:
- The specialized skills in your particular field, whether it’s writing, designing, programming, photography or anything else.
- Your entrepreneurial skills–the skills you need to run your freelancing business, manage your finances, and market your services.
Even if you’re just starting out and have limited resources to invest, it’s possible to beef up your skills. The Internet, in particular, provides many opportunities for you to keep updated in your field, as well as in small business management.
What is essential is your investment of time and effort to continually improve your skills.
Below are some free and paid ways you can build up your skills to become a more successful freelancer:
6 Free Opportunities to Help You Build Your Skills
Here are six free opportunities to beef up your skills:
- Blogs. You’re already reading Freelance Folder, which means you get a good daily dose of high-quality advice on becoming a profitable freelancer. Aside from Freelance Folder, you should also regularly read blogs in your industry, and a couple of other blogs on small business or home business management. You can use Alltop.com to find and keep track the best blogs on any topic.
- Email Newsletters. Email newsletters are another good way to get free training on almost any subject you can think of. Many of your favorite bloggers probably already offer a newsletter.
- Free Teleseminars and Webinars. Many subject experts also give free teleseminars and webinars. Oftentimes, they use these to pitch their products or services. If you can’t afford them, then resist the temptation to buy those! But, good quality virtual seminars will give you plenty of actionable advice even if you don’t buy the product/service being promoted.
- Library Books. Let’s not forget the basics! Books are a great way to learn, and if your budget is limited, then take advantage of your local library. Or, feel free to borrow from your friends–just make sure you give them back!
- Internship, Apprenticeship, On-the-Job Training. Some experts provide unpaid internship programs in exchange for the chance to mentor with them. Keep on the lookout for these opportunities. Or, if you know somebody you’d love to learn from, offer your services as an unpaid apprentice.
- Online Forums. Free online forums are another way to get free knowledge, information, and advice. Forum members are usually willing to answer your questions and point you to additional learning resources. Freelance Folder offers just such a free forum for its readers.
6 Paid Opportunities to Help You Build Your Skills
To get some types of training, you may need to make an investment. Here are six paid opportunities for beefing up your freelancing skills:
- Books & Magazines. I’m a compulsive book collector, so of course, I’m going to tell you that books are a good investment. When you find gems that will serve you for life, buy yourself a copy. A subscription to an industry magazine can also be a worthwhile investment.
- University/College Courses. You don’t have to be a full-time student to enroll in many of the courses available in your local college or university. Check out what’s available and see if there’s any course that could significantly improve your skill set.
- Live Training. A more economical alternative to formal university/college courses are live training events organized by professional organizations. You get the benefit of live interaction with your trainer, but at a limited time.
- Home Study Courses. If you can’t afford to attend a live training course, especially if the one you’re interested in is far from your home, then a home study course is the next best thing. You don’t get live interaction with your teacher and “classmates,” but you get to proceed at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home office.
- E-coaching. An e-coaching program gives you more interaction with your teacher, usually in the form of teleseminars, phone coaching, and email consultation. However, this is usually more time-structured than a home study course, so you will have to work within the program schedule.
- Mastermind Groups. A good mastermind group is another good investment in your professional growth. In fact, in Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says that a mastermind group is essential for business success. Find a group of people with similar goals as you. There should be a healthy mix of people who are farther ahead than you, as well as people who are a little behind you (and therefore, whom you can help). The best mastermind groups can be expensive. However, if you participate actively and take action, a good mastermind group is an excellent investment.
A Rule of Thumb
Make up your mind to spend a few hours a week and a certain percentage of your income on your continuing education. This should be a part of your regular budget. It’s a non-negotiable.
And don’t worry, this is a tax-deductible business expense (please double-check to see if this is true for where you live).
To become a successful freelancer, you have to get really good–both very good at what you do and a very good businessman.
In my case, I read books, enroll in home study courses and e-coaching programs, and am a member of three mastermind groups. I invest about 15% of my monthly income–sometimes much more. I plan to participate in live conferences and training next year, which will mean a bigger investment.
How About You?
How do you keep your “edge” sharp? How do you stay on top of your game? How much time and money do you invest to become one of the best in your industry, and to become a smart and astute entrepreneur?
Do share by posting a comment below.
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