Ways to Learn New Skills to Grow as a FreelancerWritten by Mindaugas on June 18, 2018
Skills are there to pay the bills. Learning new skills never goes out of style and it can make you more attractive in the social environment as well as the professional one too.
To be more competitive in the labor department, it’s in your best interest to continue learning. Competition can be stiff, whether you’re freelancing or looking for full-time employment. You should always aim to stand out from the crowd by regularly sharpening and acquiring new skills.
There are a variety of tools and learning resources you can use to your advantage. The great thing is, that to learn and to keep growing intellectually, you don’t have to invest a lot of money. You are able to not only increase your earning potential but can do so with very little or no financial investment.
To save you the trouble, I have compiled a few quality wells of knowledge for your utilization. Perhaps some of these sources you know about, and others may be new to you. Check them and see if they’re capable of putting a few extra things in your noggin.
Here’s where to start.
1. Look For Challenges
Being a freelancer, you are blessed with flexibility and work mobility. You are not bound by any long-term obligations so you are able to actively seek out the work you want to do.
There may come a time when we fall into a perpetual mundane work flow. We encounter a comfort zone from which it may be hard to roll out of. This is the danger zone that may lead to skill and income stagnation.
Be proactive and seek out work challenges. Look for freelancing opportunities that can push you outside of your usual work flow. It will help you realize the true potential that you may not have had the courage to reach before.
Challenging ourselves is a great way to learn what we are capable of and ways of adapting to the new situations. Confining yourself to the ‘dangerous’ comfort zone not only limits your capabilities, but also creates a lackluster career.
Freelancing gives people the versatility that most people can only dream of. Use this to your advantage and seek out projects that can test your limits.
Address Your Skill Shortcomings
Actively seeking a challenge, will allow you to find faults in your ability or perhaps pave way to a new skill set. To test your own capability, you need to try something that you’re just not used to doing.
What are some of the roadblocks you encounter while working? While undertaking some different tasks, questions and concerns may arise. This is where you may begin encountering the limits of your current skills.
Mike Tyson once said – “everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” I think this quote applies to this situation. You may always have a plan for the things you’re used to doing, but when a more challenging task has arisen and ‘punches’ you in the face, it forces you to reassess your current abilities. This is when you realize it could be time to sharpen those skills and become a more formidable freelancer.
Let’s face it, you don’t know everything – that’s okay. You won’t find anyone who is a never-ending fountain of information. Everyone’s knowledge and skill is limited to some extent.
Think about your development as a person. There were other people along the way that guided your personal growth and bestowed their knowledge onto you. Mentors played a big role in your life and its development.
Much like parents, teachers, and coaches who mentored you before, mentors can continue to help develop your professional skills.
2. Assess Your Future
It’s impossible to predict the future, but it’s always good to stay prepared for what the future might bring. There are a lot of changes happening in the work environment and the labor force is constantly aiming to adapt itself to those changes. You should be doing the same.
To stay relevant and competitive among other freelancers, your skills need to stay sharp and up to par. Assess your path and where you see yourself heading in the foreseeable future. Your skills need to reflect your chosen “destination”.
When trying to understand what skills to cultivate, think of your future. Adapt yourself to the evolving technology and don’t shy away from picking up new skills.
3. Listening to Podcasts
Walking your dog – podcast. Driving to get groceries – podcast. Exercising – podcast. There is so much time within your daily routine that can be spent acquiring knowledge just by listening.
Podcasts may not be something that teaches you new skills, but it can endow you with some necessary wisdom. Of course, there are a large array of podcasts, varying from comedy to news, tech updates, etc. Depending on what you listen, the content of podcasts may drastically vary – choose wisely.
When it comes to quality podcasts, there will be many of them that coincide with the type of work you do. Listening to some may inspire you to make positive changes in your work and implement unique strategies you haven’t thought of.
One thing that is often overlooked now-a-days is reading. Now I am not talking about reading the latest Facebook post or the 3 sentence long Instagram caption. Pick up a good book, sit down on the comfortable couch or snuggle up in bed and read.
First and foremost, books contain vast amounts of quality information that can be applicable in many situations – depending on what you read. Reading expands your vocabulary and can develop your writing ability too.
Whatever your career focus is, reading will enhance your ability to perform. People who read often, improve their brain functions and retain mental agility better as they age.
Just like going out for a morning jog exercises your heart, reading does the same for your brain. So not only are you able to soak in the valuable information that’s found within countless volumes of books, you are also reinforcing mental fortitude. Neat!
5. Having Hobbies Outside of Work
Although this post is about learning new skills, having hobbies outside of work can lead to a fresh perspective and inspiration. Your hobbies can also involve your clients, which can strengthen your professional relationship in the long run.
Dedicating some time to activities outside of work can lead to creativity and improved social skills. Leisure gives you the chance to unwind and to clear you head from the stresses associated with work. As a result, you are more likely to be more composed when approach work related tasks and lead to amplified productivity.
Consider incorporating some team sports into your routine or a creative outlet such as painting or playing a musical instrument. These types of activities can subconsciously mold your perspective to be more creative and elevate communication skills.
6. Additional Courses
You’re never too old, and it’s never too late to get some additional training. Whether it’s a course, a lecture, or just a plain ol’ video – additional skills can be acquired through these methods.
Workshops, Seminars, and Conferences
To pick up additional skills, workshops and seminars could be another useful source. Although workshops typically tend do be more hands-on, I grouped it with seminars here because they share a lot of similarities.
Chances are if you live in a city, you are surrounded by a myriad of workshop and seminar options. These are great ways to soak in additional knowledge and to hone your skills. More often than not, these workshops will not only make you a more competent freelancer, but a more well-rounded member of society.
Seminars along with workshops are hosted by seasoned professionals. They are there to share the wealth of information that they have accumulated over the years. It’s in your best interest to attend these whenever you have the time.
Networking opportunities are plentiful in these events as well. You are welcome to interact with fellow peers, look for work, find a mentor, or just ask questions.
University or College
Now when I talk about university or college, it doesn’t mean you must to sign up for a full course load, or start a degree program. Universities and colleges offer a variety of supplemental courses for those individuals looking to learn.
The great thing about taking up a course at your local university campus is the varied selection and accredited staff that teach you. You are welcome to choose from literally hundreds of courses that best suit your needs.
Even if you don’t live near a higher learning institution, universities typically offer variety of online courses too. This option may be suitable for you if you struggle with commute times and want to work at your own pace.
To enroll in a course of your choice, you may have to pay. Depending on where you live and on your income you may be eligible for government grants to help cover the costs associated with your studies.
A university alternative that aggregates most sought after online courses and online degrees on a single platform.
On OpenCourser you have access to quite a few learning options . You can go the ‘à la carte’ route – pick and choose the courses that suit you best or select full degree programs.
All courses available are taught by top instructors from best universities. The knowledge and skills you acquire here can be of great asset to you.
If you are looking to get specific with your learning, Skillshare may be the right choice for you. This website has compiled a variety content for you to learn from. Topics range from design, to film making, writing, and business.
Not only will you learn by watching quality instructors walking you through topics, but you get the chance to practice newly acquired skills yourself. The learn-by-doing platform will future-proof you as a freelancer and get you ready to take on new projects.
Free Online Courses
You are also spoiled for choice when it comes to free online courses. Learning new skills is just a click away, and all you need is your trusty computer.
Learning to code is becoming more and more necessary in today’s work environment. It’s one of those things that can make you a more formidable freelancer in the labor market.
Writing code is like writing in a whole new language. Getting the basic understanding of code may be overwhelming at first but there is a great solution to alleviate some of this anxiety – Code Academy.
Code Academy is a great place to start your coding journey stress-free. You are able to choose and learn multiple programming languages such as Java, Python, SQL and more. There are even curriculum programs available to adapt your skills for a specific application like web development.
I didn’t think I would be including this on this list, but then I had an epiphany – I have learned quite a few things utilizing YouTube. It wouldn’t be fair of me to exclude this platform.
There is an overwhelming amount of knowledge that has found a home on this video hosting site. You have access to a large variety of videos that can walk you through almost any task you have to undertake. Guides to teach you software skills, editing, or even how to fix your car are all available on YouTube.
You may have to screen through the content to find the credible videos. Since anyone is able to upload their video creations, use your best judgment to see what suits your learning needs and what doesn’t.
Learning Doesn’t Stop
You should always strive to better yourself – this applies outside of work too. New skills and techniques exist that you may not even be aware of that could make you a far more competent freelancer.
In this unpredictable labor environment, when you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. If you aren’t actively trying to strive for new heights and learn, there will be someone else out there who will take the initiative.
Future-proof your abilities to constantly stay ahead of your competition. This will not only lead to better income but also improve your overall quality of life. Go out there and keep learning.
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