Investing in Training & Education
Freelancing can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career path, but it is also one that comes with its own unique set of challenges and considerations. One of the most often-cited concerns among freelancers is that they lack the necessary knowledge, experience and qualifications to compete in what can be a very competitive space. This can feel like a significant barrier to entry, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Investing in your training and education can help you to increase your employability and ensure that you stand out from the crowd – and you can do this as a freelancer.
The Benefits of Investing in Education
Investing in education is a commitment that comes with a multitude of benefits for the modern freelancer. Firstly, it helps to ensure that you have the necessary knowledge and qualifications to command the higher rates and project requests that you may strive for. It also provides you with a safety net of sorts – should you need to pursue full-time work in the future, you will have the qualifications necessary to become attractive to employers.
On a less tangible, but equally important level, investing in education also serves to expand your professional network. Professional courses will open the door to many unique job opportunities, and the connections made in such courses can help to drive more business and interest to what you do.
Choosing the Right Education Course
When starting out as a freelancer, the choices we make with regards to courses and training can be a difficult and even overwhelming prospect. One of the major considerations is the cost – some courses expect a significant up-front fee, while others require only a small contribution. Time can be just as important – some courses can take months or even years to complete, whereas others are designed for quick-fire engagement and learning.
When it comes to identifying which course is right for you, it is important to take into account your specific skillset and what you wish to achieve. If you are just starting out, affordable and short-term courses are likely to be best – these can give you an entry point into the profession and provide you with the understanding you need to abide by industry rules and regulations. These courses will also often open the door to a number of potential qualifications – such as certifications, degrees or diplomas – which will add a great deal of value to your CV in the longer term.
The Benefits of Training & Development
Aside from the more rigid structure of education courses, training and development initiatives are invaluable for freelancers. These initiatives come in two forms – those that are designed to increase quality, performance and safety, and those that actively pursue industry development.
The former – such as skills-based challenge-driven initiatives – are the bread and butter of the freelance profession, and are incredibly important to the development of any profession. Those initiatives can help to hone skills, increase speed and accuracy, and even facilitate problem-solving.
The latter initiatives – such as industry conferences and networking events – can provide freelancers with the opportunity to develop their reputation and career prospects. These events and meetings are incredibly common, and provide fantastic opportunities to engage with both like-minded professionals and – potentially – customers. They also help to refine industry standards and conventions which can be hugely important as freelancers search out projects.
Helping Freelancers Best Invest In Training & Education
One of the biggest obstacles for freelancers looking to invest in the education and training of their profession is the cost of such learning. Many education institutions only accept part-time and full-time students, leaving freelancers unable or unwilling to commit to such studies. On top of this, the cost of many of these courses can often be prohibitive – meaning that even those who are successful must consider the long-term financial consequences of their decision.
In these situations, freelancers should look to embrace micro-curricular initiatives. These initiatives can help to reduce the cost of learning, though they are not necessarily a panacea – micro-learning still requires financial commitment and what may appear to be a low cost can accumulate over time. Freelancers should also consider free and open courses and training – many of these are of incredibly high quality and ostensibly no cost.
Developing Your Action Plan
Developing an effective action plan is the first step to ensure that you – as a freelancer – maximise the return from your investment in education and training. Freelancers must be careful to ensure that, firstly, they have a degree of short-term and long-term aims in mind when embarking upon such an investment. This will help them to ensure that their learning is purposeful and focused, rather than arduous and unclear.
In this plan it is also essential to plan for failure contingencies. There is always the potential with each course that you take that you may not pass – hence why is important to have not only financial contingencies in place, but also an endpoint. This can be an incredibly useful tool to use when planning and when budgeting, as it allows you to budget precisely and understand the likelihood of and resulting from a project or course failure.
Networking & Building A Support Network
In addition to formal education and initiatives, freelancers must also look to develop a support network of like-minded professionals. This network can be hugely influential when taking courses, as it can help guide newcomers to the industry by providing advice and insight into potential learning opportunities.
Additionally, this network can also provide the opportunity for relationship building. Networking with experienced professionals can be exceptionally important for those wanting to develop their skills – often, these relationships can offer a path to long-term contracts and projects which can pay greater dividends in the long term.
When embarking upon a career as a freelancer, investing in education and training is one of the most effective tools you can use to ensure that your skillset and employability remain at the highest level. With the right combination of education courses, training initiatives, and a strong support network, you can be sure that you will be well-equipped with the skills, knowledge and connections necessary to make the most of your freelancing business.