If you work for someone else the chances are they take some kind of an interest in your learning and development. What that looks like will vary depending on the size and type of organisation, but at the very least you probably have a colleague you can watch and learn from. If you’re part of a large organisation they probably have a whole team devoted to coming up with training and other offers to help you improve your skills.
For those of us who freelance it’s not so straightforward. We have to find our own opportunities and teach ourselves all kinds of skills for running a business, as well as honing the skills we rely on for income.
So where do you start? Online, of course! Thank goodness for the internet. Seriously.
Facebook groups are GREAT for getting an insight into what a job is really like before you take the freelance plunge, and for picking up hints and tips along the way. It’s nice to feel part of a community too – this freelancing lark can be lonely at times. So yes, in short, I’m saying make friends with your rivals. You can learn a heap from them and there’s plenty of work out there to go around. Personally, you’ll find me hanging out in the top copywriting groups on Facebook but Linkedin groups can be great too, depending on the kind of work you do.
Search out other people’s blog posts (hello!) and online articles. I’ve found so much out there to help me along the way, whether it’s specific to writing, pricing, or how to handle your finances. You need a little patience but there’s a lot you can get for free. If you want to pay, there are lots of online courses out there, but I always invest some time in the free resources first and then pay up for anything you feel you need to boost up after that.
Find a networking group. There’s nothing quite like meeting people face to face. Yes, in some ways I might be sending you in the direction of ‘make friends with your rivals’ again, but you’ll also be making contacts with people in other sectors locally. You’re all in the same boat when it comes to running your own business and they’ll be full of advice and encouragement. They’ll also have a wealth of different skills you might need to learn from them, and who knows, they might put some business your way too one day. You can find all sorts of network groups online through Linkedin, Twitter, and my current favourite, Meetup.
The most important thing I urge though is to invest in your own training and development – whether that’s making sure there’s a line in your budget to allow you to book onto some events, or allowing yourself some proper time to work through free resources and learn from them, rather than rushing them in as an afterthought at the end of the day. It’ll be worth it in the end.
Originally published on my previous website on 20/5/2017