Technology and ideas of what is current information change quickly. A web site designer who knows only basic HTML, for example, is no longer current or viable in the freelance market. How can a freelancer keep up with current trends in information and technology to increase their skill set without going broke?
Here are five ways to build on your freelance skills:
- Take a class. Even if you worked in a traditional office environment, you would be required to participate in professional development via seminars or continuing education classes. This is especially important to your work as a freelancer in order to remain competitive in your field.
- Read relevant books/magazines. There is a caveat here: Make certain any books are current because industries can change so quickly. What was current last May probably is outdated this May. Magazines and professional journals provide more current news and information for freelancers than books do.
- Find a mentor. You don’t have to be new to your field to benefit from a mentor. While traditionally mentors have been older, more seasoned professionals, don’t discount what younger ones can teach. They are more in touch with current technology and can help you learn it as well.
- Subscribe to relevant e-newsletters. Many professional organizations have an electronic newsletter sent out via e-mail. These include industry news, changes, and technological advances, all of which you need to know. Be careful of newsletters from individual sites. They might have current information, but it’s best to stay with a source you know is accurate.
- Become involved in an interactive group, web-based or real-time, of professionals in your field. Everyone needs person-to-person interaction, even if you started freelancing so you could work by yourself and have minimal contact with people. Being involved with a group in your field gives you a sounding board for when you’re stumped by a problem or searching for new ideas for a client.
Every professional has to grow or they stagnate. That is especially true for freelancers. Building your skill set and taking on new technology will help ensure you won’t be one of the stagnant ones.