The world and our work environments are constantly changing. There is always a “new” something, or someone to learn from, a different way of doing the same thing, a new piece of technology, digital experience, or shift in consumer behaviour to be aware of. As freelancers, we need to fully prepare ourselves to be able to handle the new “new,” adding new skills and information to our armoury every day. We need to engage in our own self-development.
To grow, we must adapt and adopt our skillsets accordingly to move forward, achieve that all-important work-life balance, and ultimately stay ahead of the competition.
Alison Grade supports this in her Freelance Heroes blog, “Rethinking your skills and experience to find opportunities,” as she believes the value a freelancer can add to the marketplace starts with the skills and experience they have, with a focus on keeping a fully stocked array of tools that you can deploy to be able to continually service your client’s needs.
Of course, in order to have this fully stocked array of tools, continuous learning and self-development are key.
However, as freelancers, we must be mindful that we are also our own HR department, mentor, and motivator at times, so it is your responsibility to ensure your training is up to date, appropriate, and fun!
Benefits of self-development
Understanding your weaknesses lets you build on your strengths
It’s essential to understand your weaknesses as a freelancer, as let’s face it, we really can’t be brilliant at everything……
By being consciously aware of our weaknesses, not only can we look to training and upskilling opportunities, but understanding weaknesses provides clarity and focus on expanding your skillset through your strengths.
You stay competitive
Due to the increase in popularity of becoming a freelancer (I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a freelancer in today’s world?!), for you to stay in demand and at the cutting edge of what you do, you must stay on top of your game. This means staying up to date with the latest technologies, market changes, people changes, and more.
Blocking out time for reading, catching up on the latest industry news, and attending major networking events can be critical in helping your business grow and building your brand and reputation in your sector.
Keeps your mind active
Not only does learning keep our minds active, but it is also a great way to improve our confidence in areas you’ve identified as weaknesses. It can also help to keep us sharp in our thinking and enhance critical problem-solving skills.
Increases your chances of further and better opportunities
With more experience and in-depth knowledge in your area of expertise, you, yourself, become the go-to expert in your field. Opening up further opportunities and prospects.
How to elevate yourself as a freelancer
So, now we know just how important self-development is; how do you make sure you put your personal development first?
Set long-term goals. What would you like to achieve personally and professionally? Where do you want your freelancing career to go, and what do you need to help you get there?
Take on new projects. Freelancing offers you an excellent opportunity for variety, and you need to ensure that you’re maximising this opportunity as often as you can. Taking on new projects helps make every day different, but it also broadens your skills and experience in other areas.
Follow the right influencers and opinion leaders in your field across the relevant social platforms. Social media is not just big; it’s HUGE, and some of the most influential people will be online posting. Make sure to follow those individuals and businesses that you admire. Do they have podcasts that you can listen to on the school run, when you walk the dogs, or when you’re sitting with a cup of coffee looking for inspiration to strike!
Get out and about. Engage with others at networking events, seminars, and conferences. Yes, the pandemic has put the brakes on many of these; however, online and digital never let us down. With many events now running virtually or now running in smaller capacities, sign up for those seminars and conferences that relate to you. These events are a great way to update on everything “new” happening in the sector, and you can find out the latest trends and predictions for the future.
Check out distance learning courses. We know that as freelancers, there is never enough time in the day to get everything and more completed. However, with a range of online courses suitable for various learning styles and available to complete at a time and over a duration that suits you, there is now more flexibility in formal learning than ever before.
Find and work with a mentor. Finding someone who you can not only bounce ideas off but who you can learn from and draw on their experiences and skills is vital. Mentors can also connect you with others and open the door to new opportunities and possibilities.
Self-development is key to keeping us up to date, competitive, and leaders in our field; however, it is also vital in supporting positive mental health and well-being. Continuous learning helps us feel like we’re always working towards our vision and goals and sets us on the right path to achieving these.
As we head into 2022, those who are responsive to change will be most successful in their freelancing career.
To help you further support your freelancing journey and aid in your self-development, make sure to find out more about membership to Freelance Heroes today.