• Advice

Why education is essential for freelance success

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

A long list of clients can prevent an independent professional from investing in career development. For some people, the thought of going back to school if the goal is to continue a business seems like a waste of time.

Education is key to business success. It is impossible for a freelancer to own a thriving business long-term without improving their knowledge and skills. Clients tend to hire people that have certifications and online learning experience because it gives them the confidence that they can get the job completed the first time it is submitted.

Whether you are new in the business or have a decade of experience, here are a few reasons why you should consider continued learning:

Clients want educated freelancers

A diverse professional website is just one factor in winning new clients. If you are earning a low salary, think of education as the key to help improve your understanding of how you run a business.

As a freelancer, you can deduct education expenses with proven documentation or receipts. Education can include the following:

• Bachelors or Masters Degree
• Certificate programs
• Online learning (i.e., courses and classes)
• Webinars

Technology is constantly changing

Are you a graphic designer, website builder or writer? If so, you might have experience designing images, using Adobe Suite programs or software to help to complete work. The ability to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing) software like SalesForce and edit images using the latest technique might require you to take a few courses.

In my experience, clients are eager to hire a freelancer proficient in their preferred software because it is cheaper than hiring another freelancer to do the extra work.

Higher learning equals higher income

According to PayScale, the average salary for a freelancer is between $21,000 and $100,000. What differentiates the low and high earner? It is often their level of education that sets them apart.

A mentor who's earning your desired income is not a reality for most freelancers. However, purchasing a book by a subject matter expert that offers tips you can’t find on the internet is worth the investment. How can you earn a six-figure income practicing strategies learned when you were making $50,000 a year? Think about the new work you can accept if you know more information about your craft than you do today.

If you prefer learning a non-conventional way, hiring a successful freelancer in your field to teach you ways to improve your craft is another route to take.

You will produce high-quality work

Imagine being at a point in your freelance career where you're completing assignments with minimal errors and have clients that don’t complain about the quality of your work. You can achieve it when you practice continuing education, whether you register for an online class a few times a year or attend a course at a local university for a few months.

Online courses to consider

In my experience, the course material on the websites listed below has helped to change the way I communicate with clients, reach out to editors, complete assignments, and my writing style.
The professionals who teach these courses are freelancers or working subject matter experts and often provide insider secrets in the class.

• Udemy: Udemy offers discounted courses less than $50 for graphic design, writing, web design, editing, photography, and running a freelance business.
• Pluralsight: Pluralsight is a high-quality online portal of courses you can take for about $40 a month. There are different subscription packages. The content is easy to understand and covers a variety of subjects.
• Coursera: Coursera provides certification for courses that last about seven days on average. It offers language, writing, marketing, advertising, business, and academic material from top universities across the United States.

Final thoughts on higher learning

Think of yourself as a business owner first before the word "freelancer" comes to mind. The only way you can improve is to learn innovative strategies and techniques to enhance the way you serve clients.

Most clients want to see that you are actively educating yourself; it will cost them less than hiring a new freelancer to complete a high-quality assignment.

It might feel as if you are spending money on an education you don’t need because you already have clients, but imagine the kind of clients that will pay more because of your new skillset.

Makeda Waterman is an online media journalist with a passion for helping people succeed. Her articles are featured on CNBC Make It., Huff Post, Yahoo Finance News, Fast Company, Glassdoor, and Elite Daily. She also runs an online marketing writing business.