Another year has just begun. Online teaching platforms and course creators are aggressively advocating for their courses, boot camps, and conferences through online as, newsletters, and promotional emails.
Be it freelance writing, social media management, graphic design, or SEO, online courses and certifications are steadily proving to be useful in freelancing.
But if you have never brought an online course, you may wonder if they are really necessary — or worth the cost. You may be skeptical whether an online course can really skyrocket your freelance career.
Here are some times when it is right to take that online course:
When you need to learn more about digital marketing
Let’s say you have a background in psychology or nursing or law and see a lucrative opportunity in offering social media services in these sectors.
It would be right to learn the marketing side of things, especially digital marketing or social media management, to promote a business in these spheres effectively.
Social media marketing courses can teach you all the ropes about marketing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and beyond to achieve greater success in the service you offer.
When you need a certificate or some form of accreditation to show
A certificate can be useful in two ways:
a) To attract clients via referral. Jon Morrow is recognized as among the best bloggers in the freelance writing space. A certificate from him or his course can surely bring you more clients, as he is famous for writing content that ranks.
b) When you want to upgrade your services or raise your rates. Getting a certificate will prove that you have more knowledge in your chosen field, positioning you as an expert. Once you embrace the expert level tag, you can increase your rates to reflect your new role or position.
When you are new to freelancing
Those new to freelancing will find that taking an online course is the quickest way to start their freelancing career. Whether free or paid, online courses can teach you how to tackle the niche problem, optimize your profiles, perform crisis management, understand your clients' goals, break into influencer marketing, position yourself to the market, and avoid the feast and famine cycle.
When you want to diversify and assume other titles
With the coronavirus showing us how every job can be precarious, diversifying to other sectors may be another way to fight freelance feast and famine.
Assume you are a skilled social media manager who wants to diversify to other sectors like SEO or copywriting. Taking an online course will catch you up in that new field quickly and improve your freelance income.
Getting the necessary training will make not only a difference in your knowledge, but also your paycheck.
When it's requested by an employer or client
Clients do sometimes ask if you provide additional services other than the one on your portfolio. If you are a social media manager, they might inquire if you can also do copywriting, editing, or SEO.
Rather than let the client source these services from another freelancer, consider taking an online course in these sectors or attending a conference and use the knowledge or certificates to convince clients of the additional benefits or services you can provide their business.
If you are an employer who wants to learn about freelancing
Many freelancers of all types will attest that their clients don’t really understand what their work entails. There are Facebook groups and online chat rooms for social media managers, for example, to share how clients belittle them for not helping improve sales or ask them weird questions.
Clearly, such entrepreneurs do not understand the role of their freelancer. In this example, if you're the client in a constant battle with your social media manager regarding their responsibilities, online social media management courses can help you understand their job better — and help you set reasonable expectations together.
Is an online course right for you?
Whether online courses and certifications make you more employable is still an issue of great debate. Many freelancers have gained from online courses. Similarly, others have succeeded without them.
You'll have to decide for yourself if the time is right for you to pursue an online course. If it is, you'll find can be a real boost to how you conduct yourself, market your services, convince clients, and even increase what you charge.