4 ways continuing education helps freelancers succeed

May 27, 2021

As a freelancer, it’s no secret that you don’t have access to the same resources that big corporations have.

This means professional development can take a backseat. It’s especially true when you’re trying to keep clients happy and make sure that you have a consistent flow of work coming through the door.

But continuing your education is incredibly important, especially for freelancers.

Although it can be hard to find the time, there are considerable benefits that come with investing in your professional training and development. Let’s take a look at four ways that investing in your professional education can help you succeed as a freelancer.

1. Legitimize your service and build trust

Investing in your professional development is a great way to legitimize your service as a freelancer. By expanding your knowledge and experience in your field, you show potential customers two things.

  • You take your work seriously. You invest in yourself because you’re worth investing in. This adds credibility to you as a person and to the service you provide.
  • You have the skills and knowledge to provide a high level of service. Participating in training and development shows that you care about the service you provide and that you want to provide customers with the best service possible.

If you obtain an official accreditation, you can promote it across your website and social media channels, too. Not only does this show that you’ve invested in your professional development, but also that your service is reliable and trustworthy.

And with 81% of consumers stating that they need to trust a brand in order to buy from them, building trust is pretty important.

The nature of freelance work often means working alone. As a result, it can be hard to keep track of the latest trends in your industry.

But that’s where continuing education can help.

Making sure that you continue to educate yourself about changes in the industry means that you won’t lose touch with the latest developments. It also gives you a chance to freshen up your skills and even learn how to use new and relevant tools.

Let’s use an example to put this into context. Say you’re a freelance content writer. You probably use tools such as SEMRush and Moz to inform your writing and analyze certain keywords.

Little did you know that there are some new alternatives out there, and you need to make sure you know what they are.

To give yourself a well-rounded understanding of all the tools on the market, spend some time educating yourself on what’s out there.

As a result, you identify some new tools with additional features, all of which allow you to provide a better service to your clients.

3. Get ahead of the competition

When you’re working in a saturated market, how do you cut through the noise and reach your potential?

Obtaining training qualifications is a good place to start.

This will help you stand out against your competitors and show potential customers that you’re trustworthy and experienced.

Picture this: Imagine you’re trying to find a freelance accountant. You narrow your search down to two accountants who fit the bill (pun intended). Both have similar experience and pricing, and they both have the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification.

The only difference is that one of them has also completed their ACA (Associated Chartered Accountant) qualification.

This qualification provides accountants with more hands-on experience, rather than simply studying the accounting principles.

So, which accountant would you pick? We’d wager a bet and say that you’d choose accountant number two.  And why wouldn’t you? The additional qualification gives them the advantage.

That’s exactly how training and development help you stand out from competitors.

4. Increase your earning potential

Research shows that upskilling is one of the most important results for professional learning and development.

Why do you think that is?

Instead of spreading yourself thin and educating yourself in various areas, you are able to focus on the few key skills that are vital to your business.

This means you can offer a better service for your clients. As a result, you can also increase your earning potential.

Think about it like this: Clients pay you for the knowledge and skills you have, not just the amount of time it takes you to do the work. So, the more experienced you are, the more your time is worth. Simple.

Sources for education

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the ways education can help you succeed, it’s time to answer: Where can you go to educate yourself?

The good news is there are a lot of options out there.

If you’re worried about the cost, don’t be. There’s a lot of high-quality, free educational content that you can get your hands on.

Side note: When checking different resources to learn more, you can sometimes try a product or a service for free before buying. Make sure you know the difference between freemium and free trial before you make any commitments.

Now let’s take a look at some sources you can use to expand your education without breaking the bank.

1. Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments in your industry.

With over 100,000 active podcasts on almost any topic you can think of, podcasts are a great way to expand your horizons, whether that’s improving your technical skills or any other professional development goals.

2. Company websites

This might seem like an obvious point, but company websites have a lot of useful and informative content. From FAQ sections to blog posts and even downloadable ebooks, there’s plenty of content out there for you to sift through.

This type of content is a great starting point for freelancers who are looking to learn about new topics of interest, or expand their existing knowledge on a topic.

3. University-level content

Resources like StuDocu enable freelancers to access university-level content. It includes a variety of lectures and essays on a wide variety of topics.

All of the content is free to review, and you can usually search the interface to find topics that are related to you and your business.

Sure, it’s aimed at university students, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this content to improve the services you offer as a freelancer.

What next?

2020 saw a decrease in spending on professional training and development taking place, likely due to the pandemic. This makes 2021 the perfect time to invest in your training.

While others are taking a back seat, why not spend some time investing in yourself?

Do some training, focus on your professional development, and see for yourself how continuing education can help you succeed as a freelancer.

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 us your blog post.

Addison Burke

Addison Burke teaches businesses how to grow through better digital marketing, and writes on everything from SEO to WordPress and cybersecurity.