Level up: 8 Ways Remote Freelancers Can Boost Their Skills and Learn New Tricks
8 ways to boost your skill sets as a freelancer
One of the perks of my former corporate life was that I often had opportunities to raise my hands for new projects, collaborate and brainstorm with co-workers, sit-in on higher-level meetings, and attend otherwise costly conferences and classes.
When you become a remote freelancer, learning opportunities usually come at the cost of both time and money.
So how can you maintain your freedom and autonomy as a freelancer while also leveling up your skill set and growing professionally?
Although boosting your freelance portfolio may not be as simple as a corporate-ladder climber, it doesn’t have to be more difficult. In this article, I’ll cover different ways freelancers (and any remote worker, really) can sharpen their skills, learn something new, and gain experience that will eventually equate to higher pay.
Find a Freelancer Community
Finding a community of other remote freelancers is a great way to get help, support, and camaraderie for the day-to-day challenges of work and freelancing. It can also be a great source for job leads, expert advice and insight, and finding mentors. The best part is, you can find these groups on pretty much any platform of choice. Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Slack, and even Twitter (#FreelanceChat) are filled with groups and communities catered toward freelancers. You can also look for virtual events on Meetup or sign up for a digital co-working space.
Collaborate with Other Freelancers
Just because you’re a one-person show doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. Partnering with other freelancers in a similar or related field not only helps you better serve your clients and bring in more business, but it also gives you a chance to see how someone else does it. Whether that freelancer is in the same niche as you or offers a slightly different skill set, working closely with them will allow you to peak into their processes, shadow their strategies, and learn their workflow.
Shadow, Intern, and Volunteer
The best way to master something—at least for us hands-on folks—is by doing it. However, when you’re trying to break into a brand new area that you don’t have much or any skills in, it can be hard to convince someone to hire you. So, to get around that “experience required” portion of the job listing, consider volunteering your services to a local non-profit or offering “free” services to someone who can mentor and teach you. I caution on the “free” part because the partnership should mean that you’re getting an equal trade of value for the amount of work you put in.
Create or Join a Mastermind Group
You aren’t alone in your desire to grow. Many freelancers are also seeking to learn and improve their skills and are more than willing to share and contribute with other freelancers. If this sounds like you, consider creating or joining a mastermind group. Mastermind groups are like a big mentoring group where you can bounce ideas off each other, share advice and expertise, and provide support and accountability. When choosing a mastermind group, try to find freelancers at a similar or higher level than you or with a slightly more diverse background and skill set.
Take Advantage of Freebies
Have an industry guru you love? A consultant you admire? Ran across someone doing what you want to do? Head to their website, join their mailing list, and see if they have any freebies. Many consultants, industry experts, and course instructors will create free or low-cost content—eBooks, guides, workshops, etc.—as a way to attract new leads, which means high-value free content for budget-conscious freelancers. And if they don’t have any lead magnets you can download, at least you can check out what they’re doing and how.
Build Costs Into Your Hourly Rate
As a freelancer, coming up with an hourly rate is tricky. That’s because what we charge our clients per hour also needs to reflect business expenses and the non-billable hours necessary to do what you do—software subscriptions, phone and internet, time spent invoicing and billing, etc. Professional growth is no different. Improving your skill sets is necessary if you want to continue providing your clients with high-quality work.
Factor the cost of learning into your asking rate by calculating the cost of courses/workshops/conferences you’d like to attend + time you’ll need to complete them and spread that over the number of billable hours you aim to work that year.
One of the biggest reasons you aren’t learning new things is because you aren’t making it a priority. It can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day client work, especially when those deadlines are the ones that pay the bills, but as a freelancer, you have to remember you are your business, and businesses require investments if they’re to grow.
Make learning a priority by carving out a certain number of hours each week to focus on skill growth, adding it to your annual goal list, and setting aside the funds to pay for that big dream conference or certification program. Investing in yourself will eventually lead to a bump in your pricing, more value for your clients, and the satisfaction of growing within your role.
Stay up-to-date on the latest remote news, products, podcasts, and more
One of the easiest ways to keep your skills fresh is to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in your field and the freelancer world. Signing up for email newsletters, like Remote Letter, is one way to make staying informed easy.
When you subscribe to Remote Letter, we’ll send you a mix of handcrafted and curated content twice a month so you can stay on top of the latest news, products, podcasts, and other things that can make working remotely easier and more enjoyable. Sign up today to get access to the next newsletter.
What are your favorite ways to level-up your talents?
There are so many ways freelancers can keep their skills fresh—what are your favorites? Leave a comment below to let us know what you do to learn new skills.
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