3 Easy Ways To Continue Your Freelance Education

Happy Monday!

Last week we talked about some reasons why continuing education is essential for freelancers. In a time when technology and modes of communication are changing rapidly, to become complacent in your knowledge is to become instantly outdated.

If you want to create a more robust network of clients and connections, and increase your value (aka your hourly rate), education is the key.

But it’s been a long time since most of us were in school, and I’m definitely not saying that getting another expensive degree is the way to go. So how does a busy freelancer continue his or her education without taking too many hours away from paying gigs?

Learn From Your Peers

For the past six months, Cohere has hosted an almost-weekly schedule of valuable workshops specifically targeted for working freelancers. We affectionately referred to it as the Winter of Learnin’, but high demand means this essential tradition has continued into the summer, and will probably stick around all year. We’ve learned about everything from copyright infringement to SEO strategy, all in the comfort of freelancers we know and experts we trust.

If you’re looking for an easy way to broaden your horizons, see what classes are available at your home coworking space. And if your home space doesn’t have workshops yet, offer to teach the first one. You might be surprised how much you learn when you teach.

Get Certified

Are you a self-taught whiz when it comes to graphic design? Do you love to manage large, complicated projects that involve contractors and vendors all over the world? These skills are worth their weight in gold, but only if your client believe that you truly possess them. Because a resume or online profile is usually the first introduction prospective clients will have to your skill set, the ability to brandish well-respected industry certifications will let them know that you mean business right from the start.

Check out this article on the Top 5 Certifications for Freelancers or this interesting blog post about certifications in various freelance industries from Fresh Books to learn more.

Brush Up On Your Business Skills

Almost everyone starts freelancing because working in the corporate world interfered with the pursuit of their passion. If you’re passionate about your career, you probably don’t need much motivation to continue building your knowledge base. But how skilled are you at owning and operating a business? The administration-side of working for oneself is a stumbling block for many freelancers, and often gets ignored until it’s too late.

Check with your local government or business development agency to see what they offer in the way of classes for new small business owners. Fort Collins, for example, is offering a Power Up Your Business! mini-conference on how to be a great leader within your business, increase visibility of your products and services and save money throughout your operations. It might not all be applicable to freelancing, but hey, it’s $15 and you’ll probably make some valuable connections in the community.

What other ways can freelancers continue their education? Share your ideas in a comment!

Why Failure Is The Best Part Of Coworking

Kitty Fail

Everyone fails at something.

OK, that might not sound like the most uplifting opener for a Monday morning blog post, but that’s because you’re looking it at it wrong.

Everyone fails. Those people who look like they always have their shit together just learned how to hide it. Your failures don’t make you special or odd, they actually make you normal. You’re not the first independent professional to fail at something, and you won’t be the last.

The other reason to cheer up when you fail is that it puts you in a unique position to be a rock star in the coworking community.

I’ll explain.

No one learns anything of value from someone who’s perfect. Except maybe how to resent said perfectionist. Some of our best times together as a community occur when someone shares their really messy failure story, and we figure out how to clean it up. Or at least how to avoid that same mistake in the future.

We talk a lot about the collaboration and socialization that makes coworking so neat. But it’s really our ability to fail and then share what we learned (or are learning) from that unpleasant experience that helps us become better at what we do.

A community where everyone keeps their failures to themselves is shallow and uninteresting. It’s way more fun to be real. Life as an independent is messy and complex, and all we’ve got is each other! We want to see the roughest draft, hear the first/worst idea, and feel the pain of the client you knew you shouldn’t take.

So don’t hold back! Tell us when you feel like bailing and taking an office job. Tell us when you mailed a press release with a typo. Tell us when you gave the client too much info in the free consultation. Tell us when you take on a client without a contract…and then get screwed on an invoice. Tell us when you bite off more than you can chew.

When you allow us to experience your failures in all their glory, we not only grow as professionals, we grow together as a community. And that’s why failure is the best part of coworking.

Let’s talk about something that went wrong! Share a notable goof, failure or brain fart from your past, and let’s get to learnin’!

Image Credits: Flickr – styro

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