Author: Mike Scaletti
If the last year has taught us anything, it's that the classic approach to careers may not always be the best or most stable. Many of us lost our jobs, or were furloughed, or had our employers close up shop for good. One of the unexpected consequences of that though has been an absolute explosion of freelancing work. As more and more highly skilled and exceptionally qualified people lost their jobs, many of them turned to freelancing to make ends meet.
Freelancing can provide fantastic opportunities to make a higher than normal wage in your industry, as well as to expand your experience and network. It's worth remembering, however, that you are now competing with a wide field of talented, educated, and skilled candidates who have entered the pool.
The question becomes, how do you ensure that you have the best chance to succeed when every gig is tightly contested. The easiest answer is to invest in improving your skills.
The Best Ways to Step Up Your Freelancing Skills
If you want to jump into the freelancer pool, or have already done so with limited success, these options might help you achieve the sustained success you're looking for.
Enroll in Online Courses
There are numerous online platforms that you can use to improve your skills, and many of them are priced extremely reasonably. For example, Udemy offers over 32000 courses, ranging from typing to 3d modeling, which can often be purchased for as little as $10.
Remember that as a freelancer, you are going to want to find your specific focus and stay on track with expanding your ability to meet the needs of that focus. Potential clients will be hiring you based on your ability to meet those needs, so taking online courses that expand that ability is hugely helpful.
In addition, as technology continually changes and evolves you will need to stay on top of the latest tools in order to put yourself in the best situation to succeed. Online courses give you a convenient way to do so.
Building and expanding your digital network allows you to tap into the skills and experiences of like-minded professionals all over the world. You would be shocked how often people are happy to share and help, especially when you are willing to do the same!
LinkedIn is a great tool for this. On LinkedIn you can search by industry and interest, allowing you to get in touch with people with whom you can build value. Just be sure that you are bringing value to them as well! A good place to start is to write and share posts with valuable information about your industry.
Also, consider starting a new LinkedIn or Facebook group focussed on your industry. By doing so you are inherently bringing value by connecting people not just to yourself, but to each other.
Pay Attention to Blogs
As mentioned above, a surprisingly large group of people love to share their expertise, and a lot of them are doing it via blogs. A quick google search for "*your industry* blog" will likely give you a ton of options. Reading and subscribing to them will give you countless incites that can help you grow your own skills and expertise!
Remember that most blogs are free, which means they are a no-cost way to expand your skill-set and knowledge base.
YouTube It Up!
Just like with Blogs, YouTube is a low or no-cost way to expand your skill-set and knowledge base. It also has the benefit of being a visual medium, which means that for those of you who learn better by seeing or hearing than by reading, you'll have a better, more fun, more informative time than you will just by reading a blog.
Again, liking and subscribing to videos and channels is a great way to stay informed when your favorite creators add new knowledge for you to benefit from. While you're at it, maybe consider subscribing to The Job Shop's YouTube Channel!
Look for a Relevant Professional Organization to Join
Professional organizations can offer numerous benefits to their members. These can include private lectures by members and high-profile guest speakers, career counseling, access to extended networks, as well as training and classes.
While most professional networks are not free, these memberships can be an invaluable investment in your skills, knowledge, and networking that can lead to innumerable opportunities.
Look for Temporary or Part-Time Work
While the inconsistency and fluidity of freelancing can sometimes be frustrating, it's worth focussing on the advantages that flexibility brings. One way to take advantage is to look for temporary or part-time work and one of the best ways to do that is with a Staffing Agency like The Job Shop.
Temp and part-time work can do wonders both to expand your skills and your network, as you work in positions you might never have otherwise considered and with people you might never have otherwise met. Plus, it's a great way to supplement your income!
Don't Get Discouraged!
We've all heard the old adage, "Rome wasn't built in a day", and that holds true for your career. You're smart, you're talented, and you're valuable. Unfortunately, none of that necessarily means things are going to be easy. But with some time, some effort, and some investment in yourself, you can put yourself in the absolute best place to take advantage of any opportunities that may come along, and eventually you'll be in a place where you can use the expertise and connections you've made to help the next generation of freelancers along!