Should freelance writers take classes? You bet they should.
For the past few weeks we’ve been learning about how to get more done and earn more money.
Keeping your skills current is a big part of that process.
I understand why many freelancers hesitate to invest in training classes. After all, classes usually cost money and take time. Plus, you can learn what you need to know “on the job,” right?
In this post, I list three reasons why learning new things is important for freelancers.
Reason 1: What You Don’t Know
You’ve been a freelance writer for years. You may think that you know everything there is to know about it.
You’re wrong. No matter how experienced you are, there’s always something new to learn. But you won’t find out what that something is unless you make the effort to improve your skills.
Even when I’m familiar with the topic of a class, I always discover something I didn’t expect to learn.
Here’s just a sampling of some of the types of training you should look into:
- Writing-related training. If you’re starting your freelance writing career, taking writing courses can build your skills. Even if you’ve been writing for a while, you can benefit by refreshing your skills.
- Tool-related training. New and helpful tools are constantly being developed. The tools you use in your writing business today aren’t the tools you used ten years ago. And they aren’t the tools you’ll use ten years from now.
- Niche-related training. If you write about a niche, it’s important to stay current with what’s going on in the niche so that you can relate to your clients. Training classes will keep your knowledge up to date.
Taking training courses can also make you more marketable.
Reason 2: Your Competitive Edge
As writers, we need to stand out from our competition. There are lots of freelance writers out there.
To get gigs, we need to be able to show prospective clients that we bring more value to their project. One way to do that is by showing them that we have recent and relevant training that our competitors don’t have.
I’ve discussed the question of whether getting a certification makes a difference before. I’ve even talked to some writers who felt that their certifications helped them find work.
Think of it this way. If you were hiring a mechanic to work on your car and you knew one mechanic had more training than the other, which one would you hire? That’s the kind of thought process your clients go through when they hire a writer.
Training can also make you more efficient.
Reason 3: Make a Big Difference
Little improvements can make a big difference.
Through training, I’ve learned about tools and processes that I never would have discovered on my own. Even if I know 90% of what the training class covers, sometimes the 10% I don’t know makes the class worthwhile.
If I discover a technique or tool that saves me four hours a week (which doesn’t seem like much time), that adds up to over 200 hours a year.
What could I do in that extra 200 hours? The possibilities are endless. I could:
- Write an extra blog post for a client each week
- Write and market an ebook
- Work on a personal project
- Learn about a new niche
- Spend more time with friends and family
You can think of your own ideas for what to do with an extra four hours a week. But whatever you decide to do with them, I think you’ll agree that those four hours saved aren’t worthless.
Where to Get Training
So, where can you go to get more training?
You have three choices. Each choice has some advantages and some drawbacks:
- Self-study. There is plenty of information available through blogs, articles, and other publications. You can learn a lot this way. The main advantages of this type of learning are that it’s free and you can work at your own pace. The disadvantage is that you may not be able to show what you’ve learned.
- Online courses. A few generations ago, this option didn’t even exist. But now you can choose between many different online classes. While a few courses are free, most will cost money. Some provide you with a certificate of completion at the end of the course.
- Colleges and Training Centers. The traditional classroom environment still has its advantages. One of the primary advantages is meeting and interacting with your teacher and other students. A disadvantage is that this is often the most expensive way to get additional training. However, having a degree carries a lot of weight with some clients.
No matter which training you choose, don’t forget to include it on online profiles such as LinkedIn and your resume.
Have you decided to spend some time on training? Good.
Has your freelance writing career benefited from training? Share your story in the comments.