9 Ways to Improve Your Freelance Skills
While it’s important to learn the business skills that keep your freelance business humming, ultimately it’s your craft that keeps you in business. Here are nine ways to keep your freelance skills fresh, marketable, and in demand.
1. Attend a conference.
Conferences expose you to trends, talks, and resources that you can use to help you up your game and make sure you have the skills the market needs. It’s also a great place to network with other freelancers so you can keep in touch and bounce ideas off each other long after the conference has ended.
2. Try a new project.
Sometimes the best way to work on new skills is to put them to work. While you may need to charge less than you would if you were using your established skill set, feel confident that the experience you’re gaining will pay off in the long run.
3. Take an online course.
There are a ton opportunities for online learning--some even for free. Identify a specific subject you want to improve on and search for online courses related to the topic. If you’re paying for the course, make sure it covers the areas you’re seeking help with to get the most out of your investment.
4. Read a book.
When I started freelancing, I bootstrapped a foundation in copywriting by reading books. Thanks to the growth of self-publishing, you can find books on almost every topic imaginable. Choose books by reputable authors, and when in doubt, ask someone in your freelance network if they have any recommended reading on your topic of interest.
5. Interview someone more experienced than you.
If you’re struggling with upping your game in a certain area, talk to a veteran freelancer. Chances are, vets have been in the exact same spot you’re currently in and are generally eager to share how they fielded the challenge.
6. Find a mentor.
One of the most powerful ways to up your game is to find a mentor to guide your learning. Not only will you gain a lot from the experiences they share with you, mentors can also help guide you on your own specific path and direct you to resources you might not have discovered yet.
7. Study the greats.
Every craft has masters that made a lasting mark. Find out who they are and learn about them, their approach to the craft, and what made them different. If they’ve written (or talked) about their craft, read (or listen) to what they have to say in their own words.
8. Start an inspiration file.
Create a file of things that inspire your craft. It can be the work of a fellow freelancer or someone highly regarded in your field. Maybe it’s just work that lights you up or offers a great example of where you’d like your skills to be. It doesn’t even have to be in your craft—if you’re a writer and find a photo that speaks to you in relation to your work, add it to your file. For every item you add, make a note of what makes it special in your eyes so you can flip through the file when you need a creative infusion.
9. Give yourself projects.
If you’re building new skills from the ground up, you may not feel comfortable applying them to paid work yet. If that’s the case, create projects for yourself. If you’re a copywriter, take the most recent promotional email to hit your inbox and rewrite it. As you do, stop and think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Is the voice wrong? Does the message fall flat? What’s your approach to making it better? You may just find your own signature process that sets you on the path to becoming a craft master yourself.