ICBA Blog

Continuing Education for Freelancers and Gig Workers

These tips will help you keep your expertise up to date or develop new skills along the way

The onus is on you as an independent contractor to stay on top of changing trends in your industry, keep your offerings fresh, and build new in-demand skills that match your customers’ needs. The more you know about your area of expertise, the more confident you’ll feel as a solopreneur. The following are a few suggestions as to where you can find courses and workshops to boost your knowledge.

Community education

See if the colleges or universities in your town offer a roster of community education courses open to the general public. These are often scheduled for evenings or weekends. They might occur one-time for a full day or run for three or four weeks, meeting just once a week for a few hours.

Local workshops

Your town likely has an array of workshop offerings in different fields. You just need to know where to look. If your city is included on Dabble, you might be able to find workshops and courses listed in one place for easy browsing. But be sure to investigate elsewhere. Here are a few ideas.

Check your nearest library branch, which may offer various quick-hit courses on everything from tech to public speaking. Look into co-working spaces, as well. They often host skill-building events to drive membership and foster networking.

Search for nonprofits in your area, too. A nonprofit literary center, for example, might have a catalog of writing workshops like freelance pitching, essay writing, or business communication. Or a nonprofit arts center may have classes on everything from graphic design to leatherworking. Your local arts and business council may offer workshops or panel discussions where creatives can learn about copyright laws and protections or how to boost their earning potential through their artistic endeavors.

If your town has a startup incubator or a burgeoning entrepreneurial center, look there for business-based courses. Business centers geared for independent contractors often have mentorship programs that will pair you with a leader in your field who can also steer you in the direction of other resources.

Online courses

If you prefer to take classes from the privacy of your home on your own time, look online. You may find what you need through a college or university website. Or you can scroll through the many choices on a site like Udemy, which offers in-depth courses from experts on a variety of subjects, or Coursera, which provides classes from universities and from companies. Class Central has a great article on how to take the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera for free.

Conferences

If you enjoy travel and meeting new people in your field while learning from experts, conferences might be the way to go. Many cons offer breakout sessions or panel discussions that cover subtopics. A weeklong or weekend event can fully immerse you in a subject while exposing you to the best and brightest folks in your industry.