How to provide continuing education to your freelancers
After high school, I wasn’t sure what path I was going to take in my career. So, I bounced back and forth between several different jobs until I figured things out. But, in fact, I was fired from a job because I expressed the wish to go back to school.
Did that mean I was ready to pack my bags and go on a traditional four-year program? No. I was open to everything. But, most companies thought I would leave them dry.
Years later, it’s still beyond me. Why wouldn’t you want your team to be as knowledgeable and knowledgeable as possible? I think it would give you an edge over your competition while increasing the productivity and engagement of your team.
And, while it might not seem like they’re on your team, that should apply to your freelance team as well. I mean, by 2027, it’s predicted that 86.5 million people will be self-employed in the United States and make up 50.9% of the total American workforce. So there is a good chance that you will rely more and more on self-employed workers.
Now I know what you are thinking. So why are you obliged to provide continuing education for the self-employed? Well, that ensures that their skills won’t become stale. As a result, they will be more effective and efficient.
Plus, it can keep them more self-reliant, motivated, and loyal to you. Why? Because it shows them that they are worth the investment, even if it means that they will eventually move on. And that’s the key to building a successful team of freelancers.
But how can you really offer continuing education to your freelancers? Well here are five ways to do it.
1. Give them the gift of reading.
As Dr Seuss wrote: âThe more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more you will go to other places. And, truer words have never been spoken.
The reading was found at;
- Strengthens the brain.
- Build vocabulary.
- Prevent cognitive decline.
- Reduce stress.
- Sleep aid.
- Increase empathy.
So how do you get your freelancers to read more often? Well, if your organization has a book club, you can invite them to join. Even if they reside in another part of the country or the world, they could still participate virtually.
An other idea? Give them a monthly subscription with Book of the Month. You can offer them a 3, 6 or 12 month plan. Each month, they choose the book they want to read. If you want to do this for your entire team of freelancers, there is a group donation option with BOTM.
2. Encourage them to keep their skills up to date.
The pace of technological advancement has widened the knowledge gaps in recent years. Research shows that a skill has a half-life of five years.
Why is this a problem? First, the employee retraining process is both time consuming and resource intensive. Therefore, 3 in 4 hiring managers are not convinced that it would be more efficient to hire freelancers with the necessary skills.
However, this is still good news for freelancers or independent contractors. It turns out that they are almost twice as likely to complete vocational training in the past six months as employees.
But why not give them a head start in keeping their skills up to date by offering them the gift of self-education through digital learning platforms?
Payment per course model.
This is arguably the preferred method for most of the online course marketplaces. And for good reason, it’s quite simple. Classes are purchased according to the needs of the students and are designed and hosted by individuals or instructors. In some cases, learners may receive a certificate of completion upon completion.
The main players in this area are Udemy, edX and Udacity. Freelancers may find Udemy the most useful because it offers over 100,000 courses in every subject imaginable. In addition, there is less time to devote and the course is theirs. And, on your side, it’s probably the most affordable option.
Essentially, this is the Netflix model applied to online learning, where in exchange for a monthly subscription, students can access thousands of courses. Skillshare, Linkedin Learning, Pluralsight, and Lynda are some of the more well-known options.
Most online platforms offer college style courses, but this is not the case with Skillshare. Instead, it’s more informal and aims to improve creative skills like writing, graphic design, or photography. Currently the monthly cost is $ 32 (or $ 168 if you pay a year in advance). But, there are also plenty of free courses to explore.
The vast majority of massive open online courses (MOOCs) are accessible to anyone. However, while most of the offers are free, some will require you to pay for accreditation. In addition, MOOCs are often conducted in association with universities to provide real learning experiences.
Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy are perhaps the most popular MOOC platforms. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, so freelancers should pay attention to certifications when taking these courses. However, the quality of the content of training in a specific skill is always valuable, even if none of them are equivalent to actual diplomas.
3. Help them get their certification.
There is no doubt that your freelancers are talented. After all, that’s why you hired them in the first place, isn’t it? However, if you want to help them build a stronger portfolio, make more money, and stand out from other freelancers, then help them get certified.
Instead of just buying a random certification course, ask them which certification they would benefit from the most. Ideally, this would be a course that helps them further develop their existing skills. But, you might want to recommend introductory business courses that can help them with everything from managing their expenses to negotiating rates.
4. Ask them to attend events in person.
âWhile self-employment is largely a lonely road, our research has found that the top performing freelancers (17 of the top 20 earners) are those who benefit from strength in numbers,â note Ben Laker, Lebene Soga, Yemisi Bolade-Ogunfodun and Ashish Malik in HBR. Does that sound contrary to being a freelance writer? Not exactly, because âgoing solo doesn’t necessarily mean you have to compete with others in your fieldâ.
In short, the authors state: âCooperation with other freelancers is a strategic way to stay ahead of the game. “
âThe benefits we have found include group learning, as well as the ability to share market information and upcoming opportunities,â they add. âTo excel in this kind of group work, here is what our conclusionsâ recommend;
Know the key players in your business.
âEighty-five percent of the top performing freelancers we spoke to were in online communities and dating,â they report. “It helped them get to know their potential pack hunters and even share potential gigs using game theory.”
On your end, suggest meaningful online communities or invite them to join invitation-only communities. If you are attending a local meeting and they live near you, ask them to accompany you.
In addition, you can also offer to send them to conferences and seminars in person. In addition to learning new skills or perspectives, it also allows them to network face to face.
Build your tribe.
âWe found that 65% of the freelancers who partnered got repeat jobs from the same client,â the authors add. âThis retention rate was on average three times higher than that of freelancers who were not doing business hunting. “
In my personal experience, I have found it embarrassing to ask clients for testimonials, reviews, and potential referrals. While this is part of the freelance writing game, you can go ahead and provide them with this information before they even ask. However, as the saying goes, “Teach a man to fish and you feed him all his life.”
Give them tips for professionally asking for testimonials, reviews, and referrals. You can also offer to review their submissions or correspondence by asking for testimonials.
Be visible in your community and establish your presence online.
Want other freelancers to find you? âA good way to start is to share information and learn from previous jobs online,â they suggest. âIn doing so, you will build social capital. “
Even if you aren’t familiar with this firsthand, you can connect them with other freelancers to show them how to build an online portfolio and network online.
5. Promote micro and nano learning.
With micro and nano learning, information is consumed in small chunks. Typically this lasts between 2 and 15 minutes and focuses on a learning objective. In this way, targeted learning can be provided.
More importantly, it promotes âjust in timeâ learning. This means that your freelancers can access these learning resources when and where they want. Plus, most of these materials are free or inexpensive which is good for your wallet.
Some of the more popular micro-and-nano-learning examples include:
- Articles and White Papers
- Software tutorials
- Youtube videos
- Online course
For options that are not free, you can choose the paid option. For example, you can offer to pay for a premium Spotify account so that they can listen to relevant podcasts. Or, you can cover their subscription to an industry publication that keeps them up to date with the latest trends or statistics.
Image Credit: Vlada Karpovich; Pexels; Thank you!
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