Professional Development For Freelancers: What Is It And Why Is It So Important

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Professional development is an important part of any growing career but even more so if you’re a freelancer. Actively pursuing knowledge and skills related to your industry is something that can set you apart from your competition and help you stay relevant and up-to-date. Read on to find out the many benefits of professional development and how you can plan for it!

  1. Importance of professional development for freelancers
  2. Are freelancers investing time in professional development?
  3. What methods do freelancers use for professional development?
  4. How to create a professional development plan

Importance of professional development for freelancers

The current job market is subject to constant changes. While it used to be completely sufficient to implement one’s primary professional qualifications in one’s job, workers are now required to adapt and expand their qualifications in the course of their professional life.

Digitization in particular is radically changing our working environment. And so, in order to not get left behind, it is important to keep up with these changes. Lifelong learning is becoming a necessity rather than something you do voluntarily.

For freelancers in particular, if you want to further develop your career or perhaps want to gain a foothold in new professional fields, you can only do so with qualified further training. Professional development also helps increase your expertise and know-how as a freelancer, both of which are attributed to a freelancer’s success – as is evident by the 87% of freelancers who participated in our survey last year.

 Freelancer Survey 2021 - Successful Freelancer Results
Freelancer Survey 2021 – Successful Freelancer Results

Are freelancers investing time in professional development? 

Now that we’ve learnt how important professional development is, it’s important to set aside the time to invest in our further education and learning. But are freelancers doing so? 

Results from our survey suggest that only 56% of freelancers invested their time and energy in furthering their education during the pandemic while 40% did not.

Freelancer Survey 2021 - Further Education Results
Freelancer Survey 2021 – Further Education Results

What methods do freelancers use for professional development? 

According to our survey, the majority of freelancers (63%) use e-learning courses as a way to further their education and development. Other methods include: 

  • Specialist literature
  • Webinars
  • Workshops or seminars
  • Blogs
  • Conferences or fairs
  • Print magazines
  Freelancer Survey 2021 - Further Education Methods Results
Freelancer Survey 2021 – Further Education Methods Results

How to create a professional development plan

A professional development plan includes goals, strategies, tasks, resources and deadlines.

But before organising all these elements, it is necessary to make note of your current situation in order to have a better idea of ​​the path you want to take.

The steps need to be well structured from the start and have a clear vision so you don’t lose time midway.

#1 Assess your current situation

The best way to begin your professional development plan is to do a self-assessment in areas such as knowledge, soft and technical skills, aspirations and interests, and your financial situation. Determining where you stand on each of these factors is critical to defining your goals.

Keep in mind that because it is a diagnostic step, you must specify your weaknesses as well.

For example, if you have trouble communicating with your clients, or if time management is difficult for you, you might want to note it down now.

#2 Define your professional goals

When setting goals, it’s important to make a list of priorities, beginning with the most difficult and ending with the easiest to achieve. It’s also helpful to categorise your goals into short, medium, or long term.

This may be a time-consuming task, but once you start writing them down you’ll realise you have a lot of things to improve on and you’ll feel more motivated.


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#3 Formulate your strategies

Strategies are key to your professional development plan. Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to get started and tailor your actions to achieve them.

At this point, the strategies indicate how you will proceed from now on to achieve each proposed goal.

#4 Set a schedule

In order to stick to your plan, set deadlines that will help you make progress over time. As you meet your goals on time, you become increasingly proactive and can develop a growth mentality. You need to plan your goals annually to achieve your aspirations and direct your growth in the right direction.

If you are looking for a new project as a freelancer, you should set deadlines for everything you do. For example, make 10 connections to different companies in two weeks or improve your LinkedIn profile in a week.

You can also set a two-month deadline to read three books on personal and professional growth. In this way you acquire knowledge and at the same time you can implement it in your work.

#5 Review your progress regularly

After organising your professional development plan, don’t forget to regularly measure your progress. This allows you to better align your targets and attack vulnerabilities at the right time.

A career development plan will make you a better freelancer and when you don’t have a project at the moment, you will get what you are looking for by using each strategy in an organised manner.

Professional development opportunities for freelancers

As mentioned above, there are loads of various ways you can develop yourself and your skills as a freelancer. The most common method however is by making use of e-learning courses. Depending on what your field of study is, you can find courses (both free and paid) on numerous websites like:

What method do you use for professional development? Share with us in the comments!

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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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