As a freelance content writer, standing out from the crowd means having extra skills besides just words. These are my tips for upskilling for the modern world.

Whatever industry you work in, you probably want to progress, right? I know some people are happy to coast along for the foreseeable future, but you’re reading this because you’re thinking of adding to your skill set: or upskilling as it’s called.

Upskilling doesn’t just apply to creatives and content writers, although I’d say it’s a pressing issue for the contemporary copywriter. Why? Because content writers are 50 a penny and content marketing has reached saturation point. When you consider you’ve got content factories in places like India churning out recycled articles about everything and for pennies, you gotta wonder how you can keep your worth as a writer.

If I lost you there, and you’re actually a financial advisor or something, bear with me. There’s something in this article for everyone – I promise.

But first of all:

What is upskilling?

Adding any additional skill to your working repertoire is basically what we’re talking about here. So for copywriters such as myself that might be learning a bit about social media strategy. For those aforementioned financial advisors, it might be about how to advise on a different product. Maybe if you’re a schoolteacher, focusing on a different subject or perhaps adding careers counselling to your skill set.

Adding value to yourself as an worker is more than just giving yourself leverage when it comes to progression. It’s also about future proofing yourself and ensuring you keep learning.

Do you need a certificate or paid course? Not necessarily. In fact, pretty much everything I’ve done to add to my skill set lately has been through self study. But this does depend on what you’re like as a person and the industry you’re working in. If you’re crap at study and you’re an engineer then yeah, probably a good idea to sign up for a course with a teacher and everything. But if you can do some commuter/toilet/sofa research then the world is your oyster…

Why upskill?

Lots of reasons. To set yourself apart from the pack and give yourself more of a chance when applying for jobs in future. To be better at what you do and improve. And to keep your brain active, because after all you are a human and you have an incredible capacity for learning so why waste it.

Also because you’d might as well do something other than endlessly scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos of cat fails.

How do you upskill?

There are a few simple ways to upskill, some of which I mentioned earlier; but for the purposes of a listicle (which regular readers know I love), here you go:

Self study. This is a big one and probably the easiest and cheapest way to add something to your skills. A few hours a day with a text book, YouTube video (excluding cat fails) or Udemy course could make a huge difference to your value.

Paid courses. These are probably a good idea if you’re in an industry where certification is highly valued – and if your current company pays for them, make the most of it. Engineers, recruiters, estate agents – all fields where I know a little extra certificate can make a big difference. Many businesses will happily shell out for you to learn a new skill, just ask your boss.

Through your work. Now this one varies, but often you’ll find that by taking on a new project you might just add to your skill set. As an example, whilst working with a company recently I learned a whole stack of stuff about social media marketing, just because I was doing the job already. Now it’s on the CV that I’m experienced with social media, cos I am. Boom.

Free online courses. You’d be surprised what you can learn for free from a random website. Pretty much every language can be learned for free from a quick online search, and skills such as those that I recommend copywriters learn (such as SEO and social media marketing) can also be learned for bugger all. Often with a free pdf download. Just search for what you want to learn +free at the end.

You’ve convinced me. What shall I study?

Depending on your personal interests, field of expertise, work and time there are so many things that you can study to add to your skill set.

Whatever you do for a living, these are all really useful skills to learn that can be done within a few weeks to a few months.

  • Touch typing (a week or so)
  • A new language (basics in 1 week, conversational in 3-6 months, or longer for mastery)
  • Yoga/pilates (1 week)
  • Public speaking (1 week- 1 month)
  • NLP aka neurolinguistic progamming (good for sales peeps) (1 week or so)
  • Spelling (1 month+)
  • Social media marketing (1 week)
  • Search engine opimisation/SEO (1 week)
  • Graphic design software (1 week basics – 1 month more advanced)
  • Better maths (1-3 months)
  • Shorthand (3-4 months)
  • Video editing software (1 week basics – months to master)

These are obviously just random suggestions, some of which I have done myself. But the point is, with all that free time with your commute, idle time and just general time wasting, you could be boosting your skills and experience. Level up, if you will.

WooHooooo!

My favourite upskill tools

YouTube is obviously the world’s number one place to find handy instructional tools for, well, everything.

Udemy also has a lot of courses, some of which are free. If you’re looking at boosting your technical or digital experience its worth a look.

MOOC.org is an online resource for ‘massive open online courses’, many of which are accredited by some of the world’s biggest educational institutions. If you’ve always wanted to say you’re a Harvard graduate, take a look and see what you can study.

Alison.com has some good courses, all of which are free.

The Open University has a huge library of free courses on a wide range of subjects.

Recruitment website Reed has a whole load of free (and paid) courses to boost your employability.

And a quick search online for a course in whatever you’re looking for in particular will probably yield some solid results. Add ‘free’ in there and you’ll probably find something…

You can read more about my passion for learning languages on this blog.

So good luck with your upskilling, and if you think I’ve missed any crucial links or info then you’ll spot the comment box below.

If you’re looking to hire a highly skilled copywriter who has loads of extra skills, get in touch.


4 Comments

Rustomen Blenko · 19th March 2019 at 8:48 am

Great article, finding good jobs and gigs as a freelancer might be harder than it looks, due to many skilled competitors, that is why one should always try different sites for possible jobs, such
Indeed.co.uk and Jobbylong.cum which are some of the big sites with frequently update job listings.

    Olilynch · 9th July 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Well, yes you have a good point there Rustomen Benko. Thanks for taking the time to write that…

Xavier Kingston · 5th July 2019 at 5:35 am

I wrote some spam but the website owner edited the content…

    Olilynch · 9th July 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Ahhh shame, sorry about that Xavier

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