EDUCATION BASED WEBSITES AREN’T THE ONLY PLACES TO LEARN ONLINE. IT’S THE INTERNET FOR PETE’S SAKE.
As great as the proliferation of online learning has been, those sites aren’t the only places one can learn on the world wide web. The internet is still a giant library, and if you know where to look, it can provide immense amounts of detailed information. For freelancers, there are plenty of educational resources in the vast annals of the web, a lot of which you don’t need to pay a dime for. These sites are places the average freelancer may not think to go, but we promise are worth a visit.
What’s nice about blogs as opposed to magazine is they’re often free, more focused in their subject matter, and possess less fluff. What’s not so nice is that the content may not be always be as polished or as consistent in its quality. Here are a few choice blogs with consistently good freelance content.
The muse is set apart from these other blogs because it actually focuses on mentorship, coaching, and more guide professional development. The muse also offers a relatively big job posting component which is unique in that it gives a detailed summary and analysis of the company who posted. The muse’s blog, which they call their advice section, offers a large catalogue of practical actionable advice from interviewing tips to great companies currently hiring. What’s nice about the muse blog is that their articles are written by a wide variety of people and companies so you’re bound to get multiple perspectives. Muse clearly wants this content to lead you to a coaching session. You by no means have to the blog is totally free, but a coaching session may not be a bad idea. You can also search for a coach by specialty, by career stage, by coast, by specific service, or by searching for a name directly. If you’re not sure what kind of coaching you need they have you fill out a questionnaire and match you with coaches.
Millo isn’t a blog as much as it is a resource. They have a plethora of articles, most are fairly basic in the information they provide, but also quite thorough and detailed. Beyond that, the entire site contains lists of links to useful freelance software, freelance marketplaces, freelance community groups, and much more. Their lists are very extensive, and include everything from “best web-hosting services” to “best places to sell products online.” They also have a podcast called freelance to founder which is about how to scale your freelance business.
99U is owned by Adobe and acts as their main avenue for thought leadership and other advice. Unsurprisingly many of their articles focus on workers in visual fields like design, fine art, or marketing. They have two article categories, Features & Interviews. The former addresses specific tips and advice the reader can use in their career and life, often featuring the input or work of a particular professional, or group of professionals, that the blog is highlighting. This could be anything from the best ways to sit at a desk, to how to be more observant, to advice on running your own workshop. The latter section of articles are interviews with successful visual professionals about lessons they’ve learned on their journey.
They have also have section called guides which are collections of articles all about one topic like productivity. The guides arrange articles in such a way that if read in order, act like a mini-course on whatever topic. 99U also have a yearly conference featuring TED style presentations, workshops, classes, and general networking opportunities. Many of the talks from the conference, and past conferences, are featured in a separate section on the site called 99u talks.
This one is a bit obvious, but magazines are always a great place to learn new things. These three publications pertain to freelancers. They contain articles and other expected content but these also feature other types of educational material like webinars, classes, and infographics.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers are two peas in a pod, cut from the same cloth, you get it. Accordingly their articles are very useful for freelancers. Beyond that they have regular webinars that require a subscription. Some webinars are accessible anytime but they also have weekly live interactive ones. Their topics include: Running a business, starting a business, marketing, personal growth, leadership, and social media. If you want a longer more detailed learning experience try their “Start A Business” multi-lesson course. It costs $200 and once you purchase it you can access it whenever. It isn’t timed and you can take the classes in whichever order you like. They say it generally takes people between 3-6 months to complete. It is interactive, with exercises and assignment mandatory for completion.
The Harvard Business Review, as the names suggests, focuses on business and content relevant to business owners. That being said their articles are still very much useful for freelancers and not too niche or complex that someone less experienced wouldn’t understand. That’s just the beginning though because for $12/month, subscribers get way more.
What they offer to subscribers are 4 databases, all of which are fantastic learning tools. The Big Idea is a series of long form “deep dive” articles on particular topics. The Visual Library is an archive of useful graphs, slides, decks, and charts that subscribers can not only view but download. These charts range from current oil prices to the common traits successful leaders have. The Reading List is a list of articles arranged by specific concerns or skills designed to improve your skill set. Their Case Studies database are very detailed analysis of real-word business scenarios and solutions such as Home Depot’s management crisis or the Japanese government’s handling of the Fukishima earthquake. They also have a database of webinars all of which are free, but non-subscribers can only view so many at a time.
We mention these two sites together as they’re owned by the same company and so their content is quite complementary. Their topics have a wide range and don’t give as much specific practical advice as Entrepreneur or HBR do, but they make up for that with their coverage and take on current events. Reading Fast Company & Inc is one of the best ways to stay abreast of what’s going on in the worlds of technology, economics, politics, and entrepreneurship, and to keep up with the latest professional trends. As far as direct learning goes, Inc & Fast Company offer online courses on topics like Design Thinking, Finance for Entrepreneurs, and Personal Branding. Individual classes cost $79 and full courses cost as low as $199. Fast Company also hosts four different podcasts, and both brands host multiple business summits throughout the year that anyone can attend.
There are of course plenty of other annals of easily digestible knowledge on the web. You’ve just got to know where to look.
A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU. If you have Apple products or an account, the company’s iTunes U is a collection of courses and lectures from leading universities. Part of its iTunes software, you can access courses by topic or university. In many cases, you’ll be able to get audio and video of lectures, have access to some books and materials, and even download quizzes with answer keys. Some of the educational content they have costs money, but much of it is free and comes in a huge variety of topics that you can search for in the same way you would search for a song on iTunes. On an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users can download the iTunesU app. Desktop users can access iTunesU on the upper right-hand corner of the iTunes Store.
Another great destination for more general learning and free online education is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all-encompassing, motivational web series comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, most are around ten minutes long, and all are free.
Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, but it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on each video. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics. Unlike many online learning sites, the topics on TED-Ed deal with more everyday practical issues and are taught in a conversational manner rather than via lecture. Some of the videos include: How One Scientist Took On the Chemical Industry, How Can We Solve the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis? Why Isn’t the Netherlands Underwater? And What It’s Like to Be a Muslim in America.
PEOPLE PER HOUR & OTHER JOB SITES
You know those sites you use to find all that freelance work. Guess what? You can learn stuff their too. Sites like People Per Hour, Freelancer, Guru, and Upwork all have blogs with free educational content. The People Per Hour blog, like many of these blogs, is used to give updates on the company, but its content is much more diverse than that. Articles like “5 jobs that will be replaced by automation” and “7 Cost efficient tips to get SEO right for your small business” can also be found. You don’t need to be a member of any of these companies to read their blog posts, but if you are member, some of these companies will pay you to add content to their blog. One more way to get noticed by clients.
As freelancers we understand that there’s nothing more valuable than knowledge. Get your hands on as much as you can.