At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT. This Tuesday, we want you to think about ways that you can keep growing in your field and expanding your skills. Here are a few words of advice to inspire you.
Subscribe to newsletters or magazines relevant to your field. It's important that you stay on top of your field and know the latest gadgets, tools, software, books, etc., that can help you in your work. Whether you are a writer, a software developer, a customer service specialist... whatever your line of work, try to stay at the top of your game. It's important that you know more than your client (and can show that you know more than anyone else they might think about hiring instead of you), and that's the bottom line. If you can, get free online newsletters, but if you can't, invest in a quality trade magazine.
Attend seminars and conferences for your line of work. This will cost you. Sometimes it may cost as much as a mini-vacation, but saving for these experiences can be worth it in the long run. A word of caution before you book a plane ticket, however: do your homework. Research forums online and ask a lot of questions. Find people who have gone to the ones you are considering, and find the conferences or seminars that are worth your hard-earned cash. Remember that for every valuable convention or conference there are probably two worthless money-sucking duds. Spend your time -- and money -- wisely.
Take on projects that will put you -- within reason -- outside of your comfort zone. Here is where you need to go forward with caution. Expand your skill set and your portfolio without getting in over your head. Take on projects that require a little bit more than you have done in the past and give yourself enough time to learn as you go. Just don't lie about your experience. Show confidence in your ability to tackle the new, and your client will appreciate your honesty. Do the job well, and you will have added something new to your portfolio.
WFHT Recommended Reading
"Staying on Top of Your Game" from Freelance Switch
"Why You Should Attend Conferences" from Freelance Writing Jobs
"Group Think: Attending Web Conferences" from Wake Up Later
"Applying the Principles of Kaizen and Bootstrapping to Build Your Freelance Skills" from Freelance Folder
"Survival Tip #5: Expanding Your Skills" from Learning to Be a Champion
Much like a divorced marriage counselor, my ability to dish out advice is not an indicator of my ability to implement it. However, having worked from home for over a decade, I've learned what works and what just creates more work.