How to plan your professional development when you run a freelance business

Professional development matters.

Especially when you run a freelance business.

No one will create a career growth plan for you or sign you up for obligatory workshops. Your destiny is in your hands.

The labour market transforms, new tools and trends emerge every day, customer requirements change all the time. To stay on top of all the developments, you need to keep growing and learning.

How can you commit to your professional growth? How to find time for constant learning when you work tirelessly to satisfy your customers?

Have a look at these three steps:


1. Define your priorities

It’s easy to get carried away by the amount of resources available online. With so many books, webinars, online courses, workshops, videos or blog posts you could simply do nothing else but study all day long. Add to it conferences, networking events or university programmes and you can end up feeling overwhelmed and paralysed by so many choices.

Useful content might be easily accessible, but you probably won’t be able to delve into every single resource that you find interesting.

That’s why you’ll need to set your priorities first.

What are the skills that you want to upgrade this year?

On which topic would you like to learn more?

Analyse your strengths and weaknesses, both when it comes to your business activities and subject matter knowledge.

Choose a maximum of three items that you would like to learn or improve in the next twelve months.

Maybe it’s negotiation skills, maybe a new tool that will help you work more productively, maybe a new technology that will help you improve your services.  

Many subjects might sound fascinating, but you can’t work on everything at the same time. Focus on the areas that you need the most to grow or on skills that will help you make your freelance business more profitable and more customer-oriented.


2. Schedule your CPD activities

Once you know what matters to you the most, it’s time to come up with a plan. Start from a thorough research to find out what resources will help you expand your knowledge and hone your skills. Be realistic about your time, energy and money that you can invest in your Continuous Professional Development.

Maybe a one-week conference on new IT trends on the other side of the ocean is beyond your reach, but an online course taught by an industry expert will fit your budget and agenda.

Maybe you won’t be able to follow an online seminar streamed at the fixed time every day, but there might be an alternative workshop that would give you more flexibility.

Make sure that the courses, books, webinars or workshops you choose will inspire you and enable your growth. Select the most useful resources and schedule your learning process.

You could block a specific time sloton the same day and time every weekto work on your professional development. Or you could assign one full day per month for learning only.  

Whatever strategy you prefer, remember to add your education time to your agenda to commit to the growth process.


3. Follow the plan

Now that you know what areas in your freelance business need improvement, it’s time to follow the plan. Filling your calendar with new CPD activities is one thing, but executing them is another one.

You might be tempted to postpone your learning goals, especially when you get swamped with work. There’s nothing wrong with moving your growth activities around during the busy times. Just remember to catch up on your learning process when you finally complete the most urgent projects.

Whatever happens, try to remember what matters to you the most: Reaching a long-term goal or working on an urgent, but not so important request?

Sometimes all you need to do to make time for your professional growth is to plan your work around your learning activities. In this way you’ll be able to meet all your commitments—made both to yourself and to your customers.


Over to you

Professional development matters, no matter where you are on your career path. It’s never too late or too early to learn something newwhether it’s in a workshop, conference, online course or masterclass.

Planning and focusing on your growth will help you become a better freelancer and a more knowledgeable professional. Your customers and your business will only benefit from your new skills.

So, what are your professional development goals for this year?


Dorota helps digital brands infuse their content with a local touch. She is a localization consultant, translator specialized in IT, prompt engineer, and a book author. Dorota teaches online courses on localization, writes for her blog and a Medium publication. She also runs a Small Biz AI, a Substack newsletter for freelancers and small business owners ready to discover handy AI tools.