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The big benefits of being freelance is that you generally decide what work you take on, and when you take it on, and there are considerable financial benefits in the short term. IT freelancing is lucrative, compared with permanent positions: income can be three times or more!
The trouble with freelancing though is that reaping the income can be addictive and obsessive. Freelancers tend to take far few vacations and have much less time off. Freelancers also tend to work when sick. Freelancers like their time to be on the clock.
The downside of freelancing is the lack of self-investment, i.e. because of the situation I described above, freelancers don’t spend enough time in developing new skills or their career. Soft-skills, particularly, are neglected. E.g. management training, leadership training, obtaining feedback and building long lasting relationships. All these things, it seems, are in conflict with the freelancer ethos.
But does it need to be?
Well I think No. No it doesn’t. Freelancers can develop themselves and their careers if they discard the old perception of training and development (ie. classroom-based), and rather look at the development of Web 2.0 for an answer.
The savvy freelancers, such as Dwight Collins in New York City, think differently. Dwight says:
Freelancers really limit their future opportunities by being focused on the immediate opportunity. The problem is that skills must be developed in order to stay ahead and to maintain the raison d’être for organizations to use freelancers. Distance-learning courses and Web 2.0 are innovations which allow busy people to develop themselves in the time they have spare. Distance-learning is an excellent medium for collaboration and learning, and it can be done from anywhere. Web 2.0, similarly, allows me to collaborate with my peers from all over the world, where we exchange ideas, experience and knowledge. More to the point, the relationship-building is one of the biggest benefits of both of these mediums.
Dwight and many other freelancers are taking advantage of these connect anywhere anytime tools. The only gap I currently perceive is the extent of how tailored distance-learning courses are particularly to the needs of the freelancer, as many of the courses are contextual around being a ‘corporate citizen’, which freelancers are not.
So I’d like to get the opinion of any IT freelancers on this subject. I’d especially like to know what kind of courses are needed and how they should be delivered. I am currently working on my distance-learning course catalog (see Courses & Services) and I would like to consider the needs of freelancers.