No one teaches you how to grow a creative business in school. Whether you’re a solo freelancer or run an independent studio, sometimes you just have to learn as you go.
But along the way, there are also resources to tap into that can help improve your business know-how or learn new skills to level-up your creative business.
If you want to expand your offerings, charge more, or work with your dream clients, it helps to expand your skill set, especially when you are self-taught.
Here are five ways to learn new skills and take your creative business to the next level.
Listen to podcasts
There are a ton of podcasts for independent creatives to listen to, whether you want to learn about financial strategies for your business, get inspired by other creatives, or stay tapped into industry trends.
The best part about podcasts is that you can listen to them anytime, anywhere, and at no cost to you. If you want to level-up your business without too much investment in time or money, listening to a few podcasts is a great way to start.
Take an online course
Learning new skills is easier and more accessible than ever thanks to online courses. And getting a certification or expanding your knowledge on a topic can help you expand your services.
For example, if you’re a website designer and want to incorporate UX design into your offerings, then take a course and receive a certification. Not only does this equip you with new knowledge, but it also gives your business an extra level of credibility.
There are several online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and Udemy, to name a few. The classes they offer range from everything to business intelligence to graphic design to creative writing. Plus, the courses are taught by top universities, companies, and industry leaders.
Whether you want to test the waters with a free course or opt for the full certification, there are plenty of options to explore.
Attend a conference
Whether you attend a conference focused on a certain industry — design, marketing, photography — or you choose one that’s broadly targeted toward creative businesses, you’re bound to take away a thing or two that will help you level-up your business.
Conferences are not only a great way to stay updated on industry trends and best practices, but they’re also a prime opportunity for networking. You never know who you may run into at a conference — your next collaborator? A potential client? Maybe even an investor? All it takes is one game-changing connection to get your business to the next level.
Read business books
If you’re a self-taught freelancer or independent creative, there’s a good chance you didn’t go to business school. But that’s okay! Everything you need to know about running your creative business can be learned on the job or through resources like business books.
Whether you want to learn about marketing strategies or how to create a budget, there are plenty of business books for independent creatives out there.
Join networking groups
In our digital era, most networking takes place online whether over Twitter, Slack, or even Facebook Groups. And there are numerous benefits of being part of a like-minded digital community with people that understand what it’s like to operate a creative business.
When you’re part of these groups, you can swap strategy ideas, get quick tips on a project you’re working on, and — maybe the best benefit of all — connect with fellow creatives.
If you see someone online that you want to connect with or bring onto your next project, don’t be afraid to send them a cold DM. Independent studios are built on connections, and teaming up is one of the best ways to take your business to the next level.