Most freelancers know that in order for their businesses to grow and flourish, they have to continuously learn new skills. This might mean learning programming, social media strategies, marketing, public speaking, or a range of other skills that can contribute to growing their business and making a higher income.

The problem is that freelancers often don’t have the working capital to invest in expensive coaches, online courses, and numerous conferences throughout the year. The good news is, though, that there are four main ways freelancers can learn new skills completely for free. Here are a few examples:

#1 Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce is made up of small businesses and entrepreneurs in your community. It often costs a yearly fee to join the Chamber in your town, but once you do, you’ll often get access to numerous free activities and meetings where you can learn new skills.

For example, many Chambers welcome subject matter experts to speak on various business issues, from accounting to how to use SnapChat to grow your following. How often you participate is completely up to you. I once went to a wine and cheese entrepreneur meeting in my town sponsored by the local Chamber, and I met two great business connections. The yearly fee often covers the cost of advertising in their bulletin and other chamber fees, but the rest of the activities throughout the year as stated are usually free.

#2 Learn Through YouTube Videos

When you’re learning a new skill, especially when it comes to online tools, YouTube is definitely the way to go. I taught myself how to edit videos in iMovie, how to use HootSuite, and how to use my camera all through YouTube. You can enroll in a class to learn how to code or how to fix website issues, but you can also try your hand at watching YouTube videos to fix the problem yourself. Sure it would be faster to hire an expert to fix your issue quickly, but it would also be more expensive. Plus, there is a sense of pride that comes through teaching yourself how to do something to improve your life and your business.

#3 Join Entrepreneur MeetUps

MeetUp groups are a great way not only to meet friends but to build a valuable network of other entrepreneurs. There are MeetUps for just about everything you can imagine from basket weaving to chess clubs to mom groups to solopreneur hangouts. To take it a step further, you can start your own MeetUp or become a leader of a group where you can invite people to speak or tap others to share some of their valuable skills. This is a great way to learn something new that you can apply to your business all while helping others grow their reach too.

#4 Barter

Bartering is one of the oldest forms of paying for services without really paying for them at all. Bartering is when you exchange services with someone else, enabling you both to get something you want without exchanging money. So, if you’re an accountant and you want a new website, perhaps you could exchange some hours of accounting advice for a few hours of website creation with a web developer. Or, if you’re a flight instructor and you need someone to manage your social media accounts, perhaps you could exchange flight lessons for three months of social media management.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. This is also why it’s important to constantly network with other entrepreneurs, so you can find people who have skills that you value and might need in the future and then tell them about what you have to offer.

Ultimately, with a little creativity, any freelancer can learn very valuable new skills and tools to grow their business and expand their clientele as long as they are willing to stretch themselves and offer some of their own knowledge in exchange.


Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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