Webinars, interactive training, videos, coaching—the internet is filled with training programs. With so many opportunities out there (and at so many different costs), it can be difficult to know what to choose.
In this post, long-time freelancer Laura Spencer shares her tips for deciding whether to invest in a program.
The Online Training Dilemma
There are so many training programs available online that I could spend all day every day doing nothing but training. But that wouldn't be a wise use of my time. Also, since many of the programs have a hefty price tag, purchasing too many of them can hurt my pocketbook. The thing is, an online training program can be good without being right for you. You need to figure out what type of program you should invest in.
6 Ways to Evaluate a Training Program
Who is providing the training? When it comes to online education, it's especially important to consider the source. Is the training being offered by a well-known and respected expert in your field, or is it being offered by someone you have never heard of? Do your research or you could wind up wasting your money.
What do the reviewers say? Even a respected expert can sometimes come up with a course that isn't worth your time. That's why I always check to see what others are saying. Yes, I know that not all online reviews can be trusted. But if the review is from a reputable site, I definitely pay attention.
Do I have the time? The best training in the world won't do you any good if you don't take advantage of it. To get the most from it, you need to make sure that you actually have time in your schedule. Just purchasing it won't be of any help.
Do I have the money? Some online courses can be quite pricey—sometimes as much as a college course. When this happens, I have to ask myself whether I would be better off just attending a class at a local college.
How will this training benefit my business? If the training is for your freelancing business, then it should help you to grow your business in some way. Will the training help you develop a marketable skill? Will it connect you with project leads? Know what you expect to gain.
What other benefits come with the training? Many online courses come with added perks, which can include newsletters, online forums, and sometimes even private job boards with work opportunities you wouldn't find elsewhere.
Is Free Worth It?
A growing number of courses are being offered for free, but don't be deceived. Free isn't always what it seems. There are a number of excellent free training courses out there. For example, I recently completed Google's free Power Search training. I expect this to benefit me because, as a writer, I rely on the search engines to help me research. But other free training courses are little more than an extended sales pitch for something more. And even if free training doesn't cost anything, it does take your time.
Make Online Training Work for You
Here are some steps you can take to get the most from online education:
- Schedule specific time. If you're not sure how much time would be needed, ask.
- Know what you expect to gain. You're more likely to get something from the training if you have a goal
- Participate. Do the homework. Interact with others taking the course and with the instructor if the opportunity presents itself.
- Take advantage of the extras. If your course includes extras like forums or job boards, use them.
- Apply what you learn. Make an effort to use the training within a week or so of taking it. If you don't apply it, you're likely to forget it.