Freelancing

How to enhance your online skills offline

It may seem like an odd suggestion at first, but getting away from your computer screen can actually help you improve what you do in front of it. Take a look at our top tips for enhancing your online skills offline.

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Local networking events

These are ideal if you’re a freelancer or if you work in a small company where you’re the only designer/SEO/developer etc. Most towns and cities have some kind of local meetup for web industry people, and there’s usually something for everyone. If not, maybe you should think about creating your own!

Local events are a great way for you to pick people’s brains, gain valuable contacts and work, and pick up tips to help you improve. Meetup.com is great for finding all kinds of local groups and events related to your interests and industry.

Courses

It might seem a little counter-productive to pay to do a ‘physical’ course at a local college or university when so much information is available for free online in the comfort of your own home, but in fact there are a lot of short courses and summer schools you can use to enhance periphery skills. For example, if you’re a designer, how about doing a photography course? If you’re a developer, why not get out of your comfort zone and study typography?

Many of these courses are an hour a week or a few hours at the weekend, and you’ll be surprised how often the things you learn come in useful and help clients and prospective employers have more confidence in your skills.

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Conferences

If you’re limited on time and budget, then grassroots conferences are the way forward. Most UK cities have local events going on where you can meet people in your industry and even grab an opportunity to do a talk yourself if you want to get directly involved. Beyond the grassroots level, there are a range of national conferences at around the £200-£300 mark, and then another layer at £500+. As a general rule, the more you pay, the more professional the talks and speakers, but it really depends on your own interests as well as how enthused and inspired you are by the whole atmosphere. This alone can often make your ticket and travel costs worthwhile.

Again, networking is a huge benefit of conferences. Most people are happy to just chat to strangers about what they do. Check out lanyrd.com to find conferences you’re interested in and to see what kind of events are coming up in your local area. You can track events you’re thinking of attending and list people you want to meet.

Think outside the box

Some of the best ideas and inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. Research cultural events and destinations that get you away from the screen and thinking beyond pixels. Architecture, art exhibitions and the theatre are all good places to start.

How do you develop your online skills using offline methods? Let us know in the comments!

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