Hello! My name is Marie Segares. I am a crochet and knitting blogger, designer, teacher at Underground Crafter and host of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show.As a creative business owner, you know it’s important to keep your skills fresh. But professional development can be expensive and the cost of ongoing training is often a low priority in the creative business owner’s budget.
Here are 7 ways to improve your skills on a shoestring.
1. Serve as an event volunteer
Many craft industry events (as well as blogger, business, and social media conferences) rely on volunteer staff to help things run smoothly. In exchange for your services, you are typically granted access to the vendor area, demonstrations or lectures, and sometimes even to classes and workshops.
2. Use your local, regional, and federal small business development centers
As a small business owner, you may be entitled to free support services from the government. These services may include workshops, free clinics with legal or tax professionals, or one-to-one business counseling. Check out the Small Business Administration Learning Center or SCORE for more information.
3. Visit your local library
Your local library system is likely to have a variety of books, DVDs, and other resources for small business owners. Some systems even have a dedicated business branch. You may also be able to request books on business or craftsmanship via interlibrary loan from nearby library systems for free. Additionally, many libraries hold classes on-site.
4. Connect with local colleges and universities
Colleges and universities frequently have guest speakers, workshops, and conferences that are open to the public. These events may be free or low cost. As a side benefit, you may make connections with potential student interns or professors who might be willing to use a challenge facing your business as a class project.
5. Apprentice with a master craftsman (or woman)
Approach a local artisan and ask to be an apprentice or intern. You can improve your craft skills rapidly under the tutelage of an expert.
6. Participate in blog challenges
Information on anything a small business owner might need is freely available online, but the hours required for research can be daunting. Many bloggers curate this process for you by holding challenges focused on improving your skills. These challenges sometimes convert from free experiences to paid courses once they are archived, so join in when you have the chance!
7. Become a reviewer
If you have a consistent following on your blog and/or social media accounts, approach a book publisher’s marketing or publicity department directly to request a review copy, or sign up for Netgalley, which coordinates advanced review copies of ebooks. Ask to review books that focus on the areas you’d like to develop to get the most out of your review experience, and don’t forget to properly disclose your receipt of a review copy as per FTC guidelines.
These are the 7 ways I save on professional development. What tips can you share?
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