This year, I challenged myself to learn a new skill every month.
It was an extreme challenge but I wanted to see how far I can get before I feel exhausted or bored.
Well, I was wrong. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “learning never exhausts the mind” and I’ve only felt excited to learn more.
As of March 20th, I finished learning two new skills and working on learning my third new skill this month. And I have plans to learn more skills this year.
This article is about the process I use to learn a new skill every month. I wanted to share this story so you could also try to learn a new skill (or two or twelve) this year.
Why Learn New Skills?
Your value as a freelancer increases when you have more skills to offer with your services.
Yes, you should always focus on mastering one skill that you’re really good at. But, you should also learn other skills that complement your main skill.
For example, a graphic designer can learn hand-lettering to craft even more amazing designs. A writer can learn SEO to write great articles optimized for search engines. A web designer can learn user experience design to build more effective websites.
When you learn more skills, you can also position yourself and your services better as a freelancer. Instead of just calling yourself a writer you can then position yourself as a writer who specializes in search engine-optimized content.
This strategy actually helped me to land some of my best clients. But for me personally, I’ve found the whole process of learning new skills an exciting process.
My New Year’s Resolution
One of my biggest goals for this year was to learn a new skill every month. I made it my top New Year’s resolution.
I mainly decided to do this because I felt like I was stuck in the same place for a long time.
I wanted to further improve my existing skills as a writer and also expand my knowledge of other subjects.
Even when some of the topics I learn have nothing to do with writing, like drawing or composting, I still enjoy learning them.
And who knows, maybe I will get to write for a composting blog in the future.
Why I Chose Skillshare
I wanted to make sure that I can actually accomplish this New Year’s resolution. So I prepared a plan.
My first step was to pick an affordable platform where I can access lots of online courses on different topics.
After searching and debating, I chose Skillshare as my main learning platform.
As I’ve explained in a previous article, I was able to get an annual subscription of Skillshare very cheap at around $30 per year.
Skillshare has over 20,000 classes on all kinds of topics and they are all accessible with a single subscription. This way I don’t have to pay for each class I take and I get to consume more classes from different instructors at the same time.
Most of the classes on Skillshare were also high in quality and they are easy to consume in a short period of time. So this was the perfect setup for achieving my goal.
Of course, if you want to learn new skills, you don’t have to follow the same path as I did. There are many other platforms out there like Coursera, Edx.org, Udemy, and Udacity you can use to learn new skills.
I used Skillshare because it was the most affordable option for me.
My Learning Schedule
After choosing my learning platform, I also made a plan to create a schedule.
As James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”
So I created a plan that I can stick with to learn a new skill every month.
My main system was to pick four different classes from Skillshare and finish one class each week.
Skillshare classes are very short so I only had to watch one video per day. So it was a totally achievable system.
Another benefit of using Skillshare was that it allows you to create lists of classes and set a deadline to finish each list.
So I made a list of classes for each skill I wanted to learn and set a deadline. Although, I only discovered this feature a few days ago.
January Learning Goal – Photography
In the first month, I wanted to learn photography. Mobile photography to be exact.
I don’t have a high-end DSLR camera but I still wanted to be good at taking pics with my phone.
I found 4 great classes on this topic. I really loved the Mobile Photography class by Joe Greer as it covered both taking pics and editing photos using the phone.
This was a very exciting topic for me as it allowed me to learn how to take full advantage of my smartphone camera. Before taking these classes, I had no idea how to use the Pro mode in the camera app.
Now I can take impressive shots of even the most boring objects.
February Learning Goal – Web Design
In February, I wanted to brush up on my web design skills.
I already have knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and frameworks. So I wanted to further explore topics like UX design and the psychology in web design.
These classes were very exciting since I learned some things that I didn’t know before.
March Learning Goal – Writing
In March, I managed to enhance my writing skills with a few great classes.
April Learning Goal – Affinity Photo
I recently switched from using Photoshop to Affinity Photo. It’s a much cheaper alternative that works just as good as Photoshop.
I found a few courses on Skillshare to learn how to make the most of this software.
May Learning Goal – Microsoft Excel
This year I wanted to start tracking my financials but I had zero knowledge on how to use Microsoft Excel. So I took a course on Skillshare.
It’s time like this that I appreciate having a subscription to a platform like Skillshare.
June Learning Goal – Psychology
I’m an avid fan of psychology and how to use it in every day life. Thanks to a few great classes on Skillshare, I learned some cool tricks.
July Learning Goal – Drawing
This month I wanted to try my hand at drawing. I found the perfect class for it on Skillshare and it was very informative and easy to follow.
But truth be told, it did not go well for me. I’m still terrible at drawing.
August Learning Goal – Brand Strategy
One of my all-time major goals was to become a content strategist and then be a brand strategist. I was excited about it for a while but somehow that dream faded away.
Then I came across a great class on Skillshare that revitalized my dream back into action.
September Learning Goal – White Papers
I’m planning on expanding my freelance services so I’m exploring new skills related to writing. I found that write paper writing is a profitable career path. Good news is Skillshare has a series of classes by the industry veteran, Alan Sharpe.
Does It Really Work?
One month is not enough time to learn a new skill. It definitely takes much longer to practice and master a skill as well.
So even though I enjoyed learning all these new skills, I don’t consider myself skilled in any of them.
I would have to spend a lot more hours diving deep into all these skills to be able to consider myself a professional.
But I was able to learn a lot in this process. And I plan on continuing to learn more new skills.
If you plan on learning a new skill to become a freelance professional, don’t follow what I did. You should follow a more focused path that allows you to gain more knowledge in the skill you want to be good at.
The method I use is only good for adding complementary skills to help grow your existing skills.
Although, I can guarantee you one thing, that you will never regret learning something new. It will serve you well someday.
Images via Freepik.com