Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for the Self-Employed

Whew. That’s a hefty title, isn’t it. But what is CPD? Well, it’s about continuing to study and learn skills and knowledge as you work. If you’re traditionally employed within the UK, the chances are you’ve probably come across CPD at some point in your life – even if it’s just in your yearly evaluation.

(As far as I can tell it’s not a term that exists outside the UK – you might call it something else!)

If you’re self-employed like me, then it’s just one of the other things you’ve got to concern yourself with. Another in the long list of ‘things I do as my own employer’. Chances are you’ve probably ignored it. I know I have. But…you might not be ignoring it as well as you think.

Okay, so why should I give a damn?

If you’re self-employed, you are almost certainly seeking to grow your business in some way. Let’s take that as a given, because you’d have to be in a very niche situation to be otherwise.

Assuming that’s the case, then you’re not going to manage to do that staying as precisely the same person that you were when you first started. Why? Because you’re the business. Even if you’re running a company, that company starts with you, and in many ways what you are doing lives or dies on you.

(Feel free to go and take a deep breath when thinking about that; I know I have to).

Not only that, but learning and developing yourself will make your job easier. As self-employed people, and especially as self-published authors, we often have to juggle what would normally be the jobs of a dozen people. That’s a lot of things to need to get better at. The better you are, the easier those things will be.

Hold on – does that mean I’m already doing this?

In a word: probably!

It’s unlikely that you came into this venture knowing how to do your job, how to market it, how to manage finances, how to file your tax returns…you get the idea. If you think you did know everything – well, you’re probably wrong. Sorry.

I personally knew nothing about marketing when I started this, so I took a course in Social Media Marketing. Those skills are ones I use every single day in my job. For a long while though, I felt like this meant I was fine and sorted. I had all the basics, and that was enough, right?

Wrong. Because whilst that course was amazing, it didn’t teach me what metadata was. It didn’t tell me about SEO. It didn’t give me a whole load of the tools I need for marketing my blog well. And these are things that are changing constantly – to keep up with it, I’ve got to keep learning.

If it’s everywhere, how do I know when I’m working on CPD?

Excellent question. And not just because I thought of it myself. This is something I ask a lot. Does reading the SEO emails I get count as CPD? Or do I need to be properly on some sort of course to do it? How do I know what it is that I need to learn more of?

I don’t have a fast answer to this, because it’s something I’m still learning. What I’m trying to do at the moment is make sure that I keep a list of things I don’t know how to do, or that I’m not confident doing. Places where I feel I could benefit from learning more.

I’m also trying to become more conscious of my own professional sphere. I instinctually isolate myself, so keeping up to date on things in the publishing world is something I have to actively try to do. It’s also something I find difficult to conceive of as ‘work’. Reading news and articles? Surely that’s garbage.

Then once I know what I need to learn more of, I’ll start working out how to. I’m also building an hour for reviewing my business and myself into my weekly work schedule – giving myself a chance to review that list and make sure it’s up to date. And, you know, get some of those articles read.

Maybe.

What do you do to ensure you’re improving your work skills? Let me know on Twitter – and help me get to 100 followers whilst you’re there!