Professional development for freelancers - how much is the right amount?

How much should you invest each year in your own professional development?
What types of professional development are a good investment of time and money?

Obviously, the answers to these questions depend on your individual circumstances.

But I think it is safe to say that everyone - no matter their craft - needs to “keep their saw sharp”, as the saying goes. Otherwise the risk of falling behind in terms of capability and/or efficiency starts to rise.

For full time employees, this responsibility is somewhat outsourced to employers who will typically allow a budget of around 1-6% of someones salary. So for someone on $100K, that amounts to $1000-6000 per year. My observation is that the level of expenditure tends to be at the lower end of that range, and it doesn’t happen consistently for every employee. However, professional development sponsored by an employer is a construct I think we can all recognise.

So what about for freelancers?

There is the double hit of needing to pay for the professional development, and also take the time away from billable work. This is always the case, but perhaps somehow easier for an employee to justify or navigate than for a freelancer?

It would be great to hear your perspective!

For me personally, I usually do a couple of courses a year.

As an example, I did the Strategyzer bootcamp a few years back, which cost about $10K at the time, but it has opened up a whole stream of work for me.
So each year I tend to do something similar to that which costs a few thousand and requires a couple of months of investment in attending classes etc.

I also have quite a few subscriptions to publications, memberships and digital tools, which I consider part of my professional development. Given technology is a fairly big part of what I do, I figure I have to be using stuff in anger before I can consult or advise on it.

It sure does add up pretty quick though! And it is not just the money, but also the time to get the most out of it.

Professional development is one area I need to invest in more this year. One way of thinking about it for our nascent Society could be to somehow share or even barter knowledge sharing / wirkshops between freelancers? I know my budget is tight at the moment!