I have a massive appetite for learning. I am always reading books and blogs to try to better understand the things I want to do. Design, programming, marketing, copy-writing, I constantly strive to improve.
On the web your skill set needs to evolve constantly. Things change at a massive pace. New technologies are constantly being introduced and to compete you have to learn.
The best way to do this is to learn by doing
By trying out new ideas yourself you will see what works best for the way you work. Not everything you read will be suitable, or fit into, your processes, however if you try these new things then you can adjust them to fit your workflow.
Benefits of learning by doing
- the more you do the more you learn Sounds like I am repeating myself but what I mean is that 'learning to learn' opens your mind up to new possibilities. Learning about anything is worthwhile as it will exercise your brain making you a more all round competitor. And being online, you need to compete if you want to succeed.
- Doing something encourages learning Reading about something is totally different to seeing it put into practice. If you're the one doing it you will experience the problems and advantages first hand, and that will enhance your knowledge (whatever the outcome).
- Learning new things opens your eyes to new ideas Learning a new technique may not only give you the opportunity to add another buzzword to your cv - but it could give you an idea for a new feature on a website, it could give you ammunition for your blog, it could give you the opportunity to help someone (hopefully someone with influence ). It could even give you an idea for an entirely new project
- it's fun Look at it as a challenge, where you are the only winner, and learning can suddenly become hugely enjoyable.
- It's recession proof If something goes horribly wrong with what you do now, you will have added skills to fall back on
Being the sort of person who is interested in everything, I have ended up teaching myself all sorts of different things. For example:
- I learnt to program 3D games (Rocket Boards), which I later sold, and which impressed my future boss enough that he would give me a job at Miniclip.com the worlds largest flash games site... and I haven't made a 3D game since
- I learnt WordPress so that I could blog, and I now run a Premium WordPress themes site.
- I learnt web design to show off my digital art, and then discovered I was better at web dev than I was at art. A shame but it gave me a direction.
In the future I plan to learn:
- How to use the Twitter API - by creating a web application that does something with Twitter
- How to use Codeigniter - probably combined with the comment above. I've used CI in small amounts but have only scratched the surface
- How to effectively market a web product - I reckon I could use this all over the place
What I am trying to say is that the ONLY way to learn is to DO. If you don't try the things you have learnt then you might as well not have bothered doing the learning.
Teaching yourself to learn is a skill - and it's a skill worth learning. Some people prefer to go to lectures and to read books, and they're really good, but online things move so fast that you have to pick things up quickly or you'll get left behind.