I earn over £60k doing a job I learned for free online – you don't need a degree | The Sun

I earn over £60k doing a job I learned for free online – you don't need a degree | The Sun

August 19, 2023

SAVVY youngster Rhea Freeman was "done with school and education" when she quit the classroom at the age of 16 to go straight into the world of work.

The mum of two, now 39, told The Sun she remembers being sure she didn't want to sit at a desk, even if she was being paid.

"I wanted to do something different," Rhea said.

"I was keen for more life experience and wanted to learn on the job."

She took a job grooming horses at her local stables and after two years qualified as a riding instructor.

"Horses have always been a passion of mine," Rhea, who lives in Worcestershire, said.

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"But I look back and what I'm doing now is so different."

Her career took its first unexpected turn when, at 19, she was asked to write an article for an equestrian magazine.

It set off a chain reaction that ultimately lead to Rhea deciding to quit the stables to concentrate on what was fast becoming a hotchpotch of freelance writing.

She told The Sun: "I was 21 and after doing that first article companies began to approach me to write for their websites and catalogues.

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"It morphed into working with magazines and then to marketing and PR."

It coincided with the explosion of social media, with Facebook launching in the UK in 2005 and Twitter in 2008.

"As social media grew, I invested a huge amount of time and energy learning about the whole area," Rhea said.

While it's now possible to study social media at universities such as York, West London and Chester – taking a degree will set you back around £45,000 over three years.

Rhea did it all without spending a penny on courses – teaching herself using free resources she found online.

Since then, digital business and marketing training has ramped up significantly as technology and the web evolved.

"There’s a huge amount of learning online now from places like Meta," she said.

"I did the Blueprint programme which is superb and the training is free.

"You just pay for the certification if you want that."

Free training courses online

Meta Blueprint is one of several online training hubs set up by social media and search platforms to help people learn how to use their services for business.

It covers things like designing a Facebook page, how to grow a digital audience, how to use Instagram and WhatsApp to help you reach customers.

The course is free and aimed at entry level marketers, including students and job seekers.

You learn by watching a series of 15-minute videos, each covering a different aspect such as advertising placement or business reporting.

If you want to sit an exam at the end of it to receive a certificate you can put on your CV, it costs between £78 ($99) and £118 ($150) depending on which course you take.

Google offers a range of similar online training and has just launched Coursera, which lists over 6,000 free programmes covering a whole range of skills and sectors.

LinkedIn Learning is another good place to find free training courses.

And Rhea said anyone interested should also check out Small Business Britain, Enterprise Nation and Help to Grow.

"There are lots of opportunities available and many free or subsidised schemes, it’s just a case of doing the research," she said.

"Some training is free with certifications being paid for, some cost hundreds, some costs thousands – but there’s something to suit everyone."

From student to teacher

Over the next 10 years, Rhea built her experience, training and knowledge.

"By 2015 I became more of a coach and mentor helping other people to do what I'd done," she said.

"That was a big jump in how things worked for me."

In 2018 she started a podcast called Small & Supercharged, helping businesses to grow.

And since then she's given Ted Talks, written a book and now mentors businesses through Help to Grow, Small Business Britain and the NatWest Accelerator.

Earlier this year she earned Level 7 Certification from the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Now she's a Help to Grow Mentor, Natwest Accelerator Mentor and a Mentor and

"It's taken me years but now I'm earning over £60,000 a year doing something I love," she said.

"And because I'm self-employed it works really well around school runs and life admin."

Rhea has no regrets about skipping university and said anyone who's willing to work hard can have a go.

"To be a coach and mentor and do it well, you need some experience in battle," shed said.

"You need the grey hairs, the wrinkles and the life experience, because these are particularly beneficial for mentoring."

And she said nowadays it’s "more than fine" to change course and direction.

"From the outside looking in, where I am now has no connection to where I started," she said.

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"But actually there are threads that run through it all.

"Everything you do gives you skills for the next stage- we no longer make a decision about a career and have to stick with it forever."

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