Self-Learning and Motivation: Harry Hayes’ Recipe for Success

 In General

Self-Learning and Motivation:

Harry Hayes’ Recipe for Success

Harry Hayes is Chief Content Creator at Content Puppy and vice president of the Freelance Forum. After 25 years working for ad agencies as a writer, producer and creative director, he found working on his own quite different.

No longer did he have a team to direct and delegate to: He was the team who now was competing with ad agencies as well as 20-something millennials who seemingly could do it all – from designing websites to filming to video editing.

To keep pace, Harry began taking classes. His journey serves as motivation and inspiration to us all.
In Harry’s words:

Expanding Skills through

 “I’ve been using for several years. I think it’s a personality thing—some people like learning to do new things, while others prefer delegating to others. I’m firmly in the first camp, and am always looking for How To videos, courses and tutorials.

“I built my first website—my online portfolio—several years ago. I didn’t know any developers, so I built it myself in WordPress. The first course I took was WordPress Essential Training, followed by Installing and Running WordPress: MAMP. I installed MAMP on my laptop and built the site on my computer, writing blog posts and site content as I went. Once everything was running smoothly, I called GoDaddy and transferred
the site.

“As a creative director, I worked with a lot of designers and art directors, so I tended to let them do what they do. But the last few years I’ve been working more on my own, so I’ve had to learn more about Photoshop, InDesign and Adobe Illustrator. I’ve taken Essential Training courses on all three.”

 Increasing Proficiency with Advanced Courses

 “I got into editing about six years ago, so once again, I used to start learning Premiere Pro and After Effects. After Essential Training, I started taking additional courses depending on whatever project I was working on.

“For example, a few years ago I was working on a kinetic typography video. I found a Kinetic Typography in After Effects course on, and watched multiple YouTube tutorials showing different techniques. Over the next few weeks, I watched more courses, including 3D Type Options in After Effects, 3D Motion Graphics in After Effects, and 3D Camera Tracking in After Effects. You can see the resulting video here and a blog I wrote about my experience with the video technique.

“Once I became more proficient at editing, I started playing around with cameras and shooting my own video footage. In the past year, most of my courses have been video related, including Filmmaking Essentials, Video for Photographers, Filmmaking on Location, Creative DSLR Video Techniques, and Video Gear: Lighting. When I was trying to decide which camera to buy, I watched courses about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and the Panasonic GH4. I ultimately chose the GH4, based on what I learned on”

Continuous Learning Leads to Success

 In today’s global gig economy, freelancers are in greater demand, yet also are competing in a broader pool of talent. We don’t have to live in the same city, state or country as a client, for example. The advanced technology learning curve of millennials—the first generation to grow up with computers—means that three generations of workers may be competing for the same assignments.

We all know that learning is a continuous journey. Online courses make it easier to compete in the gig economy—and in Harry’s case, they have led to success as an independent creative professional.


Authored by Cheryl Syrett

Cheryl Syrett is a marketing writer and editor and former Freelance Forum board member. You may contact her at




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