Do you want to become a Successful eLearning Freelancer? Learn How
Freelancing in elearning is just like any other industry. It comes with many of the same challenges and requires the same attitude. But a freelancer is almost always alone, facing a dangerous road ahead. One moment they are coasting along in a cushy corporate job. The very next moment, they find themselves in the driving seat with no seat belt.
These same feelings are shared by many freelancers working in the vast field of elearning. Thankfully, there is room for everyone. Everything from writing, graphic design to instructional design and project management is in huge demand. Similarly, there are multiple tools like elearning authoring tools and cloud-based LMS available for freelancers to easily showcase what they have got. These complement their skills and let them optimally put the features to use. So if you are a freelancer thinking of a free-spirited career in elearning, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Find your niche:
What are you good at? Find that one skill which you can bank on. It could also be the part of the course creation process that you enjoy the most. Invariably, these will be the areas where you can bring in the most value. As you start off, working in these fields will build up your confidence. They will also give you a solid footing and help you build a clientele. At the same time, recognizing your weaknesses is equally essential. As time progresses you will develop work arounds to tackle with these areas. Your networks will also help you in taking care of these pesky stages of development.
- Save for the future:
Choosing the right kind of project depends on a lot of factors. Not everyone has the freedom to pick and choose projects. Sometimes we have to let go of a learning opportunity just to keep ourselves afloat. In cases like these, some saved up money can give a lot of freedom. It takes away the pressure and anxiety. You can pick up projects that let you learn. Or projects that help you build your portfolio. You will be free to choose the direction of your career.
- Do stuff for free:
No, not necessarily for others. Use your free time to learn how to better use authoring tools. Educate yourself about cloud based learning management systems for more efficient project deliveries. It can be more than skill enhancement though. You can try to work on projects that normally lie outside your scope of work. You can build your portfolio with more creative projects. Bring some passion into designing new elearning courses. Why the emphasis on free work then? Because once you start getting paid for work, you stop doing things for yourself. Real growth in freelancing, ironically still comes from work that you have done in your free time.
- Showcase Yourself:
Build a portfolio. Build a blog. Run your own website. Increase your visibility. These steps not just increase your reach, but also act as a record of your learnings. A blog or a website can double as your base of operations. Make your portfolio as diverse as possible. Are you into instructional design? Present examples of different approaches and course layouts. Present each project in the form of a case study with an objective, an execution and the final result. Pick your best work and place it front and center.
- Be Aware:
It’s a jungle out there. Street smart clients are waiting to take advantage of unwary freelancers. Know what you can work with and communicate it effectively. Negotiate for better terms even if you are a newbie. Get a clear understanding of what the client wants. Explain clearly what you will deliver. Payment terms, delivery dates and scope of work need to be chalked out and explained properly. Everything needs to be in writing and in duplicate. Be prompt with paperwork. Work on your estimates and contracts with the same dedication that you put in your actual work.
- Manage your limits:
Limits are good. They keep us from injuring ourselves. From becoming overzealous and burning out. From extending so much that we break. When you start getting work, you may want to build relationships. This often equates to overworking yourself. An early burnout is more common than expected. Know where and how much you can extend yourself without burning out. But don’t always shy away from extending your limits. Don’t be limited to what you are comfortable with. Keep trying to make your comfort zone bigger.
- Manage your time:
This is going to be your biggest investment and your most limited resource. Measure and manage it like your stock portfolio. Notice where you are spending more time. Break down projects according to the time investment needed. Soon you will be have an acute understanding of your time requirements. Pick projects accordingly. Bring time management in your daily life too. Schedule your day but be flexible with it. At the end of the day, go back to it and see where you can improve. You are your own boss. You have to clock in and out yourself.
- Embrace Networking:
Once you have built your portfolio, people need to see it. Thankfully through social media, there is no lack of platforms. The connected nature of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can put your work in the center of everyone’s attention. But you have to put in the effort and reach out to people. Always be on the lookout for marketing opportunities. No one but you is going to get you work. Attend networking events. Expand your contacts list. Comment on posts. Participate in forums. At the least you will need to get the most from your existing clients. Rein in repeat work through discounts and relationship building.
We began by claiming that freelancing is like any other business. Just like any other business, this needs an active investment of time and money. It has the same sort of challenges when faced with financial uncertainties and learning opportunities. It even needs a considerable amount of marketing. But with enough determination and perseverance you can achieve success at your own terms.
About the Author: Linkedin
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & elearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker.