People are always asking me how to get their foot in the door of the e-learning freelance game, so it seemed only appropriate to put together some tips for becoming a successful e-learning freelancer.
1. Build a Portfolio!
I’ve written and spoken about the importance of building a portfolio MANY times, but it still never ceases to amaze me how many people making these inquiries about freelancing do not have a portfolio. I understand the reasons why, but they’re just excuses. Get it done. Here are some of my previous posts on portfolio building:
- E-Learning Heroes Community Event Toronto (2014)
- E-Learning Heroes Community Event Denver (2014)
- E-Learning Heroes Challenge #31 – Creative Resume Templates for E-Learning Portfolios
- E-Learning Heroes Challenge #46 – Show Us Your E-Learning Portfolio
- Learning Solutions 2015 Presentation – Building Your E-Learning Portfolio
- How to Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – Part 1
- How to Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – Part 2
- How to Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – Part 3
- How to Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – Part 4
- E-Learning Challenge #138 – Share Your Tips for Creating Effective E-Learning Portfolios
2. Diversify, but also Align Yourself
Diversity is great, but if you aren’t aligning yourself to the work you want to receive, you’re going to get overwhelmed very quickly. The key here is to choose the types of work you want to do, and then include samples aligned to that work in your portfolio. Being diverse doesn’t mean you need to work across authoring tools – doing that is fine, but it can also hamper your workflow and be a bit more inefficient.
Maintain a portfolio of diverse pieces (e.g. different industries or subject matter), but be strategic.
For example, I do development almost exclusively in Articulate Storyline, and that’s because I know that in order to be my most efficient e-learning developing self, I need to stick to one tool that I know and love. Otherwise, I’m going to get cranky when things take too long to develop, and when my workflow has a wrench thrown into it. I’m capable of working in many other tools, but I often do it begrudgingly.
Find Your People!
And by that, I don’t necessarily mean ‘find your audience’. Your audience will likely be prospective clients. When I started this blog, it was more of a place to toss up and maintain a portfolio. I quickly found that my audience here is other Instructional Designers and E-Learning Developers. Not clients. You need clients and colleagues. Clients will help you get paid (directly), colleagues will serve as an enormous resource, a social saviour, and may help you get paid (indirectly – through referrals). Don’t hang out in an e-learning silo. Even if you’re working independently, you can look for community. If you live in a climate that has terrible winters, you will understand the importance of this statement.
I’ve written some posts in the past about where to find freelance e-learning gigs:
- Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs
- Update: Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs
Here’s a good one on where to find your community (or communities):