Outside of “How do I get started?”, the next most populous question I receive is “Where can I find work/jobs/contracts?”, and I’ve written a couple of posts on this in the past:
- Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs
- Update: Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs
Both of these posts are certainly worth the review though, because I’m going to regurgitate some of the information in this post (and offer some other resources). However, before you can look for work, you need a portfolio of some sort because the potential clients…they’re going to ask you for one!
If you don’t yet have a portfolio, I’ve talked a lot about building them, and even have a free course: Build Your E-Learning Portfolio – check it out! It’s updated periodically, so if you’re enrolled, you’ll get an email blast whenever something’s been added or changed.
Word to the wise: If you want an Instructional Design or E-Learning job, you need to have something to show potential clients you’re capable of doing. So, stop making excuses for your lack of portfolio and just take the time to get something together! When you look prepared, you also look more professional/marketable.
Okay. Enough preaching, Ashley. On with the post!
Referrals are still where I find most of my work lately, and I’m still flattered by each and every referral. Once you’ve established yourself within Instructional Design/E-Learning communities, and you begin promoting the work of others while also promoting your own work, the referrals will begin to trickle in. But the key to these referrals is participation within communities, on social media, etc. You need to make yourself known in order for people to know you’re available for work.
And don’t be selfish! Referrals are cyclical, so ensure you’re referring to others when you’re swamped and unable to accept work.
For Instructional Design or E-Learning gigs, I find the most relevant job boards to be:
Outside of these job boards, you can sift through craigslist.org for work, which can yield good results, but is a bit more tedious.
Next to referrals, most of my inquiries funnel through this website. This is great, especially if you’re busy working on contracts and don’t have admin time to dedicate to hustling for more contracts. There are a few keys here:
- Build a website, and if you don’t know how to do so, hire it out. While an initial cost, it will pay for itself.
- Include some sort of portfolio on your website (even if it’s not the most up to date).
- Include a contact section. THIS is critical. Prospective clients won’t contact you if they don’t know how to do so.
If you’re an Instructional Designer or E-Learning professional (or hope to be one someday), you’re looking for work, and you’re not active on either Twitter or LinkedIn, get on both of those platforms.
A lot of work-related inquiries will happen on both of these social media platforms, but unless you’re active and have a relevant profile, they will not be of much value.
Another ‘social media’ type of community I would recommend is the Instructional Design Sub-Reddit; there’s a lot of great advice in that community, but there are also occasional job postings. Be present on many platforms and you’ll increase your ability to be seen and/or hired.
Lastly, I will include bid sites. I now consider these sites a last resort, only because I believe there is a lot of effort involved for little pay off. Now, this is where I got my start, but not where I felt the most valued. Of all the bid sites, the one that I would consider most worthwhile, and where I believe you will be compensated fairly (in most cases) is: UpWork.
But even on this site, you’ll need to put in your dues. A lot of employers will specify a percentile of quality that they want in their applicants, and to achieve these quality ratings, you need prior work through the site with employers who may not be offering your goal compensation. Often times you’ll need to work some of these smaller contracts in order to increase your profile clout to succeed in winning larger contracts.