Update: Where to Find Freelance Instructional Design Gigs

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about where to find freelance instructional design gigs, and my experience with each of the mediums discussed. The lovely Christy Tucker (-swoon- I’m fan-girling over here ya’ll) recently gave this post a shout-out in a presentation as being a helpful resource, which reminded me that I really should update my list. So, now I’m here to provide an update with additional resources, because I have since found clients (or had them find me) through some other channels.

Bid Sites

For starters, in the last post, I discussed Odesk.com and Elance.com, these sites have since merged and exist under the umbrella company Upwork.com. I no longer haunt these sites looking for new contracts. Why? Because I don’t like the concept of bidding on projects. Sure – it might be for some, and I definitely dabbled in my fare share of bid sites when I was starting out, but I would compare them to Tinder (that ‘dating’ app) in terms of how icky it the concept behind the site makes me feel. Using these sites, I felt like I wasn’t being valued for my experience and expertise, but instead my ability to compete with other bidders…and let’s face it–I’ve never been a competitive person.

Action Steps: Take it or leave it; they’re a great place to go if you’re just starting out, but can leave you a little icky feeling as you progress through your freelance career.

E-Learning Heroes Community and Job Board

I’m still active within the E-Learning Heroes community (and will be until it ceases to exist), and always encourage instructional designers and/or e-learning develops participate in the community; especially when it comes to building your portfolio. The ELH community is a great place to showcase your work, share your knowledge, and help others…so in turn, it is also a fantastic place for potential clients to headhunt you! You just never know who’s lurking among the forum posts. Be generous with your participation and sharing, and someone will surely notice.

One of my best long-term contractors found me through the ELH community and sub-contracted work to me over a year ago, and we have been working together, for a client I feel good about doing work for, ever since!

Recently-ish, the good folks at Articulate added a Job Board, and you need to go there and bookmark that page right now, because there are new jobs posted every week (and sometimes everyday) that you should really check out!

Action Steps: Participate in the ELH community (especially the weekly challenges), and lurk that job board!


Referrals are now where I find most of my clients, which is awesome! It means that people in the e-learning community think I’m doing good work and feel comfortable referring me to work with their colleagues, or referring their clients to me to do overflow work when they’re too busy to do it themselves. For this method, sharing really is caring. So whenever I experience overflow, I am quick to forward my clients to many qualified instructional designers.

Referrals are truly a form of flattery, and for that reason, it’s how I prefer to find new clients these days.

Action Steps: Share your knowledge, participate in like-minded communities, refer others, and karma will return the favour!

Social Media

The results of participating in social media is similar to that of referrals because it often leads to referrals! I’ve found a lot of clients through FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and have even been recruited by several clients on LinkedIn. Social media is definitely where your new-age clients are hanging out. There are great Twitter chats out there (Guild Chat, Chat2Lrn), and a fantastic sub-reddit related to all things instructional design.

Action Steps: Participate in social media spheres, but participate in a meaningful way. Don’t spam your Twitterfeed with archived posts from your website. Be a giver! Promote others and they’ll likely promote you!

My Website

I wrote about finding clients through my website in the first iteration of this post, and it’s still producing a steady stream of work and/or business inquiries. Most inquiries reference my contributions in the E-Learning Heroes community (as explanation for how they found me), but many reference my portfolio and certain work in the portfolio that appealed to them. Why am I talking about this again? Because if you want your clients to come to you, you need to get a website and/or portfolio, and show them what you can do! Oh! And don’t forget — make sure you communicate effectively to ensure potential clients know how to contact you and can do so easily. I use a WordPress plugin for my contact form. It makes life easy.

Action Steps: Build a website (or have someone build one for you), include a portfolio of some sort, and include contact information.

Again, I hope this post was informative, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll do my best to provide you with an appropriate response.


  1. Rain says

    Thank you for this! I am trying to break into Instructional Design after being a Technology Integration Specialist for awhile, and I am really struggling because I don’t have direct experience yet, so no one will give me a shot. Thanks for these tips!


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