The last two years have been very turbulent for the L&D workforce. We’ve seen huge spikes in demand for our services – as employees become increasingly remote and traditional, tried-and-tested approaches to training become less feasible. Plus, L&D professionals themselves have packed up their desks and created home offices to work from. And now, as we come to the end of Summer 2021, many are looking at returning to the office at least part of the time. But this change has given many the nudge to re-evaluate their working life. And many are looking to freelancing as a route out of the humdrum of the 9-5.
Unsurprisingly, we’re huge advocates of freelancing here at Jam Pan. But we’re also the first to admit that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. So if you’re thinking about ditching the 9-5 and becoming a freelance eLearning developer, we’ve put together four considerations you should make before making the jump.
Consideration #1: Do you have self discipline?
Although many dream of the day they can shake off their micro-manager and take charge of their working day, doing that takes a lot of self discipline. To succeed as a freelance eLearning developer you must commit to working for a certain amount of time each day. Of course, you’re more than welcome to choose to work 4 day weeks, or work Sunday – Thursday instead of the traditional Monday – Friday, 9-5. But you have to make a routine, and stick to it!
But this also means you must be disciplined enough to stop yourself over working too. As a freelancer, as tempting as the lie-in on a Monday morning can be, it’s also very tempting to work all hours under the sun, in order to make as much money as possible. But this isn’t advisable. Friend of Jam Pan, and learning freelance expert, Egle Vinauskaite shared her experience of overworking herself in the early days of freelancing on our webinar last year. Eagle worked for nearly a year and half without a break, and she reported the detrimental effect this had on both her personal and professional life. So it’s important to remember that self discipline works both ways!
Consideration #2: Can you market yourself?
When you work for an employer, projects and work seem never ending. But when switching to freelance life, you have to find your own projects – and that can be daunting for many (especially if you’ve had the comfort of full time employment for a long while). So you have to be confident enough to market yourself to gain more clients. We love these five tips from Sabir Semerkant on how to find new freelance work:
- List yourself on relevant freelance sites (such as Jam Pan in the L&D industry!)
- Always apply for new jobs, even when your schedule is full.
- Treat yourself as a business, and charge accordingly. Do not let yourself be haggled down by businesses looking for a bargain – you have overheads to cover, remember!
- Network and ask around – getting work through referrals is always a positive experience.
- Keep on working (and learning!) Don’t let your skills dwindle or become stagnant – you should always work, even during your dry spells, to make sure your skills are tip top!
Consideration #3: What’s your niche?
When it comes to any kind of business – whether it’s a one-person freelancing business, or a multinational corporation – you must have a niche. Something that’s going to set you apart from your competition. The thing that will make someone employ you over somebody else. This will likely also involve defining your brand – and ensuring it appeals to your target audience.
So what is your niche? Is it best-in-class animation? How about slick, modern learning solutions? Whatever it is – shout about it, it’ll help you get noticed. (Refer back to Consideration #2 – marketing yourself!)
Consideration #4: You have to have patience
Becoming a successful freelance eLearning developer is going to take time. It’s unlikely that you’ll quit your day job and become an overnight success. It may take months to work back up to the salary and income you were achieving from your full-time employment. And you must have the patience, tenacity and determination to make your freelancing business work.
The truth is, especially in the early days of your freelancing journey, you may want to give up. And this is where you need to rely on your support network – your family, friends and peers – to keep you going. It’s also worth considering joining a community of freelancers and/or learning professionals – who will be on hand to give you support and brainstorm ideas when needed. (We’re particularly fond of the Global Learning And Development Community, founded by our very own John Hinchliffe – who meet on a weekly basis via Zoom!)
So, with these considerations in mind – are you ready to take the plunge?
It’s important to consider all of these areas before taking the step into the world of freelancing. But, do remember that being a freelance eLearning developer brings with it a whole tonne of benefits that cannot be overlooked. If you want to discuss how you can make your first steps into the world of freelancing, get in touch – we’d love to help you.