The Talent or Gig Economy is way past Uber. Over 36% of Amercians working in part in a freelancer/self employed capacity last year. Many of them are doing it in professional services roles including law, accountancy and marketing.
So where is digital learning? Our industry is still mainly in a skills-in-house or hire-an-agency mode. But there’s a lot of freelancers out there that can help teams flex their skills and capacity in a cost effective way. What’s stopping you? Let’s address some of the objections you might hear (in your own head or from others) around using freelancers for digital learning, and how to overcome them.
1. “I don’t know how to find them”
This has been the key challenge for digital learning. There are thousands of freelancers with elearning and digital learning expertise globally, but if you go searching for them, most have not focused on marketing themselves to be easily found.
Fix it by: Using a marketplace to match talent with your needs
The Gig Economy has given rise to a range of marketplaces where clients can post jobs or browse for talent, and freelancers can bid for and win work. Catalant is great if you’re looking for consultants and analysts for example, and TopTal focuses on accountants and financial professionals. Our marketplace here at Jam Pan is focused on the market we’ve spent 20 years in: Digital Learning.
2. “I couldn’t have our elearning built done by some random person”
Agreed. Don’t work with random people. (Do you know all of the people who work on your projects when you hire large agencies though)?
Fix it by:Reviews, Shortlists, Screening
Freelancers live on their reputations. Always get reviews and references from people they’ve worked with on similar projects and tasks. If they’re going to be remote workers, then talk to them: use Skype or Zoom or Slack or whatever works for you. Review their work. Quality is what matters. Get to know them. Even better, come and meet some of our talented suppliers at LT18
3. “They’d wouldn’t get past Procurement”
It’s fairly common for procurement teams to only work with a limited set of agencies rather than multiple freelancers. Your procurement colleagues may require only limited companies, three years of accounts, turnover levels – all of which can make it harder to tap into the digital learning talent economy.
Fix it by: Working through a trusted partner
If that’s the case for you, you could work through an intermediary who takes the risk, contracts with the freelancers you need and means there’s just one agency for procurement to work with to tap into the whole talent economy for digital learning. That’s what we do, for clients including Old Mutual Wealth, Shop Direct and many others. It keeps it simple for procurement, freelancers and you.
4. “If they’re so good, why aren’t they working for the big companies?”
Most freelancers have already been there. They’re skilled developers, designers and consultants who were part of bigger agencies and wanted to do it for themselves. There’s a word for it: Solopreneurs. They’re running their own business, selling themselves. That’s why they have to be as good, or better than larger agencies, at lower cost.
Fix it by: Check their profiles, check references, see their work, talk to them
You’ll find that they’re worked in, or done work for agencies and clients you’d trust. Set an assessment if that would help for more technical tasks.
5. “I’m not sure what kind of project to try a Freelancer on”
If you’re new to this, start small and see how it works. There’s a huge range of areas in digital learning where you can tap into freelancer talent. You can use marketplaces to post a requirement and find responses and matches.
Fix it by: Choosing a smaller/tactical project for starters and testing responses from the freelancer market.
Some of the areas we see most frequently on Jam Pan are
- Learning Design: scripting, storyboarding, ideas
- Elearning Development in a range of tools, including Elucidat, Articulate, Captivate
- Graphics, Animation and explainer development
- LMS support: configuration, branding, customization and end user support
It costs nothing to post a job and you can quickly see if there’s talent at the right level for you. What’s to lose by looking?
6. “This project is too big/important for one freelancer”
It’s not the answer for every need, of course. Sometimes big ticket and strategic initiatives need the scale, global reach and layers of accountability you get with a larger agency, and it makes sense to pay for that when you need it (and we can help you find it).
Fix it by: Making that a conscious choice rather than defaulting to larger agencies.
We’ve seen a range of clients work with smaller agencies, or virtual teams of freelancers with an overall project manager, and get large scale projects delivered with great results. No one model is correct – choose what’s right for your needs right now.
Tap into freelancer talent for any digital learning need: Post a job for free here.