“Freelancer.” “Independent contractor.” Consultant.” Sound familiar? 50 percent of the American workforce will be freelancing by 2020, according to Freelancers Union projections. They call freelancing “the new normal.”
According to a July 2015 survey of freelance workers by Upwork, contract history and feedback from previous clients was the number one most important factor in winning a work project. Of course, you can’t just click your heels three times and become a successful freelancer with a steady rotation of clients who will recommend you to others.
So, how do you break into the freelance market? I scoured the internet for tips—here they are!
1. Be a social butterfly.
Christopher Pappas of eLearning Industry says, “An important part of being successful in the eLearning industry is getting your name out there and growing your online visibility.” A great way to achieve this is through social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. He recommends posting “regular updates, publish your eLearning articles that others might find interesting, and keep in touch with current and potential clients.” Read more from Christopher Pappas here: 7 Tips Every eLearning Freelancer Should Know to Land More Jobs.
Bonus tip: eLearning forums like the Trivantis Community are a great place to network! Join today.
2. Tell everyone you know.
While the first tip is about connecting with professionals already in the eLearning market that you don’t know, experts also recommend leveraging connections you already have. UX designer Emil Lamprecht shares his secrets to becoming a successful freelancer in a CareerFoundry.com article, including saying “the very first thing I did when deciding to make the switch [to freelance] was to get in touch with every single person I have ever known and told them my decision. I told them the field I was going to be working in and as it became clear, even the date I was planning to leave my awful day job (in 30 days time). I also told them that I would be more than happy to take on projects straight away…for three reasons: experience, contacts, and references.”
3. It’s all about that portfolio.
This particular tip echoed across the internet: “Portfolios should be considered the cornerstone for every e-learning professional,” says instructional designer and consultant Ashley Chiasson. “For e-learning professionals, and for many folks working in other visual industries, a visual portfolio is essential. I said it. Essential. A portfolio will help you out if you eventually seek to change jobs, roles, or move into a freelance/contracting role, and it will quell the inevitable question from prospective employers/clients, ‘can we see some work samples and/or your portfolio?’”
4. Choose your examples wisely.
Another instructional designer, Kristen Anthony, had suggestions on how to make your portfolio the best possible. She says, “If you’re serious about getting experience and building a portfolio the secret sauce that will set you apart (come closer…) is to make stuff that does two things:
First, is indicative of the type of stuff you actually want to be doing when you are employed.
Second, illustrates to your target audience that you know how to solve their pain points.”
5. Pitch to clients you're interested in.
Freelance writer Elizabeth Nicholas says, “Whether you’re a freelance writer, marketer or graphic designer, your clients will be hiring you for your skills, not your comprehensive knowledge of their company or industry.” Why does this matter? According to Nicholas, you shouldn’t go after “companies you think you should because of your experience, but rather pursue companies or work you believe in. Why? Because if you're not interested in the work, it'll be even harder to finish, since you won't have a boss looking over your shoulder.” See all her tips here: How to Become a Successful Freelancer in 6 Months.
And of course, one last tip from your friends at Trivantis: Download a free 30-day trial of Lectora® Inspire, so you can make amazing eLearning samples for your portfolio!