Say you feel like you’ve reached the limits at your current job and want to work for yourself. Now, how are you supposed to find those first few gigs? Freelance Heroes has some advice to get you started.
Raise Your Profile
To land jobs as a freelancer, people need to know you’re there. So, you need to find ways to put yourself out in front of them. Two ideas to raise your profile are:
- Create an online base of operations. This is where you’ll share your opinions and samples of work (see my previous article 5 Tips for Succeeding as an E-Learning Freelancer for more detail). Post to this hub as much as you can.
- Attend one or two of the big e-learning conferences. A virtual presence is good, but nothing beats actually meeting people in the business face-to-face. Thread contributors favor DevLearn, held in the fall, and Learning Solutions, held in the spring. Both are put on by the eLearning Guild.
Be Visibly Helpful
You’ve probably seen that people love to get help—and they actively search for it online. So find ways to help out genuinely but also publicly. Thread contributor Steve Flowers suggests, “Be visibly helpful. You never know who’s watching.”
Forums and social media sites are full of opportunities to share and give. Pick one or two of your favorite sites and give far more than you receive. Answer people’s questions. Record a quick Screenr of a software tip you discovered, or something you came up with on a project. Share a template. Do a mockup for that person on the forum who’s so stressed he includes four exclamations in his post title (NEED HELP!!!!). Doing any of these things consistently will get you noticed—perhaps by someone from a boutique e-learning development firm who wants to put you on their list of contractors.
Leverage Existing Clients
Existing clients are often the source of additional work. And existing clients are gold. You know the personalities involved, their processes, and how to scope the project appropriately. In return, they get your best work.
One idea is to introduce your existing clients to the idea of maintenance cycles for projects. It’s good to revisit course content and design occasionally to make sure the information and look are current, and a majority of clients would rather have you do the work than someone they don’t really know, like, or trust. Not only do you pick up extra work, but you remain the developer of choice in the mind of your clients.
Ask for Referrals
At the end of a project, ask your clients for testimonials and referrals. Who in their network could use your services? (For more on referrals, see this Freelance Switch article.) The existing relationship between your client and others in their network gives you a warmer lead and a more natural introduction. And it’s not just for new freelancers: it’s a question you can, and probably should, ask throughout your freelance career to continually grow your network.
Ready to land more freelance e-learning gigs? With these four tips, you can maximize the number of people you reach and help clients keep you in mind when they have an opportunity.