e-Learning Designers are Creatives Too!
When most people hear the words “creative freelancer,” they think of artists, web designers, copywriters, and illustrators—but in my years in the e-Learning industry, I’ve come to realize that as e-Learning Designers, my peers and I fall into that category as well. As we build courses, assessments, and learning tools, it’s our creative side at work; there’s an art to producing effective learning materials.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different e-Learning professionals over the years, and have noticed that, like many creatives, our passion is in creating content that’s easy to understand and solves problems. Everything else that goes along with the work in our industry—the structure, the teams, the processes, the systems—is secondary to what we love doing: producing courseware that engages learners and presents information effectively. Let me spend my days creating and designing an online course, and I’m in my own professional bliss; put me in meetings all day, and I get frustrated pretty quickly.
The Business Realities of Freelancing
Several years ago, I decided to become a freelancer—like many creatives in my position, I was ready to focus on what I enjoy the most. I envisioned myself finally getting rid of all of the overhead of my day job and spending all of my time being creative!
And then reality hit.
As a freelancer, I found myself deep in a swamp of activities and decisions that were all critical to my success as an independent business—and all kept me away from my creative passion. I had to decide whether I was going to be an LLC or if I would incorporate. I had to spend time searching for new clients, marketing myself to them, and then creating detailed project estimates for them. I had to spend time designing a system for tracking income and expenses. I had to worry about Profit & Loss Statements. I had dreamt about finally having the freedom to innovate and push my own creative boundaries, and instead I was spending a lot of my time learning about accounting, marketing, and project management.
As I interacted more with other e-Learning Designers and other creatives, I discovered that the experience that I was having was pretty common. I discovered entire communities of creatives frustrated with the business side of their careers, and yearning for more time to produce content.
My 2017 Mission: Demystifying Business Basics for e-Learning Freelancers
Now, after several years of being a freelance e-Learning Designer, I’ve decided to give back to the e-Learning community by creating a program around succeeding as an e-Learning freelancer. Throughout this year, I’ll be posting weekly blog articles and leading a Facebook group dedicated to helping each other establish and grow our freelance e-Learning businesses. With each post or activity, I’ll be sharing my successes and setbacks as a freelance e-Learning Designer, to help newer creative freelancers get their businesses off the ground, and ultimately focus on the best part of the job—producing powerful e-Learning materials.
If this is you, and if you’re serious and want to be a successful e-Learning freelancer, I want to help you. Over the last 20 years that I’ve spent in the industry, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m eager to share that with colleagues. I’m confident that if you go on this journey with me, my advice will help you bypass and overcome many of the obstacles you face in starting your business—and help you focus on building and growing it.
Our weekly blog posts will be sequential, starting from examining the decision to become a freelancer all the way through maintaining successful, lucrative client relationships and knowing what year-end activities you’ll need to do to keep your business healthy.
Together, we’ll be discussing questions like:
- Have you considered the pros and cons of becoming an eLearning freelancer?
- What are your core values?
- Do you have short-term and long-term goals written out?
- Should you be an LLC or should you incorporate?
- How will you market yourself via social media channels?
- Do you have a system in place to keep sales coming in throughout the year?
- Do you know what documents you’ll need to have in place for quoting jobs?
- How comfortable are you with writing, pricing, and negotiating business estimates?
- When should you consider delegating work to subcontractors?
- Do you understand quarterly tax estimate payments and self-employment taxes?
- Do you need a license to operate your business?
- Do you have workflows in place to track your content development, your revision cycles, and your invoicing?
In addition, I’ll be providing information about the products, resources, interviews with industry experts, and tools of the e-Learning trade. In some cases that will be book reviews, or tips and tricks for making the most of applications (like Articulate Storyline 2), but throughout the year I’ll continue posting about e-Learning Business Basics each week.
I’m also excited to engage with you and the e-Learning community on social media. Are you ready to join me on this journey? If so, you can start by signing up for my Facebook group, and following me on Twitter and LinkedIn. I look forward to sharing more soon, and working with passionate e-Learning Designers. It’s going to be an exciting year!