You Decided to be a Freelancer. Now What Do You Do?
My goal for this 6-part blog is to show you how easy it is to get off to a successful start as a freelancer.
Part 1: Two Types of Freelance Work
First, let’s look back at what has been happening in the industry. Increasingly over the past few decades, organizations are turning to external training providers to deliver/facilitate training, develop content, do instructional design, create training strategies, and or support LMS/LCMS functions. This continued movement to using external providers opens up a myriad of opportunities for freelancers – whether you specialize in ILT delivery or vILT facilitation or are adept at navigating Learning Management Systems across multiple platforms or creating and developing elearning content – you can find your niche and join the growing community of freelancers in our industry. There are literally thousands of opportunities waiting.
You might be hesitant. I get it. You may be thinking, “How can I make a living at this? Where will I find contracts?” I can certainly relate. I was hesitant to go out on my own for quite a while before finally jumping in four years ago. It isn’t as overwhelming to get started as it may seem. Let’s begin with two types of contracts you will work with as a freelancer.
The first type is direct contracts.
A note of caution here: Don’t confuse direct contracts with direct employment and contract employment. Direct employment is permanent employment – the traditional terms of employment – where the employer provides a set wage with benefits. Contract employment is when you sign a contract, receive a set wage, but may or may not receive any kind of benefits, and you are not considered an employee, rather you are placed in a non-permanent position for a set amount of time.
A direct contract/agreement/SOW (statement of work) is for work drawn up between yourself and the client company. There are pluses and minuses to this type of contract. The pluses may include a higher overall wage for work on the project. Also, you are in more control of the terms and conditions of the contract because you are the one negotiating those terms and conditions. Minuses could include the fact that you are the one that has to do all of the sales calls, contract negotiation, and defining terms of the contract. You must handle all of the paperwork. Lastly, you are exposed to more risk.
A second type of freelance work is subcontract. A subcontract is a contract/agreement/statement of work (SOW) done through a third party that has the direct contract with the client. There are pluses and minuses to this type of contract as well. The pluses are you don’t have to actively find direct contracts and deal with all of the paperwork, so there may be a bit less responsibility. A third party handles the sales and contract negotiation aspect. But, there are minuses that may include lower wages for a project and/or being bound by the terms of what the third party negotiated for the project.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. No matter which type of contract you choose to pursue, you will need to constantly be cultivating your network and building your clientele.
Part 2 will discuss contract compensation.