Let’s say you have been working in an organization for some years now, and you are really good at what you are doing. You have the experience, the knowledge, the expertise. When someone asks a question related to your field, you are always the one who has the answer.
Fast forwarding it a bit, one day you are asked to become a mentor to new hires. Then your manager suggests you would deliver some training programs to your fellow colleagues. Without actively seeking this role, you become a corporate trainer, and you start learning on the job. So, one day you ask yourself: why don’t I turn this into my day-to-day job? Why don’t I become a freelance trainer? And you decide you want to start the journey towards a freelance trainer career.
As SHRM mentioned in one of their articles around this topic, you should start by asking yourself the right questions:
Working on your own might sound equally fascinating and challenging, but if the answer to the first question is yes, then you are off to a great start. Being successful as a freelance trainer is a very subjective thing to have in mind, depending on what being successful means to you. Does it mean to have hundreds of clients? Does it mean to receive great feedback from your learners? Does it mean to be able to create engaging learning materials? Do not worry if you do not have a very clear answer to this yes, it will come with time.
However, you might want to have a clear answer to another question: what’s my niche? You should establish the main area of expertise for your training programs, and stick with it, at least in the beginning. Then, you should set up your value proposition. What can YOU offer to your potential clients? What challenges will they be able to solve with the knowledge and skills you provide them?
After you have decided your niche and your value proposition, you should think of developing your own capabilities. If you have decided to deliver training programs on a specific topic, then you surely master it. However, mastering the topic and mastering the way you deliver it to others are two very different aspects. You might want to search for some training programs yourself, such as train the trainers programs, which give you a direction on how to deliver learning programs as a freelance trainer.
You might also want to get enrolled in a few programs that offer certifications, not only on the topic you deliver learning programs, but also on topics such as instructional design if you want to come up with learning materials yourself.
As a freelance trainer, you should also build your own personal brand. Be active on social media channels, get your own website and even your own learning application, join conferences and webinars where your target audience might be, create webinars yourself, etc. Building your network is also really important, because that’s one way possible clients find you, through your personal and professional referals.
Then, to answer the third and fourth question mentioned above. Yes, you can make a career out of freelance training if this is what you really want. You have the expertise, you can find the tools you need. Last but not least, switching from being an employee in an organization to being a freelance trainer, you have to really pay attention to your finances, as it might be challenging in the beginning. You should make sure that you have the means to support yourself at the beginning, it takes time until you expand your client base.
Then, the freelancing business can mean really good times, and some bad times, finanancially speaking, so make sure you set aside earning during the good times. One important aspect here is how much you charge for your services. Do the research, do not underestimate yourself, do not lower your prices to have a competitive advantage. Know your value and set the prices accordingly. When you also have a learning app with multiple tools and functionalities avilable, you can come up with different packages, based on what you can offer and what the client wants.
To wrap-it-up, not all trainers have the same career journey, so you can modelate it according to your own personality, what you want to do as a freelance trainer, and how you want to do it. Find your motivation, come up with a strategy and start doing what you like.
Some (final) thoughts
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