Freelance Question

So I had a random thought the other day and was wondering what those of you who do freelance thought of it.

My former employer is just starting to dabble in webinars. They pay a person to present a webinar 3 times a day every other day.

I have been involved with training for 8+ years, have been designing etraining for 3+ and have been using Storyline for about 6-8 months. I have 2 weeks off of work during Christmas and I was considering spending some of that time building a sample etraining course for my former employer and then sending it to them and suggesting that it would save them money to have asynchronous training available with occasional live webinars for Q&A and that they should hire me to design these online trainings for them.

The question: Is it ever a good idea to spend/waste/invest (depending on your point of view) my time in creating a sample for them to see prior to even talking to them about whether they are interested? My concern is that if I go in cold turkey with no sample they will just shut it down but if I can show them something tangible they may be more interested in paying for more.

Thoughts?

17 Replies
Rob Morgan

That is how I feel. I think I read a post in the freelance side one time that was against ever doing free work for a customer because there is no guaranteed return on investment. But I would argue that is true in a lot of situations where you create the content first and then hope you get a customer for it. Hopefully it is something that they are interested in and if so I will need to come back to this group to try to find out where to start on pricing. I know that is a very complicated subject and I would have no idea where to even start.

Nancy Woinoski

Rob Morgan said:

That is how I feel. I think I read a post in the freelance side one time that was against ever doing free work for a customer because there is no guaranteed return on investment. But I would argue that is true in a lot of situations where you create the content first and then hope you get a customer for it. Hopefully it is something that they are interested in and if so I will need to come back to this group to try to find out where to start on pricing. I know that is a very complicated subject and I would have no idea where to even start.


I do it all the time. 

Bruce Graham

It is worth it if it generates revenue at this, or a future stage.

Even if it doesn't - it is worth it for the experience.

This is EXACTLY the scenario  that got me started.

At Oracle, everyone was doing Webinars, again and again, because each one was SO important that only about 10% invited turned up

So I trapped every company email I could fine with the word "webinar" in it, and rang them up. I worked out an approximate cost to them due to re-runs and waste, and suggested exactly what you have - i.e. that the online sessions were available to a certain audience for a certain period of time, and then there would be 2/3 live sessions, well-advertised, well in advance.

As soon as we did one, I used that as an "advert" to the next one - quoting the (estimated) savings and benefits. Then, #3 got told about the aggregated financial benefits accruing from #1 and #2, (people he knew - why not go and talk to them?) etc. etc.

That is how online learning take-up at Oracle in EMEA pretty much started.

I do "free" work all the time - it's called "Sales and Marketing".

A certain of the people against free work are the ones who's work does not generate any more work, because their work, (or perhaps them as people?) do nothing to make other people go "WOW! - I want to have some of that! I see how it can benefit me and my business..."

To you it is "training", or "an Articulate sample". To them it is "$xxxx saved per quarter, $xxx gained per quarter, or personal/business risk reduced by a factor of X because of your idea."  . Sell it in those terms and you will almost always get the business.

Rob Morgan

I think I have seen the answer to this posted somewhere else but I can't find it. If I were to upload my sample training to a free website service, wordpress, weebly, etc. What would suggest I use? I have just been using my Universities server to host everything I do at work but I would need a separate host for this sample training.

If you have any thoughts or if you could direct me to the post that talked about hosting your portfolio that would be great.

Bruce Graham

Rob Morgan said:

Thanks. I use dropbox now just to float ideas to other people in my org prior to going live on the server. Have you ever had issues with a customer taking it seriously since it was coming from dropbox?


Nope. DropBox is just a tool for delivery - just like WeTransfer or any of the others.

I just tell them it's the one most people use. By the point I am sending DropBox links to a client they take ME seriously, and that is what matters.

Joshua Roberts

Jack Sparrow said:

I used to do samples but then I built up enough of portfolio (comprising samples and actual work) to just tell clients, "Look, here's what I can do, and I can do it for you, too, so if you aren't prepared to pay for this, you find someone else". Never had a problem.


I understand what you're attempting to say here, but potentially a little hard line.

Whilst I don't doubt your work quality, there are often those people who, through a little research and preparation of figures will be far more likely to hire you.

Spending time to dedicate your pitch towards a clients needs with illustrations of previous financial savings goes a long way to easing perspective clients that you really are the real deal.

Phil Mayor

I have a hard line against spec work, but that doesn't mean I am not prepared to do some work to show what I can do within reason.

I have a good portfolio, and can provide many other examples on demand, sometimes it may be necessary to show a customer that you understand their business needs or to show you can build a specific style that your portfolio does not show. 

Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro

Rob Morgan said:

So I had a random thought the other day and was wondering what those of you who do freelance thought of it....

...The question: Is it ever a good idea to spend/waste/invest (depending on your point of view) my time in creating a sample for them to see prior to even talking to them about whether they are interested? My concern is that if I go in cold turkey with no sample they will just shut it down but if I can show them something tangible they may be more interested in paying for more.

 Thoughts?


Hi All,

Rob, I'm late to the party (again!), but really wanted to share with you something I did several years ago that really paid out big time. I'd read about a company that was doing instructional video (in a TechSmith newsletter). Went out and toodled around at their site...discovered they had a page about periodically looking for developers...nothing imminent. I looked really hard at how they designed their content, voiced their narrations, that sort of thing. Then I spent many hours creating a lesson, modeled after what I'd seen, and sent it along. It was totally a "cold call." 2 weeks later they contacted me, gave me a gig, liked what I did, and hired me on to do a lot more work.

It was a total win. But even if I hadn't gotten the contract, my skills improved vastly during the process. I completely agree with what Nancy and Bruce have said here, which was well summarized in Nancy's last post: "but I do like to create examples for marketing purposes, to try out new ideas, learn new tools, or to create something that pushes beyond what I would typically get to do for my clients"

Tx, Rob, for the Q and all for the replies!