Freelancers -- where do you find most of your work?

I know that question is sort of like where's your favorite fishing hole. Hi, all -- I've been a freelancer for about a year and a half now, and for the first time, things are slow. I guess I'm on the famine side of the feast-famine freelancer cycle. Two questions:

1. Are there e-learning groups (besides Articulate of course) that have helped you generate leads/work?

2. How much of your work comes through cold calling? (I have an aversion to cold calling, but will pull up the big boy panties if need be.)

I'm guessing that your work comes from a little bit of everywhere (traffic to your site, repeat business and referrals from clients, cold calling, etc), but I don't really know that till I ask. 

Thank you in advance for your time and input. --Daniel

210 Replies
Holly MacDonald

I'll take my payment in pints! Well done Bruce!

But seriously I hope that this thread has shown that:

1. if you ask for help, others will help

2. if you are helpful, it does get noticed

3. others often have the same question as you do, so just ask it

I know it isn't totally related to the articulate product, but am glad that the forum exists for people to talk about how to integrate the product into their work, even if it is freelancing.

Do you want to start a freelancers discussion group or special interest group (sig) like the health care and higher ed ones? I'd participate...

Bruce Graham

Holly MacDonald said:

Do you want to start a freelancers discussion group or special interest group (sig) like the health care and higher ed ones? I'd participate..

I actually think this is just as good a place as any.

It's just a "Special Interest Thread". What I would REALLY like to have is the ability to concatenate threads, so that if we another one starting, we just get it added to this one.


David Lindenberg

Wow!  I just read through this thread and have that exhausted but hyped up feeling.  There has been some great discussion here.  Thank you Daniel for kicking it off and to everyone else for contributing.  I recently took the freelance plunge too and the advice/conversation here has been excellent.


Belen Casado

Daniel Brigham said:

Belen: I believe there is a large market for translating course into Spanish. In the U.S. job seekers who speak Spanish are quite coveted. You are the person to translate these courses. You might begin a search on US companies that employ many Spanish-speaking people. Perhaps start in select southern states: Texas, Arizona, California.

Perhaps an even better idea is to translate part of a course into Spanish and post it here and other appropriate places. That's probably where I'd start actually. --Daniel

I still follow all of you...

Well, Daniel gave me this good suggestion, and now I'm updating my profile in Elance and oDesk, in order to be found by U.S. companies. Any idea of how to be found? I mean: I perfectly know Spanish websites for this, but entering a new market... maybe I need some tips.

First of all: do you think I need a website in English? Maybe this is a stupid question, but I was thinking to translate just courses. 

Well, I think that this thread is not over!

As for SIGs, I don't know what is this, but I like to find this info inside this community; maybe the others do too?



Bruce Graham


You might want to "think big" here, and contact your Embassy.

Talk to the Trade and Export departments, they often have existing schemes that match up skills like yours with people in other countries that need assistance.

"SIG" stands for "Special Interest Group", and sometimes forums have these as "subsections". My own thinking is that just maintaining this thread, and pointinig other to it is the way to go here. It is less complex if we just keep everything in one place IMHO.


Belen Casado

Thanks Bruce!!

I wanted to post here the first unit of a course about Coaching I'm building. It was a struggle to manage Amazon AWS, but I really wanted to contribute with this modest example, as long as eCreators let me translate their player.

As for thinking big, what a great idea!

Yes, definitely, yes. I'm starting my search right now.

Thanks for the explanation about SIG, now I need to know what is IMHO (LOL -this one I already know)


David Lindenberg

Bruce Graham said:

Excellent news David - good luck in the pond!

If there's anything you need to ask about freelancing, just shoot it onto this thread - someone else will want to know the answer, and it's probably that someone has been through it.

Best wishes.


Thanks Bruce!  I will definitely keep tabs on this thread and post any questions.


Ian Kerr

Not sure if this is the right place, but I did notice a couple other similar posts in the thread.

I'm looking for someone to quote and potentially do some work creating a short series of e-learning modules.  I'm located in Ontario, Canada and think it would require 5 modules consisting of a context module and 1 for each screening tool.

If anyone is interested, or has advice on where I would be able to source the expertise, it would be greatly appreciated!



Bruce Graham

Hi Ian - welcome to "Heroes".

I am sure that the expertise is here, and that some of the members here will be in contact via Private Message shortly

In addition, if you have any questions about designing your modules, and the construction techniques, just ask.

Do you have any other information, such as the subject matter, length, whether you need Quizzes etc. Are you planning to deploy on Web, LMS and / or iPad?

Any information is always useful to assist Heroes in their submission process.

Take care and hope you find what you are looking  for.


Daniel Brigham

Hi, Belen:

Nice, clean graphic design for the selection you posted. Can you present it in English, as well? For this mostly-English speaking forum, it would be cool, if we first saw it in English and then you had some button that allows learners to see the Spanish version. Why not be known as this forum as the go-to person when translating educational material from English to Spanish?

That sounds like a cozy, niche to me. --Daniel

Kevin Thorn

Daniel Brigham said:

Hi, Belen:

Nice, clean graphic design for the selection you posted. Can you present it in English, as well? For this mostly-English speaking forum, it would be cool, if we first saw it in English and then you had some button that allows learners to see the Spanish version. Why not be known as this forum as the go-to person when translating educational material from English to Spanish?

That sounds like a cozy, niche to me. --Daniel

Just now having a chance to look at Belen's course. Very nice! It appears to be a custom skin noticeable by the seekbar and navigation controls. 

@Belen - is that a purchased skin or do you have developers on your team who built that? 

Bruce Graham

Here's another timely tip....

When you are building your courses, start, very early on..., talking about "Maintenance and Refresh Cycles".

This is going to sound very "salesy", however, how often do people complein about corporate eLearning being outdated and "tired", (here's your value statement).

So - when you handover a course, you already have 3-month, 6 month, and 12-momnth review calls in your diary, (you do that - right?).

At the least - it keeps you as the eLearning developer of choice in their minds, (but more than that, you are going up the food chain by offering a service that potentially makes them look good).

At the most - you get some more upgrade and refresh work.

I know a few of my clients lurk here - and guys, you know this is just good business sense, not in any way being devisive - right?

Also - for of my clients is rebranding, 2 months after me completing 10 x courses for them, so (in effect), because I have a great relationship with them, I get paid twice for the same work.

This is a good thing...!!!

Here's the secret - they would rather YOU do this rather than somebody NEW. It's all about relationship management, and seeing yourself higher up the food-chain IN TERMS OF VALUE than others.

Read some books on value-selling, and transfer the lessons across to the eLearning world, (which in so many cases people in our industry seem to be terrified of reading!).


Holly MacDonald

Belen - as a follow on to Daniel's comment - is there anyone who you could partner with that would be a good complement to your Spanish skills? You could certainly provide a specialized service if you did. You could work on the Spanish and have a colleague work on the English, so both are perfect in their native language. I'm sure there's a big market for that in the US particularly. 

Bruce, that is excellent advice. You are developing relationships as a partner, not just an order taker. It is definitely a piece that I include in conversations. I didn't have the 3 month follow-up option, but I do now! Cross-selling and upselling are terms that we are all pretty squeamish about, but it is needed and doesn't need to be smarmy.  

I think it's also important that you read The E-Myth Revisited - basic gist: working for yourself is HARD, you have to have time to work INthe business (designing and developing elearning) but also ON the business, which is all the stuff we've been talking about here. I read the book years ago, and it looks like they have a website with a bunch of other resources too:

Other "sales-y" things:

  • Depending on the client relationship, I also ask for testimonials, introductions, etc. One of my clients actively sells for me to others outside her organization, which is nice!
  • I offer to write articles profiling client projects in industry publications and ask about conference proposals from time to time as well. Makes them look good, hopefully introduces me to a bigger, broader audience too.
  • I also (time permitting) volunteer and provide e-learning services wherever I can. Who knows who is on a board, has connections to others, etc.

Have others got sales like tips to share?

Bruce Graham

Salesy things....let me see....... 


If you want to work as a freelancer, you can spend your time selling, or you can sell your skills to someone who sells?

Runb that by me again Bruce......

Well....let's imagine you really like creating eLearning.It's your core skill.

You can try and sell eLearning on plant care (for example) to everyone within a 20-mile radius. OR...

Why not sell the concept of eLearning to a local Garden Centre/Plant Nursery who already has a 20-mile catchment area?

Say to them...."Well, why don't I create a 3-minute course, with video and maintenance tips on each one of your plants, and you buy it for $10" a piece.

So THEY then do the selling for you (to their customers, for $15, or whatever. The point is, if someone else is doing the selling for you, you do not have to bust a gut doing it - you have to do it, but you can still concentrate on what you do best, creating eLearning.

You can scale this up and down - they maybe have 1000 different plants. Target the top 100 - which is $1000 (or whatever, I am just talking theoretically here....).

One of my clients is a Global Company selling product type X. They sell to companies A, B, C, D, E etc. I find ways to create eLearning that is attractive to A - E, each of which is a HUGE company. OK - I probably do not earn as much "per unit" as a direct sell, but I have been introduced to some major MAJOR companies because of the relationship. Do a good job, and you get repeat business.My 3-month contract with them is still going strong 3 years later...I got the go-ahead today for 4 courses, each of which will be distributed to an audience of around 1 million learners. There's NO WAY I could have got to that audience on my own - but because I have worked very hard to grow my relationship with the "feeder" company, (and done a damned fine job I have to say...!!), they now feed me, (metaphorically and actually...).

This is pretty much the way I try to work,.

I have also been approached directly by some companies, however, you need to decide AND FOCUS ON a certain segment/type of customer. I feel comfortable operating at National/Global levels, so that's where most of my clients are.

I know a lot of people do not like the idea of selling, but if you do not like selling, you should not be a freelancer. You need to be very clear WHO you are selling to.

"Prospects" as an answer is not enough (IMHO).


Holly MacDonald

Bruce - I just realized my comments sounded like they were directed at you, which they weren't - you are running a master class by forum posts! 

Was just trying to continue the conversation in our freelancing thread for anyone out there who was following along and was looking for more tips  


(ps - I like your channel strategy, very effective!)

Bruce Graham

Holly - never even crossed my mind!

This is the most interesting thread I have ever been involved in since starting in Forums.

Remember - Articulate is the tool we use to reach a goal, it is the means to an end, not the end itself. That's not a negative comment in any way, but unless you have customers for your eLearning, there's no point.

Many people will be happy for "the salespeople..." to do the selling, but if we wait for that as freelancers, we will be very hungry indeed ! 

Selling ourselves, selling our passion, my passion for my subject is what makes me want to get up every morning. I want my clients to enjoy the success they get through my passion for what I do. I have focused on that, every moment of every day for the past 12+ years. There have been very hard times, but the passion and belief in the subject has never, ever gone.

I want to share that among anyone else happy to take up the baton - because the rewards (financial and personal) are huge. Here's the thing - in Storyline, Articulate have made it fun, enjoyable, possible, and technically deliverable due to the product and the community.

I get paid for doing something I absolutely and passionately love!

Have to go - finishing up a course on how to clean the butchers Department of a Spanish Supermarket chain   How cool is that, tomorrow it's insurance, then Travelling Safely in Foreign environments.


Karyn Lemberg

Bruce Graham said:


.....This is the most interesting thread I have ever been involved in since starting in Forums.

........I get paid for doing something I absolutely and passionately love!

I sooo agree!   

I may not have added anything yet to this discussion (but have read everything) 

I am also trying to set up as a Freelancer at this time... and have been researching in several forums, link-in and websites..  but so far THIS thread has been the BEST!!  

Go Heroes!