Getting Started as a Consultant

Hi everyone,

I'm interested in doing some consultation work as an e-learning designer. The idea of e-learning is relatively new to the folks I'd be working with and I want to give them as much information upfront as necessary (without overloading them). What have you used to organize your projects (i.e. contracts, project design templates, etc.) so that you present in a professional manner? I want to have a package to present to clients that outlines the beginning, middle and end stages/processes involved. If you have any tools, suggestions or recommendations I would be very grateful.

Thanks in advance.

13 Replies
Christy Tucker

I found Joel Gendelmann's Consulting Basics to be very helpful when I first made the leap to consulting, especially because he includes sample SOWs and agreements for training projects. My SOW is based on the structure from his book, which tweaks made over time.

I also have a lot of clients who aren't really familiar with e-learning and need education on the process. My SOW describes each stage of development including why we're doing it and what deliverables I'll provide. I also list the client responsibilities at each stage (e.g., provide a SME who is available to answer questions, share all documentation from current processes, provide branding requirements, review the storyboard). I think it helps to have both lists of responsibilities so they know that they'll need to be actively involved and available too.

Nicole Legault

Hey Susan! Thanks for starting your discussion. Good topic! Don't know if you've come across this past discussion thread: Freelance Heroes, but thought I'd share here as there are tons of great insights and tidbits and they're all related to being a consultant/contractor, so you might find something that's helpful there as well. Best of luck!!

Storyline 360 Designers

First of all, I wish you much success. I have had my own business since  2007 and I love it. There is much to learn and your getting great advice here. Most of my clients are producing their first eLearning product. I feel my job is to remove fear, doubt and any insecurities they have around it. I choose to simplify everything for them. Attached is my project plan as an example. Also, I'm happy to chat with you at anytime.

Benedict Chia

Thanks for the project plan @Greg. Question, do you do this independently or with a team of other freelancers? Curious about the world of freelancing. 

Dear @Susan, thanks for starting this discussion. Thanks @Nicole for sharing the freelance heroes link. That post from Daniel is over 3 years old! but some comments very useful. e.g. the link to the SLA article. 

mike mcdonald

Hi Susan. You mentioned those folks may be relatively new to e-Learning. When I come across that scenario, I've actually found the most useful tool in the toolbox is the range of demos that I've built up. For example, I did a presentation the other week to an org. who had never really seen e-Learning before, so I built a sales pitch demo related to their sector and put in all the different techniques I'm able to do. So that way, they could easily visualise the output and range of possibilities.

[.....and as a result, it looks as if that particular project is now looking to grow 3x bigger than I first thought, as the lightbulbs came on when they could see how it could work. Wooooo!]

I just find that approach much easier than explaining the design process, showing a storyboard etc. , and then trying to verbally explain what the end-result may be. The other advantage, I find is that I can immediately  and confidently explain how exactly something is done, how long it takes etc. etc.

Nives Bacun Lebarovic

Thank you for the discussion @Susan.  I was wandering the same thing.

I'm not new to eLearning or ID, but I have always worked for someone else. Lately I'm thinking more and more about having my own business and finally working what I love.

Thank you all for great advices, specially to @Greg and @James .

Kimberly curtis

Hello All,

I am an educator and want to head towards a new career path. I'm so interested in becoming a technology training consultant for a company.  I would like to find out what companies are out there and would this be the best field for me to go into, or is this the correct field? I've never worked outside of education using my technology skills and wanted to see if this is the correct path I'm interested in? The highest level of using my technology skills was teaching on the college level as an adjunct instructor.  I'm welcome to suggestions or pointers on how to get out there and start a new career and willing to network with others who are already in this field.

Christy Tucker

It depends on what you want to do. If you want to stay in a classroom but work with adults, then training can be a good career switch from teaching. I was a K-12 teacher, then a corporate software trainer, before becoming an instructional designer. I'm much happier doing instructional design than I was doing training, personally, but that's a matter of my personality. I always loved creating lesson plans and curriculum. When I was a trainer, I missed being able to design and create content.

I think without experience as a technical trainer you may have a hard time jumping right to being a consultant. You might be better off trying to get a full time job as a trainer with a company before trying to go out on your own in a field where you don't have a proven track record. I won't say it's impossible, but it may be harder to start by creating your own business.

Several years ago, I wrote a post in response to several teachers who contacted me asking if instructional design would be a good fit. I know that's not exactly what you're asking, but ID might be something to consider. If ID doesn't seem like what you want, that might tell you that training is more the right path.

https://christytucker.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/is-instructional-design-the-right-career/