Help on How to Create an eLearning Portfolio

Nov 23, 2011


I was hoping I might be able to get some help from the many users of Articulate. I'm looking to get into freelance work and put myself out there a little more. I read Tom Kuhlmann's post on how to get an eLearning job so I'm out here on the forum more, I'm setting up a website/blog, volunteering for some development work, and I'm getting together work examples.  However, I still need a little guidance.


I know I need to put together some type of portfolio, but what should it look like and what should it include?

I'm looking at using Engage to build a media tour to go through examples of graphic design, audio and video production, as well as eLearning.  Does anyone have any good examples of their own portfolios to share?


I'm a little worried about conflict of interest with my development day job, so I want to make sure I keep work and freelance projects separate.  I'm thinking that I shouldn't use my work computer and software to do any outside work but I don't have the money yet to throw down on software at home.  Any advice on how to handle this?

Getting Jobs

To get started, I'm thinking I need to offer my services at a very low rate just to get a few jobs, build up my portfolio, and prove myself a little.  I hear around $30 an hour is normal for freelance work.  Is offering $20 an hour a reasonable balance between sending the message that I'm eager to get out there and that I'm still worth a certain amount.

Thanks in advance for your help and advice,

Dale Hargis

2 Replies
John Scudder

Hey Dale

Five years of freelancing has taught me that you can be a generalist or you can be highly specialised in what you offer. You may even offer services which are a combo of the two, as you find work comes and goes. Personally, I started out being a generalist. But, every formula I ever used to identify what my hourly rate should be, confirmed that being a generalist wasn't going to allow me to support myself...and be competitive in the global marketplace. I had lots of work on, but I was still going broke and working way too many hours for the kind of lifestyle I wanted. 

After struggling in this way for about 8 mths, I decided to focus on services and products which are already budgeted for by the companies I work with. This was critical to my transition and has proven itself in that I have never had to look for work or wait for a company to budget funds for what I provide. I now produce 3 or 4 types of fairly specialized products (some of which use AP Studio). I have a very short client list (maybe 10 or 12 clients), which includes GE and Amazon. I turn away work all the time and have the luxury of occassionally firing clients, if they get too tough to handle. You can do that when what you offer is in demand.

Dale, expect your core service offering to change over time, as you find your niche. Be flexible. Don't be afraid to charge for your services either. I bill $100/hr for what I develop. My nearest competitor, for the kind of work I do, is $150/hr. What's kind of funny is that I've delevoped a good relationship with my nearest competitor. He now handles some of my overflow work at a reduced rate, when I'm on vacation, traveling, etc. Now, I'll drop my hourly rate to $75, if the project is either large (i.e. someone's sending me a lot of hours), the project calls for other non-specialized services, or I feel I had a learning curve on some tasks and they took me longer than I think they should've. Sometimes I'll even 'split rate' a project too, charging my full rate for the specialized services, $75 for other services, and even $30 if I'm just doing something like compressing files (meaning, I can continue to work on another workstation, while I'm keeping an eye on things). Note: I rarely discuss hourly rates with clients. Looking back, I estimate I don't land approx. 70% of the new client inquiries where I discuss hourly rates. Conversely, my guess is that I do land 70% of new clients, when I only mention the final cost of the project (no hourly rate). The bottom line is, compete on the merits of what you offer, not on your hourly rate. And, remember, you can always find a reason to charge a client less. It's much harder to raise your rates with an existing client.

When it comes to building a portfolio for prospective clients, my advice is to include examples of the sort of content you want to develop (not necessarily simply reflecting what you have developed). Be solution-oriented for your prospective clients…or use your portfolio as an opportunity to explain your services. For instance, if you're building AP content, have your AP examples explain the features and benefits the finished AP product offers. The client gets to see your skills at work and learn about the solution offered.

Anyway, I've been long-winded. Sorry. I hope some of it's useful.

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