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The Top 4 Things You Can do to Ensure Success as a Contract Trainer

At a recent Canadian Society of Training and Development (CSTD) event, I got talking to a learning consultant who had recently been downsized from a large fortune 500 company. She was wondering if she should continue to apply to corporate jobs or if she should try her luck at being a contract trainer.

I mentioned that I had had the privilege of working with several very successful freelancers both when I was the Manager of Training at Rogers, American Express and on occasion, in response to a client request in my current position at Pathways Training and eLearning. She asked me for advice on what I believed successful contract trainers do differently then others. Here are my thoughts on what the most successful contract trainers do that differentiate themselves from other less successful consultants.

The life of a freelancer appeals to many people. After all there are no worries about corporate politics, bad bosses and for the most part you can set your own hours. Although, many people think that once they have gotten the sale and have been awarded the job, that the hardest part is behind them, this is in fact not the case.

In my experience the difference between the highly successfully freelancers (the one who are always in high-demand and who are booked months in advance) and the ones that aren’t come down to the following four things:

  • Attention to detail.

  • Delivering what the customer wants.

  • Don’t take feedback personally.

  • Good customer service (easy to work with and timely responses).

Let’s look at each one of these in a bit more depth.

#1 Attention to Detail.

If a client is hiring you, odds are it is because they need a training document, curriculum or eLearning storyboard that is more creative, interactive and can be produced faster than what can be produced in-house. Successful freelancers know that if they are going to get repeat business, the document must be error free. Successful freelancers review their documents several times to ensure it is as perfect as they can possibly make it, before sending it to a client for review. (In my opinion, there is nothing worse then hiring a freelancer only to discover you could have done a better job yourself).

#2 Delivering What the Customer Wants

This point seems self-explanatory, deliver what the customer wants and they will be happy. Although, this seems like a no-brainer, I have been amazed at how difficult this can be for some freelancers.

The most successful independent instructional designers ask lots of questions at the beginning of a project to ensure they understand what the clients wants and do not deliver what they think the client wants instead.

#3 Don’t Take Feedback Personally

Many freelancers find it difficult to accept feedback when a client has red-lined their work. In most cases, the client is trying to accommodate internal feedback and it is less about your product and more about getting to an excellent finable deliverable. I have seen many a free-lancer loose repeat business because they have argued with a client about why they developed the curriculum in a certain way they failed to realize that the feedback is not about them and is more about the quality of the end product (remember – don’t get your back up it’s not always about you)!

#4 Good Customer Service – Everyone wants to be treated well and just because you have got the project doesn’t mean that you can stop being responsive to the client’s requests.

Great freelancers know that in order to get repeat business and to win client loyalty, client requests must be addressed quickly and with the same type of attention to detail that tells the client that their business is important to you.

If you follow these four steps, you will have set yourself up for a successful career as a contract resource!

On occasion, in response to a client’s requirements or request, Pathways Training and eLearning Inc. will hire contractors to work on-site at a client’s location. If you think you have what it takes to be a successful contractor, please submit your resume to or apply to the following posting

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