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Death of Full-time Corporate Learning and the Rise of eLearning Vendors and Freelancers Given COVID

This week I felt gutted to learn of a friend, whose restaurant (a family run business and a Toronto stable in little Italy for over 60 years) has now been forced to permanently shut-down as a result of COVID-19. While some industries have been ravaged others have been forced into the spot-light as a result of the circumstances, and on-line learning is one of them.

At Pathways Training and eLearning, we are in a different situation, as we feel blessed to have both many of our existing clients, and also many new companies, looking to us for help in turning their classroom training into effective online training and eLearning modules, to meet their learners needs. As many HR and training departments, quickly looked to reduce costs and let go of full-time trainers and instructional designer early in the pandemic, a training vendor becomes a quick way to get online training and eLearning developed with a one-time cost.

Many people as a result of COVID-19 have experienced temporary lay-offs or may have been downsized as a result of HR and training departments being considered a “cost-centre” as opposed to being considered a profit centre like the sales function. As a result of the circumstances, Pathways has been flooded with resumes from instructional designers looking for work. Many instructional designers who were formerly full-time employees are thinking about becoming freelancers, as there is a recognition that these type of full-time positions, may not be coming back in private or public organizations, any time soon.

While Pathways Training and eLearning Inc, has full-time employees on staff (including both instructional designers and eLearning programmers), on occassion we will work with freelancers to scale-up depending on the project need. For instructional designers who are considering becoming freelancers as a result of COVID-19, here are some tips on what it takes to be a successful freelancer.

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:

1) Attention to detail.

2) Delivering what the customer wants.

3) Not take feedback personally and actually adapting the eLearning successfully to what the customer wants and,

4) 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 now, odds are given the circumstance, they are hiring you because they need a classroom curriculum quickly converted to online learning. When a vendor is hired, the expectation is that the eLearning module (and therefore the eLearning storyboard being developed by the instructional designer), will be 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 eLearning storyboards 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

Some freelance instructional designers who are new to consulting, 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 eLearning storyboards 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.

For those of you who are new to contract instructional design work and are considering it as a career, follow these four steps, and you will have set yourself up for a success in the future. Here is also another interesting link to why there is a rise in the use of both training vendors and freelancers in the learning space from Forbes.

We at Pathways Training and eLearning, recognize that this pandemic has been difficult for many people in the learning and development space, and for those of you finding yourself thrust into freelance work not by choice, but by circumstance, we hope these tips will help you in finding work in the near future. #ConvertingClassroomTrainingToOnline, #TorontoELearningCompany, #TorontoTrainingCompany, #TopElearningVendor


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