Richard Watson published his ebooks on the practicalities of freelancing in the elearning field last fall. The books are a series in three volumes, with information expanded from his blog posts on freelancing. All three combine Richard’s personal stories about his freelancing journey with practical tips for creating and running a freelance business.
Volume I: Launching Your Freelance E-Learning Career
As you’d expect in any book about starting a freelancing career, this book includes very practical tips about setting up a business structure, self-employment taxes, and accounting. For example, you’ll find advice on when to hire a bookkeeper or CPA instead of managing the finances yourself (and the difference between what a bookkeeper or CPA can do for you).
Chapter 4 has practical advice for what hardware and software are necessary and helpful. This chapter differentiates this book from other general sources on getting started with freelancing. You can find information elsewhere about creating a business website with WordPress, but few sources list specific hardware recommendations for a computer for elearning development.
In my opinion, the most valuable information in this volume comes before the practicalities of technology and finances though. The book starts with big questions.
- Is freelancing a good fit for you?
- What are your goals? How do you set good goals for your business?
- What are your core values as a freelancer?
I regularly hear from people who aren’t sure if they want to be freelancers or if they’d be happier as an employee. Independent work isn’t for everyone. Figuring out if it’s a fit before making the leap is important. Identifying goals and values helps increase the chances of being successful as a freelancer. I didn’t use as formal a process as what Richard recommends when I started my business, but I really like the core values section as a way to clarify what kind of business and clients you want.
Volume II: Marketing Yourself and Finding Great Clients
The second book on marketing and finding clients is useful both for people just getting started and those who have been working independently for a while but need to improve their business.
I struggled to name my business, and my professional brand is still split between this blog and my company, Syniad Learning. Richard explores the pros and cons of branding as an individual or as a company. Whatever you decide, he offers advice on how to do that branding and how to build a portfolio.
The chapters on finding clients are great for everyone, even as reminders to those of us who have been working on our own for a while. Richard digs into bad clients, including why they’re harmful and how to avoid them. More importantly, he provides suggestions on finding better clients and keeping those clients as long-term partners.
Volume III: Managing a Successful E-Learning Project
In addition to tips on keeping projects running smoothly, the third volume includes information on writing proposals and determining project costs. If you’re looking for specifics on what to include in proposals and example language, this is a good place to start.
Richard also details the pros and cons of hourly versus project-based pricing, a continual topic of discussion even among experienced consultants and freelancers. (In the interest of disclosure, I’ll note that Richard cites my post on elearning hourly rates as a source for benchmark data.)
I enjoyed the chapter on closing out a project is finished because that’s an area where I think I can do better myself. I haven’t always been consistent about reflecting on what went well and what didn’t, but the list of questions included in this book is a good place to start that conversation.
Overall, I think all three books have a lot of practical advice, especially for those who are thinking about making the leap to freelance or who are just getting started.
You can buy all three books on Amazon:
- Volume I: Launching Your E-Learning Freelance Career
- Volume II: Marketing Yourself and Finding Great Clients
- Volume III: Managing a Successful E-Learning Project
If you’re looking for more books to read, check out my book recommendations on Amazon.