As is the case with any worthwhile and rewarding career path, it takes time and dedication to be a successful eLearning professional. However, there are a number of ways that you can boost your earning potential and increase your profits even if you are new in the eLearning field.
1. Discover your niche and get to know it inside and out.
Whether it's designing live training events for corporations or creating content as a subject matter expert, knowing your niche inside and out allows you to capitalize on your expertise and experience. Research the various aspects of eLearning, such as eLearning course design and development, to determine your core strengths and to learn as much as you can about your specialties, in order to develop your brand and to market yourself effectively.
2. Figure out how to stand out.
What sets you apart from the competitors within your niche? Take the time to figure out where you truly excel and shine, so that you can reach your target audience and offer them something that is truly unique. Maybe you are highly experienced with a particular LMS, or you are one of the top experts in storyboard creation in your market. Review your competitors’ services, either these are eLearning freelancers or companies, to see how you can differentiate yours.
3. Know the difference between challenging projects and overly difficult ones.
There are going to be some pretty tempting offers, but to conclude that a project is really lucrative, you have to consider whether it really is worth the time and effort that you'll invest. There is a big distinction between challenging (which is ideal) and overly difficult projects. While challenging projects offer you the opportunity to expand your proverbial horizons and gain invaluable experiences, the latter will typically lead to frustration and stress. Not to mention that you will probably be losing money after a while, as the project may take more resources and time than you originally anticipated.
4. Be open to eLearning opportunities that are outside of your specialty.
To earn money as an instructional designer or a freelancer, you should be ready and willing to take on projects that may be outside of your area of expertise, especially in cases where there is a project that may not necessarily be desirable. For instance, many companies will outsource smaller tasks that require only one eLearning professional. These are golden opportunities to earn money while you are picking up new skill sets and expanding your professional knowledge base.
5. Capitalize on emerging eLearning technologies.
Stay up-to-date with new eLearning technologies and trends that seem to become a major part of eLearning's future and get to be an expert in the innovative tools and apps that are being used today. This will give you a big edge in eLearning, given that many other professionals won't have the same in depth knowledge of a useful tool or platform that can be of benefit when designing an eLearning course or module.
6. Network with other eLearning professionals.
One of the most effective ways to make money in eLearning is by knowing how to network with other professionals. However, you have to be ready and willing to devote time to get out there and make a connection with eLearning freelancers and companies. When a company, for example, needs to hire an eLearning pro for its next project or to call upon a specialist to join its development team, you will be at the top of the list if you have taken the time to network. LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as other social media sites, are great places to network online. If you are not yet a member in the Instructional Design & E-Learning Professionals’ Group in LinkedIn with more than 70,000 members it’s high time to join us. I also encourage you to join us on Facebook (with more than 26,000 Likers), and Twitter (with more than 52,000 followers) to find like-minded eLearning professionals who may be able to help you along the way.
7. Create eLearning courses and charge per-use or subscription.
Design and develop eLearning courses, modules or educational videos and then charge per use, or start a subscription based service. This is a good way to earn money as an eLearning freelancer if you are already a subject matter expert or know a great deal about a particular process or task. In fact, you could build an extensive eLearning course library that has the potential to bring a stream of income.
8. Publish content online to become an eLearning authority.
Publishing eLearning articles and other eLearning content online gives you the opportunity to attract new clients and build a reputable online presence. Write an article about a topic that you're passionate about, or a tip guide that gives companies the chance to learn more about eLearning courses and how your services can offer them a wide range of benefits. A great place to publish your eLearning article is eLearning Industry.
9. Align with smaller or non-profit companies.
Often, smaller companies or organizations prefer to work one-on-one with eLearning developers. As such, you can offer them the personalized service they are looking for, which is ideal if you are an eLearning freelancer. These projects will also have less competition involved given that they typically aren't “top dollar” projects. If you go this route, you can always have a team of trained eLearning professionals on-hand to help you complete the project.
10. Never undervalue your services!
Your time, experience and skill sets are valuable. Even if you may not have worked in the eLearning industry for a great length of time, you should never undervalue yourself and your services. For example, when calculating bids always consider all of the effort and hours you are going to put in, as well as what you bring to the table. Clients are willing to pay for the high quality deliverable you can provide, thanks to your knowledge and dedication. So, don't hesitate to ask for what you're worth!
While eLearning freelancing and many other instructional design careers may not offer benefits or paid vacations, there are definitely perks of being an eLearning professional. One of the most notable rewards is that you get to write your own paycheck. So, why not make the most of the opportunity and use these tips to increase your eLearning earnings?