Being a freelance trainer can be a fantastic job role. There are nonetheless, some things you will need to acknowledge and be aware of if you are considering this role and these considerations are explained below.
1. It’s Not a 9 – 5 Job and All Classroom Based
If you are working as a freelance trainer, you might be surprised when I tell you that probably only 25% of your time maximum is likely to be spent actually in a training room delivering the training.
As a trainer, you will find that you spend a lot doing things that include:
- Lesson preparation – without question this can be by far the most time-consuming part of being a freelance trainer. You can buy editable training course materials and this can save you a huge amount of time, but generally speaking, the content design will take up a lot of time if you are designing the materials yourself.
- Classroom Planning and Prep – As a freelancer, organizing venues and the training room itself can take up a lot of time.
- Administration – Managing follow-up questions from students and managing general paperwork.
- Marketing your training – I wrote a post not long ago on how to market yourself as a corporate trainer so you might want to read the post here.
If you are working as a corporate trainer rather than as a freelance, you can get away with regular office hours but if you go down the freelance route, be prepared to be flexible time-wise.
This time flexibility can also be a massive advantage though.
Have children and need to base your business around school holidays? You can do this.
2. You Can Tailor the Training Toward Your Own Interests
One of the reasons many people do in fact choose to go down the freelance trainer route is because of the flexibility it also affords them in terms of their own development and interests.
You can begin to tailor the training that you offer toward subjects and topic areas that you personally find interesting and enjoyable.
In other words, you can become an expert in something you are happy to teach and study and enjoy being involved with.
For teaching employees, first-time managers and for other corporate training, you can choose from a wide range of training areas including:
- Soft skills (including emotional intelligence, psychological safety and resilience in the workplace).
- Being an Equality and Diversity trainer
- Teaching specific technical skills such as computer skills
- Focusing on wellness and well-being including menopause and mindfulness
You can go in any direction that personally interests you, become an expert, teach this chosen topic area and have fun doing it!
You might find this post below worth reading to learn about what types of employee training companies tend to want these days.
3. It Can Be Very Rewarding Teaching People
When you teach someone something, you are helping them to improve their life in some way.
In other words, you have the opportunity when providing training to make a positive impact on someone’s life.
Furthermore, providing training can also help you to learn new things yourself. As you share your knowledge with others, you may find yourself learning new things as well.
Indeed, one of the great things about teaching adults I have found is that you do learn a lot from the participants on a variety of matters. It’s always a learning experience for you as well as the participants.
4. You Need to Be Comfortable with Technology and Using It to Deliver Training
It is getting increasingly difficult to be a freelance corporate trainer without being able to use any technology.
Depending on whether you will teach online or in a classroom the level of technical ability will of course differ.
Ideally, you will have or will be willing to learn and use:
- Powerpoint or alternative presentation software
- Basic email management for contacting venues and participants as needed.
- For online teaching, learning how to use a webcam, and conferencing software such as Zoom (and ideally breakout rooms in Zoom).
5. It’s Not All About Giving a Presentation and Talking When Teaching
I am not sure if you have experienced this yourself, but have you ever attended a training session and the whole session was someone just stood up speaking non-stop?
Did you manage to stay awake and take everything in? Probably not right?
Being a great trainer is about understanding and using various teaching methods to make the training sessions both interesting and fun!
Different people learn in different ways and you want to keep everyone engaged so you might want to include:
- an ice-breaker at the beginning of the training to get people mixing and relaxed
- a presentation for teaching the core areas of the training topic
- but mix this with activities that participants do alone and/or in groups
- some questions and conversations that you and the students do aloud as a group
6. Be Able to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Training Program and Make Necessary Adjustments
Providing training is one thing but keeping it fresh, relevant, and interesting is an ongoing process.
To achieve this, you will want to evaluate the effectiveness of the training you provide and there are simple ways to do this evaluation.
15 minutes before the end of the training session, hand out a training evaluation form to each participant.
Importantly, make it clear that the forms can be put into the feedback box (leave a box where participants can post their forms) and that they should do so anonymously (unless they want to include their name and email because they want a follow-up).
Consider all feedback carefully and constructively to learn and always seek to improve as a trainer.
7. You Need to Be Able to Continue Your Own Professional Development to Keep Your Skills and Knowledge Current
There are definitely certain skills that you can develop in yourself in order to become and continually work toward being a better trainer.
If you want to be a successful trainer both in terms of job satisfaction and in terms of your income and how you are perceived, developing your core skills is worth considering.
I wrote a post recently in fact about what makes a good corporate trainer and it might be worth reading.
8. You Need to Design Effective Training Programs & With Clear Aims and Objectives
One of the hardest things as a freelance trainer, at least in respect of the time it takes up, is designing the training course materials, as I touched on in point one earlier in this post.
The design is likely to need to include:
- the training activities and icebreakers
- PowerPoint slide deck
- the teaching notes and student notes
When working freelance offering training, the requests can also be so varied, i.e. cover a wide range of soft skills and other training types, from those looking to hire you.
The difficulty thus becomes finding the time to create the materials, although once you have the materials, of course, you can re-use them again in the future.
How Long Does It Take to Design Training Course Materials?
It will depend very much on the length of the class or workshop that you are providing, i.e. if it will be:
- 1 hour
- 2 hours
- Half, one, or two days
Generally speaking, if I design materials, I spend 3 weeks designing a one-day course, although I do it very thoroughly and in more detail than many people would.
You can, of course, buy the course materials if you wish and this will save you a significant amount of time.
Whether you design the materials yourself or buy materials, the key is to ensure that the materials are well-designed and include suitable aims and objectives.
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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