Work as a freelance trainer as a new job self-employed

Are you interested in managing your own time and being self-employed? It can be extremely rewarding and if done well, profitable too. Furthermore, being your own boss and having total flexibility with when and where you work, can also be gratifying!

So, if you are considering becoming a trainer, where and how do you get started?

In the following post, I will explain each stage and what you need to do.

The Demand for Employee Training & Business Coaching

Training is always in demand and companies always need to provide training of some kind for employees. Consider the following for example:

In other words, the training industry is thriving and it has done throughout time. From the earliest days of civilization, we have always strived to improve our skills and sought training.

How to build a training business and be a freelance trainer or coach

How to Choose Your Training Niche

Choosing the right training and development niche as a freelance corporate trainer or business coach is essential for your success.

You can of course teach a wide range of subjects without a specific niche, and you might do it very well.

Pick a niche in a specialized area though and you will have a better chance to be an expert in your field.

A good start can be to focus on something you have a passion for and would enjoy teaching!

For example, if your passion is marketing, then focus on teaching marketing.

If you love being involved with soft skills, then make that subject area your training niche!

Choosing the right training and development niche as a freelance trainer or business coach is essential for your success.

When selecting a niche, consider:

  • Your expertise
  • Your planned target audience
  • Market demand
  • and the unique value proposition you can offer.
  • How would you like to spend your work time?
  • What do you find truly interesting and would enjoy teaching?

Once you have the answer the to questions above, then start gathering feedback.

Ask prospective clients what training they often need. Also, ask them what training they would like to see available.

Stay informed about industry trends and try to identify the most viable training and development subject areas for your niche.

14 Ideas for Training & Development Niches to Specialize In

Worshop training in soft skills and leadership

Here are several potential training and development subject areas to consider:

1. Leadership Development

Building a training and development business in the leadership sector is certainly not a bad choice as there is always demand in this topic area.

In the leadership sector, you could consider providing workplace training in subjects such as:

There are many topics in the workplace leadership area for workshops you can offer and many of these titles get requested regularly.

2. Soft Skills Training

Soft skills refer to skills that are not specific to a job role, i.e. not technical let’s say. They can include teaching subjects such as:

There are 50 + different topics you could include under soft skills, so even within the area of soft skills you might want to create a sub-niche.

3. Digital Skills and Technology Training

Another option is to offer training workshops to help individuals and organizations acquire digital skills such as:

  • data analysis
  • coding
  • digital marketing
  • cybersecurity
  • and using productivity tools.

4. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Training

I have seen a big increase in the requests for EDI training in the last few years and this trend is very likely to continue for years to come.

With an increasing understanding of the need to create inclusive workplaces and equality for all, EDI training will continue to grow.

5. Sales and Customer Service Training

Some freelance trainers choose to specialize in providing training dedicated to sales and customer service and this can be a great business area.

Example training programs you can offer include:

  • sales techniques
  • customer relationship management
  • negotiation skills
  • and customer service excellence.

6. Remote Work and Virtual Collaboration

It is possible also to offer training specific to remote working.

Good titles for training can include effective remote work practices, virtual team management, online collaboration tools, and maintaining productivity in virtual environments.

7. Change Management

If you have experience and expertise in the area of Change Management, why not develop training programs in this niche?

You can help organizations navigate change effectively, including strategies for:

  • change communication
  • stakeholder engagement
  • and overcoming resistance to change.

8. Project Management Training

If you are interested in Project Management, you could specialize in this one area.

The training can include project management methodologies, tools, and best practices.

The focus can be to help individuals and teams successfully plan, execute, and deliver projects on time and within budget.

9. Professional Development and Career Growth

If you prefer the idea of being more of a business coach than a corporate trainer, this one is for you.

Offer workshops and coaching services focused on career development, goal setting, personal branding, resume writing, interview skills, and networking.

10. Health and Wellbeing Programs

This is another niche that I have seen grow significantly in the last few years for workplace training.

Develop training programs promoting employee wellbeing, stress management, mindfulness, work-life balance, and strategies for maintaining mental and physical health.

11. Compliance and Regulatory Training

This involves providing training on industry-specific topics such as:

  • regulations
  • compliance requirements
  • ethical standards
  • and legal obligations to ensure organizational compliance and risk mitigation.

The barrier to entry in this sector is that you really need to know the regulations and standards and they can differ slightly from country to country.

In the United States, for example, you have the ADA standards for disability requirements in the workplace, whereas the UK has the Equality Act 2010 that incorporates the disability requirements.

The benefit of positioning yourself as a compliance trainer is that trainers in this area can be highly sought after and it can be well paying, because of the specific nature of regulatory training, in terms of the knowledge needed.

12. Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development

Offer training and coaching services to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners on topics such as business planning, marketing strategies, financial management, and scaling their ventures.

It will be extremely helpful though, in this niche, if you have past experience as an entrepreneur yourself.

13. Executive Coaching and Mentoring

Provide personalized coaching and mentoring services for executives and senior leaders to enhance their leadership effectiveness, strategic thinking, and career advancement.

14. Industry-Specific Training

Specialize in providing training tailored to specific industries or sectors, such as healthcare, finance, technology, education, hospitality, or manufacturing, addressing industry-specific challenges and skill requirements.

If you already have 10 to 20 years of experience in a given field, you certainly could consider becoming a freelance trainer in that field.

Becoming an Expert in Your Niche as a Freelance Trainer

Becoming a business coach or corporate trainer

1. Get Started and Build Your Skills as a Trainer

When you are providing training, be it for adult learners in your local area or for employees in a company, you only need to be one step above where they are.

In other words, it is not realistic to be the world’s best trainer and expert all the time. If that were the case, there would never be enough corporate trainers to provide training to everyone who needs it.

You also have to start somewhere and you will gain experience as a trainer the more you provide training.

If you do not have much experience, start off by giving more basic level training and perhaps with taster sessions.

By starting with taster sessions, you will have the chance to get feedback and then develop accordingly.

2. Choose one Area of Training to Be Your Expertise and Focus

A great way to become a great trainer is to remember (as we discussed in the previous point), to choose a specific niche and to become an expert in that one area.

Our friend Jon Britain, for example, focuses on providing training on employee engagement and, in particular, reducing employee absenteeism and increasing employee productivity.

3. Build Your Expertise and Authority as a Freelance Trainer or Business Coach

  • Pursue Professional Certifications – You might want to consider obtaining relevant certifications or credentials to enhance your credibility and attract clients seeking expertise.
  • Build your experience – Nothing beats having several years of experience so, even if continuing part-time, try and continue gaining experience in your chosen niche.
  • Academic qualifications – You can build your qualifications by doing courses online such as via MOOCs or by doing a part-time university-accredited degree online.
  • Improve your presentation skills – Practice your presentation skills even if by joining a local Toastmasters group, where you get to practice presenting.
  • Learn through doing – It is amazing how you can develop your ability and expertise as a trainer by actually being a trainer. More on this below as I discuss feedback.

Even as a trainer, you have to start somewhere, so the key is getting started!

4. Use Feedback to Improve as a Trainer

Feedback is such an underutilized tool by many trainers and by business people in general.

As a trainer, you will without question improve as you gain experience. The difference though between a good and a great trainer can be how well you take feedback onboard.

When we start off, we all make some mistakes and leave room for improvement but the good news is there is an easy way to get feedback.

Before the end of each training session or workshop you give, 10 to 15 minutes before the end, hand out a feedback form and ask your participants to provide you with info on:

  • What you did you do well
  • What you didn’t do so well
  • What could have been improved overall
  • Their rating out of 10
  • General feedback box for anything they wish to add

I suggest allowing them to do the feedback form anonymously so that they are not shy to say what they wish to say.

Provide a box where they can place their form as they leave the training room.

Also, make it clear that you value and are grateful for all feedback and will take onboard any comments made.

As a trainer, do remember not to take too personally any bad comments. There will always be someone who doesn’t like the training or someone who is just way too judgemental.

Do, however, look at all feedback and consider carefully if it is fair and worth acting on to improve as a trainer.

5. Develop and Build Your Network

In truth, there are many business trainers out there and I expand more on this in the ’12 ways to market yourself’ point later in this blog post.

For now though, taking one of the points from the how to market yourself list, I want to introduce ‘Mastermind Groups’.

For your training niche, you will want to keep up-to-date with all that is going on in that industry and to learn from key players in that topic area.

You might specialize, for example, in customer service training. So, building a Mastermind Group of thought leaders and experts in the customer service sector, you could use such a method for high-level networking.

Developing or Buying the Training Materials

Example training materials for employee training
>> Training and Teaching Materials You Can Buy Online

You have three main options when it comes to developing or having access to the training materials.

The three options are likely to be:

  • Materials are provided by the company you are providing training for – So you must adapt those materials. This can be the hardest option because you might be trying to adapt old and poorly designed materials and you have to try and make them usable.
  • You develop your own training materials from scratch – This is time-consuming but at least you get to design them in the exact way you want to teach the course and to put your stamp on the training.
  • Buying pre-made training materials that you can customize and use – Saving tonnes of time.

1. Developing Your Own Training Materials

If you are looking to build your own training materials, you might want to include the following:

  • Powerpoint slides (we include teaching notes on the bottom of each slide)
  • Trainers Handbook
  • Activities and icebreakers
  • Activity handouts (as needed)

If you plan to make your own employee training materials, then these posts that I have written might be quite useful for you:

Instructional design tips

10 Instructional Design Tips

Designing training materials on PowerPoint for teaching
>> Designing training materials on PowerPoint
How to present my PowerPoint and Still See View Notes on the Monitor While Presenting

>> Understanding how to view PowerPoint notes onscreen

2. Buying Employee Training Materials

The benefit of buying pre-made customizable training materials is that it can save you a huge amount of time as a freelance corporate trainer.

You will find that marketing your services, planning your training sessions, keeping your own skills up-to-date, etc. will all take up a lot of your time.

It is also actually really easy to buy employee training course materials from a site like this, whereby the training is already packaged and provides everything you need.

The materials such as the ones you can buy here can be downloaded immediately and are made by an experienced courseware and lesson creator (myself Dr Valeria Lo Iacono).

The materials enable you to start a business very quickly.

You may not have the skills to design training packages and want to focus on providing training and, in this respect, buying in materials makes life so much easier.

You can often charge each person anything between £100 and £500 (USD$125 – USD$600) PER PERSON to attend your training. So, certainly, this can be a profitable business for you!

Focus also on providing high-quality training so that repeat business and word-of-mouth become key to how you expand and market your business.

Training course materials

12 Ways to Build and Market Your Business & Get Clients as a Freelance Business Trainer or Coach

There are numerous ways to build a client base to build your business as a corporate trainer or business coach. Here are 12 options for starting your business below.

Note though that you do not, of course, need to do all these 12 things, as you can choose the ones you prefer.

1. Using a Platform Such as Meetup.com

Before discussing the idea of creating your own blog or website (as that might be the first thought you have) I want to run another idea by you, which is something that many new and established trainers do.

I recently did a detailed post on how to build clients using Meetup.com and the post is worth a read:

Using Meetup.com to offer training
>> Read the post on using Meetup.com as a trainer

2. Using LinkedIn to Build Awareness

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking and building your personal brand as a business coach or trainer.

This platform is very business-focused, as opposed to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

When using LinkedIn, make sure to:

  • Optimize your profile – Include a clear indication of what services you offer, i.e. what training and coaching services you offer. A great example of this is the Employee Engagement expert Jon Britain.
  • Connect with other people/profiles related to your target audience (HR department managers, for example)
  • Write valuable and useful content for your target audience and add it on Linkedin Pulse like in this article.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups that relate to employee training and adult learning so that you can keep in touch with what is topical. Also, use the group to search for ideas and opportunities as a trainer. One example group is the Professional Business Network Group
  • Ask clients for Recommendations as you can have others provide a testimonial on your profile.
Example of a good LinkedIn profile
Example of a good LinkedIn profile – Jon Britain of the Upskill Group

3. Create a Portfolio of Your Work on Your Own Website

Make sure to highlight your skills and expertise to prospective clients to show why you are the trainer they should hire to provide training.

One of the best ways to do this is to create a portfolio of your previous work by showcasing the following on your own website:

  • Any testimonials you can get from previous clients
  • Any related qualifications in the topics you provide training on
  • A list of services, i.e. what type of training do you provide? Soft skills? Equality and Diversity training?
  • Details on your expertise and work experience that make you a training expert in your area
  • Photographs and anything that showcases your experience, i.e. photos of you teaching or giving training in a training room
  • Contact information

It is very easy, these days, to set up a website. You can, for example, buy a domain name (website address) for as little as £10 a year, and then create a simple WordPress website.

Even a one-page website can give you an added presence and, by including what is known as your NAM information (name, address, and phone number) on each page of your website, you immediately increase the chance to show in locally-based web searches.

If people search for a “training provider” and they do so in Preston and your listed address is Preston, you immediately are going to be better off.

Make sure also to develop a free Google Business Listing and to ask clients to give you a recommendation.

4. Create a YouTube Channel

If you love making videos, then posting videos on YouTube can be a wonderful way to build clients.

Using YouTube as a business coach or corporate trainer means the chance to visually show your expertise to prospective clients.

Building a YouTube channel is also free, although it can take time to develop videos.

Training provider on YouTube

Building a presence on YouTube as a Training materials provider

5. Expand Your Network Through Industry Events

Attend industry events, conferences, and networking opportunities to build meaningful connections with potential clients and industry peers.

Some useful example events might include the:

Whatever country you reside in, there are numerous events in most regions related to the training and development industry, including many regional events.

6. Engage in Online Communities

Participate actively in relevant online forums, groups, and communities to establish credibility and foster relationships with potential clients.

Some options for online Training and HR groups include the:

7. Present at Conferences or on Podcasts

If you are an expert in your field, presenting at conferences and then making it clear at the end of your presentation that you also offer training in your given area of expertise, can be a great way to create opportunities to provide training.

Likewise, it can be worth doing an online search to find podcast channels that match the topic/field of your expertise and then contacting the podcast owner to seek out a chance to be invited on as an expert.

A great place to start looking for Podcast opportunities is by going to Spreaker and searching by a term that matches your expertise.

If you are a Personal Development Trainer, for example, there are numerous related podcasts on Streaker.

8. Offer Free Local Taster Workshops

If you are new to life as a corporate or business trainer, a great way to begin to get your first few clients or customers is to offer free workshops in your local surrounding area.

Some ways to go about offering these taster sessions include:

  • Talking to your local community centre
  • Contacting your local Business network group (Google “Business network near me”)
  • Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce

By organizing these workshops or training sessions on topics aligned with your expertise and providing value, you have a good chance to attract potential clients in your local area.

9. Foster Collaborations

Form strategic partnerships with complementary businesses or professionals to offer joint workshops, webinars, or services, expanding your reach and attracting new clients.

I have seen many examples of people with expertise joining up as two trainers or as three trainers and then developing a training business where the skills of each person complement the others.

The real benefit of this is that you can then offer a more rounded set of training and development services.

10. Offer Free Consultations

Another excellent way to build your client list as a business coach or trainer is by offering free consultations.

These consultations give you access to potential future clients and provide you with the chance to demonstrate the value of your services and expertise.

You can provide these initial consultations online or in person.

11. Create Compelling Case Studies

Develop case studies highlighting successful projects or client outcomes to demonstrate your expertise and effectiveness.

You can use some of the resources we have mentioned already, such as on your own website, to highlight these case studies.

Show human resource managers why and how you can really make a difference and the true value of what you do.

12. Create and Run a Mastermind Group to Build interest

Another way that I have seen some business coaches develop a client base is to develop a mastermind group for their chosen niche.

A mastermind group brings together individuals on a regular basis to foster each other’s personal and professional development through collaborative brainstorming, mutual support, accountability, and encouragement.

In a mastermind group, members share common goals, challenges, or interests and work collaboratively to help each other overcome obstacles, achieve objectives, and reach their full potential.

If you organize the Mastermind group and lead it, you will find that you have:

  • Direct access to a great network
  • Insight into what’s happening in your niche and of any opportunities, i.e. gaps in training
  • The change to directly push your training and development services

Bonus. Add Yourself to Trainer’s Corner for FREE

You might also want to add yourself to Trainers Corner for FREE, where we’ll promote your website and profile for you.

Trainer interviews
>> Get added to Trainers Corner for FREE

Preparing for Training You Give

You might wish to read the guides below to help guide you as you become a self-employed trainer:

You might also want to learn some basic skills as a new freelance trainer or corporate trainer and this course I made is cheap on Udemy – see info on below:

Setting Yourself up as a Company or Business

How you register as self-employed will, of course, depend on the country you live in.

  • In the UK, for example, this process is extremely easy if you wish to start off as a sole trader. Then, as income builds, you might move to being a Ltd company. You can be set up the same day. The best place to start is on the HMRC site.
  • In the United States, it takes slightly longer but you can fairly easily start an LLC. More info here on the U.S.
  • Australian – great starting guide here to start your business.

Whatever country you reside in, the process is generally the same and more than possible as a freelance trainer.

The easiest way to make sure that you are paying your taxes correctly and declaring everything correctly (in addition to claiming back what you are entitled to) is to get an accountant.

I cannot emphasize enough how useful it can be to use an accountant.

Examples of Starting a Training or Business Coaching Company

Example 1: SymPadel Inc.

Scenario

Paddy, a software engineer at SymPadel Inc., noticed a growing demand for technical training services among local tech companies.

Many startups and small businesses struggled to find affordable and specialized training programs to upskill their teams in software development.

Solution

Leveraging his expertise in software development and a passion for teaching, Paddy decided to launch his own training business, SymPadel Inc.

He developed a range of customized workshops and courses tailored to the specific needs of tech companies. These courses covered topics such as web development, mobile app development, AI, and cloud computing.

Result

SymPadel Inc. quickly gained traction in the local tech community, attracting clients from startups to established firms seeking to enhance their employees’ technical skills.

Paddy’s hands-on approach and practical training methods earned him a reputation as a trusted provider of technical training services.

Through his training, he helped companies improve their software development capabilities and drive innovation.

Example 2: Sarah Farbiccio Training

Scenario

Sarah, a pharmaceutical sales representative, recognized a need for specialized sales training in the healthcare industry.

Many sales teams lacked knowledge of industry regulations, compliance standards, and product information, leading to missed opportunities and compliance issues.

Solution

Drawing on her experience in pharmaceutical sales and compliance, Sarah founded her own training business.

The business was appropriately named ‘Sarah Farbiccio Training’.

As a training business, Sarah was dedicated to providing tailored sales courses for the healthcare sector.

She developed comprehensive training programs covering topics such as ethical selling practices, regulatory compliance, and product knowledge.

Result

Sarah’s training and coaching business did take 6 – 12 months to get going.

Within a year though she became the go-to resource for several pharmaceutical companies seeking to enhance their sales teams’ capabilities.

Sarah’s expertise and industry insights helped sales professionals navigate complex regulatory environments, improve customer engagement, and drive sales growth.

Classroom lesson plans
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono