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Going the Freelance Route


I am in the fortunate position of working part-time for my current employer until the end of 2007 while I set myself up as an associate or freelance trainer, primarily focusing on soft skills training and coaching.

I have read the previous 'any answers' on similar questions although I would appreciate guidance on the most effective way to locate companies looking for associate trainers to enable me to try and obtain some regular work in the first instance.

The second part to my question is wider and constitutes advice around the practicalities of becoming self employed, networking, marketing etc.

Thanks in anticipation.


Jez Payne
Jez Payne

7 Responses

  1. Resource
    I would highly recommend the CIPD Book:-

    The Independent Consultant’s survivial Guide ISBN 1-84398-116-5 written by Mike Johnson

    Great reference guide with stacks of extremely useful info:
    Good Luck

  2. Going self-employed
    Jez asks several questions which may well deserve a longer answer than space here may permit.

    But first, may it be helpful to know there is a glut of self-employed consultants, trainers, coaches, counsellers and the rest? It is a very crowded market!

    Second, if you aren’t ready, willing or able to find your own customer-base, while working for others as an associate free-lancer may excuse you from having to ‘rain-make’, others who may find you work will always need to take a substantial slice of the apparent client-fee, and may still not guarantee you any more. That isn’t their job.

    Third, do be aware of every fee-lancer’s dilemma? When you are delivering, you aren’t selling. And it is vital to keep your ‘pipeline’ of enquiries and live leads full. Yet when you are selling, a) you aren’t fee-earning!, and b) many prospects may be well aware of that and expect you to discount accordingly.

    So my advice would be to be absolutely sure about your ‘products’, which may need to be compellingly different from the rest; your chosen ‘markets’ – those you already know perhaps who might kill to have your expertise; and your business model, including a budget of delivery days, a realistic pricing policy that goes with all the above, and the investment in time and money you are willing to spend to secure this.

    As for networking? – learn how and do it well like nothing else mattered!

    If this resonates at all, without I hope being too didactic, let me know and I’ll offer a rather more detailed reply if the Editor agrees. I have seen well over a hundred people a year in your position over the last 15 years and there are certainly plenty of less obvious pitfalls to be aware of that could save so much frustration and anxiety!

    All best wishes


  3. going freelance
    Hi Jez
    Some excellent advice already given.

    On Trainerbase ( there are two excellent newsletters aimed at purchasers which new freelancers should also read. (in the downloads section there are some excellent articles – search for freelance and going solo)

    Work until the end of the year sounds great but if you have no pipeline then this is a risky strategy.

    Do you have relationships with associate organisations at the moment? Are they primed to use you? It can take 6-9 months for contracts to be agreed so make sure you are going into the market with your eyes open.

    As has been said this is a crowded market and many do not survive beyond 2 years if they do not have a good network or market profile.

    Make sure you do your research, use networking sites, attend local meetings of CIPD, IBC CMI etc. get your name known, have business cards and a basic website ready before you commit.

    Have your price strategy developed and do not discount(easier said than done).

    Good luck

  4. Thanks
    Thanks for your responses and insights. You’ve echoed my concerns about the size of network I have available to me for opportunities.

    I have just read the book recommended by Buffy – very insightful.

    Best regards,


  5. freelance – associate
    is your current employer inolved in training? If not why not have them refer/introduce you up and down their supply chain.

    You need to have developed your elevator pitch, so your referer can use it as a aide to them introducing you – over the phone. etc.

  6. so much to think about!
    Hi Jez

    Best of luck to you! I’m in exactly the same position myself at the moment. Having just done a speech at the local Chamber of Commerce to promote my wares, I have realised, in a most sharp way, that it really isn’t about what you know, but how you sell it to folks and get them to want to buy from you.

    I’m also beginning to realise that being an independent, it is hard to compete with large training consultancies – you just can’t spread yourself as widely as them, and while you’re in paid employment, or even while training as an independent, you can’t market and network at the same time. There are some very good networks around where trainers with slightly different wares sell each others’ courses, which is a good option if you decide to run public courses (which also have the advantage of getting your name and reputation known to more organisations).

    If you’d like to discuss further off line, drop me an email and I’d be happy to share my recent experiences.



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