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Making the jump from “safe” employment to freelance




I have worked in colleges and training providers for the last 15 years managing various LSC/SFA/ESF contracts. I am thinking of making the jump to freelance "trainer"  as I have quite a lot of contacts in this sector and have delivered back to work programmes and personal development workshops to unemployed people and to coaching clients. As I have a young family this could give me the flexibility right now and I enjoy the delivery and have had positive feedback.

I wondered if anyone else has any experience of freelancing with colleges and training providers and has any advice or comments, and does anyone know where I could observe other trainers to continue to learn / share good practice?

Sorry to go on, I am new to the site and excited about making the jump but cautious too - any feedback appreciated. Thank you, J


3 Responses

  1. Good luck

    Hi Jane

    Whilst I don’t have experience of your sector I have been a freelance trainer for three years and love the flexibility it gives me as  working mum.  In fact I couldn’t imagine returning to the corporate world.

    There is a fantastic site for freelance trainers run by Sharon Gaskin, which offers excellent advice, events and courses for freelance trainers

    There are also a number of groups on linked-in which you may find useful.

    Good luck in your decision making.



  2. Testing the Water

    Hi Janey,

    I too can recommend Sharon Gaskin’s company and networks.  In addition it may well be worth thinking through your readiness for self-employment.  When you are going freelance there are lots of people available giving all kinds of advice around the practicalities of business planning and management.  One of the biggest jobs is to decide which ones to take advantage of and to decide whether you have what it takes to be self-employed.  Research in partnership with Birkbeck College, University London, shows that there are 8 specific factors that make the difference between an easy and successful transition to self-employment and new business owner as opposed to one that is fraught with difficulties and less likely to achieve your aspirations.  These factors fall into three key areas:

    1. your momentum for change i.e. the drive behind your decision and your clarity of vision over your desired future
    2. your personal competencies i.e. your self awareness, self confidence and self management
    3. your physical support i.e. practical considerations such as financial buoyancy, sources of advice and expertise, social and professional networks

    You may be interested in the Testing the Water™ questionnaire which has been designed and developed in partnership with Birkbeck College to help people thinking about a move to self-employment analyse and work through the different factors.  As a licensed Testing the Water™ coach I must declare my self interest but I do think it is a unique and very valuable tool.  If you would like to find out more  please see

    Best wishes


  3. Hello Jane

    My work is not in your field, but I think my experience can be relevant for your question.

    I am a full time freelancer and I can tell you that making this jump requires a lot of caution.  My suggestion would be to take small baby steps. I started my freelance activity while I was still hired. You get a few contracts and start to earn until you reach that level when you feel confident enough to leave your job. It’s much safer this way.

    On the other hand, you need to understand that you will be the only one responsible for your income. This can mean more money, but can also mean a lot of work without getting paid. When you’re employed, you are told what to do and you have a paycheck guaranteed ( at least virtually). When you’re a freelancer, everything it’s up to you. This requires a strong confidence in you as well as a clear mind.

    Good luck!



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