No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Starting out as a freelancer


I have a strange and varied work history:

I did a music degree, worked as an administrator, was a private 'cello teacher mostly teaching adults, started a family, became a Church of England minister and now I'm looking for a "normal" job :-)

The discipline I have excelled at the most through all of this is teaching and training adults, presenting and public speaking. Being a minister required me to do a lot of that and I also got involved with diocesan training as well as running local training courses for the church.

I have been unemployed and did a PTLLS course this spring. So I'm ready to go. I don't have a business specialism, but am willing to learn one. I know I can train and communicate effectively but am clueless as to which direction to take and how to get going.  Having been unemployed for a year I am very aware the job market is completely different from the last time I looked for work. Employers seem very risk-averse as there is almost certainly somebody out there with exactly the skill-set they are looking for, so why take the wild card?

Any advice would be welcome, particularly with regard to specialisms and what businesses really want.



5 Responses

  1. you have hit the nail on the head…..

    Hi Mary

    Welcome to the training world, and good luck in your new chosen career.

    You have hit the nail on the head when you mention the risk averseness (or sound business logic) of employers!

    On the downloadable resources page of you will find a document called "going it alone": you might find this useful.

    You might also consider trying to get associateship work, in case you aren’t familiar with the term, associateship work is where a consultancy has sold a project to a client and uses freelancers to deliver.  The advantage of this is that the consultancy provides the material (the specialisation you don’t have) and you provide the delivery capability.  The fees are generally a lot lower (and currently under pressure) than self generated work but this may be an easier "in" than persuading end clients to put their faith in you.

    You might also consider something with a local college as you have the PTLLS

    Try searching this subject here on TZ: it has come up before and I seem to remember a couple of other useful guides (Sharon Gaskin and Mike Morrison’s names ring vague bells) that are available free.

    Good Luck


  2. Going freelance


    Rus, as usual, has offered good advice, so I won’t repeat that. What I am wondering, however, is whether you can find a creative way to make use of the skills you have already. I went to see Miha Pogacnik, the viloinist, who did a fabulous session on the parallels between certain music and organisational change. He used music to show the changes of moods, energy levels, dominant themes and contra themes, the role of repetition, how harmony works, and how to hook the emotions. He did that with very little traditional understanding of organisational change, and with very little English, but he understood people and he obviously understood music. It was a different but very potent approach. I have seen others, much less famous, also use music as a metaphor, particularly in relation to team working.

    This would be about finding your unique selling point into a niche market. Whilst organisations tend to play safe in a recession, they also tend to be open to new ideas as they come out of it.

    This may not be right for you, and maybe I’m wrong about the timing, but I felt I ought to at least suggest that you find with in you that which is special as well as taking a cooler look at the more logical options.

    Very best of luck


  3. A great place to start…

    I know this is going to look a bit like plugging, but I can honestly recommend that you contact Sharon Gaskin at the Trainers Training company. She runs a great course for people new (and not so new) to being independent trainers. She will help you to find your niche and decide how best to market it.

    The other key piece of advice is to use and strengthen your networks – you’ll be surprised how many people you know, and just talk to them about what you are doing (don’t necessarily try to get work). Word will get around, as ultimately, your best source of work is through existing contacts.

    Good luck to you,

    Sheridan Webb

    Keystone Development

  4. Training and Working

    Hi there.

    I too applaud and welcome you to the wonderful world of freelance training.  As a fellow musician, with IT and Mathematical offshoots, I will add one other thought to the pot of good advice from fellow subscribers.  Whenever and whatever you decide to be your niche in the training environment, work a little in that environment too when you have the chance. 

    Too many trainers come into the industry and train the specifics without having experienced the job or position first hand.  One of my areas is to train in IT applications, but trainers should also work in practical roles solving problems too.  This is how you gain experience, and how you raise your profile.  Delegates are more likely to be interested in what you are saying when you have first hand experience.  So don’t limit yourself to training roles too soon.

    Thanks to the other contributors for their advice.  Keep in touch with people.  It can be a lonely life as a freelance trainer if you are on your own, so nurture your contacts.

    Best wishes.




  5. Starting out as a Freelancer

    Dear Mary

    I don’t want to duplicate the excellent advice you have already had here. 
    [My own is not so different: it is always to be clear of
    a) your product/service and ‘reasons-to-buy’ that will differentiate you from all the other thousands;
    b) your target market(s) and who may especially get you going and give you intial business to get you started, at least to establish some relevant references;
    c) how you are going to continue to access your chosen market and bring in new business while you are also busy delivering (every freelancer’s challenge – you need to plan to do both at once to keep the pipeline full);
    d) your pricing strategy and budget.]

    But my private sense from your post (and many others like yours I see) is that answering these questions could be quite a challenge for you, alone.   You don’t say where you are, but do consider finding a friendly coach near you who might help you to avoid the inevitable and manifold pitfalls that face all too many in your position?  You may have to pay a little, but an empathetic soul may not be too greedy – and save you a lot of wasted downstream effort, angst and frustration.   They may also, if they are any good, help you to clarify how you got to where you are, what you really want to achieve, formulate some clear goals matched to your values, explore other options perhaps, and help you to decide how you will measure your success so you can look back and be clear that, whatever choices you make, they were absolutely right for you.

    All best wishes


No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!