Why Freelancers Should Create Their Own Online Courses

You’re already an expert at freelancing in your field. Ever thought about teaching what you know?

The knowledge you’ve gained from freelancing is unique to you, and there are lots of people who would pay to learn from your experience. Before you start thinking, ‘creating an online course isn’t for me because I’m not an expert’, well that’s just the point: you can be! With similar scheduling and pace, opportunities to build your professional network, and the ability to create discussions and get tons of feedback, building a course online for freelancers is like the perfect peanut butter and chocolate pair. Need a bit more convincing?

Here are 10 reasons why you should consider creating your own online course as a freelancer:

1. Communicating with students will broaden your horizons and spark new ideas

Many online course builders have opportunities to post discussion questions or implement idea boards where you or your students can post questions, debate, or talk amongst the group about a prepared topic. Bounce ideas off your students and see what comes back. These discussion rooms are also great places for people to share resources and articles, helping you and your students keep a pulse on your topic and industry in the process.

2. Start establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry

The best way to assert yourself in the space is to teach what you know. By creating your own online course, you’re also creating a platform where people will start seeing you as the ‘go-to-guy’ (or girl!) for your subject. People will seek you out with industry questions or to ask your input on certain topics, especially if you’ve been promoting your course through beginner forums and discussion groups. Wise Master Yoda, indeed.

3. Being seen as an expert will get you more freelance projects

By teaching online, you have given yourself that stamp of ‘expert’ that will be attractive to many future companies who are seeking freelancers. When employers ask to see your portfolio, you can also direct them to your course. This is a great way to underline your expertise. Then you can nudge the employer’s thought process from, “They have good experience” to, “Wow! They must really know their stuff if they’re teaching a whole course on the subject!”

4. You will broaden your professional network

No one knows the importance of a good referral like freelancers. They’re our lifeblood, and the phrase, “Hey you’re looking for someone who ___? I know just the person!” is music to our ears. Someone taking your online course, or who has come across it while browsing, is more likely to recommend you within their personal networks (you are an expert, after all). Widening your ‘teach reach’ to students from all over the world also opens you up for potential speaking opportunities, guest blog posts, and international clients.

5. You’ll add an additional revenue stream to your freelance business

You can’t be everywhere at once, and certainly have a limit when it comes to how many freelance projects you can take on at a time. With an online course, you can widen your revenue net to capture those customers who may be interested in learning how to do it themselves, but need a little help before they can get there. Direct those who may not need your full time attention (or can’t afford to work with you on a one-on-one-basis) to learn at their own pace online.

6. Use your students as a proving ground to get feedback

You’ll probably see a lot of crossover between the questions your potential clients ask and the questions your students will have during the course. If a student emails you with an issue, pick their brain and ask if the lesson was unclear, or how they came across a problem. Use the built-in survey option or discussion chat feature on your course builder to get opinions and feedback on a new idea before you implement it professionally.

7. Reformat your course material for potential speaking opportunities

Ever thought about being a guest speaker on a panel for your subject? Having your own online course gives you all kinds of useful material for conferences or meetups. You see the FAQs every day with your students, and you’ve built lessons to help them get started with a general overview. You’ve got a wealth of information to speak about. Guest speaking will also help you get the word out about your course: you’ve got hundreds of potential students in the attendees!

8. Show your clients that you think about the bigger picture

Prove to clients that you care about the health of your industry and are helping it move forward by educating others and bringing new people into the fold. There’s no better way to engage with your professional network than to share your knowledge. Maybe you are already active on LinkedIn or Facebook groups around your subject. Think of how helpful it is when someone takes the time to answer your questions. Now you have the ability to provide a wider audience with an entire educational course.

9. You can set your own schedule and pace, like with freelancing

As a freelancer, you’re already familiar with building your own work schedule and setting your deadlines. Creating an online course fits perfectly within your natural groove. Go at your own pace, set yourself daily or weekly deadlines, and when you’re course is published, voila! You’ve got a new ‘product’ to add to your portfolio and resume full of evergreen content. As you take on freelancing opportunities, your course will be chugging along in the background helping boost your expertise, build your network, and giving you some extra cash.

10. You probably already have great course material, you just need to format it

All the questions you had when you started out freelancing, as well as the research you collected, are golden for course material. What basic procedures were you unsure of at the beginning that feel like second nature to you now? There’s a chapter right there! Also, think about all the websites you visit daily, or internet resources that aid you in your professional work. Adding PDF downloads or resources tools to a course is a great way to get the newbies going.

Ready to receive your first teacher apple?

You’ve got the ‘know-how’, you’re already comfortable setting your own schedule, and you’ve already been thinking about ways to make a difference and improve your industry. This is a great way to start (and make a little extra money on the side). Now you just have to collect all your information and start building.

Happy teaching!

Author Marika Hirsch is a Copywriter from San Francisco, currently working and living up in beautiful Vancouver, BC. She loves helping clients find the perfect words to speak their ideas, and spends her days as the Copywriter for Thinkific, a platform that empowers modern course creators. When she’s not helping people pursue their online teaching dreams, she does freelance work as a copywriter and content marketer.

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