If your company is on the smaller end of the business landscape, getting started with eLearning for your employees can feel like a daunting task. After all, you probably don’t have a whole learning department at your disposal. One route you can take is to take the time to find existing eLearning courses and modules that fit your needs, which I just wrote about in my previous article, eLearning Content Curation. But if you really want to produce original content for your company’s unique context and needs, you can still do it with eLearning outsourcing. This article will explain what aspects of eLearning are good for outsourcing and how to find and hire the freelancers who can do it for you.
Instructional Design Outsourcing
The bigger picture of creating effective eLearning content includes the instructional design work that pulls everything together with an overall design plan for what the final content will end up being. The right instructional design freelancer will help you develop your ideas, figure out what kind of presentation methods will best suit your goals, and outline what you need in terms of content. In this sense, an instructional designer can serve as your overall project manager for a specific eLearning project. As the idea becomes better defined, then you’ll be able to outsource other key aspects of the project. Just go to your online freelancing platform of choice (I’ll have more to say on this later in the article) and search the freelancer listings with terms such as “instructional design,” “eLearning developer,” “eLearning instructional designer” and similar variations to find the talent you need.
Freelance Writing for eLearning Outsourcing
I’ve called attention to the need for great writing in eLearning. It’s really the starting point for effective, engaging content. If the writing is subpar, you simply won’t get the learning results you need. The good news is that freelance writers are out there in plentiful supply, and you might be surprised at how many of them have experience in writing eLearning scripts and content. Search your online freelancing marketplace with terms like “eLearning writer,” “eLearning scripts,” “eLearning content” and so forth.
Outsource the Voice Talent You Need
Great writing may be the starting point for excellent eLearning content, but then you need to bring those words to life with effective voice talent. If the writing is fantastic but the delivery of the content is stiff, monotone or poorly enunciated, you’ll be dead in the water. The voiceover talent market is huge – worth more than $4.4 billion globally (20% of which is the North American market) – and more than 5% of it consists of eLearning projects, which is the fastest-growing part of the industry. As you might imagine, the lion’s share of voiceover work (58%) is for the entertainment industry in the form of audio books, gaming, and animated films while 19% is in advertising and 18% is in business (corporate promotional projects). There is a lot of freelance voiceover talent out there, and much of it is available at reasonable prices without sacrificing quality. Search your freelance platform with terms like “voiceover,” “voice actor,” “voice talent,” and so on.
Freelancing Marketplaces in the Gig Economy
With the rise of the gig economy and the swelling numbers of freelancers, eLearning outsourcing has never been easier. But getting started does take some time and effort if you want to do it right. There are dozens of online marketplaces to connect clients with freelancers. Some are geared towards filling specific niches of skills (programming, graphic design, writing, etc.) while others serve every need imaginable. The biggest of them all is Upwork, formed when the two biggest players in the field (oDesk and Elance) merged back in 2014. More than 12 million freelancers have signed onto the platform (although not all of them are active) and more than 5 million clients have accounts to hire freelancers (although again, not all of them are active).
Those are huge numbers, which can make you feel like trying to find the right freelancer must be like searching for a needle in haystack. But Upwork, like most of the other freelancing platforms, offers various ways to narrow your search. First by keyword and desired locations (such as limiting your results to freelancers based in the US), and then by a variety of filters such as charge rates, job success rankings, agencies vs individuals, skill categories, and many others. It’s worth taking the time to vary your search terms and filters to hone in on freelancers who fit your bill, and then you can invite those that interest you to submit a proposal for your project.
Effective eLearning Outsourcing
Plenty of companies have had poor experiences hiring freelancers online. There are a few things you can do, however, to greatly increase your chances of having a great experience. Keep the following three tips in mind:
- Reputation:Evaluate potential freelancers in terms of what kind of ratings and reviews they have received from previous clients. On Upwork, you’ll see each freelancer’s overall Job Success Score if they’ve completed enough projects to have one. You can also scroll down through their project history to see how they were rated and reviewed on each one. You want to limit your short-list to freelancers with a solid history of delivering top-notch results. But you also have the option to hire newbies. Just because a freelancer is new to a platform doesn’t mean they’re also new to the field. You can find people with amazing experience who are just getting started with freelancing.
- Portfolios:Also keep in mind that your chances of having a good experience will be greater if you also look for freelancers who have performed work as similar as possible to what you need. The best freelancers have robust portfolio listings on their profiles to showcase their work. Take a look at those portfolios to see if they are showing off work similar to what you need. You can also scroll down through their project history to see what they’ve done recently that’s similar. You can also handle this as part of the proposal process because you can require each freelancer to answer a series of questions as part of their bid. This is your chance to ask them to describe specific previous projects they’ve worked on that are similar to yours.
- Project Description:Perhaps the most important piece to finding great freelance talent online is to accurately describe the project and what you need. Far too many clients give a two-sentence project description that simply doesn’t give enough detail to help weed out those aren’t a good fit. Lay it out clearly in a few paragraphs and you’ll be way ahead of the game.
The beauty of rapidly increasing gig economy is that you can find the talent you need for specific projects without hiring permanent employees. Meeting your company’s learning and training needs with original content is now possible for companies of any size if you take advantage of eLearning outsourcing opportunities through online freelancing marketplaces. Start small to give it a try if you’re new to this kind of outsourcing and then expand your efforts as you become more comfortable and familiar with how it works.