I know the feeling. The excitement when you realize you found something you think is going to work for you. I’ve felt like that many times. The last one was with Pilates. I took a trial lesson, thought it was great, and then signed up for a month. I then did it for a few more months and stopped. Before that were my art lessons, which I truly enjoyed! I took 3 courses in a period of a year and a half and that was it. Fast forward a few years, and now I have tons of paint, brushes, paper, etc, all gathering dust in my drawers and boxes.
What’s that got to do with freelancing, you may ask? Well, it’s about commitment.
These are examples of things I really liked doing and I still quit them! The difference is that these were hobbies, not what I chose to do as my sole source of income.
Things will come at you when you least expect, so you must be prepared for them if you want to thrive (or survive) as a freelance. If you’re serious about making it a career for yourself, you can’t approach it as something you’re doing just to make some extra cash on the side. You need a plan.
So, how do you start?
I will start by asking you some questions and later I’ll answer them myself, based on my own experience. (I invite you to post your answers below in the comments).
1. Being Professional
Do you feel prepared to teach? Have you been formally trained? If not, do you know how to find the help you need? Do you know about any free opportunities to develop as a teacher? How about paid development/training courses for teachers?
2. Defining your niche
Who would you like to teach? Who wouldn’t you like to teach? Have you thought about that? Would you be teaching 1:1, groups, online, face-to-face?
3. Finding your workspace
Where are you teaching: at the student’s place, yours, online? Would you a rent a space?
4. Course Creation (materials, lesson planning, syllabi, etc.)
Can you produce your own materials? Do you know how to create a syllabus that will address your student’s needs? Can you write your own lesson plans? Would you use a coursebook? If you say yes, do you know how to choose a suitable coursebook? How can you adapt coursebook lessons? If you teach online, can you still use a coursebook? Should you? Would you change your online course format? How about ESP lessons?
5. Assessing your students’ progress
How are you going to assess your learner’s progress? Are quizzes and tests enough? How else can you check if they’re learning? Where would you find tests/quizzes/ rubrics? Do you know how to make/use a rubric? How often are you going to assess your learners? How should you assess pronunciation? How can you assess writing? What if the classes are online? What changes?
In my view this is how a (freelance) teacher must start. By asking questions and being curious, we should look for answers and ask for help. This is the way to grow, learn and become better teachers. We have to keep asking questions. Freelance teachers have to ask more questions and be even more proactive.
There are many puzzles to be solved as there are questions to be considered regarding course creation, methodology, assessment and so on. These are just some that came to mind.
Next, we need to talk about the business, marketing and PR side of freelancing.
Do share what you think. I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!