How to be a freelancer – Mike Hogan (IATEFL 2013)

The first in a planned series of summaries of the talks I’m attending at IATEFL Liverpool 2013. Please feel free to add or correct me if I’ve misinterpreted anything!

These are the main points from Mike Hogan’s talk, taken from my tweets.

Think about the lifestyle you have and the one you want to have and how much that will cost you. Then budget.
Work on a 9 or 10 month income – how much can you realistically expect to make (accounting for holidays/sick pay)
Manage things on a monthly basis rather than over a year to avoid feeling swamped by a box of receipts!
To help maximise your income, think about maximising downtime when you’re not teaching. e.g. teaching online/writing
Make sure you’re taking advantage of busy times in your country by filling your timetable e.g. outside school holidays
Think about how your year looks, as a company would, rather than on a month-by-month basis
Ask yourself: What am I trying to sell? What makes me different from everyone else? Where can people learn about me?
Show a portfolio to demonstrate that you are developing. Training doesn’t stop with your initial qualificiation
Look the part. Dress the same way that your client dresses: if they’re wearing a suit, you should be too.
Walk the talk: for example, if you’re teaching presentation skills, make sure you’ve practised presenting. To practise presenting, start with small groups at your school. To practise negotiating: try it in real life. Practise asking for discounts.
Investigate the market: check what others are charging. Is it the same product but cheaper? Added value but more?
Give your client consultation to manage their expectations. Remember for them, training/teaching can be a commodity
If they can’t negotiate on price, clients may try to reduce contact hours instead.Supplement face-to-face with online
Be realisitic: it’s better to build a network of freelancers in your area to refer clients to if you can’t help.
The European Profiling Grid (EPG) will be similar to the CEF to show qualification levels of teachers. Watch this space.
Quality control: Remember the relationship between quality & reputation. Are you willing to risk your personal reputation?

If you want to keep work, remember:
How do you check your quality?
What do people think when they hear your name?
What do you want them to think?
Are your courses being extended?
Are you chasing work?
Are you being referred?

Value the benefits of high-profile learners. A high-level 121 can get you a lot more work.
When people switch companies, will they take you with them? What about when university students graduate? This can build your base.
Don’t forget the admin. Try setting aside a day a month to manage this. Makes your life easier.
Conferences and taxis to companies can be tax-deductible, among other things.


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