I have dedicated the previous article to explaining what these three job titles mean and the differences between them. Here’s a quick summary:
- Exchange their time (in which they apply their expertise) for money
- Work alone
- Are contracted by other companies to finish projects for them
- Are responsible for all administrative aspects of their business (taxes, insurance, etc.)
- Focus a lot on learning and development
- Build their own business
- Manage this business by themselves
- Focus on generating revenue even when they are not working
- Concentrate on streamlining and automating tasks and processes
- Have a bigger vision
- Employ a team
- Usually look for funding in the early stages of their business development and are less under pressure to make a quick profit
- Are focused on growing the business rather than their own skills
Now let’s take things a step further, and explore how to grow an online business in the knowledge commerce industry as a freelancer, solopreneur, or entrepreneur:
How to grow an e-learning business as a freelancer
The online world develops continuously. You have to keep up not only with learning design models and theories but also with e-learning technologies. You also need to stay on top of the latest developments of your specific niche. It’s OK to be a Jack of all trades, but it’s even better to be a master of something; masters get paid better.
Whether you focus on designing e-learning videos, creating professional images for online courses, managing ad campaigns, or simply proofreading e-learning content, you need to be aware of the value you bring to your projects.
When you are a freelancer, there are two avenues you need to simultaneously pursue to push the business forward: improve your skills and enlarge your customer base. You’ll only become more skilled if you have the funds to invest in your education. These come from paying customers, so the two directions are very much connected.
Even if you are doing well as far as the number of projects is concerned, you want to keep the ball rolling. That’s why it’s important to focus on marketing, whether you are sending out emails, running ad campaigns, or posting on your social media pages.
Networking is also immensely beneficial when you are into freelancing because it allows you to know what’s going on at any given time and be part of all the relevant conversations. Many of your clients will come from existing customer recommendations, so make sure you ask for referrals and keep in touch.
How to grow an e-learning business as a solopreneur
As a solopreneur, you rely more on your own expertise at all levels of your business, from the research phase to course design, marketing, closing sales, customer experience, and everything in between. As a result, you need your audience to recognize that. There’s no better way of achieving that recognition than by content marketing. In this way, you’re showcasing your knowledge, your unique voice.
You can choose to write a blog, air a podcast, have a dedicated YouTube channel, send out regular newsletters, or all of them at once. The point is to get on people’s radars and become an expert in your niche. Doing all of this on your pages and channels is fine and dandy, but it’s even better if you sign up to speak at conferences, write guest blog posts, be featured in various podcasts, and pretty much be everywhere your target audience is.
Since this is a tall order for a one-person business, you will need to invest in automation tools and streamline all your processes. Solopreneurship requires you to wear several hats, sometimes simultaneously, so technology has to be your friend and work for you 24/7.
How to grow an e-learning business as an entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship is different than freelancing and solopreneurship for several reasons: there usually is a team involved, you must secure funding in the first stages of the business, and branding is a priority.
Entrepreneurs build on their vision and have to find the right way to communicate that to the world. This means coming up with a clear and attractive mission statement and start spreading your message even before the first online courses are ready to be marketed. Hiring and onboarding are very important processes, as you need to find people who share your values.
If you have the funds, the people, and the mission right off the bat, you’ll have a great shot at building a successful business. The key is to look at the big picture and think in perspective.
Working for yourself is a dream for many people who are tired of putting in time and effort for other people’s businesses. Certainly, there is a lot of security in employment, and for some, that may be the best option. If you want more independence, good for you! Figure out what business model best suits your needs and start following your dream.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.