An Education: Teach to Extend Your ReachBy Nate Cooper May 30th, 2012
Freelancers are often confronted with two overlapping concerns: growing a client base and maintaining cash flow. Whether a freelance writer, developer or designer, education is an outlet for attaining both. Through teaching, freelancers can establish themselves as an authority in their field and gain wider exposure to new audiences. Traditionally, teaching requires a specialized degree or vetting though an institution but several new resources have opened up avenues for teaching and speaking on narrow subjects. Here are a few.
With Meetup.com anyone can, for a fee, set up an online group for offline gatherings (called meetups). A not-so-well-kept secret is that many groups are on the look out for new speakers and appreciate suggestions for new topics. It’s free to signup for a Meetup.com account and start joining groups in a number of fields. Some groups allow members to hold a meetup without needing permission from the organizer. Perhaps the best part: If a Meetup doesn’t exist it’s inexpensive and simple to set one up. Freelancers looking for some spare cash can charge Meetup attendees and Meetup.com has fee collection using Amazon payments and PayPal. However, Meetup is such an active community, it sometimes works better to hold free events in order to meet people in a target audience.
Skillshare is a marketplace for classes with the slogan “learn anything from anyone.” On the website, anyone can post a class on any subject for free. Instructors are given a page on the site and are able to collect feedback on their courses. Prospective students can see the comments that others have left for a particular instructor. It’s like Yelp for knowledge. Most Skillshare classes cost money to attend and Skillshare only takes a 15% fee if tickets are sold for the class.
Eventbrite is the premiere ticketing site for events including parties networking events or a classes.Eventbrite is feature rich, allowing for multiple ticket types, discounts and even has an affiliate program. It also offers a low transaction fee of 2.5% + $0.99 per ticket and organizers can choose to attach that fee on top of the ticket cost. A freelancer might set up demos or classes using the system as a way to engage an existing audience. Compared to Meetup.com and Skillshare, the discovery method on the Eventbrite website is not quite as useful for students looking to find new instructors. For this reason, it works best for freelancers with established client bases. In recent months, however, Eventbrite has gone through some major site overhauls which it hopes will improve the number of people browsing the sites looking for classes.
Unlike the first three examples, Udemy isn’t for organizing offline classes. Udemy is sort of like a mashup of YouTube and Skillshare where teachers can post lectures in video or PDF format for free or become a premium instructor and set the price. For freelance consultants who are frequently repeating a lot of tips and tricks for their customers, Udemy opens up the possibility for additional digital content that is easy to set up. Online content is low cost, high profit margin and gives an excuse for further engagement with the client.
Most freelancers are probably already aware of shared office space as a resources for working on projects and meeting other freelancers. But they may not be aware that many spaces are very open to hosting events and classes. Most spaces thrive on their ability to expose the space to a wider audience and freelancers and freelancers can leverage this exposure. Working with spaces allows freelancers a greater opportunity to meet with their fellow workers while at the same time establishing their expertise in their particular industry. It’s also likely the space will promote the class, removing some of the burden on the freelancer to fill the seats.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Adam Maroney