Do You Want to Become a Freelance Trainer?


I often come across many professionals who are at the cross-roads of their career and need career advice. I am talking about men and women who believe that there is a passionate trainer in them and they can take the plunge into a full-time training career. These professionals want to quit what they are currently doing and start a career as a freelance trainer. While I usually share my two cents with them, I felt the need to pen my thoughts down and hence this blog.. I have written this blog  to help both young and seasoned professionals decide if taking up freelance training would be the right decision and how they should take the journey forward, if they decide to take it up. 
Here I have attempted to provide below some  steps  on how to approach  a freelance training career: 

1.Make Up Your Mind

There are four questions you must ask yourself which will help you decide. 

i)   Am I passionate about training?

ii)  Do I have what it takes to be a successful trainer?

iii) Can I make a career out of freelance training?

iv) Will I be able to support myself and my family, till I have a steady flow of income?

Take as much time as you need to make up your mind about taking up freelance training as a career. Once you take a decision, there should be no looking back.

2.Determine Your Value Proposition

Once you have decided to take the plunge, the next step is to define your value proposition. Now it is time to identify what is your uniqueness. Find out how with your strength you can provide value to your clients/learners. Ask yourself, how you can solve their business problems. Basis the answers you come up with, develop your value proposition. According to Peter Sandeen, a strong value proposition is a believable collection of the most persuasive reasons people should notice you and take the action you’re asking for. As its value proposition, Uber excellently conveys the simplicity and ease that lies at the heart of its taxi service. What is going to be your value proposition as a freelance trainer?

3.Develop Your Capability

Basis your value proposition, identify the  core areas where you want to specialize in. You may want to choose a bunch of specializations, but don’t try to acquire all of them at the same time. At the beginning, create a roadmap. If you never had a training background and have decided to become a trainer for the first time, you may want to start with a good ‘train-the-trainer’ program. You may then want to take up a few certifications around psychometric assessments, instructional design etc. According to the area you have chosen, you may choose additional courses and certifications for yourself and add them to your roadmap. 
Apart from certifications, look at other avenues for development as well. Attend conferences and summits, enroll for a webinar or two and subscribe to a few relevant newsletters and magazines. Read relevant research papers, case studies etc., watch videos by thought leaders on YouTube or enroll for a MOOC. And seriously think about having a mentor. If you are new to training delivery, you may want to tie up with a senior experienced trainer and start by observing,  and subsequently co-facilitating sessions. 

4.Build your Personal Brand

Why is it important to build your personal brand? In today’s world, where attention spans are limited and peoples’ memory  very short-lived, one needs to add value and build a strong personal brand to sustain. Create your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and share your perspectives, success stories at regular intervals. Enroll as an expert on Quora, open your twitter account and even consider starting your own YouTube channel. Create your own Blog Page and start writing Blogs regularly. Create a schedule for your social media branding and implement it. For example, you may want to publish a blog every alternate Monday and tweet something related to your core area of expertise everyday morning. In the digital age, social media can be a powerful tool to build your personal brand. But please remember not to go overboard because it may just backfire.

5.Build your Network

Networking is extremely important. A lot of your business will come  through your personal and professional contacts and referrals. There are many ways; you can build your professional network. Be part of professional forums.  Attend national or international conferences in the HR and L&D space where you would get to meet many leaders from the industry. Some of them can be your potential future customers, lead generators or business partners.

Two things one must remember always:

i)  Networking is not just about increasing the number of your connections and friends in LinkedIn or Facebook. It is also about staying in regular touch with them.  

ii) Networking is not about only ‘receiving’, it is about both ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’.


Don’t attempt to be a solo player always. Go ahead and enter into meaningful collaborations with other partners. You may tie up with an established training company who may engage you in their training assignments from time to time. You may tie-up with another trainer with complementary skills. For example, if you are an out-bound trainer and you also know a trainer who trains using theatre as a medium. You both can co-facilitate sessions where you would complement each other very well. As a freelancer, you won’t have all the resources in the world. So, you need to collaborate with others to maximize the results of your efforts. Let’s remember that we are living in a VUCA world and collaboration is the only mantra to accelerate success. 

7.Market your Solutions and Services

Define a marketing strategy for your offerings. Prepare a good marketing pitch outlining your solutions and services. Create a decent website where people can access details about your offerings. The website can also feature pictures, videos of your sessions and testimonials from your clients and trainees. Moreover, define and implement a robust digital marketing strategy for your offerings.

8.Stay Engaged with your Client

Long term engagement with your client is the key. With each of your key client accounts, you may want to build a long-term engagement plan. For example, if you are planning training sessions for frontline managers for your client, you can integrate a project assignment for participants with every training session. Participants may be asked to complete a project after the training and report it  back to you as well as their supervisors within 90 days. This way you stay engaged and always have your foot   in the door. 

Hope you find the aforesaid steps useful. Are you now ready to begin the journey? If yes, here is just one caution about the biggest hindrance that may surface on your journey. That is the misconception that you are going to become an Ideal Trainer. Your journey is not about becoming an ideal trainer, rather it is about becoming an Ideal Learner. Remember we are students in the journey of life. I am reminded of the immortal words of Anukulchandra, “If you want to teach, think not you are a teacher only. ‘I am a teacher’: this ‘teach-conceit’ hinders one from learning.”

All the very best as you begin a fulfilling, meaningful and inspirational journey.




Looks like you have written
this post for me. Thank you for this article. It covers all the aspects required to be a freelance trainer . Very useful.

Excellent analysis. A very balanced view point. Congratulations Surya

I have personally travelled through this journey when I decided to switch gears and willingly give up my brilliant military career.

I have also understood the need to develop my personal skills and have invested my TEM (Time Effort Money) and attended worlds best programmes.

I truly relate to Surya's view points.

May I emphasise on the importance of a coach and mentor. Even Tony Robbins has 5 to 6 coaches.

I am happy that Surya has endorsed his views so concisely.

Excellent article , useful for those who want to build a successful career in Freelancing.

It's alright , if somebody wants to learn credit assessment
However , it's up to the sospeners !

Am not only passionate but view training as core function and not supportive one

Training contribute to business and it is way forward for unskilled manpower predominant in our country

Amazing Tips Sir. I can relate to most of them. Further, focusing on getting direct clients is also important. Building strong work ethics and delighting the client worked well me.

This is the most succinct article/advice for aspiring trainers and facilitators .

Good. i fully agreed .

This is the best article for trainers I have read. Thank you, Surya Prakash Mohapatra

This is the best article for trainers I have read. Thank you, Surya Prakash Mohapatra

A very useful article with useful suggestions and insights. Worth reading!

Hello Surya
First of all, thank you for taking your valuable time and sharing this to us. Very insightful and thoughtful notes made here. It's a good read for the ones trying to take plunge to the training world!


Hi Elsy. I am glad you found it useful

Thank you, Sushil for your feedback.

Surya: This is a well thought-through, practical article. Gives insights into the reality of a freelance trainer career. I particularly liked the segment of Personal branding and staying engaged with the client. Thanks for the wonderful read,

Indeed a well thought of article !

Indeed a well thought of article !

This is quiet thought provoking.

It was shared with me via a senior colleague. I would recommend this as a must read for all L&D professionals.

Thank you all for your valuable comments and feedback on the article. I am glad that you found the article useful.

Motivational text on freelance trainer has come very nice it impressed me

Indeed to learn your thoughts on Freelancer Trainer !!

Thanks for sharing such valuable content.

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