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Create Online Courses and Scale your Freelance Business!

In this blog we discuss why a freelancer should create online courses as a strategy to scale, reduce administrative burden and buy back precious time.

Like many people, starting a freelance business offers several freedoms. The ability to manage your own schedule, work when it suits you and the sheer breadth of engagements are all rewarding parts of being a freelancer. It’s likely these reasons are why you started in the first place.

For many, however, there will be a tipping point. A time where you realise that there are only so many hours in the day. That your time is finite, and the luxuries that you were once afforded are no more.

It’s at this point you have a few decisions to make. Perhaps you think about ways to automate or outsource, or you consider hiring someone to support your growth. Alternatively, you may wish to simply turn away business if it isn’t a perfect fit. Any and all of these possibilities are good options to consider, especially if you wish to grow your business or maintain your ideal work and life balance.

Another option you should consider is productising your services by creating online courses. Building online courses and well constructed learning journeys offer a fantastic avenue to scale and increase revenue, largely independent of your time. It allows you to offer value at scale, starting with your existing customer base. Building online courses can bolster your reputation and create an expansive community around your brand. It also allows you to educate others by sharing your knowledge whilst solidifying your position as an authority in your field.

The creation of online courses is an investment in your business that requires upfront planning and execution. However, it can result in a positive addition to your freelance business that supports long-term growth and stability.

The Challenges of Managing a Freelancing Business

Growing a freelance business comes with a unique set of challenges. Challenges that differ from those faced by traditional employees or even conventional business owners. Quite often, the challenges arise from time constraints because people are paying for you and your expertise or skills.

We can categorise these challenges into a few broad areas of your business; operations & delivery, development & growth, and personal investment. Each are necessary areas which require an investment of your time. However, identifying and understanding possible challenges, and then creating a plan to overcome or reduce these challenges should be your goal.

Operations and Delivery

  • Time Management: Balancing client projects, marketing efforts, administrative tasks, and personal life can be very difficult.
  • Income Fluctuation: Freelancers often experience fluctuating income due to the project-based nature of their work. This can make financial planning and stability challenging.
  • Legal and Financial Responsibilities: Freelancers must handle their own contracts, taxes, insurance, and other legal and financial matters which can be overwhelming, especially as the business grows.

Development and Growth

  • Client Acquisition: Constantly finding new clients can be exhausting and time-consuming. Without a stable flow of clients, maintaining and growing income can be uncertain.
  • Scaling the Business: There’s a limit to how much one person can do. Freelancers may struggle with how to grow beyond their individual capacity, whether that means outsourcing, hiring employees, or finding other solutions.
  • Building a Reputation: Establishing credibility and a strong portfolio takes time. Client testimonials, referrals, and a solid online presence are key to growth but require consistent effort.
  • Maintaining Relationships: Building and maintaining relationships with clients is essential for repeat business, but it requires excellent communication skills and ongoing engagement.
  • Client Dependence: Relying too heavily on one or a few clients for the majority of income is risky. If a major client leaves, it can significantly impact the business.

Personal Investment

  • Work Overload: As the business grows, freelancers might take on more work than they can handle, leading to burnout and a decrease in the quality of their output.
  • Skill Development: To stay competitive, freelancers must continuously improve and expand their skills, which can be difficult when balancing work and personal development.
  • Isolation: Freelancers often work alone, which can lead to feelings of isolation and lack of collaboration opportunities.

Why Creating Online Courses are a Viable Solution to Freelancing Challenges

It’s no secret that the online learning industry has exploded in recent years. Research indicates that online learning will continue to grow at exponential rates as remote and hybrid work arrangements become the norm, technology evolves, and as businesses adapt.

Creating and selling online courses will help transition your business. A freelancer will spend much of their time managing and delivering on project or consulting assignments, sourcing new projects, and managing business operations. The objective of developing online courses is to help you achieve sustainable growth and revenue scale. In doing so, how and where you spend your time will also start to change.

Improved Operational Efficiencies

  • Courses can be sold to an unlimited number of people without needing to invest more time per sale, unlike one-to-one client work, which is inherently limited by the freelancer’s available time.
  • Greater revenue stability due to course sales available on demand to the user.
  • Simplified financial management with product sales; no timesheets, payments received immediately, automatic invoicing.

Evolved Development & Growth Model

  • A course can serve as part of a marketing funnel. By offering valuable educational content, freelancers can build trust with potential clients who may be more likely to engage them for their services.
  • Freelancers can build a community of engaged learners around their courses. This community can provide networking opportunities, feedback, and a platform for future products or services.
  • A course can be an effective lead generation tool. Participants who take a freelancer’s course and find it valuable may be more inclined to reach out for specialized, one-on-one services.
  • Courses contribute to the freelancer’s personal brand by showcasing their style of communication, knowledge, and approach to teaching, which can make them more memorable and relatable.
  • A successful course can serve as a launching pad for other products or services, such as books, webinars, workshops, or coaching.

Improved Personal Investment

  • Achieve feedback at scale to guide skill development opportunities, and ideas for additional or improved service offerings.
  • With a successful course offering, freelancers can shift time-based consulting efforts to other personal endeavours or simply achieve a better balance.
  • Supplementary online learning opportunities can be added to course purchases, helping to alleviate isolation. Check-in calls, classroom debriefs and networking events can not only add value to customers, they can also reduce isolation.

Create Your Online Course Structure

If you have read this far, you might agree that creating a course is a good idea. However, understanding how to do this requires some level of consideration and planning. Ideally, any online course you create should compliment your existing freelance services. Each course should concentrate on solving a problem, growing a skill, or helping someone overcome a challenge.

As you already have an established freelance business, you have the ability to create engaging content. Use your experience to provide hands-on, practical knowledge and skills so your customers can apply what they learn. Use your online courses to share your experience with real-life case studies, and provide examples of either best practices or lessons you learnt along the way.

When constructing your framework, segment your courses into customer groups. Similar to a marketing engagement funnel, your objective is to build awareness, generate curiosity, and ultimately convert interested parties to purchase your paid course.

Here is our recommended approach to segment your courses based on our online course engagement funnel:

1. Awareness

  • Generally free and publicly available.
  • Delivery preference via social media channels rather than an eLearning platform.
  • Typically short form videos to grab the attention of your audience.
  • Focus on building awareness around particular topics that you are an expert on.
  • Answers a specific question or problem people have, provides insights that allow for quick wins.

2. Curiosity

  • A formally constructed course available through an eLearning platform.
  • Generally free to access, sometimes if certain conditions are met (e.g., the course will be shared if a user comments on a post, or joins a mailing list).
  • Provides meaningful detail around how to do something. Usually works well providing the basics of a DIY (do it yourself) exercise or cost-effective solution. Includes background, why it’s important, considerations before starting, and helpful tips.

3. Conversion

  • Typically a paid course created and hosted through an eLearning platform.
  • A detailed learning journey encompassing the process for someone to undertake the activity independent of hiring a freelancer or consultant.
  • The course should include video lessons, opportunities for reflection (e.g., downloadable summaries), quizzes, and interactions for support and collaboration through a Q&A or forum.

4. Post-Sale Services

  • A value added course to existing customers who have utilised your freelance efforts or purchased a course.
  • Either free or paid, depending on the content and customer requirements.
  • Designed to address common service based queries, ongoing maintenance requirements, technical explanations, trouble-shooting, or advanced functionality or future customisations.


The business case for building and selling online learning content for your freelancing business is strong. Not only will it enable you to scale and increase revenue, it supports a more sustainable business model. Reducing administrative and operational activities, enabling product based sales which are less dependent on your time, and building a stronger customer pipeline, each carry a strong value proposition.

At the same time, building a value added online course business requires a meaningful investment of your time. This investment will pay significant dividends, and your return on initial investment will increase. It’s important to remember that you are scaling to achieve sustainable growth, which means investing your time now, so that you gain control over your time in the future.

To learn more about creating online courses, read our blog post on the 8 steps to creating your course.