Work from home story of a professional Instructional Designer
In conversation with Anita Kumar, a professional Instructional Designer and her journey of becoming an “ID” and working from home.
I tried a couple of things, before I zeroed in on ID. The journey began when I realized that I could no longer continue as a software engineer as the IT field involved long and unpredictable hours. I kept a lookout for different options.
I was familiar with technical writing and was looking for options in that field, when I chanced upon ID. ID seemed the perfect fit for me. I could write, loved learning new stuff, enjoyed creativity and design and was highly analytical.
It was hard for me to get that first ID job. Not too many companies were willing to take on an experienced professional like me as an ID fresher. At that time, my child was very young and I couldn't afford a long commute.
I luckily found a firm that gave me a chance; it was the place where I learnt how to write my first storyboard and learnt about the fundamentals of instructional design. I then moved to another small organization. Being in a small firm, I had to pitch in for various roles, from the sales, to pricing decisions to the actual courseware development. In retrospect, this experience was invaluable to me when I decided to freelance and work from home.
Before making the switch to freelancing I spoke to everyone I knew- instructional designers, freelancers in other fields - everyone who could give me an insight into what being a freelancer meant.
I worked with several e-learning companies as a freelancer; NIIT, Edufic Digital, Karanji Infotech and WriteIT Solutions were some them. I got the opportunity to develop a wide range of learning solutions.
It's been challenging to work as a freelancer, yet it has its rewards. I have the flexibility to work the hours I want to and take on the kind of projects I want to.
I am my own boss, but being on my own also means I need to constantly look out for the right kind of work, worry about being paid on time, update my skills, etc. It also means I have to make a lot of effort to network and stay connected. I find freelancing is like running a small business and requires a lot of dedication and commitment.
It helps is to be super-organised when you work as a freelancer especially about payments. I mark my calendar and send out my invoices like clockwork. The moment a payment is overdue, I send out a reminder to the client. If an email reminder doesn't work, I make a phone call. Usually a few timely reminders are enough.
It is also important to make a few background checks on the companies that you want to work with, before you get into a contract with them. Negotiate on a milestone payment schedule; this will ensure that you don't have to complete the entire project before being paid something. You can run into payment problems even with large, well-established companies, so try to include a clause in the contract that protects you from payment delays. I have learnt this the hard way.
When I am in between projects, I use the time productively by taking some online courses that will help me pick up new skills. I also spend time updating my portfolio, working on my blog and my website. I do some voluntary work that helps me professionally and spend time generating good leads for my next gig.
I have found my vocation. I thoroughly enjoy my work. I know what Confucius meant when he said: choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Want to learn more about Instructional Design as a work from home career? Click here