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English for Freelancers
FREE

By British Council
49 Lessons
4.7(107)
Deploy to my team

About this course

Are you starting out as a freelancer and looking to work in the international market? Maybe you're already a freelancer and want to increase your network of clients? Either way, this is the course for you! As well as teaching you useful language for all of the typical scenarios you will meet as a freelancer, you will also learn techniques for handling more complex situations, improve your soft skills and your intercultural communication. Enjoy!

From the author

Are you starting out as a freelancer and looking to work in the international market? Maybe you're already a freelancer and want to increase your network of clients? Either way, this is the course for you! As well as teaching you useful language for all of the typical scenarios you will meet as a freelancer, you will also learn techniques for handling more complex situations, improve your soft skills and your intercultural communication. Enjoy! Note that this course is aimed at learners with an intermediate level of English. Prefer a shorter course? Try one of our mini-courses: English for Freelancers: Getting Started English for Freelancers: Communication Skills I English for Freelancers: Communication Skills II English for Freelancers: Upskilling This course was created by British Council in partnership with Gaza Sky Geeks.

What you will learn

  • How to deal with communication issues on video calls
  • Vocabulary related to freelancing
  • What makes a successful freelancer
  • Language for participating in meetings, interrupting and making suggestions
  • How to talk about your experience
  • How to negotiate deadlines and pay
  • Getting started on Upwork
  • How to write a tailored proposal
  • Language to navigate and solve issues, including accepting criticism, scope/task changes mid project, responding to feedback
  • Language for turning down work or renegotiating deadlines
  • Language for presentations and tips for presenting with confidence
  • How to collaborate through brainstorming and planning
  • Language and tips for video interviews
  • Tips to continue improving on-the-job English
  • How to make an elevator pitch
  • Language for marketing yourself and networking on social media

English for Freelancers Lessons

Click through the microlessons below to preview this course. Each lesson is designed to deliver engaging and effective learning to your team in only minutes.

  1. Dealing with communication issues
  2. 1.1 What makes a successful freelancer?
  3. 1.2 Digital freelancer vocabulary
  4. 1.3 The pros and cons of freelancing
  5. Module 1 Practice
  6. 2.1 Introducing yourself
  7. 2.2 Writing a CV
  8. 2.3 Building a freelance profile online
  9. Module 2 Practice
  10. 3.1 The online freelance marketplace
  11. 3.2 Assessing clients and jobs
  12. 3.3 Starting conversations with clients
  13. Module 3 Practice
  14. 4.1 How to write a proposal
  15. 4.2 Making a human connection and showing enthusiasm
  16. 4.3 Tailoring proposals to job ads
  17. Module 4 Practice
  18. 5.1 What makes a good meeting?
  19. 5.2 Interrupting
  20. 5.3 Language for meetings
  21. Module 5 Practice
  22. 6.1 Negotiating availability
  23. 6.2 Negotiating deadlines
  24. 6.3 Negotiating pay
  25. Module 6 Practice
  26. 7.1 Problems getting paid
  27. 7.2 Language for problems and solutions
  28. 7.3 Solving problems
  29. Module 7 Practice
  30. 8.1 Offering alternatives
  31. 8.2 Emails for saying 'no'
  32. 8.3 Communication differences with saying ‘no’
  33. Module 8 Practice
  34. 9.1 Planning a presentation I
  35. 9.2 Planning a presentation II
  36. 9.3 Signposting language for presentations
  37. Module 9 Practice
  38. 10.1 Effective brainstorming
  39. 10.2 Sharing your ideas
  40. 10.3 Giving feedback on ideas
  41. Module 10 Practice
  42. 11.1 Difficult interview questions
  43. 11.2 Language for buying time and avoiding negatives
  44. 11.3 What is the STAR interview technique?
  45. Module 11 Practice
  46. 12.1 Lifelong learning
  47. 12.2 Introduction to LinkedIn
  48. 12.3 Elevator pitches
  49. Module 12 Practice
Deploy to my team

Follow the interactions on each screen or click the arrows to navigate between lesson slides.

English for Freelancers course excerpts

Dealing with communication issues

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 0 Dealing with communication issues

As a digital freelancer, and during this course, you’ll be communicating with people using video and voice calling platforms like Google Meet or Zoom.

These calls don’t always work as well as you hope. But if you know what to say, you’ll always sound professional.

1.1 What makes a successful freelancer?

Discover new vocabulary and tools to help make freelancing easier.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 1: SELF-STUDY 1 What makes a successful freelancer?

Freelancing involves learning **new skills **and new tools. Which of these do you want to learn more about?

Let's look at how you manage your time.

As a freelancer, time really is money. The more organised you are, the more money you can earn.

Choose the options that describe Sara's work after using Toggl Track.

Which box is where emergency tasks go?

Another way of managing time well is to use a time tracking tool. The tool will tell you how much time you spend on different tasks. Do some online research to find the best time tracking tools for you. One popular – and free – online time tracker is Toggl Track

1.2 Digital freelancer vocabulary

Learn key vocabulary for working successfully as a digital freelancer in English.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 1: SELF-STUDY 2 Digital freelancer vocabulary

In the last lesson, you learned some new vocabulary related to freelancing. Now it’s time to cover more of the vocabulary you’ll need to start working as a digital freelancer in English.

If the deadline for a project is tomorrow at 5pm, you must start the work at that time.

Next, you’re going to meet Mohammad, a freelancer. He's going to talk about his first freelance project. Listen to how he uses the words you have just learned.

1.3 The pros and cons of freelancing

Learn some of the typical advantages and disadvantages that freelancers face.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 1: SELF-STUDY 3 The pros and cons of freelancing

80 per cent of people who went freelance say they are **happier than when they were in a traditional job. **

And **82 per cent **feel less stress.

But let’s look at what some freelancers found challenging about their job.

Which five topics did the freelancers talk about in the video?

In the video, the freelancers used language for talking about facing challenges and overcoming challenges. When you overcome something it means it was difficult at first but now it’s easier. Choose the phrases that describe overcoming challenges.

Even something as ‘small’ as this can provide a communication challenge.

Watch a video of a freelancer, Hala, talking about what happened when she faced this situation.

What did Hala do when the child appeared?

Which two things did Hala do?

Module 1 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 1: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Let's practise prioritising tasks using what you learned this module.

How do you normally prioritise your tasks? Do you have a to-do list?

Read the tasks on the next slide. This is your to-do list. What do you need to do first?

2.1 Introducing yourself

Find out useful for tips for introducing yourself in a business context.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 2: SELF-STUDY 1 Introducing yourself

It’s important to make a good impression when introducing yourself. You're going to watch a video of people introducing themselves. While you’re watching, think about what is good about these freelancers’ introductions.

Which two things make these introductions good?

Using the phrasebank, video record yourself as if you are introducing yourself, like in the videos you just watched. You can use your phone. Keep it short – 30–40 seconds. Save the video. You will need it at the end of the course in Module 12.

2.2 Writing a CV

Learn useful ways to describe your professional experience on a CV

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 2: SELF-STUDY 2 Writing a CV

A CV is another kind of introduction. You normally send your CV when you apply for jobs.

It might be one of the first things an employer sees ... ... so it must make a good impression.

The interviewer might refer to it during the interview so it needs to be clear and well-organised.

In this module, you’ll learn how to create a professional CV. Let’s see what you know about CVs already.

Which two sentences about CVs are true?

Employers need to be able to find information in a CV at a glance. If they have to search for it, it’s not a good CV. It's much easier to see information with bullet points and subheadings.

Look at this example CV. Which information is at the top?

It's best to list your experience as bullet points in a CV. These bullet points need to be short.

One way of doing that is to: Use the past simple Delete ‘I’ and the verb ‘to be’ **I’ve been designing **… >> Designed … Now try it yourself …

You’ll use the same style in your CV in the sections about education, skills, etc.

For example: Graduated with a 2:1 in Visual Arts. Won a scholarship. Completed a course in Python.

Which of these hobbies are good to put on a CV?

2.3 Building a freelance profile online

Discover tips for creating a strong online profile.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 2: SELF-STUDY 3 Building a freelance profile online

So how do you create a great profile? Which two sentences are true?

Which of these should you include in your online freelance profile?

Some of the sections of the profile are very similar to your CV. These are sections like Employment history, Education, and Other experience.

Writing your CV first will help you create an online profile because you will have all the information ready.

Module 2 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 2: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Let's practise introducing yourself using what you learned this module.

This is Zeena. She needs help writing her CV.

Ask Zeena some questions to find out the right information for her CV.

Nice work! Let's take a look at Zeena's CV...

3.1 The online freelance marketplace

Learn how to get started with online freelance platforms.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 3: SELF-STUDY 1 The online freelance marketplace

In this module, you’ll learn how you can use online platforms like LinkedIn, Truelancer and Upwork to find clients and get work.

On most freelance platforms, your first step is to ‘verify’ your account. This is to prove that you’re a real person and you’re using your real name.

There are different ways they can ask you to verify yourself … You will probably have to send a copy of your government ID. This could be a passport or identity card.

And you might do a short webcam interview. An interviewer will call you and ask you some questions.

The questions in a verification interview aren’t difficult. But it’s good to prepare. A new client or contact might ask you some of these questions too. Let’s listen to an example…

Hussam sounds very professional and helpful on his call. One of the ways he does this is to use words like: Yes, of course! **Absolutely! ** When does he use them?

3.2 Assessing clients and jobs

Learn ways to find out if a job is right for you.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 3: SELF-STUDY 2 Assessing clients and jobs

When your profile is complete and verified, you can start looking for work. If you’re lucky, clients might send you a message and invite you to apply for a job. Either way, when you're looking at a possible job, you need to decide if it's right for you. There are two things you need to assess: 1 the job itself 2 the client

It can be a waste of time to apply for a job that has lots of proposals. And on some platforms, you have a limited number of bids or proposals you can make.

Based on the information you just saw, do you think this is a good client?

Choose the three best jobs and clients from these pieces of information.

In other platforms, like LinkedIn, you can’t see what other projects the client has worked on, or the freelancers they worked with. So it’s important to look at the profile. Think about these questions: Is their profile complete? How many connections do they have? Do they have a real photo? *Do they have a company email address? *

The most important things are that (if possible) the payment method is verified and that the client has good reviews. After that, be careful about your usual online safety. For example, don’t give out personal information, be careful about clicking on links to other websites, etc.

Good luck!

3.3 Starting conversations with clients

Learn about what to look for in job ads and how to use this information to ask clients relevant questions.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 3: SELF-STUDY 3 Starting conversations with clients

When you start looking at job posts online, you’ll notice that they can vary a lot. Some job ads have a lot of information. Others are just one or two sentences long.

Clients can also vary. They might be professional companies or they might be individual people who need help with something. Maybe these individuals have never hired a digital freelancer before.

You’re going to read a series of job ads where some details are ambiguous. Ambiguous means the information is not complete or it is not clear. These ambiguous points can be very useful to you as a freelancer. After each ad, decide which is the best question to include in your proposal.

Job: Looking to hire a Photoshop expert to edit, transform and touch up images on a contractual basis. I run a thriving small business and need help editing designs each week. Which question is the best to include in the proposal?

Here's another job ad. After you read it, click 'Next' to answer a question. Job: Android developer for fitness app development (API integration) Need an Android (Java) developer who can continue working on an existing project. Need to implement some logic and integrate APIs.

Job: I need assistance to design the wedding dinner menu and table numbering. Which question is the best one to include in the proposal?

How many questions should you include in one proposal?

So here’s what you need to do when you’re looking for work online.

Search for job ads in your field. Assess the client and the job to see if you want to apply.

Mine the ad for ambiguous information. Think of some questions and choose the best one or two to include in your proposal.

Mining a job ad for ambiguous points is also part of tailoring the proposal to the ad. You’ll learn more about this in Module 4.

Module 3 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 3: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to assess three job posts.

Imagine you are a translator.

Look at some jobs for translation work and decide if it's a good idea to submit a proposal.

Remember, there are two things you’ll need to assess: the job itself the client

Which job shouldn't you submit a proposal for? The 'Website content translations'.

Which job shouldn't you submit a proposal for? The 'Website content translations'.

Which job shouldn't you submit a proposal for? The 'Website content translations'.

Now look at the interesting posts in a bit more detail ...

... and start a conversation with the clients.

What's good about this post?

What's good about this post?

4.1 How to write a proposal

Learn what makes an effective proposal.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 4: SELF-STUDY 1 How to write a proposal

In the last module, you learned how to mine a job ad for details to ask questions about the job.

The main part of your proposal is the part where you …

Example questions: Do you have any questions about the job description? Do you have suggestions to make this project run successfully? What challenging part of this job are you most experienced in? What part of this project most appeals to you? What past project or job have you had that is most like this one and why?

How important is it to answer these ‘Additional Questions’?

4.2 Making a human connection and showing enthusiasm

Learn ways to make a human connection based on the information a client has provided.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 4: SELF-STUDY 2 Making a human connection and showing enthusiasm

Nowadays, many people not only work online, but they also live half their lives online. It’s always good to remember that behind every job ad is another human.

If you can make a connection with the human behind the ad, you are more likely to get the job.

From what you saw in the video, which of these are good pieces of advice?

4.3 Tailoring proposals to job ads

Find out ways to best match your proposal to an ad, either by using a template or starting from zero.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 4: SELF-STUDY 3 Tailoring proposals to job ads

What are the advantages of using a template for proposals?

Which three things in the proposal do you 100 per cent need to change?

If you only do one thing, for example website design, you might not need to change the experience part of your proposals. Should you always send the same examples of your work?

When you tailor a proposal to a client, you can mine the ad for useful information. Work out what’s important to the client and then include that in how you sell yourself to them.

What skills could you include to add value to your proposal for this job?

Client: "Looking for a developer who can remodel an android app for iOS. The app will need to display companies on a map interface, have user accounts, display apps in a categorised list, and display some news articles." Reply: Welcome to Upwork! I see that you are looking to complete an Android app and then migrate it to iOS. I can help you with that, and I can start right away. Do you have a link to a beta version of the app in a service like TestFlight? I’ve got five years of experience building apps for Android and iOS and you can see two recent apps I built here and here. There are some key requirements so that an app is approved in the Android stores vs Apple. I can help you be successful in both. I’m excited to help you with your project as I especially love working with people who have a clear vision for what they want to do. Plus, like you, I started developing apps when I was a student, so I know what it’s like to work on side projects while studying! I’m available for a chat if you want to discuss the project further. All the best, Mena

What is good about Mena's proposal?

Module 4 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 4: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to edit a proposal for a job post.

This is Abdel.

He wrote a job proposal. He's not sure if it's ready to send. Can you help him?

There are a few mistakes in Abdel's proposal too...

Correct the mistakes in the following sentences.

Check out Abdel's improved proposal... Dear Anna, I see that you need some videos for your new product. I can help you with that, and I am free to start right away. I recently worked on a similar project. I’m really passionate about animation. I would love to discuss the project further. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks Abdel

5.1 What makes a good meeting?

Have you ever been in a meeting and wondered what the point of it was? Learn what makes a good meeting.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 5: SELF-STUDY 1 What makes a good meeting?

What two other things make this meeting a ‘not-so-good’ meeting?

If this meeting had an agenda, it would be clear to everyone what the meeting was about. But it also needs a chairperson. The chairperson is responsible for making sure people stick to the topics. They also manage the meeting to make sure everyone gets their chance to speak and be heard and that one person doesn’t dominate. Berta does try to make sure Delphine gets heard. Watch the video again and listen carefully at about 59 seconds in.

How does the meeting end?

Now, watch a video of the same people doing the meeting better. Be ready for a question about how it is better.

How is this meeting better than the first meeting? Select two reasons.

5.2 Interrupting

Learn useful phrases for interrupting someone and handling interruptions.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 5: SELF-STUDY 2 Interrupting

In the second meeting you watched in the last lesson, there were a few points where people needed to interrupt because they had something to say. Interrupting can feel hard to do. But if you use polite language, interrupting will not seem rude to the other people in the meeting.

How many times does Berta interrupt Tim?

Next, you’ll listen to some more phrases for interrupting and letting people speak. Repeat the phrases until you can say them correctly.

5.3 Language for meetings

Learn phrases for keeping things moving and recapping important points.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 5: SELF-STUDY 3 Language for meetings

So, to recap what you’ve learned so far: Having an agenda and a chairperson keeps a meeting on topic. Amplifying people’s voices makes sure everyone gets heard. Interrupting can be polite. 'Now, let’s move on to the next point on the agenda …' (That’s a useful phrase to keep things moving in a meeting.)

Delphine, the chairperson, also doesn’t disagree with anyone directly. She responds to the other suggestions by saying Some great points there, before she adds her own suggestion. When they find an idea they agree on, they use a few different phrases ...

As a freelancer, many of your meetings may only be with you and the client. But, even with only two people, most of the language you’ve learned in this module will be useful to keep meetings moving and to make sure both you and the client have understood.

Module 5 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 5: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to collaborate in a meeting.

Imagine you’re working with the team from LDC company.

Right now, you’re all in a team meeting. What is the purpose of the meeting? Read the agenda to find out.

What's on the agenda today?

Look at the agenda again. Has everything been discussed?

6.1 Negotiating availability

Learn language and strategies for negotiating availability.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 6: SELF-STUDY 1 Negotiating availability

In this lesson, we are covering:

Accepting jobs and negotiating availability

Ameer is a freelance video editor.# His interview with XCorp went well and he has received an email. Swipe to read the email.# Image copyright Poyraz Tütüncü

From: sara@xcorp.com Subject: Job offer Dear Ameer, Thank you for the chat yesterday. Your skills and experience look like a good fit for us and we’d like to offer you the role of video editor. I’ve attached the contract and formal job offer for you to sign. Can you let us know what kind of availability you have in the next two to three weeks and we can organise a kick-off meeting? All the best, Sara

What do Ameer and Sara need to negotiate?

A negotiation about availability may be included at the end of a job interview. Listen to Bob, a project manager offering Fatima, a freelancer, a job.

Next you're going to listen to another conversation about availability. This time the client is Sam and the freelancer is Mohammad.

Now listen to the useful phrases and repeat them. Copy the pronunciation that you hear.

6.2 Negotiating deadlines

Learn language for making a deadline work better for you.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 6: SELF-STUDY 2 Negotiating deadlines

Now you've learned to negotiate your availability, let's look at something else you may need to negotiate many times during a project ... deadlines

What is a deadline?

You’re going to hear a conversation between Bob, the Project Manager, and Fatima. They’re discussing a deadline. Listen carefully to the language they use.

Which other phrase does Fatima use to show she isn't sure?

Which meaning fits both of these expressions from Bob and Fatima's chat? I can turn it around pretty fast. When can you have it on my desk?

Conversations about deadlines will happen many times during a project, probably during meetings or on Slack. Remember to always check the deadline, especially if the deadline was agreed in a call or meeting! Use the phrasebank on the next slide to help you have deadline negotiations.

6.3 Negotiating pay

Learn useful language and strategies for negotiating the rate of pay for a project.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 6: SELF-STUDY 3 Negotiating pay

Negotiating availability and deadlines, like you learned in the last two lessons, is easy. Negotiating about money can seem harder.

But ... talking about money is essential. This is a work context, and the client will expect you to ask, and even to negotiate how much the final fee will be.

The good news is ... if you know the right language, it's a lot easier.

At what point should you ask about money?

From: Monica@TDX.com Subject: Job offer Hi Ameer, Thank you for reaching out about the Blue project. Your skills and experience look like a good fit for us and we’d like to offer you 20 minutes of video to edit. We estimate that to be 15 hours work and we’d like the work to be delivered in batches of 5 hours. We can discuss deadlines that work for you. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in? If so, let us know what kind of availability you have in the next two to three weeks and we can organise a kick-off meeting. All the best, Monica

Which phrase goes best in the gap? From: ameerd@gmail.com Subject: re: Job offer Hi Monica, Thank you for providing the details. The project sounds really interesting and a great fit for me. I have availability for the next 3 weeks and can commit to the 15 hours. [________] Regards, Ameer

Which of the following phrases are also neutral and professional? Choose more than one

But what do you say if they can’t increase the budget? Read Monica’s reply and then Ameer’s reply and put the words in the right order to complete the sentences.

From: Monica@TDX.com Subject: re: Job offer Hi Ameer, I’m afraid our budget is fixed for this project. Would you still like to go ahead? Monica

Imagine Monica made another offer. Next you'll read Ameer’s reply after receiving a rate he feels he can accept. Some words are missing for you to complete the sentences.

Being confident about pay is important – especially for women in digital freelancing. A report by Website Planet found that women earn 50-80% less than men on online freelance platforms. When women earn less it seems to be because they set their rates lower.

That means many women ask for less money right from the start. The report found that women charged and earned a lot less in industries like IT, logo design, translation, accounting and video production. Women earned more in SEO (only a little bit more) and, content writing.

So, women especially need to think about what rates they will accept for their work. Try looking at other people in your industry and find out what they are charging for the same kind of work you do.

Hopefully, now you’ve learned some useful language, you feel more confident about basic negotiations over payment.

The more you do it, the more confident you will feel! Don’t be afraid to ask about money. Your client will expect it and will often increase the money if they are able to and if you ask in the right way.

Module 6 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 6: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to negotiate with a client.

Imagine that you applied to start a new project with LDC company. You had a meeting with Tim to find out more about the role.

After the call, he sends you an email. Read the email and see if you are interested in the position.

7.1 Problems getting paid

Learn useful phrases for politely asking about late payment.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 7: SELF-STUDY 1 Problems getting paid

Freelancing, like any kind of job, comes with its own problems. Some of the problems are the same as the kinds of problems you might expect in a traditional job.

As a freelancer, you have to deal with problems professionally and quickly. Otherwise, you might lose clients.

Some online platforms have a system to make sure you get paid for the work you’ve done. Search the platform you're using for payment protection to find out more.

For most freelance work, you will send an invoice and wait until the money arrives in your bank account.

If a payment is missing or late, you will need to contact the client. The language you use is very important. You want to be polite but still firm. Firm means you sound strong.

Watch a video of someone trying to write a polite but firm email. Is the email polite in the end? Is it firm?

Choose the two polite but firm phrases from this list.

In the next lesson, Self-study 2, you’ll look at other problems freelancers might have. Sometimes one email or one conversation will solve the problem.

If you need to keep sending emails, or you need to have the same conversation again, what might change?

7.2 Language for problems and solutions

Learn useful phrases for dealing with problems and suggesting solutions.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 7: SELF-STUDY 2 Language for problems and solutions

You have agreed to translate three articles for a client. Now they are asking you to find images to go with the articles. You think it will add about two hours' work to the original project. What should you do?

You’re going to read three emails from Yousef, a freelancer, to his clients. He’s dealing with the problems you’ve just seen. Read each email and answer the questions.

7.3 Solving problems

Discover more ways of solving problems by hearing about other freelancers' experiences.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 7: SELF-STUDY 3 Solving problems

You’ve learned some common problems that freelancers experience and the language for solving them.

Now let’s hear from three professional freelancers talking about problems they’ve met in their real working lives and how they solved them.

First you’ll hear from Peter, a freelance website designer. As you watch, think about the answer to this question: Did the project start well or badly?

How did Peter solve this problem?

How did Sam solve the problem?

Of course, not every project will have problems. And, even if you have problems, most of the time you will be able to solve them. If you do have difficulties, it can be really useful to get advice from online communities of other freelancers.

Module 7 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 7: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to deal with some problems.

Imagine you’re working on a new project to research photos for a language course. It's the first time you have worked with the client.

You take notes during your call. At the end of the meeting, you follow up with an email...

You finish the work to the new schedule. But there's a problem...

You check your bank account and you haven't been paid. You completed the work and sent your invoice over a month ago.

8.1 Offering alternatives

Learn useful phrases for keeping the door open when saying 'no' to a client.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 8: SELF-STUDY 1 Offering alternatives

As a freelancer, you might feel like you should say ‘yes’ to every piece of work that comes to you.

It can be hard to know when to say 'no'. And it can be even harder to know how to say 'no' in the right way.

Sometimes you don’t feel a project is right for you because it really isn’t right for you. But it’s a good idea to stop for a minute to check if you’re just not feeling confident.

If your reason for saying ‘no’ is about time, this is another chance to negotiate.

Let’s look at an email. Mahmoud is thinking about saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a project from a client, Natasha.

Does Natasha accept Mahmoud’s suggestion?

Read Mahmoud's replies. Which one should he send if he wants to keep the door open for future work: the first or second?

Here are some more phrases for finishing the email. Choose the three phrases that leave the door open for future work.

8.2 Emails for saying 'no'

Look at appropriate reasons to give when wanting to say no or quit a project.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 8: SELF-STUDY 2 Emails for saying 'no'

Saying 'no' to clients is actually one of the big advantages of freelance life compared with a traditional job. As a freelancer you have a lot more choice about the work you say 'yes' or 'no' to.

You will usually say ‘no’ in an email. Let’s look now at how to write an email saying no to new work.

Bushra has written the beginning of two emails to her client Taro. Which sentence should she put next? Dear Taro, Thank you for the offer of work on the Red Project.

How much information should you give about why you’re saying 'no'? Let’s look at Bushra’s email so far and what she’s planning to write next. Dear Taro, Thank you for the offer of work on the Red Project. It sounds really interesting but, unfortunately, I’m not able to start a new project at the moment. Select ‘Continue’ to see what Bushra plans to write next.

I’ve just started work on two new projects that finish at the end of the month. One of them might continue but it’s not clear yet. The other project is something new, so I’m not sure if it will take a long time. Both projects are quite similar to your Red Project. I’ll be sure to let you know in a few weeks when I’m available again. Does Bushra's email contain ...

Here are the sentences from Bushra's email again. She could make it shorter by deleting all of the sentences except one. Which sentence could she keep?

Finally, let’s look at how to end an email where you have quit a project. Which of these sentences should you NOT write?

8.3 Communication differences with saying ‘no’

Look at how 'no' can mean different things, depending on which client you are working with.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 8: SELF-STUDY 3 Communication differences with saying ‘no’

Different cultures often have different ways of saying things. One way of describing some communication differences is to look at high context cultures and low context cultures.

Low context cultures, on the other hand, depend on the words they use to communicate meaning. They prefer communication that is direct and clear in its meaning.

Look at this conversation. Client: Can you finish this project by Friday? Freelancer: I’m not sure at the moment. But if not, it will be Tuesday at the latest. Is that OK? Client: Sure, Tuesday still works. Now both people are happy and there probably is no misunderstanding. The freelancer has not said a direct ‘no’ so feels comfortable with the conversation. They both now know it’s OK to push the deadline to Tuesday. The client has agreed that the work will be finished at some time between Friday and Tuesday.

In a face-to-face or video conversation, it can be hard to say ‘no’. This can even be hard for people from low culture contexts because sometimes saying ‘no’ in a direct way is uncomfortable for them too. Or sometimes, they know the other person might find a direct ‘no’ rude.

Here's a useful phrase for many situations where you want to say ‘no’ but can’t or don’t want to: Let me check and get back to you via email.

Sometimes it's easier to **write a polite email **than to think of the best, most polite way to say ‘no’ when speaking.

Module 8 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 8: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to say 'no' in a positive way.

You are a coder. One morning, 3 companies contact you to ask if you can work on projects.

You're already busy and you can't say 'yes' to everything.

Reply to each of them to negotiate the timeframe OR say 'no' but keep the door open.

Now look at the next offer...

Kate is from France. You haven't worked with her before.

Kate works in a high-context culture. What do you think she means? 'I'm not sure. It may be difficult. We'll think about it and get back to you.'

9.1 Planning a presentation I

Pick up tips for making an online presentation as interesting as possible.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 9: SELF-STUDY 1 Planning a presentation I

In this module, we’ll be looking at giving an online presentation. Everything you will learn is also useful for giving face-to-face presentations too.

A presentation can be anything: a product demonstration, a sales pitch, or a TED talk, etc. Let’s look in more detail at three different styles of presentation.

You’re going to plan a presentation in this module. Think of a topic you want to talk about for five minutes. Choose something you know about. You’re going to spend your time planning how to present it. You might not have time to also research a new topic you know nothing about.

When you have decided the topic of your presentation, think about whether you want to give information, to** demonstrate something or to persuade the audience to do something**.

One thing all three kinds need is good visuals. Visuals are the **pictures or charts **(bar charts, pie charts, tables, etc.) that you use. They also include the design of the slides and of the text.

Good visuals are ones that: Fit the topic Get the audience’s attention Make information easier to understand.

Which THREE things make bad visuals?

9.2 Planning a presentation II

Discover ways to best plan and structure your presentation.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 9: SELF-STUDY 2 Planning a presentation II

When you’re planning your presentation, which part is it best to plan first?

As part of the body of the presentation, you may want to tell a story about something that happened.

Stories can be a great way of presenting information that you want people to remember.

Which of these three tips about stories is NOT useful for helping audiences remember your stories?

Which three things can you include in the conclusion?

Lastly, now that you know what your presentation is going to include, you can create the introduction. The main purpose of the introduction is to** make the audience interested** in what you’re going to say. One way you can do this is to ask a question at the beginning.

As a final check, look at your presentation as a whole. This means finding the ‘overview’ or the ‘grid view’ so you can see all the slides at the same time.

Make sure there aren’t too many text slides in a row without images. The audience will lose attention if text slide comes after text slide after text slide. Add surprising or interesting images before important slides that you want the audience to remember.

9.3 Signposting language for presentations

Learn useful language for telling your audience where they are in the presentation and where they're going next.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 9: SELF-STUDY 3 Signposting language for presentation

As you’ve seen, presentations are usually planned in three sections. And the language that you use falls into the same three categories, more or less. Image copyright Mat Wright

This language is called signposting. Signposting tells people where they are in the presentation and where they’re going next.

Next, you’re going to watch a video of a freelancer called Antony practising part of a presentation. Which part is it?

Antony wasn’t happy with his first try at giving his presentation. Which four problems did the first part have? Go back and watch the video again if you want to.

We are only seeing a small part of the presentation but the introduction could be more interesting if Antony used a rhetorical question. For example: Did you know that many professional photographers don’t even own a camera? Or he could show a series of amazing pictures that were taken with a phone and then ask the audience this question: Do you think the photographer used a professional camera or their phone?

Module 9 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 9: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to edit a presentation.

This is Mona.

She made a presentation. She's not sure if it's ready. Can you help her?

What advice can you give Mona about her slides?

10.1 Effective brainstorming

Learn what makes for an effective brainstorming session. Is it about quantity or quality of ideas?

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 10: SELF-STUDY 1 Effective brainstorming

Brainstorming can be in groups, but you can also use brainstorming techniques alone as they help with creativity.

It’s important to approach brainstorming in the right way so that you, and everyone else, have maximum freedom to be creative.

Watch the beginning of a brainstorming meeting. What is the aim of the session?

Watch the video again, if you want to. How does the host, Jo, make people feel comfortable?

After the two minutes are finished, what are they going to do?

10.2 Sharing your ideas

Learn useful phrases for sharing your ideas confidently, asking to hear ideas and reacting to ideas positively.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 10: SELF-STUDY 2 Sharing your ideas

Another way of doing a brainstorming activity is to share a Google doc where everyone can write their ideas. This is a good idea for when people are in different timezones or working different hours.

It’s also good if some people are more confident in writing than in speaking.

In the video that you’re going to watch, the ideas-sharing part is quite short. We don’t hear all of the participants' ideas, but in a real meeting each person should share all their ideas. As you watch, think about the answer to this question: How do the others react when someone shares an idea?

In the video, people react to ideas

10.3 Giving feedback on ideas

Learn useful language for giving feedback on ideas and giving criticism where necessary.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 10: SELF-STUDY 3 Giving feedback on ideas

The last stage of a brainstorming session is where you start deciding which ideas to move forward with. In the last lesson, you saw some phrases for responding to ideas. All of these phrases were positive. Should all the feedback on the ideas in this last stage be positive too?

Which two ideas get the most criticism?

Four of the phrases below appear in the video when they’re giving criticism. Which phrase was not in the video because it’s too negative for a brainstorming?

Using hesitant language and avoiding directly negative feedback could be cultural. Most of the people in this meeting are British. Brits are often not very direct and like to be polite.

However, it’s also partly because brainstorming works best in a very positive, welcoming atmosphere.

The phrases for keeping things moving or making a decision are useful if you’re the chairperson and also if you’re brainstorming in a group with no chairperson.

The phrases also act like the signposting language in a presentation that you learned about in Module 9. They will help you understand where you are in the meeting.

Module 10 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 10: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned to collaborate and share your ideas.

Imagine you’re working with the team from LDC company.

Right now, you’re all in a brainstorming session to come up with new ideas for a social media campaign.

Join the team call. Do you have your pen and paper ready to ‘sketch’ your ideas?

Now the team is giving feedback on one idea that they want to take forward.

But... you don’t like this idea. It’s very complicated. Give some criticism.

11.1 Difficult interview questions

Discover some of the more difficult types of questions you might get asked in an interview and why they're important.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 11: SELF-STUDY 1 Difficult questions

In this module, we’ll be looking in detail at formal job interviews.

If you apply for traditional jobs, you will have a formal interview. You may also have difficult interviews as a freelancer. Also, some of the questions you’ll see are similar to the Additional Questions in job posts that you saw in Module 4.

Here are some typical interview questions. Which one is the most difficult?

You don’t need to prepare or practise answering easy interview questions.

Job interviewers, sometimes called recruiters, will usually move on to the hard questions next. One group of difficult questions is called behavioural questions.

At the beginning of this lesson you saw this question: Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it? This is an example of a behavioural question because it is about something you did – in other words, your behaviour.

Here are some example behavioural questions for you to think about. You can make notes of your ideas for answering them on the next slide if you want to. You’ll learn how to answer them in Self-study 3 in this module. What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years and how did you come to that decision? Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict at work. What was the last project you led, and what was its outcome? Can you describe a time when your work was criticised? Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?

11.2 Language for buying time and avoiding negatives

Explore different ways of buying time to think about answers to difficult questions in an interview.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 11: SELF-STUDY 2 Language for buying time and avoiding negatives

In which two questions does the interviewee buy time by saying That’s an interesting/a good question? Go back and watch the video again if you need to.

Don’t forget to use difficult questions to show something positive about yourself. Employers ask questions like What are your weaknesses? or Tell me about a time you failed at something or Have you ever had any complaints? But, instead of showing yourself in a negative way, tell them about a time you learned something or turned a bad situation into a good one. Watch the video again if you want to see how the interviewee does this for question 3: Has a client ever complained or not paid you?

11.3 What is the STAR interview technique?

Find out more about this useful interview technique.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 11: SELF-STUDY 3 What is the STAR interview technique?

You have heard examples of difficult questions, especially behavioural questions. You’ve also learned some strategies to give yourself time to think or avoid directly answering a question. Now it’s time to learn how to give good answers to difficult questions.

What is the STAR technique?

Which four words make up the STAR technique?

Which five verbs are power verbs you can use for describing your actions?

Module 11 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 11: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to answer questions in an interview for a new project.

You submitted a proposal to work on a project. The company has asked to meet you before they make a decision.

You agree to attend an online interview.

You'll need to: buy time answer behavioural questions use the STAR technique

OK. You're not sure how to answer.

Buy a little more time...

OK. You have all the elements of a good answer. But you can structure the answer better.

Take a sip of water to think about it...

12.1 Lifelong learning

Look at ways to improve your skills in order to stay competitive.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 12: SELF-STUDY 1 Lifelong learning

You’ve almost finished this course. The course was a general, short introduction to being a freelancer. But finishing the course doesn’t mean you’ll stop learning.

Lifelong learning is an important part of career development. Next, you’ll look at upskilling and networking. These things will be part of your journey as a lifelong learner.

First you’re going to watch a video of Martin, an employer, and Runna, a freelancer. They're talking about how to **keep improving **after you begin your freelance career. As you watch, think about the answer to this question: What ideas do they mention?

Which two ideas do they talk about?

Martin thinks you should learn how social media platforms work because …

12.2 Introduction to LinkedIn

Learn more about one of the world's largest professional social media platforms and what it can do for you.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 12: SELF-STUDY 2 Introduction to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform. It has several functions: It is a place where you can create a public profile of who you are, what you do and your work history, like a CV. Employers post job ads on it. It is a place to share content about your industry and your work. It is a place to build a professional network by making ‘connections’.

What do you already know about LinkedIn? Select three answers.

When you create an account on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to let it sync to your email address book.

There are a few ways to be active on LinkedIn. Being active is a good way of promoting yourself and what you do. LinkedIn is a good place to be active because millions of LinkedIn users are executives. Some of them are responsible for hiring workers.

LinkedIn has a ‘feed’ similar to other social media sites. You'll find it on the ‘Home’ tab of your LinkedIn. You can share status updates about what you’re doing and articles. You can find articles online for good ideas of things to post.

You can search for and join groups that match your professional interests. You can share interesting articles, comment on things that other people share and have public conversations. It isn’t a good idea to promote yourself or your services directly in the groups. But other people in the group might see and remember you, so it is another way of networking.

12.3 Elevator pitches

Find out what an elevator pitch is and record your own.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 12: SELF-STUDY 3 Elevator pitches

Imagine you step into an elevator (a lift in British English) and inside is someone important. Perhaps a CEO of a company that you’d like to work with, or an investor, or a potential client.

As the elevator doors close, you have a short time to introduce yourself before this important person reaches their floor and is gone forever. This introduction is called an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch doesn’t have to be in an elevator, of course! It means a short presentation of yourself in any kind of networking situation.

What are the two things an elevator pitch should be or do?

Record yourself giving an elevator pitch like Nour's. Use the same problem-solution structure. Make notes first, and practise your pitch. When you’re able to do it confidently and without making mistakes, record yourself on your phone. Make sure that your camera is in the right position and that there is enough light, just like you learned in Module 9.

Peter gives a lot more information about himself and exactly what he does for work. As a result, it’s more like a** classic introduction **and less like a sales pitch. Both Nour and Peter’s approaches are possible and you can even mix the two. For example, Nour could add more details about what she does. Peter could add some problem-solution ideas to his. Now try recording another elevator pitch in the style of Peter’s.

Peter’s introduction is very useful in a face-to-face situation. However, it is very direct and most similar to the way Americans introduce themselves. He gives his name straight away and other information about himself. To other cultures, it may seem too direct.

Even many British people, who can be quite similar to Americans in many ways, would find it hard to be so direct. British people often prefer to leave their name out of the conversation completely. At the end they may say ‘Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.’ as a way of exchanging names.

Introducing yourself in the right way face-to-face can be something different cultures have very different ideas about.

It’s good to introduce yourself to someone by saying something nice about them, or describing how you know them.

Module 12 Practice

Review what you've learned in this module.

English for Freelancers Course - Lesson Excerpt

MODULE 12: PRACTICE Are you ready to review this module?

Use what you learned this module to solve freelance challenges.

This is Kassim. He's just become a freelancer. He asks you for advice.

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