Here I am, in a great café in Goiânia, thinking about these last 5 months. When I set out to work as a freelance consultant, I thought I’d have more time to embrace lots of interesting projects and work on things I’ve been longing for since I came back from my master’s program in 2019. I was right! And that’s the problem. I should definitely not complain about any of it. I’m lucky I’m making ends meet and I can confidently say I’m actually making more now than I was before as a full-time employee. The thing is:
Choosing what to work on isn’t easy
I left my previous job – which was definitely a great experience – to focus on finding myself a Ph.D. program that interested me. I had saved enough to hang in there for a few months without a more stable income and I had a good plan – or at least that’s what I thought. I made a lot of improvements to my website, recorded online courses, offered mentoring programs, landed some writing gigs, and even managed to publish The Owl Factor: Reframing your Teaching Philosophy. But life has its way of turning things upside down – or maybe I should say downside up.
I realized early in 2022 that I wouldn’t be able to start my Ph.D. anytime soon. At least not until sometime in 2023. So my freelance career suddenly had to bear more fruits – so to speak. I thought of designing more online courses and perhaps teaching more Italian students – yeah, I taught English to gifted Italian students due to a recent partnership I made. I also thought of offering more online courses and creating a membership program for my website so that members could access premium content. But then other things happened. I started getting lots of invitations to give webinars, training sessions, and record courses to different agencies. I said to myself, let’s see where this road takes me and I’m happy I chose this path. To be honest, I might not have finished my book if I hadn’t made this decision.
What am I doing now and how did I choose?
Not too long ago I accepted a great offer to teach a B1 group of Italian teenagers. I designed a course to help them pass the LanguageCert exam and I even manage to squeeze a little bit of Project-based Learning in – you can see a website two of my students designed in the picture. The experience was so successful that I was invited to teach another group this year. These two gigs made me more well-known in Italy – remember this bit because that’ll be important.
I went back to offering some hours to National Geographic Learning recently and I’m happy to say I’ve already trained the staff of 5 different schools including a reference in bilingual education in the northeast of Brazil. A public bilingual school! What an honor. Nat Geo Learning holds a special place in my heart because it was through this company that I started training more people back in 2015 and where I discovered my taste for reviewing and writing ELT materials.
I also offered two important webinars to large schools in different states in Brazil. Through my company EDCrocks, which had been inactive for a couple of years, I’m able to get better gigs and get paid more money. I’ve recently become a guest lecturer at Caxias do Sul University and we kicked off my unit on Bilingualism and Cognition some days ago. I’m proud to be teaching at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná and occasionally at the State University of Londrina topics related to Teaching Methodology, particularly in bilingual contexts, Project-based Learning, Language, Bilingualism, Neuroscience, and Mind, Brain, and Education.
But what changed my plans big time was Italy. Since April, I’ve been working with LanguagEd to provide Italian teachers with precious feedback on their lesson plans in preparation for the concorso ordinario. Chiara Bruzzano very kindly invited me to join their dream team – Sylvia Provenzano and Rachel Tsateri are my team members! I can’t tell you how great this endeavor has been. I must have helped more than 50 teachers so far and the whole thing has been incredibly rewarding. In fact, I decided to dedicate many hours of my week to this project.
I had already been working with Giovanni Rottura at the Academy of Distinction and I was honored to be appointed Academic Director of EdYOUFest, an exciting project with an upcoming event in Trapani, Sicily, which I’m organizing.
My latest gigs involve writing a chapter about reading in bilingual brains for an upcoming book, designing a new exciting learner-centered ELT material for a big publisher, co-authoring a book about the Science of Learning, training the staff of a bilingual solution provider, offering a pilot training course about my Learning Cosmos Conceptual Framework, helping a friend design a pedagometric tool to audit schools, and creating an online course hub with another friend. Some with more immediate gains than others, but all quite interesting.
I chose these projects and what to focus on at the moment based on a needs analysis I conducted on myself. I’m prioritizing the ones that pay me more so that I can save money to invest. I have lots of ideas and some of the other projects require time and capital. But it’s not always easy to choose. Sometimes I feel that I should stop and focus on the projects that will require more time and pay less or nothing at all at the beginning. But if I learned anything in the past couple of months, it’s that when something is obvious and right in front of you, you shouldn’t let it go away.
I know I’m moving away from what made me quit my full-time job in the first place – which was the perspective of starting a Ph.D. But I feel that I’ll regret not exploring this new path in my life now that I can and that the Ph.D. program will be there waiting for me whenever I want to start it. I hope my intuition is right and that I keep getting interesting and challenging invitations. I’ll have to put a hold on a few things for a few months, so I apologize to those who wanted to start other projects with me, but I’ll get there eventually. Slowly but steady.
How do you choose your own freelance projects? Talk to me.