Comparing eLearning Consultants, Freelance Developers, and Vendors

Designing Digitally


Comparing eLearning Consultants, Freelance Developers, and Vendors

Choosing an eLearning professional for building your employee training program is challenging but should not feel daunting. eLearning consultants, freelancers, and training development vendors all come with their own set of benefits and disadvantages.

The selection you make depends on what needs are identified for each specific project. Before choosing the person or team to fill the role, you need to think about learning goals, business needs, and the overall impact of the training on your organization. What roles or responsibilities does your developer need to have for your eLearning training project to be successful?

We'll give you the roles and outline the responsibilities. But, ultimately, you get to decide which of these eLearning specialists will best fit in with your project.

eLearning Consultants

Consultants are experts in one or more subject matters and can provide valuable insight into the current running of your organization. They bring expertise and a more comprehensive range of skill sets to the table. eLearning Consultants often have instructional design experience and knowledge. An instructional designer is someone that can plan, design, and loosely build your employee training course.

Depending on your needs, you can hire a consultant on a per-project basis or choose to bring them in-house. Consultants usually work from a "big perspective" vantage point, overlooking and collaborating with multiple departments. This expert will:

  • Study your employees to identify current skills and knowledge on a given subject

  • Outline training needs

  • Collaborate with SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to ensure the right content is added

  • Create templates and give instructions on the lesson layout

  • Save you money and time

  • Help you align educational and business needs


The usual work formula for a freelancer is a business of one. Freelancers are sole traders, collaborators, and even business owners that don't have more than one employee. Yes, you could say they are their own boss. They're often easier to collaborate and communicate with since you only handle one person specialized in one skill set.

eLearning freelancers can be anything from instructional designers, programmers, social media experts, email marketing copywriters, and everything in between. These are people that are a bit more specialized in their chosen area. Unlike consultants, they’ll need to fit into your business model and work culture like a puzzle piece.

A content writer/editor, SME, instructional designer, graphic designer, and programmer would likely be the magic 5 for an initial eLearning development team. Most freelancers also work on a per-project basis and will save you the time and resources of training someone in-house.

An eLearning freelance developer, for example, will take the course content and layout provided by your instructional designer and build the course for you. A single person could potentially develop your training module, or you can hire a development team. In this case, we're talking about needing the services of an eLearning Vendor.

eLearning Vendors

Whether or not you choose to hire an eLearning Vendor depends on a variety of factors. An eLearning development vendor is usually a company that takes care of the course building process from start to finish. They might have an instructional designer, an SME, a programmer/ software developer, a graphic designer, and a project manager on their development team. They might create the course for you from a remote location or want to come in and work directly with your employees.

Depending on your needs, you might need a specialist or a generalist vendor. The specialist will have specific experience in one subject (graphic design, instructional design, project management, etc.). By comparison, a generalist will cover a broad spectrum of subjects but won't specialize in a particular area.

It's like integrating an entire L&D (Learning and Development) department into your organization. Your employee training course project should be sizable enough to justify the financial investment. Most vendors will be able to give you a quote and even bring you in for a free consultation.

What Is a Full-Service Vendor?

A full-service eLearning vendor will need to demonstrate the following:

  1. Portfolio/ Experience/ Testimonials

You'll want to ask for a portfolio from the vendors you're vetting. A collection of varied projects together with a few strong testimonials should be enough to help you make a decision. Take a close look at how this company has handled similar projects in the past and ask plenty of questions about their collaboration and communication practices.

  1. A set of processes

Ask your prospective vendors to run you through their project development process. The way they handle each project, problem-solve, and communicate with other team members is an indicator of the success of the overall project.

  1. Proper human and technological resources

Due to recent events, a lot of companies have migrated their workforce online. You might find a vendor you like only to find out their entire team, or at least half of it, is working remotely. This can be a great advantage if the team working on your project is professional and experienced in what they do.

A great advantage of working with a remote training developer is lower costs. Since the vendor does not need to pay for a location, deduct transportation, hire trainers, or other gadgets, their fees should be more reasonable.

Technology is completely integrated into our work and home lives. As such, having the latest hardware, software, and applications for building a solid training program is essential. A trustworthy and licensed vendor will use the latest technology to create cross-platform training applications.

The Pros of Hiring an eLearning Full-Service Developer

There are many pros of partnering with a full-service eLearning Developer. Let's explore a few of them.

  1. Budget

As mentioned, a remote employee training developer will most likely offer more affordable pricing. If your project requires an in-house development team, then you're better off choosing a vendor by proximity to your business. Having a well-established budget prior to hiring a full-service vendor will help you stick within those limits as you start negotiating fees.

In either case, hiring a vendor will save you time and money in the long run. Their expertise and experience with developing employee training are invaluable for efficiently and quickly building a training module from scratch.

  1. Finding a match

There are dozens of online training developers that work online and offline. Finding a good fit should not be an issue and most of all depend on your project requirements, employee learning goals, desired outcomes, and your broader business objectives.

  1. Setting goals and deadlines

The vendor you choose will need to give you clear goals and deadlines. Their ability to stick to deadlines and correctly define your objectives will lead to proper collaboration and the success of your employee training program.

  1. The planning process

A full-service developer will take you through the planning process step-by-step. They'll have various templates and other documentation that will help expedite the initial planning stage.

  1. The Development Stage

Your vendor will systematically tackle the development process. They'll employ a suitable project management methodology to match your project needs. Your vendor might prefer working with a lean, ADDIE, agile, scrum, or other techniques. Finding a vendor that works well with your processes is excellent for the proper development of your eLearning training project.

  1. The Feedback Loop

A professional vendor will know to set up a feedback loop to improve the training course better as you go along. This means that they'll want to touch base with your in-house team, employee learners, and your upper-management staff to create a proper collaboration-based culture.

Tips for Hiring the Right eLearning Vendor

The right person or team for your type of project needs to integrate into your organization's culture with ease. First and foremost, you need to establish whether the single vendor or freelancer aligns with your employee work culture. The right candidate will keep an open communication, collaborate across teams, and provide regular feedback on the project.

Before making a decision, take a look at the qualities a training development vendor needs to have:

  1. Open Communication

Communication is one of the essential elements of working with a new team. Your chosen eLearning training developer should keep communication channels open, be able to take constructive criticism, and quickly implement changes. They'll need to be ready to give presentations, lead meetings, and instruct other team members on how to problem-solve a specific task best.

  1. Ability to Scale-up

Your eLearning vendor should know how to implement the right processes to allow the future expansion of your training module. This means that they'll have to build your project's wireframe with flexibility in mind from the start.

  1. Flawless QA

Having a top QA (quality assurance) process set up is vital as you reach the final stages of your project. Ask your vendor about how they run their testing stages, how they collect feedback, what they use to analyze the data they gather, and about the time it takes them to implement changes.

  1. Quick Fixes

Debugging is an essential part of the deployment process. Before running the first iteration of your training program, your vendor will need to fix bugs, add important content or remove unnecessary elements. Time is of the essence here as you're nearing deployment. Thus, shifting things around quickly is a crucial quality a developing team needs to have.

  1. Understand Your Business Needs

 The eLearning vendor that matches your needs should also align with your business mentality and understand your needs and challenges. They'll have a similar working style and be capable of seeing the big picture concerning your business growth goals.


The difficulty of selecting a full-stack vendor, freelancer, or eLearning consultant is directly proportional to the needs of your project. Ensure you ask the right questions and communicate your needs and desired outcomes clearly from the beginning. A full-stack eLearning developer will work best when developing an extensive training program. Conversely, a freelancer or consultant might be a better choice if your training module is more specific and takes less time to build.

If you are looking for a full-stack eLearning vendor to assist with your employee training, Designing Digitally wants to help. We start with in-depth consulting, identify your business needs and learning goals, and then develop your custom online training solution that improves performance and business success. After implementation, we nurture your training by tracking and measuring the performance and effectiveness and evolve courses based on the findings. 

Let us take care of your online training needs, so you don’t have to. Get in touch with our team today or request a meeting time using our Online Booking Calendar.