The IATEFL conference and PCE days are approaching fast. Are you starting to think about it? If you are a freelancer involved in materials development, a conference is an ideal opportunity to promote yourself. After all, if we don’t tell people about our amazing writing skills, how we can follow briefs, do rewrites and stick to deadlines, how can anyone even know about us? But where to start? 

 Here are some things that I’m starting to work on. 

  • If you’re presenting, make sure that everything related to the presentation is finalised well before the date. Tweaks can always be made, but you will feel more relaxed once you’ve got the main part of the presentation done. 
  • If you have an online presence, update anything and everything about yourself online – including your website. Is your site still languishing in 2022 as you’ve done nothing to it recently? When was your last blog post? Is it maybe time for another one? Is your photo up to date? An out-of-date website can be unappealing. 
  • Social media is a great place to start creating a bit of a buzz about you, your trip to the conference and your session, if you’re doing one. If you are attending from the comfort of your own home, why not tell the world about that (perhaps in a blog post)? 
  • Why not make a short video about yourself and your session? Here are five quick tips for making a short promotional video that I sent the MaWSIG PCE speakers recently. 

Tip 1 Make a note of what you’re going to say. Tell us who you are and something about your session – what you’re going to do and what we’re going to learn. Why should we be in your session? 

Tip 2 Choose a plain background. This is always good as there’s little to distract viewers. 

Tip 3 Think about the time of day you’re filming and the light. Filming in the morning is best.  

Tip 4 If you record the video on your phone, prop it up against something or put it on a stand. 

Tip 5 Look into the camera – yes, it feels unnatural but as the viewer, we want to feel that the speaker is talking to us.

  • If you are a materials writer, get your writing portfolio ready now. A couple of times, I’ve been chatting to publishers and commissioning editors, and they’ve asked me to send some samples of work. It pays to be able to do this immediately after that conversation and not weeks later. 
  • Look through the conference brochure and make a note of publishers you want to talk to. Organise some meet-ups with editors and, of course, colleagues. Meeting up with people you’ve only known as an email correspondent can be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve been (or indeed still are) working with them on a project or if you’ve done a course together. But people’s diaries fill up fast – so get in there and tell people you want to chat!
  • And finally, business cards – yes, we still use them at IATEFL! Last year, I left it so late that the online ones I’d ordered only arrived after my plane took off from Sydney. I then had to get them printed in the UK at vast expense. The whole episode could have so easily been avoided! That’s my story – don’t let it be yours!

Materials writers are mostly freelancers, and we need to make ourselves heard above the general din of people looking for work. Attending a conference is a bit like holding your own marketing campaign. Even if you aren’t planning on doing anything this year, maybe consider setting aside some money and time for next year. But for now, I’d better get going on updating my website!

Niki Joseph has worked in most areas of ELT over the past three decades. She is currently based in Australia as a teacher trainer, teacher and materials writer. She loves writing materials for teachers, especially teacher’s guides and handbooks. She is also a speaking examiner, and is the Professional Support Leader for the ANZ region. Find out more at