Around 54 million Americans work as consultants or freelancers in some capacity. More than 60% are making the switch to freelancing by choice.
Many people stick to their day jobs while freelancing on the side. Some people just want to supplement their income, while others aspire to eventually transition to full-time freelance consulting.
Leaving full-time freelance work can be challenging, however. Growing a consulting business isn’t easy, and the difficulties go beyond having the technical skills to perform the work.
If it were a simple process, many more would become successful freelancers. Without strong branding and marketing, it’s virtually impossible to stand out in a sea of freelancers and attract new clients.
If giving full-time freelancing a go is your thing here are six tips to help you transition:
- Grow Your Network Connections
If you don’t have any clients in the beginning – don’t worry. Calling on old connections is a good place to start, but you need to continue growing your network.
Engage people on a number of social platforms. Seek out and engage others you want to connect with by commenting on their social activity and responding to them when they reach out.
“Just having raw skills isn’t enough to start any type of business,” writes Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0.
“You need to constantly put yourself out there and connect with new people daily. Go to networking events, meetup groups, conferences, and use your social network channels to stimulate interest in your new business. The more you get out there, the more clients you’ll have and the more people can spread positive word-of-mouth about you.”
- Focus Your Growth Strategy
Nathan Chan of Foundr Mag, has shared some great insights on their marketing strategies. His team focuses on learning the ins and outs of a single channel until they master it, then they move on to the next one.
As you grow your business, outline a basic content strategy for guest posting and blogging, and develop an understanding of your available promotional platforms. Find out where the largest segment of your audience spends their time and begin mastering that channel.
Doing one thing really well is more productive than doing 20 things with a fraction of the effort and attention.
- Never Stop Marketing
Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
When you’re in the middle of growing a consulting business, you probably won’t shut down your marketing efforts just to save a buck, given how affordable digital outreach has become. But that doesn’t mean marketing is forever guaranteed a slot on your list of priorities.
Finding a careful balance is key. As you manage both operations and production, make sure you never stop marketing.
- Differentiate Yourself
Understand and develop your unique skill set and market that. Clearly differentiate yourself from your competitors, especially in the saturated online marketplace.
“You can reduce the competition you’ll be coming up against in the consulting industry by being different,” says investor and entrepreneur Brian Ainsley Horn.
- Don’t Compete on Pricing
Your price should never be your unique Selling Proposition (USP). You’ll work twice as hard for half the revenue. You must sell prospective clients on your value, you’ll be able to earn the rates you need to continue growing your business.
“Charge for everything,” is copywriter Aaron Orendorff’s advice.
“Even by going in for an initial get-to-know-you ‘freebie,’ you devalue yourself before you’ve begun. If someone’s not paying for your help, they won’t value it. That’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way.”
Automate as much as you can. There are dozens of tools that freelancers and small marketing agencies can use to cut down on the amount of time they have to spend on the minutia. Make it a habit to constantly try new tools and processes to see what works for you.
- Find the Knowledge Gaps
Most organizations experience growth by relying on talented people, but organizations still need someone who can help them with unfamiliar problems and with outside perspectives.
When you fill knowledge gaps for companies and organizations, you can craft a USP that is far more likely to draw the attention of your target audience.
“My firm, TechSavvy, helps customers create value and cultivate a competitive advantage on the back of emerging tech markets and trends,” says Scott Steinberg, CEO of TechSavvy.
“My clients don’t hire me to provide raw data on technology; they have plenty of that. Rather, they need help translating it into actionable strategies, creating cutting-edge products and services, or adapting businesses and brands to new spaces. So that’s the niche I try to fill.”
When building your consulting business, remember to focus your marketing strategy on selling the results you could bring to prospective clients. That’s where you’ll show the value of what you can do. If you sell your services you’ll be viewed as a commodity rather than as an expert.
- The protection
One last thing for part-time consultants to be aware of is the risks they face when working with clients. Whether it’s the work you do or the advice you provide, one small error or negligence could lead to financial loss of your clients. Getting insurance for consultants is important to protect your business from potential damage caused to the clients. Find out more about consultant insurance on Bizinsure website.