From freelancer to consultant: expanding your business

16.04.2018

Consulting and freelancing are two careers that go hand-in-hand. Almost any freelancer can get into consulting once they have gained enough experience. Is it time for you?

The difference between a freelancer and a consultant

  • Freelancers hone a particular set of skills and work with employers – inevitably, they start seeing what works and what doesn’t. This combined set of outside perspective and expertise in a particular field is the exact mixture that makes a good consultant.
  • Consultants provide information, give advice, help their clients complete tasks faster and more efficiently. That might ring a bell for quite a few freelancers out there. And that’s because you’re closer to that field of work than you might think. Here’s why and how you should think about really getting into consulting.
 

The two reasons to expand towards consulting:

1. You’re probably consulting already without realizing it 

First of all, whether or not you have the word “consultant” on your website or your CV, you are likely doing the job to some extent. Let’s take web designers for example – they don’t just build the site, they also often help their clients in deciding how the website should be built. They guide them along the way using the expertise they have gained in designing web pages throughout their career. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they share that information with their clients.

Now take the actual building of the website out of this equation. What do you have left? Someone who gave useful advice to their client in order to achieve a goal; in short, you have a consultant.

2. You can’t sell consulting unless you offer it 

So a lot of freelancers are doing the work of a consultant. The thing is, not all of them are charging for this type of work. They view the service they provide as something natural, as something that just belongs to their job. But consulting someone on how to do something can be just as important as actually doing a part of it. And as a freelancer, you shouldn’t give it away for free (at least, not always).

It should come as no surprise to you that consulting can be a very well-paid job. That’s because certain kinds of experience are extremely valuable. It’s something that takes years to build up. And it’s something you should be charging for if you’re providing it.

 

4 steps for freelancers to become consultants

1. Advertise your consulting like any other skill

As a freelancer, you will advertise each and every skill that’s important to your job. Say you’re a programmer. Whether it’s HTML, C++ or Java, you want to list the programming languages in which you’re an expert. Advertising your consulting skills should be just as natural as advertising any other skill. Add it to your résumé and put it up on your website.

2. Charge for it as an extra service

Advertising your skills is done because you want to get one simple message across: “I’m a consultant. I provide the expertise, but I also charge for it.” We’ve already established that consulting isn’t something you should just give away for free. Now make sure your clients get that message, too.

If you treat yourself as a consultant, others will too. This comes with a lot of benefits, but will require greater effort on your side as well.

3. Strive to learn more

Now that you’ve started advertising and charging for your consulting, there’s one final step towards treating it as a skill. Any skill has to be practiced and improved upon. Think about what kind of advice you can offer exactly and where your expertise falls short. Then try to improve upon those areas constantly.

For example, the IT industry changes rapidly and you need to be aware of the latest trends, technologies, languages or any news that affect the niche you offer your consulting services in.

4. Try out different mixes

At this point, you might be asking yourself what happens to your previous freelancer services when you go into consulting. There are three possible answers to that:

  • You keep focusing most of your effort towards freelancing and keep consulting as a low-level side-gig. Consulting can be something that makes up 10 percent of your business if you want it to be.
  • Maintaining a balance: Doing a 50/50 split might sound tempting, but it’s a temporary solution. Focusing on two different areas of work at once will mean you’re never completely dedicated to one of them. But juggling both things at once can help you decide upon what you want to focus at the end.
  • Going full consulting. If you like consulting more than what you previously did, there’s no reason to not go all in on it.

 

Trying out consulting can help you decide where you want to go next with your freelancing business. Even if you choose the first option and keep consulting as a small part of your daily work, it opens up possibilities and gives you more flexibility in the future – and that’s what freelancing is all about!
 

Do you work in consulting? Did you like this article? Make sure to leave us a comment below!

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