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Freelance Consulting | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

Freelance Consulting

Date February 27, 2008


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Many people think consulting is for former CEOs who jaunt around the country giving advice for thousands of dollars a day.

But, consulting is more than just observing and writing a report on what’s wrong and needs to be fixed. Consulting is simply helping organizations solve problems through the use of a valuable skill set. But how does a skill set add value? It might be by increasing revenues, decreasing costs, creating a new product, or improving a process.

And adding value goes beyond management advice. If a small business can’t get work done because of a mis-behaving network, then clearing up the network would certainly be added value.

Consulting is one business where your experience and expertise can set you apart from competitors. Consulting allows you to turn your experience into an income if your expertise is valuable to someone else and you have ways to employ your knowledge…to add value.

Consulting fields in demand include:

* Engineering
* Graphic design
* Information technology (networking)
* Management
* Marketing
* Accounting systems
* Training and development

Security consulting, especially information technology, is in high demand. As businesses and homes rely more and more on wireless networks, enacting tight security measures is critical.

You will most likely find clients in an industry in which you have the most experience. Not always, but usually, the consultant who has the most relevant industry experience will get the job.

To be effective as a consultant, you will have to do more than just “solve problems”—you need to be calm in the midst of potential crisis situations. So, you may have to don the hat of counselor, guide, therapist, and even disciplinarian!

A big plus to becoming a consultant is that you have most of the equipment you’ll need to get started—namely your mind. You’ll probably also have a library of books and other reference material.

As is common in most freelance fields, you’ll more than likely charge by the project rather than the hour. I can tell you from experience that hourly rates, no matter how small, frighten people. Unless the project is completely undefined or you’re asked to come in on emergency, you’ll be submitting project bids.

What are the best ways to market a consulting business? First, maintain your current relationships with current and past employers. One saying I’ve always believed in is to never burn bridges, no matter how bad your situation.

Another technique that I use frequently is to troll freelance sites like Guru and Elance. Be aware (beware?), though, that many buyers on these sites are looking for rock bottom prices. I’ll post more on this issue later.

You’ll need to identitfy yourself in a way that sets you apart from other consultants. How about setting up a blog to demonstrate your expertise?

If you’re in the IT or software fields, getting the right certifications can really mean the difference between getting work and not getting work. Microsoft and Cisco both have extensive certification programs. But, they can be very expensive and most certainly will be time consuming.

For further research in the consulting industry, check out Consulting Central—a Website that researches and forecasts the market for consulting services.

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2 Responses to “Freelance Consulting”

  1. Weekly links for March 4,2008 « Freelancebusiness’s Weblog said:

    […] You may think that consulting is only for former CEO’s but you should think again. If you have a skill set and can help organizations solve their problems, then you may consider doing this job as a freelance consultant. […]

  2. bloggista said:

    Hi! Thank you for including me in your blogroll. I’m deeply honored. I admire the way you write your posts - very clean and easy to understand.

    I totally agree with your views on Consulting, especially when you do it Freelance. I have been into this business for several years now. I don’t think I could go back to being an employee. Freelance Consulting gives you the freedom to work on your own terms, on your own time. And it’s not for oldies, or for CEO’s you’re right. I started as a Consultant when I was 21 years old. I did lots of training to various multi-national companies in the Philippines and other countries. My field is in Business Process and ERP Systems Consulting. I encourage those who who are interested to research these fields and discover the vast opportunities it give. But you have to equip yourself, do lots of reading and research, and learn from the experts.

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