Becoming a freelancer and finding work is easy. According to one survey, 50% of freelancers are able to find paid work within three days of networking and social media.
But work and well-paid work are two very different things. If you want to become a highly paid freelance consultant, you’ll need to implement a strategy from day one to make it happen.
If you want to start or reboot your career as a freelance consultant, here’s a step-by-step strategy to make sure you’re paid well.
1. Pick your niche
There are a lot of people today selling knowledge online on subjects they don’t actually know much about. If you want to become a successful freelance consultant, you need to pick a niche where you actually have real expertise.
Just because you have an interest in marketing doesn’t mean you’re equipped to become a successful marketing consultant. You’ll need to take the time to build extensive knowledge on the topic. That said, you don’t need a BA in marketing to do it either. There are plenty of e-courses and webinars out there to help you broaden your skillset.
Alternatively, you can also choose a niche where you’re already considered an expert because of your day job.
2. Set up your platform
“Freelancers need more marketplaces to create leverage and increase earnings,” says Jeff Tennery, CEO of Moonlighting, a mobile, on-demand app that connects people looking to work and earn more money with people ready to hire through its platform and scores of media partners. “The more places that freelancers can be discovered, the more clients they can secure, increasing demand and higher rates. Moonlighting is now available in over 150 news media outlets like the Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today, plus is being preloaded onto 100,000+ Verizon Mobile devices nationwide giving freelancers more opportunities to work and more selection of higher paid gigs.”
3. Choose your rates
Once you have your platform set up, you’ll need to choose your rates. You may or may not want to publish these on your site. Keeping them private will give you the option to adjust them for certain clients when necessary.
How much should you charge? This is the biggest factor that determines how quickly you can become well-paid. Set your rates too low, and you’ll likely spend a long time busying yourself with work that doesn’t pay well.
To get an idea, Kennedy Information did a survey of consulting fees for a partner small management or IT consulting firm. They charge $294 per hour on average. In comparison, an independent entry-level consultant charges on average $175 per hour.
To command higher consulting rates, Moonlighting CEO, Jeff Tennery, says you have to treat your freelancing like the legit business that it is and invest in marketing via various channels so you can generate more interest than you can fulfill, and be more selective in the projects you accept, “which could include price, or overall contentment in the project.”
4. Start networking
The best place to start is with your existing professional and personal network. Who do you already know who might send clients your way? Send out emails to your friends, family, and former work clients letting them know you’re open for business and looking for referrals.
Next you need to start networking online. Sign up for online communities related to your industry and engage with people there. Set up professional social media accounts (especially LinkedIn and Twitter). Start following and engaging with other professionals who might send referrals your way.
Networking is an ongoing process that you can’t give up on. If you want to become a highly paid freelance consultant, you can’t let your current work bog you down. Network consistently so you’re always on the lookout for better, higher paying clients.
5. Learn to say no
One of the biggest fears people have of becoming a freelancer is the prospect of not having enough work. Finding clients is easy if your rate is really competitive but filling your hours with low-paying clients will never let your business scale. That’s why you have to learn to say no.
Potential clients will ask for special discounts. But toe a hard line with your published rates. Make sure any additional consultations you do are paid. Your time isn’t free.
If you find yourself getting too busy for new projects, it’s time to raise your rates. Do this consistently if you want to really make money as a freelance consultant.