Here we’ll outline the 7 steps you can follow to launch your freelance consulting business the right way, without the stress. Use these to generate business and grow as a freelancer.
Step 1: Make Sure You’d Thrive as a Freelance Consultant
While there are many perks to being your boss, it can also be challenging. Working in your desired consulting field full-time or through an agency makes it easier to get steady work from the outset. That said, your pay and opportunities may be limited.
If you’re on board with the following, then freelance consulting is likely a fit for you:
- I understand that overnight success is near-impossible. I’ll have to work hard and consistently over time to see results.
- I understand that I’ll need to work harder to market myself and attract business, especially at the start.
- I understand that nobody will set deadlines for me, and it’s up to me to submit projects on time.
- I enjoy being independent and building something of my own.
If you’re scared to leave your full-time job, know that’s completely normal. However, if you find yourself daydreaming about working for yourself, it’s time to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Step 2: Determine Your Marketable Freelance Consulting Niche
If you’ve spent time as a career professional honing in on different skills, it’s time to determine how you’ll brand yourself as a freelance consultant.
Let’s say you spent the past few years as a product manager for a large tech company. You’ve learned many skills along the way. Some parts of PM you loved, others you may have enjoyed less.
Using the skills you have, companies you’re used to working with, and parts of the job you love, you can figure out how to niche down as a freelance consultant. Your niche could be project management for large B2B biotech companies. It could also be technical writing for large B2C companies in the health and wellness space.
Step 3: Enhance Your #1 Skill (Optional)
Some of you may have a marketable skill that you’ve been exercising and improving for years. Maybe you even got a degree for it. Thus, this step is optional and depends on your situation.
Some future freelance consultants may need to educate themselves further, even if they’ve been using these skills for years in their careers. If the context in which you’re applying your skill changes (such as a writer pivoting from journalism to online blogging), you’ll want to educate yourself on that new context.
Let’s use the product management example from step 2 to illustrate another instance where skill-building is useful. Further learning may be useful if you choose to hone in on one skill that was previously a smaller part of a large role. Should you choose to consult using a specific skill of product management, such as technical writing, it could benefit you to strengthen that expertise.
Step 4: Build a Strong Portfolio
You might be the best freelance consultant in your field, but if you don’t have a way to prove that to potential clients, you’ll struggle to attract business.
One of the most powerful ways to showcase your skills is to build an online portfolio. This display of your work allows potential clients to get an idea of your deliverables. Having strong work samples in your portfolio alongside the results those deliverables produced is sure to help you sign and seal clients.
Unless it’s your freelancing skill of choice, building an online portfolio can be notoriously challenging. And yet, it’s one of the most significant pieces of the freelancing puzzle.
If you’re worried about building a solid website from scratch, look no further than Mylance. We’ll ask you some easy questions and help you create a website that packages your skillset and generates business.
Step 5: Never Stop Marketing Yourself and Your Business
When you’re first starting out, and even when you’ve been at this for years, marketing yourself and your freelance consulting business is essential for success. Make sure you continue to market even when you’re fully booked, so you have potential clients eager to work with you when spots open up in your docket.
The first way to market yourself is to build a robust online presence. First, update your LinkedIn to reflect your accomplishments and experience. In most cases, LinkedIn alone isn’t enough, so link to your website, such as your Mylance HQ (much easier to build than a website from scratch!). Add a link to your HQ everywhere that’s relevant, including other platforms and your email signature.
Additionally, start outreaching. Focus on reaching out to 3-5 people per week if you’re fully booked and 5+ if you aren’t. Never automate your outreach -- take the time to research the person you’re contacting to make an impression.
You can perform cold outreach, but also take the time to do warm outreach. This means contacting people in your network from your full-time career who may be more willing to give you a chance when first starting out.
Step 6: Determine Your Price
Now that you’ve begun attracting business, you’ll need to price your freelance consulting services accordingly. You can charge per hour, per project, or on a retainer basis. The exact rates you use depend on the value you add, skills you’ve acquired, and results under your belt.
Read our comprehensive pricing guide here to determine what to charge. The TLDR is we highly recommend monthly retainers and pricing based on deliverables.
Step 7: Overdeliver, Always
One excellent way to generate more business as a freelance consultant is through positive client testimonials and word of mouth. Both these can be accomplished by overdelivering and blowing your current clients’ expectations out of the water.
Deliver your work on time and free of errors; go the extra mile wherever you can, and pay close attention to detail. Your clients will thank you.
Time to Get Started!
Using these 7 tips, you’ll be able to successfully launch your freelancing business full-time without the stress. Doing so is an exciting undertaking that will produce results well into the future.
Every Mylance team member has done consulting. We're experts, and we've seen what consulting enables: more time with our families, traveling the world, more time on passion projects, or to start that business we've been dreaming about.