Landing your first freelance consulting project made simple
If you’re brand new to freelancing, finding your first freelance consulting project can feel like a daunting task.
With so many options for promoting and marketing your services, it can be a challenge to figure out what to focus on. For introverts, the idea of selling yourself can be a complete nightmare.
The good news is, if you follow the right steps, it’s much easier than you fear. Promoting your freelance management consultant services will start to come naturally as you gain more experience and establish your reputation.
From using online consulting platforms and online consulting marketplaces to focusing your skills on a targeted niche, this blog post will talk you through some key things you can do to land your first freelance management consultant project.
Expand and leverage your network
Your existing network is the best place to start when looking for your first clients.
Friends, friends of friends, and ex-colleagues are all potential clients and excellent sources of leads. Referrals are the most powerful way to connect with new clients, so building a network of advocates who believe in your ability is a great way to generate high-quality leads.
You have already shown your network what you’re capable of, so they’re likely to trust and recommend you in your early days as a freelance management consultant. When working as a freelance consultant, work will often come from unexpected places. Keeping your eyes open and spreading the word about your new business is a good habit to get into. For example, a parent you speak with when collecting your kids from school can easily end up being your first major freelance client.
Put yourself out there and tell people what you do. If your network isn’t aware of what you do and that you’re looking for opportunities, they may just assume you’re already too busy to take on new work and not consider you for projects. Making it clear that you’re available will encourage people to consider how you can help them or someone they know.
Be careful not to overwhelm your network with excessive levels of self-promotion. This can put people off. Make sure you continue to provide value to your network by sharing your knowledge and showing some of your personality.
As well as tapping into your existing network, focus on expanding your reach by building a relevant audience. Asking your network questions and sharing your knowledge is a great way to open a two-way dialogue and build relationships.
If you don’t already have a website, build one. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy to begin with. There are lots of tools out there that can help you build a website without needing to learn a line of code. Your website will provide a platform to showcase your past work and client testimonials. It’s also the perfect place for people to learn more about you and a platform you have complete control over.
Focusing on a niche helps you find and engage with a specific audience. For example, if you’re a Salesforce consultant becoming an expert in a very specific section of Salesforce like Salesforce Marketing Cloud will help you speak to a more specific audience.
There are different approaches you can take when selecting a niche. You may want to specialize in working with clients from a specific industry, or you may decide to specialize in a targeted skill or a piece of software that you can master. You can even combine the two to get laser-focused on what you do and who you can help. Picking up the Salesforce example again, you may choose to specialize in Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementation for B2C fashion retailers.
Gaining trust and building credibility is far easier with a niche audience than a broad and general one. When hiring management consultants, companies want specific expertise and not consultants who do a bit of everything. Becoming the go-to expert for a specific solution will make it much easier for potential clients to find and trust you. Due to the specialized nature of most consulting projects, the more specific you can be in what you offer the more confident clients will be in trusting you to help them.
A tightly defined audience of prospects will reduce the cost and effort required when marketing your freelance consulting business. It will also make your marketing activity more powerful by speaking directly to the needs of your audience.
Selecting the right niche will reduce the number of competitors you are up against. Becoming a go-to expert for clients in your area will also allow you to increase how much you charge and make it easier for you to position yourself as offering genuine expertise that speaks directly to the needs of your clients.
Show them what you know
When looking for your first freelance consulting clients, build authority in your area by sharing your expertise.
Make sure your content speaks to an audience that you want to target. Writing content for people who want to learn your skills requires a different approach to writing content for people who may want to hire you. Create personas for the types of clients you want to work with and answer the questions that they will be asking.
In your first few freelance projects, it’s a smart idea to look at what you get from the work beyond how much they offer to pay you. In the early days, it’s often more important to build experience and contacts than charging top fees. Doing a project for your dream client can give you solid experience to talk about as you take on more clients in the future.As a consultant, you bring a lot of experience to the table. Have confidence in your ability when speaking to prospects directly or through online consulting marketplaces. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and tell people what you can do. Brush up on consultative sales techniques as you will need to sell yourself to potential clients. How can you expect clients to have confidence in your ability if you don’t show them that you have confidence in yourself?
Price is one of the most powerful ways to differentiate yourself in the early stages of your freelance management consulting career but be aware that going too low will risk raising questions about your competence. Research your competitors to make sure that you are pricing your work appropriately. In some cases, low pricing can put your clients off and reduce their trust in your ability.
When speaking with your first few leads, it’s good to show that you have a flexible approach to work and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. However, stay aware that you are a specialist so don’t promise to do things that you can’t deliver. Shoddy work is always bad, but it is especially dangerous on your first few projects as it can ruin your reputation at the worst possible stage of your freelance career.