Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Untapped Income Source for Freelancers

(Post: English)
"Are you a designer, developer, copywriter, freelance blogger, or any other kind of freelancer? If so, there's one lucrative income source that you're probably missing out on."

You don't need to buy any products, join any programs, or learn something new from scratch. This is something you already know how to do, and if you're like most freelancers, you're giving this valuable service away for free without even knowing it.

Read on to find out the biggest untapped source of income that most freelancers never realize exists:

You could add consulting to your freelance business right now

You don't have to 'be' a consultant to do it. If you can teach or advise clients about something, you can provide consulting services for them.

If you already do this for clients, you're already doing consulting work - but may not realize it, and as a result, you're probably not charging what it's worth.

Here’s how you identify consulting work:

Are you working with the client to flesh our their ideas, strategies and concepts?
Example: a client approaches a web developer saying they want to create an 'interactive learning environment', but they don't know how to do it.

The web developer then helps the client choose a plan, structure and software solutions that will create their ideal system. Here the developer is not doing any coding at all. They're consulting.

How often do you do consulting without realizing it - giving the client advice on their overall strategy - and charge your regular coding fee?

Are you teaching clients how to do it themselves?
Example: a copywriter submits a completed sales page to a client. The client is extremely happy with the copy, but also worried about the future. She wants to use the same copy for updated versions of her product, but is afraid that she'll wreck the effectiveness of the copy by making uneducated changes.

The copywriter teaches the client the basics of copywriting so that she can update the copy on the fly as she adds more features to her product.

How often do you give clients advice on how to do the work for themselves without realizing that you are actually giving them valuable consulting time?

How this can affect your bottom line

Everyone knows that consultants often charge high hourly rates. This is because the skills and advice they pass on to the client are extremely valuable.

Teaching a client how to 'do it themselves' means they could save hundreds or thousands of dollars on hire costs. Lending an expert hand to a client's strategy can be the difference between success or failure for them.

If these kinds of activities are already part of your business but have been lumped in with all the 'doing' work that you do - writing the copy, building the code, designing the logo - and charged at your regular rate, I'd urge you to start thinking of these higher-level activities as separate consulting services, and presenting them as such to clients.

I'll talk about packaging and pricing a bit later on. For now, I want to dedicate some time to those of you who are not yet doing consulting-type work in their business, and explain how…

Any freelancer can start consulting on the side

When dealing with clients, you're usually in a position of expertise. If you can see a way to sharpen their system, introduce cooler features or do something better, offer to consult with them and tell them how.

OR, as an upsell when your 'doing' service ends, offer to teach them how to 'do it themselves'. Web designers can show clients how to update and customize the website they've just been built, going above and beyond a quick summary and working with clients in-depth.

Search Engine Optimization experts can show clients how to perform ongoing basic SEO on their site. Similar opportunities exist in any field of freelancing.

You also don't need to wait until your service ends to sell this kind of consulting. It might help you attract new clients who only want to invest a few hours in learning how to do it themselves to save on the much greater costs of hiring an expert to do everything for them.

Rather than paying someone $3,000 to run a Pay Per Click ad campaign on their behalf, the client might invest $500 in learning how to run a similar campaign themselves. Learning DIY methods is a common strategy for people who are time rich but money poor.

OR, you can teach other freelancers how to do what you're already doing. Freelancing is a booming industry and there are brave people escaping 'the man' and going solo every day.

These people are often hungry for guidance. They read blogs like this one, buy eBooks promising freelance riches, but what they'd find most useful is a mentor who has been there, done that and can teach them how to get started from scratch.

If you're concerned about creating competition for yourself, work with people who are in a field that doesn't overlap with your own sphere of work.

If you're a logo designer, train up web designers, for example. (To be honest, though, I think there are enough freelancers plying their trade that one extra person entering your field won't make a difference to your own chances).

Why doing consulting work can transform your bottom line

I don't want to promise you that as a consultant you'll be able to charge $500 an hour, $250 an hour or even $100 an hour - though I know that some freelancers are. Where you'll be completely depends on how your clients value your time, value your consultations and to what extent they view you as an expert.

What I can state with confidence is that you will be able to charge significantly higher than your hourly rate, since you're providing a high-level service with long-term value to the client.

If you're completely stumped as to what this should be, think about starting at double and slowly working your way up. If you charge $25, charge $50 for consulting. If you charge $50, charge $100, and so on.

If these figures sound unattainable, consider that they are below what most people doing consulting work will charge. These people are not necessarily special or uber-talented, but they do have faith in the value they provide.

As you become more confident in your worth as a consultant, work on raising your consulting rate by increments. Of course, wait until you're in a safe financial position first before trying this. My suggested method is as follows: each time a client accepts your rate, raise it $5 for the next prospect.

The point is not to keep raising your rates until you're an out of work prima donna. You do this to test various price-points and find the one that balances a high conversion rate from prospect into client, while providing maximum profits for your business.

In the long-term (and hopefully the short-term) you will thank yourself for going through this process.

If clients are snapping up your services without even a little bit of haggle, this probably indicates that you could be charging more. If they are always saying no on grounds of price, you'll need to raise your perception of value in their eyes before you can raise your rates. Or, find a different type of client.

This is only a tool

I'm certain that a few people will read this and say: "Yes, I do consulting for my regular rate, but it allows me to land bigger jobs," or other similar objections. That is totally fine. Doing consulting work is a high-yield service you can add extra profits to your business straight away, but it is completely up to you how you use it.

One interesting parting fact I'll leave you with is this: almost every single six figure freelancer I've known does consulting work alongside 'doing' work, and every part-time freelancer earning a full-time income I've known spends a significant percentage of their time consulting.

If you've read this far, you're clearly interested in the possibilities. Take out a pen and paper and write down all the ways consulting could fit into your freelance business.

Source: Anywired

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