Freelancing has become the buzzword for the millennials. We all fancy freedom from the boss, flexible work hours, working from exotic locations and most importantly, freedom to pick and choose the work we do. A freelance consultant gets all of this.
India has become the biggest freelancer market in the world, where every one-in-four freelance consultant is from India. A report from PayPal says that India contributes 50% of freelancers globally in the software domain.
The study also revealed 41 percent of Indian freelancers witnessed growth in the last 12 months and nearly 23 percent of them had annual average earnings of ₹60 lakh.
A freelance consultant is a person who works independently and is paid for his professional or expert advice in a certain field or specialty, for instance, advising a company on social media marketing or on boosting performance.
Initially, people perceived freelancing as the second best option. It was probably for the people who couldn’t get a decent full-time job. They also thought it was only for women so that they can have a part-time job while managing a home. It was believed that a freelance consultant works in solitude, gets low pay and is not a lucrative career option.
However, the digital revolution has revamped the world of work. Employers are recognising the talent can be outside the 9-5 format. This new-age freelance consultant is ambitious, experienced, highly qualified and is busting stereotypes.
As per an estimate by PayPal, India has close to 1.5 crore freelancers. A high-quality Indian freelancer can earn up to $20 per hour, choose their own clientele and meet phenomenal people while networking.
But becoming a freelance consultant is not easy. It does come with immense freedom but also demands much more individual personal responsibility. Working freelance means working very hard. It is nothing like your cushy 9-5 cubicle job.
It is much more than pajamas and slippers. From getting clients to managing your finances, meeting deliverables to growing your network it is nothing less than an entrepreneurial stint.
Here is a step-by-step guide to kickstart your journey as a freelance consultant:
1) Find your profitable niche
If you are planning to quit your job or start afresh as a freelance consultant, first think what are you good at? What is something that can light up your interest even after a long day at work? What would you be doing, if money wasn’t a consideration? Would you write all day long, go on long strolls for clicking pictures or just talk about fashion/food/tech all day.
While choosing your niche, you just need to consider two things – what is that you love doing and are you able to generate revenue out of it. Once you have identified your niche, research about the market and understand the dynamics of the market you want to work for.
Then find a way to differentiate yourself from other freelancers.
2) Create a business proposal
As a freelance consultant, your portfolio, blog, client testimonials, and case studies are your assets. Create a website or a page on social media to give a face to your work. These things will create your image, establish your authority and build trust amongst your audience.
Know what your core offering is and build off-the-shelf packages of your services. For instance, Neil Patel has other businesses (Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, Kissmetrics) but growing website traffic is the one thing he’s most known for.
When you create a core offering it suppresses the pressure and let you focus on a host of different services.
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3) Build a pipeline for work
Never, ever, undervalue the time taken to plan. When you are working on one project, start thinking about where the next one is coming from, so that there are no gaps. The biggest perk of being a freelance consultant is to choose your work.
If your work options are scarce and you’re desperate to earn you can’t do this. However, if you plan and build a healthy pipeline you have the freedom to decline project you don’t want to work on. This will give you massive power to be in control of your work life.
As a traditional employee, you are bound to get a steady pay check at the end of every month. However, as a freelancer your income is always fluctuating. One month you may make a bundle but another month your income might dwindle.
Freelancing as we know is very uncertain and so to keep yourself aloof from any financial risk you must diversify. You must create multiple sources of income so that you have reliable flow of income even in slow months.
Having diversified source of income will help you to save yourself from any financial disruptions. A wise man once said, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.” Live by this adage if you are a freelance consultant.
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5) Work on fiscal discipline
To keep your freelance consultancy afloat it is imperative to take care of your finances. Before you take a plunge as a freelance consultant, keep a year’s savings separately. Having money as a backup in case something goes wrong will give you more peace of mind.
You might have an accident, fall sick or a client could fall through. Having a little money as a backup will protect you against unforeseen circumstances. Also, while charging your clients remember to charge per project, quote rates that motivate you to give your best and raise your price every 3-5 clients.
6) Keep your overheads low
When you are on your own you have the flexibility to monitor your expenses and keep them as low as possible. Instead of operating from for a swanky office, you can opt working out of a creative and an inspiring coworking space. You may join coworking communities like myHQ.
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7) Use the right tools
Working hard isn’t enough, work smart to ace the race. Working smartly can increase your inflow, boost your productivity and effectively manage your freelance work. Use the right tools and take some huge leap forward in your business.
A tool will let you automate manual processes. There are plenty of applications that you can opt for managing your work, creating invoices and finding more clients.
8) Stay updated and upscale your game
You are your own mentor. Keep yourself abreast with all the changes in your industry. For this, you may set up google alerts for topics you are interested in. Staying updated will give you an edge over your competitors. In fact, you may use the latest information and add value for your clientele.
9) Network, Network Network
In the freelancing landscape, networking and finding work are two sides of the same coin. You are your brand. Your biggest client acquisition channel is networking. Schedule an hour each day for networking. Get on all types of social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and keep yourself fresh in people’s mind.
Lastly, the digital game cannot underpin the value of face time and real meetings. Ensure that once in a while you are meeting your clients for a dinner or a coffee and get the bond growing. You have to meet people and confirm that you’re real and worth investing in. You can also try the new-age coworking spaces like myHQ to meet new people and discover clients.
Becoming a freelance consultant is a lifestyle choice. It empowers you to become more rounded and an experienced individual. By effectively managing your work you can opt for doing things you love the most. Don’t get caught in the rate race of making money.
Life is beyond bank balances and freelancing can free up your time and let you develop new skills, meet new people and do things you always wanted. Stay focused and stay targeted and freelancing can certainly be a game changer.
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