I was recently having lunch with a mentor who has over 30 years of experience running his own freelance business as a graphic designer. Someone asked him to share one piece of advice he had for beginning freelancers and he said, “A newbie freelancer should start thinking about ways they can become a consultant.”
As he explained himself, I realized I’d actually done exactly what he said to do, I just hadn’t done it consciously. As someone who’d already gotten into the consulting space, I was also able to see how every reason he gave for his argument was on point.
Here are seven reasons why every freelancer should become a consultant.
Reason #1: You’re basically already a consultant, so start acting like one.
My mentor made the argument that freelancers basically are consultants already, they just don’t see themselves as such. As a result, they don’t charge the proper rates for their work.
Think about it. As a freelancer, you are getting hired for your expertise. The problem is most freelancers don’t see it this way. Instead, they only see themselves a person who gets hired for a particular skill.
But, ultimately, we all know how this goes. You start getting hired for your skill and before you know it you aren’t just using the skill, you’re also advising your client on what to do. That’s when a freelancer can know that they’ve become a consultant without even realizing it.
Reason #2: Become a consultant so you can charge like one.
Anyone who takes consulting seriously can tell you that they make serious money. Just one serious marketing consulting gig can pay me more money than my last job would in a year.
Once again, the problem is freelancers tend to only see themselves as a person with a skill, so they end up only charging for the skill instead of also charging for the expertise.
If a freelancer makes the effort to become a consultant, they’ll quickly realize they can charge more money and finally end the dreaded feast or famine cycle.
Reason #3: Your time is the most valuable thing you have.
Your time is the most valuable thing you have. As a freelancer, how much time a project takes up literally affects whether or not you’ll be able to take on another project. Consultants know this, and that’s why they charge the way they do.
Reason #4: Your brain is expensive.
Have you ever had a freelance client who keeps asking to get on the phone with you? Or a client who asks for your advice? If you do, then you’ve definitely ventured into consultant territory.
All these instances of picking your brain can really add up and it also means you lose money. First, because it takes time away from other clients. Second, because your brain is expensive.
You’ve put time, money and effort into becoming the skilled worker that you are. You’ll likely need to keep putting in money in order to improve. So what does that mean? It means you need to become a consultant and start asking for more money.
Reason #5: This mindset shift helps you move from freelancer to business owner.
I’ve previously discussed the differences between a freelancer and a business owner. One of those differences is that businesses owners don’t just see themselves as workers. As such, they think about charging based on value, scalability and expanding the business.
When a freelancer makes the mental shift to become a consultant, it helps them move into more of a business owner mindset. Even though they are still a contractor, the very act of thinking differently is a step in the right direction.
It may start as consulting for now, but eventually it could turn into products and services that are more easily scalable, such as info products based on your expertise. The point here is to just start moving in the direction of being a business owner, and becoming a consultant – even if its just mentally – can help with that.
Reason #6: If you value yourself, others will likely value you too.
I do a lot of business coaching for business owners. One of the things I’ve noticed is sometimes people don’t value themselves, their work or their expertise. This causes them to charge very little, never close a deal or get taken for a ride.
The reality is if you want people to take you seriously, then you need to start taking yourself seriously. Starting to see yourself as a consultant instead of a freelancer is one way to do that.
Think about it. If you walk into a sales situation owning how good you are at what you do, you’re far more likely to land the deal. And this isn’t just about what you say during the meeting, this is also about the energy you give off.
You can say that you value your work, but if you aren’t willing to charge accordingly, skirt around negotiations or don’t share your expertise, then what you’re telling your prospect is your work may not be valuable.
This does take a lot of work and it may feel uncomfortable at first, but starting to see yourself as a consultant instead of just a freelancer will certainly help you.
Reason #7: People are going to start asking you for advice anyway.
Once you make it to a certain level in your freelance business, people are going to start naturally asking you for your advice. If this is happening to you, you’ve once again ventured into consulting territory.
Even if it’s not happening to you already, it will, which is why freelancers need to start thinking of ways to become a consultant sooner rather than later.
If you’re a freelancer, you may want to consider becoming a consultant. In doing so you can make more money, move toward scalability, and finally get overcome the feast or famine cycle.