For our next trick, we’re going to introduce a truly earth-shattering concept here: take a skill you already know and find a way to get someone to pay you for it.
With a specific emphasis on the latter: How to find paying clients.
As a general rule, we do not endorse the idea of learning a completely new skill to go build a consulting business around. There isn’t enough time to “level up” to the point a client will take you seriously – and you’re facing an uphill battle to sell any new work.
On the other hand, tweaking the way you package and sell your expertise can have a massive impact on your billings and rates. Here are a couple of winning plays:
- Learning How To Find Clients: Knowing how to efficiently find clients is the lifeblood of a successful freelancer. We asked a couple of freelancers to tell us a about their best tactics: Hunting Clients on LinkedIn and Strategies for Upwork. They gave us a couple of other guides, including a 24 hour challenge to help get you past the uncomfortable part of getting started and a candidate discussion about when to work for free (and when not to).
- Focus on Specialized Expertise: Narrow your focus to your highest value customers and pitch the unique value you offer those clients. Want to triple your close rate for new business and double earnings per hour? This is how to do it.
- Becoming Full Service: The only exception that I have to to the “no new skills” policy. Many professional skills are often “team sports”, where multiple specialists collaborate to deliver a final product. Want to stand out and save clients money? Learn enough about these related jobs that you can deliver the work yourself. Unlike learning a completely new skill, this is a low risk way to build your value: you can focus on learning only the relevant material, you have credibility with the client (from your current role), and are already familiar with the typical projects.
What Services To Sell?
It starts with the customer – what services do people and businesses need?
As a starting point, take a look at Upwork or Fiverr. While these markets usually aren’t the most lucrative places to find clients, they capture a very broad range of possibilities.
We’ve also got stories from folks who have build their own successful practices:
While this is an exceptional case, there’s actually a lot of upside if you’re creative about how you build an offering. Check out this story about $500 per hour strategy consulting.