I believe the number one mistake you could make, in this business, is to position yourself as a “Freelancer”.
I found that there is a bit of a stigma associate with the term freelancer.
In today’s world of outsourcing through sites like freelancer.com and upwork.com, people go there with the mentality that they can get “something for nothing”.
People usually hire a freelancer for a single job or project, not a long term relationship.
You don’t want people to view you and the work you do with that perception.
For a lot of years, I positioned myself as a web this or that. Often using the word freelancer, as if to describe my availability.
However, after reading Alan Weiss’ book, The Consulting Bible, I decided to reposition myself.
When somebody asked what I did for a living, instead of saying I’m a freelance web developer, or something along those lines, I would responded with, “I’m a marketing consultant!”.
Just using the word “consultant” seemed to present more value right form the start.
What it means to be a Consultant
Being a consultant means you’re able to use your knowledge and experience to systematically solve your clients problem(s).
As a freelancer, you’re hired to complete a specific task, i.e convert this PSD into a WordPress theme.
As a consultant you approach the entire project from a different vantage point, looking at all the angles.
And because you’re client doesn’t see you with limited vision, “a website developer”, you can provide advice and direction to actually solve the problem, making yourself more valuable.
Keep in mind, as a consultant, it’s your job to get the client to the correct solution as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Tested and Verified
I decided to run a test and verify my conclusions after reading, The Consulting Bible.
Taking my personal blog, I converted it into a freelancer website. Marketing myself as a freelance website developer.
After 10 months I analyzed things.
My website was generating a lot of leads, but 7 out of 10 times, my consulting mentality was too much for the prospect.
Two of the remaining three, I’d end up helping the prospect find a solution in the first call or talk them out of doing whatever it was they thought they wanted to hire me for.
And the remaining one, eventually because a client.
My conclusion, they don’t want expert advice, they wanted an expert drone to complete a task.
Always remember that as a Consultant, your job is not to “build a website”, it’s to solve a problem.
Which means you need to ask questions to understand their business. You need to know why this client wants to build a website, what are their goals, what are they expecting?
Often your clients don’t know or understand that just building a website wont guarantee leads, sales, or anything else.
Be their coach, educate them about the process so that they can make smarter business decisions and feel good about making you one of those good decisions.
This is very important: whenever relevant, you should measure the effectiveness of your website or marketing campaigns against things of real value, like revenues.
A lot of companies will count the number of new Facebook page Likes as results, but those likes only count when they convert to paying customers.
With technology today, anybody can build websites, but not everybody can offer expert advice that will help their clients grow their business.
Two Ways to Make This Work
My Consulting Theory is really a positioning technic. It is designed to do two very important things.
- Give you better posture when selling and servicing your clients.
- Reframe the mindset of your clients, helping them see you as an expert they can count on for the answers and solutions they need.
I always had the same goal for every phone consultation. I wanted to hear my client say something like, “I’m glad I have a marketing expert to help keep me moving in the right direction.” or, “I’m glad I have somebody I trust that knows what they’re doing.”.
You see how those statements, when expressed by the client, show that they understand your value and appreciate it?
As a “freelancer” I had clients appreciate the work I did for them, but they rarely understood the value of my expertise.
Here’s how you’ll know which category you’re in:
If a client every complains about how much you are charging them, they see you as a “freelancer” not a “consultant”.