There are many types of consultants, but which consulting niche is best for you? This article will help guide you to the right freelance consulting niche.
Freelance consulting can be a great business opportunity for those who have an entrepreneurial spirit and like to work with different people and organizations.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a freelance consultant is that there’s no limit on how much success you can achieve.
There are plenty of freelance consulting opportunities out there for those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to succeed as a consultant!
So, what do all these types of consultants do?
This article will explore the types of consultants, what they do, why companies hire them, and their benefits to their clients. We’ll also look at the main generalist types of consulting and then review specialty consulting niches.
Table of Contents
What is Consulting?
Consulting is a process of information gathering and communication between a client and a consultant. A consultant will carry out the planning, research, analysis, design, implementation, management reporting, and other methods to help clients make decisions on their problems.
Consultants provide analysis, evaluation, advising, and recommendations to clients for complex business challenges.
The nature of consulting work can be both long-term and short-term.
In addition, consultants can specialize in niches. We’ll cover both consulting opportunities for generalists and niche consultants.
What Is the Difference Between a Consultant and a Contractor?
There is a fundamental difference between a contractor and a freelance consultant.
A contractor is an independent worker hired by a business to perform a job or task for a set amount of time. They are self-employed, so the contract ends when the job is done.
Contractors need to know how to perform the specific job or task.
However, they don’t need a broad understanding of the industry, business, or function.
Of course, this extra information will help contractors succeed, but it’s not always required.
For example, a company may hire a copywriter to write a series of emails leading to a product launch.
Freelance consultants are individuals with extensive experience and expertise in a field. They are self-employed.
A consultant creates strategies, provides recommendations, and delivers training. Typically, they hand everything off to people in charge of doing the work.
Occasionally they will execute or implement the project as well.
For example, a company may hire a consultant to develop the strategy and recommendations for the product launch above.
Why Do Companies Hire Consultants?
- Outside perspective: To gain an objective perspective and a new set of eyes on a problem as an unbiased third party.
- Specialized expertise: To gain an individual’s expertise for specific projects or initiatives.
- Staff augmentation: To add an expert’s input for just a few days or weeks, then you can go back to your regular staff after that.
- Agent of Change: To be a change agent at all levels of an organization without worrying about internal politics, corporate culture, or employee morale. All of which slow down change.
- Innovative Training: To provide additional and innovative training to employees within a company.
- Dirty work: To do the dirty work like objectively analyzing staff. Then, firing employees or downsizing business units. An outside consultant is a neutral party that can perform the task and exit once completed.
- Creativity: To inject creativity into a project. Or to provide a fresh perspective outside of the old ways of doing things. Helping those companies uncover new opportunities or solve problems differently.
Types of Consultants – Generalist
Strategy consulting is a specific style of management consulting, and its focus is on helping organizations develop strategies that will help the organization compete within their markets.
A strategy consultant usually works with high-level executives from the company to determine the best business strategy for success.
A management consultant advises companies by making recommendations, often on various topics, ranging from broad organizational issues down to specific business cases.
The ultimate objective is to improve the company’s performance.
Operations consultants increase the efficiency of a company’s value chain. These services include developing and implementing operating and service delivery models, executing cost reduction programs, and optimizing business procedures.
Human Resources Consultant
HR consultants support organizations by ensuring that their human resources strategies align with their long-term objectives. They create and modify human capital models specific to the businesses for which they work.
In addition, human resource consultants optimize human capital programs to ensure employees are working at maximum productivity levels.
IT consultants work to make IT systems function more effectively. They provide strategic advice on technological and infrastructure development.
Also, IT consultants help their customers choose the best IT, solutions-including hardware, software, and services.
Financial Advisory Consultant
A financial consultant advises businesses on various issues and concerns typically overseen by a customer’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). A financial advisory consultant works with companies to assess their financial performance, offer recommendations for improving it, and then put those suggestions into action.
Financial advisory experts specialize in risk management, taxes, real estate, accounting, and financial planning.
A marketing consultant will evaluate a client’s current marketing strategy, including their target market, market positioning, and go-to-market strategy.
Then, create a new marketing plan based on data, metrics, and competitive intelligence.
Types of Consultants – Specialty Consulting Niches
Types of Consultants – Marketing
Marketing Strategy Consultant: A marketing strategy consultant develops strategies to help a company grow its market share. The consultant’s role is to study the marketplace and advise how to reach customers with a product or service.
A marketing strategy consultant might specialize in specific marketing specialties, such as social media for small businesses.
Market Research Consultant: A market research consultant conducts secondary market research, interviews focus groups.
Additionally, they can collect voice of the customer to help a company understand how to serve its target markets better and improve the sales of its products and services.
Advertising Consultant: An advertising consultant helps companies decide how to advertise their products and services.
They can connect with consumers through online, TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, and other media formats.
Content Marketing Consultant: A content marketing consultant develops strategies for companies to reach their target audiences through blogs, podcasts, and social media posts. The marketer will develop a content strategy that provides valuable information to customers and prospects.
They’ll then encourage people to share that information with others via word-of-mouth or online social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Digital Marketing Consultant: A digital marketing consultant supports companies by helping them get the most out of their online presence.
They might help a company develop an email marketing strategy, optimize its search engine rankings, or craft inbound marketing campaigns.
Social Media Marketing Consultant: A social media marketing consultants build a company’s social media presence by developing strategies for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
They may focus on social media advertising to get more followers and fans or help a company execute its social media marketing strategy.
Public Relations Consultant: A public relations professional helps businesses manage their public image by creating positive news coverage, controlling negative publicity, and directing the flow of information released to the public.
A public relations consultant works with a company’s marketing, advertising, and communication teams to help keep its brand in good standing with customers.
Communications Consultant: A communications consultant helps companies create compelling messaging that they can then use to gain market shares, increase their overall brand recognition, and drive sales.
A communications consultant might work with the marketing team to develop a new tagline for a product or help explain how an internal system works.
Brand Strategy Consultant: A brand strategy consultant works with an organization to develop its brand. The focus is on leveraging the brand’s value, defining what it is known for, and building an emotional connection with customers.
Types of Consultants – Sales
Sales Strategy Consultant: A sales strategy consultant works with businesses to develop their sales strategies. They might help build a new sales process or provide advice on best implementing an existing one.
A sales strategy consultant’s goal is to increase revenue and maintain strong customer relationships.
Sales Operations Consultant: A sales operations consultant focuses on processes and strategies to help a business improve its existing sales organization.
They might work with the HR department to create quotas and goals or focus on sales operations such as lead generation and training.
Inside Sales Consultant: An inside sales consultant develops strategies for companies to use when interacting with customers via the phone and email.
They might help a company create a new inside sales process, provide training, or create sales targets.
Other Types of Consultants – Commercial
Customer Success Consultant: A customer success consultant will work with a company to ensure its customers are getting the most out of its products. They might provide support, training, or technical assistance to get the most value from an organization’s offerings.
The goal is to get more people to use that product or service and then return for additional purchases.
Customer Service Consultant: A customer service consultant helps companies improve customer satisfaction. They might work with a company to create specific ways to capture feedback or address issues with products, services, or brands.
Types of Consultants – Human Resources
Compensation & Benefits Consultant: A compensation & benefits consultant works with companies to help them develop compensation and benefits plans that will attract, motivate, and retain the best employees.
The consultant may help design a base salary plan, determine incentive pay rates for salespeople, create stock option plans for executives, or recommend vacation policies.
Organizational Change Consultant: An organizational change consultant implements and manages change to bring about positive and long-lasting impact.
They also encourage and facilitate management to adopt new leadership behaviors and skills that can lead to a successful restructuring, merger, or other changes needed for the organization’s growth and survival in the marketplace.
Talent Consultant: A talent Management consultant works with the HR Department to help an organization address and find solutions for its talent management needs.
Talent consulting may include:
- Developing talent assessment tools and processes.
- Identifying areas for improvement in talent systems.
- Designing succession plans.
Learning & Development Consultant: A learning & development consultant will create training programs for the employees.
The consultant will pick the suitable materials to use, create a program, arrange for speakers and videos, select training sites, design forms, provide classroom instruction or online learning.
Career Consultant: A career consultant may partner with executives or individual contributors to design customized career management strategies.
They can help you build critical skills, improve behaviors that affect your performance, update your knowledge base, or accomplish other goals that will move you toward achieving your specific career objectives.
Types of Consultants – Information Technology
Software Consultant: A software consultant may consult with the IT department to help develop, implement, or improve the effectiveness of information systems.
A software consultant might help upgrade an organization’s computing hardware or create a web-based application for customers to order products.
Network Consultant: A network consultant helps clients build and maintain network infrastructure, including servers, routers, switches, firewalls, and desktop computers. They offer a solid knowledge of network protocols, logical network layout, and security measures.
A network consultant may also help clients reduce their overall costs by streamlining workflows, improving efficiency, or enhancing performance.
Data Analytics Consultant: A data analytics consultant will show companies how to use the vast amounts of data they collect to make better business decisions.
They may perform IT audits or security assessments and evaluate company culture to determine how it supports specific goals.
Implementation Consultant: An implementation consultant helps the IT department roll out a new system by training end-users on the latest technology and customizing settings as necessary.
Plus, they track and report on project metrics for the duration of the implementation.
Cybersecurity Consultant: A cybersecurity consultant will recommend cybersecurity policies and procedures to protect an organization’s digital assets, such as data and software.
They may also recommend specific technologies, such as anti-malware or encryption to help meet the organization’s security goals.
Data Privacy Consultant: A data privacy consultant is a growing field where the consultant advises companies on how best to protect the personally identifiable information of their clients.
They help companies develop policies and procedures to ensure individuals’ private data is safe at all times. For example, providing access to this information is restricted, and employees do not share or sell it with third parties.
Other Types of Consultants
Project Management Consultant: A project management consultant takes on small projects for other companies, working with them to improve their competencies in essential business areas like scheduling, budgeting, and task allocation.
They might also help a company develop a project management framework or improve how they deliver individual projects to clients.
Image Consultant: An image consultant works with individuals to improve their appearance and feel more confident.
A client’s image can improve through clothing, makeup, hairstyles, accessories, or other visual elements of a person’s appearance.
Personal Branding Consultant: A Personal Branding Consultant will help individuals create, develop and communicate their personal brand.
They will provide insight into what makes an individual’s personal brand unique, differentiating them from the competition.
Non-Profit Consultant: A non-profit consultant helps not-for-profit organizations in areas like increasing fundraising, engaging their community, or increasing awareness about the organization’s mission.
Political Consultant: A political consultant works with political candidates to help them get elected or re-elected. They will often be responsible for creating campaign strategies, direct mail campaigns, phone banking, and other in-person outreach efforts to secure the candidate’s election.
They can also work with political organizations to help them gain supporters for their cause, create a more positive public perception of the organization, and raise funds.
Environmental Consultant: Environmental consulting includes a variety of sub-specialties, including environmental technology, hazardous waste management, air quality control, emission reduction, and environmental law.
Environmental consultants may be responsible for developing environmental legislation, conducting environmental audits, or implementing policies and procedures to help companies comply with local environmental regulations.
Hospitality Consultant: Hospitality consulting is focused on improving the customer experience, which might include designing or refurbishing properties to make them more attractive to customers.
A hospitality consultant might also work on increasing revenue by helping a hotel with strategic management, marketing campaigns, and business development programs targeted at high-value business travelers.
Freelance Consulting as a Business Opportunity
As you can see, there are many types of consultants. And freelance consultants operate in a wide variety of industries and niches.
As a result, consulting is an excellent option for those who want to stay nimble and enjoy self-employment.
In addition, freelance consultants can hold multiple clients at any time, which helps keep income consistent.
Being a freelance consultant has become more popular over recent years. It offers individuals more flexibility, control over what projects they take on, how many hours they work, and how much they get paid.
Freelance consultants are generally able to bring in higher hourly rates than if they were employed full-time. Or can be a stepping stone towards starting your own business or working for yourself full-time.
Freelance consulting can also help you establish your professional network, build your experience, and give you access to many projects that might not have been available had you been employed by another company.
If you have expertise in a function or niche, consider starting a freelance consulting business.