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What is a Freelance Consultant?
A freelance consultant is a self-employed consultant that gets paid to provide professional advice to clients. They work with companies and organizations, providing expertise and recommendations in a functional area, technology, or industry.
A freelance consultant may work with businesses, governments, non-profits, political organizations, and individuals.
They are typically solopreneurs or have minimal staff. They are solely responsible for finding clients and executing the work.
And complete project-based based on an agreed-upon price and timeline.
Freelance consultants sell their expertise.
Freelance Consultant vs Freelancer
A freelancer is someone who works as an independent contractor. Freelancers work on various types of projects and gigs. For example, you can be a freelance writer, coder, designer, marketer, consultant, and much more.
Freelancer is a generic term for self-employed solopreneurs. Freelancers will generally not have any full-time staff.
Freelancers can sell their expertise or labor.
For example, a freelance content strategist could develop a company’s content strategy, providing consulting based on their expertise.
Once the strategy is in place, that same company may hire a freelance writer to write an article, blog, or other pieces of content.
Freelance Consultant vs Traditional Consultant
An important distinction to consider when determining what is a freelance consultant is comparing it to a traditional consultant.
A traditional consultant works for a consulting firm or in-house team at a large company. They, too, give professional advice to their clients and possess deep expertise in a functional area, technology, and industry.
Traditional consulting firms sell their expertise. However, many consulting firms will also sell labor, making sense considering a vertical integration strategy.
For example, if a company needs a new enterprise software solution. The traditional consulting firm could provide consulting services to recommend the software and develop the implementation strategy. Once they’ve provided all of those services, it’s natural to provide labor to implement the software.
Why Companies Hire Freelance Consultants
Companies usually hire freelance consultants to help them with smaller but strategic projects where they don’t have the necessary expertise. Or the company needs deep expertise on a specific project but doesn’t want to hire a full-time employee.
For example, a VP of Product Management for a Fortune 100 company needs a competitive analysis conducted for a new product launch. The product management team needs this analysis completed in 3-months.
However, the company is launching two other products at the same time.
And they don’t have enough capacity to take on another competitive analysis. So, the product management team hires a freelance market research consultant with expertise in competitive analysis.
That freelance consultant works hand-in-hand with the product management team for 3-months to deliver the competitive analysis.
After completing the competitive analysis, the freelance consultant moves on to a new project with the same or a different client.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Freelance Consultant
As a freelance consulting, you’re the business owner. So you’re in complete control.
- You get to choose the projects you work on and go after opportunities that align with your interests.
- You don’t have to work with clients who don’t fit your values.
- You can niche into areas specific to your expertise and charge premium rates.
- You can set your schedule and working hours to enjoy a more flexible work schedule.
- You have a better chance of being recognized as a thought leader. Nobody is holding you back from promoting your expertise.
- You can gain experience and take on more responsibilities because you don’t have to wait in line to get promoted or hand anything over to someone higher up.
- You can work from home or any other location any time you want.
How Much Do Freelance Consultants Make
How much you make as a freelance consultant is dependent on you, your niche, your price, revenue streams, and many other variables.
Many freelance consultants make well over six figures per year. Most consultants charge a flat fee project rate.
For example, the average project rate on Catalant was $49,500. Those projects last 2-3 months.
Some freelance consultants charge an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly rate. So, if a client plans to hire you for a project that lasts 3-months, you’d quote them a monthly rate of $20,000. They would pay you $20,000 at the end of each month.
If you’re looking for a hard and fast number, Payoneer recently released their 2022 Global Freelancer Income Report. In this report, the average hourly rate for a U.S. freelancer was $44.
That equals $91,520 per year if you’re working 40/hrs per week.
But remember, this report includes all types of freelancers, including writers, virtual assistants, software developers, and consultants. So, the average hourly rate is doesn’t perfectly reflect freelance consulting.
In addition, the report includes a lot of freelancing jobs that don’t pay as much as consulting.
Requirements To Be A Freelance Consultant
The requirements to become a freelance consultant vary by niche, industry, and function. Some types of consulting will require more expertise, education, or an industry-recognized certification.
That doesn’t mean a formal undergraduate or post-graduate education is required to be a freelance consultant. You could certainly be a highly successful social media or digital marketing consultant with a High School education plus 3-4 industry-recognized certifications.
But you’ll need a mix of experience and education to demonstrate your expertise in the sector initially.
Customers buy from those they know, like, and trust. Your experience, education, and expertise help to build trust.
A freelance consultant will also need the standard equipment such as a computer, reliable internet, and essential business software.
Other than that, the requirements will depend on your niche, industry, and the types of projects you plan to execute.
Now that we’ve explained, what is a freelance consultant, it’s up to you to determine if freelance consulting is right for you.
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