In this blog post I share my story how I built a coaching and consulting business and booked my first paid client within less than 60 days. I also give you some hints on how you can create your own job by becoming a freelance consultant.
My story – The quick version
On September 4th 2012 I opened doors for jordico.com, my own coaching and consulting business to help professionals, especially Expats in Switzerland, to find a new job or further develop their career. I did this while being fully employed and also studying Business Administration on the side. I just wanted to add this so nobody can get back to me and tell me that he or she has no time.
The start went very smooth and in September I counted 4’000 visitors on jordico.com. In October it tripled and went to over 10’000 visitors per month. Also the engagement on the blog is significant. Some articles have been shared close to 200 times within a few days. Here is the list with the most popular ones:
Within exactly 56 days after launch, I booked my first paying client and I now get requests almost every day. I believe everybody can achieve the same results within his own expertise even faster than me, as I only have a few hours per week to build my business.
Why becoming a freelance consultant?
Being a freelance consultant is fantastic. You get to choose who you work with, how much you are going to charge and how much you work. You basically create your own job and you are much less involved in corporate politics. You usually always earn more money as a freelance consultant than if you were employed. Plus, every hour you work, is fully paid.
Of course there are different types of freelance consultants, mainly within two categories. Business to Business and Business to End Consumer.
How to become a freelance consultant?
If you are unemployed at the moment and applying for jobs does not lead anywhere for you, becoming a freelance consultant is one of the options to take. I believe, one the of the best ones.
1. Decide exactly what you will be doing
It is very important to focus on an expertise you have, a talent or simply something you are really good at. Take your professional life over the last 5-10 years and analyze what you have been doing best and also liked the most. This is what you will be doing on an independent basis.
2. Be very specific about your target clients
Who exactly are you serving? My target audience is very specific. Expats (Professionals, Managers and Executives) in Switzerland or outside who do not speak a local language and want to work in Switzerland or develop their career. I could have gone even more specific, into the IT industry, as this is my main experience over the past 7 years but I decided to work across industries as I love meeting people from different fields. The area I do business in is very competitive but I chose such a specific niche, that the competition is almost nonexistent.
The specific choice about your target audience might be the most important aspect in your plan to become a freelance consultant because if you try to serve everybody, you serve nobody.
Of course I do not interfere with my corporate job and do not compete with my employer in any way. This is also an important detail to keep in mind when you start your own service based business.
It has never been easier and cheaper (actually free) to spread the word about your expertise and to build a strong personal brand. I have not spent any money at all to promote jordico.com by now and don’t intend to in the near future. Still, I have reached over 15’000 people within less than 60 days of being in business. This is how powerful a blog is.
4. Put up a section on your blog with your services
For the first month, I did not even have a page on my blog to show my services as my main intention was not to make money from day one but help as many people as possible as fast as possible and strengthen my reputation and personal brand. It turned out pretty good so far.
I now display my services clearly on my website so people can get in touch with me easily if they would like to work with me.
5. Share your expertise
People will not just magically appear on your blog. Share your blog posts with your network and on all the places where your target audience already is. For me this is LinkedIn, I get more than 60% of all my traffic through LinkedIn.
6. Be generous
It is important that people feel that you are there. Answer every email and comment. Engage with everybody. I give out tons of free advice every day. Of course I can’t offer my coaching and consulting for free but if it takes me 5 minutes to answer a question in a comment on LinkedIn that actually helps, of course I do it. Make sure you are responsive. Sometimes it takes me a week to reply but I try to get back to everybody.
7. Read “Book yourself solid“
This is the single best book I have ever read about starting a service based business and is one of the main reasons I am where I am today. You can get it on Amazon for less than CHF 15.-.
The most valuable part is not the book itself but the workbook that comes with it. I urge you to take it seriously and do every single exercise.
So what stops you from starting your own freelance consulting business?