How to Start a Consulting Business in 2022
Have you ever thought of starting a consulting business? Having the freedom to choose when to work, who to work for, and how much you want to get paid for your services?
If starting a consulting business is something you’ve always wanted, there has never been a better time for you to get started.
Today, consulting is a highly lucrative industry. According to Ibis World, the consulting industry in the United States is worth $229 billion – and that’s just for management consulting.
Considering that these numbers are a decline from the 2019 numbers due to the impact of Covid-19, you can imagine how lucrative consulting is.
By starting a consulting business, you get a chance to get a share of these billions.
What’s more, we are living at a time when the on-demand economy, also referred to as the gig economy, is becoming more prevalent.
More and more people and businesses are opting to work with freelancers, independent contractors and consultants instead of employing full time employees.
This means that demand for consultants will only keep growing, which translates to more opportunities for you once you start your consulting business.
In addition, with increasing globalization, rapid technological advancement and constantly changing business models, the business world is getting more and more complex. People and businesses will need help navigating these changes, which means even greater demand for good consultants.
The best part is that you don’t even need to attend any training or attain some certifications in order to start a consulting business. If you already have some skills and experience, you can leverage these into a successful consulting business.
So, how do you turn your existing skills and experience into a consulting business?
That’s exactly what this guide will teach you. Below, we are going to cover everything you need to know to start a successful consulting business that earns you over $20,000 per month.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Consulting?
For some reason, when you mention the word consulting to most people, it brings up images of highly educated people, fancy uptown offices, and clients who belong to the Fortune 500.
The problem with this view of consulting is that it keeps a lot of people away from the consulting industry. People assume that to be a consultant, you need to have an MBA and work for companies like BCG or Deloitte.
In reality, you don’t need any of that in order to start a consulting business. Consulting is something that just about anyone can do.
The Oxford Dictionary defines consulting as “the business of providing expert advice to a specific group of people.”
It’s that simple. Nothing about MBAs and other special certifications, nothing about working for huge consulting firms or clients from fortune 500 companies.
If you have expert knowledge that a specific group of people would be willing to pay you for, you already have what it takes to be a consultant.
Why Do People Pay For Advice?
Think about a time when you asked someone for advice – could be a friend, a parent, a colleague, or even a mentor.
Why did you do it?
I’m assuming you asked for advice because you had a problem that you did not know how to solve.
You probably wanted to do something but did not know how to go about it, or you were in a situation where you did not know what to do, or you probably had tried various solutions that didn’t work and wanted outside opinion from someone else.
The reasons why you ask people for advice are the same reasons why people go to consultants for advice.
However, this time, because you are offering expert advice, these people are willing to pay for it.
In essence, this means a consultant is in the business of helping people and businesses solve their problems.
Paying A Consultant Provides ROI
I’m going to use an example to make it easier to understand why people pay consultants for advice.
Let’s assume I have a business that brings in $100,000 in profit every year. I want to increase my profits to $500,000 per year, but after trying everything I can, I still cannot go past the $100,000 mark.
I then decide to look for someone to help me achieve my goal. With your knowledge, skills, and experience, you approach me and let me know that you can help me achieve my goal, so I hire you as a consultant.
In this case, since your help will help me make an extra $400,000 per year, I wouldn’t have any problem paying you even $50,000, even $100,000 for your advice, since I will still get lots of ROI from hiring you as a consultant.
It’s good to note that consulting doesn’t always have to be about business. It is possible to start a consulting business that helps people achieve goals that are not business-related.
For instance, if someone is trying to get into the Olympics, and you have expert knowledge that would help them achieve this goal, you can be a consultant for them.
Similarly, if someone’s goal is to have a successful relationship with their partner, but they don’t know how to achieve this goal, you can be a relationship consultant and help them have the relationship of their dreams.
The point here is that there is no limit to what you can do as a consultant. Provided you have expert knowledge that a specific group of people would be willing to pay you for, you have what it takes to start a consulting business.
Most Lucrative Types Of Consulting
The good thing about starting a consulting business is that you can be a consultant for just about anything.
That said, there are some types of consulting that have greater demand, and are therefore more lucrative than others.
Below, let’s check out 10 of the most lucrative types of consulting:
1. Management Consulting
This is the type of consulting that most people are familiar with. It is also the kind of consulting that the big consulting firms like BCG, Bain & Co, and McKinsey engage in.
Management consulting involves working closely with business leaders and giving them advice on how to best run their companies.
As a management consultant, some of the things you might help a company with include coming up with ways to improve company processes and operations, increase profits, improve employee productivity and performance, reduce business costs, and so on.
2. Strategy Consulting
This is another very common type of consulting. Like management consulting, it involves working closely with C-level executives.
However, the role of strategy consultants is to help the business leaders come up with the long-term vision for their companies.
As a strategy consultant, some of your tasks will involve helping businesses to define their vision and long term business objectives, define their core values, conduct SWOT analysis, enter new markets, become more competitive, and so on.
3. IT Consulting
With businesses becoming more and more reliant on technology for just about everything, the demand for IT consultants is growing rapidly, making IT consulting very lucrative.
According to a report by Ibis World, the IT consulting industry in the United States is worth $420 billion in 2020, which is almost double the size of the management consulting industry.
As an IT consultant, your role is to help your clients use technology to maximize their company’s productivity and performance.
Some of your tasks as an IT consultant include developing, implementing and managing software, helping companies to transition between different systems, implementing system integrations, maintaining the security of an organization’s network, and so on.
Considering that IT is quite a broad field, you can specialize in different areas of IT consulting, such as cybersecurity consulting, network consulting, software development consulting, enterprise architecture consulting, and so on.
4. Sales Consulting
The role of a sales consultant is to help businesses improve their sales.
As a sales consultant, some of your tasks will include training sales teams, optimizing a company’s sales process, choosing the right CRM for an organization, developing sales strategies, incentivizing the sales team, and so on.
Sales is a very important aspect of business – without sales, the company cannot make any profit – and therefore, there is a lot of demand for sales consultants.
5. Marketing Consulting
Just like sales, marketing is a very important aspect of business. The role of marketing consultants is to help businesses optimize their marketing efforts and achieve their marketing goals.
While not as lucrative as other types of consulting, such as management and IT consulting, there is still lots of money to be made in marketing consulting.
According to Ibis World, the size of the marketing consulting industry has been growing steadily and was valued at $55.9 billion in 2020.
Some of the activities you might be tasked with as a marketing consultant include:
- Developing marketing plans
- Identifying new opportunities to reach clients
- Auditing companies’ existing marketing efforts
- Designing and implementing marketing campaigns
- Improving brand awareness
- Developing customer relationship management strategies, and so on.
It’s good to note that marketing is quite a wide field, so you should consider specializing in a specific niche, such as:
- Social media consulting
- Content marketing consulting
- Email marketing consulting
- Brand image consulting
- Customer acquisition consulting
- Public relations consulting
6. Environmental Consulting
As more SMEs, multi-nationals, and even governments become aware of the impact of their activities on the environment, the demand for the services of environmental consultants has been growing steadily.
The Environment Analyst predicts that the environmental consulting industry will be worth about $40 billion in 2020, up from below $30 billion ten years ago.
The role of an environmental consultant is to help businesses, governments, and other organizations manage their impact on the environment.
As an environmental consultant, some of your tasks will include carrying out environmental impact assessments, managing the emission of toxic wastes, preventing and managing environmental contamination, pollution control, and so on.
7. Financial Consulting
Financial consulting is another very lucrative type of consulting. The role of financial consultants is to help clients – both businesses and individuals – to manage their finances more efficiently.
A lot of small businesses do not have the financial muscle to hire a full-time, in-house financial manager, and therefore, they turn to financial consultants from time to time to help them navigate various financial hurdles.
This creates lots of demand for financial consultants, making it quite a lucrative line of business.
However, as a financial consultant, you can also be hired by individuals, particularly the very wealthy.
Some of your tasks as a financial consultant will include helping your clients reduce their day to day expenses, dealing with insurance issues, giving investment advice, giving advice related to tax issues, and so on.
8. Career Consulting
A lot of people struggle with issues related to their careers, which makes career consulting a very lucrative field – there is endless demand for career consultants.
The role of career consultants is to help people – both job seekers and those already in employment – to achieve their career goals, whatever these goals may be.
Some of the tasks you will routinely deal with as a career consultant include advising students on the best careers for them, helping with resume building, teaching your clients how to prepare for and nail job interviews, guiding your clients through the career change process, and so on.
9. HR Consulting
This is another very popular – and lucrative – type of consulting.
A lot of small and medium sized enterprises do not have the budget for fully-fledged HR departments, so they depend on HR consultants to help them handle some of their HR functions.
Sometimes, even big companies with well-staffed HR departments will outsource some of their HR functions to HR consultants, particularly when it comes to tasks like recruitment.
Your role as an HR consultant is to help your clients deal with the people side of business, which means you will be providing your help and expertise in matters that have to do with your client’s employees.
Some of your tasks as an HR consultant include helping your clients with recruitment processes, helping with training and development of employees, developing competitive compensation packages, developing HR policies, ensuring your clients are in compliance with employment laws, and so on.
10. Legal Consulting
Apart from the big companies, majority of businesses do not have their own fully-fledged legal departments.
However, businesses will have to deal with legal issues from time to time, which creates huge demand for legal consultants. In addition, as a legal consultant, you can also work for individual clients.
The role of a legal consultant is to help their clients deal with matters concerning the law.
Some of your tasks as a legal consultant include making sure that your clients are in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, giving legal advice, and so on.
As a legal consultant, you can specialize on a particular niche, such as:
- Banking law consultant
- IT law consultant
- IP law consultant
- Employment law consultant
- Real estate legal consultant
- Corporate law consultant
How To Start Your Consulting Business
The process of starting your own consulting business can be broken down into 5 key steps:
- Identify your skills and strengths and come up with a compelling value proposition.
- Identify what the market needs.
- Clarify your service offering.
- Launch your website
- Find a repeatable system for attracting consulting clients.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.
Step 1: Identify A Compelling Value Proposition Based On Your Skills And Strengths
Clients hire consultants for one key reason – they want the consultant to help them solve a problem that they are unable to solve by themselves. They have a goal that they cannot attain by themselves, so they want you to help them attain this goal.
Actually, we already saw that consulting is the business of providing expert advice to a specific group of people, with the keywords here being expert advice.
This means that to be a consultant, you need to be an expert. You should be more knowledgeable and experienced in your field than your clients.
Otherwise, there would be no reason for them to pay you for your advice if they know more about your field than you do.
This means a successful consulting business should be based on your skills and strengths – something you are better at than the average person.
Therefore, the first step to starting a successful consulting business is to figure out what your key skills and strengths are. Here are a few ways to identify what your key skills and strengths are:
Consider Your Education And Training
Someone who has undergone education or training in a specific field is more knowledgeable in that field than the average person.
For instance, a doctor knows more about health than the average person because they have a doctor’s training.
Similarly, an architect knows more about buildings and structures than the average person because they’ve studied about buildings and structures.
Think about all the formal education and training that you have. What did you study in college? Have you undertaken any workshops, seminars, and training? Do you have any professional certifications?
Looking at your education and training will help you identify skills and strengths that you can base your consulting business on.
For instance, if you have a degree or certification or finance, you’re definitely knowledgeable in financial matters, and therefore, you can set up a financial consulting business.
Look At Your Past Experience
If you’ve worked in professional capacity within a specific field, you’re definitely more skilled and knowledgeable about that field than the average person.
For instance, if you’ve worked as a sales person, you definitely picked up some sales skills and sales-related knowledge, even if you do not have any formal training in sales.
Think about all your past professional experience, list down all the key skills you picked up while working in each position, and determine which of these you can leverage into a successful consulting business.
Here, you should focus particularly on areas where you have a proven track record.
For instance, if you worked in HR and helped past employers to reduce employee churn significantly, then this could be the value proposition of your consulting business – helping clients reduce employee churn.
Look At Your Passions
Are there things that you really love doing? Do you find yourself getting into a state of flow when doing certain things? If you were given a chance to choose one thing that you’ll do one thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Your passions provide a good basis for your consulting business for two key reasons.
First, if you’re passionate about something, you’ve probably spent a lot of time learning about it and doing it, which means you’re probably quite knowledgeable about it. Even if you’re not an expert at the moment, it’s a lot easier to learn about it and get to expert status.
Second, when you base your consulting business on something you’re passionate about, your passion will give you the motivation to remain committed to your business, even during the hard times. This is why most successful entrepreneurs advise upcoming entrepreneurs to follow their passion.
What Do Other People Say You’re Good At?
Sometimes, you might be highly skilled at something, without even realizing it.
This could be something that comes to you naturally, and therefore, you find it easy and do not consider it to be a key skill or strength.
However, this could be something that most other people struggle with, and can therefore form a good foundation for your consulting business, because you’re better at this thing than the average person.
Listening to other people can help you identify such things that you’re naturally good at. Do people regularly comment on how skilled you are at something? Do people regularly come to you for help with a particular thing? Do people regularly recommend you when a particular thing needs to be done?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you have a skill that you can leverage into a successful consulting business.
Focus On A Specific Niche
Once you have identified your key skills and strengths, you now need to choose a niche for your consulting business, based on your skills and strengths.
For instance, if you have formal education and experience in marketing, your consulting business should be focused on marketing. However, marketing is a very broad field. What you want to do here is to narrow down to a more specific niche.
For example, you could focus on a niche like content marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and so on.
You can even narrow it down further to something like “content marketing for small businesses”, or “search engine marketing for ecommerce businesses,” and so on.
When it comes to the consulting business, the more you position yourself as an expert in one specific area, the easier it will be for you to attract lots of clients and command high prices.
Think about it this way. Assume you are trying to reduce employee churn in your business. You are looking for a consultant to help you do this, and you have two consultants to pick from:
- A business coach who helps businesses achieve their goals.
- A HR consultant who specializes in helping businesses reduce employee churn.
Which of the two would you go with? The second one of course, because they are experts in the exact problem you’re struggling with. The first one is a generalist and might not have any idea on how to reduce employee churn.
Focusing on a very specific niche makes it easier for you to be an authority within that specific field – it is a lot easier to position yourself as an authority in search engine marketing for ecommerce businesses than an expert in marketing in general.
You can start with a very specific niche and expand to broader niches as your authority grows. However, if you go after a very broad niche right from the start, you will have a very hard time building a name for yourself.
Come Up With A Compelling Value Proposition
After identifying your skills and strengths and figuring out the specific niche your consulting business will focus on, the next thing is to come up with a compelling value proposition for your consulting business.
Your value proposition is what differentiates your consulting business from other competing solutions that your target clients are using currently or might be considering using, such as other consultants, hiring full time employees, or using software to tackle the problem you’re solving.
Your value proposition should tell your clients what you do, the kind of clients you work with, the results (value) you help clients achieve, and what makes your consulting business different.
Here’s a simple formula that you can use to come up with a compelling value proposition for your consulting business:
[Who you are] specializes in [what you do]. We help [target market] to [results you help your clients achieve] by offering/providing [unique aspect of you consulting business that allows you to deliver results]
Here is an example of a compelling value proposition for an IT consulting business:
ScanTech Inc. specializes in technology consulting. We help small and medium sized enterprises to improve operational efficiency and boost performance and productivity by offering custom IT solutions that are tailor-made for your organization.
Step 2: Analyze What The Market Needs And What People Are Willing To Pay Money For
After choosing a niche and coming up with a compelling value proposition, inexperienced consultants jump to looking for clients right away. In most cases, this does not end well.
Smart entrepreneurs know that before launching a business, it is very crucial to conduct market research to validate your idea and determine whether there is market demand for your offer. This applies even to consulting businesses.
There is one key reason why you should conduct market analysis before launching your new consulting business. You might have what you think is the best consulting offer in the world, but if your offer solves a problem that people aren’t willing to pay to solve, your new business won’t live to see its first birthday.
Market analysis allows you to find out if you are solving the right problem, whether you are targeting the right audience, and whether your audience has the budget and is willing to pay for the solution you are offering.
Let’s take a look at some of the key questions you should answer during the market analysis phase.
1. What Problems Are You Trying To Solve?
Very often, before starting a business, most entrepreneurs have a good idea of the problem they want to solve with their new business.
There’s one small challenge, however. The problem you want to solve and the problem your customers want to solve might not be the same – which means no business for you.
For instance, let’s say you want to start an IT consulting business that helps businesses design and implement custom enterprise software. You might assume that what your clients want is the most technologically advanced enterprise software they can afford with their budget.
In actual sense, however, what clients want is software that will make it easy and efficient for their staff to get their work done. They don’t really care about all the bells and whistles.
Therefore, if you set out to create the most technologically advanced enterprise software, your business might still go bust, despite having the most advanced technological solution, because you’re not solving the client’s problem.
To avoid this, you need to make sure that the problems you are trying to solve are the same problems that potential clients are trying to solve, and the best way of doing this is to listen to the client.
Here are a few ways to identify the problems that your potential customers are struggling with:
- Go through the top blogs in your niche and identify their most popular content, and the content with the highest engagement. What problem does this content talk about? Popular content shows that this is a problem a lot of people are struggling with.
- Go to the top Facebook groups in your niche and go through the posts. Is there a problem that keeps coming up?
- Go to the Amazon Kindle store, type keywords related to your niche in the search bar and identify the 10 most popular books. Is there a common topic among these books?
- You can also find out your potential clients’ biggest problems by asking them directly. For instance, if you want to start a consulting business to help ecommerce businesses with content marketing, reach out to ecommerce site owners and ask them what their biggest problems and challenges are.
By the end of this step, you should be sure that the problems you want to solve and the problems your potential customers are experiencing are one and the same.
2. Who Is Your Target Audience?
Having determined that the problem you are solving is something people are actually struggling with, the next step is to figure out who you’re going to solve the problem for.
Different sets of clients might be experiencing the same problem, but you cannot use the same solution to solve this problem for all of them. You need to focus on one group and come up with the most effective solution for that particular group.
For instance, a content marketing solution that works for photographers might not work for dentists. Each of these groups needs a different solution since they are targeting different customers. This is why it is very crucial to know who exactly you are targeting with your offer.
To further define your target audience, ask yourself the following questions:
Are Your Targeting Businesses Or Individual Customers?
The first thing you need to do when defining your target audience is to determine whether you’re targeting business clients or individuals.
Business clients are usually more likely to have a budget set aside to solve their problems, particularly if these problems affect the business’ bottom line. However, they require more convincing before they actually spend money on your consulting service.
If you are targeting business clients, you should identify the following details about your ideal client:
- Size of company
- Geographic location
- Key decision makers within the company
If you’re targeting individual clients, you should create a buyer persona to define your ideal client. Your buyer persona should include both demographic and psychographic information about your idea client.
3. Does Your Target Audience Have A Budget For What You’re Offering
You might start a business that solves the right problems for the right group of people, but if the group you’re targeting does not have the budget for what you’re offering, you can forget about running a successful consulting business.
Therefore, before you commit to building a business, you should determine whether the audience you’re targeting has the money to pay for the solution you’re offering.
If you’re targeting business clients, look at their products and services, their target market, and how they price their products. Businesses that offer premium products and services for the high end market probably make a lot of money, and therefore, they might have a huge budget to solve their problem.
Small-sized businesses with low priced products, on the other hand, will have a more modest budget. In this case, you need to do further research to determine if they’ll be able to afford your solution.
If you’re targeting individual clients, you can use their demographic information to determine whether they have the budget for what you’re offering. Check things such as their age, marital status, employment status, level of income, and so on.
4. Is Your Target Audience Willing To Pay For A Solution?
Just because your target audience has the money to pay for your solution, this doesn’t not necessarily mean that they’ll pay for it.
Some might feel that the problem is not worth paying money to solve, while others might be willing to pay to solve the problem, but they might not be willing to pay what you’re asking for.
If you’re targeting business clients, a good way to determine whether they’d be willing to pay for a solution is to consider the cost of leaving the problem unsolved.
For instance, let’s assume you’re a management consultant promising to help a business reduce their annual production costs by $100,000.
Even if you’re charging $10,000 for your services, such a client won’t have a problem paying (provided they have the budget), since leaving the problem unsolved will actually cost them more money.
However, if you are trying to get a business to hire you to design a new intranet for them, yet they cannot see what value the new intranet will add, it will be much harder to convince them to pay for what you’re offering.
For individual clients, you can use their psychographic information – such as personality, interests, values, attitudes, lifestyle choices, etc. – to determine whether they’d be willing to pay for your solution.
For instance, let’s say you’re a fitness consultant targeting unfit 50 year olds who prefer to spend their weekends fishing, drinking beer and watching football.
Your target audience might have the problem you’re trying to solve (lack of fitness), they might have the money to pay for your services, but they won’t be willing to pay for your services, because what you’re offering is not aligned with their interests and lifestyle choices.
By the end of step 2, you should have determined whether there is enough demand for your consulting offer and identified a target audience that has the problem you’re trying to solve, the money to pay for the solution, and the willingness to pay for a solution.
Step 3: Clarify Your Service Offering
To build a successful consulting business, you need to make sure that you have a very clear service offering. A clear service offering is one that immediately tells potential clients the following:
- What service you are offering
- What results the client will achieve after paying for your service
- How much your service will cost the client
Let’s dive into each of these three factors.
1. What Service Are You Offering?
Ask some novice consultants what they do and you’ll get answers like:
“I do IT consulting”
“I am an HR consultant”
“I do strategy consulting for businesses”
While these answers may be true, the problem is that they are very general. If you tell a potential client that you do IT consulting or strategy consulting, they will have a general idea of what you do, but they can’t tell if you’re the kind of person they’re looking for.
For instance, IT consulting is a very broad field. An IT consultant could be dealing with cybersecurity issues, software development, enterprise architecture, networking, and so on.
Let’s assume that a client is looking for a cybersecurity consultant to help them secure their online customer portal. If you tell them that you’re an IT consultant, they have no way of telling whether you’re the kind of person they’re looking for or not.
Now, repeat the same question to successful, experienced consultants and you’ll get answers like:
“I help companies secure their online customer portals.”
“I am a HR consultant who helps companies find the right kind of talent.”
“I am a strategy consultant who helps businesses to identify, enter and dominate new markets.”
The second set of answers are a lot more specific than the first set. Potential clients can tell what exactly these consultants do and if they’re the kind of consultant they’re looking for.
This is how you need to define your service offering. Make it as specific as possible so that it leaves no confusion in potential clients’ minds as to what you do.
2. What Results Does Your Service Help Clients To Achieve?
Your clients do not hire you simply because you’re a consultant. They hire you because they’re trying to achieve a certain result, and they think that you have what it takes to help them achieve this result.
This means that, when evaluating your services to determine whether to hire you or not, clients will look at your ability to help them achieve their desired result.
Therefore, if you want to get more potential clients to hire, you need to make it very clear what results they should expect from working with you.
Once again, you want to be very specific when it comes to defining the results your clients will be able to achieve after paying for your services.
For instance, let’s say that you’re a HR consultant who helps businesses to attract and hire the right talent. Think about the reasons why clients might want to hire you.
Hiring wrong talent means that the business has to deal with high employee churn – either because the business has to frequently let go non-performing employees, or because good employees feel that the company is not the right one for them and seek opportunities elsewhere.
In this case, the desired result for the client is to reduce employee churn. This is the result that you should highlight in your services. You could define your service offering as:
My services will help you to reduce employee churn and save on the cost of hiring and onboarding new employees after every few months.
3. How Much Will It Cost Your Client?
All your potential clients work within the constraints of a budget, and therefore, how you price your services has a huge impact on your ability to attract and retain consulting clients.
If you price your services too high, you could place yourself out of reach for most of your potential clients, resulting in very little business for you.
This, however, does not mean that you should make your services dirt cheap.
As a consultant, you are an expert in your field, and therefore, clients expect you to charge premium rates for your expertise. If you price your services too low, potential clients might start questioning your expertise and avoid your services.
There are three main pricing models for consulting services:
- Hourly rate: With this model, you charge the client a flat hourly rate and multiply it by the number of hours you spend working on their project. This means that you’ll need a way to track the hours spent on the project.
- Project rate: With this model, you charge your clients depending on the amount of work that needs to be done. Here, you need to be very careful, since scope creep on the client’s project can easily eat into your expected profits.
- Retainer: This model works when the client expects you to provide an ongoing service, such as maintaining their network. Under the retainer model, you will get paid a certain pre-agreed amount every week/month for the duration that you’ll be on the retainer.
Regardless of the model you opt for, you still need a way to determine the rates you’re going to charge for your services. A good way to come up with a fair price is to consider the following factors:
- Your experience and expertise
- The industry standard for consultants with similar experience and expertise
- The expenses that you’ll incur while working on clients’ projects
- The cost of things like health insurance and retirement funds. You have to factor these into your rates.
Once you’ve settled on your rates, you can then come up with a cost-benefit analysis to show potential clients the ROI of paying for your services.
For instance, if you are charging a client $10,000 for your consulting services, which will in turn help them save $75,000 in reduced costs, there is no reason why they shouldn’t pay what you’re asking for.
Showing the ROI of your services will make it easier for you to get clients to pay the price you’ve set for your services.
Step 4: Launch Your Website And Brand Yourself As The Expert
Now that you have clarified your service offering, the next step is to set up your website that you will use to build your brand as an expert in your field.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why you need to launch a blog when your intention is to start a consulting business.
Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise in your field and position yourself as an authority. It is also a great way to get potential clients to know about your business.
Before hiring you as a consultant, your potential clients will have done their own research about the problem they are trying to solve.
If you already have a blog talking about these problems, they might have come across the blog and will be familiar with who you are and will already view you as an expert in your field.
Therefore, when you approach them to pitch your services, it will be a lot easier for you to get hired, because they already recognize you as an expert. Actually, some of them might actually reach out to you through your blog with the intention of hiring you.
So, how do you set up a blog?
Set Up Your Hosting
The first step to launching your blog is to find a good hosting provider. A hosting provider is a company that allows you to host your blog on their servers, thus making your blog accessible over the internet.
There are dozens of web hosting providers, all with different features and prices. Based on our experience, however, we recommend hosting your blog on Bluehost. Their hosting plans are quite affordable, they have all the features you will need on your blog, and their service is very professional.
To set up your hosting account, click on this link to go to Bluehost (using this link will give you a 50% discount).
Once you land on the Bluehost homepage, click on “Get Started.”
You will be taken to a page where you will be asked to choose your preferred plan. Here, you can just go with the Basic plan.
Next, you will be asked to enter a domain name for your blog.
When choosing a domain name, you should go with a name that is related to your consulting business. For instance, if you intend to name your consulting business Alpha Consultants, you could use the same name as your domain name.
If your chosen domain name is available, you’ll be asked to enter your details to complete the checkout process.
Here, you also have the option of choosing any extras that you want with your hosting package, such as Domain Privacy+ Protection, Sitelock Security Essential, and so on.
Set Up A Content Management System
After setting up your hosting account, the next step is to install a content management system (CMS) on your hosting account. A CMS is a software platform that will allow you to publish and manage the content on your blog.
We recommend using WordPress as your CMS. This is because WordPress is the best – and the most popular – content management system, with over 450 million blogs and sites running on the platform.
To install WordPress on your Bluehost account, follow the steps below:
- Start by logging in to your Bluehost account using the details that were emailed to you after you finished your checkout process.
- On your Bluehost account dashboard, find the “Website” section and then click on “Install WordPress.”
- From there, you will be directed to the WordPress installation page. Hit the “Install” button.
- If you have only one website registered under your hosting account, its domain will be selected by default. If you have more than one site, however, you will be prompted to select the domain where you want to install WordPress.
- From there, agree to the license and service agreements and hit the “Install Now” button. Bluehost will handle the rest of the process for you and notify you once it has completed installing WordPress to your site.
At this point, your site is now live, and you can start publishing content. However, at this point, your new site will be looking rather bland. To get it to look like a professional, well-designed site, you will first have to install a beautiful WordPress theme.
A theme is basically a customizable WordPress template that allows you to change how your site looks. Simply install a theme, apply it to your site, and the design and layout of your blog will change immediately and take after the design and layout of the theme.
To make this whole process easier for you, here are 5 of the best WordPress themes for a consulting business.
Like you might have guessed from the name, this is a theme that was purposely built with consulting businesses in mind.
Consulting has won awards for the #1 best rated consulting theme and #1 bestselling consulting theme of all time. The theme has also won the Envato most wanted contest.
What we love about Consulting is the fact that it is highly flexible. With consulting, you can build whatever kind of consulting business website you have in mind.
Consulting is designed to give your website a premium and high class look and feel, and with its collection of widgets and shortcodes, you can add all sorts of functionalities to your consulting business website.
This is another great WordPress theme that is named after the niche it focuses on – consulting businesses.
What we love about Consultio is the fact that it comes with 46+ demo websites that provide you with a range of layout modes and styles to choose from.
Regardless of the kind of consulting website you want to build, you’ll find something that works for you from these 46 demos. In addition, you can customize the demos even further to suit your style.
Consultio also comes with the Elementor page builder plugin, which makes it very easy to edit various elements on your website.
Elementor uses an intuitive drag and drop interface, which allows just about anyone to build a beautiful website – even if you have zero technical skills.
This is another amazing theme that was purposely built for professional consultants. Advice comes with a crisp and modern business that will help your business to really stand out.
We love the fact that this theme places huge emphasis on online marketing and SEO. This is important because you’re going to be getting most of your clients from the internet.
This theme also incorporates social tools that make sharing your business on social media a breeze.
This is yet another theme that is named after the consulting industry, and is a simple yet very elegant and functional theme for creating all kinds of consulting websites.
Consultix comes with 25 high quality demos that you can apply on your site to give it a professional look and feel. You can also customize all the elements of these demos to create a site that fits your brand.
The Visual Composer page builder plugin also allows you to edit various elements of the demo sites within a drag and drop interface that makes the entire process so easy.
Consultix also comes with 24 custom elements that allow you to expand the functionality of your website and include whatever features you have in mind.
Unlike the other themes in this list, Divi is not made specifically for consulting websites. It is a versatile theme that can be used to build all kinds of websites. Still, it is one of the best themes for creating consultancy business websites.
What we love about Divi is the fact that it comes with over 800 pre-designed website layouts. This means that you have unlimited options when it comes to choosing a layout and design that works best for your brand.
Divi also comes with Divi Builder, a drag and drop page builder that you can use to quickly edit any part of your website within a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) interface.
Check out these five themes, pick one that best matches the brand of your consulting business, and launch your business blog. To learn more about how to start a blog, you can check out our in-depth guide on how to start a blog.
Step 5: Find A Repeatable System For Attracting Consulting Clients
Finally, to build a successful consulting business, you need a way of ensuring that you have a constant flow of consulting clients.
Below, let’s check out three different approaches that you can use to create a repeatable system for attracting consulting clients.
The Paid Ad Consulting Sales Funnel
The first approach involves using a paid campaign to get potential customers into your sales funnel, and then moving them along a carefully designed funnel with the aim of eventually converting some of them into paying customers.
A sales funnel is basically a marketing process that is meant to lead a potential customer through all the stages that a customer goes through before making a purchase.
Here is an image showing what a sales funnel looks like:
The paid ad consulting funnel approach involves the following key steps:
1. Reach Your Target Audience With Paid Ads
This is the first step of your sales funnel. The aim of this step is to make potential customers aware of your consulting business and get them into your sales funnel.
The paid ad consulting funnel relies on paid ads to create awareness about your consulting business, which is what makes it such an effective approach. Here are a couple of reasons why paid ads are very effective for building awareness and lead generation:
- Paid ads allow you to achieve results immediately. With organic channels, your message will spread gradually, and it might be a while before you start generating any leads. With paid ads, you will start generating leads even hours after kicking off your paid ad campaign.
- Paid ads usually deliver higher ROI in the short term compared to organic channels.
- With paid ads, it is a lot easier to target your audience based on their geographic, demographic, and psychographic data.
- With paid ads, it’s a lot easier to track the performance of your advertising campaigns and use the data to improve your campaigns and achieve better results.
You have several options when it comes to running paid ads to generate leads for your consulting business. You can run paid ads on platforms like Google AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on.
While you have all these options available to you, I recommend focusing only on one paid marketing channel. If you run paid campaigns on all channels, you could easily end up wasting your money on channels that do not drive any significant results.
To avoid this, identify one channel that is very popular among your target audience and run your paid campaign on that particular platform.
Let’s say you have determined that the majority of your target audience are active on Facebook, so you decide that you’ll run your paid ad campaign on Facebook. To run the campaign, you’d need to do the following:
- Choose your campaign objectives. Facebook ads allow you to choose from the objectives shown in the image below. In this case, since you are trying to get people into your sales funnel, you should choose “Traffic.”
- Next, you will be asked to pick a name for your ad campaign. You will also be asked if you want to perform an A/B split test.
- If you don’t already have a Facebook Ad account, you will be asked to create one. Here, you will need to provide some personal details, such as your country and time zone, as well as your preferred currency.
- The next step is to define the audience you want to target. You can target an audience by their gender, age, location, language, and so on. You can also target an audience by psychographic data, such as their likes, interests, job title, and so on. As you define your audience, a tab on the right size will show the estimated size of that audience.
- Once you’ve defined your target audience, you’ll be asked to choose the placement of your ads. You have the option of choosing how you want your ads to be shown by platform (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, etc.), device type (desktop, mobile), operating system (android, iOS), and by location (stories, feed, messages, etc.). Here, you can just choose Automatic Placements and leave Facebook to choose the best placement options for you.
- Next, you will be asked to set your advertising budget and the schedule on which you want your campaign to run.
- The final step is to create and publish your ad. First, you’ll need to pick your desired ad format, and then you will need to enter your ad content (both text and media). After you’re certain that your ad looks good, hit the “Confirm” button to publish your ad.
To learn more about how to run Facebook ads, check out our comprehensive Facebook marketing guide.
2. Have Them Visit Your Landing Page
Remember, the main objective for your paid ad campaign is to get potential customers into your sales funnel.
Therefore, you want people who see and click on your ad to be directed to a place where you can collect their contact information and add them to your funnel. The best tool for this is a landing page.
A landing page is a single page on a website that is created with one single purpose – converting visitors into leads. A landing page contains a form to capture the visitor’s information, and content whose sole purpose is to get the visitor to fill in their information on the lead capture form.
Here’s an example of a landing page.
It’s good to note that people who click on your paid ad and are directed to your landing page won’t give you their contact information simply because you have a lead capture form on your landing page. You have to convince them to give you this information.
The best way to convince visitors to give you their contact information is to use a lead magnet. A lead magnet, also known as an opt-in bribe, is something valuable that you give to your visitors in exchange for their contact information. This way, the exchange becomes valuable for both of you.
Examples of lead magnets include eBooks, videos, webinars, newsletters, cheat sheets, calendars, content planners, and so on. It is basically something that your visitor considers valuable enough for them.
In this case, where your aim is to attract clients for your consulting business, I recommend using a video or a webinar as a lead magnet.
This means that, on your landing page, you should ask your visitors to share their name and email address in order to gain access to a webinar or a video.
In order for your landing page to be effective, the promise on the landing page should be similar to the promise you made in your paid ad.
For instance, if your landing page is asking for visitors’ information in exchange for access to a webinar, this should be the same promise on your paid ad.
If the promise on your landing page is not aligned with the promise on your paid ad, a lot of those who land on your landing page will leave without sharing their information. This means you’ll be losing the money you’re spending on your paid ad.
Tips On How To Create A High Converting Landing Page
Here are some tips that will help you create a landing page with a high conversion rate:
- Have a compelling headline: The headline is the first thing visitors see on your landing page. Use a compelling landing page headline that will immediately grab your visitors’ attention and make them want to read the rest of the content on your landing page.
- Quickly communicate your value offering: Visitors are not on your landing page because they have nothing better to do. They’re there because you promised them something valuable. Therefore, you want to quickly let them know what value you are offering them in exchange for their contact information.
- Use bullet points: Bullet points make it easier for your visitors to scan through the contents of your landing page and see benefits they’ll gain from your offering.
- Use minimal form fields: The more fields you have on your lead capture form, the more likely your visitors are to abandon your landing page without filling in their information. If possible, keep your form fields to a maximum of two – name and email address.
- Include images: Images and graphics are more engaging than plain text and will increase the likelihood of your visitors taking action.
- Have a clear and visible call to action: Ensure that your landing page has a call to action that is clearly visible and that makes it very clear what action you want the visitor to take.
Unbounce has the best set of landing page features, HubSpot Landing Pages is a very powerful yet easy-to-use landing page builder, while LeadPages provides a great form builder at a very affordable price.
3. Provide Value With A Video Or Webinar
Now that you’ve gotten your visitors to register for your webinar (and provide you with their email address), the next step is to use your webinar to provide them with real value.
I prefer using webinars because the video format of webinars makes them great for building a connection with potential customers.
With a webinar, you’re not just another marketer sending out random things to your prospect’s email. They can see the real you and hear you talk.
After a webinar, they’ll feel like you’re somebody they actually know and trust. This is very crucial when it comes to converting them to paying customers.
Aside from being the best tool for building a connection with your prospects, here are some other reasons why I recommend using a webinar:
- 72% of consumers prefer video content over text content.
- Webinars are the second most effective drivers of revenue for B2B marketers.
- 5% of webinar attendees will convert into paying clients within a 48 hour period after the end of the webinar.
The webinar serves the consideration stage of your consulting sales funnel. You have already created awareness about your business with the paid ad and ascertained the prospects’ interest when they registered for your webinar.
During the webinar, therefore, your aim should be to connect with the prospect, build your authority and cultivate their trust. By the end of your webinar, the majority of the attendees should be considering paying for your services.
Here are some tips on how to use webinars to build your authority and win your prospects’ trust:
- Choose a great webinar topic that provides results for your audience. Your audience are attending your webinar to learn how to solve the problems they’re struggling with. By tackling a topic they’re struggling with, and then helping them to achieve their desired result, you’ll simultaneously build your authority and cultivate their trust.
- Keep your webinar interesting and engaging. A good way to do this is to make your webinar interactive. Allow your audience to ask questions/make comments, and respond to their questions and comments. Doing so will not only deliver more value to your audience, but will also allow you to showcase your expertise.
- Don’t focus too much on making a pitch. Instead, your focus should be on teaching your audience something useful, something that they can apply to their business or lives immediately. Your sales pitch should only come towards the end of the webinar, and should build up on the content of your webinar.
- If you’ve already worked with some clients previously, use testimonials or case studies from these previous clients to provide social proof and show your clients that you can indeed achieve results for them.
To hold an effective and successful webinar, you need to find a good webinar platform to host your webinar on. We recommend hosting your webinar on Demio or WebinarJam, two of the top webinar hosting platforms in the market currently. Alternatively, you can check out our list of the best webinar software platforms in 2020.
4. Send Calendar Invite
Once you pitch your services towards the end of your webinar, you should then invite your audience to hop on a call with you to discuss what they are struggling with and see how you can help them solve their problem.
Have a call to action at the end of your webinar asking them to book a slot on the calendar when they can get on the call with you.
Here’s an example of what you could say:
“If this is something you’re struggling with and would want my help with, I invite you to get on a call with me to discuss your problem and see how I can help you. To book a call with me, simply click on the button below this video and book a time slot when you’re available for the call.”
Once they click on the button, they will be taken to a new page with an embedded calendar showing the times when you’re available for the call. They can then choose a time slot that they are comfortable with and book a call with you.
Asking prospects to book a call with you works for a number of reasons.
First, closing a client is a lot easier when you’re speaking to them one on one, compared to when they’re reading your pitch on a sales page. When speaking to them one on one, you can easily listen to and counter their objections, increasing your chances of closing them.
Second, talking directly to a potential client allows you to only close the right kind of clients. You can ask the client questions about the problem they are struggling with and determine whether your consulting offer will help them solve their problem.
Finally, asking to get on a call with prospects helps you to weed out non-serious clients. You don’t want to spend time and resources trying to close a client, only to later discover that they’re a joker who had no intention of paying for your services.
When you ask prospects to get on a consulting call with you, you can be certain that the majority of prospects who will go ahead and book a call with you are the serious ones who are actually interested in your consulting services.
Calendar Tools For Scheduling Calls With Prospects
Here are three powerful tools you can use to create a calendar showing your availability and allow prospects to book a call with you:
- Calendly: This is the world’s most popular scheduling tool. It is also one of the most cost-effective. Simply create a calendar showing your availability, and embed it on your site. From there, prospects can book an available time slot for the call and it will be added to both your calendars.
- ScheduleOnce: This is another great scheduling tool that you can also use to allow prospects to book calls with you. ScheduleOnce is compatible with all the popular calendars (Google Calendar, Office 35 Calendar, etc.).
- HubSpot Meetings Tool: This is a free scheduling calendar created by HubSpot. Aside from automated bookings, the HubSpot Meetings Tool also allows you to add form fields to your calendar, which you can use to collect more information from the prospect. This tool can also be integrated with HubSpot’s free CRM.
5. Send A Survey To Qualify The Consulting Lead
Getting on a call to discuss a lead’s challenges and figure out if and how you can help them is an intensively time consuming affair.
If you schedule about 45 minutes for each call, you would only be able to talk to about 8 leads in a day (assuming you’re working 8 – 5, giving a 15 minute period between each call, and taking a 1 hour break).
If 50 leads were to book a call with you, this means that it would take you more than a week to get on a call with each of them.
Now, if each of these was a qualified lead who has a high chance of hiring you as a consultant, spending more than a week speaking to each of them would be totally fine.
The problem, however, is that not every lead who books a call with you will be the right kind of client for your services. Therefore, you could easily spend a whole week on calls with leads who don’t end up becoming paying clients.
To avoid this, it is a good idea to send out a pre-call survey to qualify the leads who schedule calls with you.
Doing this will allow you to weed out leads who are not a good fit for your services and only get on call with the leads who are most likely to pay for and benefit from your services.
Sending a client pre qualification survey is important for the following reasons:
- It makes the lead qualification process simpler: A client pre qualification survey allows you to eliminate poor leads before investing a lot of time into nurturing them.
- It saves you time: By eliminating poor leads early, you save the time you’d have spent on nurturing them. This is time that you can then use to either acquire more leads or nurture your best leads.
- It improves your conversions: The prequalification survey provides you with important information about the lead’s expectations and preferences. You can then use this information to improve your sales messaging during the call and give a personalized pitch, which will increase your chances of converting the lead into a paying client.
Questions To Ask In Your Pre Qualification Survey
The purpose of the prequalification survey is to help you get an overview of what the client is struggling with, the kind of results they want, and their budget.
Here are a few examples of the kind of questions you can ask to find out this information:
- What is your biggest challenge when it comes to ABC (your area of expertise)?
- If you could snap a finger and solve this problem, what would be different in a year’s time? How about in 5 years’ time?
- What is the cost of this problem remaining unsolved?
- What’s your budget for getting this problem solved?
- If we end up working together, what metrics are you going to use to measure success?
- Have you ever worked with a consultant before? If yes, what did you like or dislike about working with the consultant?
- Are there any questions that you want to make sure I address during the call?
Such questions will allow you to get a better understanding of the lead’s challenges, what these challenges are costing them, whether they have the budget to solve the problem (and afford your services), whether they have a clear idea what success looks like, their preferences when working with consultants, and any other issues they want addressed.
Basically, these questions allow you to identify whether they’re a good lead for your consulting business.
Note that you don’t have to ask these exact questions. These are just examples. Depending on your consulting business, you can craft your own questions to help you determine if a lead is the right one for your consulting business.
6. The Sales Call
This is the final step of your consulting sales funnel. This is the point where you convert the leads you qualified in the previous step into paying customers.
Despite being a very critical part of the consulting sales funnel, this is a part that a lot of novice consultants get wrong.
A lot of novice consultants spend the sales call talking about themselves. They talk about their services, why the client should choose them, their credentials, why they are the best in the field, the results they have achieved for previous clients, and so on.
Your leads did not get on a call with you to hear about you. If they wanted to learn about you and your services, they would have checked on your website.
The reason why your prospects are getting on a call with you is because they have a problem that needs to be solved, and they want to know if you can solve the problem for them.
Before you can solve a prospect’s problems, you need to first understand the nature of these problems – the cause of the problems, how the problems are affecting the prospect, why they want to solve these problems, the factors keeping them from solving the problems, and so on.
This is why top performing consultants spend most part of the sales call asking the client questions to find if the prospect’s challenges are a fit for their offering, instead of pitching their services or trying to persuade the prospect that their offering is right for them.
Instead of driving right into pitching your services during the sales call, start by asking questions to understand what your prospect is struggling with.
Once you have totally understood your prospect’s situation and their desired outcome, you then position yourself and your services as the bridge between where your prospect is, and where they want to be.
Instead of simply saying that you can help, you want to provide the prospect with an outline of how you plan to help them achieve their desired outcome.
If you follow this approach, you won’t be simply selling your services. You will be selling to your prospects their desired outcome. This will definitely lead to higher conversions.
Sales Call Script To Help You Close More Customers
Here is a script that you can use during the sales call to help you learn more about your prospects' challenges and figure out how you can help them solve these challenges. Feel free to adjust or customize the script to suit your specific needs.
Thank you so much for getting on this call with me. The call will only take 20 minutes of your time. I’ll begin by asking you a few questions to better understand your challenges and ensure that we’re a great fit for each other. From there, I’ll answer any questions you might have about what I do and how I can help you. Does that sound good? Great!
So, tell me about your company/your life…
What does your typical day look like?
So, what challenge are you experiencing and how is it impacting your business/life?
I see. So it sounds like… (Repeat the prospect’s challenge in your own words)
Have you already tried solving this problem before? What solutions did you try?
Are there some other possible solutions that you’re aware of but have not tried? What has kept you from trying them out?
If you happen to find an effective solution to this challenge, what would be the outcome? What will your business/life look like after you’ve solved the problem?
How will you determine if our collaboration has been a success? What metrics are you going to use to measure success?
Would you like my help with (the prospect’s challenge)? [If they answer yes, proceed to outline how you plan to help them solve the problem, and then explain the next steps that you want them to take.
The beauty of the consulting sales funnel is that it is highly predictable and reliable. As long as you’re getting new prospects into your sales funnel, you’ll be getting paying clients at the other end of your funnel.
If you want to increase the number of clients you’re closing, simply increase the number of people getting into your consulting sales funnel, or find ways to optimize the conversion of the different stages of your funnel, so that more prospects are moving into each consecutive stage of the funnel.
The Customer Acquisition Fast Track Using Online Marketplaces
As the gig economy continues taking root, online marketplaces are becoming a popular avenue for freelancers, and there is no reason why you cannot use them to find clients for your consulting business.
The beauty of using online marketplaces to find consulting clients is that it is a very quick way of finding clients. Other approaches, such as the consulting sales funnel or content marketing, usually take time before you start getting clients.
Online marketplaces, on the other hand, are a customer acquisition fast track. It is possible to sign up for an account on an online marketplace and find a client on the same day.
Most online marketplaces usually have a system for rating the services of the contractors selling their services there. To consistently acquire consulting clients from online marketplaces, you need to ensure that you always maintain a high rating. This is achieved by ensuring that you always deliver results for your clients.
The only downside of using online marketplaces to find consulting clients is that there is a high number of potential clients looking for cheap services.
This means that you might have to do a bit of digging before you find the right clients for you.
Some top online marketplaces where you can get consulting clients include:
This is the world’s largest and most popular freelance marketplace. On Upwork, you will find clients for all kinds of jobs, including consulting jobs. A quick search of the word “consulting” on the Upwork marketplace brings over 8,000 consulting jobs.
TopTal is another popular online marketplace for finding consulting clients, particularly for consultants in the fields of design, finance, project management, and IT.
TopTal vets freelancers and contractors before allowing them to find work off the platform, and therefore, you must be ready to showcase your expertise before joining the platform.
Unlike the other two, this is a platform that caters exclusively to freelance consultants and offers a range of exciting projects in a wide variety of fields.
To join Talmix, you must have a proven track record of delivering results for previous clients. Some of the big companies that use Talmix to hire consultants include Staples, Unit4 and Pfizer.
Flexjobs is another popular platform that seeks to connect professionals to remote jobs and flexible gigs, and as evident from the above screenshot, there’s no shortage of consulting jobs on the platform.
The good thing about Flexjobs is that all clients are properly vetted before being allowed to post a job on the platform, so most of the jobs posted here are high quality jobs.
This online marketplace promises clients that they can get the services they are looking for just a fiver. Don’t worry though, you won’t be selling your consulting services for just five bucks. Fiverr allows you to create different service packages that allow you to charge premium rates for your consulting services.
There are all kinds of consulting jobs on Fiverr, from HR consulting and finance consulting to social media consulting, marketing consulting, legal consulting, and so on. Regardless of the kind of consultant you are, you’ll find jobs on Fiverr.
SolidGigs takes a very unique approach to helping you find consulting jobs. Unlike other online marketplaces, where you have to sign up and then spend time scrolling through the platform looking for jobs, SolidGigs does all the hard work for you.
Simply tell them the kind of jobs you’re looking for, and SolidGigs will send you a daily list of curated jobs within your niche. All you need to do is to wait for your daily list and apply to the jobs you find interesting. It’s that simple.
As an added advantage, SolidGigs also has a Courses & Tools section where you can get training on various skills that will help you get better at running your consulting business.
The Content Marketing Consulting Sales Funnel
This is another approach that relies on a sales funnel to provide you with a steady stream of consulting clients.
Unlike the paid ad consulting funnel, however, the content marketing consulting sales funnel relies on content marketing, rather than paid ads, to get potential customers into your sales funnel.
The content marketing consulting sales funnel involves the following key steps:
Write SEO Optimized Blog Posts Relevant To Your Target Audience
Great content is one of the best ways of creating awareness about your brand and attracting potential consulting clients.
Think about the last time you had a major challenge in business or in your personal life that you wanted to solve. If you are like most people, you probably went on Google to find possible solutions for the challenge you were facing.
This is the same approach other people use to find possible solutions to their challenges.
If you have great, SEO optimized content, they will come across it while searching for solutions to their challenge. This will not only create awareness about your consulting business, it will also show them that you can actually solve their problems.
Here are a few reasons why creating great content is a great way of getting potential customers into your sales funnel:
- Great content allows you to build your reputation and authority and get prospects to trust your brand.
- Great content helps boost your SEO rankings, which in turn leads to more people finding about your consulting business.
- Content marketing is more effective at generating leads compared to traditional forms of marketing.
- Content marketing allows you to demonstrate your expertise in your field.
To create great, SEO optimized blog posts that are relevant to your target audience and will help with your lead generation efforts, you should follow these three steps:
1. Conduct Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of any great content strategy. Keyword research refers to the process of finding and analyzing keywords and phrases that your target audience are using to search for content related to your business and the kind of services you offer.
Keyword research is important for two key reasons.
First, by identifying the keywords your target audience are entering into search engines, you can tell the kind of content that they are interested in. This will allow you to create content that is relevant to your target audience.
For instance, let’s say you are a fitness consultant and you want to create blog content to attract clients.
You want to create content about building muscle, but upon performing keyword research, you discover that more people are searching for keywords like “how to lose weight” than are searching for “how to build muscle.”
If you were to go ahead and create content about building muscle, you would end up with content that your target audience are not interested in.
In such an instance, keyword research helps you to identify the kind of content your potential clients are actually interested in.
Second, keyword research helps you to determine the keywords you need to target for SEO purposes. For instance, let’s say you are a financial consultant who helps clients to invest their money. You want to create content around the keyword “financial consultant” to sell yourself and your services.
Upon performing keyword research, however, you realize that your potential clients are not searching for the term “financial consultant.” Instead, they are searching for the term “investment advisor.”
In this case, if you create content that is optimized for the term “financial consultant,” your target audience won’t find your content, because they are not searching for this term.
By making a small adjustment and optimizing your content for the term “investment advisor,” your target audience can now find your content, because it is aligned with what they are searching for.
I recommend using SEMrush to perform your keyword research. SEMrush is an easy to use yet very powerful keyword research tool with a great set of features that make it easy for you to identify top keywords for your niche, their ranking difficulty, other related keywords, top competitors for that keyword, and so on.
To learn more about keyword research, check out our comprehensive beginners guide to SEO.
2. Create A 4 – 6 Month Content Plan
Once you have identified a set of keywords that you want to target with your content, the next step is to come up with a content plan for the next 4 – 6 months, or even the next one year if you can.
One mistake that a lot of consultants make when it comes to content marketing is failing to create a long term content plan.
They assume that they’ll just create content whenever they want, and come up with ideas for their next blog post right before they start writing the blog post.
There are two problems with this approach.
First, not having a content calendar leads to inconsistency. If you want to use content marketing to build your brand and generate leads, you have to publish content consistently. However, without a solid content plan, it is impossible to be consistent.
You’ll publish content today, get caught up in work and go for a month without publishing any content, then publish new content for the following two weeks, then go another several weeks without publishing, and so on. Such inconsistency will only make it harder for you to achieve results.
Second, without a solid content plan, it is very easy to run out of content to write. You will get to a point where you want to create content for your blog, but you don’t know what to write about. This will in turn contribute to the inconsistency I just talked about above.
To avoid this, you need to come up with a solid content plan for your blog. Based on the keywords you identified in the previous step, come up with a list of topic ideas for the blogs that you’re going to publish for the next 6 months.
Once you’ve come up with enough topic ideas to take you through 4 – 6 months of consistent publishing, create a content calendar showing the publishing date for each blog post.
You can use a content calendar tool like CoSchedule or any other spreadsheet tool – such as Excel or Google Sheets – to create your content calendar.
3. Write And Publish Your Blog Posts
Now that you have topic ideas for your blog posts and a publishing date for each post, it’s now time to go ahead and write great, engaging, and useful content that will attract potential customers to your consulting business website.
Great content is content that:
- Is highly engaging and captures the readers’ attention till the end.
- Helps your audience solve the problem they are struggling with.
- Uses simple language that anyone can understand and avoids jargon and highly technical language.
- Uses proper formatting for easier readability.
- Uses natural, conversational language.
- Includes images, graphs, illustrations, and other visual aids to help the audience understand the key message.
In addition to making your content great for your readers, you should also make sure your content is SEO optimized. You can do this by:
- Using the keywords in the blog topic.
- Including your keywords in other on-page elements like the page title tag, meta description, image alt tags, subheadings, and so on.
- Using the keywords naturally within the body content of your blog post.
- Making the URL of your post SEO friendly and including the main keyword within the URL.
- Linking the content to other content within your site.
- Linking your content to other content high authority sites.
- Building backlinks from high authority sites to your content.
Grow Your Email List
Once you start writing and publishing high quality, SEO optimized content on your blog, you will start attracting people who have an interest in the kind of services you have to offer. However, the people who visit your blog are not leads yet.
You don’t have their contact information, and once they leave your blog, you cannot reach out to them and promote your services to them.
To turn your site visitors into leads, you need a way to collect their email addresses, so that you can then target them with email content that will help cement your authority and promote your services.
To collect your site visitors’ email addresses, you need the following two things:
- A lead magnet to encourage your visitors to sign up to your email list
- An optin form to capture your visitors contact information
Let’s take a look at each of these.
1. A Valuable Lead Magnet To Get Visitors To Sign Up To Your Email List
According to a report by the Radicati Group, people received an average of 96 emails every day in 2019.
With such a high number of emails bombarding their emails every day, people are not very keen to give out their email addresses to more marketers who will only fill their inboxes with more emails.
Therefore, if you expect your site visitors to give you their email addresses simply because you’re asking, you’re in for a disappointment.
If you want your site visitors to give you their email addresses, you need to give them a reason to do so, and the best way to do this is to use a lead magnet.
A lead magnet, also referred to as an optin bribe, is something valuable that you give to your visitors FOR FREE in exchange for their email address.
For instance, you could promise that in exchange for their email address, you will give your visitors a free eBook that will teach them how to solve a challenge they’re struggling with.
Solving the problem is valuable to them, and therefore, they won’t think twice about giving you their email address in exchange for the eBook.
Some of the different types of lead magnets you can use to incentivize your site visitors to sign up for your email list include eBooks, downloadables, free email courses, free webinars, newsletters, free videos, case studies, resource guides, survey results and reports, and so on.
To make sure that your lead magnet is effective in converting site visitors into leads, you should ensure that your lead magnet does the following:
- It should solve your audience’s problem
- It should give your audience a quick win
- It should be easy to consume. This means 100 page eBooks won’t do.
- It should be focused on a very specific problem
- It should be accessible to your visitors immediately after they submit their contact information
2. An Optin Form To Capture Your Visitors’ Information
Now that you have your lead magnet ready, you also need an optin form, also referred to as a lead capture form, that will allow your site visitors to fill in their information in order to gain access to your lead magnet.
To increase the effectiveness of your lead capture forms, you should make sure that:
- Your lead capture forms should be visually appealing. They should be well designed to guide your visitors towards the action you want them to take.
- Your lead capture forms should have minimal form fields. The more the form fields, the more likely your visitors are to leave without filling the form.
- Your lead capture forms should be strategically placed on your site where they’re easily visible to your visitors and have a higher chance of driving conversions. Some of the places where you can place your optin forms include on the hello bar, the header, the feature box, the sidebar, at the end of blog posts, and on your footer.
Engage Your Subscriber With Great Email Content To Build Trust And Showcase Your Expertise
As people keep signing up to your email list, you need to keep your subscribers engaged with useful and relevant email content.
In your emails, you can share more helpful tips on how to solve your subscribers’ challenges, share case studies of how you achieved results for previous clients, share other posts on your blog that they might find useful, link to tools and resources that might be useful to your subscribers, and so on.
The point of this step is to start building a relationship with your subscribers, show them your expertise in your field, and get them to trust that you can actually help them solve their problems and achieve their desired results.
To run a successful email campaign that will help build relationships with your audience and win their trust, you will need access to a good email marketing platform.
A good email marketing platform is one that will allow you to run automated email campaigns, segment your lists, create beautifully designed emails, measure and track the performance of your emails, run A/B split tests, and so on.
To learn more about how to use email marketing to convert your subscribers into paying clients, check out our beginner’s guide to successful email marketing.
Continue With Webinar, Calendar Invite, Survey And Sales Call
Once you have built a relationship with your subscribers and won their trust, you can then go ahead and invite them to attend a webinar.
From here, your content marketing sales funnel will follow the exact same steps as the paid ad sales funnel. Here’s a quick reminder of what you need to do at this stage:
- Invite your subscribers to attend your webinar: The aim here is to provide even more value to your audience while taking advantage of the power of video to build a personal connection with them. You can use either Demio or WebinarJam to host your webinar.
- Send A Calendar Invite: After the webinar, ask the attendees to click through to your calendar and schedule a call with you to see how you can help them solve their challenges. To create your booking calendar, you can use tools like Calendly, ScheduleOnce, or HubSpot Meetings Tool.
- Send A Sales Survey: The aim of the survey is to pre qualify leads that book a call with you so that you don’t waste your time and effort on a call with leads that are unlikely to become paying clients. To create your survey, use tools like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or Google Forms.
- Get On A Sales Call: The final step is to get on a sales call with your prospects and hopefully convert them into paying customers. To increase your chances of converting the lead, focus on their problem and how you will solve it for them, rather than on you and your services.
Software Tools To Make Your Life As A Consultant Easier
At this point, you know everything about how to set up your consulting business and how to consistently attract clients to your consulting business.
In other words, you have all the crucial things you need for success as a consultant.
Still, there are some tools that can make your life as a consultant easier and improve the efficiency of your consulting business.
Below, let’s check out some of the most important software tools that will make it easier for you to run your consulting business.
Hosting Your Consulting Website
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Web Hosting Provider
A web hosting provider is a company that allows you to host your site files on their servers so that your site can be accessible over the internet. There are numerous web hosting providers in the market today, each offering different features at different prices.
Let’s check out some of the best web hosting providers.
Based on our experience running multiple sites, we recommend hosting your consulting business site on Bluehost.
This is because their hosting plans are quite affordable, they have a powerful CPanel equipped with tons of useful features and tools, and they provide excellent customer support. What’s more, they will register your domain for free for a whole year.
SiteGround is a great alternative to Bluehost. With SiteGround, you get flexible and affordable hosting plans, great compatibility, and impressive security features. SiteGround also comes with a feature known as SuperCacher, which helps increase the load speeds of sites hosted on the platform.
If you don’t want to use either of the two, I recommend using HostGator, another great alternative. What I love about HostGator is its affordability, its helpful around-the-clock customer support, and its intuitive, drag-and-drop site builder.
HostPapa provides affordable shared hosting plans that will provide you with most of the features you need to run a consulting website. Their site building tools are quite easy to use, even for beginners, and they provide support around the clock. You might also love the fact that their services are powered using green energy.
5. WP Engine
WP Engine offers managed hosting services that are designed specifically for WordPress sites.
Since this is a managed hosting plan, everything is done for you by the WP Engine team – updates, backups, caching, and so on. Their security and customer support are also top tier.
Owing to the level of service they offer, however, their services are quite expensive compared to the other web hosts in this list.
WordPress plugins are pieces of software that allow you to extend the functionality of your WordPress website. Some WordPress plugins that will be quite useful for your consulting business website include:
As a consultant, you’ll probably find yourself handling multiple projects simultaneously. This plugin makes it easy for you to manage all the projects you’re working on and track the progress of each.
You can view all the completed and pending tasks for each project with the option of a daily, weekly or monthly view.
This plugin also allows you to track the hours spent on each project, which is important when it comes to invoicing your clients. With WP Project Manager, you can forget about missed deadlines.
To capture the contact information of your site visitors and add them to your email list, you need a handy tool for creating visually appealing optin forms. OptinMonster is one of the best and most popular WordPress plugins for this.
OptinMonster gives you access to beautifully designed opt-in forms that you can easily add to your site.
You also have the option of customizing these forms to ensure they suit your brand. OptinMonster also has a targeting feature that allows you to show different optin forms to different audiences.
As a consultant, social proof will have a huge influence on your ability to get new clients.
With the Testimonial Slider plugin, you can add testimonials from your previous clients and use them as social proof to show potential clients that your services have helped improve the lives and businesses of your former clients.
4. Yoast SEO
This is a very useful plugin that will help you optimize your site’s SEO and get found by potential clients through search.
The Yoast SEO plugin has an impressive set of features that automatically analyze various SEO elements on your site and provide you with tips on how to improve them. With SEO, you can get your site to rank for your target keywords without having to be an SEO guru.
As a consultant, you also need to create, send, and sign contracts and other legal agreements before you start work with a client. Instead of making a trip to your lawyer’s office for every single legal document, you can use this plugin to manage all your legal documents.
Whether it’s creating a contract, signing a contract from a client, or sending your own contracts to clients for them to review and sign, Shake will handle everything for you.
Landing Page Builders
If you’ll be running paid advertising campaigns to market your consulting business, you’ll need to build beautiful, conversion-optimized landing pages where you will direct the traffic from your paid ads.
Here are some page builders that you can use to build your landing pages:
This was the first landing page builder in the market, and in the time that they’ve been in the market, they’ve built an impressive set of features. Unbounce is pretty easy to use, with a drag and drop editor that just about anyone can use.
Unbounce comes with a ton of features, including dynamic text replacement, integration with popular digital marketing tools, over 100 landing page templates, split testing capabilities, mobile-responsive designs, and ability to add more functionality to landing pages with custom scripts.
HubSpot Landing Page Builder is one of the variety of digital marketing tools created by HubSpot. What we love about HubSpot Landing Page Builder is its collection of features.
With this tool, you can create very professional-looking lead capture forms, run A/B tests, connect your landing pages to Facebook lead ads, add elements like videos and tracking codes to your landing pages, and so on.
In addition, HubSpot Landing Page builder is quite easy to use, it offers lots of training material to help you make the most of it, and comes with lots of predesigned templates.
They also offer excellent customer support, and if you’re already using the HubSpot CRM, it’s very easy to integrate it with their landing page builder.
This is another very popular landing page creation tool. Like the others in this list, it comes with an easy to use drag-and-drop builder and numerous (160+) templates to choose from. It also supports mobile-responsive landing pages.
LeadPages can be integrated with 40+ other digital marketing tools, makes it easy to conduct split tests of your landing pages, and is quite affordable compared to some of the other landing page builders in the market.
Marketing Software To Help You Attract Clients
Some of the different kinds of marketing software that you might need to help you attract clients to your consulting business include:
Email Marketing Software
Here are some of the top email marketing platforms that you can use to run email marketing campaigns to build relationships with your subscribers and promote your services:
This is our top recommendation when it comes to email marketing platforms.
Not only does it come with a very powerful set of features, it also has a visual builder that shows you exactly how your emails will appear in your subscriber’s inbox, a landing page builder, email automation capabilities, and very useful email list management tools.
SendinBlue is a fast growing email platform that offers powerful email automation features.
With SendinBlue, you get a drag-and-drop editor for designing your emails, integrations with lots of third party tools, a quite functional free package, algorithm-assisted email scheduling, ability to complement your email marketing with SMS campaigns, and so much more.
HubSpot offers a feature-packed email platform that also acts as a customer relationship management tool.
We love HubSpot because it allows integration with most email clients, has an easy to use drag-and-drop email builder, has a feature-packed free package, comes with tons of beautiful email templates, and has some very useful automation tools.
This is another platform that acts as an overall digital marketing platform, with email marketing being part of the mix. Despite handling all aspects of digital marketing, GetResponse’s email marketing platform is quite robust and yet easy to use.
With GetResponse, you get a drag and drop email builder, a webinar hosting tool, a landing page builder, an algorithm-driven email scheduler, and allows integration with many popular digital marketing tools.
If you are going to be using webinars to attract leads, you need a good webinar platform for hosting and broadcasting your webinar. Here are the best webinar platforms you should consider:
This is currently the most popular webinar platform, and with good reason – it is very easy to use, and comes with a very impressive set of webinar management tools.
Like WebinarJam, Demio is also quite intuitive and user-friendly. It also comes with great features like cloud recording and HD streaming, and allows you to track and optimize the performance of your webinars.
We love WebinarNinja due to the fact that it allows integrations with 1,000+ third party digital marketing apps, while at the same time giving you features like instant screen sharing, in-webinar polls, and so on.
Sales Funnel Software
Sales funnel software helps you to plan, implement and track the different stages of your sales funnel from one central place. The top platforms you can use for managing your sales funnels are:
This is the most popular sales funnel software available right now. What we love about ClickFunnels is that it has a funnel builder that allows you to see (and manage) all steps of your funnel.
With this tool, you don’t need any coding skills to build your sales funnel. And if you run out of ideas, it has a Cookbook that will give you tons of ideas and tutorials on how to implement them.
This is another popular sales funnel software that was previously known as Infusionsoft.
Keap is created for small business owners like you and offers all the tools you might need for your sales funnel – a landing page builder, marketing automation tools, a CRM, and so on.
Kartra is a fully-featured sales funnel builder that provides you with all the functionality you might need in your funnel.
We love the fact that it has ready-made funnel templates (including pre-written sales copy), allows you to host marketing videos, has a helpdesk for providing support to your clients, has a calendar for booking and managing client calls and appointments, and so on.
Calendar Invite Software
Some powerful calendar tools you can use to manage appointments and allow prospects to book calls and appointments with you include:
One of the most popular and most cost-effective calendar tools.
With Calendly, you can create a calendar showing your availability and embed it on your site, allowing prospects to book calls and appointments right from your site. Your availability is updated on the calendar in realtime.
What we love about ScheduleOnce is the fact that it can be integrated with popular calendars like Google Calendar, Office 35 Calendar, and so on.
Another tool from HubSpot, this is an automated calendar and bookings tool that also offers advanced functionality, such as the ability to collect information from clients right from the calendar page, and integrations with the HubSpot CRM tool.
These are software tools that allow you to create and send prequalification surveys to your prospects. The best survey tools to use are:
This is one of the most commonly used online survey tools. People love it because it is quite easy to use, allows you to create beautifully designed surveys, and allows surveys to be embedded on external sites. SurveyMonkey comes with a free and a paid version.
This online survey tool offers a very intuitive interface that allows you to create simple yet effective surveys. Like SurveyMonkey, Typeform has a free and paid version.
3. Google Forms
This is a free survey tool that is available to anyone with a Gmail account. Despite being free, there are no limitations on Google Forms.
You can create all kinds of surveys, and what’s more, you can export the results of your surveys to Google Sheets for further analysis.
Running Your Consulting Projects Smoothly
Some of the different kinds of tools and software that you might need to smoothly run your consulting business include:
Project Management Software
These are tools that make it easier for you to manage and track the projects you’re working on. Here are the top project management software for consultants:
This is a great project management software that comes with a very visually appealing and intuitive interface. With a simple glance, you can get a quick overview of the important data about the projects you’re working on.
This tool is great for tracking the progress (and deadlines) of your projects, and also has great reporting capabilities. You can also track the hours spent on each project (for invoicing purposes).
Finally, Monday.com also allows integrations with multiple collaboration tools like Google Drive, DropBox, Slack, and so on.
Like you might have guessed from the name, this project management tool looks a bit like a spreadsheet. However, it is a very powerful project management software, particularly if you’re conversant with Excel.
SmartSheet provides alerts for key project dates and tasks, provides regular status reports about different projects, and has a feature known as Critical Path, which allows you to keep an eye on the important tasks that might affect timely completion of the project.
Like Monday.com, Trello has a simple and intuitive interface that quickly gives you a snapshot of all the important information about the projects you’re working on.
Trello also offers very powerful collaboration tools, which come in handy when you’re working on projects that require close collaboration with your clients.
As a consultant, you will also need invoicing tools to help you manage and track your invoices to clients. Here are some of top invoicing tools for a freelance consultant:
This is one of the most popular invoicing tools for freelance consultants. The beauty of Quickbooks online is that it is quite easy to use, even if you do not have much experience as an accountant.
You simply need to find the most suitable version of Quickbooks for you, customize it to fit your needs, and you’re good to go.
This is another popular invoicing tool for consultants. The great thing about Invoicely is that it has a feature-packed free plan. This means that if you do not need the advanced features, you can use it comfortably without incurring any cost.
With the free plan, you can send unlimited invoices, bill your clients in unlimited currencies, and even accept payments from PayPal.
Like Invoicely, Invoice Ninja has a free plan that is packed with very useful features. With the free plan, you can send unlimited invoices for 100+ customers, integrate with over 40 payment systems, and so on.
If you need more advanced features, you can upgrade to the Pro plan at a monthly fee of just $8.
Consulting Business FAQ
There is no limit to how much you can earn with your consulting business. There are consultants who are earning millions of dollars every year from their consulting businesses.
What determines how much you can earn from your consulting business is your chosen niche, your level of expertise, the kind of clients you are targeting, and your ability to consistently attract consulting clients.
There are two ways of getting consulting clients first. The first one is to use a paid ad consulting sales funnel.
With this approach, you run a paid ad campaign to drive traffic to your landing page, use a webinar to provide value to your leads, send out a survey to pre-qualify your leads, and then get on call with the qualified leads to close them.
This approach works because paid ads are quite effective at driving results fast. You can launch a paid ad campaign today and start receiving your first leads today.
The other approach is to use online marketplaces to find consulting clients. With this approach, all you need to do is to sign up on a suitable online marketplace, start pitching to clients who are looking for consultants, and close your first client. With this approach, you can get your first client within a day.
First and foremost, you need the skills required to effectively solve your clients’ problems and challenges. These skills will vary depending on your chosen niche and your unique value proposition.
For instance, if you are an IT consultant, you will need expert-level IT skills. Similarly, if you’re a financial consultant, you’ll need exceptional finance skills.
In addition to the skills required to solve your clients’ challenges, you will also need other skills that are required to run a business, such as sales skills, networking skills, communication and negotiation skills, time management skills, financial management skills, and so on.
Ready To Turn Your Skills Into A Wildly Successful Consulting Business?
With the consulting industry bringing in revenues worth billions annually, consultants are making tons of money from the industry, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t join the party.
The good thing is that consulting is something that just about anyone can do. We saw that consulting is simply the business of providing expert advice to a specific group of people.
Therefore, if you have expert knowledge and skills in a specific field that a certain group of people would be willing to pay for your advice, you have everything you need to start your own consulting business and start getting your share of the consulting industry billions.
So, are you ready to turn your skills into a wildly successful consulting business today?
Here’s a recap of what you need to do to start your own consulting business:
- Identify a compelling value proposition based on your strengths and skills
- Analyze the needs of the market and what people are willing to pay for
- Clarify your service offering
- Launch your website and brand yourself as an expert
- Find a dependable and repeatable system for attracting consulting clients.
It’s that simple!
All the best as you get started on your journey to a successful consulting business today.