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How To Start A Consulting Business (even as a side job)


Neville

 

--Overview/Intro--

So what is this "consulting" stuff?  Let's dive into it......

 

-How Does Consulting Work?

Consulting is when you exchange your expertise for money.


YOU show you how to do something.  
THEY pay you money.


Consults Here's Some Money

This simple exchange is often the precursor to most business people's lives.
 

You provide service.  They pay money.

And consulting can take many forms:


  • You give advice on a problem they're having.  They pay money.
  • You provide information on how to do something.  They pay money.
  • You guide them through something they're not sure of. They pay money.
  • You tell them how to do something faster & more efficiently.  They pay money.
  • You get the point.....

  •  

Consulting is just a simple exchange of knowledge and money.
 
Here's some examples of consulting (notice the pay-grade differences for some of these):


A gigantic company is implementing new software across a huge number of teams.
They want YOU to guide them through it.
They will PAY $50,000 to hang around for 3 months and fix bugs.
 

Someone is having relationship trouble.
They want YOU to listen and tell them what to do.
They will PAY $60/hour to listen and give advice.
 

Someone is trying to get their webpage to the top of Google.
They want YOU to do it for them.
They will PAY $2,000/month for 3 months, and $3,000 bonus if you pull it off.
 

Someone needs help learning how to use Wordpress.
They want YOU to teach them.
They will PAY $20/hour to help them.
 
Some consulting gigs can even be the exact same service, yet fetch wildly different prices!
 

People who generally get the highest rate will have something going for them, either:


  • Amazing results 
  • Length of experience 
  • Previously worked with well-known clients 
  • Know who to sell to that will pay the most money 
  • Know how to offer the service in a way that will fetch the highest price 

So we understand what consulting is.  Now WHY should everyone do it?

 

 

-Why everyone should start a part time consulting business (even if you have a job):


Just getting paid on the side for some simple work goes a looonnggng way.  It's essentially like starting your own business, except with little or no costs...and pretty much zero risk.

The main thing about consulting is the lessons you learn along the way.  Just the simple act of charging people for your help will teach you ssooooo many things (more like it will FORCE YOU to learn all these things):


  • Where to find clients.
  • How to raise your rates.
  • Building a simple website.
  • What tools to use to charge clients.
  • Dealing with large business owners.
  • How to bill clients in different ways.
  • Dealing with small business owners.
  • How to find different types of clients.
  • How to make sure people stick to deadlines.
  • Dealing with the bureaucracy within a company.
  • Learning how to handle difficult or overly-needy clients.
  • How to modify your product offering to get more money.
  • Learning how much work you can handle before burning out.
  • Updating social profiles to let people know about your service.
  • Getting over the fear of letting others know you offer a service.
  • The list goes on....


Basically you'll learn hella stuff by consulting, but I think the main thing that happens from consulting as a side business is:

The "serendipity" that happens when consulting!  

You see, pretty much every successful person I know at some point did some form of consulting for others.  And what happens is they start consulting as a little side gig, experience some great results, the client sends them a good referral, someone else hires them, they end up becoming business partners, and they end up creating a huge company together.

Some form of that story is VERY typical.

Or more than often, an entire real business comes out of some small consulting gigs.

The downsides of consulting is small, but the upside is unlimitedly high!

This is why if you've ever had the curiosity of starting a business, but not enough balls......consulting is a great way to "dip your toe in the water" without risking much.

 

 

Consulting as a side business:


A "Side Business" is just a small income stream you have on the side.

And my personal theory is that EVERYONE should have one of these unless you know for sure your career is going to be super stable for a loonngg time.

If you get fired or laid off....whatchya gonna do for money?

Well if you're weak-minded you'll rely on the government to handout money to you for a short period of time.  But if you're an enterprising little monkey then you'll think of a way to bring in a side income.

Consulting is a great and quick way to get started.


  • There's no inventory needed.
  • There's no special title or education you need (unless you're giving out certain types of medical or financial info).
  • There's no barrier to getting started.
  • But the biggest problem people have with starting as a consultant is FINDING THE DAMN CLIENTS!!

  •  

If you can find a big pool of people that are literally throwing money at your face, then you will figure out all the other problems REALLY quick.

But if you can't find one person that wants to pay you for what you do......then money is going to be scarce.

So let's get started on getting you some damn clients!!
 

 

How Consultants Find/Get Clients:

We're gonna cover a few important things I've learned from doing this myself, and also helping other people do this through several hundred paid consults I've personally conducted....

 

 

Where the bulk of your clients will come from (hint: Not your webpage):

Lol......I love it when someone says "What should my webpage look like to get consulting clients???"

This way I get to laugh in their face with confidence and say:

"There ain't ONE DAMN PERSON IN THE WORLD who is going to find your site and buy consulting!!!"

Here is a picturized rendition of me hitting you over the head with a wooden board as you waste waaayyy too much time designing a fancy webpage:


Hitting you over the head

Listen, I get it.

Sticking up a webpage sounds fun, and provides you lots of opportunity to "shuffle papers around" to FEEL like you're working on a business.

But the reality is you will rarely....(dare I say NEVER) get clients solely off your website.  It's gonna be YOU that's doing the leg work, and it's not a bad thing.

Here is a common problem I hear from people who come to me about this problem:

"I keep optimizing my webpage, but the only clients I get are through referrals and personal contact...."

Yup......that sounds about right!  Unless your website or blog gets a significant readership, it's unlikely it will be a fruitful source of consulting clients.

You can have your website as a method of collecting payment for your consulting clients (I'll show you templates below), but that's about the best use.

In the past I used to keep this icon on all my sites where people could buy a consult:


1-hour-consult_1024x1024

Guess what? It rarely evveerr sold.  It's because people don't see that and think, "LEMME GET THAT!!"

Rather.....they come to you when they have an actual NEED for your service.

I get consulting clients from my Copywriting Course website.....but I have 18,000+ email subscribers (many who've been with me for YEARS), plus around 28,000+ people reading the blog per month.   So unless you're doing some reasonable numbers, let's first find clients outside of the website realm. It's way easier and more profitable.

Let's move on to that now......
 

 

The cheap platforms to get the ball rolling: 

Let's say you're bottom-of-the-barrel in terms of skills.
For example:


  • You want to be a freelance writer.....but have never wrote anything.
  • You want to be a website designer.....but have only installed a few personal blogs.
  • You want to do CAD design for an engineering firm.....but your only experience is a $10 course from Udemy.


You my friend would be considered "bottom of the barrel" because you have no experience, no references, no portfolio, no past success, and no contacts.

If this sounds like you, then I would suggest trying to snag a few small gigs on platforms that are known for getting you gigs quickly.

This is the equivalent of "having to work your way up."

So here's some places to start:

Getting your 1st Clients: Your own personal Facebook Account:

The best spot to look for your 1st clients is your OWN PERSONAL NETWORK.  This is because these people already know you and trust you.

In the AppSumo Monthly1k product we have this private Facebook group called "From Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur" where people discuss starting their first businesses.  A lot of these first attempts are consulting based.

So here's an example of someone trying to "Validate" a concept by reaching out to her network and trying to get people to join.

Very quickly Stephanie will be able to see if her concept hits a nerve with the target market (moms trying to get fit), or if it falls flat.

Stefanie spent zero money and little time doing this.....and will quickly find out what the deal is:


fb-method1
 
This guy launched his service and is trying to drum up business directly from his network of existing people.  I'm not saying this a GOOD example of doing this, but it took Christopher like 15 seconds to make this post, and it'll get some initial eyeballs onto this service:


fb-method2
 
Here's my FAVORITE example of drumming up business without spending a damn penny or even making a website.  OFFERING PEOPLE SOMETHING AWESOME for free!  Look what Jordan did here:


fb-method3

Bravo Jordan!!!
 

He got 129 people to comment on his post that he made for free.....and got to collect a crap-ton of great info along the way (different business ideas, making 100+ personal connections, and being looked at as a "smart guy" in the field).....

If you're at the bottom-of-the-barrel and trying to work your way up, something like that can be a goldmine!!
 
SO LEMME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO DO THIS YOURSELF:

Let's say you wanna get started doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as a consultant.....but you're at the bottom-of-the-barrel and don't know where to start.
I would suggest you post this on your Facebook, and in any business groups you belong to:

 

Want me to SEO-proof a post for you?

I'll send you updates to make on your site for free! Send me your most popular page on your website (Google Analytics --> Behaviors --> Site Content), and I will make suggestions on how to best SEO the post. I will do keyword research on your page, then send you:

  • Title tag updates
  • Meta tag updates
  • Description tag updates
  • Which links you should add to your site
  • Tell you about any terms you should avoid using.
  • Tell you any content sections to add into your post.

Option 1.) Comment here with a link to your post, and I'll send you all the updates you should make via a personal message.

Option 2.) If you'd like me to do ALL OF IT FOR YOU....PayPal me $50 and I'll do it all.  We will just need 15 minutes of time over a Google Hangout or Skype session.  This small price can often get you ranked 300% higher in the search engine results.

I look forward to helping you out!  Feel free to ask me any SEO related questions.  I'll answer them here.


Holy crap!!  Can you imagine how much interest you'll get in a post like that??  Even with ZERO EXPERIENCE someone can get lots of people to take them up on that offer.

If you give people genuinely helpful reports, you can then offer to do other SEO work for them.

BAM......you've just billed your first clients!  Soon you'll have case studies, previous clients, and can get referrals.  All for just posting a small little update on your Facebook page.
 

Getting your 1st Clients: eLance.com:


eLance is a market for freelancers.  If you want some copywriting done, go to eLance and search for "copywriters."  If you want something programmed, search for "programmers" and browse the past projects they've done to see if you like them.

Anyhow....it's another one of these low-cost-to-entry places a person can get started.

Here's an experience from using elance, this blurb is all about it:

 


Hey guys -- when Neville asked me to talk to y’all about scoring the higher paying consulting gigs on Elance, I got really excited. Because I know firsthand that there’s a ton of potential there! But you need to know how to tap into it. Let me explain:

When most people look at Elance, they’re fooled by all the low budget jobs they see everywhere. But that’s just the “mass market” view. It’s like taking a quick glance around a shopping mall...you’d mostly see 1-dollar hot dogs and cheap trinkets and stuff like that. Less visible would be the smaller number of high rollers who are quietly buying $150 t-shirts from Armani Exchange, or $1,000 gadgets from The Sharper Image.

The higher end work does exist. But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few challenges you need to overcome in order to get it...like finding the clients who are willing to pay the bigger bucks, convincing them that you’re worth it, and standing out in a very crowded marketplace.

Luckily, you can use all of this stuff to your advantage. Kind of like how jiu-jitsu lets you use your opponent’s size and speed against them. Here are some tips to get you rolling.

Tip #1: Tap into what I call the “Hidden Elance Economy.”
The idea here is that a lot of the higher end clients will be doing keyword searches for the specific type of consultant they need, since they don’t want to have to weed through 100 applications. So instead of posting a “public” job, these clients would rather find a specific consultant by keyword search, and then contact ONLY that person and hire them. So make your profile uber-specific when it comes to what you do, and whom you do it for. That way you have the best chance of getting found by the top clients.

Tip #2: Don’t sound like everyone else.
Realistically, you’ll probably start off bidding on public jobs, competing against 15-30 other people at a clip. That’s okay, but standing out is a must if you want to charge above average prices. I’ll save you some trouble and let you know that most of your competitors will be talking all about themselves in their proposals! So one great way to set yourself apart is to make sure that YOU are talking MOSTLY about the client, their problems, and how you can solve them. Clients love this anyway because they would way rather hear about themselves...than us!

Tip #3: Create scarcity.
Another mistake most of your competitors will make is being overly eager. Some of them will even sound like “ZOMG I WANT TO WORK WITH YOU RIGHT NOW” in their proposals. This works 100% against them, because when something is in high supply, clients don’t value it very much (like the way most people aren’t grateful for fresh air, even though we should be). Instead, you’re going to play it cool. No need to go all “hard sell” right from the get-go...but if you want to charge the big bucks, at some point you need to let clients know that your time is limited, and you have a certain number of slots available, period.

Tip #4: Build up your Elance history--consciously.
Your Elance profile is like a piece of real estate: there’s a lot you can do to raise its value. Most people just go through the motions, serving their clients in an OK fashion, and hoping for the best. THIS WILL NEVER LEAD TO HIGH PAYING JOBS. Instead, I recommend doing whatever it takes to WOW every client. Send them proactive updates. Deliver work early. Give them more than they expected. Why? Because this will lead to amazing reviews, rather than just good ones. And ultimately, those reviews are the best way to “convince” new clients to pay you more than they’d pay your competitors, and more than you charged a month or even a week ago.

Tip #5: Be a real person.
One of the weird things about virtual communication is that you have to actually WORK at sounding like a human being (compare Neville’s emails and blog posts to other “professionals” and it’s easy to see what I’m talking about). Don’t get me wrong, professionalism is good, but no one wants to pay $100+ per hour to someone who comes across as a drone...yet this is exactly how most people unintentionally sound when they’re working through a platform like Elance. So make sure to write your proposals with personality, move clients to the phone or Skype as quickly as possible, and just go out of your way to be YOURSELF, rather than some overly stuffy “pro.” Cool?

This should be plenty to get you started and help you make your way through the “jungle” of Elance and other online freelance platforms. The rewards are there if you want ‘em. Enjoy!
--Danny Margulies


Good stuff eh? Even in a crowded market place that values "low-price" like eLance, you can still grab some big gigs if you play it smart.

 

Getting your 1st Clients: Fiverr.com:


Fiverr.com is a marketplace where people do things for 5 bucks.  It's amazing what you can get on here!

Video editing, voice overlays, advanced Photoshopping, webpage building.....it kicks ass!!!

Now I would never in a million years consider going on Fiverr now and marketing my services because the price point is so low, but I would give it a try if I was starting at the bottom of the barrel.  It's a great way to build up some work history and get paid a little for it.

For example, if you want to be a designer and get some practice dealing with clients, you can post yourself instantly and start building up credibility in the system (with good ratings).

For a recent post about Amish Hour I did, I got 4 different people to "Make me look Amish"

Four different results came back:

 

amish1 

amish2

amish3

amish4

All these people are building up their editing chops by grabbing gigs from Fiverr.  They usually get between $5 and $20 for a gig.

So while it isn't the optimal place to start for high paying jobs, it's an option just to START.

 

Getting your 1st Clients: Craigslist:

I still looveee Craigslist because it's a giant marketplace that DOESN'T necessarily dictate your price (eLance and Fiverr kind of force you to a low price).  Instead you can set your own rate, it's free, AND you can stand out with a nicely formatted ad.

As a copywriter I've had the privileged of posting on Craigslist (and similar sites like GumTree.com for other countries) many many many many times.

I've even done split tests.  And what shows up consistently on sites like Craigslist is mediocre-yet-concise ads do the best.


  • Super fancy ad = Low results  😞
  • Moderate ad = Decent results  😕
  • Crappy ad = Great results!  🙂

For example, here's an ad we tested for an auto location:

FANCY DESIGNED ad on Craigslist = Low results:


luxuryauto-new3

 

 

MODERATE DESIGN ad on Craigslist = Medium results:


luxuryauto-new2

 

 

CRAPPY ad on Craigslist = HIGHEST results:


luxuryauto-new1

People on sites like Craigslist and GumTree are looking for something very specific, and don't give a damn about the "design" of your ad.

In fact, if the design looks TOO PROFESSIONAL they get turned off!!

This is an important lesson to learn about selling your services.....

People care more about the CONTENT than the "design".  


In fact, this is the design that on Craigslist has helped the MOST people get gigs.
It's this basic format:

[Title of gig]
[Picture]
[3 to 5 details about it]
[How to contact you]

In practice, this is what it looks like:

Consults Ad Template for Craigslist


That ad was an attempt to validate a camera business, and got queries within a few hours of posting.  I've used this same outline for dozens of successful ads.

SO....let's say I want to adapt this ad for consulting, what do we do?  Well, we just change the words and picture around to reflect what we're selling.  Like this:


seo-craigslist-ad

This ad would be the easiest and most effective way to start drumming up clients outside of your own social network over Craigslist.
 

This method is free, easy, and has no downside.  

What are you waiting for?
 

The Craigslist Template Download:

If you want to download the ad template I used to make the above, you can download the .psd Photoshop file at the bottom of this post.

I've also got some similar templates you can download for earning money as a photographer, or make your first $100 by making Wordpress sites.
 

 

--How To Charge Clients--

Charging clients is such a huge issue most consultants have.

You provide LITTLE service = They pay you LITTLE money.

You provide LOTS of service = They pay you LOTS of money.

Here's a basic breakdown of what pulls in the most amount of money from clients:
 
Charging for consulting
 
Charging for consulting
 
Charging for consulting
 
Charging for consulting
 
As you can see, you will obviously get more money for the more valuable services:


  • Tell them what to do = $
  • Show them step-by-step = $ $
  • Show them step-by-step and be there everyday = $ $ $
  • Just do the whole damn project for them without them doing anything = $ $ $ $

  •  

Charging A Retainer:

If you're going to be charging for a project that takes months such as SEO, a huge site re-design, or a long-term software implementation across a lot of teams.....then a "retainer" is great because the company will pay you a flat fee every month.

For example, you might get $3,000/month minimum to do SEO for a company.  Then any additional work outside the SEO work (like content creation) can be billed as extra.

That's $3,000/month PLUS additional work.

Having a retainer is usually a sweet gig in the monetary sense.....but by it's nature of locking someone into a contract, it makes them harder to get.

Also.....some clients are actually just a gigantic pain in the ass, or just plain boring to work with.  This can get very soul-sucking for you.

Instead, I'm a HUGE fan of first charging an hourly rate first to test out the client.
 

 

Charging Hourly - Pimp your skills out:

I'm a HUGE fan of the hourly rate vs. a retainer because:

"Getting a retainer is like getting married, how about a quick date first??"

I know a bunch of people tend to hate on this "Trading time for money" thing.....but if someone pays you several hundred dollars for an hour of work....would you complain so much? 😉

Also....once a client pays you a LITTLE money, it's very simple to get them to pay A LOT once they get a taste of your work.

On my own consulting page I still charge hourly.

This is because if I charge clients for a monthly recurring charge, the value of each subsequent consult is lower. This is because they learn so much within 4 to 8 sessions, I generally don't see the need for most clients to go much beyond that.
 

 

 

Three Pronged Pricing Technique to keep all clients:

Now a loooottt of people are very scared to have a price discussion......so for them I would encourage they use this "Three Pronged Pricing Technique"  that covers all bases:


  • It doesn't scare away clients because of a huge price tag.
  • It still tries to get you a very fair amount of money.
  • It keeps the door open for A LOT of money.

The way you do this is as follows:

You create THREE different pricing structures.

Basic = Cheap and safe.
Advanced = Optimal amount of money you'd like.
Expensive = Most clients won't spend this much, but some will!

Here's what you want people to be thinking in their head:

image01
 
So the way this would manifest is you would charge several packages like this:
 
The Basic Wordpress Package: $400


  • Basic Wordpress website installed with your choice of theme.
  • Tweaking and Tuning of your site done.
  • One hour of personal Wordpress training.


The Advanced Wordpress Package: $1,300


  • Fully customized Wordpress website installed.
  • Full SEO tuning done for your site.
  • Full list of content items to write for good SEO.
  • Two hours of personal Wordpress training.

  •  

The Professional Wordpress Package: $5,200 + $1,000/mo Retainer


  • Fully customized Wordpress website installed.
  • Full SEO tuning done for your site.
  • Full list of content items to write for good SEO.
  • Five hours of personal Wordpress training.
  • Every month we perform 2 split tests to optimize.
  • BONUS: One SEO'd article written for you per month.
  • BONUS: Full social media presence and strategy laid out.
  • BONUS: Blogger outreach program to get your blog into blogging communities.

See how nice that looks?

If you're a small-time Wordpress designer, this will help you get small AND big clients without scaring anyone away!

And usually people tend to opt for the middle package.......and they seriously consider the huge package if they can afford it.

I've had GREAT success with this Three Pronged Approach!

You can download a template for yourself at the bottom of this post.

 

 

How to get more money from clients:

Everyone wants mo' money.

So the main ways we've seen here to do that are:


  • Simply charge higher prices from the get-go.
  • Offer more services.
  • Become higher in demand by becoming industry-respected.
  • Consult in areas that generally pay more (example: non-profit world vs. financial sector).
  • Use the Three Pronged Pricing Technique to drum up larger consult prices.

  •  

 

--Personal consulting stories about consulting--

Here's some stories about my own adventures in the consulting world.  I've done consulting in the website optimization area, SEO, and copywriting consulting.

 

My first good-paying consulting gig in college (for Aprilia & Ducati Motorcycles)


Somewhere in 2003 (I know this because of this post) I bought an Aprilia Scooter from a dealership in Austin, TX.  I was running an online drop-shipping store called HouseOfRave.com in addition to being a full time student at The University Of Texas.

The primary method for getting traffic for HouseOfRave.com was by getting to the top of search engine rankings.
 

Example:
When someone typed in the word "Finger Lights"  .....my website HouseOfRave.com would pop up as the first result.  People would then see that I sold finger lights and buy them.  This put money in my pocket with every transaction.

Well as I was buying the scooter from the dealership, I was talking to the guy who owned the place.

I was telling him how damn hard it was for me to find him......and he's just one of a few of the people who sell Aprilia and Ducati motorcycles in Austin!

I told him it was crazy that he was in last place in the search engine rankings even though he was the largest dealership in town.

He was super interested in getting to the top of the search engines.  And in walks this nerdy Indian kid who knows how to do it.
 

He asked if I could do it for him and that he would pay me ($$$!).

I immediately said yes, and he told me, "Cool....have a proposal ready next week."

I'd never done a proposal, and I had NO CLUE what to charge him.

Later that day I mulled over his website figuring out what I needed to do for him.

I made a list of things like Title Tags, Meta Tags, Image Tags, Page Names, Internal Links and such.....and put it all into Microsoft Word document (keep in mind this was 2003).

I then mulled over a price and came up with this:

I would do the project for 500 bucks!

$500 back then seemed like a A LOT of money to me.....and I knew I could do all the work myself in just one or two weekends.

Getting paid $500 seemed like the deal of a lifetime to me!

So then I ran this pricing by a mentor of mine at the time. Someone more experienced in the business of pricing.

My mentor LAUGHED IN MY FACE when I said the price would be $500!

He told me that was completely stupid, and to charge the dealership guy 10x that.....that's $5,000 for the project.

I instantly resisted this price jump because it seemed so ludicrous to me.

I was a naive young college student, and the only real business experience I had was running my little drop-shipping rave website.
So my mentor sat me down and explained the prices a business of that size were used to paying:


  • $100,000's/year in taxes.
  • $1,000's/year for permits.
  • $3,000/month in rent.
  • $40,000/year for employees.
  • $1,000's/year for simple administrative work.
  • $10,000's/year for marketing.

He also explained that this dealership sells high end motorcycles (Aprilia and Ducati motorcycles), and bikes in there cost in excess of $15,000......so if my SEO efforts helped him sell just ONE MORE MOTORCYCLE the whole year, he'd make his investment back!

My mentor also explained that if the guy balked at the $5,000 price tag, I could just keep going lower and lower all the way down to $500.

This sounded fair to me....but I was still SUPER SCARED to even mention the number "Five Thousand" because it still seemed wayyy too high.

So the next week I packed up my laptop and went to the Ducati/Aprilia dealership and met with the guy.

I started explaining exactly how we could dominate the search results for him.  I was spouting words like "Title Tags" and "Meta Descriptions" .....and he stopped me mid-sentence.

He said, "Ok fine......how much will it cost to just do everything for me?"

I wasn't prepared for the question, so I blurted out what I'd practiced: "Five thousand dollars for everything."

I had practiced my retort for when he rejected me, but to my huge surprise, he just said, "OK.  How do I pay?"

HOLY CRAP!!  I planned on charging $500 but walked out with a $5,000 check!!

This.  Blew.  My.  Mind.

Up to that point I don't think I'd ever witnessed anyone paying $5,000 for ANYTHING.  Especially something that wouldn't even take that long.

The funny thing was, I'm pretty sure the guy thought he was getting a deal based on his eagerness to accept.  But let's not get greedy.

I quickly realized that for this guy to go out on his own and get this done (back then) would've cost him thousands and thousands of dollars....AND he didn't have the slightest clue where to start.  He knew motorcycles.....not SEO.
 

The Money Vs. Doing-Sucky-Work Paradox:


The first time I got a pretty good paying consult was during college, and it paid me $3,000/month plus I got to charge for extra work I did.

My monthly bills (including rent/bills/phone/insurance) at the time tallied up to less than $900/month.....so getting in the range of $4,000 - $5,000 per month for ONE GIG that was very much part-time was kick ass!!  (This also allowed me to consult with other clients AND run my ecommerce websites simultaneously).

The company that was paying me was in the $50million - $100million range, and wanted me to help them with SEO.  They just wanted to rank higher in Google for certain keywords...something I knew how to help them with.

So I gleefully started this new gig.....coming at them FULL FORCE with the enthusiasm of someone who was young, eager, ready to get paid, and wanted to show off my skills.

The first call we had was with FIVE PEOPLE......all from different parts of the country.  A designer in Seattle phoned in, representatives from Austin phoned in, some random agency people from Washington D.C. phoned in.....all to hear ME talk about their SEO.

Basically the first 30 minutes was spent chatting about the weather and dealing with technical issues.

Finally when things got started I told them exactly what they needed to change, what keyword research I found etc.....and that I could do all of this in two weeks or a month.

One guy on the phone said, 'Whoooaa whooaa....slow down!  This is more of a 4-6 month project."
 

In my head two things happened:

1.) "Holy shit I can bill them for 6 months!!!"
--and--
2.) "What the hell am I going to do for 6 months with them?  This is a two week project..."

Really all we had to do was update some easy stuff like meta tags and title tags and do some internal linking.  They had a pretty specific niche, and I was sure we could dominate it quickly.

Well around comes the 2nd call with everyone again.  Another 30 minutes to an hour goes by talking about the weather and other superfluous crap.  No one seemed all that bothered about this SEO stuff.

I presented what needed to be done.  It was a giant list of things.
It quickly became clear the design team in charge of making the changes wanted to move slooowww.....so they asked for THREE main objectives for the next weekly call (the calls were always on a Friday).

I literally gave them a list like this inside of a Word Document:


  • Change meta tags for ABC.html to: [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword]
  • Change meta tags for QRX.html to: [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword]
  • Change meta tags for XYZ.html to: [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword], [keyword]

I couldn't believe it.  THEY WERE HAPPY WITH THIS.

If a startup founder who was paying me $3,000/mo + extras to tell them crap like this, they'd PUNCH ME IN THE FACE and steal their money back.

However this larger company was somehow okay with moving at a snails pace.

These changes were something I could do in Joomla (the system they were using) in less than 5 minutes.  It would take this "agency of designers" a full week to complete it.

I didn't get it.

I mean.....On one hand I was happy to be billing them what was a huge amount for me.....but also kinda bummed that THIS was the kind of slow work I was doing.

Eventually we started talking about the company's AdWords account and how much they were spending.  It was an absurd amount, for almost zero return.

I offered to look at their account, and turns out I could actually help them quite a bit (woot....more billing)!

So my first order of business was shutting off this GLARINGLY OBVIOUS waste of money.

They were buying Google AdWords to a the keyword "Business" ....which is like $15 - $35 PER CLICK.   They were sending visitors to a page which OBVIOUSLY had nothing to do with "Business", so they of course never got a single sale from spending several thousand dollars a week on this one keyword.

I thought I'd be a huge hero.

Instead, the following week a guy called me and was like, "What happened to all the site traffic???"

I proudly told him how I'd shut down the keyword "Business" and saved the company thousands of dollars.  He seemed not to hear this and just once again asked, "But what about all the traffic???"

That's when I realized what was going on:

I wasn't dealing with company owner directly.  I was dealing with middle-managers who had no care about how much money the company made.

They just wanted to show their boss a weekly chart that goes up-and-to-the-right.

So to satisfy this guys need for "traffic" I turned on a different keyword that got them traffic for less money, but yielded no sales.

For THIS I was considered a hero.

I still couldn't believe it.  I was living in a bizarro world where profit didn't mean anything, but a stupid number like "traffic" mattered.

Chart going up
 

But that's when I realized how to best deliver good stuff to the department that hired me:

Every week I gave them pretty looking charts that went Up-and-to-the-Right.

It actually helped me earn more from them because they liked this service (because they secretly knew it would make them look good to their superiors).

You see, the middle-manager guy doesn't give a crap about how the company fares from this project.  He cares that he executed orders well so that his ass isn't fired.
SO I gave them what they wanted.

Eventually I started to tell them I could no longer do much more work for them, and I ended the project.

You see, the Sucky Work Paradox started to kick in:


  • Do boring and sucky work BUT keep getting paid
    --or--
  • Quit and do stuff I like.

Since I was young and obligation free I took the route of doing stuff I liked....and that lead to cooler options.

However I totally understand why some people in companies just want to take their time and move slowly.  Just make sure you know who you're working for before you go in for a long commitment like this.

You are the composite average of the top 5 people you hang around.....so you can easily get sucked into this "slow" thinking.

 

My personal copywriting consulting page:

So I'm actually a copywriter.  I teach people how to write copy through online courses, but I also practice what I preach and actively take on clients every month.

Since I launched this page around mid 2014, it has brought in literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting dollars.
 

Ready to see this "magical page" that brings in six figures????

Feast your eyes on this:

copywritingcourse.com/work


Secret Consults Page

Isn't that interesting.....

The guy who teaches copy barely has any copy on his consults page!!!

The reason is:
People already know they want to pay for your help before they see your page.  

In fact my consulting page is nowhere to be found on my website, unless I specifically send the link via email.  That means every single customer that bought from that page, first emailed or called me about doing a consult.

Since they were already so interested, the second they saw a place to buy...they bought.  I didn't need to convince them of anything.
 

 

 

 

--Consult page templates--


Here's some outlines of pages you can make yourself with examples:

The structure of a consult page:

Here's a super-simple consults page structure/framework.

This is best for people who already have some sort of reputation.  You don't need to explain too much about yourself here because people already know you're da shiz:
 

Here's the formula to follow:
Simple Consults Formula
 
Here's how this would look in the real world:

Simple Consult Example


Now if you're NOT well known, it's probably wiser to put some more info about you and your services onto the page. Let's use an example of you consulting to get Wordpress hacks off sites.
The template would look something like this:
consults-page-examples-template
In practice the page would look something like:

consults-page-example-post
 
In 2014 I tried to do this "100 consults in a year" experiment.  That means some days I would be doing 2-3 consults back-to-back.

I would charge around $315 for each of these special-priced consults.

The page I sold them on looked like this:
 

nevblog-consults-page-layout

A lot of people have actually successfully copied that layout.

Notice how I only allowed people to buy specific time slots.  This was to keep ME sane by not having to work around everyone else's schedule.

This page brought in $30,000+ of consulting during that 2014 experiment despite being so ghetto (but also keep in mind I still had 12,000+ email subscribers at the time too)....

A cool thing I did was add that little email signup at the bottom for people who clicked the page but all the consults were sold out.....They would then signup to indicate they were interested in the next batch of consults.

I would email this small group of people (around 80 people) when a new batch was put out....and almost immediately a couple of consults would get booked because these people were already super interested to buy.

 

Crappy pages usually outperform:

You'll notice all these pages have been pretty crappy.
Sooooo many people get caught up trying to make a "Pretty Portfolio" of work.  But it's useless.

Generally most of the convincing to work with you has been done beforehand because someone saw your other work and knew they wanted to work with you.....or someone they trust referred you.....or they have been following you for a while and know you can deliver.

They don't buy your stuff because your consults page "looked pretty."

It's like wantrepreneurs who think that having an awesome business card will make all the difference.  However most of the top entrepreneurs I know don't even have business cards....yet people still manage to contact them.

Similarly, most of the top freelancers I know don't even really have portfolios.  Jason from the How To Become A Copywriter post makes tons of money from freelance copywriting, and doesn't even have a portfolio or webpage!

How?  Because people REFER HIM based off his work & results.

So DO NOT spend a lot of time making a fancy portfolio.  Simple links to past work and basic amounts of text are good enough.  Follow these consult templates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The easy formula to show what you sell:

A lot of people over complicate the hell out of the message they want to say.  Such as:

"I'm a website expert that can help design pages that retain the fluidity of good design, yet the rigidity of an amazing user interface.  I strive my best to deliver the best quality work yadda yadda yadda...."

Instead, try using these simple formulas to show them exactly what you will deliver:

For $___  you get  ____.

-- or --

For $___  you get  ____ in (time).


Real World Examples:


  • For $250 you get the Wordpress Pharma Hack removed from your site.
  • For $250 you get the Wordpress Pharma Hack removed from your site in 48 hours.
  • For $100 I will design a Email Collecting Welcome Mat for your Wordpress site.
  • For $597 I will help you re-write your copy to convert a lot higher.
  • For $60 I will talk to you about your relationship problems for one hour.
  • For $120,000 I will re-structure your entire enterprise system in one month.
  • For $3,000,000 our firm will completely take over all your marketing for one full year.
  • For $100/hour I will do your taxes for you by next month.




  •  
  •  
  •  

Can you clearly define what you are selling for your consults??

If not, you might be making it too difficult.

It should be concise and easy to explain.

If you need help making up some business ideas like this, try out out our Business Idea Generator.
 

 

--How to actually conduct meetings/sessions--

If someone buys a consult from you (yay!)....now what do you do?  Well I have some experience with this:
 
Step 1.) Schedule a time to meet with them.

Of course you both need to specify when you are going to meet.  I have my PayPal buttons automatically forward successful purchases to a page that looks like this:

consults-buy-confirm

This way they're on the same page with me about the procedure.  They know they should be ready with Google Hangouts, and they know exactly what time to be online for me to call them.

Services used:  Gmail and Google Calendar and PayPal (all free).
 
 

Step 2.) Make a shared Google Doc and send it to them:

You can both edit this document with notes.

During the consult I will take notes in this doc (this is actually the template I use to conduct my consults):

Consults Google Docs Template
 

Services used:  Google Docs (free).

 
Step 3.) At the right time, call them over video hangout.

I prefer using Google Hangouts because I like it better than Skype.....but Skype totally works.

At our specified meeting time I call the person over Google Hangouts.  It's important you make sure they know what TIME ZONE you are in....and they adjust accordingly.  This has been an issue a few times.

Services used:  Google Hangouts and Skype (all free).
 

Step 4.) Give them your awesome information and leave them more educated than you found them!

That's how a consult goes.  Notice that all the tools were free.

 

 

Tools you will need to perform consults (and they're all free)!

I just covered the process in the section above, but here's a list of the tools I used along the way:


  • Gmail (free)
  • Google Hangouts (free)
  • Skype (free)
  • Google Docs (free)
  • PayPal (free)

  •  

I always prefer conducting consults over video chat.  Why?  This is because it creates a much stronger bond between the two people when you meet face-to-face rather than just phone.

But the main reason is we can SHARE OUR SCREENS!!!  

It's like being in the same room when we can share screens.  Makes the consults SO much better and effective.
 

 

--The Proper Mindset for Consulting--

Let's talk about how to conduct yourself with clients....

 

How to not get stepped over by every client you have:

Your time is your product, be strict with it.

This means you have to make it abundantly clear that you will bill hourly.

So if someone calls you and says, "Hey can you fix this??"

You should go and fix it....but then send them the invoice for the work.  Even if it's small.

This will immediately let your client know that Getting Work From You = Paying You.  They'll learn fast after the first incident if you do this.

You should never be a stuck up diva about this.....and sometimes it's ok to answer a question here and there.....but as you grow, you need to be VERY STRICT with your time.

For example, some clients will say, "Hey Neville....would you mind reviewing this email for us?" after a consult.  I'll send this email back:

Cool, book a session and we'll go through it! copywritingcourse.com/work


They either never ask me for anything again, or book another consult!  The only two outcomes I want!!!!

Remember to be strict for your time and don't be afraid to let clients know you WILL bill them for all work you do.  You're not a charity case, so don't act like it.
 

 

The Golden Mindset:

Make them money, don't be a greedy a-hole like this:

Consults Greedy Mindset
 

These people don't end up making a lot of money, because they:


  • Constantly try to overcharge rather than deliver a fair price based on results.
  • They can get several gigs at a high rate, but people won't want to pay that all the time.
  • They are just going for the money rather than trying to make their clients lives genuinely better.

 
Instead you wanna think like this:

Consults Positive Mindset
 

This kind of guy makes a lot of money because he......


  • Genuinely wants to help out.
  • Actually cares about the RESULTS his clients get.
  • Wants to go above and beyond expectations.
  • Ends up making a lot of money through referrals.
  • Ends up making a lot of money because he gets known as the guy who can deliver crazy good results.

If you really focus on delivering for clients, and trying to make their money back, you can go far.

 

The 10x rule:

This isn't some official rule, but it's a rule I want to post on you because I care about you.

Commit to making all of your clients 10x the investment they spent on you:


  • They spend $100 = They should get back $1,000 from your work in a year.
  • They spend $500 = They should get back $5,000 from your work in a year.
  • They spend $1,000 = They should get back $10,000 from your work in a year.
  • They spend $10,000 = They should get back $100,000 from your work in a year.
  • They spend $100,000 = They should get back $1,000,000 from your work in a year.

This is a super important concept to learn.

If you go through life just "trying to higher rates from clients".....you won't get long-term results, because your clients aren't getting long-term results.

But if you become known as "The person that 10x's people's investment".....you have a chance.

NOW.....10x'ing an investment won't always happen.


  • I've had people who spent $1,000 on me and never saw a return.  
  • I've had people who spent $1,000 on me and it drastically changes their lives.  
  • I've had people who spent $1,000 on me and it resulted in $100,000+ of income within a month.  

But overall, the average person who spends money consulting with me see's about a 10x return in less than 2 months.

I think this is something we should all strive for.

If you have the mentality of "Whatever people spend on me, I will get them 10x back"

....you should do well in life.

 

Download this entire post plus copies of the templates by clicking below and joining my email list:

 

Click here to subscribe


Your free download will have:

  • A downloadable copy of this entire post including all images.
  • Craigslist Consulting Template Photoshop file (.PSD)
  • Consulting Session Template download (Google Doc Template)
  • Three Pronged Pricing Template download (Google Spreadsheets Template)

  •  


 nev-signature-sans-kk.png

 
P.S.  If you enjoyed this post, I would love if you "voted" on it by sharing it.
 

P.P.S. Leave a comment with a great consults page you’ve seen, or if YOU’VE had success (or failure) doing consults in a certain way!

 


User Feedback

Recommended Comments



Guest Fabio

Posted

Hi Nev, I haven't read it (I just forward it to my kindle... It's gonna be easier) but it looks promising. Just thought you could have publish this as kindle ebook ;-)

Back later on with comments.

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Guest Kopywriting Kid Kid

Posted

Mind Blown Neville. I've already used the Kopy Kourse Technique to do work on Fiverr writing dating profiles. I'll now apply this to doing SEO consulting for companies in my locality. Brilliant stuff my Indian Homie.
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Guest Jean-Baptiste Alarcon

Posted

Value, value, moar value. And it's right on time, as I'm contemplating starting a consulting gig.

This piece is one of the few that made me go "Wow" out loud. This should be a paid ebook :)

Thanks a lot Sir ! Going back to work now !

(PS: I'm sorry should I have made some mistakes, still working on my english)

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Guest Will Franco

Posted

Really great post as always Neville! One tip I picked up from Schramko is to productize the consult. As this makes it an asset, as oppossed to a time = dollars exchange. It also means, if it takes off, you can train others how to conduct the consult.
Link to comment

Always searching for truth, …Neville delivers. kinda Krazy, Right?

Read, Learn, DO. What are you waiting for? Go Start.

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Guest Paiman Vahdati

Posted

Great post!!! Definitely feel more empowered now to charge more for consulting gigs and how to go about doing it..thank you, Nev!

It's funny, somehow my body naturally wakes me up at around 4am and when I see your emails, I think "shoot, I gottaaa read this before I go back to sleep!"

It's like a "mid a.m. snack" to fatten my brain :)

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Guest Cedric

Posted

A top takeaway for me was the sellable consulting slots on the website. I'd also like to share an eye-opening moment I had with a client.

Some time ago, I started doing some minor stuff for a new client. After a couple of months I proposed a content-via-email project to them and we agreed on a two-month period on retainer. My content was converting anywhere between 40% to 60%, (CTR) but no matter what we tried, only 1% of the emails were being opened. It turned out our audience (12 to 15-year-olds) simply weren't interested in using email.

I thought the company owners would be super mad at me. Instead, they asked me to stay at double the hours (and double the retainer). The CEO explained to me that it was ok that we failed. The important thing is that we had run the experiment and stopped it at the right time. The experiment NEEDED to be done, and my expertise helped them perform it at maximum potential.

Now they had the certainty that the project had failed ONLY because it wasn't a good fit with their market, and NOT due to shoddy work.

Serious companies understand that certain work is experimental, and they treat it as such. Of course, it's not applicable to all cases, but this really gave me a change in perspective.

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Guest Adrian

Posted

Incredible post, Nev. Absolutely incredible.

What stood out to me the most was seeing how a page with a very simple (or even borderline crappy) design can get great results.

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Guest Stephen

Posted

You outdid yourself on this one Nev. Thank you so much.
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Guest Neville

Posted

Oh yeah....I got a lot of emails asking me to make this a Kindle book. I probably won't since it's best viewed on a computer where people can then take action.

Lemme know what you think in the end :)

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Guest Neville

Posted

Lol! Dating profile writing on Fiverr....brilliant!

Feel free to use these concepts however you want to increase your own business.....proud you're taking action on it!

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Guest Neville

Posted

You WOW'd out loud...love it! I did spend a ton of time sitting in an office till 2am for several days making this, so thank you :)
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Guest Neville

Posted

Thanks Harry! I'll also be adding to it.

Originally I contemplated making a whole course out of how to do consults like this.....but I thought this was too little info for a full-on course, but too much NOT to share it somewhere.

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Guest Neville

Posted

Well I DO have a productized version....The Kopywriting Kourse!

So if people want to learn on their own they can. But there's always the option to speak with me directly.

Thanks Will!

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Thanks for another amazing post, Neville! You've given me a lot to think about and I'll be downloading this post soon for reference.

Really great stuff!

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Guest Mike Tielemans

Posted

You're the only guy I open the emails before just deleting. Unreal content. Do you think the beauty of leadpages is too sexy for the concept of ugly pages and ads?
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Guest Neville

Posted

Yes, if you have reasonable traction to your website then you can do this.....otherwise you'll just have a bunch of open spots that no one buys :)

That's awesome they understood the value of at least TRYING.

Damn....only 1% were opening? Curious to hear more about what industry this was that you were sending emails for.

A lot of people with super-low open rates have that because people maybe signed up to their phone app...but then they try to EMAIL.

Jumping mediums is always a good way to lose a lot of eyeballs.

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Guest Neville

Posted

YES! I can't stress enough how little it matters to have the best looking page ever.

I've seen highly profitable consulting pages that were little more than a text-editor written html document with a few links to past work and an email address.

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Guest Neville

Posted

THANK YOU! I was at WeWork till 2am cranking the last parts of this out......and I still have more to add!
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Guest Neville

Posted

Sweet....hope you learned something Tim!

At very least it'll show you to spend more time interacting with people rather than wasting it making a fancy consulting site.

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Guest Neville

Posted

Bahahha....that truly is a compliment :)

I think LeadPages is great (I use it for content downloads). I actually think they're stuff looks pretty BECAUSE it's often so simple.

I don't think a page being pretty is BAD, I just think it's not worth spending hella time creating a pretty page without first working on the foundations (like GETTING PEOPLE TO THE SITE or paying attention to your content in the first place).

Leadpages makes it super easy to have a nice page.....so if you're not spending a lot of time on it, no harm done.

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Guest Sabita Saleem

Posted

This is an awesome post, Neville. Spot on for me.

I've been hitting so many groups with a question on how to test my idea to coach people by aligning it to my background in Org Development and Project Management. Your post has solved the problem for me. I'll test through facebook now.

Thanks for creating such great content.

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