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You might want to take on 10 clients in one go – to free you up from hustling for a couple of months, and enable you to just focus on the actual one-to-one sessions. Or perhaps you’d like three clients a month. Maybe you have rolling availability. This module will help you to get clear on what you want, how to package it up attractively and the logistics. We’ll also cover pricing.
After my book The Freelance Mum was published, I started getting a lot of requests for consultancy.
It felt great that people wanted my support – and, by the way, they were almost all ‘freelance mums’ themselves (back to the importance of having a ‘niche’) – but I wasn’t sure how I could help them.
What I mean is that I am a writer first and a consultant second. So I had to work out what kind of consultancy I would like to offer; that worked well for me.
So firstly, I’ll talk about some different packages I’ve offered – what’s worked, what hasn’t. And then I’ll offer ideas for how you might package up your services.
I tried offering phone consultancy. But it felt limiting. I had to be available at a specific time for that phone-call and to ‘perform’ on the spot.
I’m a planner. And a writer. So I prefer to be presented with a challenge or question and to think it through before I respond.
I soon realised that my consultancy needed to be through the written word.
That could be emails or Facebook groups.
And this suits other women who are working around caring responsibilities.
So it’s worth checking in – doing some research – to see what your ‘ideal client’ would prefer: phone or email/Facebook group.
Others offer Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger – not for me, as I prefer to keep those channels for ‘private life’ rather than ‘work-life’ but I’ll run through them in case you like the sound of it.
In terms of receiving my own coaching, though, I like phone calls. So I can very much see the benefit; it’s just not a service I’m comfortable offering right now.
Maybe that’s because I have three young kids, with unreliable routines.
The email consultancy package
In December, I had this idea. I thought perhaps as the year drew to a close, freelancers and business owners may like to tie up their existing projects and plan for the following year.
So I created an offer: a month’s unlimited consultancy with me.
Three women took me up on it.
One wanted help with a book proposal.
Another had lost her confidence with running online courses and wanted support with the direction her courses should take.
The third was starting a new business with a parenting focus, and wanted help with preparing to launch.
So three quite different areas.
I loved the variety, but I didn’t create enough boundaries, and I ended up working longer hours than I should have, for not enough money.
I’d charged £300. My thinking was that answering the odd email wouldn’t take too long. But the reality was that I take my work seriously and can’t help but go into detail.
So I ended up doing a lot more than I planned, and should have charged around £1500 instead of £300.
It was fine, because I was trialling it. And I ended up being paid extra to help the first woman write her actual book proposal (she now has a book deal).
But it’s important to think carefully about what you’re offering, how long it will take for you to carry out the service you’re offering, and what to charge (we’ll cover pricing later).
The Robora programme
When I launched The Robora, I wanted to get a group of women all signed up in one go. I liked the idea that I’d have my consultancy work planned for a few months.
So it launched in the March, and 15 women signed up.
The package included four months of email consultancy Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm. As well as access to all my online courses, a full website review, a review of one social media platform (of their choice) and a bespoke work plan.
It was lovely, having around £16,000 – paid mostly up-front – and it meant that I didn’t need to pitch or hustle for work for a few months.
This actually coincided with the start of lockdown and I felt so grateful that I had this work already set, as I felt financially secure.
However, as the months rolled by I realised that again, I’d undercharged.
Being available for weekday consultancy for four months – plus the website and social media review, and a work plan – was probably worth £3000+.
And so moving forward, I will adjust my fees accordingly.
But it was interesting, working with a set group over this timeframe.
I loved all the questions that came up; the various challenges. It felt very satisfying to see the growth of these business owners during the period we worked together.
Project-based client work
If I’m doing a copywriting or PR project for a client – that might be writing up or editing their press pitches, or helping with a book proposal – I charge by the day.
I’m finding that I do less of this work now, as it requires me to commit to a one-off chunk of time.
For instance, it might take me one day to help write a book proposal. And then I may never work with that client again.
It’s infrequent, and unreliable. And it requires a lot of pitching.
What I prefer is the longer-term client work.
Because when it’s either a retainer job (working continuously for the same client – one day a week, for instance) or a set period – this helps with financial planning.
Those one-off jobs often take longer than expected and require a fair amount of liaising before and after – though this should all be incorporated in the quote.
However, I know there will be people taking this course who thrive on project work. Taking on a new brief each week, getting stuck in, completing it and handing it over – then moving on.
So we’ll cover all of the above ‘packages’ – and more – in the following topic…