Online consulting jobs exist and the pay is just as high as traditional consulting jobs.
In the real world, consulting is a senior position that attracts a bigger paycheck for one reason: companies and individuals trust a consultant’s expertise and are willing to pay to “pick his/her brain” to improve a product, service, process of a company.
These jobs were traditionally conducted face-to-face, since the selling point of consultancy is meeting these experts in person.
Today, your name is enough to “sell” your expertise, and modern tools are in place to consult people from the comforts of your own home, or from anywhere in the world.
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If you’ve conducted research, taught in a specific field, built a successful company from scratch, or just have an extensive experience in a certain trade, this can pave the way for high-paying online consulting jobs.
Here’s how you can be your own boss with online consulting jobs.
How to Build an Online Consulting Business
By definition, a consultant is “a person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field.”
It is as general as it sounds, which is both an advantage (anyone can be an expert) and a disadvantage (there will be competition).
To navigate your way around this new path and become the authority in your chosen field, here’s how to build an online consulting business from scratch:
1. Identify your niche and prove your worth
You can be good at two or more things, but find something that you’re exceptional at, then prove it with real-world examples (case studies, portfolio, certification, awards, and other credentials that would sell your talent to clients).
Building expertise in one niche takes time. Sometimes, consultants spend their entire careers mastering their craft.
Open up to the idea that although you’re superior at what you do, you still have to hone your craft continuously.
2. Keep an online portfolio
You have two choices – maintain a LinkedIn account and keep it up-to-date, or build a portfolio website that would serve as your modern “calling card.”
Whenever people Google your name, the main search result should land them either on your LinkedIn profile or your website.
This is so you have total control over the information you put online about yourself, career and consulting business.
Aside from your resume (please leave out your home address and other high-security info out), your website or LinkedIn profile should have a list of services, credentials, and awards.
If you can collect client testimonials, make sure to showcase them too!
3. Find Online Consulting Jobs
Here’s where it would get interesting:
When you begin your consultancy business, you’re lucky to get more than two clients at a time.
It is totally OK.
Many consultants begin with no client at all.
But you shouldn’t just wait for people to go your way. You must actively find projects, at least in the beginning of your career.
To find consulting jobs online, you must join websites (see below) that help connect clients and consultants for a particular job, campaign, or project.
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You don’t have to pay membership fees for most of the sites, but you do need to fill-up a form and register as a member.
Make your profile interesting and include as many information about your specialization as you can since clients will be the ones sending you a message based on this profile.
Note that depending on the site you joined, some inquiries may not be forwarded to your registered e-mail address, so check the sites regularly.
4. Price your skill appropriately
Consulting rates vary significantly depending on factors like field, size of project, company size of client, your own expertise, and even the platform where you found your client.
Because of the uniqueness of each job, many consultants do not publish a rate card on their websites or job board profiles.
However, it’s important that you have a fee already set-up for specific tasks.
For example, if you’re a personal finance consultant and a client needs help in dividing his income into investment and savings, you should be able to give this potential client a quote for this service.
You should price your services appropriately based on your skill set and how much value you can bring to the table.
5. Market your Services
Proactively spreading the word about your online consultancy service helps you turn this freelance gig into a full-pledged business.
If you’re confident that your expertise is sellable, invest in yourself through marketing. You don’t even have to leave your home to do this.
Networking and marketing can also be done online these days. Take advantage of it.
Create e-mail campaigns and send them to your friends, family, colleagues, and other contacts.
Know your way around social media marketing? Add Twitter and Facebook (on top of your LinkedIn account), then engage with other people within your field.
6. Know when to expand and when to say no
Saying “no” to jobs can be hard, especially if you’re new to freelancing because the anxiety of having nothing to work on the next day or week can lead to committing to projects you don’t have the heart or time doing.
Learn how to stick up for yourself. Be prepared for clients asking discounts – these things happen all the time.
If your calendar is getting too cramped, try upping your rates. It only means that people are flocking your way for your advice and you’re worth the consultancy fees (even if it means they’ll pay higher).
How Much Do Online Consultants Make?
On average, those new to online consulting jobs charge around $175 per hour. Some consultants charge as low as $50 an hour, while others have $500/hour or higher rates. As you might guess, online consulting jobs do not have uniform rates.
Consultants compute their fees by doubling hourly wage, using daily rate, quoting per-project, quoting per-performance, going by industry rates, and so on.
5 Sites to Find Online Consulting Jobs
Now that you know how to start freelancing as a consultant, here are 5 legitimate websites that either list online consulting jobs or connect clients to providers.
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Launched in 2012, this website focuses on start-ups, so the experts they need must have knowledge in entrepreneurship, start-ups, business processes, and so on. Here’s how Clarity works:
- Experts create a profile with a per-minute and hourly rate included ($60/hour is the minimum hourly rate and experts can control this rate)
- Clients find an expert and set-up 3 calls (specifying 3 different date/time when they’re available)
- If an expert thinks he/she can handle the question/inquiry, the expert chooses a meeting schedule ideal for him/her and accepts the job
- Client confirms the conference schedule, connects and pays the expert’s per-minute rate
Clarity charges the expert a 15% fee for successful jobs.
This New York-based company is always looking for experts in the fields of healthcare, life sciences, technology, media, telecommunications, industrials, policymaking, legal affairs, accounting, business services, finance, real estate, consumer goods and retail.
- Experts join (for free) and fill-up their profile, attach resume, and other credentials. As an expert, you can also import your LinkedIn profile instead and set you hourly rate.
- ExpertConnect will contact you (or other experts) when a client requests a consultation. You will be notified via e-mail.
- The “job” details the project, compensation, and other information.
- Experts have last say – they can accept or decline the consultation.
Your compensation will be based on the hourly rate you set and the projects you accepted. Experts have to send ExpertConnect an invoice to receive consultation fees incurred.
Maven calls itself the “Global Knowledge Marketplace” because it has compiled hundreds of experts (they call them mavens here) from all walks of life and fields.
From scientists and doctors to farmers, barbers, auto mechanics and truck drivers, there’s a home here to become a Maven as long as you know a lot about a subject.
To become a Maven:
- Sign-up using LinkedIn, Google, or Facebook
- Fill-up a profile and set your hourly rate. (Note that Maven accepts $25/hour as the lowest possible rate you can set). If you’re unsure, you can check the rate calculator to see potential rates for your field and experience.
- Wait for clients to contact you for projects. If you receive an invitation to a phone consultation via e-mail, you can either accept or decline the job.
Maven’s consultations are not just limited to phone. Aside from online consulting jobs, you can also be invited to face-to-face time or a more permanent consulting position (that may last weeks or months-long). Note that these extended consultations require pre-screening and extra interviews.
If you want to earn more, refer people to Maven and earn 10% from all your referral’s earnings.
GLG is more on the tech-side and has been around since 1998. It boasts of a 1,400-strong client base that has successfully been supported by over 650,000 GLG experts from around the world.
It has a network of academics, CEOs, subject-matter experts on every topic imaginable, policymakers, and more.
GLG experts can set their own rates, depending on their experience, designation, and practice area. On average, GLG experts of a non-tech field can charge somewhere between $200 and $1000 an hour to talk to clients.
Zintro is the only one on this list that requires payment from experts.
While the actual membership fee of Zintro is free, you (or a client) must pay $99.95 for the first time you connect via the Zintro platform.
The consulting requests are not pushed to your e-mail. Instead, you have to check the site inbox regularly, if you’re waiting for clients here.
Experts and clients can also pay for premium membership ($149.95 for 1-month, $239.70 for 6-month, or $359.40 for 1-year membership) to skip worrying about the first-connect fee.
The Bottom Line
Online consulting jobs offer some of the best paying work from home jobs we’ve ever seen.
If you have extra funds and want to kickstart your business by landing more online consulting jobs, you can also purchase a spot (pay for a listing fee) to be featured as an expert on one of the sites above.
You don’t have to be an inspirational speaker, CEO or successful entrepreneur to share your knowledge.
If you have extensive experience in writing, business, finance, advertising, human resources, computer science, counseling, sewing, teaching, driving or other specific jobs, you can land online consulting jobs as long as you’re willing to help and assist individuals and companies with their problems.