How to become a self-employed marketing consultant

Whether you’ve been working for a marketing agency, or developing your skills in-house there may come a time when you feel setting up on your own becomes very appealing. We give our top tips on how to become a self-employed marketing consultant.

Create your own business plan… including a marketing plan too!

As with any business, you need to have a plan. Before taking the plunge, put together a business plan and consider the following:

  • How much do you need to earn/want to earn?
  • How much are your outgoings?
  • What is your vision – an empire or keep it small?
  • Who do you want to work with?
  • Where do you want to work?
  • What are your competitor profiles?
  • What extra skills do you need?
  • How will you promote your business?

Whilst you’re creating your business plan, you should also consider how you want to set up your business. There are different ways you can operate; sole trader or limited company. There are benefits to both and will depend on your circumstances. You may want to win work through contracting and taking on projects through agencies, or independently finding your own work. Make sure you seek professional advice early – it could save you time and money in the long-run. See our guide on what is ir35. If also want to talk to an expert, our team can advise you on which route may be best for you – just call us on +44 (0)1923 277 900.

Create your portfolio

Once you have a plan in place, you need to start winning work (you’ve got to pay the bills after all!). Like most, people want to know what experience you have to instil trust in you. If you are working full-time this can be a challenge as you don’t have ‘projects’ under your new business. However, all is not lost – think creatively; showcase projects you’ve worked on in your marketing roles and get testimonials from your employers. Ask friends and family to help promote your business – you may just be surprised who needs help from a self-employed marketing consultant. You may not be able to charge people your desired rate at first, but whether you chose to do a few projects for free or at a reduced rate, you’ll soon have an impressive portfolio to show the next client. Be truthful and confident; most businesses will accept that you’re a start-up, but if you’re as good as you say you are and have the right experience they want they will work with you.

Be clear in what you specialise in

When you’re providing a service, it’s helpful to identify what you specialise in. Whether that’s specialising in one part of marketing i.e. PR, or social media – or working with just one sector or a particular size of customer – it all helps.

Not only does it make it easier for people to remember and refer to you, it also makes it easier for you to deliver your job. No one can be an expert at everything so it’s perfectly acceptable to tell your prospective clients you will bring in specialists as and when you need to.

Set your fees

As part of your business plan you will have set your fees – hourly and day rates are the easiest to deal with. Be prepared to be flexible in the early days. You may have a few lean months and whilst you don’t want to cut your price, if it’s a dream project you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate for the first stage and then your standard rate after this. It’s better to be working than have nothing at all.

Some businesses will want to negotiate though. Be aware of this and either adjust your costs accordingly when doing your proposal or be prepared to stick to your costs and have a compelling reason why the price is set.

Be ready for hard work and lots of it

Setting up on your own and becoming self-employed isn’t easy – be ready to work hard, really hard! Not only do you have to do the day-job, there’s also the running of the business too. Unless you’re really fortunate you don’t, at first, have your own IT department or admin team so this all comes back to you. However, it is rewarding and some things can be outsourced. For example, your accounts and tax returns should be completed by specialists. These need to be correctly filed to ensure that you benefit from being self-employed and comply with the latest legislation. Don’t get fooled into thinking you can do this yourself as most become unstuck just before deadlines loom and eventually cost themselves more in the long-run!

Working for yourself also means that after all is said and done the buck stops with you. The amount of effort you put in will dictate the rewards you get back. No one said it’s easy, but a lot of people say it’s the best decision they ever made and don’t look back.

Practice what you preach

So you want to set up as a marketing consultant? Then remember to practice what you preach, your skillset should put you leaps ahead of other business start-ups. Take an objective approach to your own business and consider advice you would give your own clients on how to win work.

Get social on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and make sure your website is creative and well written. Get your marketing plan up and running and ensure you implement it regularly.

Are you ready to take the jump and switch to self-employed? Feel free to call us on +44 (0)1923 277 900 to get expert advice. Our team can help you work out what is right for you.

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