How to utilise online talent platforms to become a successful freelance consultant

Supplement a full-time job with consulting to earn more money and improve your reputation at the same time.

An expanding gig economy has opened up new doors for those seeking freelance work opportunities. Not only have freelancers been able to forge successful careers by utilising their own unique skillsets, but more and more full-time workers are taking advantage of their knowledge-base to build lucrative consultancy side-arms.

With the advent of online talent platforms making it easier for freelance experts to find micro jobs, the number of workers now supplementing their incomes with consultancy roles has increased ten-fold.

According to a recent Bankrate study, nearly four in 10 Americans are either supplementing their incomes with so called ‘side hustle’ jobs or through consulting – bringing in on average an extra US$8,000 annually.

Take the right advice

Liz Ryan tells Forbes magazine that one of the best ways to begin growing your entrepreneurial muscles is to start a part-time consulting business alongside your full-time job, a part-time job or a job search. She encourages everyone over the age of 18 (and enterprising youngsters who haven’t yet reached 18) to start consulting on the side.

“There is no better way to understand your value or grow your confidence,” Ryan says. “Think about what you love to do and what you’re good at. Think about the different kinds of business pain you’ve solved so far in your career.”

“Consulting is a fantastic job-search channel, but unlike most other channels it is also income-generating, mojo-boosting and great for your professional reputation,” Ryan adds.

How to utilise online talent platforms

Companies are not only hiring freelancers through the traditional recruitment model, but are now hiring consultants on short or long-term contracts alongside their existing jobs.

Online freelancing platforms – like Alifery – are helping companies tap into a respected knowledge-based economy all over the globe. Not only do they supply businesses with highly-skilled and talented experts, but are helping to support economic growth and improve work outcomes for millions of people on a regular basis.

In the same way Airbnb connects travellers with the best places to stay and Uber hooks riders up with drivers, online freelancing platforms connect businesses with talent – either with office-based or remote workers.

One of the leading online platforms to find experts in the legal, tech, finance and consultancy sectors is Australian-based freelancing website Alifery Freelance Experts. The Alifery ecosystem provides access to skilled and vetted talent, tailors work to meet business needs and reduces overheads for businesses.

Make sure you get permission

Kristin Cardinale tells Fortune that you should tell your employer that you plan to take on consultancy work – trust is everything! But most importantly check to see if your place of business has a formal policy requiring that you disclose any outside employment.

“As a pre-emptive move, you could tell your boss what you’re doing, just to avoid a potentially sticky situation if he hears about it some other way,” Cardinale says. “You don’t want to seem to be doing this behind his back.”

Telling your boss what you’re doing doesn’t mean, however, that you have to reveal why. In these situations, as in so many others, how you phrase it makes all the difference. Saying: “I’ve started my own consulting practice, and I’m working on building it into a full-time business” would probably be a mistake, since “putting it that way is likely to make your boss start thinking of you as temporary and on your way out,” Cardinale notes.

Instead, mention a current consulting project without bringing up your long-term plan. “There is little to no risk involved in saying you’ve taken on an outside gig if you emphasise that it’s short-term — say, for the next couple of months — and if you stress how it’s helping you sharpen your professional skills,” she adds.

Top tips for consultancy success

Cardinale also offers up three top tips for anyone thinking of creating a consultancy side-arm:

  1. Be fanatical about using your own resources, not your employer’s, for outside work. Emailing consulting clients on the company’s system, or devoting time during work hours to meeting an outside deadline, can get you sacked. Stick to the task at hand.
  2. Clearly define your availability. “Be upfront with your outside clients about the fact that you’re working full-time and may not always be reachable during regular business hours,” Cardinale says. Tempting as it may be to let the boundaries blur, your full-time job has to be your top priority — at least until you decide to leave it.
  3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Build some breathing room into your schedule so you don’t burn out. “Consulting works on referrals. You want to have enough energy to give clients your best work, so they’ll recommend you to others,” Cardinale says.

Advantages of using online freelancing platforms

The most important part of being a successful consultant is building up a good reputation. Setting up a profile on a leading online talent platform is a good start. Not only does it get you noticed online, but can help build your reputation within your industry and secure lucrative work for you.

One of the greatest challenges faced by consultants is the amount of competition within any given marketplace. Therefore, it’s important to make sure what you’re selling is the best in your field and something that will leave you standing out in the crowd… Let the online talent platform do the rest!

Find out more about online freelancing platforms and Alifery here.

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