Living the freelance life is becoming more and more common, especially considering the freedom that comes with submitting proposal templates to the clients that you choose, and signing consulting contract template only with those that prove to be a good fit. In fact, the fastest growing industries are reportedly hiring a big chunk of their new workers as independent consultants, rather than traditional employees. What does this mean for you?
More job categories than ever before are available to work as a freelancer, and among the most exciting – and good-paying – is marketing!
If you want to know how to get into consulting, read on the tips below, and download the 12-step cheat sheet which will lead you to success!
The definitions and job duties for this term can vary from company to company, but some tasks seem to be reasonably common from one position to another. Freelance marketing consultants are responsible for customer outreach programs, advertising campaigns, and other growth-related initiatives that help the company reach their targets for sales, new customers, and existing customer retention.
Because this is such a huge part of a company’s day-to-day, the job description for a marketing consultant can vary widely. Common areas that a marketing consultant might assist with include:
A marketing must be able to analyze data, create reports, and find trends in information to help create a path forward for companies who want to grow their business. Also, referred to as a “brand marketing” consultant, this job will require the ability to learn new tools and technologies quickly and work well without supervision.
Does this position require a degree? Not always. While it can help you break into some traditional marketing positions, a degree is becoming less and less relevant as companies seek out fresh, engaged, and motivated individuals to lead their marketing campaigns.
Many start-ups, if given a choice, would choose the ability to learn quickly and motivation for growth over a traditional marketing degree. Life experience can speak volumes here, as well. If you've owned a business or ran marketing initiatives for a family-owned company, for example, a degree won't necessarily keep you from opportunities.
Be prepared with a marketing research proposal template and send it to every interesting job you come across in your investigation. Do you know how to use Bonsai for that?
The first step is to open your dashboard and click on "send a proposal" from the right side.
Recommended reading: Discover how to write a consultant proposal here. We'll walk you step-by-step how to create and organize and send professional pitches to new consulting clients.
Next, just choose or create the client and project for which you want to submit the digital marketing proposal.
Once done, just click on "create proposal" and you'll land on the proposal editor. Here, you should first set up basic details such as personal and client info, and if you'd like to, customize the template with an original background and a logo or image. Scroll down when done.
This is the part where you can show your understanding of the project and mention skills which will help you get results for the client. Feel free to move the sections around, rename them, delete them, or even add them back.
As soon as everything looks good, just scroll up top and click on "send proposal" - now all you have to do is wait to be notified by Bonsai when the client opens the proposal or replies. When you land your new client, make sure to write a marketing contract to set clear expectations for them.
If the above workflow is to your liking, why not give Bonsai a try and sign up for a free trial?
Like any freelance business, it’s best to have some basics established before opening the virtual doors to your new endeavor. A simple freelance portfolio website, explaining your strengths and interests, is recommended. You should also have a properly-filled out LinkedIn profile, as many people will use it to gauge your level of professionalism, as well as possibly list job opportunities there.
A strong portfolio is a must, as well. Even if you don’t have very many formal, paid examples of your marketing work, it’s important to list out any volunteer projects or samples of work you may have done for yourself (or even friends or relatives.) Like any excellent design portfolio, be sure you have permission to display samples and be aware of any copyright or client confidentiality clauses you may be subject to.
If you don't explicitly have permission to share information from a campaign, general descriptors can work. Merely stating that you "helped grow reach on an Instagram campaign for a major software company" is better than nothing and won't usually go against any advertising contract terms.
Recommended reading: Use our consultant business checklist to get a list of tasks you need to complete in order to kickstart your business.
Statistics are a must here. Be ready to prove that your efforts paid off for companies who hired you. Speak in plain language, tying back your work to the benefit of the partnership. An explicit ROI (return on investment) is more convincing than anything. Show how your consulting expertise was of good value to your clients and partners.
Another way you can get your business off to a good start is by embracing a niche. While there is much discussion as to whether you have to pick just one business category to work within, most freelancers agree that it helps give you an edge – especially when first starting out and without much experience to share. Here are some examples of ways that freelance marketing consultants have “niched down” and settled on a specific business function or vertical to focus their skills:
As you can see, these are pretty specific, but the beauty of niching down is that you can choose to focus on your skillset or the industry. Someone who chose the first niche can then go on to service other clients in the athletic industry or open their skills to anyone looking for reliable social media strategies. The ability to move within a category or a skillset gives you more room to build consulting clientele without having to learn everything new with each client. The familiarity you develop over time can give you the advantage over new marketing consultants in the same skillset or industry.
Get creative with ways to stick out from your competitors and try to figure out how to be a good consultant for your niche.
Now that you've taken the first few steps, you're ready to dive into the 12-step marketing consultant cheat sheet.
Like most freelance jobs in the world, it’s really about who you know. The more people you are connected to – both virtually and in real life – the higher chances you have of getting work on a regular basis by finding new clients. The ideal client is one who seeks you out or who is referred your way from a past client or colleague, as these partnerships seem to favor the freelancer regarding work scope and payment, but for the first few years of your business, you'll likely have to prospect fairly aggressively.
One popular outreach method is by setting up profiles on sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com. You should model your profile in the same manner as your LinkedIn and website profiles. You can also use the profiles of top freelancers on these sites to inspire best practices.
Getting close to other consultants might also prove lucrative as a lot of them often subcontract their work. In these cases you could use a subcontractor agreement template.
Always be aware of the potential for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in getting work. While this term is most often used to describe websites you own or operate, many of the search engines developed specifically for these freelance work platforms are set up to reward profiles that make good use of keywords. Don’t forget to include your niche, and words that best describe it, in your profile description and links to your work portfolio.
If you aren’t fond of bidding on jobs through a marketplace, you can always look at job postings. Many of the remote working sites available – even those geared toward the tech fields – often share marketing consultant positions on their job boards. It’s also possible to be proactive by applying for freelance marketing consultant jobs that haven’t been advertised yet. Seeing some developer or designer jobs from a single company is a sign that they are expecting to grow. That might be an excellent prospect to send an introductory email to, explaining your services and how you would be a good fit for their team.
No matter where you find your next contract, make sure you have a bullet-proof marketing contract template in place, to safeguard your working relationship. It's also important to know how to bill for consulting services to keep track of your earnings.
Remember, that it only takes one successful job as a freelancer to consider yourself in business. One way to guarantee continued success is to communicate effectively. Many one-time projects have the potential to become retainer clients if handled well. You can also see your business multiply by asking your past clients for referrals. Just mentioning that you enjoyed working with them and that you'd be delighted to work with their colleagues may be enough to get an extra client here or there. Don't forget to handle your 1099 consultant taxes.
As with any business, your tools can be the difference between coming across as a professional and looking like a sketchy choice. Take time to create consistent branding across all of your channels, including social media, business cards, websites, and emails, so that your potential and current clients always know that they are speaking with you as a freelance marketing consultant.
This branding should extend to the tools you use to send freelance invoices, track hours, and receive payments, as well. Since branding is at the heart of marketing, it’s wise to prove you know what you’re doing by starting with your own business before seeking to help others with theirs.
Let Bonsai help you send out branded proposals, invoices, and more - sign up for your free trial today.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?