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The purpose of this blog is to provide information to help consultants and solo professionals. Please contact us if you're an active SPC member willing to provide content for our blog. 

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  • Thursday, December 01, 2022 8:15 AM | Erica Holthausen

    Writing for high-visibility publications is one of the most effective ways to build your reputation as an authoritative expert. It allows you to share your ideas with a well-established audience, demonstrates your credibility, and opens the doors to new opportunities and coveted speaking engagements.

    ​Building your reputation as an authoritative expert takes time and a consistent, focused effort. The options and advice can feel overwhelming. Even if you know that you want to write articles for publication, you still have to figure out which publications accept contributed content, how to choose the right publication, and what goes into a pitch. The good news? There's a recipe for writing for high-visibility publications.

    The PEACEFUL Publishing Method™

    The PEACEFUL Publishing Method is a step-by-step approach to help you identify, pitch, and write for the right high-visibility publications and get results as quickly as possible in a way that minimizes the risks and the time, money, and energy you invest.

    Building your reputation as an authoritative expert requires you to play the long game. There are no shortcuts. But the eight steps of my PEACEFUL Publishing Method will keep you focused and moving forward. It will save you a tremendous amount of time and help you develop a plan that fits into your workflow.

    1. Prepare Your Roadmap. The publication roadmap identifies and prioritizes your business goals, specifies your intended audience and their desired outcomes, and determines how writing for publication will fit into your existing workflow.

    2. Elucidate Your Idea. Clearly define your BIG idea and point of view (the things you want to be known for in your industry), identify the major themes you will write about, develop your article ideas, and establish an editorial calendar.
    3. Assess the Options. The assessment requires you to choose a strategy, compile a list of publications, evaluate each against the roadmap, and select a publication that helps you reach your goals while complementing your voice and style.
    4. Craft the Case. To make the case, you need to get to know the publication so you can persuade the editors to publish your work. You’ll need a contributor bio, writing samples, and article ideas that demonstrate how you will add value.
    5. Examine the Structure. Analyze the structure of the publication’s articles so you can write a compelling headline, craft the lede, and align your writing style with that of the publication. Tailor your writing samples to the publication’s structure.
    6. Fashion the Article. Commit to a writing practice, outline your ideas to minimize writer’s block, write the first draft quickly, rewrite and revise your article, and edit and fact-check your article before submitting it for publication.
    7. Understand Your Role. Understand the publication's guidelines so you can craft a perfect pitch and tailor your articles to the publication’s readers. Understand when to follow up and what makes an article work or why the editor rejected it.
    8. Leverage Your Success. To leverage your success, you must review your goals, promote your work, foster your relationships, expand your opportunities, and repurpose your article for maximum exposure.

    ​If you want to increase your income, expand your influence, and magnify your impact, you must invest in building your reputation as an authoritative expert. Writing articles for publication is one way to accomplish that goal. As a strategy, it is most effective if you already know your audience, have experience working with them and getting them the results they seek, and feel compelled to share your message so you can make an impact as well as a living.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Fast Company. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 6:30 AM | Erica Holthausen

    Your reputation as an authority is your most valuable asset, and it is up to you to protect it. Years ago, almost every publication had a team responsible for fact-checking every article. Most large media outlets had teams of specially-trained fact-checkers, while smaller publications required the editorial staff to check the facts of each article they edited. But today, most outlets rely on the writer to fact-check their work and attest to its accuracy.

    As an expert, the responsibility for fact-checking your work lies entirely with you. Scrutinizing your work to find errors is not easy, but with a little practice, it will become easier. Here are five steps to help you fact-check your work so you can maintain your credibility with your readers:

    1. Prepare to fact-check your work.

    Collect all of the backup information you collected as you worked on your piece. If you interviewed someone, make sure you have their contact information. If you conducted desk research, note the author, title, date, link, and publisher for every book, article, video, or podcast episode.

    2. Step away from the piece.

    Fact-checking requires you to look at your work from the perspective of a cantankerous reader. To get into that mindset, give yourself a little time and space between writing and fact-checking.

    3. Review your article and shore up any areas of weakness.

    Read the entire article slowly. If you were tasked with discrediting the author of this piece, where would you poke holes in the argument? How do you know that a particular claim is valid? Are all of the cited sources reputable? What doesn’t ring true about the piece? Now, how can you address each of these concerns?

    4. Print your article and identify items to check.

    Read the article again, backward. Highlight proper nouns, underline facts (including superlatives and opinions masquerading as facts), circle numbers, and put a box around citations.

    5. Verify the information.

    Verify the spelling of proper nouns, statements of fact, numbers, and citations. Pay close attention to superlatives because these claims are rarely accurate. Double- and triple-check any discoveries that you find especially exciting or disheartening because our emotions can cloud our judgment, and things are seldom as straightforward as they seem. When stating your opinion, make sure it’s clear to the reader.

    ​Fact-checking is a skill. Anyone can be a better fact-checker, but it takes practice and must be done with intention. Download and use my fact-checking checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.

    The better you become at fact-checking your work, the more your work will add to your credibility and authority as an expert in your field. And that is worth the extra effort.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.

  • Monday, October 03, 2022 7:50 AM | Erica Holthausen

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "thought leader" first appeared in writing in 1887. But it didn't take hold until more than one hundred years later when Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of Strategy & Business magazine, started a column profiling thought leaders of the day. "A thought leader is recognized by peers, customers, and industry experts as someone who deeply understands the business they are in, the needs of their customers and the broader marketplace in which they operate," said Kurtzman. "They have distinctively original ideas, unique points of view, and new insights.”

    As experts in our fields, we all aspire to be thought leaders. But that honorific may not work out the way we expect it to. Consider the evidence:

    1. Thought leaders must be anointed by others.

    The term "thought leader" first appeared in an 1887 book written by Lyman Abbott about his predecessor, Henry Ward Beecher. A prolific writer and public speaker, Beecher was a Congregationalist minister, abolitionist, and champion of women's suffrage, temperance, and Darwin's theory of evolution. After defending his friend's memory against ongoing rumors that he committed adultery, Abbott assured the reader that "Mr. Beecher retains his position as the most eminent preacher and one of the great thought leaders in America."

    Henry Ward Beecher was very well known, as was his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. But he wasn't referred to as a thought leader until after his death. The lack of that honorific during his lifetime did nothing to change the scope of his impact.

    2. Thought leaders don't always get the brightest spotlight.

    You are probably familiar with Steve Jobs, the visionary genius and co-founder of Apple. But does the name Edwin Land ring a bell? Land was the founder of Polaroid, which was once the hottest technology company in the world in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In a 1985 interview in Playboy, Jobs referred to Land as a "brilliant troublemaker." He modeled Apple after Polaroid and himself after Land.

    Edwin Land was a true thought leader. But it was his protege, Steve Jobs, who received the accolades and recognition that lasted well beyond his lifetime. Land's contributions are not quite as obvious to the general public as Jobs's contributions, but that doesn't diminish their impact.

    3. Thought leaders are often ridiculed and ostracized.

    On the cover of the August 1997 issue of Nature, the term "wood-wide web" was used to refer to Dr. Suzanne Simard's article about the power of mycorrhizal networks. Her findings called into question the established wisdom espoused by veteran foresters — beliefs based on the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest. Her work was met with enthusiasm, followed by harsh (and baseless) criticism. It nearly ended her career.

    Dr. Simard's research was groundbreaking, but she paid a steep price for daring to disrupt her industry. She had to fight for her findings and funding to continue her research for ten years. Today, she is a respected forest ecologist, author, speaker, and professor.

    ​To be regarded as a thought leader, you must build your reputation and have the title bestowed upon you. But you have no control over others' opinions of your work and ideas, and those who confer this coveted title may not be the people impacted by your work.

    The truth is that you don't have to be a thought leader to make a difference. You don't have to be a thought leader to be an expert. And you don't have to be a thought leader to be a thoughtful leader.

    Instead of focusing on other people's opinions of your work, focus on the things you can control. Show up, provide value, and be your full brilliant self. If you end up being regarded as a thought leader, that's great. That is certainly a cause for celebration. But then get back to work. Because recognition isn't what matters.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.

  • Friday, September 30, 2022 10:18 AM | Laura Burford

    The best consultants work hard to build trusted relationships but to build a trusted relationship a consultant needs to be seen as credible. The challenge is how does a consultant show a potential client that they are credible if they don’t already have credibility with them?

    Credibility is a quality given by a client and not bestowed to a consultant overnight. Not only does it take time to be deemed credible, a consultant needs to continually work on enhancing and retaining credibility. It is also easy to assume you have credibility with a client when you don’t. This means as a consultant, you need to continually evaluate if there is trust between you and another person.

    Credibility is fickle. It disappears faster than it is achieved. One wrong move can destroy your credibility for years, or a life-time. Think of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscar Awards or President Richard Nixon and the Watergate Scandal or Prince Andrew and his association with notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The credibility of each individual was shattered in all three scenarios. Nixon never regained his credibility; time will tell for Will Smith and Prince Andrew.

    *****

    While working at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), I was taught that there were three basic ways to achieve credibility: reputation, transferred, and earned. Most of us only contemplate the third way of gaining credibility, earned. However, consultants should not overlook the other two ways and their impact on building relationships.

    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II gained credibility by reputation, by transfer, and by earning it.

    In October of 1940 when at the age of 14, Princess Elizabeth gave her first public radio address to the children of the Commonwealth. Listeners deemed her credible by reputation because of her membership in the royal family.

    Princess Elizabeth gained credibility by transfer when she ascended to the throne in February 1952 upon the death of her father, King George VI.

    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II earned credibility by keeping until her death a promise made to the public on her 21st birthday:

    "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

    *****

    Credibility by reputation is achieved by association. If Princess Elizabeth had not been associated with the royal family, her speech to the children of the Commonwealth would not have had the same impact. When I walked out the door on my last day with PwC, my credibility by association disappeared. I quickly discovered the impact of not having the backing of the “association.” Credibility by reputation for many people is temporary, coming and going based on with whom we are associated.

    Credibility by transfer is achieved by assignment. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was next in line for the throne after her father died. Although gaining credibility can be positional, a common way to gain credibility is by receiving an introduction from someone you trust to someone they trust. When a satisfied customer recommends you to a colleague of theirs, the customer transfers their understanding of your credibility, their trust of you, to their colleague. As a consultant, your referral strategy is instrumental in helping you gain credibility.

    The best way, even though it is perhaps the most difficult, is to gain credibility by earning it yourself. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II never faltered when it came to her life of service promise. When there was a misstep, she embraced the misstep and worked to regain trust.

    Earning credibility is between you and the other person. It is doing what you say you are going to do, delivering on your promise, and showing you are genuine and reliable. Missteps happen that make credibility fickle. It is how you deal with the missteps that impact your credibility either positively or negatively.

    *****

    If you have been following my articles or videos, you’ve heard me refer to 10 Consultant Credibility Essentials or Elements. The essentials are tactical in nature highlighting your experience, expertise, and intellectual property as well as your professional presence.

    • Can you explain your Point of View?

    • What do others say about your expertise?

    • Are you able to be found if someone performs an internet search?

    These essentials help display credibility and help support you, but they do not replace your actions, words, or how you make people feel. They don’t help you earn credibility. They help support your credibility once it is earned. If you don’t do what you say you will do, delivering on your promise, the 10 Credibility Essentials provide limited, and sometimes, no value. (If you are interested in 10 Ways to Display Credibility, here is a link.)

    *****

    Conclusion

    Are you being seen as credible?

    There are three basic ways to gain credibility: reputation, transferred, and earned. The best way is to earn it yourself by building a trusted relationship with a person. This requires you to be cognitive of your actions, words, and how you make people feel as you not only deliver on your promises, but, when possible, exceed expectations.

    A consultant never stops working on gaining and retaining their credibility. It takes time to build credibility and if not careful, credibility can disappear overnight and that is something no consultant wants to happen.

    My question to you – What actions are you going to take to ensure you are seen as credible?

    *****

    Laura Burford partners with solo-consultants and boutique consulting businesses helping them clarify their CORE (focus, ideal client, point of view and services), build relationships, and get clients. She is the founder of Laura’s Consulting Guide and offers a free weekly Consulting Insights focused on providing tips, techniques, and thought pieces for consultants at all stages of their business.



  • Thursday, September 01, 2022 9:04 AM | Erica Holthausen

    If you want to be regarded as a leading expert in your field, you need to have a BIG idea — a bold, insightful, and galvanizing idea — upon which to build your career and reputation.

    Five questions to ask to discover your BIG idea.

    Some people seem to be born knowing their BIG idea. But for most of us, unearthing, recognizing, and embracing our BIG idea takes time and focused effort. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re in the midst of the process, consider these five questions:

    1. What is something you see happening in your field that makes you want to grab a bullhorn and rant and rave?

    2. What are the underlying assumptions in your field? Are they really true? How do you know?

    3. Who are the leaders in your field? Whom do you admire? Who is overrated? Why?

    4. What experiences have you had that others in your field have not? How do they shape your view of the work you do?

    5. What is important to YOU about the work you do? How does your work deliver value to your clients? 

    A simple exercise to help you develop your BIG idea.

    ​Developing your BIG idea requires you to take some time for thoughtful reflection and deep work. But you can get started now, with a simple 10-minute freewriting exercise:

    1. Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Choose the question above that resonates with you most and write it at the top of the page.

    2. Walk away from your computer and phone, and find a quiet place to work without interruption.

    3. Set a timer for 10 minutes and answer the question at the top of the page as quickly as possible. Don’t edit yourself, and don’t stop writing. If you get stuck, write, “What I’m trying to say is . . .” and keep going. Even if it’s awful, keep writing as fast as you can.

    4. When the timer goes off, you can stop writing. Of course, if you’re in the flow, I recommend that you take advantage of that flow state and keep writing!

    5. Read what you wrote aloud and circle those insights that resonate with you. You can use those as prompts for future freewriting exercises.

    Your BIG idea has the power to shape your corner of the world. It may start as just a spark of an idea based on experience or instinct, but that’s all you need. You’ll develop your idea further as you explore it. And one of the beautiful things about a BIG idea is that you will always be learning and deepening your understanding of your topic.

    Take some time to develop your BIG idea, and then share it. But don’t wait too long. You’ll never know everything there is to know about your BIG idea, so take us on that journey of discovery with you. The more you share your thoughts on this topic, the more your audience will see you as someone who has ideas worth sharing.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.

  • Thursday, August 04, 2022 9:13 AM | Laura Burford

    You’ve identified a great prospective client but you don’t know the person and the only person you can find who might be able to connect you is an ex-coworker you’ve not spoken to in years.

    The situation presents a dilemma for you. What do you do?

    One option is to not try to connect at all. You take the prospective client off of your list of potential clients. 

    Another option is to send a personalized message to the prospective client.  If done right, a personalized message is extremely powerful and you’ve had success with personalized messages.

    However, there is a third option and that is reaching out and asking the person you’ve not spoken to in years for help. This is also the best option because a solid introduction from a trusted person adds a level of credibility to an initial introduction and helps with building a mutual relationship. 

    __________

    No one is to blame for the disconnect between you and the ex-coworker. You simply lost touch with them because of limits on your time, demands of your professional and personal life, and daily paths no longer crossing.  Losing touch happens.

    Whether you are new to consulting or been consulting for years, it is common to need help from someone with whom you’ve not connected with in quite some time. Reaching out to that person can be awkward and feel uncomfortable.  

    I remember the first time I needed to reach out to an old connection. I hedged to ask for help because I didn’t want to be seen as the person who only reaches out when they needed something.  But a good colleague reminded me that the worst thing that could happen is the person ignores the email or they say no. 

    Most people, no matter how long it has been since you corresponded, are open to helping a person.  But it also means you, the consultant, needs to be sensitive to the situation and be apologetic. 

    __________

    Re-establishing a Relationship.

    Here is my process for reestablishing a relationship.

    1. Start by communicating with them using their preferred communication method. If they prefer email, use email.  If they prefer phone calls, call them.
    2. Send an email (or call) acknowledging the fact that you have fallen out of touch.  In the subject line, I’ve used words as “Mea Culpa. I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch.” or a simple “Are you open to reconnecting?”  I’m not the best with humor, but if your relationship is informal, consider using a use a humorist quote such as “Boy, time sure flew. Where has it gone?”   
    3. Apologize for being out of touch. Provide a brief update to let the person know what has been going on with you professionally.  If appropriate, don’t hesitate to provide a personal update.   
    4. Ask if they are open to helping you but also provide them with an out such as “I’m sure you are busy.  I understand if this is not a good time.” Then, explain your reasons as to why you are asking them for assistance.  Don’t hesitate to say that based on your research, you believe they might be able to help you with an introduction (or maybe it is background information on a person, an industry, or an event.) Be confident in your ask but be respectful of them and their time.
    5. If they say YES, make it easy for them by providing what they need to help you. If you are asking for an introduction, write the introduction email message for them. Better yet, before you even reach out, write the message.
    6. Try to reciprocate by asking what you can do for them.  The ask could be as simple as “What can I do right now that is helpful for you?” If they respond with a “nothing right now” let them know that they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out in the future.
    7. Never forget to thank them for their time and help.  The thank you can be a hand written thank you note or a small gift. Additionally, thank them by letting them know how their help helped you.  Did that introduction to that great prospective client materialize into the creation of a proposal?   
    8. Finally, the most important last step—add them to your Remain in Touch Relationship Strategy.  You don’t want to fall out of touch again.

    __________

    Conclusion

    Reaching out to a person that you’ve not spoken with in years and asking them to help you can feel awkward and uncomfortable.  There is no way around that feeling.

    But, it is important for you, a consultant, to learn how to put the discomfort behind you and reconnect. Reconnecting is part of networking and the better your network, the easier it is to grow your business.   However, reconnecting requires, you to be sensitive to the situation, be apologetic, and gracious in your approach. It also requires you to take the time to ensure you and your “ex”  don’t fall out of touch again.

    __________

    Laura Burford partners with solo-consultants and boutique consulting businesses helping them clarify their CORE (focus, ideal client, point of view and services), build relationships, and get clients. She is the founder of Laura’s Consulting Guide and offers a free weekly Consulting Insights focused on providing tips, techniques, and thought pieces for consultants at all stages of their business.


  • Monday, August 01, 2022 7:01 AM | Erica Holthausen

    Hundreds of influential blogs, trade journals, and business magazines seek contributed content. But not all of these publications will help you reach your goals. Before you pitch your idea for an article or column, identify the publications that will help you reach your goals. That will give you a shortlist to consider.

    But how do you narrow down that shortlist?

    Your pitch strategy must be grounded in research and a deep understanding of your goals and objectives. Once you have your shortlist, you must evaluate each option to make sure the publication’s style is compatible with yours.

    We are judged by the company we keep. Industry leaders, colleagues, and prospective clients will make assumptions about your ideas, skill level, and credibility based on your affiliation with a particular publication. Make sure the publications you affiliate with reflect your personality and values.

    Three elements to review to determine a publication's style.

    Every publication has a particular writing style. The way the message is crafted influences the reader’s impression of the message. Style includes diction, tone, and voice. You want your style to complement the publication’s style. To determine the publication’s style, evaluate these three elements:

    1. Diction. Diction is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech and writing. Pay attention to the positive or negative connotation around the words and phrases that appear in a publication’s headlines. Notice how the choice of words and phrases also influences whether the publication sounds formal, academic, or casual.

    2. Tone. By paying attention to word choice, you also get a sense of a publication’s tone. Does the article you’re reviewing sound objective or subjective? Logical or emotional? Intimate or distant? Serious or humorous? Formal or casual? Respectful or irreverent? Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact? Think about the tone of a specific article. If the tone is serious, could it have been written as a humorous piece? Ask yourself why the writer chose to write in this tone. Is this the dominant tone across all of the publication’s articles? Or did the subject matter require this particular tone?

    ​3. Voice. A publication’s voice can be difficult to put into words. Voice makes an article recognizable as one published in a particular media outlet. A publication’s voice is its personality. Think about BuzzFeed and Harvard Business Review. What makes these publications so different from one another? Voice. While tone varies depending on the situation, voice is consistent.

    ​To get a sense of a publication’s style, you’ll need to study each one closely. Read several articles from the last year, and pay attention to the headlines. Headlines are where a publication’s voice shines. If a publication’s headlines, graphics, or topics of interest elicit a scowl or eye-roll, it’s probably not a good fit — no matter how popular the publication.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.


  • Friday, July 01, 2022 7:05 AM | Erica Holthausen

    Before you pitch your idea for an article or column, you need to select the publications that will help you reach your goals. Hundreds of influential blogs, trade journals, and business magazines seek contributed content. And each one has a different set of guidelines.

    You may have a few publications on your list already. Some of the most popular publications include Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, and Inc. These are well-respected, prestigious publications with loyal audiences. So they should be on your list of publications to consider. But don’t be surprised if not all of these publications stay on your list — or that none is your top choice.

    You want to be recognized as an authoritative expert, and you want to raise your profile by publishing articles that build your authority and increase your visibility. But to be effective, your pitch strategy must be grounded in research and a deep understanding of your goals and objectives.

    Create your pitch strategy by answering these five questions.

    ​Writing articles for third-party publications is one way to share your ideas with a broader audience, demonstrate your credibility, and cultivate your community. But knowing which publication to pitch requires you to think more deeply about your goals. To create your publication roadmap, answer these five questions:

    1. What is your primary purpose for publishing on third-party platforms? Are you publishing articles on third-party platforms because you want to promote your business and inspire readers to signup for your newsletter, download a resource, or register for a webinar? Are you publishing articles to get more backlinks to your website so you can improve your SEO (search engine optimization)? Are you publishing articles to share your expertise, build your authority, and increase your visibility? You may be publishing articles for all three of these reasons, but what is your primary purpose?

    Knowing your purpose helps you establish filters so you can choose the right publication. For example, if your primary purpose is to improve SEO or inspire readers to signup for your newsletter, you want to look for publications that allow you to have a contributor bio and backlink at the bottom of each article you write. Entrepreneur and Inc. only offer a simple byline with a link to your author page. But Harvard Business Review includes a contributor bio and backlink at the bottom of each piece. 

    2. Whom do you want to read your articles? Who is your primary audience for your articles? Are you writing to connect with prospective clients, colleagues, or industry leaders? What publications does your intended audience read regularly? If you’re trying to connect with prospective clients, you might want to consider industry trade journals and association blogs.

    3. What do you want to write about? Do you want to share your insights and expertise? Or do you want to interview other experts and incorporate their perspectives into your articles? Writing for a third-party publication can help you secure an interview with people you admire, but not every publication welcomes these types of profile pieces. Entrepreneur prioritizes your stories and lessons learned. They allow you to quote other experts, but only if they are well-known business leaders. Other publications, including Inc., are more flexible and are happy to accept actionable and informative profile pieces, so long as they are not overly promotional.

    4. How often do you want to publish articles? Do you want to publish articles regularly or more sporadically? Some publications request that you pitch an idea for a column. For example, Inc. asks contributors to make a six-month commitment and encourages them to publish an article every two weeks. Entrepreneur also allows you to have a column, but you don’t need to establish a schedule. Harvard Business Review requires you to pitch each piece individually.

    It’s worth noting that while most publications require original content, content that has never been published to your blog or another outlet, many allow you to republish your article (with a link back to the original) after a short waiting period. Keep this in mind as you seek to balance writing for publication with writing for your blog, newsletter, and social media.

    5. How many publications do you want to be affiliated with? Do you want to write for one publication? Or do you want to write for several publications? Or would you prefer a hybrid approach, where you write primarily for one publication but occasionally pitch articles to others? Finding the right balance can be tricky. Pitching articles takes time, and not everyone enjoys the process. So choose a strategy that fits your personality and plays to your strengths.

    Once you’ve answered these questions, you can create a shortlist of publications for further consideration. You’ll want to study each of these publications closely, reading several articles and reviewing their contributor guidelines to determine which ones are a good fit. You’ll find that each publication has a particular personality — a voice and tone that is unique to that publication. Industry leaders, colleagues, and prospective clients will make assumptions about you based on your affiliation with a publication. Your reputation is the most critical asset you have in this business, so make sure you protect it.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles.


  • Friday, June 03, 2022 3:33 PM | Laura Burford

    Three Common Offerings with Real-Life Examples

    "Joe isn’t a consultant because he provides a package solution.”

    That is exactly what a new consultant said to me. But guess what? Joe is a consultant. Just because he is providing a package, doesn’t mean he isn’t a consultant. In this scenario, Joe is offering clients what some practitioners referred to as a market-focused consulting service” in addition to an overall customized solution.

    When it comes to providing services to clients, consultants and freelancers have options. Consultants and freelancers can follow the traditional service offering path by providing a customized solution that helps a client achieve what they want and need to achieve. But they can also provide a package approach which you might hear referred to as a productized consulting service. Or they can provide a combination of services as Joe is doing — a package and customized solution.

    As more people have become consultants, freelancers, and other types of independent workers providing a package or productized consulting service has become quite popular. It is an option that works well for some consultants but not all consultants.

    But what is a package or productized consulting service offer?

    Simply, a consultant identifies a high-value but narrowly focused portion of their overall service offering — their how — and then integrates that expertise into a standardized product or service.

    There are quite a few benefits associated with providing a smaller fixed price package to a client. Consultants are able to

    • work on developing a strong relationship with a client as they obtain a better insight into a client’s needs before proposing on a larger initiative.
    • deliver a top-notch client experience providing not only value but a quality product or service.
    • open new doors and attract new clients with a low-price high-value offer.
    • shorten the “selling” and proposal process with the help of a minimalist engagement letter that might be a simple e-commerce online purchase agreement.
    • scale their business by hiring people to assist with package support freeing the consultant enabling them to spend time growing the business.

    Clients also benefit. A low-price, high-value product or service for which there are clear expectations provides a low-risk way for a client to get to know a consultant before the client spends funds on a larger initiative.

    There are three common types of packages or productized consulting services: market-focused, product-focused, and service-focused.

    Market-Focused Approach

    Consultants often think of a market-focused service as the “foot-in-the door” or “let’s get to know one another” approach. The consultant provides a selected high-value service to the client at a reasonable price. Each person gets to know one another and build trust. A key characteristic to a deciding on the right market-focused service is that the service should position the consultant for future work with the client.

    For example: A network consultant who focuses on helping smaller mid-market businesses with their technology might offer to perform an assessment of the business’ network. The client receives a standardized report with findings and recommendations. The client can use the report and discuss it with other technical consultants or they may ask the network consultant if they are interested in helping them implement the recommendations. The help might be first the development of a technology strategy and later assistance with the strategy’s implementation. The network consultant displays the assessment as a service on their website.

    Product-Focused Approach

    Deciding on a product-focused approach requires a consultant to analyze the work frequently asked for by clients and determine if there is a typical scope, average timeframe, and a standardized deliverable. If that is possible, a consultant can create a fixed price package with fixed product deliverables. The package must provide value and specify what the client can expect for the price they are paying.

    For example: A writing consultant who focuses on helping authors write books realizes inspiring authors frequently ask about how to market books. The consultant decides to offer a marketing package that includes such “asks” as a press kit and website. A website displays the product offer that includes information such as what is included, the fixed price, and a link to schedule a time for a consultation.

    Service-Focused Approach

    The final package approach is a service-focused approach. There are routine needs in every business that clients do not want to concern themselves with but the work needs to be done for the client to be successful. In some cases, that same recurring work is necessary for the consultant to be successful. If it is possible to identify a recurring service and determine how long it takes to complete the work as well as the deliverables to be produced, a consultant might want to create a service-focused package.

    For example: An accountant focused on helping small business owners with financial decision-making offers a bookkeeping package to their small business owners. For a fixed price, the bookkeeping needs are taken care of and financial reports created. The bookkeeping package offer is displayed on the accountant’s website as a service but the service is only provided to clients for which the accountant is a trusted advisor.

    In Conclusion

    In every example provided above, the package or productized consulting service augmented the consultant’s customized solution. In all scenarios the consultant made it easy for the client to hire them and work with them. The package created provided a high-value product or service which helped the consultant as well as the client get to know one another.

    I believe the benefits of packages far outweigh the negatives for some consultants. For a package offering to work, it must be repeatable and continually provide value to clients. The best packages are based on a consultant’s experience-they help highlight the expertise of the consultant and help them be seen as the “go to person.”

    Unfortunately, offering a package or a productized consulting service is not for everyone. If it is not, don’t despair because there are many other ways to help you be seen as the expert.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

    Laura

    *****

    Laura Burford (Laura’s Consulting Guide) is a strategic advisor for independent consultants and boutique consulting businesses. She focuses on helping them clarify their what, why, who, and how which enables them to build relationships and get clients-simply make money. For tips, techniques, and thought pieces, sign up for her weekly newsletter, Consulting Insights.  



  • Wednesday, June 01, 2022 7:48 AM | Erica Holthausen

    Like most consultants, you want to be recognized as an authoritative expert. You want to build your personal brand, attract more clients, open the doors to more speaking engagements, and earn more media exposure because doing so allows you to expand your influence and magnify your impact.

    Writing articles for publication is one way to share your ideas with a broader audience, demonstrate your credibility, and cultivate your community. But you can accomplish that same goal by speaking at industry conferences, getting featured by media outlets, or being a guest on a podcast. So why write? What can writing do for you that other visibility-building tactics cannot?

    1. Writing requires you to think deeply.

    Good writing requires deep thinking. That’s what makes it so challenging and satisfying. When you start writing an article, you have to think critically about the subject so you can transform your ideas into a clear and compelling concept. There is no room for ambiguity in good writing. You have to know precisely what you want to convey to the reader and then find the best words to explain your idea.

    2. Writing fosters creativity and innovation.

    Good writing requires deep thinking, and deep thinking requires you to examine your area of expertise from different angles and to be constantly learning. Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places — a book of poetry, a podcast, a conversation with a friend, a ski lesson, or an artist talk. Your job is to capture that spark of an idea in a notebook or on your phone so you can explore it when you sit down to write. ​

    3. Writing formulates your point of view.

    When you think deeply about your area of expertise and look at it from every possible angle, you develop a clear, unique, and thoughtful point of view. That point of view and how you express yourself is the common thread through all of your visibility-building efforts.

    4. Writing tests and refines your ideas.

    Writing makes it painfully obvious when your ideas need further development, prompting you to do more research. It also allows you to refine your ideas as those who read your work share their perspective or ask thought-provoking questions.

    5. Writing improves your communication skills.

    Writing helps you communicate highly complex ideas more confidently and effectively, whether speaking in front of an audience or being interviewed by a journalist. This confidence enables you to become a better listener and pay close attention to the perspectives other people bring to your work.

    Writing, unlike speaking, does not allow you to rely on context, shared knowledge, or body language to convey your message. You must use the written word alone, which leaves no room for ambiguity. Your writing must be cogent, well-researched, and compelling to get your message across. And, because written material can be read repeatedly and analyzed closely, it must be strong enough to withstand a much higher level of scrutiny than other visibility-building tactics like public speaking.

    Regardless of whether you write for publication, becoming a better writer will make you a deeper thinker, stronger communicator, and better consultant.

    * * *

    Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications and a strategic thought partner to consultants who wish to build their authority and increase their visibility by publishing articles in industry trade journals and business magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Insider. To learn how to raise your profile, register for Pitched to Published, a free monthly Q+A focused on writing, pitching, and publishing articles. 

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