Are you a consultant or freelancer?

People use “Consultant” and “Freelancer” interchangeably.

I’ve been guilty of mixing up the two.

They’re really not the same, though.

At first, I thought this an elementary topic (especially for some of you beast of creative hustlers!) but then quickly realized how many of us don’t really understand the difference. This was the case for me when I started my business.

Our understanding of these two words will affect the way we think of ourselves, which affects the way we position ourselves, which affects the kind of clients we attract, which affects the way our parents treat us…

Okay, maybe not that last part but you get my point.

What’s the difference?

Here’s the difference in its simplest form:

A consultant gives advice.

A freelancer carries out specific work.

Given the simple definitions above, it seems they could technically be the same – especially since some of us operate as both and the lines can blur.

They’re really not the same, though.

The Consultant

Let’s break down the infamous consultant role.

A consultant helps develop a plan of attack. Their knowledge and expertise about strategies, platforms, rules, laws, and a bunch of other things which clients seek.

Clients hire consultants for guidance.

For example, when an analytics expert is hired to figure out an optimal content release schedule, they operate strictly as a consultant. Clients expect clear and sound advice on how to win in that area of business.

This is different from freelancing.

The Freelancer

Clients hire freelancers when it’s time to implement. They already know what they need and how to get there.

People hire freelancers because they don’t have the resources or skills to carry out a project.

A good example is when a freelance developer is hired to develop a standalone website using mockups a designer created.

The project requires no advice or guidance. It requires creativity and mad skills for implementation.

The Hybrid

Some of us wear both hats – we’re both consultant and freelancer.

This can be a game-changer for anyone’s business.

If you’re able to provide guidance and carry out the implementation, you’ll be much more valuable. The client avoids headaches of working with multiple resources and your credibility goes up a ton.

I usually work in this capacity.

I’m a consultant when I’m road mapping but once I’m hired for the actual implementation, I turn into a freelancer. I handle the two as separate projects in every way (pricing, statements of work, etc).

It’s a great way to provide more value, which means more income and way more fun.

What are you?

Are you a freelancer, consultant, or both?


Then frame your mind, business, and work accordingly. Don’t let there be any mismatches unless they’re intentional.

It can make all the difference in your business.

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