Should I Get Into Consulting?

I’ve been thinking about this for a little while, so I wanted to kick it out there and see what people think.

I didn’t really write the book to become a consultant. Some people find this funny or, at least, interesting, but I didn’t. I know that’s what a lot of people do (either to enhance a consulting business or become one) and that’s not a bad idea. I didn’t really want to do it with my first book. I wanted the message to speak for itself, not for it to feel as though I was holding something back, something that you would have to pay me to learn. In the book, I talked about everything. EVERYTHING I’ve had to deal with. I held nothing back.

My firm belief is that if you offer something of true value and you work hard to get it out there, that stuff can come later. I wrote the book because I wanted to, because I’m passionate about managing online communities and I felt that I had experience to share. Some people think this is crazy and that’s fine.

But, I’ve had multiple people suggest I get into consulting, that I start helping people, organizations, corporations and others to develop and improve their community strategy. As I have thought about it, it has started to appeal to me, for a few reasons:

I can help people. I like talking about managing online communities and I know I can help people to develop their strategies. I can’t program, I can’t provide technical solutions like that. But, that’s not what it is about. It’s about strategy, policies, ideas and solutions. And that’s what I can provide.

I can keep running my network. Please don’t mistake me thinking about consulting as wanting to stop running websites. That’s not true. I love running communities and websites and working in consulting will allow me to continue to do this (see below, re: money). I don’t know, quite honestly, that I want a full time business that depends on clients. I would consult on a very part time basis. A few hours over the phone, a couple days on site – that sort of thing.

I don’t really have time to do much in the way of cold calling or client acquisition. I can make myself available, put myself out there and see if people contact me. If they don’t, fine. If they do, fine.

I could use the money. I could definitely use the extra income.

So, it seems like a win, win, win: I can help people, I can keep running my websites and I can make some more money, allowing me to do more. My focal point, as I said, would be strategy, really in the management of the community itself and the infrastructure. That’s what I enjoy most and where I feel I can help most.

Due to my level of experience, due to the book, due to the conferences I am attending and the speaking I am doing, I am getting myself out there and giving myself an opportunity to do this. It seems to make sense and it seems like a good idea.

Anyway, enough of me talking. With all of this said, what do you think? Does this sound like a good idea? Would you hire me? Any other thoughts?

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

4 Comments

Lyn Mettler

about 11 years ago

I think you should definitely go for it. My company consults on social media, but forums are definitely not something I'm really up on, so we would certainly hire you if we had a client who had this need. If you want to discuss the ups and downs of consulting, clients, etc., give me a shout on Twitter (webprgirl), by email or whatever. Good luck!

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bnpositive

about 11 years ago

I say go for it too. Don't get stuck on the consulting term though. You have expertise in an area that's already being used actively and I'm sure there's quite a list of places that could use some of your insight and guidance. That's valuable. You might as well take advantage of it.

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chrispian

about 11 years ago

You know I think its a great idea. You would be great at this and with your experience it would be hard to find someone more qualified. Not only that, but with your contacts in the community industry I'm sure you could get some referalls too! I think you should do it!

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Patrick

about 11 years ago

Thanks for the comments, Lyn, Jason and Chris. I appreciate the thoughts and kind words. :) I appreciate the offer, as well, Lyn and will keep that in mind. Patrick

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