Eric Solomon's Story: Just because you’re not on staff, doesn’t mean you’re a steal.
A couple years ago, after running marketing and brand strategy for the world’s biggest social platforms, I decided to transition to consulting. It’s enabled me to provide my marketing expertise to guide companies to succeed, most recently through my role as CMO-In-Residence at Blackbird, a brand consultancy. It’s allowed me to rebalance my life, experience the splendor of eight solid hours of sleep, walk in the park on a Tuesday afternoon, and untether from my phone now and then. My year of consulting has also taught me about getting compensated for the value I bring. Here’s what I want every senior-level executive now consulting to know to be paid what they’re worth.
Just because you’re not on staff, doesn’t mean you’re a steal. Senior execs take note: Going solo doesn’t mean you’re “on sale.” I can get another job full time, I just don’t want one right now. I’m not going for less just because I’m choosing to live a more balanced, happier life. It certainly doesn’t mean clients don’t have to pay me what a CMO makes. I have precisely the same education, experience and background as I did when I was staff. I don’t have a discount tag hanging from my elbow--and neither do you!
Wipe the phrase “hourly rate” from your consciousness. Just try calculating an hourly rate from your last salary and you’ll see it doesn’t make sense. A full-time executive role requires so many hours that to calculate an hourly rate, you’d arrive at a figure that’s a fraction of the value you bring and the work you do. I only charge an hourly rate for a phone conversation, and it’s high.
Instead, charge flat fees, informed by the right people. You can’t conjure what you should charge for a project on your own, and you sure can’t Google it either. Have transparent conversations with smart, experienced people beyond your network doing similar work, and learn what they charge. Then provide a prospective client with a ballpark range. It’s ok to explain how you came to it.
Your work is at maximum-strength as a freelancer--your fee should reflect that! When you’re a consultant, you’re getting booked to apply your talent and smarts, undiluted by endless meetings and fire-drills. (In other words, what you were hired to do in your last full-time role that you only spent a slice of your time actually doing!). That’s worth a premium. If you can get a deliverable completed in 2 hours that would have taken a full day back at the office, why shouldn’t you charge for a day? I dare you!