How to become a freelance communication consultant
The contemporary world has brought down all barriers with regards to earning a livelihood. With the advent of globalization and the Internet, the world has become a much easier, well-connected, and more profitable place to live in, especially from the perspective of a freelancer. Decades ago when the world was still reeling over the idea of expanded international connectivity and potential advantages of the same, freelancers could not have access to a fair number of opportunities.
Many freelancers would remain confined to the territorial restrictions, and those transcending international borders would go through limitless ambiguity emanating from language and currency changes, increased transportation cost, and other concomitants of freelancing during that period.
Things have changed now, and we can have streamlined access to various freelance opportunity. Presently, there are too many options to choose from, but under this article, we shall discuss only one: Freelance Communication consultant. Like many freelancing areas, communication consultancy is an ever-growing, well-reputed area of work which offers high-income opportunities and diverse working conditions. However, freelancing in this area requires an exhaustive knowledge of nature, job and skill requirements, pay rate and other necessary aspects of the same.
Fret not, since we are going to unravel some really important things you need to know to become a freelance communication consultant.
1. What does a communication consultant do?
A Communication consultant offers external or internal support to the communication’s department of a company. He/she is generally hired for the purpose of handling everyday correspondence and projects. A Communication consultant is shouldered with the task of handling a company’s dialogue with the targeted audience and controlling the internal communication to board members, employees, consumers, and other stakeholders. They are engaged in media and public relations, publicity, customer service, and other related activity. The responsibilities may differ with the seniority or experience of an individual such as a senior communication consultant may be entitled to directly participate in board meetings, be privy to sensitive company’s information, greater access to media by acting as the spokesperson of the company and of course, a higher pay rate. A communication consultant may be from within or outside the company.
Considering the nature of work performed by a communication consultant, one can easily fathom it being a very important functionary of a company or organization.
2. Skills requirement
The first and foremost thing to do is to learn deeply about a Communications consultant and what it takes to become one. Every job requires some skills for the efficient discharge of duties and positive professional growth. Before you dive into the technicalities of a freelance communication consultancy, you should first build an adequate understanding about the same. So, the following are the key skills employers or clients would expect from a freelance communication consultant:
- Ability to write well: This is a fundamental quality a communication consultant must have. The primary purpose of a communication consultant is to communicate and promote information in the most reasonably sophisticated manner. The communication may be verbal or written, and if it is written, you are presumed to possess exemplary, persuasive and coherent writing skills. Through your writing skills, you should be able to communicate the information in an unambiguous manner and avoid any kind of disinformation.
- Coordination: As a communication consultant, you will have to coordinate with clients on various aspects. For example, you are hired by an infrastructure construction company wanting to communicate ideas to a certain group of designers. In this, you are expected to coordinate between the employer and the designers smoothly.
- Quickness in understanding roles and tasks: The realization of your dreams of becoming a freelance communication consultant may come to an absolute stop if you lack the ability to grasp roles and tasks quickly and completely. But, there may be an instance in which you are clueless about certain aspects of a project, then you should seek clarifications. A communication consultant is a channel of expression; if you fail to understand the project in its entirety, you’d fail to communicate sufficiently.
- Receptive to feedback: The life of a communication consultant is tough, and may become tougher with poor or unsatisfactory feedback from the client. But, you should be confident and accept feedback impersonally.
- A network of volunteers: It is important for you to create a channel disseminating information to the local media or other targeted audience through a well-connected and trusted network of volunteers. In the case of any social campaigns, these volunteers can be organized and supervised in the promotion of the campaign through social networking websites.
- A knack for ascertaining who the audience is: Any communication consultant should be able to ascertain with certainty to whom and how the information is to disseminated.
- Good Communication Skills: It is an undeniable truth, indispensable to the very existence of a communication consultant. You are required to have the ability to maintain website content, prepare reports, communicate persuasively but formally, and other related characteristics. If you follow mundane expressions, you will eventually fail as a communication consultant, and freelancing will become a far-fetched dream.
- Versatility: Pressure may affect performance, but a communication consultant is expected to ward off all negativities of pressure. He/she should be able to work on all kinds of projects, without succumbing to pressure.
3. Job Requirements
The following are the job requirements to become a communication consultant:
- A bachelor degree generally requires an undergraduate degree, but the major may differ on the basis of the type of the employer or the position for which a candidate applies. Typically, candidates are graduates in communications, but they may be graduates from other majors such as journalism, public relation, English or marketing. There are a number of premier institutes in India and many abroad which offer bachelor courses in communications, journalism, and others. These courses equip individuals with extensive knowledge of the subject and impart practical skills through internship programs.
- Additionally, the employers specify in their requirements the possession of strong knowledge of media channels, particularly social media. If you have an extensive social media network such as Facebook page, you may be a potential employee.
- While employers are content with a graduate candidate, they are nevertheless looking out for impressively knowledgeable and experienced individuals—something which graduation may not necessarily provide. It is, therefore, suggested that you go for Masters. The Freelance community is flexible but quite contrary to the common understanding, it is tremendously competitive. A Master’s degree can be extremely helpful to you in securing big places.
4. Where to work?
As a freelance communication consultant, you will not experience any dearth of opportunities. The Association of Professional Communication Consultants emphasizes much upon the importance of communication consultants in any professional organization, whether it is a private corporate body or a governmental institution. The functions of a communication consultant are universal and integral to every organization.
You can apply to various companies and other organizations for the post of a communication consultant, but you do have to keep a regular check on the vacancies. This usually takes a lot of time and therefore, it is recommended you take recourse to online freelance portals such as freelance.com, guru.com, upwork.com, worknhire.com etc. There are many online discussion forums and yellow pages where one can easily find freelance opportunities.
If you go the online way, you would have to do certain things: Create an account, establish credibility through a well-drafted portfolio of skills, and apply to companies or other organizations by sending them a carefully drafted proposal letter. After having applied, make sure you follow-up periodically, but avoid projecting yourself desperate. Meanwhile, keep updating the portfolio as per the requirements of the openings on the websites. It is recommended you structure the portfolio depending upon the type of company you are applying or want to apply.
5. Pay rate
Par rate is depended on the qualifications and experience of the individual. It also depends on the size and reputation of the organization you are applying to. If it is a multinational company with an impressive reputation, the pay rate will be handsome but not easily realized since the work is burdensome. You can study about the company or organization by yourself; what we are going to talk about here is what kind of candidates can charge what kind of pay rate.
If you are a highly qualified and experienced communication consultant, you can have a high pay rate since you have more credibility and years of strong standing in the industry. The pay rate is generally at or above the prevalent market rate. If, however, you are a young, fresh graduate or post-graduate with less or no practical experience, you would have to avoid presumptuousness and state reasonable pay rates. An obnoxiously high pay rate by a rookie freelance communication consultant will be treated mockingly, something which you would not like.
To get a better understanding of the pay rates in this freelancing area, it is advisable you join online forums or attend meet-ups. These act as hotspots of information and will help you learn from those who are actively engaged in the field.