The good news is that as a “freelancer” (independent worker), you’re not alone – by a lot! According to a 2020 study by Upwork, a full 36 percent of the US workforce, 55 million people, make money through 1099 income.
The bad news is that there’s a lot of competition out there, regardless of your specialty.
As someone who is a nonprofit expert that freelances, consults, or otherwise serves as an independent contractor to nonprofits, how can you stand out as one in 35 million?
1. Play to your strengths – what makes you unique among your peers? Do you focus on grant writing among environmental organizations? Drill deep! Identify who needs your services and get the word out that you’re the “go to” person.
2. Competition, yes, but also collaborators. You can’t be great at everything – so find out who complements your strengths. If you’re great at major gifts, find someone who is super at special events. Start referring business to each other.
3. Get known among your peers. Yes, the term is overused, but it still applies: become a “thought leader” among your fellow consultants. Write articles. Start a podcast. Speak at conferences. Nothing is better for business than a solid reputation.
Can you think of other counterintuitive ways to stand out as a nonprofit consultant?
As the US economy diversifies, there will be more, not fewer independent workers – especially if you’re a nonprofit expert. Think of yourself as a trendsetter… and by focusing on your strengths, finding collaborators and building your reputation, you can be more: the pacesetter!
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