The Consultant’s Dilemma
Derrick Idleburg Jr.

In a world filled with social media consultants, online marketing consultants and any other variant that has something to do with digital marketing, how do you discern the fluff from the real stuff? Today, I am going to explain.

Let me first preface this article with a little real world experience. By day, I work at a job (insert corporation name here). It pays the bills while I build my consulting and my start-ups. Hey, you have to hold tight to your dreams. I work as a consultant offering editing, social media, perception, content strategy, and marketing in general.

These are the 4 things I have learned to avoid doing, so that you don’t ruin yourself as a consultant.

1. You communicate Horribly

I know, you always hear that content is king. This is king, that is king. If every “thing” is king, then what really matters? I think it’s clear and concise communication. You locked up the client; you began working for them, yet you don’t communicate when you have updates for them. You answer their questions three days after they ask. Bad communication is a surefire way to ruin your chances of securing this client long term or if they want to recommend you to another person that may need your assistance. Takeaway: Communicate effectively. Check up on your client. Make sure that they are included in your process. If they have a question, answer it as soon as possible. Communicate.

2. You’re Underpriced/Overpriced

You’re a consultant. You want to be paid, just make sure you are paid well. There is a happy medium that only you can find. If you price yourself too low, you may be seen as not confident in your ability to deliver a superb service, whatever it may be. I’ve had a few potential clients tell me that my pricing was too low. They told me it gave off the impression that I was not confident in my ability and that I was undercutting what I had to offer my client. So I decided to change my pricing. If you need help figuring out how you should price yourself, this site is a great resource.

3. You’re a Generalist.

You are a consultant. This means that you have a particular set of skills to help solve a specific set of problems. What does this mean? You are a specialist, not a generalist. If you can literally do everything for your client I believe you will eventually lose them. You need to specialize on one specific area if you really want to be great at what you do. If not, go work for some company. Giant corporations will keep you in the same spot forever. If you are a specialist of some kind, people will need you for one specific thing. If you leverage this correctly, it could turn into great profits for you. Needs some tips on specializing? Check out this post from one of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk.

4. You Don’t Do What You Say You Will Do

If someone hired you, they are taking a bet out on you. It’s your job not to screw it up. Sort of like dating, right? If you get him/her to agree to date you, you have won half the battle. Now you just have to keep to whatever promises you make. If you say you can do something, make sure you keep your promises. Otherwise you will look bad. Really bad. We all fall short sometimes, but don’t make grand promises that you can’t keep. Just be honest with what you have to offer—i.e. don’t cut a check you can’t cash with your ass (ass=work).

Derrick Idleburg, Jr. has grandiose ambitions and even wilder dreams. He is from St. Louis, Missouri and he currently resides in Kansas City, MO. His professional interests include entrepreneurship, social media, marketing, and health care. Follow him on Twitter at @farfromidle or read more of Derrick’s work at