For some strange reason, I’d always imagined that an IT consultant was a subject matter expert. They sometimes are of course, but after a few months working for Cisco systems, my bubble was burst.
While working on the network support team, I realized to my horror that people take out support contracts with major vendors (such as Cisco), then this gets them access to priority support from all the experts in routing, security, voice, NAT, you name it.
I actually lost count how many times an IT consultant would e-mail or call us asking for help with simple things, like how to create an access list or NAT. These guys were being paid a small fortune to configure a customer’s equipment, and yet it was me doing the hard work.
It then dawned me that I could actually be doing the same thing. If I could find some clients who needed IT support and it fit in with my office hours, I could make some extra moolah doing what I enjoyed. If the guys who were supposed to be experts were doing it, then so could I.
I started telling relatives and friends that I was available for network support for businesses who didn’t have the in-house expertise. If I had any enquiries for something I couldn’t do or that didn’t fit in with my work hours, then I’d say I had too much work at the moment to help.
My phone started ringing, and I arranged to meet my first client. They had set up a new office and needed a new Cisco router configuring with a password, access list, and static route to reach their ISP. It was maybe 30 minutes work, but for that job, I made more than I did working two weeks at my day job.
That day my eyes were opened to the possibilities. I found that there was a massive number of companies that couldn’t afford full-time IT staff and wanted somebody they could call whenever they needed an IT job done. I eventually started to sub work out to other freelancers and take a referral fee.
As you can imagine, I eventually gave up my day job and just freelanced.
Here’s what worked for me:
- Don’t worry about being an expert. Most IT-related tasks are pretty straightforward.
- Turn down any work you don’t want to do
- Outsource any work outside your area of specialization
- Tell everyone you know that you are available and what you can do
- Get some business cards and a basic website up
If you want the full skinny on how I built a freelancing IT business, then check out my video training course.