How to Become a Freelance Salesforce Consultant

How to Become a Freelance Salesforce Consultant

Freelancing is not for everyone, but for those looking to make some extra money or perhaps even quit your day job and work for yourself, freelancing is an excellent option. In this post, I’ll share some of my experiences and give you my thoughts on how to get started.

Before we get started, this post is intended for those that already have a background in Salesforce. If you are just getting started with Salesforce, review my post 5 Steps to Jump-Start Your Salesforce Career first.

I started freelancing in 2012 while working full-time (also called moonlighting). The intention was to have some extra spending money and pay off personal debt faster. After a few years, though, I have worked on several projects and have fallen in love with the work.

I decided to start a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to make this a formal side-business that will allow me to scale quickly in the future should I decide to step out on my own. Now all of the groundwork is laid and my personal property is now also protected.

So, how do you become a freelancer? Let’s take a look at what is needed.

Determine Your Availability

Before soliciting for jobs, it’s important to understand how much time you can dedicate to a freelance project. You need to be honest with yourself and set a firm boundary because it is very easy to get consumed in a single project or multiple projects.

Between family time, vacations and your typical work schedule, you may have between 4 and 8 hours a week to comfortably commit to contract work. If that is the case, don’t over commit. If a deal comes across your desk that requires 10 hours a week, you may need to decline the job.

Aside from the number of hours, you should also determine how many contracts you can handle. For me personally, two active contracts provides me plenty of work. Sometimes, it is too much depending on what is going on in my personal and professional life. I have turned down several offers because I just don’t have the bandwidth to manage any more than two.

Determine your availability and stick to it when talking with prospective clients. It will keep you sane.

Determine Your Value

This is perhaps one of the hardest parts for the freelance beginner. Without working as a consultant in the past, I had to try and determine what a fair rate would be for work that will be done on the nights and weekends. In my eagerness to land a job, I charged only $35 per hour on my first contract. Big mistake.

Realizing this, I reached out to the Twitter community and asked what others are charging. Per hour rates ranged anywhere from $50 to $120 per hour (or even higher). Having this information helped me negotiate a higher rate on my next contract. The problem was that the rate was still not at a place that the market can support. I short changed myself again.

Freelance

As I was talking this through with a friend, he argued that my time was perhaps even more valuable as a moonlight consultant because the opportunity cost was so high. Spending time with my family in the evenings is crucial and is worth much more than $35 per hour.

There is fear in negotiating a rate with a client. We tell ourselves that quoting a high rate may scare customers away and that is exactly what you don’t want to do. Fast Company had a great article some time back which talked through this process of determining your value and I thought that it addressed this and similar fears perfectly. Take a moment and read it here.

Remember – you can always negotiate your rate down. I have never been able to negotiate the price up.

Make it Legal

Generally, if money is to exchange hands, I like to get everything in writing. All of the clients I have engaged with have had a contract and a Statement of Work (SOW). Fortunately, my dad writes and negotiates contracts for a living so he was able to create a consulting services agreement with me which includes a bunch of legal jargon, but you don’t need a complex legal document. The key is to create a document that both parties will agree upon and sign.

Your contract should include language around the following:

  • What your agreed hourly rate will be and what you will be paid for (such as time and materials, travel expenses, etc.).
  • Invoice frequency and due dates and late fees (i.e.: invoice monthly with payment remitted 14 days after invoice date with a 2% per day late fee for every day the payment is late).
  • Termination language (who can terminate the contract, when and how).

A SOW is the what and when of the project. It should include a short description of the work that is going to be done and some general timelines (either number of hours or a particular date).

There are several tools to create a formal legal document online including one called RocketLawyer which asks you a series of questions and populates your answers into the legal template. While there is a fee to create these documents, the can be reused for future engagements.

NOTE: I am not a lawyer and am not providing legal advice. You should consult with experts to create a document that has the appropriate legal protections.

Get the Proper Tools

There are only a handful of tools that a beginner freelancer needs and they fall into the category of hours and expense tracking and invoicing. Several tools exist for freelancers – most of them have a free version with limited or restricted functionality that is perfect for those just getting started.

Time Tracking & Invoicing

I use a tool called Harvest to track time and invoice clients. Harvest offers a free version of their app which allows for two active projects. Tracking time against a project is really easy and can be categorized into any type of service or task you may be providing. It also allows for a detailed description of the time spent which can be included on invoices.

Speaking of invoices, Harvest also allows users at all levels to create professional looking invoices for services. The invoices can be sent electronically or downloaded as a PDF and sent to your client. There is also an option to receive payment online via PayPal.

harvest time tracking

Harvest

Timely is another great tool that I started using for various other time tracking activities but it is very capable of working for the freelancer as well. It too has a free version for up to three projects. One unique feature is that it allows you to schedule work in advance in order to create an estimate. With a calendar integration, users can block off this time from their personal calendars as well to ensure that the work gets done.

Client & Deals Tracking

With so many emails going back and forth between clients in multiple locations, it can be hard to recall who you have talked to and where a particular project status lies. That is why I created a free Salesforce Developer org to track my clients and prospect details.

When I have a client sign a contract, and I obtain credentials, I even store the username, password and security token in a custom object related to the Account for easy recall anywhere.

Now that Salesforce1 allows for multiple accounts accessing this information from any location is now SUPER easy.

Initially, I saved this information in a Google Spreadsheet, but after having trouble keeping everything in one place, I decided a developer org was the way to go. Now I store contracts and important communications in Salesforce for easy recall.

Communication Tools

Starting out, it probably isn’t important to have some of these communication tools but if you may decide that having some communication tools makes working with the client easier.

Google Voice is a great way to separate your personal phone number with a “business” phone number if this is something that you are concerned with. I have used Google Voice in the past to help create some delineation between my personal and professional life and found that it worked well. However, being an iPhone user, I don’t think it works as well as if I was using Android.

uber-compressor

Uber Conference

Screen sharing and web/audio conference tools may also be necessary depending on the needs of the client. I found myself wanting to share my screen to vet configuration, but without a screen sharing tool, this is hard to do. Research your options ahead of time and have an account set up prior to any meeting where there may be a need to share screens.

UberConference is a great free option (built by ex-Googler’s) and now includes free United States domestic calls. Other free tools include FreeConferenceCall.com and Join.me.

Find a Job

Now that you have everything to do the job, it’s time to find a job to work. There are several great options for finding positions but I have found that LinkedIn works the best. Post a status update to your profile letting your network know that you are looking for a position and more than likely several people will respond.

After doing this a few times, people in your network will notice that you do freelance work, and referrals will begin to come in as well.

If LinkedIn isn’t working for you, there are a few other sites to solicit your expertise:

CRM Market is a new tool created by a friend of mine which aims to help connect consultants with projects. But more than that, it includes some really cool features such as public consultant profiles, automatic Salesforce verification, robust project search, simplified project management and streamlined and secure payment management.

Remember to follow-up with all possible gigs with a response – even if you don’t have the bandwidth to take on a new position. This will ensure that you don’t lose out on future work for these potential clients.

Make it Happen’ Cap’n!

With all of these tools, you are ready to go. You can totally do this! Don’t be intimidated or let that little voice of doubt tell you that you can’t. You already know how to do a lot with Salesforce. Let this experience challenge you – get you to think outside of the box. There is nothing more rewarding.

Want to discuss this topic more? Head over to the Success Community and join the Salesforce Freelancer group!

Admin Hero Trailmix

Admin Hero Freelance Consulting Trailmix

Click the image to get started!

Want even more? Check out this custom Trailhead Trailmix I created just for you! The Admin Hero – Becoming a Freelance Consultant will help you to refine your softskills, learn how to provide effective presentations, and more!

Do you have questions about becoming a freelance consultant? Perhaps you have some suggestions. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

 

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Brent Downey
Load More In Business & Career

107
Leave a Reply

avatar
56 Comment threads
51 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
58 Comment authors
Niki SFDCJanineand learningCliff SuttonSalesforce Online Training Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Grant Grigoran
Guest
Grant Grigoran

Great post Brent! When are you coming over to the freelance side fulltime?! This post seems targeted to people who are still working full-time and want to freelance on the side. In that case, the only other thing I would add is that you have to be careful and mindful of IP. Your current employment contract may or may not specifically state that not only are you no allowed to freelance on the side, but that whatever intellectual property you create during your employment with with the co, especially when it’s related to your role, is owned by the employer.… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Great post Brent. Where do you find your clients?

Sly
Guest
Sly

Brent,

Great article! I will admit, however, that this whole freelance thing intimidates me. I am abut to transition from working at Salesforce developer (doing admin stuff not dev) to a totally different industry, but I’ll have a period of unemployment in between. Somebody recommended freelancing, but I have no idea of what you described is for a more seasoned person or not (I have a little less thn a year of Salesforce experience and Admin cert).

Help?!?!?

Jose Maria Claramunt
Guest
Jose Maria Claramunt

I second what Brent says: there are TONNES of companies that want to implement Salesforce (any Edition) that are sheet scared and dont have the know-how.

Well, start off by charging less.

Why? Cause you NEED the EXPERIENCE.
After 2 or 3 projects, you will be a battle hardened SF consultant.

Oh, and work LinkedIn and other SF partner firms.
They also need SF freelancers.

Ride the wave! This is the only time SF professionals are scares and demand is huge for people that are familiar with all things SF.

Get R done!

Shahid Ray
Guest
Shahid Ray

I wanna be a Salesforce consultant in implementation. But I dont know where to start and how to start. Can anyone please suggest me the steps and the courses and other information that i need to start off. I am sure once i have the start i can get on.

Also can anyone tell me, which one is better? SF developer or SF implementation for a beginner who is trying to have a career in SF.

Thanks,

Ankur
Guest
Ankur

Hi Brent, Great post !!!

I am salesforce developer having 4+ yrs of experience. I am thinking to start freelancing but I am not aware how to start(any legal procedure?), how to find projects?
If you can guide me then it would be helpful for me. appreciated.
Thanks.

Ankur
Guest
Ankur

Thanks Brent !!!

David Redding
Guest
David Redding

Brent,
Is an IT or computer science degree required to become a competent SF admin or developer ? Considering starting a second career. What type of training would you recommend to learn SF admin and or developer ?

Greg Bradshaw
Guest
Greg Bradshaw

So Brent, what is your rate? 🙂

bigscreen
Guest
bigscreen

Brent, awesome post! Need your opinion. To give you some background on myself, I am a certified admin and have been working on SFDC for about 5 years. My role with my current company has evolved due to be a split between admin/care lead/test lead. Today a former colleague (we both used to work together but both of us have moved on to other companies) reached out to me and asked me to help him (moonlight) build out reports/dashboards/implement some new functionality in his current company’s SF org. I am interested but have no idea what to charge, if I… Read more »

SalesforceAddict
Guest
SalesforceAddict

Hi Brent,

I started learning the basics of Salesforce few days back and now addicted to this cloud computing technology & now wants to change my career from a developer in Java into Saleforce.
Please help me how to do the switch. How to gain experience in Salesforce and How I will get a job in Salesforce without havinh anu experience.

Shailesh
Guest
Shailesh

Dear Brent First and foremost I want to very sincerely and from bottom of my heart thank not just from me and my friend but all those that must have benefited from your efforts. Obviously the folks like us visiting this are most in need of some or the other work advise and your whole site and blog attempts help them in most simple way sort of and that without any cost. So a big THANKS. We are a team of 2 experienced IT folks. Mostly old technologies like visual C++ and project management experience. I am in US and… Read more »

p d singh
Guest

I have just started developing project in salesforce and i am new in this field
so can you suggest how i can get simple project as a freelancer.

lc
Guest
lc

Hi Brent, This was a very helpful post so thank you. I am planning to take my Dev401 cert test this week. Once obtained, I am looking to gain real world experience through freelancing. For my initial projects, I’d probably have to take on something fairly basic. (I’ve been a SF end user for 2+ years but never dev/admin.) I’d like to be honest with the client about my lack of experience, but I feel this is will hurt my chances of landing projects. Any thoughts and how transparent were you in your initial freelance projects? Thanks for your insight… Read more »

Bobby Dornbos
Guest
Bobby Dornbos

Hi Brent, Obviously, thanks for this post…there really isn’t anything out there as helpful as this. I’m currently a full time CRM and SFDC solutions manager at my company, which really consists of 50% basic admin tasks and 50% solutions engineering & thought leading. For a few reasons (other offers & market conditions), I may be needing to scale this role back to part-time as I consider moving on to a different role. If at all possible, I’d like to hear more about setting up your own LLC: How did you go about this (there seem to be many sites… Read more »

dinesh
Guest
dinesh

Hi Brent,
What a detailed and easy to understand article you have posted! Thanks! I am an SF end user since 5 years now and find a career as SF consultant either free lance or as an employee really appealing. Your article has shown me light now! Thanks. Any particular advice you might want to give me, please do so.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Brent, for an admin gig, you charge 120 or more an hour, if you were to do a 3 or 6 months contract what would your rate be?

I’ve been looking for mainly developer gig, but all I find is folks are looking for an all in one guy, such as admin, developer, business analyst and when I request 90k/yr, they all gasp as if I ask for 900k/yr.

I even found a SF consultant company are looking for mid-level developer but I think are budgeting 70k! WTH, it seems like its more lucrative to be an Admin and developer.

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

Hi Brent,

Great article. One question about freelancing that has perplexed me for some time: What do SF freelancers do about their own Salesforce license? The tiny bit of freelance SF work that I’ve done, that’s been an issue as the client doesn’t want to purchase a seat.

Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy it.

Shannon

Chad
Guest
Chad

hey Brent,
enjoyed the article! I have the dev401. In your experience have you seen jobs for declarative developer? I have been using salesforce for over 3 years and earlier this year i passed dev401. just wondering if you have seen not only admin jobs but jobs for the point and click gurus! 🙂

Farzana Movie
Guest
Farzana Movie

This is an excellent article. Brent, I have changed my career in 2011 from a full-time office worker (in United Nations – World Food Program, CO) in to a full-time freelancer. I have implemented more than 150 projects in database and a tiny CRM in Cloud platform. I have stated Learning Salesforce for last 2 years. Implemented Salesforce for two different clients. Your article will help me in my freelance journey.
Many Thanks!

Tracy Anthony
Guest
Tracy Anthony

Gidday Brent,

Shout out from Australia. Whilst I’m not specifically into salesforce, I found your blog via a wordpress salesforce search. Your style and energy is to be applauded. It is lovely to read your post and your refreshingly authentic approach to responding to all the comments.

I will subscribe to keep in the loop.

As a freelancer, is Salesforce too big ?

Imran
Guest
Imran

Hi guys,

I am salesforce admin+developer having 4 years experience in salesforce platform, I have done 4 end to end projects, If you have any work please let me know.

Thanks
Imran

Chris
Guest
Chris

Hi Brent, your post inspired me to take the leap and post on guru today and land my first freelance job. Surprisingly I got a response in just a few hours! How do you recommend accessing the client’s org? Should I have them create a user profile for me or is there a better way to go about it?

karl
Guest
karl

Hi Brent, Just wondering how much it costs to duplicate a salesforce account application to a new enterprise salesforce account? The original app is great, but, for a new business we need to duplicate it to then implement modifications to go in a different direction.

Pabby
Guest
Pabby

Hi Brent, Great article and useful for all of those looking to expand their career in freelancing. I have completed my 401 and 501 multiple choice test and waiting for assignment to get certification for 501. Do you think market is good for salesforce core developers who build VF pages and Apex code? Do you think there is enough opportunities for developers as most of the work is usually done using clicks and not code? In your experience do you think there is enough demand for such core developers? Do you think there is enough supply for such developers as… Read more »

Leonardo
Guest
Leonardo

Hi Brent:

First of all i really appreciate your comments in your blog, it really inspire, at least for me !
I have a question and is related to the projection for the salesforce platform, it means, it is for the next 5 year?, 10 Years ?? or it seems to be something that came to stay ??

Best Regards
Leonardo.

p nana
Guest
p nana

Hello,

I am an financial accountant and I recently pass my salesforce admin 201 certification form you post and trailhead. however, I do not know what to do next, everyone is asking for experience and I do not have that or a good resume for salesforce. can you help? where can I get good sample resume, how to find part-time or contract to gain some experience.

thank you for you post!

Kaustubh
Guest
Kaustubh

This is a great post and very precise. I have been in Salesforce for 3 years now, certified and all and working for a multinational. I am looking for some NGO work, basically to enhance my on-hand experience and to give it back to the community a bit. I am not looking for any monetary benefits as of now.
I live in Ireland and the market is a bit small, ye know. But I am trying to make contacts, reach newer SF clans.
Thanks for writing this article and sharing your insights.

Thanks
KL

A.W.
Guest
A.W.

Brent, Just reading through this article for the 2nd or 3rd time. I am a 3+ year end user, with 2 of those years being as one of a few admins in the organization, and handling automation and increased efficiency for my own team of users. i passed the 201 exam last week, and on a whim, made a Craigslist posting that got a bite. I feel pretty comfortable with the scope of work, but I have no idea how to estimate how long the project will take. Do you have any suggestions on how to go about estimating the… Read more »

diana moynihan
Guest
diana moynihan

… la la la… Did you every know that you’re my hero… la la la.. Seriously – in 3 Web Pages on your site you hit all my buttons! Wanted to know where to start with SF, wanted to know how to get started, and wanted to know how to ‘Free’ (Charge)Lance… unbelievable…. I am now your #1 Groupie!… Let me know how to connect!!!!!

Justin
Guest
Justin

When freelancing, do clients typically want you to be local (for training, ease of communication, etc)? Do you think it would be viable to live somewhere with a low cost of living (say, SE Asia) and work as a freelance consultant for firms in the US?

Rahiko
Guest
Rahiko

Hello Brent,

Major problem I face when hunting for some outsourced development work is the title ‘Consultant’.

Salesforce Consultant on the LinkedIn profile most of the time do development themselves. Whereas I am in search of a middlemen who would provide me work. How to go about solving this problem to get work for my firm.

Thanks in advance!

Rowalim Technologies
Guest

I am also associated withSalesforce Support, Salesforce Specialist, Salesforce Developer, Salesforce Support Specialist, and love to enjoy the stuff on the same as its rarely found on internet. Thanks again for writing such a good post.

Salesforce Consultant in Bangalore

Nalini
Guest
Nalini

I am from testing background and have functionally tested SFDC as a CRM Application and also as HRMS.
I want to get into freelancing and be an SFDC administrator. How do I start?

Nalini
Guest
Nalini

Hey Thanks Brent for a quick response!!

kimleonard
Guest

Become a freelance salesforce consultant is such a challenging for people who are looking to build their career. I hope that your tips help them to make their career as a freelance salesforce constant..

Josh
Guest
Josh

I am a relatively new SFDC admin with my company. I’m interested in opportunities in freelancing in the future, but how long might that take before my skills could be considered valuable for those looking to hire a freelancer? How much do I really need to know?

Manisha
Guest
Manisha

Hey Brent, This is a tremendously helpful post! I’ve been working in Salesforce for over three years as a BSA and hold five Salesforce certifications. I truly love working in Salesforce and for some time now have been seriously mulling over setting up a company but would like to get my feet wet first by moonlighting. You’ve provided some excellent pointers especially in terms of how to get the gigs!!! 🙂 Most important part of freelancing. You’ve recommended LinkedIn and a few freelancing sites. Any particular groups you would recommend to spread the word? Also, when starting out did you… Read more »

Natallia
Guest

Hello, Brent!
Your article is very helpful, thank you for sharing it!
However, I think that you could mention another freelance job board where it’s possibe to make a lot of money online. I’ve recently registered as a admin support freelancer there and can’t complain! There are high hourly rates, a multitude of freelance job opportunities in different areas, and this website doesn’t charge a commission from freelancers!

999drugs
Guest

Thank you for posting these directions, Brent. You are right, freelancing is an excellent option that can really offer great opportunities.

Robert Carlos
Guest

This is a very nice blog.

GSD company provides various facilities to its users like salesforce , salesforce consulting, pardot consulting and many more .

kimleonard
Guest

Becoming a freelance salesforce consultant is tricky for people who are looking to job in this field. I hope that this helps a lot..

Tyler
Guest

Brent! Great read.

Would you be willing to share any of your Service Agreements that your dad wrote for you? I feel like this is my next step and would love to see some examples specific to SFDC work.

Thanks!

Manish
Guest
Manish

Is it possible, specially for a Salesforce Admin, to find side work? Frankly speaking I’m confused as I talked to many people in various Salesforce role and they don’t think that side work is available for a Salesforce Admin? Could you please throw some light on this.

Thanks

Salesforce Consultant
Guest

Helpful post for those who are looking to work as a freelancer salesforce consultant.

Sam Phifer
Guest
Sam Phifer

Hey Brent, Fantastic and mentally stimulating article. This is a path that i’ve become more interested in as of late, at the same time how do you manage the interaction with ShellBlack and consulting on the side? Wouldn’t posting to LinkedIn pretty much be alerting your whole network, including current coworkers to the fact your current job isn’t enough? Thanks, Sam

Job Consultancy in Hyderabad
Guest

Thanks for sharing your information. I will be waiting for your further write.Thanks for sharing !

Cristiano Sinadino
Guest
Cristiano Sinadino

Thanks so much for the post. One of the reasons why I want to do freelance is to start deducting items off my taxes. At the moment, I am a full employee and I am only getting the standard deductions. What are your thoughts on becoming a legal entity and/or tax deductions ? Maybe you could point towards some online resources? Thank you in advance.

Emily Smith
Guest

Thanks so much for the post.

Annie
Guest
Annie

Do you have any recommendations about system requirements and hardware for setting up a home office for a freelance Salesforce Administrator/Developer? My laptop would work to start, but if I end up doing this longer term I’d like a better set up. My previous SF Admin experience was as a full time, in-office employee; so, I just worked with whatever computer they provided!

Thanks!

JobOnCloud
Guest

Much valuable info to specially for me.

We’re hiring Salesforce developer along with all salesforce industry profile across India specially in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Mumbai and so on.

SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!

SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!

Join the bomb diggity Admin Hero email list and never miss a post. Like, never ever!

Hizza! You're subscribed! Nothing but good times ahead!