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How to Work from Home as an Online Retail Consultant

How to Work from Home as an Online Retail ConsultantOnline shopping is the mainstream trend both for large companies and small entrepreneurs. Some online stores operate as independent websites, while others take advantage of platforms such as Etsy or Amazon, which offers them the support of a thriving community and an established brand name.

And many of these ecommerce websites need help to grow their sales, establish their own brand name and become more visible on search engines and the social media. All these entrepreneurs need an online retail consultant. And it could be you, working from home as a freelancer or home-based business owner.

What Does an Online Retail Consultant Do?
An online retail consultant or ecommerce consultant evaluates an online store and recommends strategies for:
⦁ Improving and upgrading the design
⦁ Scaling and improving the website functionality
⦁ Increasing the visibility of the website by a sound SEO strategy
⦁ Improving the user experience by making navigation more user friendly
⦁ Optimizing the entire shopping experience by simplifying the checkout process;
⦁ Improving the security of online payments by choosing reputable payment processors.

Online retail consultants work either on individual projects or as long-term consultants for clients who want to keep their website permanently optimized for the best shopping experience for their customers.

If this type of activity is exactly what you are good at and passionate about, this is what you need to know about working from home as an online ecommerce consultant:

1. Get Certified
A simple Google search will show you that you have lots and lots of competition in the niche of online consulting, both from companies and individual freelancers. So, any potential client will look for credentials before they decide to hire an online consultant.

Certification is important – even if it is in the form of a diploma from an online training organization. Look at the types of certifications held by other freelancers or home-based business owners in this niche, and try to obtain them too.

2. Build a Portfolio
Most certainly, you have past experience in optimizing ecommerce websites, or even running your own. List all the relevant projects you have worked on, either independently or as an employee. Discuss with your former employer before you list the clients you have worked for, because they may have included confidentiality clauses in the agreement with their clients. Do not post work references without this clearance, you may be taken to court for breach of your former employment agreement.

3. Determine the Price for Your Services
The majority of online retail consultants price their service on an hourly basis. Others will negotiate a price per project. As a beginner, you may not charge a lot per hour, plus your initial engagements will be short projects. Thus, you will probably make more money by negotiating a price per project.

As you gain more customers and more credibility as a freelance professional, you will get hired for longer term projects for customers, which you should price per hour.

4. Speak in Terms Understandable to Your Clients
Some of your clients will not be tech savvy – that is exactly why they need your services. When you work for these customers, try to explain to them what you advise them to do, or the actions you will take with respect to their websites, in simple words which they can understand. They do not need a magician with a wand or an obscure guru, but a full understanding of what you propose to do to improve their websites. This is their own business, after all, and they need to feel that they are still in control of it.

5. Ask for Testimonials and Credentials
Your happy clients will have no reserve to give public testimonials about your work. They may even post a credential in the footer of their web pages (“website optimized by…” with a link to your website). So, even if you have just started your activity as an online retail consultant, do not be afraid to ask for testimonials and credentials for your work. They will help you grow your reputation and find new customers.

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5 Characteristics of a Successful Online Consultant

5 Characteristics of a Successful Online ConsultantOffering online consultancy is one of the most frequent internet home business models. It is so popular because there are a lot of people who are specialized on a specific topic for which there is a market demand, and it requires a minimum upfront investment. While for other types of home businesses the entrepreneur has to invest in various devices, equipment and inventory, for consultancy all you need is your set of skills, a computer, a website and the ability to promote yourself.

And this is the reason we have so many home-based consulting businesses – but it does not mean that they are all successful. The reason why some people are more successful than others is not the lack of marketing strategy, but simply that their personality does not fit the ideal profile of a consultant. Basically, a consultant offers advice to other people. In order to do this successfully, you have to inspire confidence and to offer the guarantee of your expertise and track record, either as an independent consultant or as an employee for reputable companies.

Defining the Profile of a Successful Online Consultant
So, what does it take to be a great consultant? We will take a look at the top 5 characteristics of online consultants. They are valid not only for independent business owners, but also for stellar employees in major consultancy companies. Without further ado, these are the characteristics which make you a successful online consultant:

1. Own Your Expertise
You cannot be a consultant before you ace at your profession, be it in tax, accountancy, career orientation, legal or business advisory. You must stay continually up to date with the latest developments in your niche, and be always ready to tackle complex situations and offer a pertinent solution to them.

Before you consider opening a consultancy home business, you should get certifications for your skill. These will help you gain more authority and use in your marketing and promotional materials. When they have to opt between two consultants, people will choose the consultant who holds more certifications and evidence of competence.

2. Have People Skills
As a consultant, you will have to deal with a lot of people. Some of them are friendlier, while others are more direct and brusque. Some will explain their issues clearly, others will get lost in details. You have to understand all of them, provide clear explanations to them, and communicate efficiently with them. If you are in general a sociable person, and you are able to connect with people you have just met, then you have what it takes to be a successful consultant.

3. Be Resourceful
As a consultant you will have a large variety of problems put before you. You need to have a quick and flexible mindset and find creative situations for your clients’ issues. There is also another aspect to consider. In many cases, people will resort to an online consultant at the last possible moment. This means that you will be required to find a solution in a very short time. This is where your resourcefulness will be very necessary – to salvage a complex situation with virtually no time to spare.

4. Ask the Right Questions
There is a saying that the only silly question is the one you did not ask. If you are not certain that you understood the client’s situation, do not be afraid to ask. It will not reflect negatively on your expertise and competence. However, presenting a solution which does not fit the problem because you did not understand it completely will certainly hurt your reputation.

5. Have a Strong Sense of Ethics
Some of the people and situations you will meet with will be quite out of the ordinary. You may feel that they make a great story to share with family and friends over dinner. Or worse, share on your Facebook personal profile. If you feel justified to do so, even under the cover of anonymity, then you need to reevaluate your work ethic. A good consultant will keep their clients’ cases completely confidential, no matter what.

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