5 Steps to Working From Home As a Grant Writing Consultant

All of us at one time or another have experienced the loss of a job, being in transition or just plain don’t like the job we have. It’s a tough situation to be in but it also gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we can do differently in getting what we want from our next venture.

If you happen to be floating along in one of these less than desirable situations, let me challenge you to do some radical thinking – have you thought about ditching a job search altogether and creating your own job? Self-employment is the hottest trend according to U.S. Labor Statistics and nonprofit grant writing consulting lends itself beautifully to working from home, making money and contributing to society’s improvement.

I started my own grant writing consulting business as a desire and need to be a stay-at-home working mom. There were just a few things that I needed to happen. One, I needed to make money. That was a given. Second, I wanted flexibility to work my job from home. And, three, I still wanted to contribute to the good of society by continuing my work in nonprofit.

In order to be a successful grant writing consultant, I realized quickly that I was going to have to get five tools working for me. These are very important and they’ll work for you too. Think of yourself as the mechanic of your career. And what does every mechanic need? Tools! Get these tools into your toolbox and see the success that follows.

1. Have confidence in stepping outside of your comfort zone. No luck securing the job of your dreams? Try something new and different by working for you. Thousands of others (including yours truly) have taken the leap and never looked back. Everything and everyone has a starting point. If it’s something you’ve been wanting to try, don’t waste any more time. You don’t ever want to look back and say “I wish I would have…”

2. In becoming a grant writing consultant, first learn correct grant writing techniques that will win grants. Well, duh, you might say. All I’m advising is that you pay attention to who you place your trust in in learning the cornerstone of your new business. Remember that guy with the question mark suit that promised a bunch of free money from the government? He’s an example of who to avoid. Also, read and learn everything you can about this skill. There are many reputable folks that you can learn from. And, practice makes perfect like with anything else in life. Remember the first day on your current or last job and everything just seemed so new and strange? You get over that. For those of you with experience in grant writing, yay!, you get to skip this step and move on.

3. Build and sustain meaningful relationships. This holds true for just about everyone you come into contact with in your business. Get to personally know the folks at the offices of the grant funders that you’re making application to. Like you, they put their pants on one leg at the time and they’re there to help. Take an interest also in really getting to know the nonprofits you serve. Don’t just tell them what you can do for them – actively engage yourself in finding out what matters most to them. Not only is this a polite way to do business – it consistently attracts clients that pay you.

4. Effectively market yourself to attract clients. There are two ways to market yourself as a grant writing consultant – locally and virtually. And, no, you don’t have to be an aggressive marketer to attract potential customers. As a matter of fact, my personality just lends itself to a more soft-sale approach. I advise my clients to hang out where the business is. In this case, it will be where nonprofits gather. If you’re interested in working locally, check out your local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals ( http://www.afpnet.org ) and attend some meetings. All potential clients! Marketing virtually, of course, means establishing a website and connecting via social media for more clients. There are nonprofit groups on LinkedIn to engage in discussion and Twitter and Facebook are also good starting places.

5. Become known as the go-to person. You want to become known as the balm that will soothe your client’s pain. In time, you’ll learn to use speaking and other communication means to your advantage to establish this reputation and become a respected fixture in the grant writing world.

So, there you have it. If you’d like to learn more about the first steps in beginning your own career, be sure to visit my website and download a FREE copy of “You Can Become a Grant Writing Consultant.” You might also be interested in my step-by-step instructional program GRANTcoach – taking you from a grant writing novice into a successful consultant.