roostervane academy
Close this search box.

$200/hr Expert? Here’s the Secret!

Photo by David Monje on Unsplash

I was listening to Tony Robbins this week. He was talking about being the best. 

Tony asks the audience, “What type of results do poor performers get?” 

“Poor results!!” The audience shouts 

“NO!” Says Tony. “Poor performers get no results. Zero. Perform poorly at your job and you get fired. Perform poorly in your relationships and you get dumped.”

Then Tony asks another question.

“What kind of results do you good performers get?” Asks Tony.

“Good results!!” Screams the audience. They’re feeling it now.  

“NO!!” Yells Tony. “Good performers get poor results.”

You see where this is going. 

This is how Tony broke it down: 

  • Poor performers = no results 
  • Good performers = poor results
  • Excellent performers = good results
  • Outstanding performers = ALL the results

The outstanding performers get ALL the results. 

(You can listen to it here if you want)

The best performers get all the results.

In my first post on consulting, I talked about three questions you need to ask for a successful business:

  1. What does your client want? 
  2. What makes you the best person to give it to them? 
  3. How can you convince them you’re the right person?

In that post, I talked about finding good problems. Consulting businesses are built on lucrative problems.

So let’s take #2 today. 

What makes you the best person to solve a client’s problems? 

Or, how do you become that outstanding performer? 

How can you be a top consultant who bills $100, $200, or even $400 an hour!? (Yes, I know someone who bills $400/hr.) 

How can you solve problems at $10k, $50k, or $100k a pop? 

I want to talk about how to become the best AND why you don’t need to be intimidated by being the best.  

And I’ll show you how to get the edge in your field so you can HONESTLY say you’re the best (or one of the best). 

The insecure elephant in the room

Let’s talk about that elephant in the room, the monster of insecurity. We look out at a world where so many people seem to have it figured out. 

I want to create content. I’m looking at Simon Sinek and Brené Brown and Gary Vee–all people who seem to have their shit figured out more than me. 

How could I possibly compete with them?

I could devote a whole post (or series) to conquering insecurity. 

But let’s just say this. Your goal is not to pump yourself up into some sort of fake (or real) guru status.

You can feel really good about calling yourself an expert and consulting on something.

IF you pick the problem and niche properly.

The two secrets to expert status 

  1. Understand the problem

In the last consulting post, I talked about how there’s only one metric that matters: getting your client what they want. 

Solving a problem. Problems like:

  • “We don’t have enough leads.”
  • “Our employees only last 2 months, then quit.”
  • “Our software is erasing users’ data.”
  • “We’re getting sued for illegal hiring practices.”
  • “Our content isn’t showing up on Google.”

Go back and read it if you haven’t. Because you’ll NEVER have a successful consulting business if you don’t understand the problems your clients have. 

Businesses don’t hire consultants for fun. Or out of the goodness of their hearts. 

They hire them to solve a problem.  

You can’t become the master of solving a problem you don’t understand. 

You’re not likely to guess what the problems are. But by doing some active listening and research, you can begin to figure them out. 

  • Read job postings, RFPs, etc. 
  • Scan LinkedIn for questions. 
  • Use digital tools (e.g. I can tell if a website has high or low traffic using a tool I like)
  • Create polls. 
  • Read industry magazines or blogs.
  • Watch relevant influencers or consultants on social media to see what they talk about.
  • Look at existing consultants to see what they’re selling.

By the way, if you know you want to consult in an industry but don’t know what the problems are, you might not be ready. You need to rapidly accelerate your grasp of that industry. 

You could network hard, go to industry events, and do your best to immerse in learning and training. 

Or, you might decide to get a job in your chosen industry for “paid training.” 

Some of the most successful consultants out there are using skills they developed in a job for years and even decades. 

  1. Niche

I grew up in a small town in the Canadian North. 5,000 people. And we had gods that walked among us. 

The dang hockey players. The small, local team was made up of a group of late teenagers who walked around like celebrities. They were recognized everywhere. They went to schools and signed stuff for kids. 

And yes, they had no trouble getting girls. (I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.) 

These boys walked tall with their team jackets and dirty teen staches. 

Put those hockey players in any major city in Canada and they wouldn’t have a chance at fame. They weren’t good enough. 

The fact that they were playing in my hometown at 18 meant–for most of them–this was the end of their careers. 

But it was a hell of a way to go! 

Every town has these kids. It might be the football players or the cheerleaders. 

We even developed an expression–that these types of people “peak in high school.” (And yeah, they often do). 

Here’s the lesson. 

In a small market, it’s easier to be the best. It’s easier to stand out. 

That’s why it’s easier to be the best Ford dealer in Duluth than to be the best car dealer in America. 

Shrinking your market makes it easier to win. 

You could do this with geography. You might just focus on being the best in your city. 

But another way to do this is with niche. 

I tell a lot of people I’m a writer. What the heck does that even mean?

 Does that mean I’m the next Hemingway? 

Or do I write the instruction pamphlets for Tylenol bottles? 

A lot of would-be consultants make this mistake. They choose niches that are way too big. When I see something like: 

  • Marketing expert
  • UX consultant
  • Freelance writer
  • Scientific researcher

I’m looking at someone who has no idea who they actually serve. They’re casting a wide net and praying a few whales will fall in. 

They won’t. 

Consultants who are specific get clients. 

Shrinking your niche will help you win. 

How this works

When I started consulting, I took every gig I could find. I organized round tables. I did research. Wrote grant proposals. Did program evaluation. 

There’s no shame in that. This might happen to you too–or already has. 

Hopefully, as you go, you spot a valuable problem. A money problem. 

I landed on my money problem almost by accident. I found out from someone I knew a company was looking for an SEO writer and strategy advisor. 

I had a call with the CMO and realized I knew a ton about how to improve their website. 

My niche was born by accident. 

  • I work with SaaS companies: I had been working for universities and non-profits before. It was hard to get paid. The structures were archaic. I discovered tech companies pay well for my expertise. My tech clients are more flat as organizations–I don’t have to fight with egos, they just want to win. 
  • I do SEO writing: That means I write awesome, valuable content that helps a company show up on Google. There are lots of other marketing disciplines. Email marketing. CPC ads. Social media marketing. But I chose one.  

Even calling myself an “SEO Writer for SaaS Companies” is a relatively broad niche! 

But within this, I pick clients I think I can add value to. This means writing on things I know something about (which makes for better articles). There’s also a whole strategy side to what I do, but I’ll spare you the details for now.

Mixing niche + geography 

Some of the best expertise is born by mixing niche with geography. I live in Ottawa. You might know that this is the capital of Canada. 

Consultants here can make a full living specializing in Canadian government stuff that wouldn’t make sense in any other city. 

This combines niche and geography. 

Sometimes, choosing to master a niche that exists in a certain city or even country can be a way to win at expert status.

It’s hard to be the best accountant in the U.S.

It’s probably not hard to be the best accountant for $1 million- $5 million startups in Columbia, NC.  

Now focus on mastery

Once you’ve got a small enough niche, it becomes way easier to become a top player in it. 

  • You can focus your learning and growth to mastering that specific skill. For example, you might stop taking generic “writing” courses and take a “B2B email marketing” course.
  • You can spend time creating case studies and a portfolio for your target client. 
  • You can focus your networking on people in that space (or adjacent ones).
  • In some niches, you can work on thought leadership to become a known commodity. If your niche is small enough, this is totally doable (e.g. my Ottawa government consulting example). 

You might even choose jobs or unrelated consulting gigs that will move you toward the niche you want.

But if you don’t know what you want, you’ll never get it. 

Learn to become the best in that niche in every way you can. Don’t just network or take courses. Learn how to give clients massive results. 

Sunny Lenarduzzi is one of my favorite YouTubers. She became a powerhouse content creator who helps people use YouTube to grow a business. She talks about a book that changed her business: The One Thing.  

Written by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan the book’s premise is simple. You should “go small”. Stop chasing everything, and focus on what matters the most. 

The smaller you go, the more you can excel. 

We’ll come back to this next time. And I’ll talk about how to show that you’re the best. (Which is much easier if it’s true!)

Until then,


Read More:



Weekly articles, tips, and career advice