August 29, 2016

A Day In the Consultant's Life

What do I do all day long?

In my last post on Intentional Communities I got a request from Joshua Hardwick on what a “day in the life of a marketing consultant” looks like.

So here we are. If you’re curious what I do generally, head over to my consulting page which describes some of the things I do for work - but doesn’t give much of a sense of what I do day to day. The truth is that it varies wildly, but let’s try and give a sense. I’ve picked two days from the last few weeks, one quiet and one busy to try and outline the extremes.


This was a few weeks ago, just as I was about to launch Yes! and… (more on why I didn’t do that here).

9am I headed into the city for coffee with a friend of a friend who works at a B2B SAAS startup here in NYC. Their situation is all too common - they’ve hit a certain level of scale and success but with very little focus on marketing - so they’re looking to bring on their first VP marketing (actually their second - again, a very common story where they cycle through several VP marketing people before finding one they like).

11am Back in Brooklyn and working at 61 Local (the best place to get work done during the day in my neighborhood). Of course, by “working” here I’m actually just working on Yes! and - sending the site around to my friends and asking for feedback.

Noon Headed to the YMCA to play some daytime hoops. With work being a little bit slower and nothing on the agenda for Friday afternoon I took the opportunity to get some exercise in. The best advice I’ve been given about being independent is to make the most of the slow times, when it gets busy there’s no time for daytime basketball so make the most of it! I remember I drained a bunch of 3s but kept getting burned by a point guard who was just better than me. Highs and lows.

3pm A quick phonecall with a potential client to see if there would be a fit. Turns out their budget is very small and all they want is some help setting up a Facebook ads account so I pass them on to a friend who does that kind of thing and move on. I jam out some more work at 61 Local and I’m done for the day. It’s Friday after all.


I landed a new client in August where I’m helping them open a new office here in NYC. Busy busy.

9am Jam out some emails first thing (9am tends to be my new first thing despite getting up around 6.30 most days with Roxy…). My inbox gets out of control easily and I have dedicated email addresses for some of my clients where I’m embedded in their organization so chasing inbox zero is a never ending task.

10am - 5pm Head into the city to meet with the client. Helping them set up an office is fun work - it allows me to get involved in multiple parts of the business. This day involved:

  • Running 3 interviews, side by side with the client to help us both get a handle on how the client hires, and to collaboratively discuss the candidates. This work allows me to get the information I need to feel out potential candidates on my own in the future so it’s important work. One of these senior candidates is actually currently a chief traffic officer at their current role so the interview morphs into almost a back and forth learning session which is fun.
  • Putting together a strategy deck for the client. The project started off with a few days of workshopping to help define and add structure to the strategy and this has informed what roles we need to hire for. I’m treating the deck like ongoing scaffolding for the work we’re doing so as we move into hiring and sourcing the new team I’m keeping the deck up to date and refining it. The deck is currently in draft mode and has lots of holes, but I know consistently pushing and molding the deck into something more polished will be useful for us as an articulation of our strategy so I’m mostly pushing it forward on my own steam.

6pm I made it home around 6 to catch Roxy for bathtime and bedtime! Trying to make this a habit.

8pm - 11pm Being onsite with a client is usually pretty exhausting, as you’re talking and working every minute of the day, there’s little time for downtime or checking twitter. So I’m tired but I have one more thing to ship for the day - another client of mine is launching a complicated SEO test and I’m running point on designing the experiment and setting up tracking. Setting up tracking involves writing a Python script to pull data from the search console. My python skills are rusty so this led to this tweet storm. Erin and I end up eating dinner outside on the balcony at 9.30pm with my laptop next to me as I watch my python script scroll through data. Finally after basically mashing keys randomly I manage to get the python script to work, grab the data and crash for the night.

What does your day look like?

If you’re also independent and “doing your own thing” what does a sample of your day to day look like? Would love to hear from you ↓↓

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This post was written by Tom Critchlow - blogger and independent consultant. Subscribe to join my occassional newsletter: