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Advanced Freelancing

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Now displaying: August, 2020
Aug 31, 2020

Have you developed a toxic working relationship with yourself?  In this episode, I discuss the power of rest and share the importance of time off, both scheduled and unscheduled, where you're able to just decompress from your business.

You’ll learn how taking time off allows you to feel rejuvenated and recharged and show up as strong as possible for your business and your clients.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • How to avoid burnout by taking time off
  • Why taking time off is essential for you to be able to grow your business
  • Taking time off gives you the mental and physical capacity where you're excited to work on your clients' projects
  • Why you should keep track of your time
  • Discover how you are really procrastinating on a lot of projects or taking a lot of time on things that didn't need to take so long
  • The importance of establishing creative ways to step back from your business
  • How to know if you are treating yourself like a boss or a worker
  • Discover if you have developed a toxic working relationship with yourself
  • Why you need to review the last year, decide what you want the following year to look like, and put some immediate stop gaps in your schedule
  • How getting out of the office triggers creativity and new thinking processes
  • How the power of rest is essential physically and emotionally for you to feel rejuvenated and recharged
  • Why the more you run yourself down, the more exhausted you're going to be for your business and for your clients
  • How you can show up as strong as possible for your business and your clients

Resources Mentioned:

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

 

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Read the Transcript:

(00:01):

Welcome back to another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast. I'm recording this episode in August, which historically has been a month that I have usually taken off from freelancing or scaled things down to a very part-time status. And there's a reason for that, right after freelancing for eight years, there are certain months of the year that are just slower than others. And I usually record episodes around this time of year about how to recalibrate, how to look at your work samples, how to take a step back. Um, you prepare yourself for the busy fall season, but this year, I also think it's more important than ever to think about taking time off from your business, particularly because the pandemic has really shifted what that looks like for so many families. And it's very possible that you've been working remotely for years, but now your spouse is suddenly at home or your kids are at home and the school schedule is all different and it becomes very easy when everyone's in the house doing work for it to feel like all you ever do is work and that you're working constantly all the time.

(01:03):

And that's a really vicious cycle that can set you up for burnout. So in this podcast episode, I want to talk a little bit about how to take time off both longer stretches and also on a more ongoing basis to step away from your business. I've dealt with burnout multiple times as a freelancer, as an employee. I've seen it from so many different perspectives, but I've also coached many of the freelancers that I work with. One-on-one about what burnout looks like for them and how to guard against it, or to take that step back when you realize that you are entering into burnout so that you can put in place some proactive measures to avoid going into that again in the future, but also to make it a little bit easier on yourself in the moment. Now, one of the most important things you can do to guard against burnout is to take regular time off in your business.

(01:54):

And not just time when you're at stepping out and going on a vacation, right? I mean the whole idea of travel and vacation has pretty much been obliterated as a result of the pandemic. And so if you have a spouse that works in a traditional situation, they've probably accumulated a lot of vacation days, but you and your family don't feel comfortable traveling just yet. And so you've probably gotten into the habit since, you know, the end of February 2020, when all this started of working as much as possible. Even if it's not just in your business, you might also be balancing that with family responsibilities and taking care of your kids or even homeschooling and doing some of these other things. And plenty of us freelancers feel so grateful just to have clients at this moment in time because we know that the pandemic has not affected all freelancers equally.

(02:42):

And so there's a hesitancy against getting rid of some clients. And so most people are keeping these projects going. They're looking for new projects, they're trying to build in some of that financial stability, especially if another income earner in their house has lost their position or is working on decreased hours or anything like that. But you can see how all of these things line up for a perfect storm for you to become overworked and burned out. Even if you've had pretty good habits in the past. There's a lot of different things here that could set you up to not take time off from your business, right? And you might feel that increasing pressure like Laura, how can you say that? How can I take time off now when it's more important than ever that I keep my business afloat, that I work really hard to keep these contracts open, and to make my clients feel like it's a value add for them to

(03:32):

Stick with me, lots of smaller businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and no doubt that's been reflected in marketing budgets. And so when we go into that restrictive mode with our finances, it feels as though you shouldn't take time off or that you can't take time off because there are so many other things on your plate and you feel that pressure to essentially continue performing and trying to keep things at that higher level so that you have some protection and some padding, if any, one of your clients were to cancel that you still have some other projects and retainers that are going on, but taking time off is essential for you to be able to grow your business. And also to show up with the mental and physical capacity where you're excited to work on your clients' projects. So, several years ago, I was working with a business coach who saw that I was putting in way too many hours.

(04:25):

I mean, I had kind of fudged down the number of hours I was actually working per week and she challenged me to keep track of it for one week to see what I was really doing. And so I used a manual timer, toggle.com, which is a tool I often recommend to other people, whether you're using it to time things for clients or for your own purposes. And I saw that I was really putting in between 50 and 60 hours a week. And the weird thing about it was I didn't really need to be doing that. I just felt more purposeful when I was working. I tend a little bit towards the workaholic spectrum already. So I know it's something that I have the propensity to do, but I could not remember the last time I had taken a sick day or that I had really just taken a day off to not do anything, right.

(05:10):

Like I would take a day off of client projects to go do a speaking event or to do something related to, you know, book, promotion or something like that. But I had never really taken a full day off unless were specifically taking vacation and I was fully disconnected like on a cruise ship or something like that. And one of the things this business coach said to me that really struck me in that moment was that I was as a boss, treating myself very abusively, like a worker. And that I had actually developed this really toxic working relationship with myself as far as like Laura, the boss, and Laura, the business owner who was trying to, you know, structure what it would look like to run a freelance business. And then also Laura, who was working inside the business, and this is a really dangerous and potentially toxic cycle.

(06:01):

And, um, when she suggested that I cut my hours, you know, my reaction was about what you'd expect. It was a lot of resistance. And so I get it if you're in that position and you're feeling like world events are telling you to do anything but step back, but it is absolutely critical that you start thinking about how you take time off from your business and not just that one or two weeks of vacation a year. We don't know what vacation is going to look like in the coming months. It's definitely not going to look like how travel did before we, we don't know when things, or if things will calm down in the near future. Um, you know, there may be members of your family who do feel comfortable traveling and others who don't. And so you have to be able to come up with creative ways to step back from your business.

(06:42):

And so from that example of talking with my business coach a couple of years ago, I could not foresee taking off entire days. It just felt really, really impossible for me. And so she issued me a challenge that for two weeks, I had to finish all of my work by 2:00 PM. And then I had to have some form of an appointment outside the house to go, you know, really literally forced myself to stop at 2:00 PM. And it felt very uncomfortable to do this at first. And then I realized that I was really procrastinating on a lot of projects or taking a lot of time on things that didn't need to take that long. And so, only one or two of those days across a two week period, did I really feel that time crunch? You know, it would be like 1:23 in the afternoon and I'd be kind of sprinting towards the finish line to hurry up and do what I needed to do before the next day.

(07:33):

But it was a really helpful exercise for me to see that I could take time off from my business and that it really was possible. And it also opened my eyes a lot to the projects that I was working on, that wouldn't fit into a new schedule of me taking some more time off. So even though it's hard right now to imagine getting out of your house, it is one of the easiest tips to help you really begin to take time away from your business, particularly if you can be away from your laptop and your phone. So this can be going to a state park and being socially distant, lots of things where you can go outside and you can get some fresh air and there's no need, or it's really difficult to bring along technology. I think that really helps to break the habit a little bit and you might not be able to do entire days at first, right?

(08:19):

You might need to say I'm taking Friday afternoons off every week for the next month and see how that goes for you. And then once you feel like that's possible, you might take that step back and think about more regularly taking time off in your business in a different way. Now I've usually taken more time off in August and in December because they do tend to be slow freelance periods. And you'll hear some coaches say, well, you can do business anytime. And that's definitely true, but I'm not going to try to work really hard during months when I just have eight years of data showing me that it's the hardest to get clients anyways. And so I'm not going to like push myself through something like that, just to say, Oh yeah, I can get clients on Christmas day or whatever. Right? So that's been one way that I've really helped to break myself away from the workaholic tendencies is by saying, I'm going to try to schedule the most of my downtime around when it tends to be quiet with freelancing clients anyways, so that not only will, I feel like my schedule is open enough with my current client load, but I won't feel like I'm losing opportunities by stepping away during the months when I'd be unlikely to get a new client anyways.

(09:30):

And that's made it a lot easier for me. And it's given me some touchpoints throughout the year to look forward to the fall is such a busy season. And then it kind of tapers off around Christmas. Right? But knowing that maybe August isn't going to be so difficult of a month and December is going to be kind of light and just, you know, reviewing the last year and thinking about what you want the following year to look like gives you some breathing room mentally and put some immediate stop gaps in your schedule to be able to do this. Now, one of the ways that I coached one of my coaching clients to do this was, she said, you know, for years, I've just wanted to take off two weeks around the holidays. I've just wanted to like to close my office, like the week before Christmas, all the way through new years.

(10:11):

And so I said, just do it like this is like August or September. Go ahead and block it in your calendar now that you are on vacation and start thinking now about what do you need to do a couple of months out to be prepared to really take those two weeks and enjoy them, even if it is a staycation. So you do want to notify your clients of things like this. You want to make sure you've turned in all things early with those kinds of deadlines. And, um, you want to really feel like when you get to that point, you're not racing against the clock and you're ready to just disconnect from your office. Odds are fires and emergencies, and really big problems are not going to pop up while you step out of your business for a certain period of time, whether for you that's a day.

(10:53):

And that barely feels manageable right now, or whether it is something like two weeks where you're hoping to disconnect when it comes to taking time off from your business, you need to just write it down, make it a reality, put it in your calendar. You know, if you're still working full time and you're looking to have some time off from both your side hustle and your day job, you need to request that time off, have it on the calendar, you know, have plans of, you know, what you're going to do. Maybe you picked a really busy park to go to and you want to avoid the crowds. And so you're, pre-purchasing your parking pass. And, um, anything else you need to get there? And you're packing a picnic lunch the night before to really solidify like, yes, I'm doing this. I'm not going to wake up and feel like, well, it would be easier if I just stayed home today and I could get some extra work done.

(11:41):

So it's really important when taking time off to get out of your office, as much as possible new environments can trigger all kinds of great creativity and new thinking processes that will allow you to feel rejuvenated. And if you're on the edge of burnout, spending more time in your home office is not going to make that any better, right? In most cases, just going to make it much, much worse. And so take some time to step away. Even if that's, you know, visiting a family member that, you know, has also been social distancing and you can drive there or going away to a cabin or taking an RV or something like that, where you can disconnect from your business and really break away. And for me, like I said, it's been easiest to do this in situations where technology is just not accessible or is such a pain that it's a problem to do, right?

(12:30):

So if like I'm camping in a cabin, that's pretty isolated and rural, they might have wifi, but the fact that it's probably terrible wifi makes it easier for me to say, you know what? I really don't need my computer this weekend. There's nothing that's going to be urgent enough or important enough for me to feel like I want to drag my computer out and work on really slow wifi. Now, I really believe that every quarter you should be taking at least a couple of days off, if it's easier for you at first to have those be planned days where you've got appointments, where you've got specific things doing that can help you. We're definitely living in unprecedented times where you can't really schedule things like a massage or a weekend getaway or a couple of day cruise, right? So you still need to honor that time off in your calendar.

(13:20):

However, I find it to be helpful to kind of balance my days between things where I have stuff planned for my days off, relaxing activities, exercise being outdoors. And then also just days where I don't have anything planned and where it's totally okay to wake up and read a book or binge-watch a TV show all day. If you have been working really, really hard now, one resource I want to share with you before I wrap up, I recently interviewed this author for my other podcast and he was absolutely incredible. And I love his book and he talks a lot about the power of rest and how it's not just something that people say to help you prevent burnout. It is really essential physically and emotionally for you to feel rejuvenated and recharged. And the more you run yourself down, the more exhausted you're going to be for your business and for your clients.

(14:09):

And that's ultimately going to start to show in the results or in the way that you show up for those clients. And so building rest in and being very proactive about it, benefits everyone across the board. So one thing I want to challenge you to do is to sit down right now and take a look at your upcoming calendar and see if there are, you know, two days that you can take off in the next six weeks that you're going to go ahead and actually block out on your calendar. And I like to look for days that don't have a lot of things scheduled already. That makes it easier for me to be like, Oh good. I don't have to bump any meetings. Now, this book that I'm going to recommend to you is called The Passion Paradox by Brad Stulberg. He's also written a book about peak performance. He works with a lot of athletes and tells some really incredible stories in both of those books that are primarily based on athletes but have so much crossover to business owners that I cannot recommend them enough. He really talks about these cycles of rest as being essential, to working at your highest level of performance. And that is certainly true for entrepreneurs. And so you need to do more than just give yourself permission to rest. You need to be proactive about how you build it into your calendar, and it can't just be

(15:22):

Vacations that you take a couple of times a year when the kids are off school. And when it's easy for your spouse to step away, you also need time, both scheduled and unscheduled time where you're able to just decompress from your business and not have things that are making you feel pressurized. And you don't need to explain this to anyone like your subcontractors or people in your digital team or your clients. You can just say, I will be out of office on Friday, September 30th and, you know, put an autoresponder up for that particular day and start small, right? And really honor those commitments that you make to yourself. I always like to look at my monthly calendar at a glance and start to see where I might have some opportunities to take that time off so that I can really hold myself accountable and make sure that it's spaced out.

(16:11):

Now, I'm recording this episode after taking three solid days off last week. And I can't tell you how much it was needed. I was actually really disappointed in myself that I hadn't taken time off that off like that in the recent past.  I had taken, you know, days off to go do other things or to handle other meetings or presentations or, you know, in February to go to the pod Fest conference. But I hadn't ever actually taken some days since the pandemic started to just decompress and to have nothing on my calendar. And I felt so good coming back to work on Monday. I felt like my mind was clear and that means you're going to show up as strong as possible for your business and for your clients. So if it's been a while, since you've taken some time off, you have a clear action step from this episode that can really drive you towards doing that.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Aug 24, 2020

Are you sending tons and tons of pitches, but converting no clients? I see this so often, and today I am sharing the things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients.

You’ll learn why the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful, and when to listen or lead the call.  I will teach you how to address what the client needs to hear, deal with potential objections, and create a sense of urgency that will get them to take immediate action.

You will discover the value of nonbillable time, calculate your return on investment, and how to collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • Things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients
  • Why the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful
  • When to listen or lead the sales call
  • How to turn a potential client’s language around, into a persuasive and conversion based conversation
  • How to show up as the authority and credible freelancer that you are
  • How conversion is really about being as efficient and effective as possible
  • Why you should be earning more by doing less
  • Why you need to balance your optimal client and project load with a related amount of pitching and sales time
  • How to assign a value to your time and calculate your return on investment
  • The importance of having a streamlined system for doing the research, writing the pitch and sending it
  • How to collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions
  • How to learn their pain points, you can improve your conversions by aligning your solution to their biggest priority or their biggest pain point.
  • Pro-tip: Give them a clear line of sight between the challenges they're facing right now and the services or products you offer
  • How to deal with potential objections, by leveraging all of the experience that you have
  • Why you should give them a reason to take action now
  • Why you should send proposals that have deadlines in them

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Read the Transcript:

(00:01):

Hey, advanced freelancing listeners. I'm so glad to have you with me and thanks so much whether you're tuning in for the very first time, or you've been a long time listener today, we're talking about one of my absolute favorite subjects, something that I love to geek out about, and that is conversions. But first, if you haven't yet checked out my upcoming second book, the six-figure freelancer I encourage you to do. So I'm so excited about this book. I put a ton of work into it. If you've listened to some of my past episodes, you know, this is the book that I wanted to sell. First, the book I've been brainstorming for over four years, and I'm so excited that it's finally coming to reality. Um, one of the things that I love the most about the book is that I interviewed 19 other six-figure freelancers about their best tips and tricks.

(00:46):

So you're really getting a book that has experience and insight and knowledge from over 20 freelancers who have done the thing. And aren't just saying it from, you know, one month of experience or something crazy like that. Um, sometimes I see people in the freelance space that are like, Hey, I'm selling a course because I've been freelancing for two months. So I know everything, right. I knew going into writing the book that it did not all need to come from me. And it probably shouldn't right. It's important to think about the diversity in the freelance space and the different ways that people approach their freelance business. And I worked really hard to make sure that that was included in this book. So check out sixfigurefreelancebook.com by pre-ordering the book which drops on October 20th, you will get four exclusive bonuses delivered to your email inbox.

(01:30):

On October 1st, you can check out the website to learn more about how that process works. I'm pumped for you to read it. So I hope you're just as excited to. Now, today. I want to talk a little bit about conversions and things that you need to keep in mind when you are talking to clients. So I think one of the things that really boils down to sort of a failure point with conversions is a failure to do two of the most important things. When you get on the phone call with a client, the phone call with a client is a crucial pinch point in your ability to be successful. And it's so important. In fact, that it's one of the things I regularly do with my six-figure coaching clients. We do mock sales calls where I act like the most difficult freelance client. I ask them all the hard questions we record it, I give them feedback and then they go back and listen to it later and use the strategies that they've picked up to improve their process.

(02:24):

And I've also created the Sales Call Masterclass with this in mind because there are so many freelancers who struggle with this particular problem. So if you're interested specifically in improving your sales call techniques, what questions you should be asking the full end to end process, and why sales calls can really turn your conversions around, check out laurateachesyou.com and look for the sales call masterclass. It's one of my favorite things that I've created recently because honestly, I love doing sales calls. I think that's where I close most of my business. So I look forward to doing them when they're with the right clients. So of the most important things that you have to hang back and wait to see which one of them you need to lean into for better conversions is listen or lead. And this will depend on the type of client that you get on the phone.

(03:10):

If you've cold pitched a client and you caught their attention with a great subject line and a great concept, that's awesome, but they might not necessarily know why they really need the service that you offer. Furthermore, your email might have been forwarded around to different people. And so the person who's ending up on the call with you might not understand the value proposition fully. That's a great example of a time when you would show up to the call and you would lead the conversation, right? Because it's very unlikely that they're going to kick off the call in any way that's going to be meaningful. They're probably going to be like, so tell me more about you, right? And they don't want your personal history or backstory when they ask that they're unsure of why they're on the call. And so this early point of the call is your chance to step into the leadership role and drive the conversation by asking important questions and talking about what you do.

(04:01):

Now, if you're on the phone with the other type of client who knows what they want and is potentially comparing you to other solutions, then you want to listen. We listen in this case because clients often give us excellent information about what we need to know in that immediate conversation and in the proposal that follows up the phone call or in the suggestions that we make after the fact. So if they're ready to drive the call and you're going to step into that listener seat, do it consciously and take notes, listen to how they describe the problems and challenges they're having listen to how they describe where they want to go. And the goals that they have for the business. You can turn a lot of that language around, into a persuasive and conversion based conversation after the fact. So for example, imagine they kick off the call by saying, we're looking for somebody who's going to help us with our Google ad pay-per-click campaign.

(04:57):

It's really not performing as well as we expected. It seems like some things are broken in there. That information is golden to you when you are in the listener seat because you know exactly what pain points you need to hit on as you steer that conversation, when it does get to your turn. So knowing when to listen and when to lead is not something that you can always predict before the call, sometimes your early conversations and communication with the client will indicate which way the call is going to go, but you need to be prepared for it to go either direction. So you need to be prepared when you get on that call to see if there's anyone else who's stepping up to lead the flow of that conversation. And if there isn't, then you need to be prepared with the questions like the ones I've outlined in the sales call masterclass to drive that conversation and really show up as the authority and credible freelancer that you are so listening, uh, failing to listen or failing to lead can throw off the entire conversation, right?

(05:58):

And it's not a perfect science. You've kind of got to hop on that call and see which direction it's going so that you can know which of those roles you're going to step into. So let's talk a little bit about conversion. Conversion is really about being as efficient and effective as possible. Earning more by doing less. It's also about balancing your optimal client and project load with a related amount of pitching and sales time. That makes sense. One mistake that I see lots of scaling and even new freelancers make is they recognize that they need to put a lot of time into their marketing and pitching, but they're not really tracking how well that is performing. So one exercise I like to take people through is asking them if you were to assign a value to your time and consider the time that you put into crafting a pitch as an expense, how much are you spending on the pitching process each week or month?

(06:56):

And what percentage of that translates to a landed client? So this is really a question of return on investment. Sometimes cold pitching is kind of viewed as like the Holy grail of landing new clients. And by that I simply mean you're not responding to an Upwork job post you're reaching out to a company and pitching your services directly to them for the purpose of opening a conversation with a decision-maker. However, you can really go down the wrong direction by spending seven hours to write a pitch that doesn't land in any business. And I see this all the time in other freelance Facebook groups where people are like, I'm sending tons and tons of pitches, but I'm converting no clients. And it's like, you can't afford to be spending seven hours per pitch. You've got to have a streamlined system for doing the research, writing the pitch and sending it because if you're spending a ton of your time and none of it is converting, that's not a good situation.

(07:52):

Every freelancer is going to have billable and nonbillable time. So your billable time is when you're working on client projects and you're going to get paid for that work. Your nonbillable time is you're pitching your admin, you're giving instructions to your team members. So think of it this way. If you typically charge $50 an hour and you spend five hours on a pitch and a related phone call but didn't land the gig. That process essentially costs you $250 as a one-off experience. That's not so bad, right? Because nobody has perfect conversions and you're not going to win every potential job that you bid on. However, if that's happening all the time, you're essentially spending lots of money in terms of the time and prep that you're doing for those potential projects. And you're not getting the payoff. So there are two primary variables that can help improve that situation, reduce the time that is spent per pitch or land more gigs.

(08:51):

And the second one is really the sweet spot and the heart of the, of conversions. So one thing that I think many freelancers skip over, right, and something that I did from day one and I still do today because I find it to be helpful is to keep a spreadsheet of how you're pitching, who you're pitching and whether or not it's working out. You do not need to pay for expensive software to do this. You can use an Excel or Google sheet, and you can use columns like potential client's name, useful information about the prospect, the date you pitched them, the date, you scheduled a call, a key takeaways from that call a followup date, or even an outcome. This is where you collect your data and make data-driven decisions to improve your conversions. So look for ways to make your process so much more efficient as well.

(09:44):

You can pull a lot from the effectiveness data, but look for opportunities to make things more efficient. Overall one great example of this is template pitches and sending samples that are aligned with each of your core service offerings. You go back and listen to the last episode for more information about creating work samples, automating your calendar template emails. These are some other ways to improve the efficiency of your process by reducing the amount of time that you spend per pitch. It is not useful to have an email going back and forth with the CEO. Hey, are you free on Tuesday? Yeah, let's do Tuesday at 9:00 AM. Well, is that mountain time, or is that central time? Not a good use of anybody's time. So have a calendar link where the call can be booked quickly and easily with the client so that we can minimize your time spent as well as theirs because it really matters.

(10:40):

So conversions depend a lot on a couple of different things. First of all, you've got to have a rock-solid pitch and your pitch should be aligned with the services you're going to discuss on the call. If there's a disconnect, the client will feel it and won't be bought in. As I mentioned earlier, you want to understand the pain points and the priorities of the client by doing things like putting out a pre-call survey, asking them at the kickoff of the call or analyzing the words they used in their job post, it's a really powerful sales strategy to rephrase their words, to avoid misunderstandings. And it also gives them a great chance to elaborate so that you can further clarify what's most relevant for them. Once you know their pain points, you can improve your conversions by aligning your solution to their biggest priority or their biggest pain point.

(11:31):

And here's a pro tip. Give them a clear line of sight between the challenges they're facing right now and the services or products you offer. That's true even if there is a long road to the finish line, the client already probably knows that, and doesn't need to know every detail about how you'd approach the project. So if you break it down for them in a 17 step process, and you do that on a phone call, the client only feels overwhelmed. So give them the even right more limited version of what that looks like for you, so that they feel confident that you can handle it. But also that it's not going to be a big beast of a project that has the potential to go off course. Another key area to improve conversions is by dealing with potential objections, by leveraging all of the experience that you have.

(12:21):

This is a core thing. I go over in the sales call, master class, talking about most common objections that come up and how you can pivot around them or how you can clear up client misunderstandings around the idea of the objection that they brought up, right? Like sometimes they're just not clear about a certain thing and it's all in how you handle the response to the question. You can even have a client that seems like an absolute, no go based on the objections that they're raising. And you have ways to maneuver around that, where you can completely salvage the relationship. And sometimes those end up being really, really great clients. So another thing, that's important for the sake of conversions is introducing a sense of urgency where it is applicable. So giving them a reason to take action now, if that applies to them is really helpful.

(13:12):

Um, if you've ever been offered something and there wasn't urgency attached to it. So maybe you saw an ad on Facebook for something that was 27 bucks and you open that tab or you made a bookmark to buy it later. You didn't buy it that time because something was preventing you from moving forward with the sale. Or you didn't think that it was important enough. You could always buy it later, right? So that sense of urgency gives clients a reason to ask now. That's leaning into their pain points and convincing them that this is the right time to do it. Or it's putting some actual parameters on their eligibility to work with you, right? So this is why you send proposals that have deadlines in them. This is why you tell them, you know, I have the bandwidth. Now I can guarantee my availability for the next two weeks.

(13:56):

But after that, we need to reconnect. Now, obviously don't say those things. If they're complete lies, if you have no clients, don't tell somebody that you're fully booked, but you can still use that sense of urgency. In other ways, it helps clients feel like there's an immediate reason for them to decide to act now. So urgency is huge, and you can do that by closing out the call with a couple of different questions. And I'll give you two examples here, do this confidently, but ask, what would you like to have happened next? That's going to tell you when you've got a dud or a tire kicker on the call, don't send proposals to people that don't ask for them. So if you're on the call with the client and they seem super excited, this is your chance to confirm that by asking that question. The other question you can answer is, are you ready to move forward? This is a great question because it seems like it's a yes or no, but it's really an open-ended question because the client might give us more information about why they haven't made the decision to move forward yet. And that's good for us to know because we can use that in our favor to again, address those objections as they have come up.

(15:09):

So these are just a couple of tips to keep your conversions high, but it's important to remember that you're not always going to get a yes, even if you are a master at sales and you rock it with client qualification, you will not always get a yes. So my recommendation here is always responding to a no professionally. First of all, no doesn't mean never the client might not be ready now. They might not be ready for you, or they have to go back and talk about it within their teams. So there's no reason to burn a bridge with a potential client when they say no, but please respect their wishes.

(15:51):

If they say no at the end of a call that they don't need a proposal or that your price is way too far off, what could work for them, just honor that and then choose to move on. No to the bigger project is also not necessarily a no to a smaller gig. Sometimes you need to get your foot in the door. So maybe what you proposed on the call was too big of a project for them. And maybe there's a really great way for them to get started and build up that confidence and trust in working with you. So if you sense that in their responses, you can still maneuver the conversation to be a win for you in that particular way. So good luck. It's time for you to get out there and start improving your conversions. I'd love for you to check out the sales call masterclass. If you think it's a fit for you, it's exactly how I approach all of my sales calls. Good luck. Go out there and convert some clients and make more money.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Aug 17, 2020

Don't underestimate the power of your work samples, and you'll learn why in this episode and how you need to be concerned with your work samples and the way that you send them to clients.

I share examples of mistakes that many beginner freelancers make, including sending irrelevant work samples.  I will also explain why I feel it is a waste of time to send custom work samples.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • How to avoid beginner mistakes with your work samples
  • How good work samples can help you overcome lack of experience
  • How to make the client feel like the work sample is a win for them
  • Why you shouldn’t create custom work samples
  • Why work samples should be related to what the client is asking for
  • Have just enough samples to repurpose them
  • Why you should never overwhelm a client with too many work samples
  • Why you should not direct people to your website for work samples
  • How to deliver work samples
  • The importance of reading into what your client says
  • How often you should update your work samples

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Read the Transcript:

It's that time again, for another episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast. And today, our episode is all about something that I strongly recommend freelancers do every summer and honestly, every six months when you can fit it in. And that is updating your work samples. Don't underestimate the power of your work samples, and you'll learn why in this episode and how you need to be concerned with your work samples and the way that you send them to clients. There's no doubt that we're living in an information rich world. We are bombarded with information from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep, right? And your clients are no different. So you have to be very selective about the kinds of information that you share with your clients. And a great example of this are your work samples. Your work samples can overcome a lot of challenges, whether you're starting scaling or pivoting into a new freelance service area altogether, they help to tell the client a lot about what it's like to work with you and your overall style.

(01:02):

So when you have other challenges that you're facing such as you're just starting your business and you don't have any feedback or a great deal of experience yet good work samples can help you to overcome that. I see a lot of mistakes around the use and sending of work samples and so much like how you do your pitch and how you do your proposal and your phone call work samples are another great example where this should be client facing and client specific. You might have pieces of yours that you think are great and will work really well for work samples. But the truth is that the client has to care about it. And the client has to feel like this is a win for them when they see the work samples as well. So try to pull yourself out of the equation a little bit and leave some extra room for the work samples to be the thing that's going to be the most powerful for the client at that particular or point in time.

(01:57):

So I've looked at hundreds and hundreds, probably even thousands at this point have work samples that people have sent into me either because I was hiring for a contractor position myself, or I was screening somebody for a nonprofit operation, freelance or a client asked me to help hire somebody to help them with the completion of a project. And every time that I do a project like that, I use multiple different sources, right? I might look on Upwork. I might look on LinkedIn. I might post in certain Facebook groups. I might go to trusted partners. For example, when I'm hiring virtual assistants, who I know have a lot of different resources at their fingertips, from virtual assistants that are in their paid leads communities. And one thing that I find again and again, with all kinds of freelancers is that far too many people send work samples that are irrelevant or work samples that are just too high in number.

(02:54):

So let's start with the first example of work samples that are irrelevant when you can't send something that is reasonably similar to, or related to what the client is talking about or what they could use to make their decision. It leads into that dangerous territory of them being uncertain or unsure. And the result of that is that they won't take any forward action. So what I mean by this is if the work sample is indicative of the kind of work you do, but it's so far outside of what the client asks for or what you are pitching, that's only going to be confusing for them, right? So if you are pitching logo design, you don't need to send an example of a website or a flyer or a PDF that you designed when a simple, like a one page sheet of some of the best logos you've designed would have sufficed, right?

(03:48):

So this gets really confusing for clients, particularly in industries where there's lots of different variations of things. One, a great example of this is writing. So if I'm hiring a sales copywriter, for example, I need to see some form of sales copy from them. It doesn't mean it needs to be in my industry. It doesn't have to be exactly the same length as what I'm hoping they'll complete on the paid project with me, but it has to be related to the kind of style that I'm looking for. So a blog post could give me an overview of their overall ability to write, but that's not aligned with the specific skill that I'm seeking, which is sales copy. So if a client, it asks for very particular work samples, and even if they don't, but you know exactly what type of thing you're pitching, make sure that you're sending the work samples is most aligned with that particular job.

(04:38):

Now there's other people out there advocating for sending work samples and in particular, using Upwork by writing custom work samples for every single job that you pitched to. I do not know any new or experienced freelancer who has the time to do that 15 to 20 times a week. Right? So I do not advocate for doing that. I do not think you need to create a work sample that is really closely aligned to what the client's going to ask you to do and do that fresh every time with a new pitch. In fact, that's a huge waste of time. Um, actually, because there's no guarantee on places like Upwork, that you're actually going to get the client to respond to you. What I like to do is to create a set of samples. They can be reused and repurposed over and over again. So let's go back to that example of a writer.

(05:26):

If you do sales copy and you do proofreading and you do academic work, I would make sure that you have an aligned work sample for each one of those, right. A proofreading one could just be a document that you've tracked changes on and shown how you edit things. So it's important for a client to see something that is similar to what they are looking for, because otherwise they don't know if you have the specific skills. So another great example is in the world of graphic design, I recently hired a graphic designer to complete a speaking one sheet for somebody. And there were lots of examples in the portfolio of this person that convinced me, they had the visual ability, the knowledge of color, all of these types of things that made them a great designer overall. But I couldn't see any examples of the style of sheet that I was looking for.

(06:14):

Right. There were really colorful flyers and there were coupons and there were Facebook ad creative images, but I was looking for something very professional that would help to showcase the speaker at hand. And so when I further asked the designer for that information, she sent me something that wasn't perfectly aligned with the project, but it made total sense why she recommended it. She said, you know, here's a flyer I did for another client, um, promoting their upcoming speaking event. Um, they were doing a live training at the time. And so this is what we use to encourage people to come to the event. So not the same thing as the type of PDF that I would need the designer to make for me in this project, in which they'd be writing up reasons why event organizers and conference planners should hire the executive speaker that I'm promoting, but close enough in the same idea, right?

(07:04):

It's going to have the same level of professionalism. It's going to be about the same length and it's going to be very similar, right? So she did not have to go and create a whole new custom work sample and spend time and energy doing that, just to showcase that she knew about the kind of thing that I was looking for. I do this all the time when I'm pitching for clients. Um, I often have clients who will say, um, you know, show me your best personal injury blog, writing sample for legal blog writing. I might not have a personal injury sample at that point in time that I can use due to NDAs or whatever the reason might be. So I might say here are some bylined pieces that would be about the same length and depth of subject coverage as what you're asking for.

(07:48):

They're in consumer protection or they're in family law, but I'm recommending these as the work samples, because you'll get a really good perspective on how I approach legal issues and answer important questions for legal consumers. So that, that also gets back to this idea of like, you don't need to create custom samples. You need to have just enough samples where you can repurpose them and send them along to clients for the things you're pitching foremost. Now, if you submit a pitch twice a year for a type of project or are asked to do it and provide work samples, don't go out and create something custom, right? You don't need to do that. Um, but if it's something you're pitching for regularly, I like to have work samples. I like to have different versions of my resume. And of course I have different versions of my pitch and proposal options, depending on the specific

(08:45):

That's example, number one of a big mistake that you can make with your work samples, which is just having them be irrelevant, right? They're not in line with what the client needs to see to make a decision. And if we give a client data points that they can't use, and that's not helpful to them in making their final decision, we've made the process more difficult for them. And a confused client is not a client, whoever buys an example and problem. Number two, when it comes to your work samples are sending way too many. It's awesome. If you've designed 500 websites, it's an incredible accomplishment. If you have so many work samples that it's hard for you to decide what to send, but that doesn't eliminate the need to cut down on what you send. Just like a confused client, never buys an overwhelmed client is more likely to be nitpicky and not view all of your information instead of viewing things that you've specifically chosen for them.

(09:43):

So in this case, it's actually far better to send three to four work samples that are aligned with the style of the type of project, the skills in question, rather than saying, here's a link to my website portfolio with 50 different examples. This is the reason why clients don't have time. They are not going to go look at your website and 50 work samples. Whenever I'm hiring someone for my own business or on behalf of a client or somebody else, this probably eliminates a lot of people from the candidate pool without them even realizing it. So if I ask in a Google form, for example, in hiring a freelancer, please share the link to your two most relevant work samples based on all the information I've given you about the job at hand and their response is to say, here's the link to my website portfolio.

(10:30):

I'm not going to click it because I know what I'm going to see when I go there and you haven't put any extra thought into it. Now, if you put the link to your portfolio or to a specific piece in your portfolio or say, uh, click on the missing portfolio link, you want to see, um, the third thing down is super relevant, but even then you could have just sent the third thing in your portfolio, right? You have a much higher chance of the client looking at the material when you have spoonfed it and delivered it right to them. You've been respectful of their time. You've done some strategic thinking about what the best thing to send to them is, and you've made it easy for them. This is especially important when you're competing against other freelancers. So when you're responding to a Facebook post that has a call for freelancers and contractors, where there's lots and lots of people applying when you're replying to a Craigslist ad or an indeed ad or an Upwork job posts, you're competing with other freelancers.

(11:26):

And if other freelancers more effectively and efficiently, get to the point and share the right samples before you do the client has a much higher likelihood of hiring them. So rather than sending 15, 2050 work samples choose the top three that are most relevant to the job at hand and explain why you're providing them, right? Because if the client doesn't have the right information, it's like to do one of those math problems that you got on the sat where they actually didn't give you all of the details you needed to come up with the equation or the solution to the equation, right? Clients get very frustrated with that. So if they're saying, Hey, I want to see your best example of a social media campaign. And you send something that's instead from running a Pinterest ad, that's confusing to the client because it's not the same thing as running an organic social media campaign.

(12:21):

And you've given them data that they don't know what to do with the best case scenario. They ignore it. And they're much more likely to just be confused by it. And again, remember our confused clients, don't buy our overwhelmed client, don't buy. So don't send me many work samples, do not just direct people to your website. That is not what your website is there for. The portfolio page of your website is there to show credibility. And it's there for people who have landed on your website in a paid or an organic traffic way. It is not there for you to send people to when you're pitching other things, because they won't go there. They're too busy and they don't know what they're going to get by clicking on that. So it's much easier to just say, Hey, here's the two samples that I chose to apply to this particular job with.

(13:07):

And here's why, so I recently was in a situation speaking with a freelancer who was applying for a position that called for a variety of different skills, right? So I didn't ask for specific work samples and say, Oh, this one is most important. I need to see an email marketing campaign, or I need to see a social media audit. But after speaking with me, he read between the lines and said, Hey, based on what we discussed, I put together a quick sample email newsletter for you. And I ran a report on the engagement metrics of the Twitter page in question. So that showed that he has the strategic mind to recognize that it's not in his best interest to send me the work samples of everything he's ever done. He's using the pain points and the clues that I gave him on the call to decide which work samples to send.

(13:56):

I see this all too often. So many different kinds of freelancers, and yes, it's really easy to be like, go to my website.com/portfolio, or here's a folder with 16 different samples in it. Don't do that. Send them the link to the exact samples that you want them to see, make it easy, easy for them to view it. Do not send it as an email attachment because people get weird about attachments and that can get you flagged as being spam. So send a Dropbox link, send a Google drive, link something that they are more likely to click and open, but make it be strategic. And it should go without saying that your work samples should be the absolute best work you have. If you spent 20 minutes putting it together, the client can tell that. And what is the point for them to use that, to evaluate you for a position they are far more likely to decide not to work with you at all.

(14:48):

So if you put any effort into something in your business, it really should be your pitch and your work samples. They work really well together to convince a client that they, the client should give you a chance. And it's really, really unfortunate for me when someone has a great pitch and they have a great profile and great experience, but it falls apart on the work samples because the work samples were sloppy. They have mistakes in them, or they were sent, you know, 2,500 times. And I don't know which one is most important as the prospective client. So I just click on a random one that random one might not be your best work. So make it easy for the client to see that you've read into what they've written, read into what they've said, and that you've selected a work sample that is most in line with that.

(15:33):

I strongly recommend going back and updating your work samples a minimum of every six months, because you get better. You work on cooler projects, you have more examples to work with. And as your skills improve, you want to capture that in your work samples and provide clients, things that are the most relevant for you. Now that six month period is also a good opportunity to say, have I been doing any new services that I need to create work samples for, or that I need to create case studies for? Because now I've worked with my first handful of clients and I have some early results, keep this information updated. You know, um, as a writer, sometimes I go back and look at some of my previous writing samples and I'm shocked anyone hired me, right? Because they were terrible, right? They weren't terrible when I started, because that was the best I could do.

(16:18):

But as I've sharpened my skills, I don't want that to be representative of my work. And I know that as a freelancer, you're constantly improving. You're taking feedback, you're learning new things, taking courses, uh, implementing those skills at a higher level. And we want clients to know that as you transition farther and farther away from being a beginner, don't make those beginner mistakes with your work sample. Thanks for tuning into another episode of advanced freelancing. If you're not as pumped as I am about the launch of the six figure freelancer book in October, I don't even know why you're listening. Right? So check out six figure freelance book.com. You're going to learn more about what's in the book. It's over 70,000 words of actionable strategies based on my experience, my experience, coaching and insight from 19 other six-figure freelancers. You're going to love the book and there's some really cool resources that go along with it now is the perfect time to preorder. So again, check out six figure freelance book.com. Let me know what you think.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Aug 10, 2020

Are you losing clients?  Do you have clients decreasing the packages and projects you are working on?

Especially during the pandemic, you have to be adaptable and ready to pivot. Being proactive and communicating with your clients and knowing what is most important to your client right now can prevent them from pulling the plug.

In this episode, you will learn how to stay ahead of your client and be clear about the accomplishments you are making and the return on investment that you are delivering.

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • What clauses you should have in your contract
  • When to give your clients grace
  • When to expect your clients to pull back
  • Why you should be proactive in how you communicate with your clients
  • The importance of sharing wins with your clients
  • Sharing reports with your clients to explain their return on investment
  • When to reach out to clients for contract renewal
  • Be adaptable and ready to pivot during the pandemic
  • Be strategic and specific in what you offer to your clients
  • Know where your clients can get wins right now
  • How to have conversations to get a sense of what you can offer your client
  • The importance of a monthly or quarterly recap of accomplishments
  • How to respond to a client that wants to decrease

After listening to this episode, share your action steps and take-aways with our group:

Mastering Your Freelance Life With Laura

Connect With Laura:

Follow Laura on Facebook

Join Laura’s Community

Subscribe to the Podcast

Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube Channel

Read the Transcript:

Hey,

Welcome back to another episode of advanced freelancing. It's been quite a while since you heard from just me. Right? Well, get ready. I've got several solo episodes coming your way. And due to listener requests, I'll be transferring back to more solo episodes in the near future. So you'll still hear from some freelance experts from other communities in places from time to time. But it's very clear that most of my listeners love listening to some of these solo episodes, kind of peppered in with expertise from other guests. Today. I want to talk about something that's really challenging for a lot of freelancers and seems to be coming up a lot more now as a result of the pandemic, what do you do when a client wants to pull the plug wants to cancel or wants to decrease the packages and projects you're working on now, any business can make this decision for any reason at any time, right?

Sometimes they might just be going through a challenging time with their company. Their marketing budget has been decreased. They're pivoting and offering something entirely new. There's really so many different reasons that companies can naturally come up against the situation. But of course, anytime that we're facing a recession or something like the pandemic, when questions are being raised about any project that's on the table, in any expense in the business, you can definitely anticipate this becoming more likely with some of your clients. Now, just because a client wants to have a conversation about decreasing or dropping the project entirely doesn't mean that's the end of the story. Now, definitely. If this is a bigger client and they've already talked about it with their internal team and come to the decision that the project needs to halt entirely, or they need to cancel the contract and pay the kill fee for canceling early.

There's very little you can do at that point in time, but you want to get to the point where that is very rare, right? We don't want our clients blindsiding us with information that they've decided to cancel everything and throw out the baby with the bathwater with no notice for us. Most of you should have clauses inside your contract that require the client to give you a certain amount of notice. Now, if their business is going bankrupt if they're shutting their doors if this has happened to me if the owner of the company passes away and it's really influx, who's going to take over. Those are situations where you might not get the required notice. And you probably want to give your clients a little bit of grace. If they're going through something especially difficult, but otherwise your clients should adhere to what's listed in the contract. As far as how long with advanced notice they need to give you that the contract is ending. So it's most likely to happen towards the end of the month towards the end of the quarter and towards the end of your contract, right? Because these are naturally times when companies and teams are going to be taking a look at where they're spending their money or monitoring performance of campaigns to make that decision. So you never want to let your clients get to the point where they are having those conversations without any input from you. This does not mean that you are there and are present for the actual meeting. No, it actually means that you are doing some outreach prior to these natural endpoints where you're sending the client a report you're discussing what's gone well, and what can be improved, where you've made some type of outreach, essentially, where you haven't let the situation just set it and forget it, right? That's what we don't want is to deliver work for our clients. And then at the end of a three-month contract, one week before the contract is up, when you realize you need to get it to renew, that shouldn't be the only time you're reaching out to your client to initiate the renewal conversation. You want to have a positive relationship throughout the length of the contract to make it much easier for them to be excited about reconsidering it.

And if there's no input from you, their team is looking at this in a very simple, there is no gray area situation. They're looking at, what is their return on investment and how much money are they spending on working with you? If you've listened to this podcast for any amount of time, I always talk about if you are negotiating only on money or on price, it is nearly impossible to back yourself out of that corner. And so we don't ever want the conversation to be only about the amount of money that they spend on your projects. This is especially true when you're working on things that are a long game, like growing an organic social media following or SEO writing or things that just take some time to get traction. We want to set our clients up with reasonable expectations when they start working with us and keep in communication with them over the lifetime of the project. So that you've kind of set yourself up for a win with the renewal conversation. You're not waiting until the company reaches out to you about the conversation. You are reaching out to them a few weeks in advance to discuss some of the achievements that you've already had. Now, if you have got some big wins for the client since you started working together, this anticipating a renewal conversation should definitely include that. Let's imagine that you're a writer who published articles for a client. And those got picked up by traditional media and shared all over the internet or went viral or had hundreds of comments, or really got great engagement on Facebook. The client probably told you about those accomplishments, or you saw them organically as you worked on the project, but now is the perfect time to remind them of some of the wins you've gotten because at the end of a contract, it's so much easier for a client to look back and go, Hmm, I don't really remember all the great things that happened, but I do remember how I wanted this to perform better or there's any other negative aspects.

You don't want the conversation to be about that. So direct the conversation pre-renewal by highlighting some of the things you've done well. Now, if your client seems open to it, i.e. they haven't had a company-wide meeting and already made the decision to cancel your contract. This preemptive work will really set you up to at a minimum, have a conversation with the client about what their next step is. And it's very possible that in light of the pandemic or other issues, the package that you proposed previously doesn't work anymore. It might not be as simple as just renewing what you're already doing. You have to be willing to pivot and be adaptable in these situations because all businesses are being asked to, to do those things. And so you have to pivot and be adaptable on behalf of your clients, by thinking carefully about what they need the most right now. So if that is something different than what you proposed three months ago, six months ago, a month ago, bring that up to them and suggest different things that might be more helpful. I'll give you an example from one of my coaching clients, there was a prospective client for this coaching client that really wouldn't benefit from the current offerings that the freelancer had. And I've had the situation myself recently, where normally I would recommend blogging to just about all of my clients, but I was working with an attorney who just had no

website presence at all. It made no sense for the first thing I recommended to him to be, yes, you need to be blogging eight times a month. He didn't even have the website structure built out properly. He had no technical SEO elements on his page. And so when I wrote the proposal, it was very specific to where his business was at right there. And when my freelance coaching client went back to the prospective client and said, you know what? I don't think that blogging, you know, continued blogging is going to make sense for you. What I am going to recommend is writing great lead magnets and having some email newsletter copy, because you've already built up a following on your email newsletter list. And this is going to be the place where you can get the most sales right now. So as freelancers, it's on us to be mindful of situations happening in the greater economy and marketplace that are forcing our clients to have tough conversations.

We have to be there with them. And in order to continue on the path of being taken seriously, as a true partner of your freelance clients, you have to be willing to pivot and adapt to. If you've known for a couple of weeks that your client is struggling financially, but they really believe in your work. Don't just turn around and offer them a renewed contract at the same rate, with the same volume of work, be sensitive to that, think about where they can get wins right now, what is really going to be meaningful for their business right now, this gives them a chance to feel that continued positive relationship with you, that you have their best interests in mind, that you're not just selling things to sell things you're being very strategic and specific in what you offer to your clients. So if a client brings up to you, this idea that they're thinking about decreasing the contract, one of the best things you can do is try to have a conversation around this and not over email, an actual video conversation or a phone conversation about some of where the challenges are at.

They may be misperceiving things, and you want to have the opportunity to correct that before they make a rash decision, like ending your contract altogether. So for example, maybe the client had unrealistic expectations about how a Facebook ad campaign was going to perform or how involved it would be to truly update all of the development tools and plugins on your website. If they had unrealistic expectations. And those weren't caught at the beginning of the relationship, they might simply be thinking about ending things because the project just isn't where they anticipated it to be. So if a project has gone off the rails, this is a good chance for you to step in and say, this is where we're at right now. Here are the next couple of things we're focusing on. And here's when you can expect to receive them, having conversations with clients, we'll also give you access to data that you will not find anywhere else.

You will get a really good sense of what you can offer to the client, if anything, just by having these conversations, right? So it's really up to you to be the one to take that forward action step, to ask the client, if you can chat about things to do a monthly or quarterly recap of all the things you've done within the project, it makes them feel good that there's still forward progress being made on some of their goals and remove some of that easiness about just saying, you know what, we're going to cancel this project altogether because it's a money issue. Now, if you get on the phone with your client, you're hunting for information about why they're not happy, why they're thinking about decreasing things. If there's something that you're at fault for in this conversation, by all means, own up to it. Just simply say, you know what?

I do apologize for that. These were the circumstances around how that happened, and here's what I've put in place to make sure that isn't going to happen again, or here's how we've gotten back on track. Since that point, if they were hoping for different results, you can kind of talk about some of the things that might have contributed to those results or not. Right. Um, I definitely have seen a lot of the metrics with my clients around the pandemic. They're all over the place, right? Like web searching, podcast listening, it's all over the place. And so it's much less consistent than it was in the past. And it's your responsibility as a freelancer to have those conversations with your clients and say that, you know, this is the reason why this has happened. And here's how I've pivoted our strategy a little bit, um, to be mindful of that.

So as an example, running Facebook ad campaigns for a company, one of the things that I've learned recently is because people are on their phone more they're at home more, they're spending a lot of time online, a lot of time on social media. They're more receptive to ads in some cases, but they're also much more likely to get annoyed with ads if they see them too many times. So Facebook measures something known as a frequency score, which is how often the same people are seeing the same ad. And if you see the same ad on Facebook or anywhere else over and over, it just annoys you to a certain point, right? You've seen it. You've already made the decision not to engage with it, and that can decrease the effectiveness of your campaign. So where previously my strategy might have been to swap out the copy and creative on Facebook ads every couple of months, that's become more frequent. Now, as I watched that frequency score very carefully, and I'll tell my clients like, you know, some of these strategies we've implemented that have been successful in the past in nonpandemic situations or whatever situation is going on. They're not working right now. And here's how I'm going to recommend that we pivot and adjust that this is where your client sees you as a strategic partner. You have their best interests in mind. You're recognizing when something isn't working and you're adjusting it. Now, if a client just wants to decrease the quality and cost of their overall project, working with you, it is your responsibility to think about whether there's any way to salvage the relationship. If it could do a great deal of damage for them to quit altogether, you need to tell the client that, and not from the perspective of, I don't want to lose your income as a freelancer, but from the perspective of this is important for me to tell you that if you choose to stop working on your SEO efforts, if you suddenly stopped posting on LinkedIn, when you've built a great following there, there's going to be impacts from that.

That will be very hard to build back from once you make that decision. So you might not recommend that the client proceed exactly as they were prior to making the decision to drop or decrease the size of the project. But what you are going to do is to make some recommendations with what I call things going on low maintenance mode, right? Maybe it's not achievable for them to be posting on LinkedIn every day. Maybe it's not affordable for them to be paying you to post on LinkedIn every day. This is where you put on your hat as a strategist and say, how can I salvage this relationship? Not only to make sure that I keep the relationship and some of the revenue from it, but do the thing that the client needs the most right now, if people aren't engaging with their posts on LinkedIn, the way that they were in the past, maybe you recommend dialing it down to just two times per week. That way they don't lose all of the traction. They'd built up by being really active on that platform. But you're also not stressing them out with a high bill, paying a freelancer to do it five times a week. So see how important it is to get on the phone and have these conversations because your clients want to hear how you strategize through things. They want to hear you own up to when things maybe aren't performing as well, or the project hasn't been delivered as well, or communication wasn't as professional as they anticipated, but that's not where you leave it. You leave with a next action step of what you recommend they do going forward. And when you can do this, honestly, with integrity and recommend things that are going to benefit the client. Now, even if that does mean honoring their original request to cancel the, or decrease the size of the project, it's far better to do that than to come across as desperate and trying to keep the relationship just for the sake of keeping it.

So there's lots of things that you can do when a client talks about needing to be mindful of their budget or being concerned that they're not getting great results, but you don't want those conversations to happen after it's too late, you need to be proactive in how you reach out to your clients and how you structure these conversations. You might just be able to save a relationship altogether.

Now, listeners, many of you already know that my second book, The Six-Figure Freelancer is coming out on October 20th, 2020. By pre-ordering the book you'll get four exclusive bonuses and you'll be involved and entered in giveaways and other opportunities for prizes. You can learn more about those bonuses and the book by going to sixfigurefreelancebook.com. Thanks again for tuning in.

Meet Laura:

Laura Briggs is empowering the freelance generation. Through her public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity. Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor to Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. She worked for more than 300 clients around the world including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association.

She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. Laura is the host of the Advanced Freelancing podcast, a sought-after public speaker on the gig and digital freelance economy, and a freelance coach focused on aspiring six-figure freelancers. Laura’s books, courses, and coaching have reached over 10,000 people.

As a military spouse, Laura is passionate about serving her community and founded Operation Freelance, a nonprofit organization that teaches veterans and military spouses how to become freelancers and start their own business.

Aug 3, 2020

Have you ever put yourself in your clients shoes to ensure that you are delivering an exceptional experience? You may be making mistakes with your clients that could become problematic.  My guest, Anthony Park, shares the following top five things that your client wants you to know:

  1. The time of your client is more important than money
  2. Good is better than fast
  3. Know your competition
  4. You have to be turnkey
  5. Level up to be a trusted advisor

Here are some things we covered in this episode:

  • Minimize the time your client spends explaining things to you
  • Take the pressure off your client by reducing their decision-making time
  • Why you should schedule your emails
  • Make sure the experience you create with your client is more advantageous than not
  • How to position yourself even when there are other solutions out there
  • How think one step ahead of your client
  • Know the style, brand, and needs of your client
  • How to be a resource to your client
  • Why you should step into the role of a strategic advisor
  • What mistakes you should avoid

Tools Referenced:

Boomerang

About Anthony:

Anthony is a professional executor, best-selling author of “How to Invest for Retirement,” and podcast host of "Simple Money Wins." With so much going on, Anthony relies heavily on freelancers and virtual staff.

Where to find Anthony:

Anthonyspark.com

Additional Resources:

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