Have you ever had the OPPOSITE of what I call a “King Midas Day” or even week in your freelancing business? What I mean is it feels like nothing is going to work. You feel like a failure. It feels like your business is imploding right before your eyes! Does this sound familiar? Well if you are having that kind of day or week I want to encourage you to take a step back! Get out of your house! Most times this will give you some space and allow you to gain a fresh perspective to come back and be able to troubleshoot. Sometimes it really is an off day and other times it’s our own mindset that is holding us back.
It blows my mind when I see posts in a Facebook group with people saying they had sent 100s of pitches and had a website up for a long time, but still hadn’t gotten their first client. In my early days of coaching freelance writers, I had a girl come to me who had literally sent out 200 pitches on Upwork. And not one of those had ever reached out to her or decided to work with her. This was shocking to me!
In my own business, if I am doing something that isn’t converting I am either going to figure out if this is the right fit for me. Or is there someone out there that knows this system/software better than me that I can hire or learn from to make this convert? If this is happening to you, please don’t wait until you have sent 100 pitches or until you have spent 2 years on Upwork and have zero results before you reach out to someone who can help you.
When I first started trying to pitch to speak at TedX events, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I submitted several applications and all of them were rejected. Now, I thought my idea was pretty good, but obviously it wasn’t resonating. I had no idea about some of the TINIEST mistakes I was making on the application process until I hired a coach who had successfully landed four TedX talks on his own.
Even though we had to work at it for a while and get through some rejections, it ended up with 5 different invitations to give TedX Talks. It’s always good to find someone who has been down the path before rather than just trying to make things work on your own. This process can be really frustrating to go through it on your own.
The first one is really important because it’s your mindset! When you are in a funk and you have a roster of clients that you don’t like to work with, you will subconsciously hold yourself back from pitching. Why? Because your mind is saying, “Oh, we don’t want any more clients like that. If working and bringing on freelance clients means being as frustrated as I have been with this group of clients then...NO THANKS! I’m not pitching.”
I have seen freelancers be held back by this. The hard part is they don’t even realize it. It’s kind of a subconscious battle that is keeping them from being able to effectively pitch. It became an easy to “back burner” the process of pitching because they were stuck in this mindset of not marketing at all because of their current clients. You need to know if this is something that is potentially holding you back. Think about these things:
None of the other elements I’m going to tell you to check are going to work if you don’t have the right mindset. So first things first, evaluate and work on your mindset.
Once we have figured out whether or not your mindset, there are some other things that you can check. Now, If you have figured out that it’s your mindset and you have a disaster client, now is the time to figure out a few things like:
Whatever samples you are providing to your prospective clients speak volumes. And you cannot afford to have samples that don’t accurately depict your quality of work. A lot of times, we forget to update your samples. If you are anything like me you probably look back at your samples and cringe! Why? Because you have gotten better at your craft since you created them. You don’t want to be sending out samples that isn’t putting your best foot forward. You should be sending out samples that is your best quality work. Samples should be the work that you are most proud of. The samples should always reflect where you are at right now, not where you were at 6 months ago. Check your samples for the following:
Samples work in conjunction with the second thing you should check...your pitch. And more often than not, if something isn’t working with your marketing it is either your samples or your pitch. One or both of these things is off for your marketing method or your specific market. If nothing is converting and you have checked your mindset, the next thing to consider is the pitch and the samples. This is where I recommend you put your focus. Invest in having someone proofread the material or give you some feedback. You can reach out in Facebook groups and such so you can figure out what isn’t working. If your pitch and samples aren’t working they can slam the door of opportunity shut with clients who otherwise would have been perfect clients for you. You may not even realize this! It’s often these little things that can be tweaked and that leads to conversions. Little things can make a HUGE difference. ASK FOR HELP!
It’s amazing to me how many creatives send out samples and pitches that are not their best work. If you are a creative person, whether it’s a writer or designer, your work needs to be spot on and error free. That’s very important! It would be nice if clients would look beyond that, but they don’t! I speak from a professional standpoint where I have been hired as a Content Manager and they client has told me to not hire anyone who has grammar mistakes in their pitch. So, as you can see, even the littlest mistakes matter!
Are you marketing to the wrong people? Are you marketing to people that only work with agencies? Are you marketing to organizations that don’t have the money to pay you? Are you marketing to people on LinkedIn but that’s not where “your people” are? Check your market after you have checked your mindset, pitch, and samples.
This is another great opportunity to engage with someone else in the freelance world and ask for their expertise on whether or not your market could be off.
Newsflash...most business is done in the follow through stages. I am always surprised when I hear from freelancers that they sent out pitches and never hear from anyone. I always ask them if they followed through. When they say that they never heard from them so they didn’t follow through it blows my mind. Most business does NOT come from sending a pitch and getting a signed contract in reply. There is a nurturing process that most clients have to go through. So if you aren’t following up with prospective clients, you are leaving business AND MONEY on the table. Check your follow through by considering things like this:
You even have to follow up after the proposal phase.
“A lot of what we do as freelancers is selling and being consistent with that selling process.”- Laura Briggs
Think about someone who tried to sell you something you didn’t want, understand, or even feel like you needed. A great example is a life insurance agent. It’s easy to push off something like this and say you didn’t want to do it. It’s probably because this person followed up with you multiple times before you decided to go through with it and get everything set up.
Be aware of how important follow up is. If you are not doing it, it wouldn't surprise me if you aren’t bringing in a lot of business. Clients need hand holding. Yes we live in an amazing digital age where you don’t have to see your clients in person if you odn’t want to. But that also means we need to make our clients comfortable about hiring essentially a stranger over the internet. We need to break down those barriers and make them feel trusting of us. The follow up is where you do this.
Follow up also shows persistence. Some clients love this. You’d be amazed by how many freelancers DON’T follow up! Sometimes it can even get your foot in the door ahead of someone else JUST BECAUSE YOU FOLLOWED UP SO MANY TIMES. Having a CRM system is a great way to keep track of all this.
Through Hubspot you can get up to 200 open email notifications for free. AFter that you have to pay. Anyone who is pitching and using cold email this can be helpful because you can see when people open your message so it will remind you to go back and FOLLOW UP!
Following up is so easy! It doesn’t take much time. It’s a quick reach out to the client to see if they have reviewed what you sent. It’s also a chance to showcase a little more personality. Carve out time and send your follow ups out in batches based on the pitches you sent a few days to a week before. Being the person that follows up can significantly increase your conversions.
Sometimes your pricing is just off. Across the board you will find all kinds of different pricing. Never base your pricing on anyone else’s numbers. This is a huge reason why I never discuss pricing anywhere I’m talking about freelancing. There are literally so many variables that go into determining pricing there is no one size fits all answer. Whatever you charge you will have clients that think that it’s cheap and a great deal. And you will have clients that think it’s too expensive.
Because you are going to hit that at every level, it’s about finding a price that works for you that still allows you to be competitive in the market. You can do a lot of harm to yourself by having pricing that is too low. I have had clients turn me down because he thought I was too cheap. I have also had more people turn me down because I was priced too high. I never take it personally though. It’s never worth burning the bridge because those people may come back to you or even refer people to you once they know the baseline of your pricing. You simple just say OKAY. I have had people turn me down because they thought my pricing was too high only to come back to me when their business was doing a little bit better.
These are the types of things that go into the consideration of your pricing. A lot of people think it’s their pricing when in fact it’s their pitch or proposal. But it is worth considering whether there is something that is off with your pricing. The best way to know this is if people are straight up telling you that you are too expensive or don’t know what it is included in that cost. This leads to the client just shutting down.
There is a reason why we check the pricing last. More than likely, the reason you aren’t converting is because of one of the other things I listed.
There is nothing wrong with you as a business owner or creative if something isn’t converting in your marketing cycle. Most of us are new at this. We are figuring things out as we go along and making our best guess at how to run our business. So there is no shame in saying this isn’t working. You just have to look at what you can get better at, what you can learn, what you can change in your business to make it better. This can actually liberate you from the stress of taking it so personally.
Learning is something that can be so empowering in your business. It can also help with your mindset towards your business. As business owners we have to be adaptable and constantly evolving to see where the market is going. There is a tremendous amount of intelligence in stepping back and seeing what isn't working and figuring out how to adapt to change it.
**Remember I have an awesome FB GROUP where you can get tons of free training and information and network with other rockstar freelancers. You can find me by searching for Mastering Your Freelance Life with Laura.
Welcome to another episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast. Today’s topic is getting through a freelancing dry spell. I don’t care what anyone says, one of the most important things to know as a freelancer is when you might encounter a dry spell. It’s key for every freelancer to know how to prepare yourself for it. You need to have a plan to address what to do when things get slow. It can happen to any of us.
It actually happened to me recently. I let go of 2 clients and at the same time, another client had to pause all of their marketing operations. This was a SIGNIFICANT loss in income. BUT...even in these moments you have the opportunity to think about how you going to overcome it. Hopefully, you have done some of the leg work in advance to be able to help protect yourself through this dry spell.
It can be very frustrating for a freelancer to bounce around month to month with different levels of income. The more you can scale steadily to where you feel confident in your business the more comfortable you can be with business decisions. Business decisions like how much you are going to pay yourself and how much of your revenue is going to go back into your business.
Freelancing dry spells DO happen. In fact, that’s a big reason WHY I stayed at my day job for 13 months after launching my freelance writing side hustle. I had no idea if there were going to be dry spells. I had an eye-opening experience with this because I came in as a teacher. Now, where I taught you could decide to have your salary distributed over the 12 months of the year. This means you would get paid less monthly, but would still get paid over the summer break. Or you could just get paid during the 9 months of the school year. A lot of the teachers had to pick up other income streams over the summer.
I have been freelancing for 7 years and have seen a trend where every year August is slow. It’s a hard time to market. I have also noticed from around December 15-January 15 is a slow period as well. There are several reasons for this. People are distracted during these times of the year whether it’s for back to school, last-minute vacations, holiday vacations, or even just waiting for the year to close out so they can start fresh.
It’s important to track your numbers in a spreadsheet. This will let you know what months are not your best months. Example: Let’s say May isn’t my best month. So I’m going to use that knowledge going forward and try to book as much work as possible in April. OR… Maybe February is my busiest month so I’m going to take some of the money I earn in February and put it aside in an emergency. It’s so important for you as a freelancer to have an emergency fund. WHY? Well, for example, if you only have one client and you have to fire that client or something happens where you aren’t working with them anymore, where is your income going to come from? This is where I encourage freelancers to not put all their eggs in one basket.
So now you are in a freelancing dry spell. I am going to assume that you have already been saving a portion of all the income you make for expenses, taxes, retirement, family emergency fund, and 1 month of expense for your freelancer emergency fund. If you haven’t already set up that emergency fund, do so now.
So in this dead zone, it’s harder to drum up work. I don’t know about you, I don’t like to throw spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks. I’m not going to send out 100 pitches the week before Christmas because they most likely aren’t going to get seen. So why not send those inspired pitches in the beginning of the year when people are thinking about their goals. It’s much easier to market during this time. This is also true for September after people have gotten their kids back to school.
These downtimes are a great chance to update your work samples! Check out: How to Get Clients to Actually Review and Be Wowed by Your Samples
A slow season doesn’t have to be something where you are panicked because you don’t have income. Ideally, you should have planned for it. That allows you to have this time to reflect on your life and your business and decide what you want to do next. I love having these things built into my year because I know that February through June is a crazy time. It’s always busy. But I know I have some slow season coming after the time I have been pushing pretty hard.
A slow season doesn’t have to be completely negative. It’s a chance to recalibrate and take a break for once. I had a freelance coaching client once who hadn’t taken a vacation in 3 years! We had discussions about taking time off and put it in the calendar ahead of time. I never feel guilty for taking a vacation when I do.
What are your favorite things to do during a freelancing slow season? I’d love to hear more about how you make this downtime work for you. Remember you can always send questions and comments to email@example.com. Remember to SUBSCRIBE to the podcast so you always get updates about new episodes every week. Also, I would love it if you would do me a HUGE honor of leaving a review of the show inside your podcast app like iTunes or wherever you listen. It helps other people who are freelancers find this show.
Welcome back to the Advanced Freelancing Podcast! Today I’m going to talk about something that is going to help supercharge where you’re at with your freelance business. It can also help you overcome obstacles in your business much faster than if you were having to work through things on your own.
Since I started I started my freelance business there have been more resources added to the internet, books, and other places to learn about freelance writing. However, that’s now always enough to get you where you need to be. I have read practically every book there is on freelance writing.
I have also interacted with coaches. I have attended conferences. All of this has been helpful and I have picked up different tidbits here and there. But one of the ways to absorb a lot of information more quickly is to choose to work with a coach.
For a long time, I was resistant to working with a coach. I had the mindset of being afraid to let anyone else into my business. What if they messed it up? What if they tried to press their business model on me and I didn’t agree with it? An example of this is subcontracting my writing work to other writers...I don’t agree with this practice. This is MY business so I was very protective of it! This is a personal choice for me.
I am familiar with both the agency and solo model of business. This is helpful when I’m coaching others with their business. We have a real conversation about what is best for THEM!
The first reason you would hire a freelance coach is because you’re stuck. You’re stuck at a certain income level, stuck working for clients you don’t like, or you feel like you are stagnant and you are having difficulties going in the next directions. This is where you say “Okay, I need more help!” A lot of the people who hire a coach have been stuck at a certain income level for a while and are ready to step it up.
Hiring a coach can help you get to those higher income levels so much faster. WHY? Because it involves having someone else’s eyes on your business giving you recommendations and suggestions on what’s best for you!
The second reason you want to hire a coach is that there is SO MUCH information out there. You don’t want to spend the time sorting through ALL THAT INFORMATION searching and trying to find out what’s best for you! You want to be able to bypass the challenges and get to where you want to be faster.
Now if you are someone with a lot of free time on your hands, then by all means, you can read through everything there is out there on freelancing. But this will take FOREVER for you to get results! I wish I had invested in the help of a coach when I first started my business! Having someone in your corner who understands not only your business but also the strategy of running your business is invaluable.
The third reason you might want to hire a freelance coach is because you NEED that additional accountability If you slacked off in your marketing or if you know there are things you want to do or try in your business but you just can’t seem to make them happen, you need a coach. Investing in a coach gives you accountability to make these things happen that you otherwise tend to ignore or put on the back burner. This provides focus because it’s another person to help you stay on track!
There are other reasons you might hire a coach. They include:
There are different coaching models out there for when you are working with a coach. I have personally been through just about all of them. In fact, if you purchase my book the last chapter is all about coaching and mentoring and the different options available to you.
This is where you invest in a course. But there is some kind of limited amount of contact with the actual coach like office hours. You might get a 1:1 call with the coach. You may also get a set of group coaching calls. These can help you with specific questions about the course. But, these are timed and very limited as far as interaction especially if it’s a group call or office hours.
This is great for the person who doesn’t necessarily need long term support. If you have a handful of questions or want someone to give you in-depth advice about your marketing or LinkedIn profile for pitching purposes a strategy session might be for you. These can help you with emergency issues in your business if you get stuck and need to figure things out.
Make sure you find someone who specializes in your particular area of business. They are usually 45-90 minutes long. You can get a lot accomplished in that time if you are really focused. With a 90 minute session, I can usually cover 3 topics with my clients. It’s a great place to go if you need help or direction with what to do next.
This is essentially one step up from purchasing a course or book and reading through the material. Why? Because essentially you are going to receive information from the person running the mastermind and then are given a chance to ask questions about the information in a group coaching call.
A mastermind would be a good fit for you if you like engaging with other people. You can sometimes actually learn just as much from other people as you can from a coach. If you feel like your freelance business is kind of isolated and you are looking for like-minded people who may be going through what you are makes a mastermind a good choice for you.
This is by far the most expensive form of coaching. But for good reason. It’s the most involved form of coaching. You’ll find a lot of coaches who do things in a whole bunch of ways. One form of this type of coaching includes a series of coaching calls where you can ask questions on this once a week call.
The type of 1:1 coaching I do with my clients is by using a voice app like Voxer or sometimes people use Facebook Messenger where you can essentially get almost unlimited support. This would be if people need day to day support. One on one coaching is better to do this way because if you have urgent questions arise, you can ask that question without having to wait until your scheduled call. The reason that I offer my coaching like this is that most of the freelancers I work with already have semi-consistent income making at least $3000 a month and they are wanting to scale, but they have day to day issues that they just want feedback on. They tend to need that day to day support and I’m happy to provide it! I still do a monthly call with them to cover important things, but day to day support allows them to Voxer me and get immediate support.
The two primary ways that I provide coaching is the Strategy Sessions and the 1:1 Unlimited Coaching through Voxer. Usually, people are a fit for one or the other. Almost all of the freelancers I have worked with on a 3 Month period get a lot of results in their business. They even often renew for another 3 months to start the next steps in their business.
The people who use 1:1 coaching get results a lot Voxer a lot faster. This gives them a whole new round of questions they need to address to take the next step in their business.
If you are thinking about hiring a coach but you are stuck, consider what type of coaching style might be right for you. For example, I don’t get anything out of mastermind coaching. You have to make sure you connect with a coach that coaches in a way that will connect with you.
If you are interested in learning more about my coaching, I always do a free call with people first to make sure we are a good fit. It also allows me to see some of the issues you want to work on. You can learn more about my coaching at https://www.betterbizacademy.com/coaching and as always you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I am not the right fit for you I will recommend you to another coach that might be.
I know it’s hard to invest money in things, especially as a newer freelancer. But in hindsight, I don’t regret investing in these types of things because they have helped me go to the next level in my business. I encourage you to look at where you are right now in your business and also where it is you want to go. Coaching might be a possible solution to help you achieve your goals.
**Remember you can always send topics and questions to email@example.com
Hello again! Welcome to this episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast. Today I’m deviating a little bit from my “traditional” podcast episodes to discuss some information about my book! If you haven’t heard, my first book published with Entrepreneur Press officially came out on July 16th, 2019.
I want to tell you why I chose to write this book. I also want to share why I think writing this book will not only benefit my coaching and consulting business, but also my freelance writing business as well.
“I believe that everybody has at least one book inside of them.” -Laura Briggs
Writing a book for freelance writers is kind of a no brainer. It was an excellent vehicle for me to be able to show off my writing abilities. It doesn’t matter if you choose to self publish or publish through a company. Being able to produce an actual book shows people that you have the stamina it takes to outline, create, edit, and publish a book. This is a great thing for your credibility as a freelance writer.
For me as a freelance writer, having a book about freelance writing will directly help my freelance business. When I’m pitching to a client, there is a certain amount of credibility and validity from having a book published. I have wanted to write a book for a long time.
Originally when I was toying with the idea of writing a book I had the idea of starting with fiction first. So I went to a writing conference. I had kind of a bad experience with a fiction agent. One of the most important things I learned at the conference was that I would feel much more confident if I went the route of non-fiction first.
Fiction books sell on the basis of completed projects. So for new writers, this means you have to have a manuscript that has already gone through at least one round of general editing done before you can even pitch it to an agent or decide to self publish.
Non- fiction books sell on spec. This means they sell on proposal. My proposal was about 55 pages and I made sure to get it right! Your proposal is essentially your pitch to agents and publishers about what it is you think you want to do.
Non- fiction books have their own unique set of challenges. Not only do they sell on proposal, but they also sell on platform. This means that in order for a publisher to pick up your traditional non fiction book for regular publishing you have to be able to show that you already have an established audience who are ready and willing to buy that book. This can be done in many different ways with social media and mailing lists.
However, the reality is that not a lot of people have developed that kind of audience especially when they are writing their first book. It’s the number one thing we heard from publishers when I was submitting my book was that I didn’t have a big enough platform. This is why when you see books they are typically from someone who is some kind of advanced executive. It’s people that have a massive following.
I spent about 4 months creating my proposal! I knew I wanted to write about freelancing. Funnily enough, the book we sold is NOT the book we pitched. So I am self publishing the book that we originally pitched. I didn’t really need the full 4 months for the proposal, but I was questioning a lot of things. I was slower because this was a foriegn concept to me.
I finished my proposal in January 2018. So now it was time for me to shift focus to evaluating agents. There are a lot of places to find potential literary agents. Different ways to find an agent include:
● Attend a conference and pitch it live. You want to make sure you only pitch to agents who take the type of book you are creating. Example- an agent who only takes children's books certainly would not be a fit for someone pitching a nonfiction book. I personally was looking for a versatile agent who sold not only business books, but had a crossover into other genres.
● Using a paid tool. I found 33 potential agents by using a paid tool called Publisher’s Marketplace. I paid $25 a month and you can see different deals and books that agent has represented.
● Writers Market. This is a huge volume that has everything from magazines that you can pitch to writing competitions. Every year they do a volume of agents and break it down by what that agent accepts as far as types of work. You want to double check what you find here with Publisher’s Marketplace.
You start to submit to agents. You start to have conversations with agents about your book. Once you find an agent you like, you will sign an agreement with that agent to start shopping your book to publishers. Agents take a standard 15% cut of what you do. Sometimes the contract would be for that one project. There are also instances where the contract will be for a specific amount of time in which that agent would be entitled to 15% of whatever you sell during that time period. SO MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS READ YOUR CONTRACTS VERY CAREFULLY WITH BOTH AN AGENT AND A PUBLISHER! GET AN ATTORNEY FOR THIS!
It can be a long process to publish a book traditionally. A traditional timeline for publishing a book is about 2 years. That’s from the time the idea is accepted to the time there is a physical book in hand. Self publishing is a lot quicker. It can even be as quick as a few months for self publishing.
I knew I was getting an offer in the summer of 2018. Which was quick because I only signed with an agent in May. We pitched to a lot of big publishers. We got a lot of feedback that my platform was too small.
Publishers tend to sometimes be behind the trends. So if you are pitching something that is cutting edge, you need to know this can sometimes be a hard sell depending on who you are pitching to. I want to note that for me and this book I was pitching, I don’t think the publishing houses knew the power of and how many freelancers there are. Not just in the US but also around the world.
We finally got a response from a publishing house that was interested in my book. But then we got a response from Entrepreneur. They said that they were not interested in taking on the project of the bigger book at that point in time, but had an opening to refresh an old book about an introduction to freelance writing.
After many conversations with several people, I decided that this was a good opportunity for me. Even though my business is shifting to help more intermediate/advanced freelancers, being able to offer something at the introductory level was a great opportunity.
My contract was signed in mid August and my first draft was due on December 1st. So I had to write roughly 65,000 words in a very quick amount of time in the publishing world. I knew I could do it. So I stuck with the schedule and met the deadline. It went through one round of edits that I had to complete around Christmas time.
Then the first two weeks of January I had to complete copy edits. These were things like punctuation, grammar, etc. There were more than 5000 changes that I had to manually accept and edit or decline and explain why I declined.
I really loved with Entrepreneur Press because even though they had certain styles and things they wanted me to cover, they were really leaning on my expertise. It was the perfect blend of structure and creativity for me.
The book went into production very quickly after a few more edits. It was on pre-sale from March to when it went live on July 16th! So the process of writing a book is amazing! I had really psyched myself out thinking it was going to be really difficult. There are a few things that made it a great process including:
● A great agent who was advocating for me.
● I worked with a great publishing house that was very easy to work with.
● There were very clear expectations about the marketing that was going to be done.
The original outline that I proposed to the publisher changed dramatically as I was writing this book. I wrote it chapter by chapter, but as I was writing there were things I thought needed to be changed. So I had the idea of 12 chapters at roughly 5,000 words each. So I used a spreadsheet to track my words, places that need more work, and chapters that I felt were done.
I wrote a lot of this book on planes because my husband was traveling all over the country for job interviews. I wrote in coffee shops and libraries. This really motivated me and helped me stay focused and on track.
Here is my final piece of advice to you for this episode. If you are thinking about writing a book, even if you hear this and think traditional publishing isn’t for me, that’s okay. I still encourage you to set a deadline, keep it, and write your book. Why? Because this is a good process that pushes you to the next level!
So you may be wondering why I wrote this particular book? Well, when I first started out as a freelancer, this is the book that I wish I had! When I started in 2012, most sources out there was so outdated! So the framework for this book is online freelance writing! I focused on this because it’s my area of expertise. I wrote about what I knew about! I wanted a newbie to be able to pick up this book and decide if freelance writing was right for them by looking a real day of my life as a freelance writer.
If you are interested in purchasing this book it’s available at all major retailers. It’s not overly “thick” book so it’s easy to flip through. I’d love to hear your questions and comments about my book. Please send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related topics: freelance writing, traditional publishing, writing a book, finding a literary agent
Today I’m talking about one of the topics that I am most passionate about...toxic clients. Why am I so passionate about this topic? This really matters because not only have I worked with toxic clients personally, but I have also privately coached other freelancers who have dealt with toxic clients. That become a key component of what we work on together. I have helped them to even identify the underlying patterns that can cause you to end up with toxic clients again and again.
A toxic client is someone who drains all the energy and life force out of you. They are overbearing, overwhelming, and have lots of extra requests from you usually without more pay. They tend to produce emotional responses in the freelancers that they work with. This means they produce emotions like frustration and anger. They can even cause you to feel burnout because toxic clients bring out the worst in you.
If you work with clients that you generally love working for it will be easy to spot toxic clients because of how they make you feel. If you have only worked with toxic clients it may take you longer to realize that client is indeed toxic because you don’t know what patterns to look for. Recognizing the toxic client is the first step. A few questions to ask to identify a toxic client are:
● Does this person treat you poorly?
● Does this person not pay you well?
● Does this person always ask for discounts or reduction in price?
● Does this person make you feel like you don’t quite deserve to work with them even though you are giving it your all?
Anyone in the freelance world can be subject to working with toxic clients. But I find the freelancers that most often deal with toxic clients are writers and virtual assistants. Virtual assistant especially tend to get taken advantage of by clients because the clients essentially wants to dump everything on this one person. They want them to become the go to in their business.
Usually a VA isn’t paid as much as other freelancers and are paid by the hour. A toxic client might act like you could have done the work so much faster but you didn’t. They don’t understand why you can’t just get it with their instructions even though it’s probably that their instructions aren’t good instructions.
A lot of time a toxic client will set up an agreement with a VA and put them on a retainer and then ask for WAY MORE of the VA than what is in that agreement. The tasks they are asking of the VA are more than they are willing or capable of doing. If you are hiring as a VA to work 10 hours a week and the client keeps dumping more and more on you and making you log 15-20 hours a week and you aren’t being compensated for it then that is a toxic client.
So let’s talk about what you can do to try to flag these types of clients before you begin working with them. It’s important to know that you can’t always identify a toxic client. Some of these people can sneak up on you. They can put forward a good face and you have no idea they are toxic. Or it might be that there have been changes and the person you are reporting too has changed and THEY are the toxic person, not the person you were working with before. It’s important to know ways to identify a toxic client. But don’t beat yourself up if one slips throung the cracks because they may not become or show their toxic client side until a few weeks after you start working together.
Let’s go over some tips to identify a toxic client. Red flags include:
● How do they talk about their past freelancers? For example, they tell you they have worked with 15 other graphic designers and they were all horrible and they had to fire them all. The odds of ALL 15 of them being awful and unprofessional are very low. This means it’s actually something wrong with the client and not the freelancers. A few bad freelancers is okay, but large numbers of freelancers being considered awful is a red flag you are dealing with a toxic client. You can ask them to tell you about their experience with working with freelancers in the past. If their answer is that they have yet to work with a freelancer before this could be your chance to shape them in how they should act, work with, and communicate with a freelancer. What you are looking for with their response is how they talk about freelancers from their past.
● Look at their expectations. Are they pushing you to be available 24/7? These might be communication issues that brush up against your boundaries. A lot of times toxic clients will bring this up themselves and say it’s important for you to be available 24/7.
● Proving your worth. A toxic client might be pushing you to prove your worth even on the initial phone call. They might constantly be talking about ROI. They may not be willing to sign a contract for more than a month because they just don’t trust you. They might pay you 10% upfront and then the rest when they are satisfied with the completed product. This is a red flag.
● Communication preferences. This is a huge issue. It’s important to set forth what are your preferred communication is. As a freelancer, you have to set boundaries with clients on how you can/will communicate with you. With toxic clients, always get everything in writing possible. Communication choices for this include email, documents in an email, in your communication software, etc.
So let’s talk about when you think someone might be toxic. How do you address it before you decide to fire them? I try to give people the benefit of the doubt before firing them. Here are a few tips:
● Call the situation out early on when it happens. For example, you do a call with some so they have your number and the client starts texting you at 10 pm, First, you ignore the text. Next, you wait until business hours and you send them an email letting them know you business phone is turned off and you will not respond to texts because it’s too difficult to keep track of. Encourage them to reply to the email with any concerns. Even with emails, wait and don’t respond until you are in your business hours.
● If the client speaks to you unprofessionally, call it out in the moment as nicely as possible. A great example is working with people who grew up in NY or NJ. Sometimes their tone and accent can come across as snippy or rude even if they aren’t intentionally being that way. So you can call it out and say, “I don’t know if you mean for this to be coming across this way, but…”. Sometimes when the client didn’t mean it they will say they didn’t mean it that way. Sometimes this is when you have to make a judgement call. If someone is openly rude or cussing at you, don’t even engage any further with this person.
● If you are in a relationship with a toxic client, I don’t care how much money it is, you can’t afford to keep working with them. First of all, if you calculate the actual amount of time you are working for them you probably aren’t getting what you are worth. Plus if you add in the emotional, mental and physical toll they are causing you, IT’S NOT WORTH IT! They will push you to burnout. They will make you question your capabilities and so much more. One really negative aspect of working with a toxic client is that not only is it affecting the work you are doing with them, but it could bleed over into your other clients. It’s just not worth it. Navigating out of this type of relationship is tricky. First try to let them correct their behavior. If they can’t do that, then keep it professional and let it go.
Have you ever had to work with a toxic client before? If you have I’d love to hear how you navigated out of it. Send me an email at email@example.com.
Welcome to the 3rd episode in the reboot of this podcast. The focus of this podcast is now Advanced Freelancing. If you haven’t gotten caught up on this change then jump back two episodes and find out why I rebranded this podcast and what you can expect from it. Now let’s get into today’s episode.
Today’s episode is all about the freelancer’s guide to working with startups. There are so many businesses that start up daily. There are lots of businesses that also close within the first year of starting up. And even business that make it 2-3 years in business still aren’t guaranteed to stand the test of time. There of millions of startups that are out there and some are successful but a lot of them aren’t. So...as a freelancer should you work with startups?
As a freelance writer, I have been contracted and contacted by LOTS of startups. I always go in a little bit cynical. Why is that? Because sometimes the excitement of the startup fades over time which ultimately leads to the end of the business.
“The problem with startups is that they haven’t fully tested whether or not their company is going to be successful.”-Laura Briggs
Let’s go through some things that I have learned through the process of working with startups and some things to keep in mind when you are contacted by a startup OR if you are thinking about pitching to one.
These are just a few of the many things you will need to take into consideration before you decide to start working with a startup. You need to make sure that your 10 hours a week doesn’t quickly become 40 hours a week and drowning out your other clients. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a startup so be wise in the decisions you make regarding your freelancing business.
If you have worked with startups before, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I might feature you on a future show.
I’m now seven years into my freelance journey, and the last six of those have been as a full-time freelancer. I’ve been through the beginning stages, the ups, the downs, the struggles, and the successes.
In this episode, I’m reflecting back on what it was like when I was just starting my business and what I’ve learned since then.
Is there something you wish you had known when you started your freelancing business? Share with me on LinkedIn. Let me know you are listening and enjoying this podcast by writing a review on Apple Podcasts!
Hello, and welcome… again! I’m relaunching my podcast, and if you were a listener a few years ago, you’ll notice this podcast has a completely new name and approach.
This relaunched podcast is geared specifically towards intermediate and advanced freelancers who are on the cusp of scaling their business in a big way… in their OWN big way!
The techniques, strategies, and resources I’ll be talking about are geared towards freelancers who are well past those beginning stages of starting a business.
If you are tired of hearing about the recipe that you MUST follow to be successful, the steps you HAVE to follow to get more clients, the niche you MUST be in to grow your business, then you’ll want to tune in to this podcast each week. Make sure you subscribe so you get notified when a new episode is released!
Have a topic you’d like me to talk about? Send your idea to: email@example.com
Hello fans of Better Biz Academy!
Today's episode is inspired by numerous posts I have seen in various Facebook groups and emails that I tend to get about whether or not people really need a freelance contract and how on earth you find one and what should I put in there etc.
So, today I am only going to focus on one particular aspect of the whole contract debate, which is: what happens if you don’t have one.
Welcome to this episode of the Better Biz Academy podcast where I talk about the tools that I use to make podcasting possible and how you can easily and quickly launch a podcast yourself.
It's becoming very popular for people to think about podcasting because a lot of people are listening to podcasts now. By the time you're hearing this episode, I've had my podcast and have been recording for over a year and there have been quite a few things that I've learned in that process. This is a quick, action-packed episode about the tools that I use to make podcasting easy.
I have tried a number of different tools in the process of having a podcast. Some of them I loved and some of them I eventually let go, but I now have a few favorites — to record my podcast, to make sure that it's edited properly, and to publish it with minimal fuss.
Udemy Course: How to Launch a Podcast in 30 Days or Less
Join Laura on this episode to learn about retainers - what they are, why many freelancers love them, and more importantly, how to make the most out of working on retainer.
Some pros of working on retainer:
Making the most of the retainer work arrangement:
Episode number 64 is an interesting one because Laura talks about how she achieved four $20k months in a row over the summer, and what it took to get there.
In this episode, you'll hear about how she's had to critically assess the different parts of her freelance business and focus her attention only on those projects and clients that fit the direction she was headed. She also reflects on the tough decisions that come with onboarding bigger clients, and what that means from a client portfolio management standpoint.
Coming soon in the Better Biz space is a new Facebook group that delves into freelance marketing mastery, particularly for freelancers looking to succeed on Upwork. It's called "Make Money on Upwork - Freelance Marketing Mastery."
Hello fans of Better Biz Academy. I'm excited about this episode because I'm going to do something a little bit different and I'm going to talk about six ways that graduate school, in particular, has made me a better freelancer or a better freelance writer.
I decided to do this particular episode because there are a lot of people that I know in graduate school who could really benefit from thinking about developing a freelance career as an editor or writer or honestly as anything else that they are passionate about. And all too often, these opportunities are never presented to people in that scenario. In fact, in graduate school when I was doing my Master’s program, I wish I had known about becoming a freelancer. There have been times when I have reached out to local universities to offer to give a free talk to their classes in digital media or the English department or the career department and I will get rejected because they say, well freelancing is not a career. They are so focused on those graduation job placement rates that they write off a legitimate career that a lot of people just don't know about. If I had known about freelancing earlier, it would have helped me tremendously in my own graduate school journey and just in my life, it would have given me a lot better perspective
In fact, in graduate school when I was doing my Master’s program, I wish I had known about becoming a freelancer. There have been times when I have reached out to local universities to offer to give a free talk to their classes in digital media or the English department or the career department and I will get rejected because they say, well freelancing is not a career. If I had known about freelancing earlier, it would have helped me tremendously in my own graduate school journey and just in my life, it would have given me a lot better perspective
If I had known about freelancing earlier, it would have helped me tremendously. It would have given me a better perspective on the type of career opportunities that were out there. I like to say I was an accidental freelancer but that doesn't have to be the case for everyone.
Laura is back for an episode that goes into the complementary services that you can add on to your menu of services either at the beginning of your freelance journey or as you take your company and writing skills to the next level.
There are a lot of complementary services that you can offer along with your writing services, and Laura talks specifically about editing and proofreading. These complementary services can really be crafted around your unique freelance writing goals, which makes them an ideal addition to your service offering, but they are also a great way to build your confidence and credibility in the field.
When pitching your expertise, Laura goes into the importance of focusing on your writing background and showcasing your talent. She also shares some tips and advice on how to effectively manage your end to end process based on her own experience.
Laura is back with a solo appearance and she is tackling the feast or famine cycle almost every freelancer is familiar with.
It doesn’t matter what you do in the freelance world – whether you’re a virtual assistant, a designer, or a writer – it can be hard to view the slow seasons positively but in this episode, Laura talks about how these down times are the perfect opportunity to up your game and prepare for the busy season (which will come!) or even to get all the pieces of a big marketing push together so that you are ready to take advantage of the upward swing when it happens.
There are many seasons to the freelancing experience and knowing when they are and what you're going to do with them can really help you embrace the craziness that is being a freelancer.
Online Courses: http://bit.ly/2iGor8u
Welcome back to the Better Biz Academy Podcast!
It’s the end of August so we're getting ready to head into what I like to call the freelance busy season. Having just reviewed 212 freelance writing applications for a client project I am managing, it was shocking to see how many people were doing things in the pitching process that were costing them the opportunity to land a new client.
When you are pitching a new client, you could be the only person who's sending them an email, or one of hundreds others. Either way, you need to stand out from the crowd and avoid these freelance pitching mistakes.
I also have a YouTube video that goes into a shorter version of this, so if you don't want to listen to the full podcast episode but want to get the gist of it, go ahead and check out that video right here - https://youtu.be/xLG2CMQ9KKM.
Welcome back to the Better Biz Academy podcast! As we transition out of the summer and into the fall, I think now is the perfect time to talk about successfully riding the feast or famine cycle freelancers typically experience at different points in the year and which marketing strategies are still the most effective for those in the industry. One of those is Upwork.
Laura returns to walk her listeners through a critical shift she made in her freelance business that had a massive impact on her ability to earn money and only work with her ideal clients. If you are new to the freelance world and are still juggling ten, or
If you are new to the freelance world and are still juggling ten, or even twenty client projects, this episode is for you! In it, Laura explains how one-off and retainer clients are different, as well as how you might start the process of converting one-off clients into retainer arrangements.
Laura returns with another solo podcast to share the most common mistakes made by freelance writers. She offers advice in several areas of freelance basics, including the way you position yourself and your services to potential clients, as well as managing your own expectations going into the freelancing world.
Learn from the best as Laura shares her personal experience as both a freelancer and a project manager, hiring and managing other writers. If you’re just getting started in the freelance writing business, this podcast is a must-listen!
85% of small business fail within the first 12 months because new entrepreneurs don’t take the time to identify and understand their ideal customer. If your new venture is struggling to get off the ground because you are hurting for clients, today’s guest is prepared to offer guidance around getting your product or service in front of the right audience and then creating an automated system of lead generation to produce consistent sales.
Oguz ‘Oz’ Konar grew up watching his father start business after business, all of which ended in bankruptcy. Motivated to understand what makes a business successful, he studied sales and marketing strategy to identify common mistakes made by aspiring entrepreneurs – and how to avoid them. With seven years of sales management and marketing experience under his belt, Oz founded Local Marketing Stars to assist small business owners in the implementation of productive marketing strategies. He has written two books about online marketing and marketing automation, and he is currently running four companies of his own.
Oz is an expert in the area of results-driven marketing strategy, and today he explains why automation is essential, the seven marketing strategies you need to know, and the function of a small business website. Listen in as Oz reveals his greatest challenge in building his consulting business and how to get your product or service in front of its target audience!
The importance of marketing automation
The first step toward automated lead generation
The greatest challenge Oz faced in building his own business
Oz’s seven marketing strategies you need now
Oz’s advice regarding small business websites
Oz’s #1 tip for aspiring entrepreneurs
Connect with Oguz Konar
What is holding you back from pursuing the life you want? In most cases, the answer is fear. Change makes us really uncomfortable, and our brains are wired to resist anything that takes us outside our comfort zone. But today’s guest is ready to help you forge a new neural pathway and expand your comfort zone through clearly defined goals and strategic action.
Jill Ethier is a personal strategist who combines her passion for business with the power of energy to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs who want more in every aspect of their lives, from business to relationships to health and personal growth. Her online programs provide the framework to shift your mindset, reclaim your power, and fulfill your purpose.
Jill spent a number of years as the Director of Marketing for SIGA, managing four casino marketing departments. After the passing of her young daughter, she knew she wanted to live her life differently, and Jill began to study Feng Shui and other energy disciplines. In 2000, she united her love of business strategy with the study of energy to found Jill Ethier Consulting. Today she shares tactics around cultivating the right mindset, tackling resistance to change, and avoiding distractions. Listen in to understand the importance of a strong WHY and how to prioritize daily actions as you work toward a meaningful life.
Jill’s ideal client
The greatest challenge Jill’s clients face
How to cultivate appropriate mindset
How to tackle extreme resistance to change
How to avoid distractions like social media and email
Jill’s energetic platform
How accountability plays into success
Jill’s advice around goal-setting
Connect with Jill Ethier
As new entrepreneurs, we are hungry for clients. It can be tempting to take on a project that doesn’t feel quite right because we need the money and want the experience. But today’s guest argues that a poor fit leads to immense frustration, and she is here to offer strategies that will help you determine whether a client is a good match on the front end so that both parties feel comfortable moving forward.
Liz Thompson earned her undergraduate degree in communication, then pursued master’s degrees in English and literature. She worked in editing and communication in the corporate world for 15 years before taking the leap into entrepreneurship. When Liz got married two years ago, the timing was right to start her own firm so that she would have the flexibility to stay home and raise her new blended family.
Liz is on a mission to help writers find and refine their voice and share their stories with the world. She takes on fiction and non-fiction projects, and she loves to edit cookbooks. Today Liz shares her secrets around building a clientele, online networking, and pricing her services. Listen in and learn how Liz approaches scheduling clients and the process she employs to choose clients who are a good fit.
How Liz built a clientele
The value of online networking groups like Boss Mom
How Liz made the decision to invest in a business coach
How Liz structures the working relationship with writers
How Liz prices her editing services
Liz’s approach to scheduling clients
Why Liz only accepts clients that feel like a good fit
Connect with Elizabeth Thompson
If you want to make a change in your business, but you are unsure how to go about it, you may benefit from enlisting the help of an executive leadership coach. But how do you choose the right one? Should you invest in a one-on-one program, or is a group setting right for you?
Susan Barber has 20-plus years of experience as an IT and Leadership Executive. While working a traditional job, she pursued coaching as a side hustle, earning a certification in leadership coaching. When the company was going through a merger, she took a package and a leap of faith – and Susan M. Barber Coaching & Consulting was born.
Susan is passionate about helping her clients build confidence, grow as leaders and find their authentic voice. She also seeks to bring coaches together to support each other and share resources as entrepreneurs. Today she explains the differences among one-on-one, group and mastermind programs, the advantages of a structured group coaching environment, and how to choose a program that is the right fit for you. Listen in as Susan reveals what to look for in an executive business coach!
How to scale a coaching business
The difference between Susan’s group program vs. mastermind
The advantages of a structured group coaching environment
How to choose from among one-on-one, group coaching, and masterminds
When to pursue a business coach
What to look for in a business coach
Questions to ask a prospective coach
Characteristics of a quality coach
What to do if you’re not getting what you need from a coach
Susan’s advice for business owners considering an investment in a coach
Connect with Susan Barber
So you’ve launched a product or service you’re really proud of, complete with a stellar membership site, but all you hear are crickets. Today’s guest has firsthand experience with this frustrating scenario, and she is here to help you learn from her mistakes and build an audience first.
Nathalie Doremieux and her husband, Olivier, spent ten years working as software engineers in Silicon Valley before returning to their native France and founding New Software Marketing in 2006. But they made the mistake of thinking that if they built a quality piece of software, people would find them. Because of their inexperience in the marketing realm, the business struggled.
Down to their last $2,000, Nathalie and Olivier invested in a coach who changed their perspective, pushing them to focus on skills they might leverage to monetize quickly. It was then that they niched down to web design and membership sites, and New Software Marketing took off. Five years later, the multi-six-figure business serves entrepreneurs and public figures including Kimra Luna, James
Five years later, the multi-six-figure business serves entrepreneurs and public figures including Kimra Luna, James Wedmore and Kate Northrup. Today Nathalie shares the importance of ‘the hustle’ early in your entrepreneurial journey, how she and her husband approach working together, and the biggest mistakes people make in building websites. Listen and learn how to build an audience that will make your product launch a success!
The mistakes Nathalie made in building her business
How Nathalie pinpointed web pages and membership sites as niche
The importance of ‘the hustle’ early on in your entrepreneurial journey
The necessity of building an audience
How Nathalie approaches working with her husband
Nathalie’s biggest accomplishment in business thus far
The biggest mistakes people make in designing websites
Connect with Nathalie Doremieux
Some of us are attracted to online entrepreneurship because of the freedom it affords us to travel, living the digital nomad lifestyle. Others of us choose web-based businesses because we want to get off the hamster wheel and spend real quality time with our kids and partners. Today’s guest is combining both of those perks and embarking on an RV adventure with her husband and two small children, traveling the country to visit family while maintaining her online venture, brb Yoga.
Catherine Middlebrooks began a yoga practice in college. Ten years ago, she earned a certification to teach and began a successful corporate yoga business. After a move to Nashville, Catherine transitioned into a ‘regular job,’ using her master’s in experimental psychology to work in market research. But when her daughter was born in 2012, Catherine and her husband made the decision to be more intentional about their lives and start their own online business.
At the same time, Catherine was struggling to find time for yoga. As a new mom, she didn’t have 75 minutes to spend at a studio, but she knew she needed the mindfulness and calm a yoga practice provides. So Catherine developed a program of shorter, precisely designed classes to pull her out of the overwhelm and help her embrace her new life and body. She created brb Yoga to help other moms make time for self-care and restore their core strength. Today she discusses how she niched down to serve a very specific population of new moms, the challenge of maintaining her relationship with her husband as they build a business together, and her upcoming family RV adventure! Listen and learn how to employ Facebook ads to generate traffic and apply a project management system to make the best use of your time.
Why Catherine’s digital format works for new moms interested in Yoga
The value of identifying a need in the marketplace
Catherine’s struggle to attract ideal clients
Catherine’s tips for employing Facebook ads
Catherine’s biggest challenge as entrepreneur
Catherine’s upcoming RV adventure
Catherine’s best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Connect with Catherine Middlebrooks