Single biggest challenge when it comes to freelancing successfully?

PocketFreud

Registered Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
2
Location
Phoenix
What’s your single biggest challenge when it comes to freelancing? How do you solve it/get around it?

For me, it’s money talks. I suck at charging a set rate confidently and getting clients to see the value of my rate.
 

bpark

Registered Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
4
What’s your single biggest challenge when it comes to freelancing? How do you solve it/get around it?

For me, it’s money talks. I suck at charging a set rate confidently and getting clients to see the value of my rate.
Why do you suck at it? What do you specifically struggle with? Do you have a lead closing process?
 

PocketFreud

Registered Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
2
Location
Phoenix
Why do you suck at it? What do you specifically struggle with? Do you have a lead closing process?
Thanks bpark, don’t really have a lead closing process yet. I’m new to doing my own sales—in the past, have had biz dev partners—so I’m learning quickly along the way thanks to the Futur & others.

I mostly struggle with the negotiation part—incentivizing a certain price, or getting a commitment. Do you have any suggestions?
 

bpark

Registered Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
4
Thanks bpark, don’t really have a lead closing process yet. I’m new to doing my own sales—in the past, have had biz dev partners—so I’m learning quickly along the way thanks to the Futur & others.

I mostly struggle with the negotiation part—incentivizing a certain price, or getting a commitment. Do you have any suggestions?
😀 Yes @PocketFreud, I can definitely make suggestions.

This is probably my favorite topic. I actually transitioned from consulting/freelancing to becoming a lead closing specialist/account manager for freelancers. That way I can handle the sales process for freelancers that hate it and they can focus on their work.

A lot of the advice will depend on how you get your leads currently. If you're getting them via a marketplace like Upwork this advice will work but won't be as successful as if you're getting your leads directly.

Selling Business Solutions / Not Technical Solutions

This is the first big mindset change that's required for most freelancers. Your potential client is coming to you because they a have business problem that requires a solution.

If you focus on the technical you are making yourself a commodity instead of an investment.

For example:

A client does not come to you because they need an article written. They come to you because they want more leads (visitors to their site).
A client does not come to you because they need their website redesigned. They come to you because they want their site to convert better.
A client does not come to you because they need added features on their internal web app. They come to you because they think new features will make their employees more efficient and save time (time = $).

Generally speaking, clients hire freelancers because they either want more leads, want to convert more sales or want to make some aspect of their business more efficient to make or save money.

How To Find Out What Your Client Needs

Before I answer that question I need to comment on the initial phone call (whenever possible get on the phone with a lead).

Don't let the initial phone call become a time for the lead to interview you. All that demonstrates is that you can answer questions, which doesn't add any value to your services.

Instead, you should always try to take the lead in these phone calls. How? You need to be prepared with questions and make sure that the lead understands that at this point the important thing is that you understand what they need better.

Would you want a doctor to prescribe medicine before they diagnose your illness? Of course not. So you should have an opportunity to understand WHY your lead needs this service before quoting them a price.

Some clients are resistant to this. They just want a price from you. If you can afford it, run away from these clients. They are treating you (and your services) as a commodity. But the way to convince them to talk to you before getting to pricing is by showing a genuine interest in their business and the work they need done.

Let's take the example of writing articles...

You want to know, why they want articles written? What are they hoping to accomplish? Why do they think articles will accomplish this? Have they tried this in the past? Did it work out? Why don't they think it worked out? How are the articles they already have performing? What is their monthly traffic? What % of that traffic is direct to articles? What are any potential stumbling blocks with this project?

The questions can go on and on. In an ideal world, you already have a bunch of the questions prepared before you take the call. Eventually with practice you can probably do this without preparation. Although, I always prepare.

With these questions you're trying to demonstrate that you're not just a hired gun. You are a strategic partner with an interest in their success. You're removing yourself from the idea of being a commodity and positioning yourself as someone that provides value.

Paid Discovery

This is the next step that I deploy. But it's advanced and for the sake of brevity I'll skip it for now. Feel free to ask me directly or further down the thread if you want to know more.

It takes the step above and turns most of it into a paid, but low risk starter engagement for the client. It doesn't work for all services and is not 100% necessary. But it's great for services that are highly strategic.

Proposal & Options

Most freelancers turn proposals into outlines of the services they will provide. But that's not what you're going to do. We already discussed that you're going to be selling business solutions, and outlines of technical services are not business solutions.

You're going to take the information you learned in your mini interview of the lead and turn it into a solid proposal. It will show that you were listening to them and that you understand what they need / how to make this engagement an investment.

You will need sections on Why The Client Is Here, Where They Want to Be, What Should Get Them There, What Options Can I Offer (or How I Can Do This For You). You can also include a Why I'm Best For This Project section if you're feeling up for it. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.

Additional sections if relevant: Where To Start, How To Start, What We'll Be Preparing For (this would be to dispel any doubts or potential roadblocks).

You want to fill in those sections with explanations in very simple language. Keep it conversational. Use bullets where appropriate to break up the space and make it more readable.

You will use the info you gathered in the initial call to fill these sections in. This is one reason that I do a paid discovery process. It allows me to have a more formal interview with the time to learn as much info as useful.

The final section will be How I Can Do This For You. This will be where you propose what options you can offer.

I say options plural because it's always better to give them a choice of A, B or C from you. Because the alternative for them is to take your proposal and then find another choice elsewhere from another freelancer. This puts your lead in a position of choosing between more than one option you can offer (at different pricing tiers), so they don't go looking elsewhere.

How to choose options?

Take what they are hoping to achieve into account and set up the options based on that. Usually, what I will do is have three options.

Lowest Option - This would be the bare minimum to achieve what they are looking for w/ no support or any add ons.

Middle Option - This is more comprehensive. It's what they hope to achieve but ideally with more certainty involved.

Highest Option - This is more than what they asked for, but it's tailored to what they are hoping to achieve. It could be ongoing service that continues beyond the original project. To either keep adding valuable work, or to service the work that you've done. Or it can be added work that also adds significant value. Ideally this option will wow your lead in the sense that it's tailored to solving their problem in a bigger way.

Pricing & Risk Reversal

Obviously, you will price the options differently. I try not to get complicated at this juncture. In an ideal world the conversation you had with the lead in the beginning is revealing enough to give you some idea of the actual $ value of the solution you're providing.

For example, if you're writing articles in the hopes that they acquire more leads, you can do some easy math by figuring out how much traffic acquisition you think the articles will bring and knowing what their conversion rate is.

If you are able to come up with a realistic number I would not hesitate to include it in your proposal (if you're confident you can achieve it). For instance, "If we are able to bring you one thousand additional website visitors a month, per article, that should account for a bump of $1,625 each month per article based on your conversion rate (2.5% conversion rate x $65 avg cart value)."

Over the course of a year that's an additional $19,500 per article. That makes it a lot easier to charge $5000 per article as opposed to charging $50/hour.

Of course, you can't charge this way unless you're confident that you can deliver.

This is called value based pricing, and I'm a big proponent of it. But if you can't figure out how to value base your price, I would stick to a fixed price rather than hourly.

I like fixed pricing because it's simple. It requires no math or thought process for the client.

I would price the three options at something like x1, x2, x5 if you want them to chose Option 2. Or you can price at x1, x3, x5 if you want them to choose Option 3.

The other thing that fixed rate pricing does is move the risk from the client to you.

This is called risk reversal. I highly recommend including some kind of risk reversal in your proposal. Fixed rate pricing is one form. But I wouldn't hesitate to also include a guarantee of some sort.

A guarantee could be, if the client isn't super pleased you will keep working on it until they are. No time limit. Or you could guarantee their satisfaction, promising to pay them back if they aren't happy. I would only do this if you collect your fee up front and you have the confidence you can deliver and the client is trustworthy. Obviously, it's not for everybody.

The key to pricing is that it's in the sweet spot where the lead sees it as adding value to their business. And that it's not overly complicated or risky for the client. When you charge the client by the hour, they take on all the risk. Because you can't guarantee how many hours it will take. And, if you can guarantee how many it takes, why not charge a fixed rate and try to work quicker?

Negotiating & Terms

One word. Don't. I give you permission to not negotiate on price.

What I will occasionally negotiate on is scope.

You've put a lot of thought into this proposal. You've demonstrated that you are professional and know what you're doing. So if they ask if you can do Option 2 -$x, I would offer to change the scope if they want. Ask them what they don't need and you can take that off for a discount. This way you're not negotiating on price, ever.

One other option is to offer a discount for being paid in full up front. I recommend always collecting in full up front. But I understand not everyone is ready to ask for that. This way you will incentive the client to do it. If they can't/won't pay in full up front you can ask for half up front and the other half two weeks or a month later. Don't make the final payment continent on finishing the work. This is not the kind of risk you should be taking on.

The proposal should have a potential start date and a date of expiration. This way you're not sitting around waiting to hear from the lead forever. Just a simple line of, This proposal is valid until XX/YY/ZZZZ, or I can only guarantee this proposal until XX/YY/ZZZZ, so that I am able to coordinate my schedule.

You should also include response time. Something like, you always respond within 24 hours on a business day (although usually it's more like 2-3 hours). This will help set the tone.

Added Benefits

One thing I didn't mention, is this process will help you scope out the project much better and make that scope crystal clear in the proposal. That way if they want to add anything down the line you can let them know it would be at an additional cost. Or if you don't mind, that you can add it but not until the original work is done.


If anything I wrote could be clearer or there are more questions I'm happy to keep answering. I love this topic, and could go on and on. Also feel free to get more specific if you want help tailoring this information to your business.
 

PocketFreud

Registered Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
2
Location
Phoenix
@bpark your answer has been extremely helpful; thank you for putting in the time to provide such an in-depth response! I closed two content marketing clients on Friday, $5,500 total spend. I would love to chat more—can you shoot me an email jeremy at gigloft.com ?
 

bpark

Registered Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2019
Posts
7
Reaction score
4
@bpark your answer has been extremely helpful; thank you for putting in the time to provide such an in-depth response! I closed two content marketing clients on Friday, $5,500 total spend. I would love to chat more—can you shoot me an email jeremy at gigloft.com ?
That's great news Congrats! Is that an increase on what you normally charge?

I'll get in touch.
 
Top