When I stop to ponder why my income has grown significantly over the last four years, I can identify three crucial shifts in my perspective that helped me find success in business.
Your perspective on yourself, your work, and the role that you serve with clients can either leave you stranded in the realm of struggling freelancers or convey you to the magical orchard of money trees. (It really exists...)
I still hear other friends who work in the creative industry say things like, "Well, that's just the way freelancing goes."
Yes, the feast-or-famine roller coaster is the way freelancing goes. So why not try something different and expect different results?
For most of my life, I’ve wanted to start my own business.
One of the few classes I really cared about in college was “Entrepreneurship in the Music Business,” and I even helped a few small companies grow. But other than a few half-hearted attempts at starting record labels with friends, I’ve never had the support or means to take the leap.
I almost followed this same path again by taking a job offer in San Francisco with a growing startup, but this time it felt wrong. Moving to San Francisco felt like running away from something instead of running toward an opportunity.
How well do you finish projects?
Many of the moments worth creating for your clients come at the very end of a project. You throw in a surprise for free. You create a few extra designs to leave them smiling. You put in a couple of extra hours to make sure that the new website, marketing collateral, or logo gets that special coat of polish.
People remember the last 2%.
When you stop to think about ways to grow your businesses and increase profits, you probably think first about how to get new clients. I propose an easier path.
Over the last four years, most of the growth in my business has come from selling to the clients I already have! I don't have to go from cold to sold because I've already established trust. I know their brands. I know their cultures. I know their communication style (for better or for worse).
And the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Here are two tips to help you sell more to your current and past clients.
This week's money making idea isn't mine, and it also doesn't come from Nate's or Jon's impressive brain. They heard this idea at LessConf back in April from a guy who works for a large DNS management company. He told them that he writes long, personal, and goofy emails to prospective clients.
"But people don't read long emails," you might be thinking.
"And people don't like to be stalked online."
"And you have to be uber-professional when you're reaching out to high-dollar clients. Being funny can only get you so far."
Until I heard the DNS guy's stories, I would have agreed with you. The email equivalent of a cold call would seem like a long-shot.
Yet the guy had landed huge contracts this way.
Courting clients works!
And the more I delved into the concept, the more punch-me-in-the-face obvious it became.
Last week, I shared one of my best money making ideas: stop the bleeding. Stop wasting money. As sound as that advice may be, it's nothing more than a Band-Aid. So let's move on to Lesson #2: Know your key business ratios.
Guys in fancy suits and silk ties love to talk about their "profit margins." You've probably heard the term and winced. You'd just as soon eat glass as have a conversation about profit margins.
Hey Kicktastic Friends,
We've got some exciting news for you guys. New plans and a stand alone store!
Now we have a range of plans that should make it easier for everyone to be a part of Kicktastic. Here's a quick rundown:
Our Free Plan gets you weekly short video tips on all sorts of business advice.
Our Awesome Plan gets you access to all our videos - tips, long form content and interviews for only $12/month.
Our Kick Awesome Plan gives you access to all the videos, plus unlimited downloads of the transcripts, worksheets and MP3's associated with them for only $25/month.
At the end of 2012, we sent out a survey to Kicktastic members, and quite a few folks said that they wanted to learn our best money making ideas and how to profitable each and every month.
The gauntlet was laid.
So let's get to the Lesson #1: Stop the bleeding.
What are you doing on Thursday, April 25th? Maybe you'd like to learn how to make your business freakishly profitable?
Turns out the Kicktastic crew is doing a 3 hour workshop at ConvergeSE about that very thing!
We know how it feels getting worn out on small processes and tasks, not making enough money, getting lost in tedious client work and having cashflow problems. We want to help. We'll give you practical tips for turning pain into profit - and we'll have lots of fun doing it. Is there any other way to learn?
If you'd asked me four years ago about the most valuable thing in business, I probably would have answered, "Expertise." Now I know that it's something quite different.
Back in 2009 after a six-month stint at a marketing firm (and subsequent layoff), I was all too aware of what I didn't know. Why would someone hire me to handle their marketing? That would be like hiring Macaulay Culkin to run your life. (Okay, okay, low blow.)
Yet hire me they did. Why?
Perfectionism is paralysis. The secret to success is getting your perfectly imperfect idea out into the world.
Just ask the guy who talked my ear off for two hours about a year ago. When I asked how long his idea had been thinking about starting a clothing company, he said, "Since 1998."
He was waiting until he got better t-shirt designs, until he found the right people, until he had more startup capital.
He was waiting for perfect before he shipped.
You might be surprised how much more successful your business will be and how much freer and healthier you'll feel if you start saying no.
No, I don't just need more clients. I need happy clients.
No, I don't do spec work. But I am happy to book a two-hour strategy session with you to create a plan for working together to achieve your goal.
No, I'm not available to help you with [insert boring project here]. However, I'll be happy to help you to find someone who can help.
No, I can't work on this project. You deserve to work with people who will be excited about this, and I need to stay focused on my other commitments.
No, I don't do that kind of work in-house. But I do know a contractor who is really, really good, and if I manage the project, then I can help you achieve the outcome you want.
I know some creative professionals who have a strong reaction against the idea of a sales management system.
If they start paying more attention to their prospects, meetings, proposals, and sales, then they will immediately morph into a greaseball in a plaid suit selling clunkers, right?
Rest assured, you can become good at sales without using extra pomade.
Last week, I wrote about creating a Trust Magnet--that is, an entry-level product that will generate cashflow and give new clients a chance to experience what it's like working with you.
A relatively inexpensive offering will help get people "through the door" and give you a way to regulate your cashflow.
An even easier way to make more money is by signing up to be an affiliate for products and services that you use. You can earn commissions when people whom you refer make a purchase.
For creative professionals, talking about a sales funnel is like farting in polite company. How gauche, right?
So let's not talk about sales funnels. Let's talk about making sure that you have a Trust Magnet: an entry-level product or service that poses minimal financial risk to clients. Notice that I didn't use the word "cheap." We're talking about creating a low, or inexpensive, barrier for entry and giving people a taste of what it's like to work with you.
Trust is the true currency of business. Even if a faithful client referred your new prospect, you still need to build trust by empathizing with his or her problems and improvising a solution.
Let me share one scenario with you. I have a friend who is a financial planner. If his firm manages your assets, they take a 1% commission each year. If you want them to architect a financial plan for you and find management elsewhere, they charge $250/hour. Both of these figures represent a significant investment from the outset, and thus a very high barrier for entry.
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