This guy came up to me in the grocery store the other day and was like, “Hey man, I can tell you work out a bunch, I’m trying to bulk up, you mind if I get your number and text you about it?”
Which probably sounds creepy and weird. 😀
But, I live in a really small town where everybody knows everybody, so it wasn’t that weird. Anyway, I said “Sure” and later that evening he text me some stuff. And I text him back what to do, what I do, etc.
And it was pretty obvious it wasn’t what he wanted to hear because now he doesn’t text anymore and he avoids me at the grocery store. 😀 I wasn’t mean or anything like that… just told him what he needed to do.
And he didn’t wanna hear it.
Kinda cracks me up.
People see you achieving something, but have their own version of how you did it. How they want it to be… not how it actually is. I get this from time to time with freelancers, too. Hop on a list like this…
Or, message and ask for advice…
Then, argue with you when you tell them what to do. 😀
I find it hilarious.
Anyway, I bring it up because I bet some people who are reading this are doing that right now. With all the stuff we’ve gone through so far, I can almost guarantee there’s been some:
“That don’t matter. That’s dumb. That’s not right.” etc, etc…
From people who haven’t done it, yet.
Who are struggling to get their freelance business off the ground.
Yet, already have all the answers.
It reminds me of something one of my students once said:
“All the things which he says seems to be minute but have a very great impact on your freelancing career.” If you look at it… we’ve probably went through 30-40 individual secrets thus far.
Individual items you could change about what you’re doing and get more results.
By the time we’re done with this first iteration — because this is just the first iteration of secrets. What I would consider the basics. And we will be iterating back through several times with more advanced stuff — we’ll probably have hit 150-200 individual action items that can help you get more results in your freelance business.
If you just keep going, “That doesn’t matter. Won’t help”, etc…
You’re missing the point. It’s what John Wooden said: “Little things make the big things happen.” It’s the collection of those 150-200 individual items added together that makes the impact — not each item on its own.
Just like Singh, my student from before said.
But, so many people are looking for “that one weird trick” that magically brings them everything they want… instantly… and with no work. It’s what I call the “lottery mindset”. A lot of people try to hit the lottery with their business.
And, it just doesn’t work that way.
Start putting in the work.
Implement each item one by one.
THAT is where the “magic” happens.
Anyway, just a little rant to kick things off today. 😀
Today, what we’re actually going to cover is your delivery. As I said yesterday, I don’t know what service you actually provide and, unless you’re a WordPress developer building memberships sites, I probably don’t even know how to do what you do. So, I can’t get ultra-specific with your delivery process.
But, I can cover some universal “truths” that speak to the client experience and help you create a “WOW” service. A remarkable service that causes clients to talk about you and spread the good word about your business.
And, want to hire you again and again.
As always, not an exhaustive list, but the key factors I’ve found:
(As you might guess, this is also covered in great detail in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. For posterity’s sake, here’s another review I received recently:
“Really helpful. Throughout the course I felt both inspired and empowered to begin and ultimately succeed at freelancing. Thank you, this is life changing for someone who has a lot to offer but had no clue at all how to go about beginning as a freelancer.”
That’s the idea. Take people who have a skill and show them how to turn it into a business they own that brings them the lifestyle they want — instead of selling that skill off to some company who doesn’t appreciate you and making all their dreams come true, not yours.
Anyway, the course is included in the extended free trial of Skillshare you get when you use my referral link. More info here.)
Let’s run through each one:
If you’re an MMA fan, you’ll have likely heard the phrase: “Octagon Control”. It’s how much one fighter controls the ring and it’s an official measure judges use to score a fight. It underscores (a bit) the value of “control”.
What I mean by control for freelancers really boils down to leadership. Are you constantly asking your client to lead you and tell you what to do OR are you the expert guiding them?
Clients, generally, prefer the latter.
They want to be guided because they don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to your service. That’s why they hired you. And freelancers who are good leaders will always make more than those who aren’t…
Even if, the talent and ultimate end product are the same.
It’s how you get there.
And being a good leader is a more valuable client experience.
Of course, a client isn’t going to give you control and follow your lead unless they trust you. That somewhat comes down to how you market yourself and how much authority you establish before they hire you.
But, it also comes down to how you behave after they hire you.
Control is part of it, accountability, truth, wisdom, communication… all the things we’re going to talk about here feed into trust. But just know… if a client is wigging out or misbehaving or treating you like garbage…
In almost every case, it’s a trust issue.
Part of building trust is being accountable. Holding yourself accountable and holding them accountable, when appropriate. So, being reliable… doing what you say you’re going to, getting things done on time, being proactive, and so on.
But, it’s also taking responsibility when there is a mistake.
Not making excuses or deflecting blame.
Owning it, making it right, and fixing whatever caused it. The more a client sees you holding yourself accountable, the more they’ll trust you… because they’ll see “you’re on it”.
Another big part of trust is truth. That is, you being willing to tell them the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. So many of those CEOs and business owners are surrounded by “yes men”.
People who tell them what they want to hear in order to keep their job.
They begin to distrust what they’re being told. If you’re someone who will tell them the truth, tell them “no” when it’s appropriate… they’ll begin to trust you and your opinions. They’ll begin to lean on you.
In fact, for many of the clients I’ve worked with, I became a kind of “trusted advisor”. Not because I was a genius and just had all the answers, but because I was willing to be honest and tell the truth.
Yes, be tactful… but be honest.
You are the expert. You know what you do better than your client. As you grow in your career, you’ll gain a ton of experience. Hell, I’ve worked on 7-figure product launches, helped save dying businesses…
Worked with tech companies…
New age “hippy” type businesses.
Consulted with a cannabis company.
I could write a book about all the things I’ve seen and done. Your client just can’t compete with that from an experience perspective. You have (or will) intuition that’s been built up over years of doing what you do.
Don’t be afraid to tell them if you think something is a bad idea… and to guide them in the right direction. That’s what you’re there for. They might resist at first, but once they start to see you’re right…
They’ll listen more… and they’ll value your wisdom.
In fact, when I worked with Inc. Magazine, that was what they said about working with me. It wasn’t talent or I was a “dope programmer”… it was that my “work and wisdom on this project has been exceptional”.
This goes back to our offer discussion. Dream outcome, probability of success, time delay and time and effort cost. Of those, for most client work, dream outcome and time delay matter most.
That’s because probability of success and time and effort cost are kinda baked into the service. Hiring an expert is about pushing the probability of success to virtually 100% and the time and effort cost to virtually 0%.
That’s why they hire an expert.
How good you are determines the dream outcome. I can’t really speak to that. I assume you’re good at what you do and that’s ultimately about talent, training, etc. So, what’s left is “time delay”.
The faster you can deliver a high-quality outcome, the more valuable your service will be. Seems obvious, but I find a lot of freelancers don’t necessarily place the proper emphasis on it.
It’s one of the simplest ways to generate a “wow” from clients.
“I can’t believe you got done that fast.”
And it’s the easiest way to generate word of mouth. So, constantly be thinking about how you can deliver the same quality service… faster. One trick I’ve learned is “expectation management”.
So, I’d always tell clients that my builds would take a month.
That was and is pretty common in my niche. So, it wasn’t anything that sounded crazy to them. But, I’ve been doing this for so long that I can usually knock out a site in a week if I just grind on it.
So, I’d tell them a month…
Finish in a week…
Chill for a week…
And then tell them I got it done in two weeks. And they’d be ecstatic. Had I told them two weeks from the start, it’d just look like I delivered on time. Cool, but nothing to rave about.
Tell them a month, but finish in two weeks?
“OMG, you’re amazing!” 😉
Finally, then, is communication. And really… proactive communication. The #1 thing that will kill the client experience is if they have to drag updates about their project out of you.
It’s by far the thing that annoys clients the most.
Regular, proactive communication will, again, go a loooooong way toward making them rave about you and generate word of mouth for you. That’s why I said to schedule your meetings and regular communication points as a part of your onboarding sequence/package.
Build those around natural communication points.
Points in the project where you’ll hit a key milestone or need input, etc. Never let it go that long without communicating with them in some way. It can be as simple as a short email that lets them know you’re still there.
The more you communicate and keep them in the loop, the less antsy they’ll get, the less you’ll get those “10 pm on a Sunday night” emails, the happier you’re client will be, and the more word of mouth you’ll get.
That’s a lot, but, again, more individual action items you can begin implementing to get you referrals, repeat business, and word of mouth that will cause your freelance business to grow.
Ultimately, in any service business, word of mouth is the name of the game.
The businesses that win deliver in a way that creates it… the businesses that lose don’t. It really is that simple. That said, now that we’ve got your delivery in place and it’s a “wow-generating” delivery…
Next, we’ll talk about how to proactively generate that word of mouth.
We leave nothing to chance… and I’ll show you a number of different ways to subtly (and not so subtly) encourage and suggest to your clients that they send you referrals and repeat business.
And, of course, if you want to fast-forward all this and get even more secrets to help you grow your freelance business, be sure to take advantage of the extended free trial of Skillshare you get with my referral link…
And take my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course.
The point of that course is to help you shortcut that first-year learning curve all freelancers go through, usually going through a bunch of frustrating trial and error, some even giving up…
Eliminate all that and just get the answers to the test.
That’s the idea.
Anyway, you can learn more about how all this works and how to get my courses without paying for them here: https://myjohn.us/skillshare
We’ll see you tomorrow!
P.S. If you got value from this email, I’d appreciate it if you’d share it with anyone you know who you think might benefit. I’d love to find more freelancers to help with their businesses and take them through this process, as well. Thanks! 🙂