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Design

Clients From Hell Podcast

Updated 5 days ago

Arts
Business
Design
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From one of Tumblr's most popular blogs and straight into your earholes, join Clients From Hell editor Bryce Bladon and a rotating panel of guests. The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the landscape for creative professionals, providing insights into survival and exploring the future of the self-employed.

Read more

From one of Tumblr's most popular blogs and straight into your earholes, join Clients From Hell editor Bryce Bladon and a rotating panel of guests. The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the landscape for creative professionals, providing insights into survival and exploring the future of the self-employed.

iTunes Ratings

177 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
50
0
1
3

Love it!

By sashkinja - Sep 13 2016
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One of my favorite podcasts. Keep up the good work!

Excellent content!

By Kristapoo - Apr 22 2016
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I really enjoy these podcasts and get a lot our of them. THANKS! Keep up the great work.

iTunes Ratings

177 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
50
0
1
3

Love it!

By sashkinja - Sep 13 2016
Read more
One of my favorite podcasts. Keep up the good work!

Excellent content!

By Kristapoo - Apr 22 2016
Read more
I really enjoy these podcasts and get a lot our of them. THANKS! Keep up the great work.

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Cover image of Clients From Hell Podcast

Clients From Hell Podcast

Updated 5 days ago

Read more

From one of Tumblr's most popular blogs and straight into your earholes, join Clients From Hell editor Bryce Bladon and a rotating panel of guests. The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the landscape for creative professionals, providing insights into survival and exploring the future of the self-employed.

How to start freelancing

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Learn how to put your best foot forward when you decide to start freelancing. This is easily our most common Freelance FAQ. 

Do you have a question of your own? Shoot us an email

Want to support the show? Leave us a review on iTunes!

--

Freelance FAQ: How do I start freelancing?

KAI

The basic answer is ‘find someone who wants to pay you money for a service you provide, then provide that service.

The longer answer is:

  • Identify a target market you want to work with (The Positioning Manual by Philip Morgan is a great resource for this)
  • Identify an expensive problem -- “We aren’t getting enough leads!” -- that the target market is experiencing
  • Create a service offering that helps the client resolve the problem (“We aren’t getting enough leads”) and moves them towards their dream outcome (“We’re getting too many leads!”)

I started by picking a hobby-skill I had (wordpress development) and finding people who needed WordPress websites. Over time, I identified more valuable problems to focus on and updated my positioning, my target market, my expensive problem, and my service offerings.

But to start, create those ‘rolodex moments’ -- have a strong positioning statement (“I’m a THING who helps TARGET MARKET with EXPENSIVE PROBLEM”) and see what referrals and reaction you get.

BRYCE

What you need to start freelancing

All you really need to freelance is:

  • A Good Mentality (e.g. self-confidence, a willingness to try, etc.)
  • Action (e.g. self-discipline, actually doing the work).
  • A skill that can provide value
  • A plan (e.g. self-reflection, meaningful goals, etc.)

Selling and positioning your skill so that it appeals to clients -- and building a plan around that -- is the real secret to freelancing successfully. Typically, this is referred to as finding a niche, which is something a freelancer should do as soon as possible.

A niche reduces competition and increases specialization. Niche experts can earn more and they’re more attractive to clients with problems their niche experience helps solve. It provides direction and focus.

You’ll want to find some sort of niche ASAP. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help:

  • What industry do you actually use products from or enjoy?
  • What industry hires freelancers with skills like yours?
  • What industry would you enjoy networking in and actually being a part of?

Finding those first three good clients is the first barrier to overcome.

With those first clients (and future clients), you’ll want to:

  1. Find a client’s problem and know how to solve it.
  2. Target the correct market
  3. Pitch the client by...
  • Address the problem: The client’s issue, objective, needs, goals, etc.
  • Offer a solution: Your strategy, plan, or unique positioning that makes you the answer they’ve been looking for.
  • Fees and timelines: I wouldn’t go too far into this initially, but you’ll want to lay the groundwork for fees and realistic timelines. A client shouldn’t feel blindsided by this stuff down the line.

After those first few client interactions, you should reassess your plan before moving forward. Is your skill offering value to clients? Did you enjoy working with these clients? Are there areas to improve?

If those first few client interactions went well and you want to do more work with them, pursue referrals, build case studies, and focus on refining your service as much as possible.

-- 

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RS

Feb 27 2017

29mins

Play

Guidelines for Freelancers

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Paul Minors joins Bryce Bladon to discuss his new book, Guidelines. It offers concise, straightforward advice that's equal parts summary and inspiration people like Marcus Aurelius and Tim Ferris.

Episode Summary

We discuss:

  • The philosophy of self-improvement
  • Saying no to everything that's not important
  • The value of showing your appreciation
  • Why you need to be quick and dirty when it comes to executing ideas
  • Getting more sleep. Seriously. Do it. 
  • Affirmations and whether or not they actually work. 

 > Paul Minor's Guidelines

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Sep 12 2016

38mins

Play

Why you should never use Upwork ever

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A malicious client, a maligned job board, and a freelancer caught in the middle.

"Why you should never use Upwork, ever" recently blew up the internet. Bryce sits down to speak with the article's author, Shadi Al'lababidi, about his personal client from hell, Upwork's response, and how his outlook has changed as a result of the experience. 

Episode Summary

In this episode, Bryce and Shadi discuss:

  • Shadi's personal client from hell
  • How his client from hell tried to ruin his career
  • How Upwork responded
  • The ongoing challenges of freelance marketplaces
  • Where freelancing is going in the future

Why you should never use Upwork, ever (Part 1)

> The post, post Upwork debacle (Part 2)

> The state of freelancing: a guide to 2017 (Part 3)

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Nov 14 2016

20mins

Play

Contracts, Invoices, and Rates: Everything You Need to Know

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As the founder of the best (free) invoicing and contract service for freelancers, Matt Brown is worth listening to.

Sharing his and his partner's freelancing experiences, Matt discusses the issues freelancers face and how Bonsai tries to address them. The best part: he made all these lessons and tools available to you.

> Bonsai

> The Freelance Rate Explorer

> The Freelance Stack: A guide to the best freelance tools

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Oct 10 2016

23mins

Play

Don't sell service, sell STRATEGY: Annabelle King's tips for great pitching

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When pitching your work, most creative freelancers sell their skills or their services. However, the key to landing big clients is to show that you're an indispensable part of their team by selling strategy

Anabelle King realized this over years of working at agencies, and now she lands big clients with her boutique branding business I Like Storytelling. She shares her strats for creating a collaborative relationship with her clients in today's episode! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 16 2019

29mins

Play

Okay, MAYBE use Upwork

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Have you ever had to slap a restraining order on a client? 

In this special bonus episode, Laura Pennington joins Bryce Bladon to give her opinion on Upwork, a site she's made thousands of dollars on. Laura shares her worst experience on the job board (spoiler: it involves a restraining order), her advice for freelancers who want to use Upwork, and her secrets for succeeding as a freelancer.

> Six Figure Writing Secrets (Twitter and Facebook)

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon

Dec 08 2016

18mins

Play

How to grow a business: from farm to freelance with Sarah Taber

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Plants are easy to take care of. If you feed them the right things and give them the right amount of water, they absolutely will grow and thrive. People, and by extension businesses, can be more tricky. 

Agricultural consultant Sarah Taber (and host of Farm to Taber!) is great with plants, but she's also learning how to be great with people too.  She talks to Kyle about why freelancing means paying attention to your clients and working with their emotional investments (even if you'd rather be doing anything else). 

Today's links: 

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Want to support the show?

This episode is brought to you by Easel.ly, an infographic design service that transforms raw data into clear, interesting images. You can see their work on Clients From Hell

Want to get a shoutout for your services on the podcast? Get in touch: contact@clientsfromhell.net

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 24 2018

29mins

Play

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days

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There are a lot of freelancing, entrepreneur, and side-hustle expert out there, but few have earned their authority quite like Chris Guillebeau. He joins Bryce to discuss why there's no one-size-fits-all approach to freelancing and his advice for folks who want to get started. 

Chris is the host of Side Hustle School and bestselling author of The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit, and The Art of Non-Conformity. His new book, Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, is on sale on September 29th, 2017.

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Side Hustle Schoolhttps://sidehustleschool.com/

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Dayshttps://www.amazon.com/Side-Hustle-Idea-Income-Days/dp/1524758841

Sep 05 2017

19mins

Play

How to sell yourself without "selling out."

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If you're a freelancer, like it or hate it (and most of us hate it) you're in sales. And for those of us with creative backgrounds, a lot of the time there's a real anxiety about "selling out."

Today's guest Brent Weaver makes a career of helping people with their sales strategies at uGurus. He chats with Bryce about how to get over this fear, and how to make the most money from doing your craft! 

Links from today's show:

http://bit.ly/2u6IctB

http://ugurus.com/

https://twitter.com/brentweaver

--

This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

--

Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

May 02 2017

30mins

Play

How to be an artist AND an adventurer

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Life is short. How do you do all the things you want to do in the time you have?

Of all the people Bryce knows, Ryan Estrada probably comes closest to doing it all. Cartoonist, artist, traveler, podcast producer, and all around asskicker, Ryan uses freelancing to make sure he's doing what he loves all around the world.

Links from today's show:

--

This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

--

Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on iTunes or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 25 2017

36mins

Play

Freelancers from hell and getting a client to pay you

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How to get a client to pay you, how to get a testimonial from a client, and what to do when your work is stolen by another freelancer.

Do you have a question of your own? Shoot us an email

Want to support the show? Leave us a review on iTunes!

--

Freelance FAQ: How do I ensure a client pays my invoice?

Always start with a deposit -- typically 50%. This guarantees your time and services. Before sending over the final project, ensure you collect the remaining 50% first.

  • (You don’t need to do this exact split, but collecting 50-100% upfront is the most straightforward way to ensure timely payment and a quality client)

Use a contract, and in it, stipulate that the intellectual property is yours and usage is illegal until payment in full is received.

  • Clarify your payment schedule and refund policy in the same contract
  • Attaching payment to milestones is an excellent practice for larger projects
  • If a client is curious why you don’t offer refunds, clarify the time investment and that you have to turn down other work to complete this project.

Make it as easy as possible for the client to pay (e.g. Paypal, Stripe, Bonsai).

Automate reminders for the client to pay.

Until the client signs the contract and pays your deposit, do NOT start work.

  • This stage is where you spend your time understanding, evaluating, and explaining things to the client.
  • Once they pay, you should take a more active role.

As always, don’t give them any legitimate reasons not to pay you. Communicate, be on time, and produce quality work.

Clients who have issues paying at the start are likely to have issues paying you at the end of a project. Trust your gut in these instances.

As you get more experience, learn what to charge for, and what to offer as a free bonus.

Friendly emails and phone calls will cover you the vast majority of the time. The more direct the communication method, the harder it is to ignore.

Freelance FAQ: How do you get testimonials from clients?

Ask for one after a successful client engagement.

Reach out to past clients a few weeks or months down the line; see how the project is doing. While you have their ear, ask for a testimonial.

Make it as easy as possible for clients to give you a testimonial.

  • Make your request short and to the point.
  • Offer some light direction
  • Follow up if you don’t hear back within a week.

If a client reveals they’re dissatisfied with your work and they won’t give you a testimonial, don’t treat this as a loss. Follow up; ask about the issues they experienced with you and what you can do to improve.

Feedback from the Inferno: What do I do about another freelancer who stole my work?

(This segment originally premiered over at The Freelancers Union.)

I know you’ve addressed clients stealing work before, but I’m in a slightly different situation. Another photographer – one who I’ve never met – has one my pieces in his portfolio and he’s claiming himself as the creator.

What should I do? Do I have any recourse, or should I just let it go?

– A picture-perfect freelancer

No need to take the Elsa philosophy; there are three things you can do.

Start by writing a polite request for them to take down your work.

After that, you can file a DMCA takedown. Here’s a basic breakdown from the NPPA on how to do that. All you need to do is find the ISP hosting your image and draft your takedown notice.

Finally, you can hire a lawyer to send them a cease a desist. I wouldn’t recommend this one; it’s not going to be worth your time and effort, and attorneys – in addition to being expensive – tend to take cases like this one in very specific circumstances, e.g. if you’ve registered your photo before the infringement.

One thing you should not do is go straight to shaming the perpetrator online; take the high road before you consider the low one. It’s important to stick up for yourself and take necessary steps to protect your work, but it’s unlikely that this will in any way cost you work or somehow tarnish your reputation. Starting an online mob, however, has the potential to do both these things, so tread carefully.

-- 

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RS

Feb 09 2017

14mins

Play

How to Turn a Lead Into a Client

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From qualifying clients to education as a lead conversion technique, Bryce Bladon and Kai Davis discuss how they turn prospects into high-paying clients.

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Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Jan 16 2017

20mins

Play

How to build a better freelance job board

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Complaints against UpWork continue to pile up, but the issues plaguing most freelance job boards are universal. Lauren Holliday joins Bryce to discuss Freelanship.com and how she approached building a better freelance marketplace.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Bryce and Lauren discuss:

  • Why you should never use Upwork, ever.
  • The issues that plague most job boards
  • How the freelancer-client relationship is hurt by these issues
  • How Lauren strived to build a better job board
  • How you can find work without a job board

Handy links:

> Freelanship

> Hack the Job Hunt

> Why you should never use Upwork, ever by Shadi Al'lababidi (Part 2) (Part 3)

> 10 reasons I created my own marketplace by Lauren Holliday

> You Must Learn How to Write a Damn Good Email by Lauren Holliday

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Oct 31 2016

19mins

Play

The 2017 Freelancing Forecast

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Bryce Bladon and Kai Davis share their plans, their predictions, and their advice for the upcoming year. 

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Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RSS

Jan 09 2017

29mins

Play

How to Provide an Agency Experience as a Freelancer

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Convincing a client you can deliver an agency as a sole proprietor is difficult but incredibly valuable.

Laura Elizabeth of Client-Portal.io discusses how she does it, and the tools and techniques other freelancers can use to elevate their authority with clients. 

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Client Portalhttps://client-portal.io/

Laura's article on onboarding clientshttps://doubleyourfreelancing.com/onboarding/ 

Lauren's Twitterhttps://twitter.com/laurium 

Aug 29 2017

21mins

Play

Rise of the Slash Worker: Data and Insights from Freelancers

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Bryce reflects on data from the gig economy, sharing insights into how freelancers are succeeding (and what issues they're struggling to overcome). 

Here are the links he talks about during this episode:

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We want to hear from you!

Give us your feedback on how we can improve the Clients From Hell podcast by using this linkhttps://cfh.typeform.com/to/gEABz7

Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

--

Shownotes

Survey makeup:

As vast majority of freelancers AND CO interviewed—95% of them—are what are being call "Slash Workers," or independent workers whose services or skills vary by client and project. About 70% of respondents were from the States

Respondent makeup:

  • Creative/design: 33%
  • Consulting - Professional Services: 21%
  • Writing/Journalism/Content: 17%
  • Tech/Web Design: 15%
  • Other 14%
  • Median income for respondents who reported is in the $25,000 to $49,999 range, which aligns with the average income for single taxpayers in the U.S. per the IRS (2014): $34,940.

General takeaways:

  • Freelancing is a growing choice
  • Freelancers enjoy higher quality of life at the expense of financial security
  • This quality of life manifests in the form of freedom, be it personal autonomy or flexibility
  • The traditional concept of the office is on the way out. Working from home is a substitute, but more and more people are interested in a “digital nomad” lifestyle – or the ability to work from anywhere.

Interesting insights:

  • 40% of U.S. workers will be freelance by 2020 (Freelancers Union)
  • Two-thirds of freelancers have 0-3 years of freelancing experience.
  • Going independent is a conscious choice for 94% of freelancers (it’s not a fallback)
  • 41% want to freelance “forever”
  • 95% of freelancers offer two or more services
    • Only 5% offer a single skill or work function
  • Most freelancers chose freelancing for personal growth (only 7% did it for the financial upside)
  • A quarter of freelancers self-describe as nomads (and they’re 11% happier than other freelancers)
    • 60% of freelancers said they’d be interested in pursuing a nomadic lifestyle in the future.
  • Nearly half of freelancers want companies to offer more remote work opportunities
  • About 3/4 of freelancers feel less financially stable since going freelance
    • But 68% say their general quality of life has increased
  • Only 6% of respondents are freelancing until they find their next full-time gig.

Money and jobs:

  • 91% of respondents said they typically get work from word of mouth and referrals
    • Just under half said organic website or portfolio traffic
    • 37% find work through outreach or pitching
    • One-third find work via freelance-specific job boards
    • 23% find work via general job boards
  • 43% earn less than $25K a year
    • 1/6th earn between that and 50k
    • 1/6th earn between 50k and 75k
    • 7% earn between 75k and 100k
    • 10% earn 100k or more
      • Interestingly, there’s a correlation between the experience levels of respondents and their income bracket. Do keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation though

Bonsai found that for all skills and locations, the most significant jump in compensation per experience level comes between the 1-3 and 3-5 year categories. This can be most often attributed to them developing essential business skills (project management, negotiation...), developing their knowledge about their market and their clients, building a strong portfolio and leveraging their network.

Developers earn about 30% more than designers across experience levels and geographies. This happens to be true even for highest charging designers (ie Product Designers) when compared to lowest charging developers (Front-end / Android)

Design rates (in particular graphic design) hardly reach $60 per hour for all locations and experience levels. While developers can see their rates increase quickly with their gaining experience (typically after 3 years), most experienced designers grow rates at a slower pace. The most common explanation we’ve heard for this is local or international competition at lower rates, including from part time designers. The lower barrier to entry for design types, plus the smaller project sizes, leads to lower rates.

The issues for freelancers:

  • 61% say they miss the feeling of community a traditional workplace offered
  • 60% of respondents say there’s a lack of respect for freelancers
  • 44% have been stiffed by a client
  • Men are 4.5x more likely to earn $150k+/year than women
    • And 48% of women fall into the lowest tax bracket
  • 41% of respondents want more protections for freelancer rights

Jun 02 2017

28mins

Play

Stop calling yourself a freelancer

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Who do you think you are?

Everyone who works for themselves has wrestled some point over what title to use. Many start by using the title "freelance _"—designer, writer, software developer, or whatever the case may be.

The words you use influence others’ perception of you.'

Today's links: 

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According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain. They argue that a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning. In other words, “angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes."

Meanwhile, a positive word can strengthen areas in frontal lobes and promote cognitive function. They write "as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality."

So what does that mean for us?

What’s your first thought when you hear the word "freelancer"? Do you picture a college kid working out of her parent’s basement? Most people perceive freelancers as in the lurch, between unemployment and their next ‘real’ job.

Many people who call themselves freelancers don’t exactly think of what they do as a business. But they should.

Clients too often see freelance arrangements as low-cost line items rather than strategic partnerships.

And that creates a power imbalance, with the client in charge—hardly an ideal situation for independent workers, especially those trying to start a business with the express purpose of gaining more freedom over their work.

When he first started out, Tim Dietrich described himself as a "freelance database consultant." But he soon realized that the "freelance" tag said more to clients about the structure of his business (process) than what he could actually do for them (results). Tim now introduces himself with this simple line, "I develop custom apps for businesses." Who would you want to work with more: Someone who tells you how they file their taxes or explains what they can do for your balance sheet?

Your livelihood doesn't depend on your own self-perception, but on how potential clients see you and your work.

Freelancers don't always see themselves as business owners because businesses have quarterly targets, revenue streams, and brand images to preserve. And clients expect that other businesses have systems and processes leading to consistent results. Don’t worry if you’re still working on systems and processes. It’s still okay to call yourself a business—which can in turn push you to build a workflow for yourself, set firmer goals, and increase your margins—just like an actual business.

--

This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

--

Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Also: do you love the podcast? Is there anything you'd like to see us change about it? Let us know by filling out this short survey!

Jun 20 2017

14mins

Play

What to Do When Your Client Won't Deliver What They Promised

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Getting your client to live up to their side of your business relationship can be difficult and it's almost always necessary. But how do you do it? Whether it's the client delivering promised files, paying your rate, or them simply keeping their word, there's rarely an easy fix. 

James Rose of Content Snare has at least one solution – and a lot of quality advice. If you enjoyed what James had to say, he invites you to check out the Content Snare Facebook Group!

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Content Snarehttps://contentsnare.com

Content Snare's Facebook Grouphttps://contentsnare.com/group

James Rose on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/_jimmyrose

Aug 08 2017

21mins

Play

How to Get New Clients from Referrals

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Steve Gordon, author of Unstoppable Referrals,  joins Bryce Bladon to discuss how to get client referrals.

They cover:

  • Why referrals are so important
  • Obstacles that impede referrals
  • Reverse prospecting

> Check out Steve's FREE referral course

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Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RS

Jan 12 2017

25mins

Play

Unique snowflakes and specializing with a niche

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How do you specialize with a niche? Why do you specialize with a niche? A third question!?

This and more on this episode of the Clients From Hell podcast. 

Do you have a question of your own? Shoot us an email

Want to support the show? Leave us a review on iTunes!

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How do I find my niche?

This question was originally submitted for the 'Feedback from the Inferno' segment. However, it's a common question, so we've elevated it to the Freelancer FAQ segment. 

I don’t have much experience freelancing and I’m confused how to sell my services – what makes me unique?

I’m an illustrator, I started freelancing straight out of university, and I’ve only had a handful of jobs in roughly two years – I think this is because I spent a lot of time not knowing what I wanted to do or even how to do it but I’m starting to find a bit more focus now. I’ve started pushing myself towards children’s illustration with the hopes of getting work in publishing, greetings cards, stationary – maybe even the games industry.

My issue is this – I have no idea what my niche is. I used to think narrowing my field was good enough, but I was just listening to your “how to find work as a freelancer” podcast, and you mentioned the need to tell a client why they need you, and why you can do the work in a unique way.

The thing is, I don’t know how I can complete the work in a way that another illustrator couldn’t also do. I don’t have an impressive client list under my belt, and I don’t have a particularly unique workflow or style. I simply don’t know what I could say to a client that would make me stand out.

- A no-niche freelancer

Everyone feels this way at a certain point – in life and in freelancing. Do not stress about being unsure about your uniqueness quite yet. You may not even have the practical experience necessary to really know yourself and what you’re about.

I think it would be worthwhile for you to try and get some practical experience at an agency. It offers on-the-job experience; it can refine your skills, and it can teach you a lot about dealing with clients. It can also tell you a lot about yourself, what you value, and what separates you from the pack.

But, if you already have a day job, or if freelancing as an illustrator is your exclusive interest, that’s fine too.

The first thing you should focus on is what Neil Gaiman identified as the three reasons someone will work with a freelancer. The best part is, you only need to deliver on two of them:

  • Quality work
  • Delivered promptly
  • Pleasant to work with

After you manage two out of three on that, then you can start to hone in on that niche.

The more work you do, the more you’ll appreciate what kind of work you enjoy – and what kind you despise. The more work you do, the more you’ll come to appreciate what makes you, as a professional, unique and compelling. It doesn’t just happen. It’s a long, slow, and heavily involved process that can sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention.

I’m almost certain that the handful of clients you’ve had has resulted in an informative experience, if not a niche-defining one.

There are a few suggestions for finding that specific niche:

  • Reach out to potential clients and ask them questions (e.g. why did you hire that freelancer, how did you find them, what problems were you having, what results did you expect, etc.)
  • Do not try to pitch these clients while you’re researching
  • Time, effort, work, and a whole lot of reflection on your experiences
  • Go to a job board or freelancer site (e.g. upwork, fiverr) and look at what the highest paid freelancers claim as their unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Reach out to successful illustrators and ask them about their journey to where they are now. (e.g. what kind of clients did you end up focusing on? What made your offering compelling? What was the most common client pain point? Etc.)
  • Figure out what you’re good at. Ask your friends; give them an anonymous google doc to fill out if you want a lot of honest answers.

I’ll be honest: my niche has changed multiple time over the course of my career. It will almost certainly change again. I learned that I’m a flexible resource that completes work quickly, and I’m excellent at providing creative content. However, I’m not a huge fan of actually “selling” my work, nor did I always feel I had the chops to provide strategic consulting.

Having worked with clients of a few shapes, sizes, and industries, I figured I’d aim at smaller agencies that had issues with their copy (I looked at their website, job postings, etc.). A client taught me that most agencies of a certain size don’t have a staff writer (this is a pain point); they make due with somewhat-unreliable freelancers (another pain point) for this work.

I reached out directly to the CEO or head of hiring, showcased I did my research, and (POLITELY) brought these issues to their attention. I closed the letter by asking if I could chat with them for five minutes to get some advice regarding their industry. Almost every one said yes. People like being approached as experts, especially if you start by offering a little value first.

After taking these meetings, I ask my questions (see that point about researching your clients?). I close the meeting by thanking them for their time, and I state that, if they ever need help creating content, I was hungry for practical experience in the industry, and I’d even charge less than my usual rate. I also addressed those aforementioned pain points (e.g. I can come in a couple of times a week for in-person briefings and on-the-fly edits; I can commit x hours a week, so you’re always guaranteed a reliable resource, etc.)

Full disclosure: I don’t actually have a usual rate. I figured out what I wanted to make an hour and said it was half my usual rate.

TL;DR:

  • Get experience with as many clients as you can.
  • Reach out to clients and ask after their industry and why they hire freelancers
  • Research successful freelancers in your field The end goal: Figure out the client’s challenges, the solutions others offer, and what defines you as an individual.
  • You don’t need to re-invent the wheel with your offering; you just need to give it your own compelling spin.

-- 

Questions? Episode ideas?

Talk to Clients From Hell or Bryce Bladon on Twitter. Or shoot us an email

Clients From Hell on iTunes | Soundcloud Subscribe on iTunes | Android | RS

Feb 14 2017

21mins

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Freelance Forgiveness: Mike Tanner and the relationships in our heads

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It's a familiar feeling. You overpromised a client on deliverables and got overwhelmed with work, or family stuff came up, or you hit a wall in the project that you just couldn't overcome. You put it off for a day, then two days, then a week... All of a sudden you're way overdue and you haven't talked to the client in that entire time. Clearly they're furious with you, fuming behind your back.

Or are they? Mike Tanner talks with Kyle Carpenter about the ways we create imaginary relationships with our clients, especially since freelancers don't usually get to talk to them one on one on a regular basis. It's never as bad as you think, for real. Find out how forgiveness is the way to move forward! 

Let us know on twitter @clientsfh - do you create imaginary relationships with your clients? Or are you strictly business, with nothing personal riding on your performance? How did you arrive where you are?

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Nov 27 2019

25mins

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Work/life balance is bogus: Cami Travis-Groves and the secret to work/life harmony

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It's the middle of winter, and a massive tree just crashed down on your house. What do you do? 

It happened to Cami Travis-Groves, and she knows she did exactly the right thing. She expressed gratitude that nobody was hurt and move on. She brings that attitude to her working life as a designer and as a coach for freelancers, and she shares her tips for how to rise to every occasion and why "work/life balance" is, in her eyes, totally bogus. 

As a bonus, listen to host Kyle Carpenter pitch her (unsuccessfully) on why sarcastic positivity can be really helpful for some people! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Nov 12 2019

21mins

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You need a (virtual) assistant: Melissa Smith of the Association of Virtual Assistants

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Do you have an assistant? Should you? Look at what you have to do today; how much of it is what you want your job to be, and how much of it is something you hate to do? What if you had someone who could do that stuff for you, so you could focus on being the designer/programmer/writer you always wanted to be? 

Melissa Smith is the founder of the Association of Virtual Assistants and she's of the opinion that everyone growing a business should have an assistant to help them do the things they need to succeed. 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Oct 29 2019

21mins

Play

Business tips from a pro caricature artist: Julia Kelly

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Balancing a passion for art and a talent for business isn't always the easiest, but it can be done. Just look at Julia Kelly, who turned a part-time job doing caricature art into a full-time business that paid her more than accounting work! 

In today's episode, she talks with Kyle about the lessons she learned in client management from doing caricature art (hint: understanding your client means paying attention to more than just what they're saying), describes her path forward in a new business. 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Oct 09 2019

22mins

Play

Overwhelmed? Get over it with Emily Leach

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It's the 21st Century. Chances are you're feeling overwhelmed right now. If you are, listen to this interview with The Freelance Conference's Emily Leach to find her effective strategies for managing overwhelm! 

Even better, her tip isn't just "plan better." It's to reach out to people you love and keep human connections in the picture. Find out why this works in this interview! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Sep 26 2019

28mins

Play

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Money Conversation: Ilise Benun on discussing budget

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Don't you just hate talking about money with clients? Either you're quoting WAY too low, or you're putting out a number that makes you feel like an imposter. Either way, talking budget is a source of incredible anxiety for most freelancers.

Unless, of course, you're Ilise Benun. Ilise LOVES having the money conversation with clients, and that's because she's figured out a great trick for making both her and her clients comfortable discussing budget. 

It's a simple trick, but it's a mind-blower: she asks "is this a $500 project, a $5000 project, or a $50,000 project?" Find out WHY this amazing trick works in her conversation with Kyle! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Sep 03 2019

25mins

Play

Clarity is key: Wes Jones and maintaining awesome client relations

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Client relationships break down. It's a bummer, but it happens. But what causes it?

Wes Jones has been a project manager both with agencies and as a freelancer to know that things deteriorate when communication isn't clear. That's why he wrote the Producer Playbook to help make sure that everyone on a project can be on the same page. 

On this week's episode, Wes chats with Kyle about his strategies for managing client expectations and making sure your needs as a freelancer are met. He also shares a surprising tip on how to make sure that you are happy in your business! 

We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Aug 20 2019

26mins

Play

Pay it forward, give it back: Maddy Osman and altruism in freelancing

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It's rough out there these days. Sometimes, you have to make your own good.

That's what Maddy Osman was thinking when she created a scholarship for freelancers on her own dime. Not as a way to promote her business, not to train up someone she could work with or profit off of - just to help someone in the way she felt she'd been helped.

In this episode, Maddy and Kyle talk about what it means to give back to the freelance community, and what it means to be altruistic as part of your hustle. 

We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Aug 06 2019

25mins

Play

Freelance workers unite! The IWW Freelance Journalists' Union and the future of organization

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Freelancers everywhere experience the same problems. Deadbeat clients who won't pay their wages. Economic precarity. The knowledge that if you get sick, you might not be able to work enough to pay your bills. There are a lot of opportunities in freelancing, but there are also a lot of fears and dangers.

Much of that danger comes from working alone - but what if you weren't alone? What if freelancers - hear me out - formed a union?

The Industrial Workers of The World (IWW) is a union that formed in 1905 and has a storied history of fighting for workers rights and they recently formed a branch for freelance journalists that could be the first step in adapting the classical union model to the gig economy. In this episode Kyle talks with a member of the union about their goals and strategies, and why you might consider joining in solidarity. After all, if we all experience the same problems, why don't we try to solve them together?

We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jul 23 2019

21mins

Play

How to grow a freelance community: Julie Cortés of the KC Freelance Exchange

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Working freelance can be lonely. That was exactly what Julie Cortés found when she started her freelance copywriting business years ago - so she did something about it. She started what has become the bustling KC Freelance Exchange, a freelancer's network that she's taking national. 

Julie talks with Kyle about all the reasons you should get to know the other freelancers in your city, and how putting the work in on the exchange changed her life. Let Julie inspire you to get out and connect! 

We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jul 09 2019

20mins

Play

Three rules for creating a thriving business: Joe Casabona on success and Game of Thrones

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What does it take to create a successful business? Are there any tricks? Are people with great products dark sorcerers, or did they just get lucky?

For nearly three years now, Joe Casabona has talked with people who have created successful products, finding out the secrets of getting a business off the ground on his podcast, "How I Built It." In this episode shares what he's learned from countless successful entrepreneurs, discusses an unlikely inspiration, and tells you what you can learn from Game of Thrones about listening to your clients.  We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free three-month trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jun 25 2019

21mins

Play

How to be yourself, whatever: Rachel Presser on being "The Toad Lady"

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We hear constantly that we should "be ourselves" and "be authentic." The only problem is when most people tell us that, they're telling us to be the person they think we are. But that's not what it means to be yourself.

Rachel Presser of Sonic Toad Media couldn't be mistaken for anyone but herself. She makes games and she loves toads, and any encounter with her makes that absolutely clear. She does a great job of recognizing who she wants to work with, and she knows that watering herself down means working with people she doesn't want to work with. She shares her philosophy with Kyle in this week's episode. We're sponsored this week by Gusto! Manage payroll, taxes and HR from one simple management tool so you can be the boss you always wish you had! Check out their three-month free trial.

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Check out Gusto's free trial! https://gusto.com/cfh

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jun 11 2019

21mins

Play

How does he do it? Mike Tanner on productivity and being a work at home dad

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Running your own business or freelancing means juggling everything in your life at all times. The hustle is hard, but it gets exponentially harder when you're a parent - especially when you work at home.

Mike Tanner began One Red Cat Media when he was a new parent, and that business has grown alongside his children. In this episode, he shares his strategies for keeping productive also while being a great dad. SPOILER: his strategies are useful for everyone, kids or no! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jun 04 2019

25mins

Play

Time management is EVERYTHING: Glenn Rogers on avoiding burnout

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Are you constantly exhausted? Do you find yourself staring at the computer screen struggling to finish projects that should be easy?

Burnout happens when you overcommit, and when you don't keep track of the time you're spending. In today's episode, Glenn Rogers of Float shares his tips on why it's so important to recognize your limits and keep track of the time you are spending on work. 

Remember: all the work in the world is of no use if you're drowning!

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

May 21 2019

22mins

Play

"Borrow" authority: Michael Greenberg's guide to podcasting your way to SUCCESS

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Content strategy is key for establishing your authority in the market. If your clients know you're the expert on what you do, they'll be happy to pay you to solve their problems. But how do you establish yourself as an "expert"?

That's where Michael Greenberg comes in. His agency Call For Content specializes in using podcasts to create a strong client base, and in this week's episode he shares his strategies for turning a few key interviews into a thriving business by "borrowing" your clients' authority. 

It's a short listen at just over twenty minutes and chock full of mind-blowing tips. Check it out! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 30 2019

21mins

Play

Don't sell service, sell STRATEGY: Annabelle King's tips for great pitching

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When pitching your work, most creative freelancers sell their skills or their services. However, the key to landing big clients is to show that you're an indispensable part of their team by selling strategy

Anabelle King realized this over years of working at agencies, and now she lands big clients with her boutique branding business I Like Storytelling. She shares her strats for creating a collaborative relationship with her clients in today's episode! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 16 2019

29mins

Play

How to find your "Helen": Alison Knott and recognizing your ideal client

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The key to success in freelancing is realizing how to find the right clients - the people who are not only great to work with, but actually have money to pay you

Alison Knott is a web consultant who mentors creatives, and she knows all the mistakes that freelancers make: targeting the wrong clients, the wrong platforms, the wrong rewards. In this episode, she shares the decisions you have to make right now to start making money! 

Today's links: 

Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Apr 02 2019

38mins

Play

Dare to DREAM: Ami Sanyal and how to pitch value-based pricing.

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Value-based pricing is the holy grail of freelancing. It's how you make a lot of money by showing your clients that you can give them results. It's also not easy to make the switch to this pricing structure!

Returning guest Ami Sanyal shares his DREAM framework for getting clients on board with paying you more! Ami walks you through:

  • Discovery
  • Repel
  • Establish Packages
  • Address Risk
  • Money

Ami breaks down this approach, and how he was able to transform his agency with this approach! 

Want Ami's script for this approach? Text EZGROW to 393939 for a step-by-step guide! 

Today's links: 

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Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Mar 19 2019

42mins

Play

Break the Creative's Curse with Todd Brison!

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What's keeping YOU from being creative? Discipline? Scheduling? Good old fashioned "writer's block"?

Todd Brison has made a name for himself by tackling these problems head-on and discovering how to make the most of your muse. In his extremely popular posts on Medium and his two amazing books The Unstoppable Creative and The Creative's Curse, he breaks down strategies for doing creative work whenever you need!

This episode is like one of the best creative coaching sessions you'll ever get. Tune in!

Today's links: 

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Want to support the show?

Order a custom infographic from Easel.ly! Use this link (https://www.easel.ly/infographicdesign/) for a great price! 

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Mar 06 2019

29mins

Play

Don't be Just Another Freelancer. Instead, listen to Kaylee White!

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If you want to succeed as a freelancer, you can't compete for scraps. That's the message that Kaylee White of Kaylee Writes puts forth in her new book, How Not to Be Just Another Freelancer, but how do you find the GOOD clients that will push you and your business into the next level? 

Kaylee talks with Kyle about what it means to step away from the pack and run a successful business for yourself, and the very important steps you need to take to do so! 

Today's links: 

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Want to support the show?

This episode is brought to you by Easel.ly, an infographic design service that transforms raw data into clear, interesting images. You can see their work on Clients From Hell

Think you'd be a great fit for the show? Let me know at twitter.com/KCarCFH

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Feb 20 2019

26mins

Play