How to Create Remarkable Client Relationships

Unremarkable Experiences Are Everywhere

When you think of the companies you deal with, are they remarkable – in a good way?

It’s probably easier for you to remember which companies are unremarkable. There are many successful businesses that have frankly awful relationships with their customers.

Cable companies are a great example of this, as I recently discovered when I stayed at my parent’s new house in Florida. I couldn’t sleep because of all the electronics in their spare room, so I unplugged it and got my solid 8 hours.

I woke the next morning to a household in absolute pandemonium. It turns out that I hadn’t just unplugged the Wi-Fi, I’d unplugged the whole house. The electronics was their SmartHome Hub. Everything was down: the air conditioner, phone, internet, TV, security alarm, washing machine – the lot.

unhappy customer -painted faceThe whole process of dealing with the cable company was painful; ridiculously long account numbers, getting passed between departments, long periods on hold. I’m sure many of you can empathize. Finally, I’m informed that they’ll send an engineer out to restart the system…in 6 days.


After a lot of back-and-forth, they finally agreed to send an engineer the next day. It was an uphill battle just to get a basic service from a company we were already paying. I was left stressed out from a simple phone call.

When it comes to business relationships, this was definitely at the low end of the scale! But really, you don’t see a lot of really remarkable relationships out there – at all.

Think about it. You’ve definitely had an experience that makes you remember it, in a positive light.


Those are the companies that you recommend, the times you think of when someone asks you about your experience. Have you ever said to a friend, ”Oh, use these people, I had the best experience with them…?” I’m sure you have.

What’s a Remarkable Client Relationship Anyway?

When someone goes out of their way to create an exceptional experience, you’ll remember it. Here’s a story I heard recently about exactly that:

My friend, Bob, gets in a taxi to catch his flight home from Houston airport. As soon as he gets in the cab, he notices a copy of the Wall Street Journal on the seat. The driver turns around to Bob, greets him formally, points out that the newspaper is his to take on the plane if he wishes, and invites him to help himself to a cool drink from the cooler.


This quickly turns into the best taxi Bob’s ever had. When they arrive at the airport, the driver helps him out, directs him to his check-in desk, and hands over his card, saying,

“I’d love to be your driver, whenever you’re in Houston. Whenever you’re here, give me a call and I’ll pick you up at the airport.”

Thinking about the experience later at home, Bob Googles the average cab driver’s salary in Houston. It’s around $20k. So, he emails the guy to thank him and commend him on his service and asks him how much he makes. It turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that this taxi driver makes $150k a year! All of that from regular clients, who call him when they’re in town.

So, this clever taxi driver is making 7x the average salary, simply by providing a great service and building remarkable relationships with his clients.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Even A Little Goes a Very Long Way

Creating a remarkable client relationship doesn’t mean you have to perform some back-breaking client service. Far from it. Less can often be more

Take one of our BA members, who was dropping off his car at an airport carpark. All the stresses of finding a spot to park, along with the general travelling woes we can all get, was making the experience pretty awful.

But then, when the shuttle arrived to take them to the airport, all these were completely mitigated by the attitude of their driver. She went so far out of her way to improve the experience of her passengers that it changed their entire trip. She even hugged everyone as they got off the bus, wishing them a safe flight and a ‘see-you-soon’.

cool-sparklers-memorable-experience (1)

Now, that’s a remarkable experience. And if you think about it, it really didn’t cost very much at all, apart from a bit of energy and love. Those little extras really can go a very long way. How often do you find yourself talking about an airport car park in a positive light?

How to Create Remarkable Relationships With Your Clients

What does an exceptional/remarkable experience look like for your clients?

With my own business, I try to create systems that make it easy for my clients.  It used to be that everyone would be looking for the Zoom link before a group call. Then I started sending reminder notes with the link the day before. Problem solved. That’s just one point of contact but there are many.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Commit to Creating an Amazing Experience

Try to write down what kind of experience you want your clients to have with your company. Write this down and fill in the blank: ”I want my clients to have an amazing experience that…” You decide.

freelancer-business-meeting -handshake

From this vision, you can start creating a system that you and your team can follow, to help ensure your customers have the best experience.

Whether that’s a birthday card, a ‘welcome kit’, a ‘feedback survey’, or simply reminders to touch base regularly with clients, it all helps. If you’re unsure of where to start, examine each stage of your customer’s journey and ask yourself, ‘how can I make things easy and even fun for my clients here’.

Once you’ve committed to a vision of a great experience, and put systems into place behind it, you’ll be well on your way to creating remarkable client relationships.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships

Create a Memorable Client Onboarding Experience

One of the most important processes for creating great client relationships is you on-boarding; how your clients are initiated as customers.


You want to start thinking about how you can make it easier for yourself and your team make every client interaction memorable, creating a great relationship from step 1 onwards.

Start with a ‘touchpoint’ analysis for your business. What are the touch points for your business? Can your prospects and clients find you when they want to? Can they call you? Are you creating an easy and comfortable customer journey?

Sometimes bad clients aren’t bad, they’ve just never worked with a creative before and need you to help you guide them. To remedy this, you could create a project schedule, so they understand where the project is and where it’s going at all times.

Often you may find things you think they know all about, they actually know NOTHING about. Take the time to explain the work and the process and they will really appreciate your honesty and transparency. Maybe even let them glimpse your working process, and they may appreciate the skill what you do even little more.

open scheduling planner book agenda (1)

Create Real Connections With Your Real (Human) Clients

Sometimes, just reaching out to people on a human level, genuinely being interested in their lives and listening to what they are actually saying is remarkable.

Even if you’re not going to end up taking on a project, it can’t hurt to take 5 or 10 minutes to help someone out. Giving your advice and taking the time to engage with people and figure out what they need is memorable. You’ll probably find that approaching your prospect meetings like this gets you referrals, even if it’s not from them!

man and his client having a casual conversation

The most important thing here is connecting with your clients on a human level. I always phone or Skype when interacting with my clients about anything remotely important. Not only can they reduce the confusion and time taken on a task, they also help to make the relationship real, as opposed to just a business one.

Once your clients are ‘through the door’, think of ways you can do something unexpected for your clients, things that make them enjoy working with you – things that make them say, ‘wow’.

Even something seemingly small and un-businesslike can help build these relationships. When you take the time and thought to send someone something, even a card, sharing an article, asking after their family, you’re creating that remarkable client relationship.

Get As Much Feedback As Possible

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, and implement it! Embrace all your negative feedback because it will help you to improve. Pay attention if things get a negative reaction. What can you do to make it a better experience? Often those that give negative feedback which is resolved turn into your most satisfied (and vocal) customers.

Free Download: 10 Ways to create remarkable client relationships


Photos by Andre Hunter, Kinga Cichewicz, John Cobb,, Tim GouwCollin Armstrong, Eric Rothermel and Anna Vander Stel on Unsplash





Outsourcing for success: how to do it properly

Getting too much work…a nightmare situation?

It’s all very well growing your business and getting more work from clients, but what happens when you’ve got too much work for you to handle? You can’t do everything yourself.

frustrated freelancing man at his laptopAs your creative business expands, you’re going to need to outsource parts of it. For a lot of small business owners, hiring a freelancer or a new employee is a terrifying thought.

There are plenty of excuses not to. Nobody else knows how to do it ‘properly’ but you. Maybe you think you can’t afford to hire a freelancer or employee.

The fact is, a lot of the time we just don’t want to spend the money to hire someone. The irony is, as I’ve often found, when you do hire someone else you end up making more money!

It’s important for you to change that mindset; stop thinking you can’t do this or you can’t afford to do that. There’s always a way to do something if you think creatively. And you will be happier and more creative because of it.

Ultimately, as your business grows it will benefit from having more brains on board. You should embrace it your business growth. So, here are my tips for outsourcing for success:

You may find it useful to download my ‘Outsourcing for Success’ worksheet at this point, which you can grab here.

First, what kind of business do you want to be?

Before your business grows, you need to think about what kind of business you want it to be. What does your creative business look like in the future? Does it involve lots of small clients and outsourced workers? A couple of ongoing big clients with a big focus on them from you? A bricks-and-mortar business with full-time employees?

The answer to these questions will help you to decide who it is and what kind of employees you’ll need to hire, now and in the future. You may find you only want a scattering of freelancers to lean on occasionally when the work from big clients gets too much. It may be a virtual assistant to help schedule meetings and the admin aspects of your business. You may dream of a whole team of in-house designers in a hip office space. Whatever it is, write it down.


Then, what parts of your business do you love (and hate)?

The next thing to do is to think about what parts of your business it is you really love – which bits really get you going? Maybe more importantly, which bits do you hate? Take a piece of paper and draw a line to make two columns, then start filling it up.


This is where you’ll find my free Outsourcing for Success worksheet useful, you can download it here.

Don’t think about money or your business capabilities now, or whether you can actually do it or not. Think of it as your plan, your vision for your business in the future. So, be really honest with yourself about which parts of your business you actually enjoy doing (and do well!).

You will probably find one side of your list much longer than the other. And that’s completely normal.

Most creative business owners get bogged down in the details of running their business rather than doing the stuff that they love, the things that make their business great.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?

If you’re not familiar with it, the 80/20 rule, or ‘Pareto’s Principle’, is simply that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. This rule has been applied to everything from marriage to business, and now you’ll probably notice it in a lot of aspects of your life.

That list of things you enjoy is probably pretty indicative of what your 20% is. Outsourcing the rest allows you to focus on that 20%, and increase the results of that 80% – the really productive part of your business.

great creative team meeting fist bump

Outsourcing for success means finding the right people

Now you know what kind of people you need to grow your business and what you need them to do, you need to find them. So, how do you go about finding the right people?

Hiring is hard.

Whether it’s occasional freelancers or full-time employees, finding the right person for the job is never easy.

Naturally, steps 1 & 2 above are important because that’s the key to successful outsourcing: You need to be very specific about what you need and what you want this person to do for you.

A lot of the time outsourcing doesn’t work because the person doing the hiring isn’t clear about what they want.

Whether it’s through craigslist, a job site, a freelancer site, or even in person, you need to be very clear about what you’re looking for and what you want from them in your post. This will probably reduce the number of total applicants, but you’re much more likely to find who you’re looking for.

You can find some examples of the real job listings I’ve used in the past to find great freelancers in my free Outsourcing for Success worksheet here.

With people you’re going to need to rely on, there’s always references too – especially if you’re hiring them full-time. Make sure you have a proper conversation with them and their references.

Be really thorough with your interviewing and questions overall – if everything goes well you could be working with this person a while. And as projects get more and more complex, you need to make sure you’re working with people you have an understanding with.

creative business owner onboarding a freelancer over coffee

Onboarding new employees and creating a team

When working with someone new, I often try to eliminate the risk for both of us by suggesting that we try it out for 3 months and see how it goes. Then we regroup and see what’s working and what isn’t, and discuss how can we partner better.

To get going, you need to create an ‘instruction manual’ for your business, and all the systems that you need your new team member to handle. These could be super simple word documents or using a more complicated project management software.

Whatever it is, again be as specific as possible. Creating these transferable systems in your business is going to allow it to grow in the way you want.

When handing over control to someone, particularly with creative work, remember they’re not going to do it exactly the way you would do it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Stay open to their ideas and learn how to give great feedback and help them understand what you’re looking for.

This is even more important as you grow, but even if it’s just you and one other person remotely, treat them as your team. Have a weekly meeting and communicate; try to build some rapport. Set some action steps, what went well, what’s didn’t. Set action steps for next week, what are we working on, what deadlines have we got.

There’s an example of my weekly meeting agenda you may find useful in my free Outsourcing for Success worksheet, which you can download here.

If you have a couple of freelancers working for your, they’ll appreciate you getting them together once a week. You’ll all start to learn from each other and your business will benefit from it.

creative accountant drafting books

How to finance your outsourcing.

Once you know what you need, financing becomes a lot easier. There are several ways to do it.

You could work it into the project budget right from the beginning, especially if you know the project is big. As you’re pitching it, build an additional freelancer’s rate into your proposal.

If it’s a different arrangement, you could work on an hourly rate or a flat fee. You could arrange a small fee + commission, depending on who it is you’re hiring and the project you’re hiring for.

Whatever it is, do it properly, define your deadlines and scope, send invoices etc. It’s important to have a written agreement or even a contract, especially as your business grows.

Sometimes outsourcing doesn’t work out quite as you’d like it to, and it definitely takes practice to get really good. But doing the above will increase the chances of finding the right people to help your creative business grow.

Remember – get creative with your pricing but be specific with your proposal, and you’ll probably be surprised at who you find. Believe me, there are people out there who are looking for an opportunity to grow their business. People who you can work with to grow so that you both grow. Post your advert on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. see what happens.

And don’t forget to pick up your free copy of my FREE ‘Outsourcing for Success’ worksheet here.







Photos by Tim Gouw,  Daniel McCullough &  on Unsplash 


Six things your creative businesses can learn from corporate branding

If you think your creative business is too small to worry about branding…

Then think again!

Although many small business owners are half-right to think this, they’re also half-wrong. Branding does matter, no matter how big or small your business.

But the term ‘branding’ is heavily overused. I tossed it around for 25 or so years, as a tool to help companies like Kraft and Coca-Cola define themselves and their product.

But today, I try to avoid even using the term ‘branding’ when speaking to small business owners.

Unfortunately, whether your revenue is 100k or 100 million, how any business defines itself AND it’s customers is critical. It’s this aspect of branding where multinational corporations exceed and so where we should be taking a cue from.

Most international corporations will spend millions on research and market-testing before they ever make a public move. But don’t worry – you don’t need to max out your marketing budget just yet. Here are six ways you can achieve the clarity of vision you need to create a meaningful and impactful for your creative business.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

1. Know why you’re in the business, and where you’re going.

Every business is in business to make money. Beyond that, why are YOU in business? What keeps you going when things get tough? Where do you want to be in 3 years? What’s the vision?

Usually, when I ask this question, I get passionate responses – people really unleash their dreams trying to tell you why. This is definitely the advantage all small businesses have; the passion behind your vision. It’s this passion and vision that you want to speak to your customers, through your branding.

Big companies lack that passion – a symptom of their size. Instead, they need data-driven models, market research, test groups and extensive analytics just to get them to take a step forward, backwards, or even sideways!

But, you have to be realistic when constructing a vision for your brand too. Ask yourself, what are the obstacles in the way of achieving that vision? Is it you? Is it your team? Are your vision and goals aligned with your current capabilities as a business?

Many small business owners think they have to do everything themselves. The truth is, you don’t need to do everything yourself and the most successful entrepreneurs don’t. Running a business can be a whirlwind of decision making, so give yourself time to sit down and work out which of your goals require delegating or outsourcing.

This seems like a mammoth task, but really it can be as simple as keeping a record (of any kind!) of your thoughts and ideas around your business. Later, when you sit down, you’ll find it much easier to condense these into a single, realistic vision for your brand.

2. Know where your money is coming from

Although it may seem like a silly question, many businesses don’t fully know where their revenue is really coming from.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

Do you know who your least profitable customers are?
What’s your financial goal in 2018? Do you know the steps you need to take to reach that goal?

These kinds of questions help you form a better idea of your brand’s pricing structure; what type of customer uses your business the most, and what type the least. Tap into what your biggest fans think about your business and use that to guide your financial structure and goals.

One of my clients once catered for 18 weddings in a single summer, without making a cent in profit. By the end of it, she was nearly broke and burnt out. Why? Because she lacked confidence in her own expertise (although her customers would sing her praises) and didn’t price accordingly.

Global corporations don’t flinch when it comes to pricing. You’re an expert, so pay attention to your customers and price yourself and your brand accordingly.

3. Are you making enough noise?

When it comes to branding, you can’t assume that your customers will just remember you of their own free will. You’re going to remind even your best customers of your value proposition – at every opportunity.

Multinationals ensure their communications to clients and customers are consistent in tone, message and appearance. Often it helps to have someone dedicated to ensuring your communications are consistent, even if it’s not a full-time role.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.

4. Be consistent with your content

You’ve probably experienced this for yourself; a company’s website is so different or dated compared to their magazine ads, or offices, that you have to double check to make sure it’s the same company. This sends an inconsistent message.

Even small differences in colours, fonts and layouts can cause a potential customer to mentally ‘trip up’, causing doubt and often meaning they just leave your website without converting – not good.

Even if you’re uncomfortable creating content yourself, outsource it. This doesn’t mean you have to hire an expensive agency, there are plenty of good writers and artists out there who will be happy to help and are surprisingly affordable.

5. Design your own stuff as you would for your client

You already know that you need good design to make your message stand out. You do it for your clients everyday. The only thing is that you spend forever on your own and you can’t get it perfect enought – am I right? Time to let it go. Design your own stuff. Make sure the message stands out and just get it done.

What do you think of when I say Ikea? Blue and yellow? What about Google? Or Comcast? These companies are more than just a logo – they’ve integrated their colours, their logos, across the design of all their assets, and subsidiaries in the case of Comcast. You know this but as a quick reminder for your own business, branding that runs all the way through like this helps to make your messaging sing, and your company memorable.

6. Get clear on your messaging

This is often people’s biggest mistake when it comes to branding. They go from idea to shipping, skipping the steps in between and staking the odds against success.

Ideas are great, but until you determine what it is your company is about, where it aims to be, what your message is and how it’s delivered, what your visual identity is, and finally which channels are appropriate, you’re making it unnecessarily hard for yourself.

Think about it – how can you make sure you deliver the right value proposition to the right potential customer, at the right time, without these? That’s what good branding is ultimately about. Aligning your company to attract the kind of prospects and clients you want to work with.

Struggling to get sales from your client meetings? Use my FIrst meeting success formula to close more clients at the first meeting.


Larger businesses may not be as nimble as smaller enterprises, but they will perform these steps tirelessly before launching any new product or brand. The size of their markets and scope of endeavours mean that risk of failure is too great – potentially millions.

This doesn’t mean multinationals are always right (I can think of quite a few failed products from major brands – anyone got Google Glasses? New Coke?). But there is a great deal you can learn from the way they align their brands or products with their customer base.




Why Smart Creative Entrepreneurs Make Plans (and how to make yours for 2018)

If you’re like most creative business owners, you’ve been too busy getting the work done to be worrying about planning for next year. Creative minds thrive on improvising their way to success. If you made it through 2017 without a plan, consider one for 2018?

Most successful creatives eventually learn that it’s the structure and routine of a plan that allows you to be truly successful.

set aside some time for 2018 planning

Download the 2018 Strategic Planning Workbook here

Take the weekly groceries, for example. Whenever I drop into the store to pick up a couple of things, I end up spending $60 on things I definitely didn’t need.


However, when I plan the meal and make a list, I spend less money and use everything I bought.

It’s never too late to start planning. You might even enjoy coming up with new processes or strategies to try, new product ideas to test out, or new ways to  get clients.

The hardest part is getting started, right?

One of my favorite lessons from ‘The E-Myth Revisited’, by Michael Gerber, was that planning is the difference between working in your business and working ON your business.

One of them is going to lead to 70 hour weeks and a permanent migraine from the stress. The other leads to greater freedom and more money. Which would you choose?

Planning simply means looking forward a year (or two) and trying to assess where your market is headed, decide where you would like to go, and whether you have the right resources in place.

Planning is your big creative ‘what if’, that helps you figure out what you’re going to be doing the rest of the year. It’s your blueprint for creating a successful and stable business over the next year or more. When you break down your goals into daily tasks, processes or routines, your plan is your ‘how’. But a great plan is so much more than that too.

Download your 2018 Strategic Planning Workbook here

A great plan is your shining light at the end of the tunnel. It’s your reason to keep plugging at something when all seems lost. When you wake up in the morning and ask yourself what could possibly be the need to go to that meeting at 8:45…your plan will be there to remind you of the ‘why’.

‘Hows’ are very easy to come by, but ‘whys’ are much harder to find. Once you have your ‘why’ though, suddenly every decision you made has been made for you. When you have to decide whether to take on a project, or tricky client, or any decision at all, just think back to those yearly goals, your ‘why’ and ask, “Will this help me reach that goal?” You’ll soon know what to do if it doesn’t. How to say NO to a client. 

Your Why should be beyond making money. For example, my Why is to build community and inspire creative entrepreneurship.

Once you decide to start the process, it can be surprisingly fun. It’s a time to do two things you rarely do as a business owner. To really let yourself imagine or dig deeper into your vision for what you really want the business to be. The second, and this is the art and the challenge for most people is to figure out how much of that vision you can realistically expect to achieve and by when.

One of the most useful aspects of a great planning session is that it’s often the first time a creative entrepreneur sits down and actually looks at all the aspects of their business as a whole.

So, great planning starts with a good understanding of your current state of your business.

Download your 2018 Strategic Planning Workbook here

This process is mostly creative.

It can definitely be tricky to stay grounded in the day-to-day of your business and simultaneously critique and envision a better future, but a plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. The more often you come back to reassess your plan, tweak it slightly, change this aspect, reassess this area, the better you’ll become at it.

And if you’re really stuck, you can always book a call with me 🙂

How to find ongoing freelance clients

It’s the freelancers dream: a constantly flowing stream of long-term projects.

Let’s face it, getting started as a freelancer is fairly easy, in the grand scheme of things. Download the Target Audience Worksheet.

Almost anyone with a reasonable skill-set can find a single project to freelance on. Most can easily find two or three. But what really sets apart a successful creative freelancer from the rest is their ability to sustain a steady stream of work (and income).

The goal is reaching that critical point where you have enough ongoing work from freelance clients that you don’t need to spend as much time on proposals etc.

You have more control over your working schedule, and likely a great deal less stress about finances too.

How to get more long-term clients is one of the questions I get asked the most often, so today I’ll go through the process.

One of the most important aspects of this, however, is knowing who your ideal client is. You can figure that out using something like my target audience worksheet, which you can download for free here.

From small seeds, a mighty trunk may grow…

The first thing you have to do is change your perspective a little bit.

Although it may seem logical to look for big projects that will require a lot of work over an extended period, in reality very few clients actually say that upfront.

This is not to say that there aren’t clients out there looking for long-lasting relationships with freelancers who they trust. There are definitely many of them. They just don’t say (or maybe even know it) themselves.

Take, for example, my current web developer/techie freelancer.

When I hired him initially, it was to help fix a couple of issues with my website. I didn’t ask him to help improve and debug it for the next 5 years. I didn’t ask him if he would be available in a year to redesign it.

I was looking for someone who could help me fix a couple of things that had stopped working on the site. The developer I found did a great job, and I enjoyed working with him. So, of course, the next time I needed a change on the site, I emailed him. And the next time.

Later, when I needed a new website and some major changes, we worked together to create a plan of action on a much bigger scale. This was over a year since we had initially started working together. And I don’t foresee any reason I would need to use another developer instead of him in the future.

The mistake most freelancers make when trying to find ongoing work, is turning away the small jobs because they don’t think they’ll get repeat business.

As with anything, start small and scale. The best way to get long-term jobs is to do an amazing job on the small stuff, and nurture your relationships with your clients.

First of all, you’ll be able to easily get the small jobs. And the work you do on that small job will probably be better because you’ll be focused on one task and really solve the problem.

Once the client sees that you do great work and solve their problem, they’ll want to work with you the next time they have an issue. Of course, not all small jobs lead to long-term wins. There are of course certain types of clients that are more likely to ‘convert’ into a longer-term partnership. You wouldn’t propose on the first date right?

Having a good idea of your ideal client, using a detailed target audience or buyer persona, is key here. If you haven’t worked out your target audience yet, you download a ‘Target Audience Worksheet’ here, which should help you work it out.

Compare each client and project as it comes through against your buyer personas, and make sure that ‘having a need for ongoing work’ is one of your qualifiers.

Don’t rush your decision – you never know which small task will turn into an ongoing role and don’t make the mistake of charging too little to get the work. Once you start that way, it’s hard to change it.

The secret every successful freelancer knows is that creating a consistent income stream isn’t about more clients. It’s about building trust with the clients you already have.

Trust can be a hard thing to come by online, and you’d be surprised how many clients you come across have been ‘burnt’ in the past by unscrupulous freelancers or agencies.

Building trust with them won’t just bring you ongoing work from that client – they’ll be so happy to work with you, because they trust you, that they’ll even tell their friends about you. Make them successful and you’re golden!

If you get the chance to work with a great freelancer, you’ll notice it’s a bit like working with a friend, or a close colleague, a partner – someone who really cares about the success of the project and the success of your business.

There’s an old parable about a father who decides to hand down his business to one of his two sons.

He decides to pass it on to the younger son, at which the elder son is outraged; “Father, why would you not give me, your first child, your business?”

To demonstrate, the father sends both of his sons to buy 5 more cows from a neighbouring farmer. The elder son returns with 5 healthy, strong cows, and some small change.

The younger son returns without any cows at all. When the elder son sees this, he begins to crow delightedly, “See Father, you were wrong, he cannot even buy 5 cows!”

So the father asks his younger son why he has not returned with any cattle. The younger son replies, “Well father, there were 5 cattle available for sale, each for $2000, but if we were to buy 6, we would be able to reduce the price by $100 per cow. Also, if we are willing to wait, there will be fresh cattle available for sale, of a stronger, better breed. If we’re in a hurry, we could get them delivered for tomorrow morning.”

The father turns to his older son and says, “That’s why your younger brother is getting the farm.”

Most people only do what they’re asked to do. Those who are actively engaged in a cause will go above and beyond to make it as good as possible.

Think about it like this:

EVERY freelancer can create a decent-looking design for a fair price.

How many will take the time to find out if the design actually achieved  the desired result? Your clients don’t really want a logo, or a website, or a blog post – they want more customers.

Almost everything you do as a freelancer, whether you’re a designer or a developer or a writer, should boil down to what you can do to increase profits for your clients.

This may not always be apparent but you should keep this in the forefront of your mind.

Creating a consistent stream of work as a creative freelancer boils down to this:

1) Change your mindset and go smaller projects where you can get paid fairly. ‘From small seeds, a mighty trunk may grow.’

2) Know who you want to work with. Make sure it’s on things you care about. Don’t work with anyone else. Seriously – just don’t.

3) Commit to the client’s business as if it was your own. Understand and look for ways you can bring value to their business, whether it be in the project itself, or general advice. People will notice when this is genuine.

4) Go above and beyond wherever you can. Note: I didn’t say ‘underpromise and overdeliver’. This is the wrong way to look at it: actually go out there and above and beyond. This bit is actually not too hard if you follow the 3 rules above properly.

5) Focus on building better relationships with your clients, whether that be in-work or out. Send holiday cards, a ‘Happy Birthday’ note. Follow their business and them and check-in to congratulate them on their progress.

I realise that the above probably seems a little ‘easier said than done’. But that’s kind of the point. It’s going to be hard. You’re definitely going to make mistakes.

The most successful freelancers all struggled for the first few years because they made the same mistakes as you. And we’ve all accepted work we knew wouldn’t lead anywhere just for the money.

But as you build a better idea of who and what you want to work for, you’ll get better at finding clients that you can build a long-term relationship with.

And sweat the small stuff even if it doesn’t seem worth it – you’ll build a reputation that will bring you work better than any marketing tactic.


Don’t forget to pick up your FREE target audience worksheet here, to help you work out who your ideal client is.

What happens when you need to tell a client ‘no’

Sometimes no matter how well you get on or how much you want a relationship to work (professional or otherwise), it simply won’t.

Last year, one of my clients decided to fire a client. They had been working together for 6 months and it just wasn’t working out.

Despite several meetings and discussions about how to make it work better, my client suddenly became very clear that it would be best for all concerned to move on as quickly as possible.

He didn’t have the clarity right away. It took some time, but he woke up one morning and he just knew. When you follow that kind of ‘knowing’, you can’t go wrong.

Whether it’s because of a misalignment of interests, a miscommunication of goals, or poorly-set expectations, sometimes you just have to say, “No.”


Knowing when and how to tell your client or potential client, ‘No!’ is an essential part of becoming a successful creative freelancer.

So, saying ‘no’ is what we’ll be covering today for you.

Why you need to say ‘no’ to a client

As humans and budding freelancers, saying ‘No’ to work can be a pretty scary prospect. After all, you want your clients to like you, you want their referrals, you want them to believe in you and your business. And of course, you want to keep them as a client.

But, as my little story at the beginning hopefully demonstrated, when you don’t tell a client ‘no’, you’re not necessarily helping your business.

Try to reframe what it means for you to say, ‘no’. When you turn down work, you’re turning away a project that can only end badly, or that stretches you emotionally and negatively impacts your other work or life.

The clients I’m talking about are the clients that don’t know what they want, the clients who just want it, ‘cheap’ who don’t care about design, or the clients who feel that the work is never good enough. This is stuff that is toxic, to you and your business and these are things you should be saying no to.

If you’ve been freelancing for any period of time, you will likely know exactly what I’m talking about. No matter what, those small underlying issues manifest themselves in a big way sooner or later.

It could be a refusal to pay, endless rounds of revisions with no direction, or simply poor communication and deadline-keeping (on the client side).

Whatever it is, usually your relationship with the client deteriorates to the point where neither of you wants to work with each other.

This is typically accompanied by blunt and passively (or sometimes openly) aggressive emails, delayed payments, zero referrals, lost time, wasted energy, emotional stress and ultimately – you don’t get to do what you do best.

Now, I’m not saying that these things are certain to happen. It’s just that they’re much more likely to happen when you don’t know how or when to say ‘no’.

When you say no to a client, you’re protecting yourself and your business. Keep that in mind when deciding when to say no as well.

When to say ‘no’ to a client

Knowing when to say ‘no’ is often harder than actually saying it.

The first thing is, don’t agonize over it. You’ve been blessed with the power to say no, so use it when you need to.

The second thing is, you’re the person who gets to decide who you work with and why. Don’t waste that. One of your biggest weapons in this is having a good idea of who you want to work with, and most importantly, who you don’t.

Put together a Buyer Persona or Target Audience (if you want help with this, you can download my free target audience worksheet here. This will help you get really clear on your ideal client so you can spot trouble-makers or clients that you know you’ll have problems with.

Some freelancers find it useful to create ‘Negative Target Audiences’ too. This can be a useful way of filtering your prospects out. But the most important thing is learning to actually say that little word.

As a creative freelancer, it’s only natural for you to want to please a client, whether they’re old or new.

We don’t just want to design their website, or write their articles; we want to absolutely knock their socks off.

We want them to come back a week later, shaken and confused, Google Analytics print-out shaking in their palm…”How?” they’ll mumble, “How did you do that?”

Not; “I don’t know why I don’t like it, can you make it, like, ‘pop’ more?”


Remember this: You’ll never regret the bad jobs you didn’t take. Only the ones that you did.

Oh, and people will actually like you more when you kindly and authentically tell them no. Putting your foot down at the first signs of disrespect or unprofessionalism will help to set a precedent for your future relationship with them. Make your first impression count.

Below are some ‘Red Flags’ that should help you identify when it’s probably best to refuse a request from a client, and how to do it without ruining the relationship forever:

You may even want to include some of these in your Target Audience (grab your worksheet here if you haven’t got one yet). Then you can use these to frame questions to help filter out potential problem clients.

Say ‘no’ when the client wants you to work on spec or for much less than your normal rate.

For the freelancer, this is the first and probably the most important ‘No’ we need to learn to say.

We’ve all been there with a potential client who tries to get a discounted rate. This instantly belittles your skills and risks compromising the quality of work that can be produced.

This is a pity because the client doesn’t appreciate that a proper investment is required to ensure a thorough and quality outcome. In other words: you get what you pay for.

To avoid clients pinning you down on price, don’t reveal your day rate; this increases the likelihood they will try to reduce the price. Once they’ve told you what they want, simply tell them it will cost $X to complete the work.

If you absolutely have to reveal your day rate, set it a little higher (+25%) so that you’ve got some room to negotiate without suffering a real loss. Remember: you can always come down but you can’t go up! Don’t reduce your rate, change the scope of the work.

The client’s budget has to be part of your target audience/buyer personas. Once you have your Target Audience mapped out (download a free worksheet to find yours here), stick to it, especially when it comes to pricing.

Say ‘no’ when the client has a reputation for being overly demanding or dishonest.

This one is a little trickier to determine, especially if this is the first time you’ve come into contact with a client. However, these days a quick Google search will often tell you all you need to know about a business.

Be wary of clients who have not paid freelancers in the past, or have a reputation for being overly demanding or have unrealistic expectations.


Also, watch out for clients who have worked with many design firms in the past; this is often an indicator that they will be a problem client. Don’t work with clients who are trying to get you to save the project for a cheap price because it didn’t work out with someone else.

What exactly makes a client a ‘problem client’ will differ depending on you, so make sure you use your Target Audience worksheet to go effect, to determine people who are not the best fit for your business. Here’s another one: don’t do the work for free, thinking that it might lead to something ongoing.

This is often a good indication of underlying cash-flow problems within the company. If this is not the case, then likely they do not value the service you provide very highly, which spells future trouble for any creative freelancer. Ask about the financial health of the company. They may not give you exact numbers but can tell you if they’re profitable.

Even if they agree, later this may manifest itself as a repeated requests for changes or work that wasn’t in the original scope. This is where a good contract can come in handy too.

If you know the client has unrealistic expectations or goals, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.

This one is tricky and is not always obvious from the first meeting with a client. However, usually in such cases, a client will have vastly unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved given the time and resources available.

A great example of this is website design/builds. A client may say they want a website when what they really want is 1,000 customers.

You can make the most beautiful website in the world but your design alone won’t bring them new customers. It’s an important skill as a freelancer to be able to pick apart what your client wants from what they say, and then determine if you can deliver to their expectations. Be sure to find out their objectives right from the start.

Setting realistic expectations for a project is key. If a client refuses to alter their expectations, and you know they are unrealistic, don’t be afraid to walk away.

When the client or project requires you to go against your moral and ethical beliefs, walk away.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Do not sacrifice your personal beliefs for the sake of a client, and certainly do not do anything illegal.

This may even be because you don’t believe in it or agree with the business behind the project. Do not skip this one, as easy as it may seem to be to ‘just take the money’. You will not do as good a job as you would if you believed in the project. Knowing yourself and your target audience is key here, as with all of these.

Say ‘no’ when you are too busy, have plans, or cannot realistically keep to the deadlines.

These are often some of the hardest decisions to make because we feel responsible. But it’s better to postpone or pass than to say yes and not be able to deliver to your full capability later.

How to say ‘no’ to a client

There are a multitude of reasons why you may need to say no to a client, both before, during, and after a project.

The most important thing is, ironically, to avoid just blurting one out; “Sorry, it’s a no. 


When I first drafted this, I thought I would add a ‘how to say no’ to each of the main things above. But, the reality is that each situation you need to say ‘No’ to will be unique; as will each reason and each response.

All the same, here are some examples of ways to say ‘No’ that should help give you an idea of how to say to and still leave you and your client feeling good about the situation.

Saying ‘no’ when you don’t like the project;

“Sorry but I don’t think I’m the best fit for your project- here are some designers who might be a better fit.

“It’s been really interesting working with you so far but I think it’s time to let someone else a crack at it. I don’t think I’m doing it the justice you deserve, I can recommend a couple of good designers for you.”

Saying ‘no’ when the money isn’t there:

“I really appreciate the opportunity but I wouldn’t be able to make it work for that price and you wouldn’t be happy with the result. Perhaps we can work together in future.”

“That’s a pity – let me know when your budget situation improves and I’ll be happy to discuss this again.”

“That’s totally understandable – there are so many different qualities and prices for freelance work – I’m sure you can find another freelancer who will do it cheaper.”

“Sorry but I’m a small business so financially I can’t position myself to take that kind of risk – that’s why I ask for the 50% deposit.”

Saying ‘no’ when they ask for extra work (scope creep)

“Yes, we can do that, no problem. Only thing is that it wasn’t part of the original project so it will take an extra {time} and {money} to achieve – you’re looking at X$. Please let me know if you’d like me to go ahead.”

“It’s been great working together but due to some changes in personal circumstances, I’m no longer going to be able to help you out. I’d recommend {Company X} instead.”

“After doing some strategic analysis, I’ve decided to shift my/our focus to only serve a specific niche going forward. Due to this, we regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to work with you. Thanks for your understanding.”

The key here is, knowing when to say no, being confident enough to say it, and knowing how to say it in the best way.

Getting your Target Audience right is going to help you a lot with this. If you don’t have a target audience or an ideal buyer persona, you need one.

Download the free target audience worksheet, which will help you get started putting together yours. Then have a read of my post here, which will tell you a bit more about finding your target audience.

How to stop wasting time on prospects that never buy

Being a freelance creative is hard enough. You’re strapped for time. Income isn’t exactly stable. The last thing you need to do is waste your time.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

One of the most frustrating things you experience as a freelancer is all the time you waste writing unanswered emails, sending ignored proposals and taking pointless driving trips to see clients that you never hear back from.

Most freelancers I work with tell me they experience similar frustrations.

The first thing I have to do is tell you that ultimately, some of your potential clients will fall through. It’s just life.

Things get in the way. Life takes unexpected U-turns. You just have to accept it.

But when people first join the Business Accelerator, they tell me they are spending way too much time trying just trying to keep their business afloat.

And so many of them are making the same mistakes, so I thought I’d share with you what I tell them:

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

Why your prospects don’t convert

Ok – as I said there are a million reasons why your prospect might not become a client.

But most of the time you’re wasting your time on someone who was never going to convert in the first place.

“What?” I hear you cry, “But they approached me!”

aI’m afraid it’s true. Often people are just shopping for a price, or they changed their mind, or life got on the way, or the project got put on hold.

The fact is that you can’t work with everyone. In fact, you SHOULDN’T work with everyone. You shouldn’t want to.

It’s like dating, some clients are just not going to be your ‘type’.

Finding your ‘type’: Why a target audience will help you grow

I’m going to keep with the dating analogy because it works well here.

Most people will have a ‘type’ of person they like to date. It may be physical appearance or mental traits; whatever it is – they’re looking for it in a partner. Even if they don’t think it.

You need to have a type of business, a type of client that you know you can work with, and that are likely to want (and be able) to work with you.

Particularly now, when there is so much choice and information available online, it’s SO important not to waste your time trying to please everyone. It just doesn’t work. Even the largest, most successful companies on the planet can’t do it. On top of that, Quite often when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one.

Have you ever walked into a Pizza restaurant that also serves burgers, chicken, curries, and spring rolls? The menu takes 15 minutes to read. And you just know that it’s not going to be as authentic or as good quality as it would be in a family restaurant who have been serving the same dishes for generations.

What makes you think you can appeal to everyone? Why would you want to? Even though most freelancers I work with can tell me the types of client they hate working with, they rarely act upon their experiences.

If you can’t tell me what your ideal client looks like in under 10 words, you don’t know who they are. But that’s OK because this post will help you to figure out what they look like.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

How to create your ideal client personas

There’s a group of people that you already know like you and want to do business with you. They’re going to be your key ally here in working out who your ideal client looks like. Who are they? Your existing clients.

1.  Survey/Interview existing clients

Without this survey, the whole thing will fail. Your buyer personas won’t be as useful if you try to do them all by yourself.

First of all, you need to reach out to your existing clients, past and present, to find out who your clients are and what they want from you, in a deep way.

Send them a quick email asking to fill out a micro-survey.

All the ‘survey’ needs to be is: ‘What is your single greatest business challenge’, and ‘Why did you choose to do business with me?’.

You can use Google Forms or Survey Monkey for the survey but an email works too.

The other part of this ‘survey’ you’re going to do yourself.

Use our Target Audience Worksheet to help you think through your clients and their similarities.

This will help you to group your clients into ‘types’ based on more than just their survey answers.

2. Use their answers to build your profiles

Ideally, the answers to their questions (and your own target audience worksheet) are going to give you a lot of really rich data about who your customer is, and what they like about your business.

You’re probably going to get quite a bit of ‘fluff’ as well but that’s ok.

Put your clients’ answers into a spreadsheet and you’ll start to see some similarities in the language people use when talking about their business and their challenges. This is exactly what you’re looking for.

You’ll likely notice is a ‘pattern of problems’ that people have relating to your service and there may be a few of these. This is great.

You want to try and put your customers into ‘groups’ or ‘buckets’, so try to find the similarities between them. To help you do this you may find it useful to add surrounding data you have on your clients from the Target Audience Worksheet.

Create maybe three or four of these groups of issues, the kinds of customers that experienced them and their corresponding solutions (or anything the client said about them in their response).

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

3. Filter your prospects with a survey

Once you’ve put together your customer surveys and merged it with the answers on your Target Audience Worksheet, you should have three or four groups of similar people and their issues. These are your ‘target clients’ or ‘ideal client personas’.

But simply having a client persona isn’t going to help you stop wasting time with non-ideal clients. You need to act on them.

There are various ways of using your personas, all of which will help grow your business, but the one we’re focusing on today is the filter survey.

This is simply getting all your new prospects to answer a few key questions, which will enable you to sort them into groups.

Each of your groups should have one main ‘headline’ problem – this would be an ideal question to instantly filter your prospects.

This could be a simple drop-down or checkbox with options chosen from the actual words people have said back to you.

For example, you might ask:

What is your biggest challenge as a business:
1) Finding new customers
2) Delivering assets on time/to budget
3) Developing new products/services
4) Other: (leave space for them to write).

The answers you get should help you to sort your clients into groups, so you know what language to use and what solutions they are likely to want.

Usually, you’ll need more than one question to accurately sort your prospects but you can continue to ask ‘filtering’ questions as you get to know them.
Don’t be afraid to say no

One of the hardest parts about using a target audience or buyer persona is saying ‘no’ when the prospect is not a good fit. But you must stick to your guns. I talked about this on my September Webinar (click here to watch it).

You don’t have to be mean about it and you’ll find people often appreciate your honesty.

When you get a prospect that doesn’t fit in your persona, be as polite and helpful as possible but make sure they understand that you are not the right person to help them out. Instead, point them in the direction of someone who might be able to help them out. Then move on.

Not only will you find yourself wasting less time chasing clients that never buy, but if you’ve done your personas properly, you’ll also find those clients coming back to work with you again and again.

Watch the Webinar: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Prospect Before You Even Think About Meeting. 

Let me know in the comments below if you have any techniques or questions you use to find your perfect clients – I’d love to hear them




7 Problems Creative Entrepreneurs Have Growing Their Businesses (and how to solve them)


How good are you at business development?

I used to suck.

But years of growing my own freelance business taught me a few things about getting new clients.

Some of them I put into white-papers like the First Meeting Success Formula, which you can grab a free copy of here.

And all of them I share with my students…

We held a seminar recently with members of my Business Accelerator to handle some of their most common issues.

It was so productive that I thought it worth sharing some of what we covered with you.

Before the seminar, I collected a ton of questions from all our members.

Then I condensed them down to a few main problems that we all seemed to be experiencing.

These questions are pretty common; I’ve come across them many times over my 25-year career as a business consultant.

Hopefully, my answers can help you out too:

1. How do I craft a better cold email to clients and prospects?

I don’t recommend using cold email if you can help it.

Years ago it used to be more effective one-to-one but these days cold email is pretty ineffective.

This counts even more if you’re stretched for time.

I use Twitter to break the ice, which works well for me.

You do need a compelling reason to connect with them, not just ‘hey check out my portfolio’.

Have a compelling reason and it can open the door to an email.

To be fair, this can work with cold email too, except that your reason has to be super compelling.

You have to research that client and that person pretty extensively to do it well.

Detailed client personas will allow you to craft copy in your cold emails that will get much higher responses.

This works well when you have a specific person to connect with, but cold emailing has largely passed its time.

2. How do I strike a balance between getting the work and doing the work?

When your sales cycle leaves you no room to get work while you’re doing your work, it can be stagnating.

This needs to be your top priority – set aside time for it each week, no matter what.

Don’t skimp – it really is the most important part of your business.

The more consistently you can do it, the more effective you’ll be at it.

So block off the time and stick to it. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.

The more you do it, the better you’ll be at identifying ways to make it more effective.

For example, Friday afternoons seem to be a good time for me to connect with people.

Seems contrary to belief but it works for me.

Whatever it is, finding that set time will keep your momentum.

Want to know the formula to successful first client meetings? Download your free copy here.

Look for ongoing clients, rather than one off projects, where you can.

I’ll cover that in another blog post.

For now, just try to look for opportunities for work to develop, or long-term needs of the client you could satisfy.

3. Referrals and personal connections etc. seem to be our best source of leads – what can we do to increase the number of leads we get without attending a tonne of useless evening events?

In my experience, most freelance creatives or small agencies don’t do a great deal of marketing of themselves, for exactly this reason.

Or at least, they don’t do it consistently.

What you want to do is make sure you’re finding and working with your ideal client.

This has to start with getting a good idea of who you work best with, and who is more likely to have a problem you can solve.

Then you need to get on their radar.

You need to find where they hang out and make yourself known there.

This could be certain areas of social media. It could be specific niche events. It all depends on your ideal client persona.

Idea client personas are key to this – so you have to start with this marketing essential

Like it or not, if you want to get more clients coming to you for work, you do need to spend time on your marketing.

4. What is the best way to get clients in a new/different market?

The key with entering a new vertical is always positioning.

You need to make sure that you understand the problems of your potential clients in this niche.

Really well.

Better than the existing competitors in the sector, if you can. If you want to succeed in a niche, you need to know your audience as well as you know yourself.

It sounds really hard and scary, but it is so essential for you to buckle down and do your research.

Know anybody in the market you want to enter? Take them out for coffee and grill them for info.

Whatever it takes, for success in any marketplace, you need to first understand your audience.

5. When planning a new launch how do you work out the best channel to market in with the most success..i.e…ppc/social/email?

Assuming that you’ve put together personas for your ideal client, this shouldn’t be too hard.

So it’s largely a matter of getting down to your marketing strategy.

You ideal client persona will give you hints about where to target.

For example, which social media channel will be more effective, or keywords to target on Adwords.

The best thing to do is to use them to put together a basic marketing strategy.

PPC ads can quickly become very expensive, so it’s important to have clearly defined budget and goals.

Sit down and put together a simple plan, define a budget, some goals and a time period, and really track your results.

When your campaign is underway you’ll be able to tell if it’s cost effective or not and adjust your strategy to fit.

6. How does an introvert begin to develop business?

I get asked this question a surprising amount.

I think this is because a lot of people who are on the more creative and artistic side see themselves as more introverted too.

Most of the time I tell these people it’s a great idea to become part of a business group.

Even better if it’s one with potential clients in it.

There are a lot of different techniques I could teach you to help you get used to breaking the ice with people.

Too many for this post.

So join a business group with like-minded people, and commit to attending regularly.

As you feel more comfortable with these people, you’ll start to find it easier to get into the conversation.

I’ve put together a formula for successful first client meetings, which you can grab a free copy of here

Really if you just keep showing up, it’s great practice for meeting people.

It’s going to be hard to start, but as you get out of your comfort zone and get used to talking about your business, you’ll reap the rewards.

7. How can we deal with pricing with clients? So many clients think graphic design is easy/always want it never yesterday/never want to pay more…

Ok, this is the big one. It comes in so many different forms. But it’s always there.

It’s probably the single most common question I get asked by clients and Business Accelerator members alike.

Many people aren’t going to like this answer, but it’s the only thing I’ve found effective over the years.

It comes in two parts:

1. Become a problem solver/increase your value

You really have to work on your research here.

Find out what their problems are.

You need to consider yourself as a problem solver, not just a designer.

Most businesses don’t care about whether something looks good unless it solves a problem for them.

That’s where you come in.

By doing your research by asking the right questions, like the three killer questions I talk about here, you’ll be able to offer so much more to your clients.

Think of it like back pain. Seriously.

If you’ve ever had back pain, you’ll know what a relief it is to find a practitioner, whatever they specialize in, that can help with the pain.

When that pain goes, you don’t care if it’s a chiropractor, a physic, or tiny needles that did it.

You’re just happy the pain is gone, pay whatever it costs, and book your next appointment.

So imagine how delighted your average business owner will be if you design them a good-looking website, that also helps to increase their conversions (or whatever their problem is).

If you’re delivering that kind of value, you’ll find your clients much happier to part with their cash.

2. Don’t be afraid to say, “No”

The second part of this answer is much harder to do.

Especially if you’re struggling.

Usually, even if you’re not.

Saying no is one of the hardest things to do, in any situation, but one that is well worth practicing.

Not only do various studies that show it can actually make you more likable, it can help your business grow too.

Analyzing your existing or past clients, and creating an ideal future client profile, will help you a lot with this.

It will help you identify when a client isn’t going to respect the work you do or want to pay your prices for it.

We all struggle to turn away work.

But if you’ve ever been in the unfortunate position of wishing you’d never dealt with a client, you’ll understand the power of the word, ‘no’.

So don’t be afraid of turning down work that doesn’t pay what you need, or with clients you suspect will be trouble down the line.

It just isn’t worth it.

Hopefully, you’ve found some of my answers useful.

I’ll be adding plenty more articles and resources here over the coming months, so make sure you subscribe to get more!


Want to read more? Check out my 4 Steps to a Winning Freelance Proposal post

4 Simple Steps to a Winning Freelance Proposal

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your time writing proposals?

You’re not alone. I’ve definitely wasted hours of my life writing proposals that never got me a client. Some of them didn’t even get a reply. I wonder if some of them were ever read at all??

It can be frustrating at the best of times.

So many freelancers I’ve met over the years have complained of the same thing. It sounds something like this:

“How can I produce the best work when I’m spending so much time writing proposals for new clients.?!”

Take my client Matt, for example.

For years he was struggling to break his feast and famine cycle, and a large part of the problem was because of his proposal technique.

He’d spend hours putting  proposals together for a client, only to find they’d given the work to someone else. That’s time he could’ve been working on another client’s project…

…or working on his fitness…

…or spending with his kids.

We all have things have things we’d rather be doing than hurling proposals into the ether.

Over the years I’ve honed my technique to win clients much, much more often than not. Here are the steps I take to create a winning proposal (almost) every time.

Step 1: Make a Connection

The first thing to do is forget about getting them as a client.

“Whaat?!?!” I hear you cry…

Seriously, this is probably the most useful tip I’ve even been given.

It can be a lot easier said than done at times, especially when the wolf is knocking at the door. But it’s well worth the effort to do it.

Instead of getting them as a client, try to get them as a date.

Sounds weird, eh?

A lot of time, the success of a business is a personal thing to the person you’re speaking to. Even in larger corporations, the success of a project could be fundamental to a person’s career.

So be positive, be yourself, and be open to learning about them and their business.

Keep your phone or laptop off the table and let them to tell you why they want their problem solved, not just what their problem is.

Try to approach your meetings with the question, “How can I help this person and their busienss? in the forefront of your mind, and you will quickly find your client meetings taking a warmer turn.

When you show you understand what they want as a person, as well as a business, you’ll be well on your way to success.

You may even make a new friend!

For more info on making a winning client proposal, check out my First Meeting Success Formula, which you can grab a free copy of here.

Step 2: Explore the Gap

Once you’ve got to know them and their business a little bit, you can start to move on to the problem at hand.

The reason they’re speaking to you is because there’s a gap between where they are, and where they want to be.

And you need to be the bridge.

So it’s important to get a proper grasp of their issue (the gap), and exactly what materials you can use to solve it.

Note that ‘lead’ doesn’t mean you do all the talking.

Let them talk as much as you can, and probe deeper wherever it’s relevant to.

Take notes if you need to, but try to keep your focus on them as much as possible.

And don’t assume that just because they say they want a new website, that’s really what their problem is.

Often when probing deeper into a prospect’s answers, you will discover other issues which are either connected to, or will be affected your project.

Stay focused, and if you can get to the root cause of why they need help, you are on the way to success.

Step 3: Transition to Solutions

With any luck (and possibly some clarification) your potential client will now have told you the most pressing problems they’re currently facing client.

Now you know where they’re feeling pain, you can show them you’re the person to fix it.

This doesn’t mean you have to give away all your ideas, just a ‘taste’ of them.

The idea is to get the client excited about working with you, so go for the jugular.

“Based on what you’ve told me Dave, I believe I can help you out.
What would you say if I told you I could [build/design/create] you a [insert your solution here] that would [solve their issue]?”

Ideally, they’re going to respond with something like, “Yes that sounds like exactly what I’m looking for.”

With practice, you’ll be able to come up with on-the-spot solutions that literally have your prospects itching to do business with you.

Remember that if you’re following these steps correctly, you should have a lot of information about the client.

And you’ll have had a fair amount of time to think about solutions, and draw the dots between the problems.

Use your time wisely and keep them focused on problems they are having that are relevant to the project at hand.

That way you are much more likely to have the answers on the tip of your tongue.

Want to win more work and spend less time on proposals? Download my First Meeting Success Formula for free here

Step 4: Set up the Scope and Budget

It wasn’t really so long ago that I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out the pricing for a proposal.

Money can be a funny thing to talk about, especially pre-negotiation, when neither side really wants to show their cards.

When you follow this approach to your first discussion with a client, you’ll find you have an opportunity at this stage to scope out the project right there with them.

So you’ll no longer be writing your proposal in the dark.

Whatever your solution is will need to have collateral behind it.

For example, if it’s a website it’s going to need copy, images, logos, a domain, hosting and branding guidelines, just to get started.

So ask the client if they have those ready, or if they would like you to source them.

This is also a good place to establish some timelines with them, and set their expectations for what you can deliver.

Now you have your client working with you on a totally different level to many other freelancers – scoping out your proposal with you!

If the meeting is too short to do this properly, you can always sketch it out on your own and then circle back to ask them to confirm the details.

Step 4.5: The Proposal

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t covered writing a proposal at all in this blog.

This is no accident.

I firmly believe that if you’re putting together a proposal without following these steps (or something very similar), then you’re wasting your time.

But why would you?

When you follow these steps, the client pretty much writes the proposal for you.

These steps can be very powerful you combine it with some of the other techniques I show you in the First Meeting Success Formula.