Editor’s Note: This post is a sponsored review. You can purchase an impartial review through Sponsored Reviews. We only take on reviews which we think the FreelanceSwitch audience will enjoy and benefit from.
It’s easy to think that branding is something reserved solely for big companies, but the reality is it’s just as important for freelancers. And if you think branding just means having a logo and cards, think again. For freelancers, just as for large companies, branding should extend out to your reputation and people’s knowledge and perception of you. This post is a review of a blog about personal branding called QuickSprout. It’s written by Neil Patel but before I get to that, let me just give you an example worth thinking about.
Hollywood and what branding can do for you?
Consider for a moment the world of acting. Think about the highest paid actors and actresses (you can see a list here at Forbes). These people make millions of dollars where their fellow actors earn a tiny fraction of that amount. Is it because the highest paid actors and actresses are the best actors? No doubt there are equally talented actors around who haven’t ‘made it’. Are they the best looking? Probably not. Is it just luck and coincidence that gets them to the top? Nope.
Dear Aunty Entity
How often should I keep in touch with my client, can you have too much contact and and how close is too close?
Signed, Touchy Feely
There is no right or wrong amount of contact for a client – it really depends on the project, your technique, their personality and the day of the week. Some clients like to be contacted every day even for a quick ‘hello’ – some don’t want to know you unless there is something important to discuss. By rule of thumb, more is better. That daily email update or phone chat maintains the human level of contact and helps build a relationship if you are new. If you feel comfortable around a client to discuss and raise issues, then you are more likely to be able to work through any project problems that may arise. When you start working with a new client (and in a freelancer’s case, the client’s client), you both need to take time to get a feel for how you work/prefer to work. As a PM, you should be prepared to alter your working practices to suit a client’s needs for example: a daily update rather than a weekly one, or phone briefings rather than a document.
We all have days where our clients just drive us crazy. I had one of those days today. With that in mind, here are some links to hopefully ease the pain, and if that fails then count to ten and meditate…
Is your client giving you a hard time? The Positivity blog has a great article about Handling Criticism And Getting Something Good Out Of It.
Is your client asking for something silly that you just can’t agree to? How To Disarm 10 Difficult Client Observations/Requests at Ideas Online covers some of the popular ones and how to deal with them.
Does your client ring mental alarm bells? Then make sure your terms and conditions are up to speed before you begin working with them. Shane has all the answers in this article.
Finally, if none of that works, you may just want to fire your client. Inside CRM has the Top 10 Ways to Fire the Client From Hell. We’ve only had to do this a couple of times, but very occasionally it is necessary!
This Weeks Photo:
This week’s photo is by Mike McCaffrey, a Washington DC based freelance web developer and photographer. He is currently putting together his third local exhibition.
The customer is always right, right? Wrong. Clients can make insistent requests that would actually be detrimental to their business or intention. This usually happens if the client is inexperienced or misinformed in your field of work. Sometimes the cause is simply bad taste. Most of us have probably encountered more than our share of these clients. You can recognize this type of client easily, especially when they’re telling you the following things:
“Can we put frames and flashing images on my website? I like the way they look.”
“Maybe if you use red, orange, and purple on my logo it’d look more harmonious and professional.”
“I want my business press release to start with a poem my 5 year old son wrote.”
Sounds familiar, right? Due to the destructive nature of these requests, I’ve learned to call these types of clients “Self-Destructing Clients”. They want us to deliver the best results, but their requests are preventing their own success. My experience with these clients taught me so many lessons that I now know how to nip the problem in the bud, fix existing problems, and communicate better. Hopefully, you can learn from my own experiences rather than going through that difficult road yourself.
Want help solving your unique freelance marketing problems? Starting today, Along with my regular Thursday column, I will be rotating marketing case-studies and advice into the mix.
If you would like to be considered for a future marketing breakout column, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] and include a few paragraphs about who you are, what you want to do and what help you’d like. If it is a good fit, I will publish your request along with a detailed analysis and marketing advice in a future column.
Our first Ask Jonathan Marketing Breakout letter comes from blog-consultant, Michael Martine at Remarkablogger.com. He writes:
My name is Michael Martine. I’ve been blogging regularly since 2003 and have owned my namesake’s domain since 2004, and blogging on there since 2005. I’ve done freelance web design and web strategy consulting a bit, but recently I’ve decided to get real and take it to the next level. I changed the name to Remarkablogger and bought remarkablogger.com. The blog itself will soon be redesigned to better reflect the name and the image I want for it.
I offer help for people to begin blogging without making all the typical beginner’s mistakes and to effectively use blogging to help their business grow. I’m a blog consultant and coach. What I do is help people start, manage, and create content for their blogs better than they could do on their own in a much shorter time and with better results. This is done through email or phone/IM consultations and through design/develop/install work.
I’ve had an initial burst of work right out of the gate, but I already see signs of things slowing down. My marketing/sales challenge is much like any other starting freelancer’s: acquiring new clients and establishing a high enough baseline of income that I can leave behind the 9-5 job. My goal is to be on retainer and available to help enough clients so that I can earn a comfortable income without having to completely bust my ass for 16 hours a day. Right now I’m not doing any advertising, but I’m considering PPC advertising.
Thanks, Jonathan, for making the offer and for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Thanks for your e-mail. Sounds like you’re off to a good start, the blog looks nice and clean and is easy to navigate. And, I like that you added in a box on the front-page to promote your blog consulting services and articles for beginning bloggers. You’ve got some great content there.
So let’s figure out how to make some simple changes designed to kick-start your blog consulting business. Let’s start with your on-blog efforts.
We here at FreelanceSwitch would like to officially welcome our new advertiser, FreshWebJobs. FWJ have just completed an overhaul, and the site is looking pretty snazzy. As you’ve probably guessed from the title, this job board is for web jobs. So if you’re a developer or web designer, this is the place to go!
Since the upgrade Fresh Web Jobs have added custom search xml feeds so you can apply for relevant jobs straight away. That’s especially handy if a job ad gets lots of applicants or needs to be filled urgently. You can also save job postings all over the web with their bookmark (the ‘Freshwebjobs bookmarklet’), and mark jobs you already have applied to!
The board is international and jobs cover freelance, fulltime and contract positions. If you want to post a job it costs US$75, and right now first time job posters get a discount!
So if you want a job or are looking for talent, go check out FreshWebJobs! And thanks to FWJ for supporting FreelanceSwitch so we can keep doing what we do
I’ve done all my research, triple-checked my facts, now I just need to write the article.
I fire up the word processor and am I prepared to hammer out the best thousand words I’ve ever written. Then I lean forward to type…and…nothing inspires me. Not even the fact that my deadline is in one hour.
This is what I like to call “white screen syndrome.” You know you need to write something but can’t seem to do anything other than stare at the blank white window in front of you.
Freelancers are business, and being in business means writing to some degree. Whether it’s correspondence, a blog entry or magazine articles, something usually needs to be written and the white screen syndrome beaten. The following are a few methods I’ve come to use to get past it.
News – GoMedia Competition Update, Blog Action Day Donations and Johnny B (our new content editor!!)
A bit of news today!
Firstly, I wanted to formerly welcome FreelanceSwitch’s new Content Editor, John Brougher. You’ve probably heard John hosting our podcasts, and we’re so pleased that he’s going to be helping us grow and expand the site. John is on a worldwide search right now for new writing talent, so if you want to write for us, fill in this form and let John know!
Next, if you want to see how Blog Action Day went, you can see it here. It was a great success, and we are really grateful to all that participated.
Because of this post we are donating US$57 to an environmental charity. Also, there was a total of US$96 donated by you guys (go all of you)! We are donating our earnings for that day, which was US$139.
So that comes to a grand total of $292!
It’s a hot topic: Should freelancers use a contract? And if so, how do you go about creating one?
By now, you have probably gotten the idea that if you want to be in serious business as a freelancer, you’ve got to get things in writing. So, where do you start? How do you face the legalese demons? Relax and read on—I promise it’s not that hard if you keep an open mind. Remember, half the things we do in our businesses (for me, accounting and marketing) aren’t things we necessarily like. This is probably one of them for you. But it’s also a vital step in ensuring a professional business that runs smoothly.
First, decide what you need out of a contract. The basic contract includes information on your pay rate, payment timeline and a deadline for the project to be submitted. If you look at my contract, I have a clause in there about being able to use work on my Web portfolio because that was important to me. Whatever else you want to stipulate, it’s good to make a list highlighting the points you need covered.
Now it’s time to create the document. This will not be enjoyable or easy in most cases, but it’s a must. My contract is a good place to start, but you may want to scour the Internet and look at other freelancers’ sites to get an idea of what common agreements say. It’s okay if the copy–paster in you wants to come out here, but don’t solely rely on that to originate a document. You want the agreement to be customized to suit the specific needs of your business.
Thanks to everyone who entered the Moo postcard competition. We had many brilliant entries, and it made it very hard for us to pick two winners! In fact it was so hard that we could only narrow it down to four
So we’re pitching in to get postcards for two entries as well.
If you weren’t lucky enough to win, now is the time to get your Moo Postcards, with free shipping (in the US) for a limited time. So that means that you can get 20 individually designed postcards for US$20 – which is darn cheap considering I for one used to pay hundreds of dollars when printing postcards (and that’s with only one design).
So here are the ideas that won, but check out the comments on the original post for more – there were lots of great ones…
Suzanne had a very innovative idea to source new local clients:
What would I do with some free postcards? Why, I’d put my contact details on them along with teaser images of my web design work.
Next up, I’d pay a visit to the nearby libraries and head to the sections containing info on business start-up/management. I’d identify the books that are checked out regularly & pop a postcard inside. Everyone needs a bookmark… hopefully the next wannabe entrepreneur to open a book that I’ve stuffed is looking for a website too.
Ozan Caglargil had a fantastic idea for an office mural:
Maybe I can create a wall decoration from postcards just like this… (he originally provided a link but I’ve posted it to the right)
Russ shared a fabulous promotion idea:
I’m wanting to send out postcards to various large company marketing managers, to get them interested in my company’s new motto of being their best friend (in an agency sense). It would feature shots of everything a best friend does, from holding back your hair after a long night, helping you move, loaning you a few bucks, and more.
This would be combined with a scant bit of clever copy, and the tag, “come meet your best friend on November 6th”, the date our website relaunches (and hopefully get lots more clients!)
And Luyza had the nicest idea ever – your mum is one lucky lady (and as an aside, it’s nice to have some backup on the Cornetto issue ):
I would write small reasons why I love my mom on each postcard, and send her one every week. We haven’t seen each other for a year and a half and it’s difficult for both of us, and since I’m usually pretty busy, we don’t get to phone often.
So thanks to all that entered, and thanks to Moo for the great prizes!
Some time ago I put up a post here on the ‘Switch about Taking Payment with PayPal, Escrow and other Online Options in which I mentioned that it was relatively easy to create a form on your regular website that allows you to accept credit card payments. Here is an example that Cyan and I used to use on our portfolio/agency site.
This is a pretty neat thing to do because it’s both very simple and it’s kinda nice to be able to say “Oh yes you can pay by credit card on our website” which to most offline people sounds rather like “I am an uber-freelancer and I should be charging you six squillion dollars an hour, but you’re getting me for a steal”. In actual fact when Cyan and I had the form on our site, we only actually took payment through it maybe a dozen times, but just having it on the site made us look that much more professional.