How to get paid when you hate asking for the money

Freelance consulting

 

If you build websites or sell from an online shop it’s easy to get paid – you just make sure you have plenty of payment buttons for your customers to click (although you’d be surprised how many people I work with who complain they don’t make any money yet don’t actually have any payment buttons out there!

But if you deal with people on a more personal level, for example as a freelance writer, a coach, a coder, designer or webbie it can be a lot harder than you think to actually ask for the money.

Sure, if  you’re done the work and your fee is now due, you can follow up with an invoice and then a series of emails or phone calls if the payment doesn’t arrive.

But what happens when you’re actually striking the deal?

How do you broach the subject of getting paid in that situation?

As a freelancer you’ll know that discussing the project is 90% about what your client wants, and when it comes to discussing ‘awkward’ things like your expenses, your duties and (heaven forbid) the FEE you’re going to charge it can be a lot harder to broach the subject.

Here are a few tips that might help:

1. Realise that when you talk about money your client will see you as professional not annoying. If you hire someone who doesn’t agree an hourly rate or price for a commission or project then you feel as though you’re working with an amateur, or worse, someone who is desperate and will work for any fee.

Make sure you choose a moment to discuss your rates and what you will provide. It makes things clearer for both you and your client and will help them to feel they’re dealing with a professional.

2. Use silence and don’t make excuses. When it comes down to discussing your fee, or slightly easier, when your client asks for your price say “For this project my fee is £XXX”. Then shut up. Don’t make excuses or start to mumble and excuse as to why the fee is so much. Tell them the price, smile, look them in the eye and then wait. Nine time out of ten your price will be accepted without question, but if negotion is needed, you’ve started from YOUR price, not theirs.

3. Make it easy to actually get paid. Today there are apps, plugins and card readers than mean your iPhone or tablet can become a point of sale terminal pretty much anywhere. If you find it uncomfortable to ask for your client’s card details during a meeting, DO make it clear how and when they should pay.

Tell them you’ll send them an email with payment details in it. Give live (clickable) links in your email explaining how they can pay you – BACS and Paypal are pretty much instant these days and if you include a 24 or 48 hour deadline ‘Pay by XXXX date to lock in my services’ and you’ll really stay on top of your cash control. Most of all make it really clear to your client, so there’s no confusion about payment method and terms.

By becoming confident that you’re good at your job and realising that a big part of what you do is money management, you’ll keep the cash flowing and avoid those nasty broke periods…

…and don’t forget to politiely confirm that you’ve recieved payment when it arrives!

 



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As a freelancer, why not profit from the fact that other people want to do what you do?

Freelance consulting

You already know that earning your living as a freelance writer, coder, webbie, proof-reader, copy writer or whatever is nowhere near as glamorous as many people think it is…

…but there’s no getting away from the fact that many 9-5 employees regard your working-from-home, pyjamas until 10am lifestyle with envy, and decide that the grass is most definitely greener on the freelance side.

Unfortunately most wannabes don’t see the reality of working 60 hour weeks to earn enough to keep the wolf from the door, chasing late payers, enduring dry spells when work, ideas or commissions are think on the ground or those days when just everything goes wrong.

But there’s no convincing someone who hates their job and wants to become a freelance that it will be like that for them too…

…so you might as well profit from the idea that they want to do what YOU do, while helping them at the same time.

If you’ve been making a living as a freelance for any amount of time then you know the ropes. You really do.

You know where to get work, how to submit briefs, how to structure your payment rates, where to find help, support and professional communities, how to pitch for jobs, how to avoid pitfalls and so on.

And all this is extremely valuable information for anyone wanting to become a freelance in your field.

So why not offer your expertise as an extra service?

You could offer to coach new freelancers through the quagmire of getting started either on a personal one-to-one level, on a group level or even via email consultation.

Many people (me included) would have happily paid a consultant to shortcut past many of the beginner mistakes and the whole ‘learning the ropes’ period that every new freelancer has to endure.

You might not think you’re qualified to do this but as I said earlier, if you’re making a living as a freelancer in your chosen field then you mist certainly ARE.

Why not profit from your experience and help others at the same time?



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How to get hired as a freelancer (speaking as both a writer and a hirer)

How to get hired as a freelanc

 

As a Freelancer your qualifications don’t matter much any more

Times have changed and when it comes to getting hired your list of qualifications is now at the bottom of the pile – below experience, reviews and the ability to deliver.

Speaking as both a freelance AND a hirer, I can tell you that the main two things I want when I hire someone to write, code, design, interpret or whatever for me are these:

1. The ability to understand what I want

2. The ability to deliver what I want.

I don’t care where you went to school or how many qualifications you have. I might notice you have a first class honours degree or a Masters in English Lit but chances are I’ve hired people with similar qualifications and while it’s certainly not a bad thing…

…it doesn’t cut much mustard with me because I’m looking for results above everything else.

I’much rather hear about the project you completed for someone who is in the same field as I am and who is delighted with your work or the results you got for him

Whether I’m an editor, project manager or entrepreneur I want to know what you can do for ME.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence and the biggest lesson I’ve learned (actually it was a life changing mind shift rather than a lesson) is that to be a successful freelancer you MUST see yourself from the point of view of the person who is considering hiring you.

You have to sell yourself based on what you can do for me, not how proud of your achievements your mum and dad are.

Tell me what you think you can bring to the party.

Don’t tell me my job of course – I already know my readers, my target market, my product or my visitor demographic.

But when I hear from a freelancer who understands how their skills can complement my existing set-up, then I’m already getting out my cheque book.

But how do you know what I want?

Go back and look at the content or services I’m already providing. Have a look at what I do.

Get your head around my style. Or even easier, if I’ve written a brief or job description go and read that four or five times, because the chances are that I’ve already told you exactly who I’m looking for within the description itself.

If you are looking to be hired by someone, or work with someone as a freelancer, affiliate or partner, spend a week getting to know what they actually DO before submitting anything.

You’ll find your success rates go up by 80% because most of your competition will just fire off an email without much thought…

…and it’s the thinkers I want to hire.



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Business Development in action

Went out for lunch with my wife yesterday to a popular foodie type pub and saw a lovely example of how you can make your business processes more efficient by keeping an eye on what tasks you have to perform over and over again and automating them.

The girl behind the (very busy) bar had been interrupted at least half a dozen times while we were were waiting for our food to arrive by people asking for the pub wifi password.

So as soon as she had a spare moment she grabbed a spare specials board and placed the following message on the bar (this is also the reason you should have an FAQ section on your support page or ticket desk)

tony shepherd bar

She’d be my bar manager now if I owned the place!



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Do you have an ‘odds and ends’ box for future project ideas?

tony shepherd

 

Whether you’re a writer, product creator, coder, freelancer or techy, this can work wonders for your creativity, and therefore your bottom line.

Create an odds and ends box/folder/book/hard drive/cloud/drawer/journal

When you’re working on a project you’ll come across valuable information that you won’t be able to use on that particular job. And human nature being what it is, if you dont store it somewhere you’ll forget about it.

So create a file on your PC or have a physical journal or box (depending on how you work) to store these snippets in.

Because I guarantee when you hit a lean period and you’re staring out of the window on a wet afternoon, desperate for am idea or something to start from…

…if you have an ideas file you can go there for an hour with a hot cup of coffee (or glass of wine if it’s been a bugger of a day) and you’ll find a spark of inspiration to get things moving again.

I’ve created work that has paid out multiple times from just a couple of lines of an idea I jotted down months before, and I’ve done this time and time again.

If you can’t use something there and then but recognise it as being valuable (or even if you don’t recognise it in the moment) jot it down and return to it when you need it.

Think it’s just a pretty idea?

I worked with a coder who made over £100,000 from a snippet in his ideas folder. Just a simple idea for an app that made things easier for Amazon sellers.

Make that folder.



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Selling your skills as a freelance

tonyshepherdfreelance

 

As a freelance you might think your only saleable talent is being a writer, or web designer or coder or however you make your living.

But more and more freelancers are now selling the secrets of HOW they make a living as well as creating an income by actually doing it.

When I first started as a writer I wrote pieces whenever I could get a commission, I wrote sales copy for internet marketers and occasionally wrote something first and then tried to sell what I’d written (much harder)

By far the biggest chunk of my income came from writing sales copy for internet sellers at this time, and as it became clear to my clients that my sales copy actually worked, they came back to me with more and more commissions.

I even managed to work out a small percentage point on sales with a couple of these jobs which was very profitable and gave me a recurring income for several months.

Out of the blue I received an email from someone who wanted to get into copywriting asking for advice about how I pitched clients, where I learned the art of copy writing and how much I charged.

It hatched the idea of writing a short course about what I did on a day to day basis as a copywriter. A ‘How To’ that other wannabe copywriters could follow to establish themselves and make it profitable.

I created a basic website and offered either a downloadable PDF version of the course or a comb-bound printed copy for a higher price (all done by me at home) and sold enough copies to buy a new computer, printer, hosting and the other bits and pieces I felt were necessary to my trade.

As sales died down from the ads I placed in Biz Opps mags and Exchange & Mart I struck a deal with an online ebook publisher and sold the rights to the course. This was a mistake and I should have kept on marketing it myself because he made much more than I did, but the lump sum was worth several month’s salary at the time and much appreciated.

The experience really thumped home that as a writer (or whatever branch of freelancing you’re involved in) you can not only profit from being paid by clients, but also by people who want to be doing what you’re doing – the ‘how to’ of your skill set – the day to day running, pitching, selling, payment chasing, connecting ann networking side of being a freelance.

You’ve learned a lot and have a lot to share, and there are more people willing to pay for your expert knowledge than you may think.

And if we get down to the nitty gritty who would you rather learn from?

Someone who does, someone who teaches, or someone who does BOTH?



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Why higher priced freelancers are better for everyone

higherprices

 

If you’re a freelance writer and your work increases your client’s revenue, you can justify putting your prices up. You should put your prices up because it’s better for everyone involved.

When you bring value you’re an asset.

If you’re a copywriter and your work increases conversions on your client’s sales page or ad AND you can do it consistently, ask for a small percentage point on sales next time. You may get it, you may not but you’ll certainly have made your client aware that you know your own value.

If you’re a business coach and you get results for your clients you should adjust your fees accordingly, and if you’re an email marketer who can consistently drive traffic to affiliate offers or webpages you should either request an increase in commissions (I went from 50% to 80% last week because of the hops I was driving to an affiliate offer) or some other form of reward such as getting your ad placed inside a member’s area or download page – the places where buyers are at their ‘hottest’

In short, just because you’re not a product owner or acting in the role of a product owner at a given time doesn’t mean you don’t have any leverage or platform to negotiate from.

In my early days online I wrote sales copy for some relatively big names in the internet marketing niche and my prices or incentives always increased (gently) when the same client wanted to hire me again.

If a client comes back and wants to hire you again, you know he’s seen results from your previous work, whether that’s as a writer, an affiliate, a designer, a coder or whatever.

So put your prices up.

Not in an aggressive way but in slow steady increments so you get used to your own ‘new worth’

Focus on getting results for your client and you’ll see increased revenue yourself regardless of what service or product you bring to the marketplace.

I know a freelancer who specialises in writing technical ebooks, blog posts and reports and has a talent for translating even the most frightening tech-speak into plain, understandable prose.

But her REAL talent is looking at the project and suggesting changes to her client from a writer’s point of view that client would maybe miss, such as breaking down large blocks of text with visual aids and flowcharts, and putting a technical manual into a diary format so it became easier to follow.

She’s never short of clients.

You can do this if you’re an writer, affiliate, web designer, coder or whatever – in fact you SHOULD be doing it, because when you add value in whatever role you play, you’ll never be out of work.

And when you become the client, you’ll know exactly the sort of person to hire…



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Why your service or product must only be a small part of your business if you want to beat your competition

working from home

 

I knew I was wrong but just couldn’t shake the feeling.

When I first went full-time as a writer and online marketer I remember sitting at my desk with my new shiny PC, printer (not used one of those puppies for years) and phone line just waiting for the work to arrive.

Obviously I knew it didn’t work like that but the small excited part of me that was buzzing like a nun’s hobby about my new venture wanted the rest of the world to be so excited they’d call me up and want to commission a piece, or buy one of my ebooks.

Didn’t happen.

Was quite a shock when I realised that writing had just become a tiny 20% of my new business. The other 80% of me needed to become a salesman, copywriter, ad designer, website builder, payment button programmer, receptionist and tea lady.

I had to get out there and hustle.

You already know this if you work for yourself.

If you’re working from home for yourself then you’re no longer just a writer, artist, software developer, proof reader, website designer or internet affiliate.

For me, it wasn’t until I started to place equal importance on ALL the roles I had to undertake that things started to happen.

I can sit down and write the most perfect article, book or report that would help my readers immensely with their own businesses. It could be the best thing I’d ever written…and it doesn’t matter a jot if no one even knows it exists.

I’m sure out there is Ms Perfect Google Adwords Genius, who could create an Adwords campaign that would have eager traffic flowing to wherever I wanted it and could double my monthly income in a few days…

…but until I know who and where she is, I can’t hire her.

If you’re a freelancer or product creator you need to spend just as much time marketing your service or product as you did creating it in the first place.

Social media and consumer psychology expert Derek Halpern spends 20% of his time creating a product and then 80% of his time marketing it.

He says

“If you write a post that 1,000 people read, chances are there’s another 1,000,000 people in the world that could use that exact same article,”

Not doing this was detrimental to my business. It makes little sense to spend a long time defining or creating a product or service, doing a little half-hearted marketing then worrying because no one has bought it or hired you.

Congratulations – marketing, selling or touting for work is now the biggest part of your business!

Whether that involves getting commissioned to write something, driving traffic to your new website, getting hired to do SEO work or letting your market know about the new app or software you’ve developed, it has to be at least as important as your product or service itself.

Takes some getting used to but when you do implement this, you’ll have a big advantage over most of your competitors, because chances are they won’t be doing it.



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Making a profit from ‘Pothole Spotting’

eyes

 

No it’s not a sport from the Yorkshire Olympics, it’s about how to make money from spotting the mistake potholes that many of your readers or customers are going to fall into and solving those problems for them.

Years back I wrote a mini-course aimed primarily and writers called Blog your wage.

It was mostly about how to create a blog solely for the purpose of building a readership and subscriber base that you could market future products to.

I covered the very basics because the idea was ultimately intended to get people thinking for themselves, making their own mistakes, learning from them and moving forward. Having done this myself I knew that a lot of content writing and finding your own subject niche was quite a hit and miss affair in the early days until you realised what worked for you and your readers.

I sold quite a few copies and encourged my readers to contact me with their thoughts and experiences of using my system.

I pretty soon realized that a percentage of people just weren’t comfortable with doing their own research (or more accurately on trusting their own judgement) and were decidedly less comfortable making mistakes.

Personally, I learn by making mistakes so was quite shocked by how badly affected some people could be when thing went wrong. A botched blog installation could set them back weeks mentally, in terms of confidence.

(These were the days before Fantastico installed WordPress on your hosting on one click remember).

And of course it wasn’t their fault. At school we focus on the nine maths questions we get right and totally ignore why we got the other one wrong. At school mistakes equal failure. In the real world, mistakes teach us how to do it right the next time and are a stepping stone to success.

Anyway…So this segment of students on my course were freaking out because they didn’t have the confidence to either put up a blog or research the ways I’d pointed out of monetizing their blog. I told them exactly how to do it – the only thing they needed to do was to research a few basic things related to their own writing niches.

And I continued getting emails asking for more information once people hit a certain point in the course.

So I wrote two reports that covered in minute detail, and with step by step instructions the subjects where my readers hit their main sticking points. One was about basic SEO and the other was about researching competition in your niche.

And I started to make a regular income from these two pieces as more and more people came onto my course and hit the same pothole as the rest. (Obviously I hadn’t covered this as well as I could)

Soon I noticed another pothole, another logjam where my readers were getting stuck and my ‘help’ emails increased. These were from people who were having problems FTP-ing files up to their server. It took me a while to get my head round this when I first started do I can sympathise.

So I wrote a full Filezilla FTP tutorial (Filezilla is free software that allows you to upload files to your hosting account quickly and in bulk if you’re not sure) and by using screenshots and step by step instructions I came up with a self-contained tutorial on how to get your websites up onto your sever, create directories and basically the whole nine yards.

Predictably it sold well and continued to sell until FTP somehow seemed to become more accessible and generally easier.

All these are examples of me selling a significant number of reports (in downloadable PDF format) by spotting potential potholes that newcomer marketers could fall into and providing a solution.

Some of these I’ve offrered free to build my mailing list. I quickly realised that if someone wants a solution they’ll gladly swap their email address for it, and some have been paid-for products.

It’s not too hard to spot the potholes – here’s how to do it:

1. Don’t try to second guess anything,  just look at where you are hitting a logjam with your own blog or business.

2. Take note of the emails that come back from your readers, and try to spot any patterns.

3. But perhaps best of all, visit forums, boards and Facebook groups in your own niche and look at which questions are asked the most. Look at what people are asking for help with.

They’re your potholes. Solve those problems with your writing or products and you’ll have a ready-made marketplace



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