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Does asking for a low rate today lock me into that rate long-term?

I’ve gotten several fantastic “bootstrapping into freelancing for the first time” questions from a few list members recently.

Here’s one about the fear of getting locked into a low rate:


Now the fear I’m facing is if I start with 10$ an hour(freelance websites ask for an hourly rate) won’t it ruin my plans to switch for bigger price and for value pricing? Because if I ask for 30$-60$ after some time won’t clients say: “you charged that guy for 10$ yesterday and you want me to pay you 30$?”.

If you find ways to add value, clients usually won’t have this kind of objection. You can add value in several ways:

  1. Complete the work or achieve the project goal faster
  2. Reduce risk to your client
  3. Be easier for your client to work with
  4. Propose and build ​something that benefits their business *more* than what they originally thought was possible
  5. Provide better advice to your client during the project
  6. Say no to bad ideas that your client doesn’t know are bad ideas
  7. Provide the client with additional resources they need but don’t have access to themselves
  8. Help your client spend money more wisely

There are more ways to add value, but those 8 are a good start.

Adding value in the ways I listed above depend on two things: 1) narrowing your focus to serve a single, specific market vertical or audience 2) being genuinely curious about your clients’ business and how you can improve the results they care about.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

The “Uber Skill”

When it comes to finding ideal clients, there are several extremely useful skills.

This is not a complete list, but for starters:

  • Be able to deliver a persuasive, interesting talk on your subject of expertise
  • Be able to build a list of the right people to talk to at potential ideal clients
  • Be able to inform, entertain, and persuade people through the written word
  • Be able to do good market research
  • Being proactive in generating referrals

Of those skills, one shows up in a surprising number of different contexts: Be able to build a list of the right people to talk to at potential ideal clients.

That’s why I have come to regard that skill as the “Uber Skill”. It provides value to you in so many different situations. Whether it’s market research, validating a potential market position, or actually starting to directly market your services to specific clients through outbound marketing, the skill of building a high quality list is paramount.

You can try to outsource this work, but that can often (but not always) be an expensive lesson in how little list-building companies care about quality lists.

So why not attend this month’s Dev Shop Marketing Briefing and learn how to do it yourself?

Kai Davis–the most experienced and skilled outreach consultant I know–will speak about building better outreach lists:

  • Why better (more qualified) lists improve your outreach success
  • Different strategies for building the list
  • Several approaches for finding critical information (ID companies, ID decision makers, find email addresses)
  • How to qualify / clean your list for maximum quality

As usual, I’ve asked Kai to keep his presentation to a short and information-packed 30 minutes to allow plenty of time for up to 60 minutes of questions.

Kai charges $400 for a 1-hour call. How about getting that level of expert insight into your list-building questions for no money at all?

You can do that at 9am Pacific time on November 30th.

You can reserve your seat for this free event here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/fa17e3c4545c2843d746f627e8486654

As usual, I’ll be recording the event and publishing it online, so if you’re just going to slouch down in your seat, pick boogers, and pass notes in class you don’t need to attend the live event. You can just watch the recording later with the rest of the slackers.

But if you want to ask Kai questions about improving your list-building skills, I hope to see you there. It’ll be a great way to level up those skills.

Reserve your seat here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/fa17e3c4545c2843d746f627e8486654

Talk to you soon,
-P


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long

🎶 Hungry people don’t stay hungry for long
They get hope from fire and smoke as they reach for the dawn
🎶

New Millennium Homes by Rage Against the Machine

I needed to get motivated for some serious house cleaning this past weekend, and I’ve been working my way through Rage Against the Machine’s catalog, so I listened The Battle of Los Angeles (several times).

It worked. My bathroom floor is clean enough to eat off of now.

Anyway, what I love about RAtM is how powerfully they articulate a feeling of wanting to burn down an oppressive system–one that’s so messed up that the only solution is to /dev/null it.

I don’t think the /dev/null option is a good idea, but I suspect many people who voted Donald Trump into office here in the US last week believe that anything would be better than the status quo.

Somewhere in my Facebook feed I saw this:

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I highlighted the text “seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries” because I think that’s incorrect.

I don’t think that’s what people are tired of.

Nobody would be upset about losing their job cleaning toilets and instantly getting promoted to a better-paying, more enjoyable job. It wouldn’t matter what happened to the toilet-cleaning job, as long as there was an equal or better option available to the person who lost that job.

Yeah, they might miss their friends at the old job, or have to commute slightly longer to the new one, or some other relatively minor inconvenience. But if they saw their life getting better overall, they’d be fine with it, right?

People are tired of not having options to make their lives better through better jobs. They’re tired of feeling like their last good option was snatched away by forces outside their control and they’re angry at the perceived causes of that loss.

As a self-employed person, you already have more options than the typical FTE because you can diversify your income across multiple clients and, most importantly, you’ve taken charge of finding your own opportunities.

You create your options.

If you’ve lost sight of that blessing, take a moment now to feel how wonderful it is. I’ll wait right here 🙂

Narrowing your business focus gives you even more options. I know that seems paradoxical, but it works because it strengthens your appeal to a specific type of client, and almost no market is too small to keep you busy for the rest of your life.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

The micro-milestones of traction

A Positioning Accelerator Program participant recently asked a variation of the following:

How long will it take this positioning work to pay off?

The answer, of course, is 212.917 days.

😉 I’m kidding. Here’s how I actually answered this question.

I talked about the usual path to traction. There are several “micro-milestones” you’ll see along the way, especially if you do what I think you should do and focus on building an email list as the core of your marketing to potential clients.

1: The first question from a list subscriber

Usually the first micro-milestone on the road to traction is a question from a list subscriber.

This feels amazing, and indicates that you’re sending emails that at least part of your list is reading and valuing.

2: The first 2-figure product sale

You do have a 2-figure (priced from $1 to $99) product, don’t you?

If you don’t, I’d make building one a high priority. Not higher priority than building a list, but make building a 2-figure product next on your TODO list after doing something to start building a list of relevant, high-quality subscribers.

Why?

Because it puts you in a completely separate category from other freelancers. It demonstrates that you have so much value to offer that some of it can be packaged up into a product that’s worth real money. In some cases, it makes a perfect screening mechanism for potential clients.

3: The first spontaneous services inquiry

Imagine sending an email to your list and getting the following reply:

Can we hire you to help us with this? What’s the first step on that?

It feels incredible the first time this happens, and it indicates that your positioning and your marketing are creating a strong value proposition for prospective clients.

4: Predictability

When all the stuff above starts happening regularly, your life really starts to change because you have an element of predictability in your marketing. You know what works to attract people onto your email list, you know what works to encourage them to buy a 2-figure product, and you know what works to interest them in your more expensive services.

It takes time to get this kind of marketing traction, but it is possible.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

[PAP] One more participant story…

Just a quick reminder that you’re on the waiting list for my Positioning Accelerator Program, and one seat just opened up.

The price is $700/mo, and you can cancel anytime. The open office hours slot is 9am Pacific time on Tuesdays.

Check out Kirby talking with me about his primary takeaways from his time in the Positioning Accelerator Program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4PVa6pBgHE

Next steps:

If you’re interested in joining and we have not spoken realtime about you being in this program, please set up a call with me ASAP to do so: https://calendly.com/philipmorgan/15m-pap-call (I can’t let you into the program without having a brief chat first to be sure it’s a great investment of your money.)

If we have spoken already about you being in the program, then just wait until Friday, November 18th when I’ll open the doors and allow you to buy that one open seat if you want to.

Talk to you soon,
-P


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

The last Chase ATM

Chase bank pulled their last ATM out of Sebastopol recently.

As a Chase customer, this is an inconvenience for me and an opportunity for others.

Off the top of my head:

  1. I’ll do more debit card transactions where I get cash back. This means I’ll buy more $5 coffee drinks I don’t really need (a win for Whole Foods) and have a larger transaction size when I do so (a win for the payment processor that handles that transaction).
  2. If I need a chunk of cash bigger than the $100 cashback limit at Whole Foods, I’ll drive to Santa Rosa to the nearest Chase ATM to get it, a (very small) win for whoever I buy that extra fuel from.
  3. I’m really thinking about becoming a customer of an online bank. I probably won’t feel like completely leaving Chase because of how many things are linked to the Chase account, so that means a win for the online bank I choose without a corresponding “loss” for Chase.

Every changing market offers opportunity.

When it comes to change, are you focused on the potential loss, or the potential gain?

One of the tools you’ll need to capitalize on the potential gain in a changing market is an understanding of positioning. How it works, how to apply it in your business, and what mistakes to avoid.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

[PAP] One seat open

You’re on the waiting list for my Positioning Accelerator Program, and one seat just opened up.

Why? A program participant worked with me for several months to figure out his positioning and marketing strategy, and now is pausing his participation in the program to double down on implementation, which he can do just fine without my help. 🙂

That leaves a seat open for you, if the timing is right this time.

The price is $700/mo, and you can cancel anytime. The open office hours slot is 9am Pacific time on Tuesdays.

Next steps:

If we have not spoken realtime about you being in this program, please set up a call with me ASAP to do sohttps://calendly.com/philipmorgan/15m-pap-call (I can’t let you into the program without having a brief chat first to be sure it’s a great investment of your money.)

If we have spoken already about you being in the program, then just wait until Friday, November 18th when I’ll open the doors and allow you to buy that one open seat if you want to.

Until then, check out this conversation I had with program participant Ant, where he talks about what he learned from our time working together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRCqS3guotc

Talk to you soon,
-P


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

Uh oh… only $10 Billion spent on baccarat in 2015

The amount spent on baccarat in Las Vegas declined from $12 Billion in 2014 to only $10 Billion in 2015.

That’s a contracting market. What would you do if you were selling your services to a contracting market?

Would you chicken out and broaden your services as much as possible to try to acquire more clients?

Or would you do what I believe the smart money is doing in Las Vegas?

I recently read an LA Times article about how several competing groups of investors are rushing to build several casinos that appeal only to Chinese baccarat gamblers.

Here are the lengths those casinos will go to to appeal to that super-specific type of customer:

  • Bilingual staff and signage
  • No whiskey bars, night clubs, or other concessions that their ideal customer doesn’t value
  • Included a Feng Shui master in the design process
  • 8-sided main bar (for good fortune)
  • No unlucky number 4 on the property. No room numbers with the #4 and no 4th floor
  • Authentic Chinese food
  • Including actual Chinese restaurant chains in the development rather than American Chinese restaurants
  • Baccarat, baccarat, and more baccarat (the ideal customer’s favorite game)

Here’s the money quote from that article:


Jacoby says his competitors on the Strip offer Chinese gamers a diluted experience by operating a handful of Chinese restaurants and parlors in mega-casinos that have to serve all manner of people, not just Chinese. By comparison, visitors to Lucky Dragon can start conversing in Mandarin with staff as soon as they walk in, he said. 

“We’re trying to take [the Asian gaming experience] and bring that front and center instead of hiding the most valuable customer in a segregated portion of a large building,” Jacoby said.

What are you doing to appeal specifically to your ideal client? 

Yes, appealing more to your ideal client will make you less appealing to others who are way outside your area of focus. That’s how it works. 🙂

And that’s why you should choose wisely, Tu Di.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

DIY tattoos

I honestly can’t tell if this is a joke or not:

About page for a personal DIY tattoo machine

In case it’s too small to read, the text in the image above reads:

Personal Tattoo Machine aims to democratise the tattoo industry. It gives a tool used only by a limited group of people into the hands of enthusiasts who are seeking for an alternative and unique way to permanently mark their meaningful memories onto their skin.

I found out about it via a Facebook ad, which makes me think that it’s at least an expensive joke but probably actually real. Do a Google search for personaltattoomachine if you want to see for yourself.

Professionals exist for a reason, don’t they? 🙂

There are many reasons someone might hire a professional like you, but I think the three fundamental reasons are:

  1. Risk reduction
  2. Timeline acceleration
  3. Access to skills

I’ve ordered that list in descending order of value for most medium and large size clients. Your skills matter, but even more important is your ability to help clients achieve a result quickly, and even more importantly with minimal risk.

Of course, all three reasons are dependencies on each other. Without the right skills you can’t reduce risk or accelerate completion.

When you start freelancing, it’s entirely appropriate to focus mostly on your skills.

But as you progress in your career, shifting your focus to risk reduction and timeline acceleration makes your value proposition much more compelling for clients.

What are you doing to reduce risk for your clients?


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com

You paid HOW MUCH for those headphones?

I’m a part of an online group of headphone nerds.

The group takes donations, buys some equipment, and sends it around to members to try out.

Nothing beats an in-home audition for figuring out whether those headphones you’ve read about on Head-Fi are worth it. (They probably aren’t because Head-Fi is a shill-powered hype train.)

But some are worth it.

Anyway, this is how I came to try out some $4,000 headphones recently. Here they are…

Image

The Focal Utopia headphones retail for $4,000. Are they worth it?

They do sound amazing. Even my wife agrees. But I can’t tell you if they’re actually worth 4,000 US dollars. That depends on you 🙂

What I want you to notice is how they’re marketed in the screen shot above. These headphones are a luxury good, and they’re marketing as such.

Now look at how the Sennheiser HD-650s are marketed:

Image

And finally, check out the similarly-priced Beats Studio Wireless (I say similarly-priced because the HD-650s can often be purchased for $350):

Image

In general the marketing message goes like this as you move from luxury to enthusiast to mass market:

Focal Utopia: Message focuses on company pedigree, luxury materials & design, performance, and the high price anchors high expectations

Sennheiser HD-650: Message focuses on the product technical specs that enable high performance and the moderate price promises good value

Beats Studio Wireless: Message focuses on style and experience and simplifies the description of specs and materials

Some of you are selling services that need the Focal Utopia or Sennheiser HD-650-style messaging.

How do you know?

Your buyers will tell you by speaking in terms of the geeky stuff you care a lot about. Tech stack differences, for example. Large extra expenses for marginal gains in output. That kind of thing.

Others of you are selling services that need the Beats Studio Wireless messaging. Very simple terminology that less sophisticated buyers need. Much less about technology, much more about business problems and your solutions to those problems.

Again, how do you know which approach to use in your messaging?

Listen to your buyers.


If your dev shop got fewer than 10 leads last week, you need to take this free email course –> http://positioningcrashcourse.com