One Of The Big Secrets Of Freelance Success

13 replies
I've had some spare time lately so I'm posting a little more than usual (that is to say, at all).

So today I was talking to a friend of mine. We were discussing the pros and cons of freelancing, especially in regards to copy.

Now, that's not what this post is about. Personally, I freaking love being freelance and don't think I could ever do an inhouse thing unless I was a partner (and even then, it'd have to be pretty much perfect).

But it did get me thinking about a guy I used to talk to who was also a freelancer who has since gone off the radar.

At the time, this guy was a "cub" for a guy doing $1k salesletters in the WSO forum. The story behind the WSO was suspect, and the cub in question confirmed it as bullshit, but it was well-written enough to get this guy a fair bit of work.

This cub was writing the entire letter for $300. The "mentor" in question was basically taking the extra $700 for himself.

Now, that's all fine. The cub knew all this. The problem was when he wrote a letter that hit the top 10 in CB for the category. Obviously since he was ghostwriting he didn't get any recognition for it.

Now, as a freelancer, your portfolio and past successes are a big part of how you keep getting work. Building those contacts and reputation is one of the ways we improve our income and our market visibility.

So the cub told me all this. And I asked him why the freakin' hell he would put himself in the position?

In short, he did it because he didn't have the balls to step away from that guaranteed income, even though it was crappy (though he did 4 letters a week, so even working like a dog, he was making $1,200, which isn't terrible by "employee" standards).

The thing is, as a freelancer, you have to know when to say "no".

Even - or especially - when you really need the money (we've all been there).

I get it. The wolves are at the door, and you need to pay the bills. But consider getting a part-time job rather than becoming known as a copy whore (or other kind of freelancing whore).

When I was hanging out with Vin Montello in NYC, he said something that's stuck with me for a long time...

He was a standup comic and doing pretty well. (Sidenote: Vin seems to have been pretty damn successful in pretty much everything he's done, and it's in large part because he knows how to sell himself. It's also his birthday today, so embarrass him.)

He was driving around the country with his opening act and this guy one day goes, "Vin, I'm funnier than you! This is bullshit! Why do I only get $500 for the week and you get two grand?!"

(NOTE: this was back when $2k was worth significantly more than it is today)

Vin's answer was, "Because when they offer me $500, I say no."

I'm no longer a student of Vin's. We don't work together, and my writing has turned out pretty different to his. So we don't spend a lot of time together, even though we're still friends.

But to this day, every time a client asks me to take less money, I remember that story.

You won't get more than what you ask for. It's the client's job to pay you less. If you don't fight for yourself, no one will.

It can be really, really scary... but you've got to do it if you want to be a successful freelancer.

-Daniel
#big #freelance #secrets #success
  • Profile picture of the author Tim Bazley
    Great post and I totally agree. One of the biggest secrets of selling anything is just to act like you're not fussed whether you do the deal or not.

    Easy when you've got lots on and the gig's only a 'so so' one.

    Not so easy if you really need the work, or the the project's one you'd really like to do!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874480].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    There's this famous copywriter - mere mention of his name evokes the rage of angels here.

    Once upon a time (or one hundred) he said:

    "The client/freelancer relationship is inherently hostile. The client want to get as much result for as little cash as they can while the freelancer wants to get as much cash for as little work as he/she can."

    One might assume that "inherently hostile" equals animosity or anger. It doesn't have to.

    Sure, there's no shortage of broke-dick dogs in the internet marketing space who talk a big game and then need to "float the money" when the rubber hits the road.

    They're not even part of their OWN conversation much less this one.

    The clients you want to work with are those that RESPECT you and your work/advice.

    Money can be worked around easily in an environment of mutual respect and trust but good luck working with anyone in their absence - you'll run away with your hair on fire by the time you're through.

    Good threads today, Daniel.

    Best,

    Brian <-- Packing to get ready to fly out and spend the weekend with "that copywriter".
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874533].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cindytsmile
    How do you decide what you are worth?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874554].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by cindytsmile View Post

      How do you decide what you are worth?
      Quantify your results.

      You may be surprised by how much (or horrified by how little) value you've actually created.

      The money follows the results.

      Brian
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874679].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by cindytsmile View Post

      How do you decide what you are worth?
      Start by determining how much value you bring to the table.

      For example, let's say that your work will bring the client sales of $100,000.

      Surely you're worth 5%, 10%, or more.

      Can you use your persuasion skills to convince the potential client you're worth $5,000 in the above situation?

      Obviously it's not an exact science. But it's a good way to think about your worth.

      Alex
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874702].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
      Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

      Good threads today, Daniel.

      Best,

      Brian <-- Packing to get ready to fly out and spend the weekend with "that copywriter".
      Yeah, I think Stan Dahl mentioned that to me too (Carlton's whole "us vs them" thing when it comes to pricing). Shame I won't have a chance to make Carlton's seminar this weekend... next time!

      Thanks for the kind words, BTW. You and I really need to get talking one of these days!

      Originally Posted by cindytsmile View Post

      How do you decide what you are worth?
      The first thing is you have to feel worth it.

      One way for me was seeing what others were charging. I went, "Damn, I can do a better job than that!" when they were charging more than me. So in that case, you at least raise prices to their level.

      Another way is that I work mostly on royalties. So the first $5 - 10k is an upfront payment, then the rest of my fee is done via royalties.

      If I don't make it work, I get paid sweet FA. If my promotion takes off, both the client and I make a lot of money.

      Not everyone works on this arrangement, but I prefer it.

      So think of ways you can add value to your offering, and raise your prices accordingly. I do a lot of ongoing conversion tweaking, split testing, and so on. I help build sales funnels and do a lot of consulting - and it's all built into the fee.

      This makes me feel great about what I'm charging while still being able to make some decent paydays.

      As in any transaction, it comes back to, "Am I delivering value in excess of what I'm charging?" If the answer is "yes", then you should feel good about charging it. If the answer is "no", then adjust prices accordingly.

      My 2c.

      -Daniel
      Signature

      Always looking for badass direct-response copywriters. PM me if we don't know each other and you're looking for work.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874992].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author cindytsmile
        I like the way you think! Thanks for the advice!


        Originally Posted by Daniel Scott View Post

        Yeah, I think Stan Dahl mentioned that to me too (Carlton's whole "us vs them" thing when it comes to pricing). Shame I won't have a chance to make Carlton's seminar this weekend... next time!

        Thanks for the kind words, BTW. You and I really need to get talking one of these days!



        The first thing is you have to feel worth it.

        One way for me was seeing what others were charging. I went, "Damn, I can do a better job than that!" when they were charging more than me. So in that case, you at least raise prices to their level.

        Another way is that I work mostly on royalties. So the first $5 - 10k is an upfront payment, then the rest of my fee is done via royalties.

        If I don't make it work, I get paid sweet FA. If my promotion takes off, both the client and I make a lot of money.

        Not everyone works on this arrangement, but I prefer it.

        So think of ways you can add value to your offering, and raise your prices accordingly. I do a lot of ongoing conversion tweaking, split testing, and so on. I help build sales funnels and do a lot of consulting - and it's all built into the fee.

        This makes me feel great about what I'm charging while still being able to make some decent paydays.

        As in any transaction, it comes back to, "Am I delivering value in excess of what I'm charging?" If the answer is "yes", then you should feel good about charging it. If the answer is "no", then adjust prices accordingly.

        My 2c.

        -Daniel
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7878791].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Cindy - trial and error in my experience. I've slowly figured out these past few years what amounts of money make which projects worth the time and effort.
    Signature

    Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874569].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author BudaBrit
    I kind of had trouble with this, but not really.

    I left an agency recently because they weren't paying quick enough for me. Just said no thanks.

    But now I'm busy as hell: hence me not posting as much these past couple of weeks.

    It works.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7874723].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    In freelancing you'll often find that if you need the job you
    won't get it, but if you don't need the job you will get it.

    And somehow clients know which class you fall in.

    -Ray Edwards
    Signature
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7878613].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    A lot of copywriters muck up the waters of pricing because they don't know their value.

    That's just reality.

    There's a lot of scarcity-thinking in the copywriting biz - if you buy into the whole competition thing.

    However...

    If you're crystal-clear about what you bring to the table and know your value, you'll pick up way more clients.

    Here's the catch:

    You can't have a charge about the money.

    For instance...

    If I'm uncomfortable quoting $10,000 for a gig, the potential client will feel it.

    You have to believe you're absolutely worth it.

    Nothing less will fly.

    Likewise...

    You have to believe you'll absolutely produce.

    No exceptions.

    Mark
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7878784].message }}
  • One correction to the story Dan told. My friend never said he was "funnier" than me. He said, "as funny as..."

    Just a small point because god knows I would never admit anyone was funnier than me!
    Signature
    The Montello Group
    Copywriting|Publishing|Training
    Your Premier Conversion Cooperative

    Join Us For Free Conversion Webinars
    CLICK HERE!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7879628].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    My bad. I should have known, since if he did say he was funnier than you, you would have had him whacked.

    I'm guessing the only reason I'm able to make this post is because I'm currently travelling and Vin's goons haven't been able to get a bead on my location...

    Yet.

    -Daniel
    Signature

    Always looking for badass direct-response copywriters. PM me if we don't know each other and you're looking for work.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7880804].message }}

Trending Topics