You've made the leap to freelancing, you have clients, you're making money, and everything is going good... until taxes come due. In this episode, Raj Bhaskar, founder of Hurdlr, gives a crash course on how to navigate taxes as a freelancer.
Raj talks about how to manage your freelancing finances, and especially, figuring out your deductions and making your that you are compliant with the tax regulations in your country.
Disclaimer: Everybody’s situation is different, and of course, different places have different laws. So before implementing anything in this episode, SPEAK TO AN ACCOUNTANT. Seriously.
Quitting your job to freelance doesn’t have to mean a step backwards in pay. Today’s guest, Matt Olpinski freelanced for years on the side, while going to school and later working for a great agency. But at one point, Matt hit a cross-roads and realized that the opportunity to go freelance full-time was bigger than the opportunity to continue his employment career.
Since then, business has taken off and Matt’s freelance clients have even included American Express. And he’s turned down full-time employment offers from the likes of Uber, Tiffany & Co, and even Ogilvy and Mather. And did I mention that he’s still in his mid twenties?
How did it all happen? Matt applied consistent effort to the right areas of his business, like web presence, networking, and positioning.
Companies are constantly presenting pitches to stakeholders and potential clients, or presenting at conferences as keynotes and internally to show the progress of projects. Yet there is so little consideration for the presentation itself, which means that there is an expensive problem of effectively communicating their story and ideas. That's where Nolan steps in.
Nolan Haims is in the business of visual communications: he helps people communicate with fewer words. What that often means in practice is creating very effective presentation decks in PowerPoint, Prezi, and other presentation tools, or training his client’s employees to do the same. But it's not just about making the slides pretty, it is about designing the content to tell a story, which is why this is not so much about technical work, but about consulting.
Jane Portman started out as another designer on Odesk charging $20-$30 per hour for small projects. But when her first son was born, her priorities changed and she realized that she could be doing much more to sell herself and earn a higher income. So she decided to start targeting clients in the United States from her home in Russia and focused in on UI/UX.
Jane shares the story of her transition into consulting and provides wonderful examples of how she positioned herself as an authority in UI/UX. She also shares a remarkable wealth of resources to help others make the same transition.
Kate Kordsmeier built an amazing freelance writing career straight out of college. Kate is a food and travel writer who has been published in over 100 publications, gets to travel to cool places, eat fancy foods, and most importantly, is great proof that being a freelance writer doesn’t have to mean spending years carving out an existence and living as a starving artist.
Kate breaks down how she got started and built up her freelancing business, what her lifestyle looks like as a freelance writer, how she juggles her projects and stays organized, and details what actions you can take to start now.
Whether you choose to build an agency or be a solo entrepreneur, you will need clients, and if you want to grow, you will need to figure out systems to find and close big clients. Jason Swenk has mastered the process of finding clients, working with them to develop a proposal and win the project. He did this as an agency owner himself for 12 years, working with big clients like Porsche, AT&T, and Home Depot. After he sold his agency, he has been consulting and helping digital agency owners figure out their strategies to build and scale their agencies.
Jason shares the secrets on how to specialize, find brands, reach out to targeted companies, turn research into proposals, and close the deal. Jason learned all these secrets by having to figure it out on the go while scaling his agency, and shares them so you don't have to make the same mistakes and go through the same stresses.
In productized consulting, you package up your services and offer the same set of services to all your clients. So rather than customizing every project for a client, you instead offer a set menu of services with standard pricing for each service. Of course, each project will be different since each client is different, but the processes and the systems are the same. This approach allows you to scale quickly and find security in monthly payments, avoiding the feast and famine cycle.
Matthew Newton, founder of Tourism Tiger, has built a great example of a productized consulting business. Mat knew from the start that he wanted to scale his business, so he set it up with scaling in mind. He tells us why he chose productized consulting rather than building an agency, how he chose a niche, how he markets his business and finds clients, and how he is growing the business.
A frequent and common mistake that freelancers tend to make when approaching a project is to price out a project based on the specifications that the client gave them. This approach places you as a commodity, yet another skilled professional offering some commodity technical skill at some price. This approach doesn't necessarily address what the client really needs, after all, the client isn't a technical expert, that's your job. Your expertise is finding a way to solve the client's problem.
Ben Seigel will share the process of how you can assess a client's needs and even get paid to do it. Ben is the author of Website Planning for Small Business and owner of Versa Studio, a web design agency.
Getting paid and seeing that bank account go up is a very rewarding part of freelancing. But are your finances on track? Are you leaving time for both billable and non-billable work such as marketing, bookkeeping, billing, and so on? Do you know if you are going to be financial solvent three months down the road?
In today's episode, Ryan Battles, expert on freelancer finances and co-founder of Harpoon, shares how freelancers keep their finances on track, the big financial mistakes to avoid, which billing methods work best for freelancers, and where money fits into life.
The vast majority of guests on Freelance Transformation either work remotely or have their own offices as agency owners. In this episode, we explore a different way to freelance and speak with Prescott Perez-Fox who has worked primarily on-site, that is, actually inside the client's building.
Prescott Perez-Fox started his freelancing career a bit differently than the typical path by working with a recruitment agency to find on-site freelance gigs at agencies and corporations that needed a designer for a few weeks at a time. As a result, Prescott had the opportunity to work on projects for some major brands and earn a diverse range of experience.
In this episode of Freelance Transformation, Prescott shares what it's been like working in these different environments and the lessons he's taken from each company's culture and workflow. We also explore the recruiter-based model of finding clients, the good, the bad, and when it might make sense to work with a recruiter.
Noah Fleming has a successful consultancy, is author of the book, Evergreen, and is a coach in Alan Weiss' private program. Noah dives deep into what it really means to create value, use value-based fees, and how to identify and find the clients who we can deliver value for.
Spoiler: Value has nothing to do with time.
Bryce Bladon, author of Hell to Pay, loves to write and makes his living writing. When he saw that the national average income for freelance writers was only $22,000, he knew that he had to do something different. Bryce discovered that he was most successful when he niched down and started charging what he was worth rather than selling himself as a commodity.
Bryce shares today how he built up his consulting and writing services over the past seven years to now earn six figures a year and gives advice how any freelancer in the creative fields can do so too. He gives advice on how you can niche down and specific examples of niches in writing and also explains how to get away from hourly pricing and start charging based on value.
Aaron Vidas proves that it is possible for a solopreneur to sell into big businesses. Aaron has built three consulting businesses to revenues of over $1M dollars. He has worked with clients ranging from solopreneurs to the boards and CEOs of $250 million plus companies. He did this by slowing working up the value chain and talking to a lot of people.
At the end of the day, Aaron knows that big companies are all composed of people, so you just need to find out which people to talk to. Not so intimidating after all. Like selling to anyone, you have to position yourself as the expert and know that you can solve their business problems to make the business more efficient and make more money.
James Knight had the cushy corporate job, at Google no less. He did great work and was well taken care of. Yet two years in he left to become a freelancer and ultimately started building an agency, Gradient. Why did he do this? And how did he pull off this transition that many people daydream about, but are terrified to go through with?
James will take us through this journey, and the practical details such as how he found his first few clients, the decision to go further from freelancer to agency, taking on a business partner, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
You, dear listeners, have emailed me with great questions about freelancing, and if you have signed up for my mailing list (hint hint), you'll have received a personal reply.
Celebrate the Freelance Transformation Podcast officially turning a year old, I provide expanded answers to the questions that I see the most often.
I share my thoughts on overcoming fear, defining your niche, defining and improving your worth, getting paid upfront, and finding time for both client work and marketing and sales to get past the feast and famine cycle.
For Nick Disabato, freelance consulting in not a temporary between-jobs solution, it is his life. Listen to how he created a successful independent consulting business, Draft, with just him and an assistant while making decisions along the way that have improved his work-life balance, his mental health, and his overall happiness.
Nick loves his job, but he knows that he has to maintain boundaries between work and life to keep from being overwhelmed by work, so he is very careful about setting expectations about off-hours and vacation time so he can take time off and keep his clients happy. To do this, he has also been very careful about who he accepts as clients and has set up a careful application process to only work with the clients he knows will be best for him and allow him to provide the most value to. But Nick also knows that he doesn't want to be stressed out and selling all the time. He lets loose on his mailing list and writes about what ever he feels like, sometimes business related, sometimes about sandwiches! He gets to have fun, and also gets leads and an audience to sell his ideas to, such as his new Kickstarter book.
Recurring clients give your business greater stability and sustainability. They are gold. Tommy Joiner explains how he and his partner built up a content marketing business Gingerbread Marketing, based on recurrent clients, selling monthly packages.
Tommy tried converting his last business, based on email marketing, into using a recurrent strategy by offering retainers rather than one-off projects, but it didn't stick. His clients didn't get value from the monthly packages. When he set up his current company, he and his partner decided that recurring revenue was important to them so they chose to specialize in something that is inherently recurrent, blog posts. Check out what decisions he made to create a successful business.
Trying to get the attention of a large agencies and consistently have agencies as recurring clients is difficult at the best of times. Nate McGuire, cofounder of Code My Views, has figured out the unique challenges that agencies face to specially cater to them, creating a successful technical firm.
In today's episode, Nate tells us how he and his partner built up a business targeting agencies and specializing in converting their clients' ideas into code for word press and other platforms. He walks us step by step through his sales funnel, from outbound campaigns to tech briefs to sale, and the practical day to day operations to meet the unique demands of agencies.
Podcasting can attract and sell to your ideal client and establish you as the expert before you even meet. Jason Bay built a coaching and consulting business, GenY Success, based on the strategy using podcasting to win clients.
In this episode, Jason shares why his podcast is an effective lead generation tool and the critical strategy behind starting a podcast that will reach your perspective clients and turn them into leads. The secret, a common theme for Freelance Transformation, is first identifying and reaching out to your ideal client.
Why does a client decide to buy services and products from you? What can you do to break down the barriers to buying? Sean D'Souza, author of The Brain Audit, explains the process that goes on in a potential customer's mind as they decide to buy or not, and what you can do so that the customer buys from you.
Sean shares with us the main concepts in his book, The Brain Audit, how to apply these concepts to your freelancing business, and explains how he has re-envisioned his work-life balance so he can spend more time with his family and away from work for 3 months every year.
Emails have become central to daily communication with potential and current clients, business connections and colleagues. Sometimes it's not that easy to write an email. I'm sure, like I have, you have received many bad, ineffective emails that amount to spam. Today's guest explains strategies to write genuine emails that catch the recipient's attention and build relationships.
Danny Rubin is the author of “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” and an expert in career advice, professional development and communication skills. He coaches freelancers on how to write effective messages with focused words. As Danny says, it all comes down to being genuine and respectful.
Let's be honest here, being an entrepreneur is hard. The uncertainty of getting clients, the ebb and flow of projects, the black and red in your bank account, the growth of your waistline, the long hours trying to make it all work, ... Didn't mean to stress you out. Take a deep breath and then listen to the story of a hard-working guy who has been there, but then pulled his resources, changed his outlook and created a world-class consulting business.
Over the last decade, David Mansilla built his business from the ground up, learning as he encountered all those problems and more, but he never gave up. He tells us how he overcame the problem of growing his business too quickly, how to delegate, how to get clients, and most importantly, how to be calendar-independent and have time to live a full meaningful life.
Most designers, programmers, and other freelancers use their experience to help their clients strategize and figure out what work needs to be done to achieve the client's goals. But how do you sell this type of strategy work, instead of only charging for the technical work (design, coding, etc) that results from it?
Marie Poulin found herself in this position, explaining to clients how to integrate her work into the big picture strategy, but realized that she was only charging for the deliverable. In this episode, Marie explains how she repositioned herself as a web designer to a digital strategist, how she transitioned from only creating a deliverable to creating a big picture strategy for her clients, gaining lifelong clients and higher paying projects in the process.
As a freelancer, you are an expert in the technical skills of your field, skills that are in demand. Have you ever thought about training others? Reuven Lerner explains how to succeed in corporate training.
Reuven Lerner transitioned from programmer and software developer to teacher and trainer after being asked by his clients to train their staff. Reuven has found training to be very rewarding because he loves teaching and interacting with people as well as having the freedom to learn new technology based on his curiousity. The pay isn't bad either and Reuven has broken the feast and famine cycle by being booked 10 months in advance for training sessions.
Do you have clients who are always late paying their invoices? Julie Elster shares how you can get paid on time, every time by following her tips on communication and insisting on being paid upfront.
Often, the core of the problem is lack of communication from the start, where no one knows how much to pay or when it is due or who they should talk to about billing. Julie reminds freelancers to pick up the phone and talk to their clients about expectations and figure out a payment schedule that works for both the freelancer and the client.