Has anyone seen my comfort zone?

I seem to have misplaced it.

As you might have picked up from the extreme close up of my face below, today’s post is different. Yes, today’s post is a video post. And it’s all about changes. For those of you who prefer good old fashioned reading to this modern YouTube stuff, the transcript is below. Enjoy!

Today’s post is different from usual. You’ll be familiar with the blog posts that I write or have written where it’s all about the words, but today’s post is about stepping out of your comfort zone, making changes, doing something different and changing the norm.

The reason for this is that last week I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post. It got a little bit more attention and comment than usual because it was about a topic that’s pretty sensitive for a lot of people – money.

The article was titled, ‘Why it’s not wrong to say, show me the money’, and the link will be in the transcript after this video. It produced a lot of reaction from people ranging from, oh, that’s greedy, to, well done, I wish someone else would be so honest about it, especially in the freelancing small business circles that I work in. I think that we often fall into this trap of thinking that being a small business, an entrepreneur or a freelancer gives us a sense of the starving, struggling artist, and that’s rubbish and it doesn’t have to be that way.

That was the premise of the article and there were some links in there to different coaches, authors, teachers and mentors who can help you change your attitude to money, so I thought today’s post could be about some specific things that you could do today that will change your approach and your attitude, and then have an impact on your income.

By the way, most of these items will be relating to and aimed at the type of people I work with all the time, so other freelancers, whether they’re writers or translators or designers, perhaps coaches, other small business owners and entrepreneurs.

1. Finding direct clients

I’ve talked about this before, why direct clients are good and things you can do to help your direct clients. It can be daunting for people in the industry I’m in to find direct clients at the beginning, and it can also be something that you’re going to get round to, but at the moment you need the work, so you’ll just work with agency because it’s easier. It’s also worse for you, however, from a financial perspective, as the agency will take their cut, and some agencies take much, much bigger cuts than others.

You probably have a specialism, something that you write about or something that you teach or you speak about or you translate, and you really need to hone in on that and go to the events and talk to the people who would make decisions or working in those circles. For example, a while back I translated a book on sustainable tourism. I made sure that I knew when it was going to be launched, as the book had lots of different contributors from many different fields but who were all involved in tourism in some manner of speaking.

I made sure I was there at the launch of the event and that I went to speak to the different contributors whose work I had translated, introduced myself and got talking to them. I talked about the book, talked about the case studies that they’d submitted and I would say I probably spoke to about 20 different contributors. On my last count I had some form of contact from 14 out of the 20.

That was really surprising to me, but I think it was because they were already familiar with my work, albeit they didn’t know at the time. So think about things that perhaps you’ve already worked on and show examples of how you work in their industry and you can talk their language, whether that’s about giving talks or stuff that you have designed, translated or written about.

I’m not saying that working for agencies is a bad thing, by the way, it’s easy, and easy is good, plus it pays your bills, but you need to find a balance.

2. Don’t price per word or per element

Say you’re a graphic designer and you’re designing a number of logos or graphics for a company. Give them an overall project price, because otherwise they’ll start to try to negotiate the price down and it becomes really difficult. You’re then making a commodity of each of the elements and it’s much easier for them to strip away the pricing.
Instead, price for the entire package or move onto a time-based model, which brings me onto my next point.

3. Figuring out what your time is worth

Think of everything you need to pay for and then figure out what you want your time to be worth. Think about all the things that absolutely have to be paid, your essentials and your bills and then you have the ‘nice to have’ things, courses or a colour printer, for example. You then have your list of things that you really, really want!

Once you list all those things out and put a value to each, you have an idea of maybe three levels you’re going to work through to increase your prices over the course of weeks, months or years. It’s very important that on that first item we looked at, the essentials, you include paying yourself. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses rarely pay themselves and that should not be the way.

Once you’ve got an idea of your figures that will give you a value of what you’ll need to make over the course of a year in order to meet all your goals. From that you can figure out your monthly salary and divide it into projects and how many days you want to work. From that you’ll see how much you’re worth per hour, and over the course of the projects that you’re doing, make a note of how long things take.

If I’m writing website content for a client, I make sure that I have a timer on my desk and I just see how long it takes me to write each of the sections. From that I can then have a better idea of how long things take, and I apply my hourly rate and am able to price more effectively for projects, whether on a time basis or project basis.

4. Getting out and talking to people

This can suck, and you might feel like you’re the biggest impostor and that you’re pretending, but you have to talk to people. The more you do it, the better you get at it and the more natural it will feel.

You’ll find that people are normal, just like you. Even though you might not be intending to, you get talking to them about what you do, and from that, people get to know what you offer or they think, you know what, we actually need someone to come and speak about managing your finances or budgeting or handling your VAT for small businesses.
People know people who know people who need something, and that’s how things work.

I was recently at an exercise class and the teacher did exactly what I was dreading. “Oh, we have some new people in the class, introduce yourselves, tell us a little bit about you!” I made some sort of stupid joke about it being nice to get out and meet people because of working from home. I got chatting to someone afterwards and they asked what I did, one thing led to another and now I’m doing some project work for them on their content.

Things really can lead to other opportunities if you allow them to happen.

5. Breaking up with bad clients

Everybody gets this and I wrote a piece on this a while back which takes you through exactly what a bad relationship is with a client.

  • They don’t respect your time.
  • They’re always trying to negotiate you down on price.
  • They’re always expecting you to go over and above, say working on weekends, even though they have no intention of working on weekends.

Is your relationship working both ways, and are you both receiving as much as you’re giving in the relationship?
It sets an intention for you that you only want good clients to come and you’re clearing the way and the rubbish clients who treat you badly out of your business life.

6. How to share your price

When you’ve been asked to quote for a job it can be very tempting to tell them exactly what they get for that over and over again, or have some rubbish in there like, this is my regular rate, in case they think it’s too expensive, and then they can come back and say, “oh, so you could do a special rate for me?” (This has happened to me so many times.)

What I want you to do is you tell them your price and then stop talking. Say you’re a coach and you charge 500 dollars for a coaching session. They’ve received all the information, they know what you do, what you can offer them and they know all the benefits. When it comes time to give them your price, just say: “you’ve received all the information and the cost for a coaching session with me is 500 dollars.” Of course you can include at the end, I hope you’ll be in touch soon, kind regards, your name.

But that’s it. Don’t justify, don’t add any more, you don’t need to do that. What you’ve told them is enough, it gives them all the information that they need to make a decision.

Give them the price and shut up. That’s all you need to do.

 

7. Are you promoting yourself in the right way? (And yes, this is where my counting came unstuck. Whoops.)

It’s a matter of looking at all the information that’s out there, whether that’s your website, your blog or your newsletter. Are you really giving your clients the information they need, and are you giving them the information that tells them how you can help solve their problems?

You’ll be in communication with clients all the time and you should have a good idea of what their problems are. On your website, in your blog post, in any content that you’re producing for them, you need to always bring it back to how you can solve their problem.

Even on your “About Me” pages on your website, it will tell them exactly who you are and what you do. I know it says it’s about you, but it’s not really, it’s about them and how you can solve their problems.

Always try and bring it back to that message, and then when people read your content they start to think, ah, so that’s all of the information about how Sarah can help me turn my life around when it comes to my finances. Or, okay, if John was able to help me sort out all of my VAT and bookkeeping, that would make me feel better, feel more relaxed and more organised.

You want to give them the information that they need about how it helps them and how it solves their problem, and then how they’re going to feel after that’s done.

Wrapping it up

These changes are small and very achievable, and yes, they will push you out of your comfort zone just like I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone today. I hope this will help you think about the changes that you can make, even if you implement a couple of these changes, because you know what, you might already be doing quite a few of these elements.

Resources and helping hands

There are some amazing mentors and coaches providing guidance and information on many of the topics I touch on in this video. I’d recommend you check out: Tony Robbins, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Marie ForleoDavid Bach, Lois P Frankel, Gay Hendricks…to name a few! They focus on changing your mindset around money and pinpointing exactly what matters to you…and how to pursue it. In addition, here’s the link to the Huffington Post piece, Why It’s Not Wrong To Say “Show Me “The Money”, in case you missed it.

When it comes to making sure you’re promoting yourself right – there are tons of resources that can help you on that front…like this one – it’s our new course for translators and I’d love to see you there. If you hurry you can still get the Early Bird rate! 🙂

Have a great week!

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