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Social Media Manager Training
Training Module 1
(Remember, the training ‘modules’ were previously separated into individual days where members would get access to new content each day, but now you just get access to all of it right away! So if anything in the training modules mentions ‘tomorrow you will get access to…’, or anything along those lines, then you know that you can just ignore it because you already have access to everything!)
This is the place you should first begin your training on social media jobs. Make your way through training modules 1, 2 and 3 which cover all of the basics of being a social media manager. Once you have finished the first 3 training modules, you can move onto the advanced training section where you will learn the tips, tricks and tactics that will take your earnings with social media jobs to the next level.
Then finally, when you have finished all of the training, it’s time to head over to the ‘Find Work’ section in the main menu bar above and begin some actual social media jobs. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, it’s very important that you go through all of the training first so that you don’t get overwhelmed by all the information in the job database.
So without further ado, lets stick into your first module of training below, good luck!
One of the fastest growing job markets today is in the field of social media! The web has become the first place most people look to make purchasing decisions, and they depend on social media for advice and guidance from their peers.
Businesses that formerly depended on Yellow Pages ads, direct mail marketing and in store advertising are realizing that they cannot neglect online marketing. However, many of these business owners have no idea how social media works, let alone how to leverage it to increase their sales or positively promote their brand.
There is a desperate need for socially savvy marketers who can take these businesses and build an online presence for them.
A social media manager simply manages the social media networking and marketing on behalf of individuals and organizations. Social media is this year’s black and the most cutting edge forms of marketing and networking.
Because it takes us back to basics, back to real time two way communication. Done well it is about communication to and from a service or product provider and customers. It is about finding out the needs of the customer through direct communication and following trends.
This is done through various platforms like blogging and websites, networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, video and podcasting sites, online radio blogging and live streaming sites, customer reviews and bookmarking sites. After all, you only have one reputation. As you can imagine, that takes quite a bit of work, some technical skill, an ability to write well and the discipline to maintain it all.
Many businesses do not have the time or are lacking some of the skills to do this well. Some people would argue that unless these platforms are maintained regularly and kept dynamic and fresh that it is better not to do it at all. It is also important that businesses understand web etiquette and best practice when making posts or submitting articles and videos.
A social media manager has a number of roles and can offer a wide range of services. These can include training individuals and organizations or managing the whole thing.
- Helping people to set up a social network package
- Explaining the interconnections between the various platforms
- Creating a routine and schedule for posting
- Helping to streamline existing routines
- Making them more efficient or partially or completely managing all of the social media and networking
A social media manager becomes the front line of customer service and can pick up communications from existing or potential customers and feed them to the appropriate person. The manager can also keep an eye out for any potentially damaging or incorrect information that is being posted by others.
A good manager will gain an excellent understanding of the business and be able to spot opportunities as they arise, plant seeds and connect with the right people. He or she can deliver content, build links, network and translate digital information from the online community.
A good online presence is not about just having a website or ranking well on Google anymore, businesses need a presence on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and YouTube. A business blog is where people will go to make sure they are current and credible but it also floats the site. Good social media managers are passionate about social media are there to help their clients to have success online!
Becoming a social media manager isn’t difficult. There are no special qualifications or degrees required – you don’t even have to have prior experience in the field! A self motivated attitude combined with a knowledge of the industry and the ability to provide results are all you need to succeed.
Are You Ready For A Career Change?
If you love spending time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and interacting with people then being a social media manager is the perfect career choice for you.
Since social media marketing is a brand new industry, the demand for experts is astoundingly high. This means that once you complete our full length training program, finding work will be easy – there are literally millions of business owners in desperate need of social media managers, and there are currently not nearly enough people ready to fill this need.
Our exclusive training program will teach you how to:
- Create accounts on all of the major social media platforms
- Attract followers, fans, subscribers and connections
- Connect your social networks for even more visibility
- Find social media management jobs both on and offline
- Sell yourself to clients as their number one solution
- Write contracts that ensure you get paid
- Deal with challenging clients and situations
- Turn one-off jobs into ongoing contracts
- Grow your reputation so you can increase your client base
- Raise your prices until you are making a sizable income
- …and much, much more!
Members of our site will have a distinct advantage over amateurs who style themselves as “social media experts” simply because they have a personal Twitter or Facebook account. Graduates of our program come away with real world knowledge of exactly how to deliver stellar results across a wide range of social networks, and will have the added advantage of access to our continually updated social media jobs database.
As a member, you’ll get the knowledge and tools you need to do the actual work of social media management, plus access to social media jobs as soon as they become available. In addition, we provide step by step instructions on how to write proposals to land those jobs, how to present yourself as a social media expert, and how to up-sell your services in order to turn your customers into long term income sources.
This three module introduction consists of simple lessons designed to show you what being a social media manager is all about.
Understanding Social Media Clients!
In order to land clients who need a social media manager, you have to know what they want, what they need, and what they fear. If you can recognize what they think they want, understand what they really need, and are prepared to deal with their questions and fears, half of your job is done already!
- Clients want everything to be simple. Most business owners don’t have the time or the knowledge to deal with online marketing – they just know everyone is telling them they have to “do social media” to be successful, and what they want is to not have to deal with it.
- Clients need an online connection. Ignoring social media doesn’t mean it ceases to exist, or doesn’t affect them. They need a social media game plan, and they need a social media manager who can help them create an online presence and maintain it so they don’t have to deal with it.
- Clients fear what they don’t understand. They worry about going online because they heard a horror story about a business that got a bad review. They panic when they think about having to deal with anything internet related.
A social media manager can help simplify social media for his or her clients by explaining the concepts easy to understand terms; by creating and carrying out a social media plan of action; and by taking basic precautions to prevent the most common causes of a “bad reputation” as well as dealing with reputation management issues if needed.
Becoming a social media expert automatically makes you the person these business owners turn to when faced with the need for an online representation of their brand. Our training program shows you how to take your clients’ wants, needs and fears and present yourself as their solution.
What if English isn’t my first language?
It doesn’t matter! Truly.
It’s not just businesses in English speaking countries that are realizing the benefits of social media and are hiring social media managers. Its businesses all over the world speaking all different languages.
All of the training in this program can be applied to any business, in any country and in any language. Once you complete the training program and start checking out the Social Media Job Resources you will be able to decide which businesses, and in what languages you want to find jobs.
Almost all of the jobs that you will find in our job database are completed online so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, but if you think you would be more comfortable doing social media jobs in your native language then you will easily be able to find social media jobs like this!
In this module you learned that social media is a rapidly expanding industry, with not enough people working in social media management and an ever increasing demand. You also learned what business owners looking for a social media manager want, need and fear!
In the next we’ll take a look at why and where these business owners look for professionals to help them, and how you can connect with potential clients. We’ll also discover exactly what your first few jobs as a social media manager might be, and what you need to be able to deliver.
Training Module 2
In the previous module we established that there are plenty of companies out there who have figured out they desperately need a social media manager. The next step is to make sure they find one – you.
- Question: What do companies do when they need a specialized type of work done that their own in-house staff is unable to provide?
- Answer: They hire a freelancer or sub-contractor. This type of worker helps fill the gap, can often do their work from anywhere, and (since they are not an “employee”) do not require taxes to be recorded and withheld or to be offered benefits such as health care or a 401K. This is very appealing to businesses.
- Question: Where do business owners find these professionals?
- Answer: Multiple online job marketplaces have sprung up across the web. These sites are designed to help connect business owners with freelance workers who provide social media management as well as other services.
Business owners have realized the multiple benefits of hiring freelancers to handle the various aspects of online marketing. They find it easy to post a job online, let freelancers bid on the job, and then select the one whose price, time estimates and expertise best match their needs.
Online Freelance Marketplaces
There are dozens of online hiring websites created specifically to bring businesses and freelancers together. Each site has hundreds of jobs posted daily, which can range from website coding jobs to data entry to copywriting to graphic design projects. Visiting each site daily and sifting through the postings can take enormous amounts of time and energy – time you don‘t have!
Our member-only database (which you automatically gain access to when you join our training program) is made up of only the best social media jobs from across the internet, handpicked by our own team. This saves you the time required to search through each site independently. You can browse and even apply for these jobs without ever having to leave the members’ area of our website!
This gives you an edge over any competitors who may be looking for social media jobs – while they are still filtering through jobs and going from one site to another, you can be selecting your work for the week from the very best social media jobs available – all from one convenient location.
Today’s lesson is a quick introduction to the types of jobs you should look for when starting out as a social media manager, with some added tips on how to create your own image as a successful social media marketer.
Social Media Start Jobs
Typical starter jobs are one-offs, meaning the business owner is looking to have a specific task completed for a fixed price. These jobs are valuable even if they are small, because they allow you to make contact with clients who can later become long term customers.
Most starter jobs fall into one of two categories:
Setting up social profiles such as:
- Facebook Pages
- Twitter Accounts
- LinkedIn Profiles
- Google Accounts
- YouTube Channels
- Pinterest Boards
Businesses may have some profiles already and just want them “fixed” so they appear professional; or they may need completely new pages and accounts set up. They’ll need to trust you and give you control of as much stuff as possible to make this go smoothly. Expect to have to request tools like an email address and login to verify accounts, etc.
Creating an audience on each platform:
- Likes on Facebook
- Followers on Twitter
- Connections on LinkedIn
- Circles on Google +
- Subscribers on YouTube
- Followers on Pinterest
It is not uncommon to see a request for a social marketer to obtain “50 Likes on a Facebook Page” or to “Get 100 followers on Twitter”. This course is designed to teach you how to complete such projects and gain the trust and confidence of your clients.
Both of these kinds of jobs get your foot in the door with a client who may decide after account set-up and audience building that they need someone to handle the accounts for them on an ongoing basis. By bidding on and completing small jobs like these, you create a trusted connection with the client and position yourself as the perfect person for the job.
Being the Expert
Learning how to achieve social media goals is the first step to becoming an in-demand social media manager. Expect to start slow and charge competitive prices while you build up a reputation. Once you’ve achieved results for several clients, you’ll be able to raise your bids and point to your successes as testimonials of your prowess.
A great way to show people you know what you are doing is to use the tactics you will learn in this course to establish profiles and accounts for yourself, boosting your online presence and proving in the process that you know what you are doing. This will put real experience under your belt so you can go on to use what you have learned and provide outstanding results for your clients.
A free tip to get you started – create a blog about social media, and post helpful tips and information about how social media works. You can easily create a blog using either Google’s Blogger platform or the incredibly easy to use and popular WordPress platform. Give the link to prospective clients.
Having a blog gives you automatic status as an online professional, and can be used to promote yourself as a social media expert. It’s also excellent practice for writing convincing copy that can be used to impress those prospective clients!
Whats Next ?
In this module you learned what kinds of social media jobs are out there, and where you can connect with clients seeking help with their social media management needs. You also got a tip on how to get started creating your own social image, so prospective customers will have faith and trust in you from day one.
Next we’ll take a look at what you can expect when you decide to really pursue a career as a social media manager, from how to land clients to what you can reasonably expect to make. We’ll also take a sneak peek at the rest of our training program!
Training Module 3
As we have discovered, social media management is a field with almost unlimited potential for growth in the coming years – and not nearly enough competent professionals to meet the demand from countless companies shifting large portions of their budget to online marketing.
Our training program is designed to turn out experts ready and willing to take on the role of social media manager for small, mid-sized and large businesses looking for someone to help them digitize their brand.
It’s time to answer a few common questions about social media.
What kind of clients are seeking social media managers?
All kinds of businesses are shifting their focus to online branding. These include companies from every service industry, well known and emerging product lines, educational organizations such as schools and colleges, and even charities.
Companies which traditionally depended on word of mouth referrals are turning to the world of social media to increase their reach, while other businesses that used to devote large amounts of their budget to direct mail and print advertising are finding the online medium more cost effective.
Who is getting social media right?
Several large companies which are doing social media “right” include:
- Old Spice
- Burger King
These companies jumped on the social media train early, and have been reaping the rewards ever since, with increased brand recognition, increased sales, and increased consumer engagement.
Industries that have been a little slower to get into social media include less “sexy” fields, like machine related industries (including large equipment manufacturers, efficiency companies and industrial operations), niches that traditionally depended on a firm owner’s personal reputation (such as executive recruiters, lawyers or consultants) and small family owned businesses that depend mainly on local custom.
According to multiple surveys and reports, most businesses with an advertising or marketing budget are planning to divert as much as half of that budget into social media over the next 3 years. This training program can position you to take advantage of this trend!
How do I find my own social media clients?
Business owners looking for help with a social media campaign often don’t even have enough online savvy to post their needs on a freelance marketplace. These clients are ripe for the picking, but many social media marketers pass them by, not realizing they are even there.
Our VIP Job Database will provide you with quick and easy access to the best social media jobs posted on the web, but that’s not all. We also teach you how to connect with people in your local community and around the world who may be looking for help with a social media campaign as well as those who may not even realize they need one yet!
You’ll get a blueprint for how to pitch social media marketing to business owners in a simple, easy to understand format that convinces them they need help and then present you as the solution! It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
What can a social media manager expect to make?
Being a social media manager is a job for someone who enjoys being online and interacting with people. You also have to be a motivated self starter, who can keep to a deadline and deliver on your promises. In the beginning you’ll be depending on one-off jobs from freelance job postings to establish yourself. This can mean taking on multiple projects per week at anywhere from $50-$200 per project.
As your reputation grows, you can charge more. You’ll be able to sign up some of your one-off clients as ongoing monthly clients, and you’ll branch out and start finding social media clients on your own. Our course teaches you everything you need to know about being a social media manager, from landing clients to actually completing the work to keep them happy.
Full time social media managers can make over $50,000 per year! That’s working your own schedule, on your own terms, for people you choose to work with – instead of slaving away for a boss you hate in an environment you can’t wait to get out of every Friday and you dread going back to on Monday.
Are You Ready?
A career in social media management is waiting for you, if you want it! If you enjoy social interaction online, are an innovative and creative thinker, like seeing results tied to actions and want to be your own boss in a rapidly growing industry, there will never be a better time to get into the business of leveraging social media.
With our comprehensive training program, continually updated jobs database and available support team, you can quickly learn everything you need to know about social media management. Then you can launch your own successful career and never look back!
Today we looked at what types of clients are looking for social media managers (virtually all of them), which companies present good examples of a successful social media campaign, and where you might find clients such as these to build a successful social media management practice.
Next up it is time for you to move on to our ‘Advanced Training’ section, which has much more detailed training on how you are going to be using our social media job database to find work, more in depth details on the jobs you will be doing, step by step instructions on how to actually complete the jobs, tips and tricks to help take your income to the next level and much more!
Advanced Training 1 - Why is Social Media Management Important to Businesses?
Prior to the rise of the internet, most businesses depended on offline marketing tactics. As the web expanded, many businesses ventured online by creating a website to represent their company. These sites were developed to rank high in search engines for specific keywords.
For example, a dentist located in Long Island, NY, would create a site which used the keywords “dentist in Long Island” and try to get other websites to post links back to his site in order to make search engines like Google show the site in the results when web searchers typed in those keywords. This is known as SEO, or “search engine optimization”.
Locating a business website was soon not enough for many online searchers, who wanted to not only find a dentist in Long Island, but to find out what people were saying about the dentist’s practice. Review sites sprang up all over the web, but these were easily manipulated by businesses posting positive reviews for themselves and negative reviews about their competitors.
More and more internet users started turning to social networking sites to get real time, honest information about local businesses from their peers. The social platforms responded by making their sites more user friendly for business usage. The direct access to consumers and easy modes of interaction make social sites a perfect place to attract potential new customers, clients or patients.
As a Social Media Manager you will take the skills and tools that you learn in this course and sell them to businesses both online and offline to help them improve their existing online Social Marketing activities or get them online, and up and running.
You will earn a residual income from each client, as the services you are going to provide them are ongoing. As you grow your business you will outsource some of the tasks to Virtual Assistants (People you use remotely to do the hard work, while you manage the relationship with your client). You will use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn , MySpace, etc. to create a more profitable interaction between your client and his prospects and customers.
Done right this is a win-win. Your work will pay for itself. Your client will recommend you to friends, and business associates. As a Social Media Manager you will be responsible for setting up the profiles for them – for example creating a Twitter account, filling out the profile, building followers, etc.
Additionally you can offer to produce a branded design for their social media profiles, which you can outsource for half the price you will charge. You will learn how to do all of this and more over the coming days and weeks.
You will also maintain their Social Media accounts for them. For clients who already have their profiles setup you will do tasks like deleting Spam messages, or make timely announcements for them. Most Social Marketing tasks are very simple, but to your clients who are very busy running their businesses and don’t want to get involved in the social media marketing, they are very valuable and are something worth paying an expert (You!) to do for them.
Advanced Training 2 - Why Don’t Most Businesses Do Their Own Social Media Management?
|So we know that social media marketing is important to businesses, but why don’t they do it themselves? Or have one of their existing employees do the work for them? Some businesses do, but the vast majority of them don’t.|
Many business owners have no idea how to use these platforms effectively for brand promotion and reputation management, and cannot devote the time to managing and monitoring multiple social accounts. The answer for them is to devote a portion of their budget to social media marketing, and start looking for someone to do this job for them.
This is where social media managers come in. Having someone trustworthy and knowledgeable to take the entire job of social networking off their hands is precisely what most business owners are looking for. Recent surveys show that an ever increasing number of businesses plan to spend more money on social media marketing in the immediate future.
Despite the need for social media management, most small to mid-range sized businesses will not hire someone in-house. There often aren’t enough hours to justify creating a position for a social media manager, and freelancers are often simpler to work with since business owners can hire them by the job or the month as needed.
Now is the time to get into the business of social media management, while demand is high and there are not enough savvy social marketers to go around. If you enjoy spending time online and using social networks, a career in social media management can be both fulfilling and financially rewarding!
There are six steps in the process of becoming a social media expert. The first few have to do with familiarizing yourself with your workplace and establishing yourself online!
Advanced Training 3 - The Social Networks
If you spend very much time on line, you are probably already familiar with social networking, and may even have accounts on one or more of the following sites. There are six main social platforms (among hundreds on the web) which can directly benefit small, mid-sized and large businesses (including your own!)
Facebook is a social networking site that had its beginnings as a sort of online college yearbook created by Harvard students. It has since expanded to be one of the most popular social sites on the web, allowing both personal profiles and business pages to post information, images, videos, polls and more. When a user “Likes” a Facebook profile or Page, they can view all of their posts by that account on a “Timeline”.
Businesses need a Facebook Page in order to remain competitive. A Facebook Page is one of the easiest ways to start gaining brand recognition online, and can be used for advertising, promotional offers and giveaways as well as providing a place to interact with customers, clients or patients by sharing information, providing advice and answering questions or concerns.
Twitter was created as an internal text messaging system for a pod casting company, and has become one of the most used social sites in the world. The short, 140 character “Tweets” provide a way to quickly communicate small nuggets of information. When a user “Follows” a Twitter account, they can view all Tweets by that account in a “Feed”.
Businesses need a Twitter account in order to monitor what is being said about their brand in real time, to deliver information and encourage engagement from fans, and even to deliver fast customer service if needed in response to a complaint or question.
LinkedIn is a social network which was created specifically for networking between professionals, and can act as an online business card. When a user creates a profile, they can search for others in the same field or industry and invite them to “Connect”. Those who are connected can view updates posted by their connections in a rolling feed.
Businesses need a LinkedIn account because it is the most professional social networking site on the web. Users can join groups to network with others in their field, and stay up to date on industry news, business opportunities, and job postings. This platform is especially helpful for those looking to create B2B connections.
Google is currently the largest search engine on the web, and has its own social networking platform known as Google +. With a Google profile, users can create “Circles” that include different types of contacts, and share content with specific groups while viewing content from users they follow in a “Stream”.
YouTube is a video sharing network owned by Google and integrated with Google +. Users can upload videos, share, comment on and vote for their favorites. Businesses or individuals can create channels which can be subscribed to by others who then receive notifications when new videos are posted.
Businesses need a Google Profile and YouTube account in order to share information to select groups of people, and tap into the power of visual digital media. Studies show that internet users respond more readily to images and videos than to solely text based content.
Pinterest is one of the newest social sites on the web. It was created as a way to collect and share like images. Users can “Pin” images to “Boards”, and follow other users to like, comment on or “Repin” their pins. This can be an incredible marketing tool for product based businesses.
Businesses need a Pinterest account to engage image driven consumers and to strengthen brand recognition. Pinning images from topics both directly and indirectly related to a business’ industry or niche can attract a wide range of potential customers.
Advanced Training 4 - Establishing and Promoting Yourself
|The way in which you present yourself to prospective clients plays a HUGE role in how many new jobs and projects you get. You only get one chance to make a great impression and working online it can be even trickier.|
How to give yourself an unfair advantage
Ok, so you can’t wait to get started with your new career, but wait a minute!
The market may be ready for you, but you’re not yet ready for the market. If you want to capitalize on the opportunity, the way you present your services is of critical importance. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression – so you have to make the first impression count.
Let’s say you decide to order some Christmas gifts from an online shop. It seems like a great way of saving time, so you look for a likely-sounding store in Yahoo! Gary’s Gift Grotto seems to fit the bill, so you click through.
Unfortunately, the site is so graphically intensive that it takes ages for the home page to load. When it eventually does, you discover that there is no ‘search’ facility to help you find the products you want. You try to browse through the listings, but several times you get a ‘Page not found’ error.
What are you going to do?
Will you persevere, figure out how to place an order and hope that Gary and his pals deliver in time for Christmas? Of course not. You’ll hit the ‘back’ button and move on to someone else.
Behind the scenes, it could be that Gary’s Gift Grotto is a wonderfully-efficient enterprise. They may offer the lowest prices, the largest stock, the fastest delivery times and the best customer service. But it’s all for nothing. The first impression didn’t cut the ice, and another customer bites the dust.
So how do you make a good first impression? The answer to that question lies in preparation. Before you launch into a marketing campaign, you need to think about how you and your service will be perceived by potential customers, and how you can turn that to an advantage. If you can convey an image of professionalism and expertise from the first moment of contact, you are half way towards securing a contract.
With that in mind, let’s start with one of your most important marketing tools, and find out.
How to rocket your résumé
If a client is seriously interested in using your services, the first thing you will be asked to do is to forward your résumé. And here is the perfect opportunity to blow the prospect’s socks off and leave your competitors floundering.
No doubt you already have a résumé prepared, so now I’d like you to find a copy and examine it closely.
I bet I can tell you how it goes.
It probably offers a factual and orderly summary of every facet of your career to date, plus a list of your qualifications, hobbies, interests and aspirations. The structure is likely to be similar to this:
Is that about right? Great. This is what I want you to do…
Hold the pages with both hands at the top, the first finger and thumb of each hand gripping the paper at the center. Now pull your left hand towards your chest, while simultaneously pushing your right hand away. Continue this movement until you have ripped the pages completely in two. Crumple up the two parts and throw them in the trash…
Traditional résumés make great personal histories, but they’re no use for marketing. If you want to earn real money as a freelancer, you need a profile that really sells!
Imagine a McDonald’s radio ad that went something like this:
“McDonald’s Corporation has been in business since 1953 and now has over 200,000 restaurants worldwide. This fast-food chain is renowned for the consistent quality of its products and an enduring commitment to service.”
Now, would that make you want to rush out and buy a Big Mac?
No, it certainly wouldn’t, you’re more likely to hear something like this.
“Try the new Triple Mega Mac, the biggest, juiciest burger you’ve ever tasted. Buy one today and get one free.”
What’s the difference?
Benefits, benefits and more benefits. This ad ‘sells the sizzle’, and shows you exactly what you get in return for your money – taste, quantity and value. Any information which doesn’t persuade the customer to buy is ruthlessly cut. Your résumé should be equally effective.
It’s your prime selling tool – your big chance to communicate the benefits of using you, instead of someone else. In fact, a résumé alone isn’t enough. You need a hard-hitting presentation pack.
Creating a presentation pack
When you use a presentation pack, sales become much easier to achieve.
Gone are the days when clients will pour over your résumé, ask for more information then dither and hesitated some more.
When you send a pack by email or through the post, providing the prospect with all the information needed to make a decision. More often that not, you will get a call in reply saying:
Great! When can you start?
So what goes into presentation packs?
Usually, they will include:
- A one-page personal profile
- An up-to-date client list
- A selection of relevant testimonials • A few samples of related work
- A personalized covering letter.
Each of these is clearly focused, providing concise information that demonstrates why you would be ideal for the project in hand. Together, they provide a complete sales pitch that hammers home a wealth of important benefits.
This is the replacement for your traditional résumé. Remember that your prospective client is not looking for a long-term employee, but for a short-term solution to an immediate requirement. If things go well, it may turn out to be a long-term relationship, but that’s all in the future. Right now, the client wants to know if you can deliver a specific service with a high standard of quality.
And that’s why a conventional résumé just doesn’t work. Take a look back at Joe’s résumé, and consider the obstacles it presents for the prospect.
A – Hidden benefits
Joe’s résumé gets off to a poor start. The client wants to know what Joe can do, but instead Joe forces him to read through all his personal details. Contact details are important, of course, but here they are taking up prime selling space. The client won’t need contact information until he has read the document and decides to pursue things further.
Then we reach Joe’s career objective. Unfortunately, however, the client couldn’t care less what Joe wants to achieve. She’s only interested in her objective, and how you will help her achieve it. Anything else is simply a distraction.
Next we reach education. Having a relevant degree is a major asset, but having the right experience is even more critical. So a paragraph on education is slowing the prospect down, and increasing the chance that she will never get as far as reading about skills and experience.
B – No ‘sizzle’
Then we get to skills and experience, cunningly hidden under the heading Employment History. This heading is not only dull, it is again focused on Joe, and not on the customer.
￼A heading like Skills and Expertise would be more likely to attract her attention. But if the heading is dull, it’s nothing compared to the job descriptions.
The language is passive, and totally impersonal – not so much as an I to inject a little life and interest. What we have is simply an incredibly boring list of career steps.
C. Irrelevant information
Additional information? Who cares? Unless you can pick up on a point and show its relevance to the job in hand, you are simply wasting the prospects time, and increasing the chance of your résumé reaching the circular file.
D. Poor structure
Finally, we reach ‘Computer Skills’. But as this is the real meat of the issue, why hide this section at the end?
The References section doesn’t belong here, either. If you’ve got good references, these should be included in the pack, so that the prospect has all supporting information to hand. We’ll look at this point again under ‘How to get great testimonials’.
So now we’ve seen what’s wrong with a traditional résumé, let’s see if we can do something better. Let’s build a personal profile page that really sells your skills and expertise.
The basic principles of selling remain the same, regardless of whether you’re selling baked beans or consultancy skills.
So we can take the most successful sales techniques used to market products worldwide, and apply them to your profile. And the most popular and successful approach to writing copy that sells is:
AIDA … which stands for … Attention … Interest … Desire … Action
It’s a simple formula, but still very effective. You aim to capture the prospects attention quickly, then stimulate interest by showing the benefits. You provide enough information to generate a desire for your service, then encourage them to take action by getting in touch.
In the case of your personal profile, you might use the AIDA formula to produce a structure like this:
- Write a benefit-driven summary paragraph that captures attention. This will highlight your key strengths, and shows why you are the perfect choice for relevant projects.
- Generate interest by listing your key skills and competencies in bullet point format, so that the prospect can immediately see what you have to offer.
- Demonstrate the depth of these skills by showing how they have developed during the course of your career, creating a desire to find out more.
- Encourage the prospect to take immediate action by providing all necessary contact details at the end of your profile.
A better profile
To see how this can work in practice, let’s rip up Joe’s résumé, and create a power-packed personal profile instead.
Hey, this guy sounds good!
I think I’ll give him call, just in case I redesign my corporate database. So what have we done? Well, we have:
- Replaced the rather dull word résumé with profile, which suggests a more interesting document
- Supported this with a subheading, Freelance Programmer and Database Consultant, so that the prospect can see exactly what skills are on offer
- Stressed the benefits to the client in the summary (deliver quality work your projects remain on schedule)
- Written in the first person (I can)
- Used active, positive language (deliver, help, gained, offer)
- Supported the claims with facts (degree, relevant experience)
- Mentioned major clients, to reassure the prospect
- Demonstrated appropriate experience through recent projects
- Ended with a ‘call to action’ and key contact details.
Getting the most from your client list
A strong client list is perhaps one of the most valuable assets you can acquire during your freelance career. A wide selection of clients shows that you have a broad range of experience. And if you can name some well-respected organizations in your list, you will immediately be taken more seriously as a potential freelance.
Of course, if you’re just setting out on your freelance career, you will not have many clients to list. If that’s the case, simply omit this part of your presentation pack for the time being. But as soon as you have some jobs under your belt, create a list and use them to advantage.
You don’t need to list them alphabetically. On the contrary, you’ll want to name your big guns first to make a strong impression as quickly as possible. If you have some impressive clients, a simple list may be all you need. But if you’re still building up, or your customers are individuals or small organizations, you can add further information, such as the kind of work undertaken for each company.
How to get great testimonials
If there is one element that will convince your prospects faster than anything else, it’s a great set of testimonials. After all, it’s easy for you to make claims about yourself that are somewhat exaggerated. A potential client may be impressed by your résumé, but still unsure. But if you back up a strong résumé with rock-solid recommendations from existing clients, you’ve virtually closed the sale.
￼The trouble is, clients rarely send testimonials. If they think your work is great, you may get a ‘thank you’ call or two, but you are unlikely to get anything in writing. So how do you get a great testimonial? There’s only one way. Ask!
In many cases, a client will be happy to recommend your services. You just need to persuade them to put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard. The best way to do this is to send a letter, outlining your request, and including a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Wording the letter is a delicate matter, as you don’t want to put the client under undue pressure.
On the other hand, if you don’t ask, you don’t get – it’s as simple as that. You might write something like this:
Thanks for asking me to help with your recent projects, and I trust they are all progressing well.
I am currently updating my résumé and portfolio, and would like to include recent testimonials from satisfied clients. If you are happy with the work I have completed for you to date, it would be very helpful if you would consider writing a short testimonial.
Whilst I understand that you are busy, I am sure you appreciate this will help potential clients reach a decision more easily. Your cooperation would be much appreciated, but if you would prefer not to respond for any reason, please just discard this email.
I hope to work with you on many more projects in the future, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Building a powerful portfolio
If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of your expertise is in your samples.
Building up a good portfolio is an essential element in developing your career. As time goes on, you will undertake an ever-wider range of projects, allowing you to build up a diverse portfolio. So whatever a client is looking for, there’s a growing chance that you will be able to demonstrate relevant expertise.
￼￼Having experience of exactly the right kind of work can be surprisingly important. Clients have an unfortunate habit of pigeonholing people and skills. Someone looking for a freelancer to take photographs for an annual report, for example, may demand a photographer with an impressive portfolio in this field. Although any professional photographer may be able to undertake the project with ease, those with no annual reports to show may never be considered.
Although this can be frustrating, it demonstrates the importance of keeping samples from every job you undertake. If you are involved in producing printed materials – magazines, brochures, adverts, etc. – be sure to get hold of a file copy for your records.
In many cases, you will have to go out of your way to get them, but it is important to persevere. If you are, say, an interior designer or a landscape gardener, remember to take photos of every project, preferably both before and after.
Once you have a good portfolio, you can then select appropriate items to send to individual prospects, turning each pack you mail out into a personalized presentation.
The perfect covering letter
The covering letter may be the last item you think about, but it will most likely be the first one that your prospect reads. So you need to ensure that is well written and professional in approach. As in your profile, you need to emphasize the benefits, sell your skills and suggest a call to action.
Make sure the letter is personally addressed to the individual concerned – and triple check that you’ve spelt the name correctly. Names are very personal, and misspelling them is a sure fire way to kill a working relationship before it has even started.
If you have had contact with the prospect, either in person on the phone, try and make reference to something you discussed. This will help to establish that the letter is a personal response, not a standard reply.
A typical letter in response to a telephone inquiry might run as follows:
Thanks your inquiry regarding database consultancy services. As we discussed on the phone, I have considerable experience in this field, and would be free to work on your project from Monday the 15th.
I have undertaken similar work for hi-tech clients in the last two years, including a major project for Hewlett-Packard. The project sounds interesting and challenging, and would allow me to use my formal qualifications and practical experience to good advantage. I am committed to delivering excellent work, often to tight deadlines, and would welcome the opportunity to contribute to your success.
I hope the attached documents will provide all the information you need. But if you would like further information, please let me know. You can call me on 415 123 1234, or send an email to email@example.com.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Best wishes,
Making presentation count
So now you have all the materials for your presentation pack – profile, client list, testimonials and samples, plus a separate covering letter. If you’re going to send the package by mail, or deliver it personally to a prospect in a meeting, it’s worth investing in good-quality binding.
Again, first impressions count. A bundle of loose papers shoved into a folder won’t impress anyone. A wire-bound presentation with quality report covers shows a professional approach.
Nowadays, however, most business communication happens by email. This is a big advantage, as it means you can get your presentation pack to a prospect within minutes of your first contact. There’s a definite advantage to striking while the iron is hot – so make the most of it.
The simplest and most convenient way to send your presentation pack is to use the covering letter as your email message, and add the other elements as attachments. But using attachments raises a couple of issues.
Firstly, if you have a number of samples to send, you could end up sending a long list of attachments which could be rather daunting for the prospect. You can resolve this by combining your profile, client list and testimonials into a single file, and keeping your samples to a sensible number. Three samples should be enough for most circumstances.
Secondly, there is the issue of file size. If you’re sending graphics files, presentations or Acrobat documents, downloading them could be a problem for your prospective client. Try to select smaller documents, or warn the prospect in advance. Alternatively, you could post them on the web, so that he can view them online without downloading.
Thirdly, and most significantly, there is the virus issue. Sending attachments is an easy way to accidentally forward a virus, and many people are rightly wary of opening attachments.
Of course, you should install the latest virus detection software on your computer, to minimize the risk of picking up an infection and passing it on. Trashing a prospects hard disk is not a great way to generate business.
Getting results online
Marketing your skills over the web is something we will address in more detail a little later. But as we are talking about presentation, we need to cover the subject briefly here.
After all, creating your own website is the most effective way to showcase your skills. All the elements of your presentation pack can be included on your website, with as many samples as you feel are required. Photos, graphics, presentations and even programs can be uploaded for prospects to browse at their leisure.
Here again, you need to be sure of making a good impression. If customers find your site through a search engine or directory, for example, it will be their first point of contact. If you don’t achieve the right impact, they will hit the back button and try elsewhere.
OK. So you’ve created your presentation pack, you’ve launched your website, and now you’re ready to do business. Now let’s go out and make money.
Advanced Training 5 - Getting the Jobs!
By now you should have thriving accounts on all six major social networks, as well as accounts with full profiles on the main freelance marketing websites. It’s time to land those jobs that will start earning you a living!
Our database does half the work for you when it comes to freelance job openings. We carefully gather all the best jobs from the main freelance sites and make them available to you in one place. You can browse, research and even apply for these jobs without ever leaving our platform!
At first, look for simple jobs that utilize the skills you have already learned through this course. Set up a Twitter account and build a following, or increase likes and engagement on a Facebook profile. Make sure you get recommendations and testimonials from each satisfied client. These can be posted on your blog or written for you on LinkedIn, and will increase your credibility.
You can also find jobs right on the platforms you are working on. Search Twitter for “social media manager“, “SMM wanted” or “SMM job”. Take advantage of the sidebar listings on LinkedIn to look for possible SMM jobs. You can even find Social Media Management positions on Craigslist!
Don’t forget the personal touch. Check and see if your local favorite coffee shop or pizzeria has a Facebook Page, and if they don‘t then send the owner a proposal. Many small business owners know they need a social media presence, but don’t have the foggiest notion where to find help and are intimidated by fees charged by larger advertising and marketing firms.
Blueprint For Pitching Clients
Explaining the need for social media and how it works to a client who is completely unfamiliar with the web can be tricky. Here we give you a step by step blueprint to help you make sure that you always get the jobs that you want. Click here to get started.
Writing a Winning Proposal
Running the Show
Advanced Training 6 - Working 30 Minutes Or Less Per Day!
Once you have a number of social media clients’ under your belt, it is very important that you are able to efficiently manage the social media campaigns for each client. There is no point in having the freedom of working for yourself as a social media manager if you have to spend 12 hours each day trying to get all of the work done for your clients.
However this need not be the case, with the right strategy, you can easily manage all of the social media work for multiple clients in 30 minutes or less each day. One of the first things you’re going to need to do is choose some tools to help you manage everything.
One of the big factors for using social networks successfully is to “be there” when people are online, looking at their own stream of information. Because the ￼information on these sites is like a stream, a post you make now will be pushed off of people’s feed anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later.
In order to reach as many people as possible, you need to be posting and interacting at various times of the day. And that’s where a lot of people stumble when it comes to doing this efficiently. They feel like they have to “be there” off and on all day, so they keep their browser or other client software open all the time, creating an ongoing stream of interruptions.
It’s much more effective to use a tool that will let you schedule updates at various times throughout the day. You can queue up a bunch of things all at once, schedule them to drip out over the course of 12 to 24 hours, and as far as the people following you are concerned, you’re active all day long. Meanwhile, you’ve spent your 30 minutes to manage it all, and then shut down the website or the client software, and moved on to more productive tasks.
Using lists or groups to manage the people you’re following will also help you reduce the time you spend, particularly when it comes to engaging with other people. Over time, you’ll find that there are certain people you follow who are constantly providing good information and stuff that is worth passing along to your readers.
Hopefully you’ll become one of those people for your followers.
When you sit down to spend your 30 minutes on the social networks, those lists are the first things you should read. Find any posts that you want to re-post for your readers, respond to anything where you can add to or start a discussion and so on.
Let’s look at a sample action plan for accomplishing this.
Social Networking in 30 Minutes or Less
Each has advantages as well as disadvantages.
- Scheduled updates
- Desktop and mobile versions available
- Create custom searches and other filters
- Cross-platform compatibility (Windows/Mac/Linux)
- Supports multiple accounts
- White on black interface is hard to read for some people
- Runs on Adobe Air, which can use a lot of resources on your computer
- No ping.fm support
- Scheduled updates
- Mobile versions available
- Create custom searches and other filters
- Web based, so works on any operating system
- Supports multiple accounts
- Built-in URL shortener with analytics
- Supports ping.fm
- No dedicated desktop app
- Some features only available on paid accounts
- Sheer number of features can be a bit overwhelming at first
Like many competitive products, these are constantly updating and adding features to catch up with or get ahead of one another. Which is good for us users, but it can lead to “feature envy” if the one you choose falls behind one of the others in some way.
Switching back and forth isn’t a good idea if you want to keep your time investment to a minimum, however. Choose one based on your current needs, get it set up for your particular action plan and then stick with it.
Of the two, Hootsuite is probably the most powerful. Being able to schedule your updates is critical to this process of minimizing the time you spend on your social networks.
Tweetdeck also allows scheduling, but because it runs on Adobe Air, it does use more resources than the others, which will be particularly noticeable if you’ve got a little bit older computer with less CPU speed and memory.
It does come down to personal preference to some degree though, so it’s worth testing each of them before you make your final decision.
And keep in mind that some of the features Hootsuite offers are only available on their “Pro” plan, which has a monthly fee. Which is well worth it, if those features are useful to you.
How To Set Up Your Chosen Client For Highest Productivity
For the sake of this discussion, we’re going to assume that you’re working mainly with Facebook and Twitter. But setting your clients up with other networks is going to be very similar, so most of the strategies here are going to translate across to whatever platforms you’ve chosen.
In your client application, you’ll need to link it to several or all of the following:
- All your Twitter accounts
- Your Facebook account
- Any Facebook Pages that you are running
- Any other social networks that you are running for clients
Once the accounts are all linked, you’ll be able to post to any or all of them whenever you post an update. It’s just a matter of selecting the one(s) you want any given update to go out to.
You will also need to set up several columns to track specific things:
- Direct messages and mentions on Twitter
- “Brand” searches – your name, product name, website name, etc.
- Any lists or groups that you want to pay closer attention to
Direct messages and mentions on Twitter are important, because this is where you’re going to go first, to respond to anyone who has messaged you, see where you’re being mentioned by other people, and of course find people to block when they send you DM spam.
The Facebook column saves you from having to log into Facebook by giving you access to your news feed.
“Brand” searches are important to see when and where you or your products are being mentioned. Not everyone who talks about you is going to reference you by your Twitter username, so it’s important to add these searches as well to be sure you don’t miss anything.
￼These saved searches will evolve over time, as you start new projects and create new products. But initially, you’ll want to add your name, the names of your clients businesses, websites and so on to this list.
Lists or groups let you create a more focused group of people to follow if you are following too many to keep track of them all in your main feed.
These lists could be made up of other people in your market, competitors, marketers or other mentors that you want to follow, etc. It’s also a good idea to create a list with people you want to follow for personal interest, so you can easily find their posts when you want to (but don’t do it during your 30 minute social media session!)
Your “30 Minute Or Less” Workflow
Once you’ve got everything configured properly, here is the basic workflow you’re going to follow:
- Set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Collect any updates you want to post yourself such as new blog posts, new articles you’ve submitted elsewhere, offers you want to make, interesting or helpful posts you’ve come across, etc. A good way to keep track of any interesting links you come across during the day is to bookmark them with a site like Delicious using a tag like “to post” or something unique that will let you find them quickly when you need them.
- Open up your chosen social media client.
- Check for direct messages and mentions on Twitter, and respond where appropriate. And maybe block where appropriate as well!
- Scan through your “brand searches” column to see if you’re being mentioned anywhere, and if so respond to those posts when appropriate.
- Scan through your main news feed for each site, or your list columns if you have specific people you want to give more focus. Re-post, reply or comment on those posts that you feel are worthwhile.
- If you have a “master” feed from all the people you’re connected to, and have time left in your schedule, scan through that list and look for anything you can comment on or reply to. This is how you’ll build new relationships, so if you don’t “know” the person, it can be a good way to connect.
- Make a couple of posts from the list of things you want to share and then start scheduling the rest to post automatically over the rest of the day. You might want to schedule multiple posts for some things, like new blog posts or promotions of any sort. This will give them a better chance of being noticed by more people, as they come and go throughout the day.
Initially, this might feel a little foreign, especially the scheduling part, since part of the draw of social media is its immediacy. But once you’ve been at it for a few days, it will get easier and you’ll probably find there are tweaks or changes you want to make to the workflow to best suit your needs.
For example, you might prefer to break it up into two 15 minute sessions at different times of the day, rather than a single 30 minute session.
There are no “rules” here, so do whatever works best for you.
What To Post?
Before we finish off, let’s just look at a few ways to generate ideas for things you can post.
First, look for the people you are connected to. You’ll find certain people who post interesting stuff on a regular basis, and those updates can be a great way to find stuff to re-post yourself. This is essentially the definition of how things go viral.
Next, when you come across an interesting site as part of your day, make note of it. Don’t stop what you’re doing to go and post it then, but bookmark the link or take note of it somehow so you can pull it up quickly during your social networking time.
If you want to stick to a particular market, you can use Google Alerts to automatically send you updates by email, based on keyword searches in the market. This is a great way of finding relevant content to post for your clients and these updates generally have several links you can use as source material for your posts.
￼Keep an eye on industry news in your market and even more general news topics. These can be great sources of interesting stuff for your updates.
Your own resources – things like your blog posts, promotional offers, guest posts you’ve written for another blog, articles you’ve submitted to sites like EzineArticles.com, etc.
Whenever you create some new content somewhere or your client has, plan to post several updates about it within the next few days. And once in a while, revisit some of your older posts – especially the more popular ones – so newer people in your network can be exposed to them.
Finally, a comment about promotional updates. There’s nothing wrong with posting an update about your clients’ latest product, sale or any other type of promotion. It might even be extremely valuable to some of your network, if it’s something useful to them that they hadn’t heard of before.
But restrain yourself from posting too many promotional updates and not enough “content” updates. If people see that every other update you post is a sales pitch, it’s quite likely they will either tune you out or stop following you entirely.
Treat your social network like you would a group of people in person at a party and it will be much more effective for you and for your clients.
After all, the more effective your efforts are for your clients, the more money they will be happy to pay you!
Advanced Training 7 - Converting Prospects Into Buyers
|Just because you have bid on some projects and sent out some proposals to prospective clients, doesn’t mean you can just sit on your hands and wait for the money to flow in. You need to convince your prospective clients that they NEED to hire you.|
You have posted some bids on some jobs and sent out a few proposals to prospective clients, so you’re on your way to success, right? Not necessarily.
Getting an inquiry is one thing. Turning that response into cash in the bank is something else altogether. The way that you handle the initial contact, and develop a subsequent relationship with that prospect, will have a profound impact on whether a lead becomes a client, or a lost opportunity.
In the marketing departments of major corporations, conversion rates – the percentage of inquiries that are actually converted into sales – are accorded a very high priority. And it’s easy to see why. If you’ve already committed yourself to a major marketing campaign, getting a return on that investment depends on getting the best possible conversion rate.
To increase the number of conversions, such companies will invest heavily in testing exploring different approaches to marketing, holding focus groups with prospective customers, and a great deal more. All this costs money, but if it results in the conversion rate increasing significantly, it’s all worthwhile. More sales mean more money in the bank, and a greater profit for a known investment.
For freelancers, maximizing conversion rates is perhaps even more important. After all, you are likely to get only a handful of qualified responses to a particular campaign, so you can’t afford to throw any of them away. You need to convince these potential clients that they did the right thing in contacting you, and that they need your help as soon as possible.
In the last paragraph, I mentioned ‘qualified responses’, and this is an important issue to consider. While you may get a certain number of inquiries, not all of them will be serious prospects. Inevitably, you will encounter some who are just idly curious, or perhaps even researching their own plans for a future career. You may find that the contact is someone junior, and the actual decisions will be made further up the chain.
￼If it becomes clear that the prospect is not a serious buyer, or has expectations that you cannot meet (such as very low prices, qualifications you don’t have, extremely tight deadlines), then politely decline, and suggest they try elsewhere. Should you discover that you really need to speak to someone higher up the hierarchy, try to arrange a meeting with a more senior person.
OK, so you’ve done all that, and you now have a genuine, qualified prospect interested in doing business with you. They’ve taken the bait, but how do you ensure that they don’t get off the hook before you reel them in? Let’s find out.
Delivering the right impression
We all know the maxim you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Yet the importance of that first contact is perhaps far more important that we realize.
Research shows that we do indeed make up our minds about people within the first minute of meeting them. We make a snap decision, based on their appearance, manner, approach and speech. And once entrenched, those opinions are very difficult to shift. In the online world this is just as important and the wording of your job bid, your resume and your portfolio are the first impression potential clients are going to get of you.
So be sure to start on a positive note in order to ease the whole sales conversion process. Making the right impression begins with the very first time the prospect gets in touch.
The initial contact
Let’s imagine that you’ve bid on a particular job from our VIP job database, and someone replies to your proposal with some followup questions. In today’s world, they are likely to respond initially either by a skype call or by email.
Your office should also be away from the noise of domestic life. However ‘natural’ it may sound to have your children playing in the background, it’s unlikely to impress a prospective client. If you’re wondering whether someone on the other end of the call can hear that TV in the other room, rest assured that they can.
If you can answer the call in your company’s name, so much the better. The prospective client may well be aware that you’re a one-man band, but the fact that you portray a professional image will be very reassuring.
￼￼How do you sound on the phone? Probably not as cool and authoritative as you may think.
Try recording a few of your phone conversations and playing them back. You are likely to find that your speech is full of umms, aahs and repetitions of pet phrases. If you can learn to cut these out and speak with confidence, you will make a much better impression.
Once the prospect has made the first move, you need to develop the opportunity by following up in a professional manner. If the client contacts you by email, call them back on the phone – unless they specifically ask you to reply by email. The call allows you to make more of an impact with expressions, discussion and tone of voice.
If you do reply by email, try to overcome the limitations of this form of communication. Handled badly, an email message can come across as being cold and impersonal – but it doesn’t have to be like that. Adopt a friendly approach, using short words and everyday phrasing. Talk about how ‘I can help you’, and be sure to thank the prospect for getting in touch and taking an interest.
If the prospect asks you to send samples in the post or by email, pick your best examples and take some time to create a quality presentation. This person is already half way to becoming a customer, so it’s well worth taking the time and effort to do this well.
And don’t delay. If someone expresses an interest, respond immediately while their level of interest is still high. If you are slow in replying, you may find that your potential customer has lost interest, or taken profitable custom elsewhere.
Meeting the prospect
If you are able to arrange a meeting with your prospective client, you have a great chance to make an impression and persuade the customer to buy your services. While it is possible nowadays to work for clients you have never met, you will always have an advantage if you can build a face-to-face relationship.
The biggest factor in ensuring a successful meeting lies in preparation. Take some time to research the client company, using the Internet and obtaining any relevant brochures, etc. Make sure you know how to find the company, allowing plenty of time for delays and other problems. It’s much better to arrive an hour early, and stop somewhere for a coffee, than to turn up five minutes late – flustered and out of breath.
It’s completely up to you what to wear to these face to face meetings but if in doubt try to be more smart then casual, what’s important is the clients’ perception. Even if you choose fairly casual clothes, it is important to pay attention to details such as cleaning your shoes. The time and attention you spend on yourself will be assumed to reflect the time and attention you invest in your work.
You may be nervous if you’re meeting an important prospect or if you’re new to the business of freelancing. This is perfectly normal, and should not worry you unduly. Just try and speak with confidence, and give the interview your best shot.
The personal touch that gets results.
People do business with people they like
It’s another business maxim, but again it holds a great deal of truth. There are plenty of freelancers to choose from, so why do business with someone they don’t get on with?
That doesn’t mean you have to possess a winning smile or a fantastic sense of humor to get on with people. It means that you need to put some effort into building a business relationship that benefits both parties. To do this, you have to be prepared to ‘give’ something to the client. You need to be friendly, approachable, and understanding.
￼￼In fact, you won’t go too far wrong if you follow the Ten Commandments of Human Relations.
1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile.
3. Call people by name. The sweetest music to anyone’s ears is the sound of his or her
4. Be friendly and helpful. If you want friends, be friendly.
5. Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure.
6. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost anybody if you try.
7. Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.
8. Be considerate with the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a
controversy; yours, the other fellow’s and the right one.
9. Be ready to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others.
10. Add to this a good sense of humor, a big dose of patience and a dash of humility,
and you will be rewarded many-fold.
Making every contact count
Don’t be too surprised if your client doesn’t immediately start writing out a purchase order. Choosing a freelancer can be an important decision that has ramifications beyond the simple cost of your time. The work that you produce will most likely be part of a much larger whole, which could be seriously compromised if you don’t deliver the goods.
So give the prospect time to become comfortable with your style and approach. This might involve more than one meeting, or a number of telephone or email conversations.
To make the most of each of these contact points, think of yourself as a consultant, not as a salesperson. You should be helping the client through ‘consultative selling’ – providing solutions to specific problems, not just selling your wares.
To achieve this, you need to involve the prospect in the discussion. Listen to her as she explains exactly what is required, and aim to gain the best possible understanding. Only then will you be in a position to show how you can resolve these issues and problems with the services that you have to offer.
Closing the sale
Even with the softest and most consultative approach, however, you must persuade the customer to purchase your services at some point. Closing the sale is a phrase that immediately brings to mind tough-negotiating sales reps who won’t leave without the order. Yet closing the sale is a natural part of the business process.
￼Although you can’t force the customer to purchase (and shouldn’t want to), you can take steps to lead the discussion in the right direction.
Sell the benefits
First of all, remember to focus on the benefits you can offer. We looked at this subject earlier in the book, when we talked about ‘selling the sizzle’ when planning your business. Stressing the benefits is particularly important when you are reaching the point of sale.
People commonly confuse features with benefits, and so lose half the impact of their presentation. If you’re looking to buy – say – a power drill.
What’s important to you? Is it the speed of the drill, the range of bits available, or the power rating? Nope. What’s really important is the ability to drill holes. Speed, power, and so on are just features that enable you to reach this goal.
The same is true when freelancing. The fact that you have great qualifications and lots of experience means nothing in itself. These are just ‘features’ which demonstrate your ability to do the job. So when selling your services, don’t focus on what you have done in the past – concentrate on what you can do for the prospect now.
Even the most enthusiastic prospect will have some objections that you will need to overcome.
People need to be reassured that they are making the right decision, that they have considered every likely difficulty and haven’t overlooked anything important.
The key to handling objections is preparation. Most of the issues prospects will raise are predictable, which means you can work out your response in advance. If your rates are high, for example, you know that the client may raise a price objection. If you’re prepared in advance, you can then handle this by showing how the quality of your work enhances results and minimizes risks.
Do this methodically. Put yourself in the prospects shoes, and think of every possible objection that could be raised against using your services. Then prepare honest but persuasive arguments that show why this is not really an issue.
If you can counter every objection with a reasonable response, you will remove just about every obstacle to the sale. All that remains then is to…
Ask for the order
This is something that many people fail to do, but which is critical in getting the sale. If you leave the buying decision solely in the clients’ hands, you will lose business unnecessarily.
If you have been through the processes we have looked at in this chapter, your prospect should be ready to buy. You have understood the problem, suggested a solution and overcome objections. Now don’t throw away all that hard work by failing to ask for the order.
If you think the client is not yet ready to commit to an entire project, suggest starting on a small piece of work as a ‘test’ piece. This reduces the risk to the client, but sets all the wheels in motion for a long-term relationship. Once you have completed the first project successfully, it is highly likely that the client will continue using you, rather than risk starting the process again with another freelancer.
Don’t give up
With the best will in the world, you are not always going to be successful in achieving a sale in the short term. But if you persevere, there is every reason to expect that success will come in due course.
Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, was rejected by almost every record company in Britain when trying to secure a record contract for his band of hopeful musicians.
The band was finally signed up by practically the last company he could try, a label that normally sold classical music.
What if he had given up after the first rejection, or the third or even the tenth?
Salesmen are often taught that every ‘no’ is a step on the way towards ‘yes’. If you are prepared to persevere, and a have a service of real value to offer, you can expect many of your new prospects to ultimately become long-term customers.
Advanced Training 8 - The Profit Formula
|There is a very simple, three part formula that we like to call ‘The Profit Formula’. If you follow just these three simple steps, you will be able to grow your profits exponentially.|
The secret of six-figure freelancing
The principle we are going to be talking about here is very simple, yet it is one that is widely misunderstood by freelancers – and by business professionals generally. But if you get to grips with the significance of this simple statement, it can have a profound impact on the way you approach the running of your business.
So what’s the simple secret of six-figure income? Well, it’s just a question of understanding the basic profit formula:
Income = (hourly rate x billable hours) – costs I said it was simple, didn’t I?
What’s important about this is that it is a straightforward mathematical equation. The income you earn is directly related to the rate you charge per hour, the numbers of hours you bill clients for, and the costs incurred by your business.
To maximize your income, then, you only need to concentrate on three factors:
- Increasing your hourly rate
- Maximizing the number of billable hours
- Reducing your business costs.
When you reduce your business proposition to this simple level, it’s easy to see how your business can be improved. All you have to do is work at these three factors one at a time, and you will inevitably increase your income.
And this increase can be substantial. Notice, for example that in our equation, hourly rate is multiplied by billable hours. Just think about this for a moment. It means that if you can achieve a modest increase in your hourly rate, plus a small increase in your billable hours, you will see a big increase in income.
Let’s look at an example. We’ll say that your usual hourly rate is $60 an hour, but ten hours of your working time are taken up by administration, marketing, etc. You are only able to bill for 30 hours a week, so if we ignore general business costs for the moment, your profit formula for a typical week looks like this:
Income = ($60 x 30) – $0 = $1800 That is, you generate a gross profit of $1800 a week.
From our equation, we can see quite clearly that claiming back those lost ten hours – increasing billable hours – would make a real difference. So what if you hired an assistant for ten hours a week? For straightforward administrative work, you might pay around $10 an hour, costing you a total of $200 a week. But you now have an extra ten hours of billable time, and your profit formula looks like this:
Income = ($60 x 40) – $200 = $2200
So now you are working exactly the same number of hours each week, and charging the same rate for your clients – yet your income has increased by $400 a week. That’s over $20,000 a year!
Mistakes that can kill your business
In the next few chapters of this book, we will be taking a detailed look at each factor in the profit formula, to see how you can enhance the efficiency of your business. But right now, we’re going to look at some of the mistakes that freelancers make, and see how they could be avoided by keeping the profit formula in mind.
Underestimating your worth
One of the most common mistakes made by freelancers is to put too little value on their time. Offering cheap rates is often seen as a way of securing work that you might otherwise lose, in the hope of winning higher rates later on.
It rarely works like that. Once you have established yourself as someone who will accept low rates, you will find it very difficult to raise your rates. After all, if you were only worth a low rate last week, why should anyone pay you more this week?
Giving away too much
If you asked an attorney to attend an introductory meeting 50 miles away, free of charge, what kind of response do you think you would get? Once you had administered treatment for shock you would probably discover your attorney had an impressive array of four-letter words to use on just this sort of occasion.
Freelancers, however, often give away time as if it was an unlimited resource – which it most definitely is not.
￼￼In reality, of course, you do need to invest some time in converting new prospects into clients – but use it wisely. Be sure to weigh up the potential of the client against the commitment you are being asked to invest.
If it all adds up, that’s great. But if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to politely decline.
Failing to track time
Freelancers often give away time unconsciously, too.
This is even worse, as you are giving away billable hours without getting anything, even the prospect of work, in return. This is caused by a simple failure to track your time effectively. If you haven’t recorded how much time you have spent on a project, how can you possibly present an accurate bill?
Letting costs run out of control
Rising costs tend to be associated with rising success. As soon as those lucrative contracts start rolling in, it’s tempting to spend the money as fast as you earn it – or even faster.
It’s easy to convince yourself that you need a new convertible to impress your clients, or that you can’t possibly work without the latest hi-tech, high-cost equipment.
But take care.
It’s always easier to spend money than to earn it. Remember that reducing costs is a vital element in the profit formula, and consider your expenditure accordingly.
Poor credit control
We’ve seen how you can apply the profit formula to increase your income. Remember, however, that you haven’t earned anything until the money is in the bank. An invoice for work completed means nothing if you can’t convert it into the equivalent amount of hard cash.
Big companies have big credit control departments for a reason – they are critical to financial success. If you take credit control seriously in your business, you will really feel the difference in your day-to-day cash flow – and profits.
We will be looking at some of the above issues in more detail later on. For the moment, however, let’s concentrate on the basics of using the profit formula to advantage:
Keep it simple
It’s easy to let complexities cloud your judgment, with the result that you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. But remember that whatever the nature of your business, the underlying dynamics are the same. If you concentrate on increasing your rates, maximizing billable hours and reducing costs, your business will be on track for success.
Every time you agree to a lower rate, an unreasonable time estimate or unnecessarily high expenditure, you are chipping away at your formula for success. Try to stick to your guns and get the deal that you and your business deserve.
With the best will in the world, circumstances change over time.
The efficient regime that you initiate in your New Year’s resolution can soon dissipate into a half-hearted approach to business. Make a point of reviewing your progress on a regular basis, to see how your business is performing. If you’re not making the progress you should, get back to the drawing board and start again.
The profit formula is certainly simple, but it lies at the heart of every successful freelance business. So take some time to review your business now, and see how you can take the next step forward in your career.
Advanced Training 9 - How To Double Or Triple Your Fees
|How would you like to be able to earn 2 -3 times as much money for doing exactly the same amount of work? Well that’s what the pro’s do and now you can learn how to do exactly the same.|
Of all the factors in the Profit Formula, your hourly rate is the hardest to improve, yet the most important in terms of impact. It’s easy to increase the number of hours you work, but means you have to put in extra effort to earn more money. It’s simple to reduce costs, yet this means cutting out certain assets.
If you can increase your hourly rate, on the other hand, you can earn more money without increasing your workload or reducing your asset base. The extra income is essentially free money – the best sort there is!
So how do you obtain the kind of rates that you really want to earn? One way is to apply the Attorneys Profit Formula:
- Select the amount of money you want to earn in a week
- Divide by the number of hours you want to work each week
So if you want to earn $10,000 a week, and only work for ten hours, your rate should be set at $1000 an hour. Wouldn’t that be great?
If you’re a corporate lawyer, you might find the above approach entirely practical. For the rest of us, however, sanity dictates that we find a more realistic approach.
There are three established approaches to pricing that we can use:
- Cost plus
- Market sensitive
- Value based.
Let’s see which is the best for us.
With Cost Plus pricing, your rate is linked to the cost of delivering your service. It’s the approach traditionally used in manufacturing. You work out how much it costs to produce, say, one million tins of beans, add the profit you wish to make on this production run, and divide by one million to get the cost per can.
As a freelancer, you would work out how much you need to cover your business expenses and pay yourself a basic weekly salary. Then add the amount of additional profit you wish to make per week, and divide by the number of hours you work.
￼This approach is useful for determining the minimum rate you will accept, but it doesn’t really help you achieve the maximum rate possible. Although you will be sure of making a clearly-defined market, your fees could end up being well under typical market rates – which brings us to the second method.
Market Sensitive pricing simply compares your rate with others in your field.
If the typical going rate for your professional skill is $50-$70 per hour, then you will pitch your rate somewhere in that range. At $50 an hour, you would be highly competitive, and would probably pick up straightforward jobs easily. If you pitched yourself at $70, you would be less competitive, yet you would make more profit on the jobs that you did win.
This is the way most freelancers work, and if you want to earn a typical income, that’s fine.
But if you want to earn serious money, it just doesn’t cut the ice. Market-sensitive pricing condemns you to fairly average rates for fairly average jobs.
If you want to reach into the higher echelons of fee levels, you have to base your fees on Value Based pricing.
Measuring value, not time
Why is a corporate lawyer worth $300 an hour (or more), while a freelance journalist might struggle to earn $30 an hour? Is it about availability?
Well, that’s certainly part of the answer. Journalists and ‘wannabe’ journalists are, quite frankly, two a penny. If one won’t accept the rate on offer, another one certainly will. By contrast, corporate lawyers are harder to come by. This means the boot is on the foot – if one client won’t pay the high fees expected, another one probably will.
Yet one-legged spoon jugglers are also hard to come by, but nobody pays them $300 an hour. Why? Because there is no demand.
As we saw earlier in this book, it’s critical to choose a field where demand for your services will exceed the supply of qualified freelancers. This explains why attorneys in general can charge healthy fees – yet it doesn’t explain why corporate lawyers, in particular, can charge more than, say, divorce lawyers.
So what’s the answer? In short, it’s all about value.
Let’s imagine our high-earning corporate lawyer is helping a major corporation to push through a difficult merger.
￼￼The process might require 1000 hours of work – that’s a massive $300,000 payday for our friend in the suit. Yet a successful merger might increase his clients’ profits by $30 million a year. So in just twelve months, the lawyer would repay his fee 100 times over. That’s not a bad return on investment, by anybody’s standard.
In this case, the client will be more than happy because the lawyer has delivered real value. Whether or not this fee relates to costs, or is market sensitive, is irrelevant. What counts is that the right result was achieved, and measurable return on investment delivered.
To apply this principle to your own business, you need to understand the value of your services to potential clients. Start thinking about how the work you do can deliver results in dollar terms for your clients. If you shift your marketing pitch from ‘delivering work’ to ‘delivering return on investment’, clients will start to sit up and take notice.
Think carefully about how you can reposition your services to increase the value you add. This could mean making a radical shift in the way you view your business, and the nature of the services you offer. Yet if you get the balance right, you could see a huge payback in terms of growing revenues.
Become a consultant
Are you a consultant, or a worker for hire?
The distinction may not seem that great, yet it can make a big difference to your income.
As a worker for hire, you simply complete an assigned task according to given instructions. The value that you offer is limited to the skill you can apply to the task in hand.
Consultants, on the other hand, have a much larger role to play. They are charged with analyzing problems and requirements, proposing solutions, then seeing them through to completion. This involves taking on additional responsibilities, and making a real contribution to overall business issues.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that consultants earn far more than workers-for-hire.
So if you are looking to maximize your fees, making the step up to consultant status could make a big difference.
Again, this may mean rethinking the kind of service that you offer. Becoming a consultant involves more than printing new business cards. You will need to be able to get involved with the strategic planning and execution of the projects that you do for clients, including being accountable for how they are going to impact and help the long term growth of the business.
A lot of work, maybe. Yet this could also provide you with an opportunity to triple your hourly fees.
Enhancing your skills
As a freelance professional, you have a business which is founded on the strength of your skills. Clearly, then, one of the best ways to increase the value you offer is to enhance the quality of those skills.
Of course, your skills will naturally develop as your freelance career progresses. Every job you complete adds to your experience, and your understanding of your profession.
However, this counts for nothing unless you can demonstrate this expertise to existing and potential clients.
For this reason, it is important to constantly update your portfolio of work, so that you can show how your experience and level of skill is growing and maturing.
Although ‘going back to school’ may seem like a step backwards, improving your qualifications is one of the most effective ways of demonstrating your breadth of skills.
In today’s hi-tech world, especially, the skills demanded of professionals are advancing at a rapid rate. Qualifications that seemed perfectly adequate a few years ago may now seem stale and irrelevant.
What clients are looking for more than anything else is reassurance. They want to feel confident that you have what it takes to undertake the job in hand competently and professionally.
A couple of decades ago, before Bill Gates upset the apple cart, IT professionals would often say that ‘nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’. In other words, purchasing from IBM was a safe choice. Yet at the same time, the company had a reputation for being more expensive – sometimes a lot more expensive – than its competitors. So why did sensible business professionals continue to buy from IBM?
IBM continued to win business because the company had a proven background and reputation, so that IT departments could purchase with confidence. If you can instill the same sense of confidence in your potential clients you will be well on your way to increased fees.
A few paragraphs ago, we said that what clients are looking for more than anything else is reassurance. And there is no greater reassurance than working with someone who has already proved an ability to deliver results.
Hiring a new freelancer is always a risky decision for clients.
No matter how carefully they check references, portfolios, qualifications and experience, it’s impossible to know for a sure that a freelancer will deliver.
Well, not quite impossible. By choosing someone who has already worked for them, they can eliminate much of this risk. If you have already completed a project successfully for a client, price is likely to be much less significant as an issue. The fact that you are known to be a trustworthy supplier will make it well worth paying you a higher fee.
So your dedication to delivering quality work, on time and on budget, is of paramount importance. Don’t make the typical mistake of working extra hard on the first project for a new client, then becoming a little more relaxed with subsequent jobs. As ever, you are only as good as your last job. You must be committed to hitting every deadline overcoming every obstacle and delivering excellent results – each and every time.
Making a commitment to customer care
Delivering results is the most important aspect of customer care, but it’s not the only one. Reassuring your clients is a process that requires constant attention.
If a problem arises, you naturally need to ensure that it is dealt with promptly and efficiently. But even if things are running smoothly, you need to maintain regular contact with customers.
Try to take a pro-active approach. Instead of assuming that everything is fine until you hear otherwise, make a point of asking customers how you could improve your service. You may be surprised at the answers you get. Often it is the little issues that make all the difference. Minor matters that seem unimportant to you may be a high priority for your clients. But if you don’t ask, you will probably never find out what these are, and what you can do about them. Your clients may simply move on to another supplier who offers a different approach.
But if you make the effort to understand your customers’ requirements, you will find that your client list grows steadily. With more work to choose from, you will then be under less pressure to compromise on costs. You can ‘cherry pick’ the best projects for higher fees, and your income will rise accordingly.
Increasing your fees
The theme of asking for a raise has fueled episodes of sitcoms for generations. It is an enduring theme because it is one that we can all identify with – we all want to earn more money, yet asking for an increase requires you to risk everything that you already have. Freelancers do have a significant advantage here, in that you are not putting all your eggs in one basket.
If one client won’t pay your rate, you can always find another one who will. Even so, deciding to raise your rates is a scary business. How much should you increase your rate by? What if your clients decide you have gone too far? Will your cheaper competitors then steal all your business?
These are valid fears, yet you must have a strategy for increasing your rates if you wish to maximize your income. Remember that the cost of living tends to increase over time, so you must increase your rates from time to time just to stand still. If you don’t, your real income will actually decrease over a number of years.
But apart from this factor, you should be aiming to achieve an increase above the rate of inflation. As each year goes by, you are gaining additional skills and expertise. As these are the core of your business proposition, your value to the client is actually increasing year by year. It’s only fair, then, that your rate should rise to reflect this.
Although knowing this helps, making the increase can still be a scary step. The best way to overcome this fear is to take Nike’s advice, and
Just do it!
Write a polite but firm letter to your clients, explaining why the increase is necessary, and reminding them of the value that you offer to their businesses.
And don’t worry!
You’ll probably find that the increase is a much bigger issue for you than it is for your clients. It’s a natural part of the business process, and reflects your rise in stature in your professional sector.
If you really want to earn a million dollars or more as a freelance professional, then maximizing your rate is a critical step. Once you’ve got this step right, you’ll find that everything else starts to fall naturally into place.
Advanced Training 10 - Turning Buyers Into Long Term Clients
Imagine being able to find a source of customers that costs you absolutely nothing in marketing terms. You don’t have to advertise to them, send them samples, arrange meetings or go through the whole sales cycle. These amazing customers just hand you a stream of work and let you get on with it.
What’s really amazing is that these perfect customers exist. Who are they? Quite simply, your existing clients.
There’s no doubt about it, people who have bought from you already are the best customers you will ever have. You know that they like the service you have to offer, you’ve proven your skills and expertise, and you’ve already incurred the overhead of marketing. From here on, it’s all profit.
Research shows that it costs 5 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to get more business from one you already have.
Who can argue with economics like that?
So looking after people who have already committed to buying from you is of vital importance. The first job you undertake for a customer may not be very profitable. The client is likely to give you a smaller project to start with, to reduce the risk to a minimum, plus you have all the sale costs to consider. But the next job will probably be bigger, and your costs virtually nil. If the client goes on to give you work on a regular basis, your return on investment could be substantial indeed.
Let’s say a new customer becomes a regular client, giving you work worth on average around $2000 a month. If that arrangement continues over a number of years, the business could be worth $100,000 or more. A few clients like that, and you’re well on your way to your first million dollars.
But this can only happen if you take care of those customers. No matter how good your performance has been over a period of time, you are only as good as your last job. So to ensure that you make more money from your existing customers, you have to work on turning them all into long-term clients.
There are many facets to this, but one of the most important of all, is the service
Everybody talks about service, but few people actually deliver service of any quality.
Service is not about saying ‘have a nice day’, or adding superfluous touches to cover up inadequacies. It’s about understanding customer requirements, and being genuinely committed to meeting them.
As a bare minimum, of course, you should deliver on your promises – on time and on budget. But just meeting this basic requirement is not enough. You shouldn’t just deliver – you should over deliver.
If you can delight your customers – or better still astonish them – you will be well on your way to winning repeat business.
Remember that in business:
- You cannot service too much
- You cannot educate enough
- You cannot inform too much
- You cannot offer too much follow up, or follow through too far
- You cannot make ordering too easy
- You cannot make working with you too desirable.
Making a commitment to over-delivering may seem like a substantial undertaking. The reward, however, is the prospect of lifetime customers – people who come back to you time and time again, because they know that you will deliver the level of service they need.
The secrets of good customer service begin with seeing things from the customers’ point of view. Try putting yourself in your clients’ shoes.
What is that they really want from you? Delivering good work is just part of the requirement.
In essence, they want you to make their lives easier. They want you to relieve them of all the stress, worry and issues associated with your part of the project. They’re not buying your professional skill – they are paying for a complete solution to a problem they face. That means taking total responsibility for managing your end of the project, dealing with issues that arise and presenting the client with a comprehensive solution.
You can help in this respect by offering to be available whenever the client needs to speak to you. Providing your home and cell phone numbers can give the client the reassurance of knowing that you can be contacted if the need arises. In practice, clients will generally respect your private life, and won’t call you on weekends without good reason. But just knowing that you are available if required can help enormously.
Make it easy to do business with you in planning your procedures round client requirements. If you are a creative professional, for example, clients will often expect you to make revisions and amendments to work at short notice. Build some time into your schedule to allow for this, so that you don’t have to say ‘no’ to a client in a hurry. There’s no point in doing great work in the first instance if you aren’t there to help the client meet the final, immovable deadline.
You should also be realistic in making promises. The client may be under pressure, and ask you to produce work to an urgent deadline. However, you should not allow yourself to be pressurized into meeting impossible timescales. If you are a few hours late delivering, clients won’t remember how difficult the deadline was they will only remember that you made a promise, and failed to keep it. It’s much better to tell the client what you can achieve, then work together on finding a suitable solution.
Remember that you’re looking for a long-term relationship, not a short-term profit. So showing a client how costs can be reduced will have real benefits, even if it reduces your fee for a particular project. This will demonstrate your commitment to delivering good service to the client, and will pay dividends in future projects, where the client is likely to trust you to deliver the right result.
The importance of good communications
Perhaps the most important aspect of customer service is communication. They way you handle your everyday contacts with customers will have a huge impact on the way they value your service.
First of all, be sure to explain to the client exactly what you can and can’t do for them, and how long it will take. Discuss the project in detail, so that both parties are aware of what is expected, and how it will be delivered. To you, it may seem obvious that things need to be done a certain way – you’ve done it a hundred times before, after all. But to the client, the experience of working with a professional freelancer may be an entirely new one.
Once the project is in progress, be sure to stay in touch, even if it’s just to confirm that everything is progressing well. Regular updates will allow the client to relax, and feel confident that the job will be completed in a professional manner.
Staying in touch is particularly important if a problem arises. If you think you are going to have a problem meeting a deadline, or there is some other obstacle preventing you from completing the work as agreed, get in touch straightaway to explain the situation. If you do this early enough, it is often possible to work around the problem, and retain the clients’ confidence. But if you leave it to the last moment to inform the client, you are likely to experience a backlash.
Turning a disaster into a success
With the best will in the world, there will occasionally be jobs that don’t work out quite as expected. Perhaps external factors intervene to mess up your schedule, or you simply find that the clients’ expectations differed from yours.
As we have just seen, many of these issues can be avoided by discussing expectations before hand, and keeping the client informed of any issues as they arise.
But there will still be times when problems occur. Whatever the reason, once in a while you may find yourself with an unhappy client.
So what should you do? Shrug your shoulders and move on to the next project? If you do that, you not only lose the client, you may also lose part or even all of the fee for the project. So it’s much better to try and manage the situation, and turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
The first step is to acknowledge the problem. There’s nothing more infuriating than to tell someone that there is an issue, and to have your comments ignored. Trying to pass the blame on to someone else, or even back to the client, will just make the situation worse. If you’ve made a mistake, be prepared to admit it, and apologize.
Next, give the client a chance to express his feelings. If he is angry, he will want to clear the air by telling you exactly what he thinks of the situation.
Only when he has had a chance to vent his anger in this way can you move on to the next stage, finding a solution.
Most situations can be resolved, but this may involve you doing additional work beyond your original expectation. If you are prepared to do this to redress the problem, however, the client will see the situation in a very different light. In fact, you can turn an angry customer into a happy one.
Instead of losing a customer, you may then gain a long-term client. After all, this client now knows that you can be trusted to resolve issues, and deliver services that really is second to none.
The power of referrals
The ability to generate repeat business is one of the great advantages of having long- term clients. But that’s not all. Over a period of time, your customers will come into contact with many other people who could use your services to advantage. If you have a good working relationship, they will be happy to refer you to other colleagues, resulting in new business possibilities for you.
Referrals are hard to beat as a marketing technique. For one thing, they don’t cost you anything. Your long-term clients act as a volunteer sales force, recommending your services and bringing you new business from unexpected sources free of charge. In terms of return on investment, that is hard to beat.
Secondly, they are likely to be high-quality prospects. If they are mixed in the same circles as your existing best customers, they may have similar requirements, budgets and expectations. So these are prospective clients that you really want to talk to.
Better still, they are often people that you would not get to speak to without your clients’ introduction. They may be hard to get through to, or you may simply be unaware of their existence.
Best of all, they’ve already half-sold on your services. Instead of having to sift through the entries in the Yellow Pages in the hope of finding someone suitable, they have come to you on the recommendation.
They already know one satisfied customer, and would like to share the same experience.
All in all, then, referral business is something you should place a high value on. So it’s well worth persuading your long-term customers to recommend you. Ensure that they have your business card, so that they can easily pass your details along. If you have a website with an URL that’s easy to remember, so much the better. Even if they don’t have your card, they can then pass on your web address.
More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. When you get to the end of a successful project, ask your client to suggest other people who could use your services to advantage. If people are genuinely happy with your work, they will be pleased to do so.
So the difference in value between a one-off customer and a long-term client is vast indeed. If you invest some time and effort into building strong relationships with good clients, you will receive handsome dividends in terms of future business.
Advanced Training 11 - Your Virtual Sales Team
|How would you like to have your own virtual sales team going out on your behalf and convincing businesses to hire you to do social media jobs in their business?|
How would you like to have your own virtual sales team going out on your behalf and convincing businesses to hire you to do social media jobs in their business?
Would that save you a lot of time, hassle and effort?
Imagine if they were willing to work for you 24 hours a day, were able and willing to travel anywhere in the world and talk directly to business owners getting you an endless supply of high paying social media jobs, and they were willing to do all of this completely free!
For an added professional touch you can save the Word document reports as PDF files before you send them. If you have a recent version of Microsoft Word or our free word processor Open Office. You can also use a free online service like http://www.wordtopdf.com/
Without further ado, here are the emails and reports for you to download.
You can use these great reports to sell business owners on the benefits of using Social in their business marketing strategy. They outline all of the major benefits that can be gained from a properly executed marketing campaign in each of the major social networking platforms and include a place at the end to include your contact details to drive interested businesses to contact you.
You can use these emails to ‘soft sell’ clients for your social media services. If you come across a business who is interested in social media marketing but isn’t quite ready to write you a check yet, you can start sending them one of these emails every few days to slowly sell them on the benefits of social media marketing.
These emails are all packed with great info designed to ‘sell’ the client on the benefits of using social media and subliminally position you as the ‘social media person’ so that you will soon have businesses contacting YOU asking when you can start working with them.
Right click on the link below and click ‘save as’ to save the file to your computer. You will then need to ‘unzip‘ the file to view the contents.
Advanced Training 12 - Social Media Proposal Document
|We have put together a ‘Proposal Document’ that you can use to help you close more social media clients and get more sales. It contains a sales pitch on social media management services and a full services and pricing list.|
When you are discussing your social media management services with prospective clients, whether it’s through a job bid on a freelance website or with a business you have made direct contact with, you will often find yourself repeating things like:
- The huge growth of social media
- How productive and profitable social media can be for businesses
- The types of services you can provide
- How much you charge for each service
- Your sales pitch to convince the client why they should hire YOU instead of anyone else
Well you aren’t the only one
We found ourselves doing exactly the same thing and so did other members, so we decided to put together an awesome ‘Proposal Document’ that would take all of the hard work out of this for you.
This document contains tons of great info and statistics about how social media is growing exponentially and how important it is for businesses to use in their marketing. It contains a full list of social media management services with a price list and has a strong closing at the end designed to get prospective contacting you, desperate to hire you!
All you need to do is make a few simple changes in the document to things such as your name and contact details, the services and prices that you want to offer and then you just save it as a pdf file. You can then use it as a great sales tool that you can attach to your job bids or send to prospective clients that you find through other channels.
The document is a Word document, so you need Microsoft Word to open it. If you have a recent version of Microsoft Word, you can simply select ‘File’, ‘Save As’ and choose ‘Save as PDF’ to save the document as a pdf file. This will make the document look more professional before you send it to prospective clients. If you have an older version of Word, you can use a free online ‘Word to PDF‘ converter.
This document really is a great sales tool, and if used effectively it will help you get a lot more social media clients.
You may need to right-click the following link and select ‘Save Link As’ to download the file to your computer.
Advanced Training 13 - Reputation Management
One more situation that can require the services of a social media manager is a reputation crisis. Many businesses don’t know how to handle negative comments posted online, and either ignore them or respond from a position of fear and anger, making the situation worse. This can result in the negative content about their company growing bigger and ending up showing in search results for their business name.
Most situations can be handled by a concerted multi-platform response that gets your client’s side of the story out to handle the curiosity of those following it and to push down negative results on search engines at the same time. What you have to keep in mind is that even after the initial wave of drama passes, your job is only half done and you have to proactively work to de-emphasize the search engine positioning of any negative content related to the incident.
Step 1 – Respond Immediately
You have to respond to any negativity quickly. The longer it sits unanswered, the harder your job will be. You need to be assertive and clearly spell out exactly what your client’s position is on the subject. This is true whether the comments posted are right or wrong. There are situations in which the allegations are correct and the best thing you can do is formulate a response for your client that shows them taking responsibility for it to defuse the situation.
If, however, the allegations against your client are false, you will play your hand a bit differently. Create a calm, professional response and post it first to where the accusatory comments originally appeared. Then wait and watch to see if the situation needs further attention. Encourage your client to offer to take the discussion offline – they may be able to handle it more discreetly.
Step 2- Creating a Response
You need to use whatever platforms are at your disposal, including social account, a blog and even press releases, to provide a full explanation of why your client is being targeted with false accusations. Make sure that everything is tagged and keyworded so that it will also help replace negative results in the search engines. Don’t be argumentative or use any lowbrow tactics – stick strictly to the facts and remain professional.
Step 3 – Spread the Word
You will need to use every tool at your disposal to spread your response far and wide as quickly as possible. This means you will want to have a clear statement of fact on Facebook (pinned to the top of your page or highlighted), Google+, Twitter, and any other social network you use. Don’t stop there though. Add bookmark platforms such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Tagza and Reddit (if possible). This also goes a long way toward getting your results in the search engines to reflect the content you want people to see.
Step 4 – Remain Vigilant
If your client’s adversary continues pushing the issue you have to continue responding in some way. You do not need to engage with a full response every time and place there is a comment, but you should be making sure that wherever negativity appears, you provide at least a link to your version of the issue. Never assume any incident is done after one exchange. Watch for the existing negative content being promoted and any new content appearing.
The only time you may consider not responding as if the attack against you is so ridiculous that the average person would dismiss it as such. “Trolls” who simply want to stir up trouble are common on the internet, and it is not necessary to engage them – they will self destruct and viewers will recognize them for what they are. In these isolated cases it is best to let them spew and ignore them. If they do not get attention from you they will drop the attack and go elsewhere.
Advanced Training 14 - Handling ‘Problem Clients’
Know when to cut your losses and walk away. Some business owners just aren’t ready for social media yet, or have control issues. If they won’t let you do your job, let them go. Don’t let them force you into failure. While the issues that make a client difficult can vary widely, problem clients generally fall into one of three groups:
The Unresponsive Client
This type of client doesn’t respond to questions or provide requested feedback. Spending hours trying to get them to respond can be a time suck. An unresponsive client is not only hampering their progress in making advances in their social media efforts, they are wasting your time as well.
What often happens with this kind of client is that at the end of a billing cycle, they wind up asking “Is that all you got you done?” They don’t stop to consider the time and opportunity lost waiting for feedback or the amount of time wasted trying to get that feedback to move forward.
The best way to deal with an unresponsive client is to firmly but nicely let them know at each step that you cannot move forward without timely communication, and that delays in getting back to you will cause delays in their project and limit your ability to help them.
The Controlling Client
This type of client demands to see every single Tweet ahead of time, doesn’t trust you, and sabotages best practices. They tend to think every action made on their social media accounts is a “make or break” activity, and obsess over knowing and approving even the very smallest actions being taken.
What often happens with this kind of client is that they only turn over or authorize activity on some of their social networks making coordinated posting efforts nearly impossible, or nitpick at every single thing you do. You spend so much time waiting for approval and making insignificant tweaks that you get almost nothing done and what is done is rarely as effective as it could be.
The best way to deal with a controlling client is to explain that they are making it impossible to do the job you signed on to do – and if they don’t listen, then walk away. These clients will also be the first to blame you if their social media campaign is not successful.
The “Keep Working, I’ll Pay you Eventually” Client.
This type of client should be an ex-client after pulling this move even one time. The problem with a client like this isn’t just that you aren’t being compensated on time – it’s quite possible that you may never be compensated. There are exceptions to every rule, but what often happens is that no matter how good of a job you do, they will find some reason to rationalize not paying you at all.
What often happens with this kind of client is that they pay on time the first time, and then each subsequent billing cycle they get later and later. If you keep working for them, you are telling them that this type of behavior is OK, and they will keep taking advantage of you and eventually “forget” to pay you at all.
The best way to deal with a non-working client is to make it clear when payment is expected (such as by the 1st of every month) in your contract. If they miss the due date, send them a polite message that implies they may have forgotten to take care of your invoice (giving them a way to save face).
If payment is not delivered promptly, stop all efforts and send a follow up email stating that you have stopped working until you hear back from them, and that work will resume promptly on receipt of payment.
What makes problem clients difficult is that you never know if the relationship is going to improve. However, there are times when you simply have to walk away – the aggravation is not worth what you are getting paid.
When you do break ties with a client, make sure they have full access to the accounts you have managed for them (assuming they are up-to-date on payments) and provide a final report detailing what you accomplished for them. Be sure to cite that the reason for letting your client go is that you cannot meet their needs due to their failure to (fill in the blank).
Remain professional, and document issues with problem clients. If they attack you online or you are forced to pursue them for unpaid bills, you will want records of the work done and the problems with the client.
Advanced Training 15 - Becoming More Productive
|When you are working for clients on a project by project basis, if you can increase your productivity by 50%, you increase your earnings by 50%. It’s as simple as that.|
How to use your time more profitably
The concept of productivity may sound rather dull – a boring piece of management- speak if ever there was one. Yet how productive you are in terms of getting things done is critical to your profitability as a freelancer.
We saw in the Profit Formula that the number of hours you bill for being a ‘multiplication’ factor:
Income = (hourly rate x billable hours) – costs
That is, a small improvement in billable hours can have a big impact, because its effect is multiplied by your hourly rate. Yet there are only so many hours in a week, and you don’t really want to spend your evenings and weekends slaving away to increase your income…
So how do you increase your number of billable hours? You must increase your productivity.
Now that doesn’t mean that you have to turn into a work machine, trying to do several things at once, and not giving any one task the attention it deserves.
What it does mean is that you should learn how to get the most from your time, using the hours you have to greater advantage.
And in order to do that, you must learn to value your time.
How to value your time
I wish I knew who wrote this – it really puts the value of time into perspective:
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.
It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do? Draw out ALL OF IT, of course! Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME.
￼Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today. Treasure every moment that you have! And remember that time waits for no one.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!
We often tend to think of them as a disposable commodity. If a complete stranger asked you to put your hand in your pocket and give him ten dollars, you would very likely give him a few choice words instead. But if you get held up in a traffic jam for ten minutes, you are likely to brush it off as a minor inconvenience.
After all, it didn’t cost you anything except a little time.
Yet time is by far the most valuable commodity we have. We only have a limited amount of it, and if we waste it, it’s gone forever. Remember that when you sell your time by the hour, you are auctioning off your life in bite-size chunks.
So how much is your life worth?
Don’t sell yourself short. A common mistake is to calculate how much you could earn per hour at a full-time job, over a 9-5 working week. But freelancing is very different to regular employment. As an employee, you get paid just for turning up. You’re getting paid when you’re chatting at the water cooler, visiting the restroom – and even when you’re sick or on vacation.
As a freelancer, you only get paid for the hours you put in for a particular client. All the time spent on interruptions, administration and personal matters have to be accounted for out of your own pocket.
Let’s say you decide to charge $50 an hour, and expect to work 40 hours a week. At first this looks pretty good – hey, you’re going to make over $100,000 a year. But when you start deducting time spent on vacations and illness, you find your revenue dropping sharply. Then there’s all the time devoted to looking for work, managing your finances, and everything else.
By the time you’ve finished deducting all this time-sucking overheads, you may find that, on average, you are earning nearer $15 an hour. That’s not much more than you could earn part-time in McDonalds.
So improving your productivity can have a real impact on your earnings. In fact, if you can reclaim an extra hour a day in billable time, your earnings (at $50 an hour) would increase by $13,000 over the course of a year.
And to get that extra hour back, you need to learn the secrets of effective time management.
The secrets of effective time management Good time management is not an innate skill.
We all work with varying degrees of inefficiency, struggling to get things done, but continually being distracted by everyday life. How often have you started the day with a single objective in mind, yet somehow reached the end of the day with that objective still out of reach?
It’s a familiar problem, but the good news is that it can be tackled. Effective time management is something that can be learned and developed.
If you’re a creative person, such as a writer or designer, you are more likely than most to have a problem with time management. Creative people tend to have fewer left-brain skills, and so find logical tasks such as time management more difficult.
That doesn’t mean you have an excuse for avoiding time management – it just means you need to work harder at it.
To start with, you need to understand what time management is, and – more importantly – what it’s not…
Time Management is not doing the wrong things quicker. That just gets us nowhere faster. Time Management is doing the right things.
So let’s take a look at the right things you need to do get things done.
Discover your best working time
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Finding out which time of day suits you best can have a big impact on your productivity.
One of the big advantages of being a freelancer is that you have greater freedom over your choice of working hours. You are not tied to a 9-5 schedule from Monday to Friday.
￼So take some time to analyze when your most productive times are. If you work more efficiently in the morning, for example, make sure that those morning hours are free from interruptions, so that you get the most done in the shortest possible time.
Plan your day
One hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing.
That’s a statement that’s worth taking notice of. So rather than rush into your day with only a vague plan of action, take enough time out to plan your schedule for the day.
Prioritize your tasks, so that you ensure that the really important things get done. Be realistic, however. There are only so many hours in a day, and you won’t get more done just because you’ve drawn up a long ‘To Do’ list.
Decide what really needs to be done that day, what realistically can be done in the day, and create a schedule that takes both into account.
Tidy your workspace
When you’re under pressure to get things done, it can be tempting to allow documents to pile up on your desk. The few minutes taken to put things away tidily seems like an unnecessary interruption.
But when your workspace becomes disorganized, your work can become muddled, too. A few minutes hunting for a file here, a few minutes looking for a phone number there – before you know it, a big chunk of your day has been frittered away.
When you come across something that you don’t know how to deal with immediately, it’s easy to put it back into your ‘pending pile’. But the more times you handle each piece of paper, the more of your time is wasted.
Try to get into a habit of dealing with documents as they arrive. When you open your mail, remember the three D’s:
- Deal with it
- Dump it
- Delegate it.
Make sure you apply one of the above to each piece of paper that crosses your desk, each email that arrives in your mailbox, and every item on your action list.
Putting things off until tomorrow doesn’t help – it just gives you an even larger ‘to do’ list to deal with in the morning. The more you put things off, the more impossible the task becomes.
Budget your time
If you don’t allocate a specific time for a task, it’s easy to find that the job takes more time than it reasonably should.
Instead of concentrating on the required project, you may find your thoughts wandering.
Returning that phone call or sharpening your pencils may suddenly seem to be much more important than getting on with your work.
To avoid losing valuable time in this way, learn to budget your time effectively. Allow yourself a sensible time to complete a certain task, and then ensure that you stick to it.
Don’t get lost too much in the detail. It’s better to get on with the job and complete it than to become bogged down with minor problems and issues.
One of the biggest problems of time management is dealing with distractions and interruptions.
You may start the day with a seemingly simple set of objectives, confident that you can complete them all with time to spare.
And then the phone rings. A client needs an urgent amendment to a recent project. You check your email and discover a problem that requires immediate attention, then a delivery arrives and you have to ensure that is dealt with properly.
Before you know it, hours of billable time are slipping away.
While it’s almost impossible to cut out such interruptions altogether, you can minimize the damage. Make it clear that when you are working, you are not to be disrupted by ordinary domestic issues. Avoid checking your email until your priority projects are out of the way. And get an answering machine or voice mail service to screen your calls while you are busy.
Most important of all, learn to say ‘no’. People will just have to learn that during your working hours, you are simply not available to help with matters that can wait until later.
How to set goals and attain them
How many times have you set a New Year’s resolution, only to have forgotten all about it by mid-January? Setting career goals is one thing. Achieving them is something else altogether. Yet if you apply the following three simple tips, you will find that it is much easier to attain your goals.
Quantify your goals
Saying that you want to earn more money, or have a better lifestyle is all very well, but how do you measure your success? Instead of being vaguely ambitious, put specific figures on your goals. If you state that you want to earn $100,000 a year, then you have a specific target to aim for – and you will know exactly when you get there.
Put your goals into writing
The simple act of committing your goals to paper is a major step towards achieving them. Once you have written them down, there is no doubt about what you are committing yourself to – it’s hard to argue with evidence in print.
Set yourself a deadline
A goal without a deadline is pretty meaningless. It’s easy to keep postponing a target that has a never-ending shelf life. Give yourself a deadline, and you will find that you work harder to hit it.
How to get 25 hours out of every day
Research shows that 75% of American workers regularly complain that they are tired. This isn’t too surprising, as the average worker apparently gets less than seven hours sleep a night. So the vast majority of people start the day firing on just three cylinders. No wonder that poor productivity is such an ongoing issue.
But it gets worse. Some 40% of working people skip breakfast, and 39% miss lunch. And of those that do manage a break for lunch, half allow themselves 15 minutes or less. These are big problems, especially where time management is concerned. If you think that working late nights, burning the candle at both ends and missing meals makes you a hard worker, you really are missing the point.
Productivity depends not just on the hours that you put in, but also on the quality of work that you produce. If you are tired and not eating properly, your productivity will plummet. As your blood-sugar level drops, your body automatically slows you down to conserve energy. Add tiredness on top of this, and you might as well give up all pretense at working. The lights may be on, but there’s probably no-one at home.
That’s the negative side. Now let’s turn things around and look at the positive. Increasing your fitness can have a really dramatic effect on your productivity. You don’t need me to tell you what that entails – regular exercise, getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food and establishing a routine that your body can become familiar with.
Don’t forget to take regular breaks. Your body and mind needs to relax from time to time – you can’t operate for hours continuously like a machine.
We all know that getting in shape is easier said than done. But if you can improve your level of fitness, you will be amazed at the impact this can have on your working life. You will approach each day fresh and with greater enthusiasm. You will find it easier to solve problems, and you will get more done than you ever imagined possible. If there was ever a way to get 25 hours out of each day, fitness is it. Look after your health, and your wealth will take care of itself.
Most of all, try to ensure that you are undertaking work that you enjoy. That way, you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Thomas Edison said that he never did a day’s work in his life – it was all fun!
That surely is the best way to get the most from every week of your working life.
Advanced Training 16 - Reporting and Analysis
|Because you aren’t working in an office where your employer can see the work you are doing, the businesses that you work for as a social media manager are going to want you to show in other ways the work you are doing and the results you are getting.|
Knowing how to show your client that what you are doing is worthwhile is key in client retention. A reporting method that combines several different sources of data is often the best option. Google Drive is an easy way to share saved data and reports on one simple to use platform.
|A simple Word document or PDF detailing everything you have done for a client is sometimes sufficient. Simply recap the work you agreed to do, and detail how you fulfilled your obligations. Include links to analytics or accounts to show proof.|
|For some large clients, a slide show that specifies each goal followed by proof of the fulfillment of each goal is a welcome addition. This is a great way to utilize screenshots.|
Bonus - Social Media Arbitrage
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