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A 7-part course ﬁlled with proven strategies to help you earn an extra $500 in the next 5 weeks by freelancing on the side.
By James Clear
This guide is 100% non-commercial.
You are a member of an exclusive group. Most people will always want to earn more, but will never do anything about it. You, on the other hand, have taken action. By joining the Passive Panda newsletter, you have taken an important step towards earning more – expressing interest. My goal is to do everything I can to help you earn more. For many people, earning a side income is the best way to start. That’s what this guide is all about. I hope you enjoy Freelancing 101. James Clear Founder, Passive Panda
Copyright © 2011 Passive Panda. All rights reserved. Design by James Clear.
Table of Contents
Part I – Deciding on your service 6 11 13 17 22 26 30
Welcome. Enjoy your guide to freelancing freedom.
Part II – Targeting the right clients Part III – Understanding what your clients want Part IV – Pricing your services Part V – Getting your clients to say, “Yes” Part VI – How to get your ﬁrst client Part VII – Improving productivity
Keep it real and get moving.
Guess what? You are going to need to do real work.
The one goal of this course is teach you how to earn an extra $500 in the next 5 weeks by freelancing on the side. When I started, I earned an extra $655 in 3 weeks from just 6 hours of work. Some of you will earn more than that, some will earn less. The numbers don’t matter. What does matter is that you actually take action instead of just reading this guide and moving on. It is far easier to go from $100 to $1000 than it is to go from $0 to $100. Getting started is the hard part.
Action is required.
If this guide is going to work, then you will need to test ideas in the real world, talk to real people, and do real work. If you’re looking for strategies to earn more without taking action, then this guide probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re serious about earning more, then let’s get started.
Part I – Your idea
Part I will help you develop speciﬁc ideas of services that you can oﬀer to earn more money. Freelancers don't need to be perfect to make money, but they do need to be proﬁtable. This guide will help you ﬁnd that ﬁrst proﬁtable idea. "I don't have an idea" or "I can't think of an idea" is not a valid excuse. If you can walk or pick up most household items, then I have two ideas right now. 1) Walk pets for people who don't have the time. 2) Organize a home or oﬃce for people who don't have the time. There are people right now that are making over $100,000 per year doing either of these tasks. There are proﬁtable ideas everywhere. Below is a framework to help you ﬁnd one.
One Sentence Speciﬁcity
If it can’t be explained in a single sentence, then it’s a bad idea.
Good freelancing ideas have One Sentence Speciﬁcity. If people ask you what you do, and it's diﬃcult for you to answer them quickly, then it's probably a bad idea - or at least one that could be improved. You should be able to describe your service in a single sentence that explains who you help and what you do in very speciﬁc terms. People don't hire others for general needs. They hire them to solve a speciﬁc problem.
It’s time to get speciﬁc.
The more speciﬁc your idea, the better.
To develop your one sentence, I encourage you to create a sentence that leaves no doubt about what service you will oﬀer and who it will help. Good sentences will describe the type of client you will work with, the geographic area or business sector you will work in, and the speciﬁc type of service you will provide.
You have more knowledge and resources than you might think.
What markets do you know? Where have you spent time the last few months or years? Think about the people you have met in these areas or about people who ask questions about those areas. What services do those people want or need? You only need one idea, but in many cases, it may be worthwhile to repeat this process three or four times. If you develop multiple ideas you can test them in the remaining lessons and use the most promising one. Remember, your goal is to ﬁnd a proﬁtable idea, not a perfect idea. My ﬁrst idea was terrible, but it still made some money because it provided a solution to someone's problem.
Time to take action.
Time to brainstorm. Write down your freelancing ideas.
Type out one sentence that describes who you will help and what you will do in very speciﬁc terms. Remember to make sure that your sentence clearly deﬁnes your speciﬁc service.
Things to consider: geography or other locations, industries or sectors, businesses or consumers, income or revenue level, client age or gender, etc. Idea 1 Idea 2 Idea 3
Part II – Targeting the right clients.
You should know what your ideal clients look like.
There are two beneﬁts of targeting a speciﬁc group. First, you have a very speciﬁc idea of who your clients are and where they will be. This makes it easy for you to ﬁnd them and let them know about your business. Want to tutor? Once you know what schools and parents you're targeting, you could probably stop by 3 Parent-Teacher Association meetings instead of 30 and get the same results. The second beneﬁt is that you can crush the competition because your oﬀer will be more speciﬁc and it will be exactly what your clients are looking for.
Targeting the right clients requires thought and eﬀort. And yes, it’s totally worth it.
Figure out who you are targeting. Make sure they can pay you. And then tell them that you speciﬁcally cater to them and their needs. They will pay you - and love you - for it. Find clients that work when you work. When targeting the speciﬁc clients that you want to work for also consider your schedule. If real-time communication with your clients isn't necessary, then there is no issue. However, if your work requires immediate responses, then your schedule and your clients schedule will need to be similar. What clients are available during the hours that you will be freelancing? Almost any issue that arises with clients is a result of communication. You need to verify payment, milestones, and other expectations before issues arise.
Part III – What they want
This may sound harsh, but your clients don't care if you like your idea. It's great that you are excited about it and that you believe in what you will be doing, but clients only care if you oﬀer something that they want. Your goal is to understand the problems your clients are facing and how you can provide a solution to them. Maybe they just want something done because they are too busy. They just want their house cleaned or that brochure written. Maybe they want a professional oﬀering. They don't want to learn how to build a website, but they want a good one. They don't want to learn Calculus, but they want someone that can teach it to their kids. If you were the client, if you had their work schedule and priorities and responsibilities, what would you be looking for?
Solutions, not skills.
Clients pay for solutions not skills
Do you understand the problems your clients are facing?
Interestingly, the primary concern of most clients is rarely how much it costs. When most people start out freelancing they get all hung up on price. Should I charge $10/hour? $20? $50? $100? Am I worth price X? Will people buy at price Y? Forget about it. We will cover pricing your services in an upcoming lesson, but for now the main point is this: some people will always buy based on price. Most of us, however, buy based on solutions.
Clients want to know about the beneﬁts they will receive, not the features you provide.
Clients are worried about problems, not price.
We have needs and we purchase solutions to those needs. Instead of addressing those needs, however, many freelancers think about the skills that they provide to a client. They list the features they oﬀer, not the beneﬁts the client receives. The busy executive isn't worried about paying $40/hour, he is worried about getting the presentation ready for the upcoming review. The vacationing pet owner isn't worried about paying $40/hour, she is worried about ﬁnding someone to take care of her cat. Almost always, clients will pay you for oﬀering a speciﬁc solution to their needs and problems... regardless of price.
Let’s look at an example
Say we have the parents of a high school senior. Like many parents, they want to get senior pictures taken before their baby graduates high school. Which option do you think they would go for? Option 1: A local photographer. Option 2: A photographer that takes senior pictures only. Number 2, right? Why? Because it is a speciﬁc solution to what they are looking for. Even if the price is double what the other photographer is charging, the second photographer will still have plenty of work because parents want the best option for their children. Find a pain point for the client and address it.
Part IV – What’s your price?
It’s time to determine the price that you will charge for your service.
Let's say you're a writer and you want to do some freelance writing. You can ﬁnd people who write for $12 per article on Elance. Or you can ﬁnd people like Amy Harrison, who charges up to $6000 to write a sales page. When you're just starting out, it can be tough to ﬁgure out where you ﬁt on that spectrum. Plus, there are all sorts of other issues like overcoming your fear of charging too much. Pricing can be a tricky game, but I can tell you one thing for sure, you don't want to be the person charging $12 per article. Don't worry, I've got two great pricing tactics that I think you will love.
Instead of thinking about what you charge per hour, focus on charging by the project.
Don't charge by hour. It can be tough to ﬁgure out exactly how many hours it will take to do a task or exactly what you should charge per hour, but you probably know how much you would be willing to take for a completed project. This makes it much easier to name a number when you’re starting out. Plus, an added beneﬁt of this strategy is that you don't have to do as much "selling." With an hourly rate, you have to constantly sell the next hour of service. With a project rate, you simply sell when you need a new client. For many freelancers it is possible to sell their services in very large blocks of time like 3 or 6 months. If you use this strategy, then you only have to sell your services a few times each year. Selling by project let's you focus on working for the clients you have instead of always searching for new ones.
Don’t know what to charge? Let your clients decide by using price tiers.
Maybe you should really be charging $50 per hour, but asking for a price like that makes you nervous, so you decide to charge $20 per hour instead. That's ﬁne. I suggest using price tiers to test what the market is willing to pay you or to build your conﬁdence in charging more. Here is an example. Let's say that right now you charge $20/hour regardless of the job. Instead, you could oﬀer a basic service for $20/hour, the basic package plus a small addition for $30/hour, and all of the bells and whistles for $40/hour. You will be shocked by how often clients go for the higher priced services. The power of having diﬀerent price tiers is that it shifts the client's mindset from, "Should I pay you at all?" to "What price should I pay you?”
A personal example
They told me to my face that they would have paid more.
My very ﬁrst freelancing job was designing a basic website for an insurance agency. I knew how to create a good site, but I had never received any schooling in web design, I had no credentials, no previous clients, and no clue what to charge. I gave them the following options: Package 1 - $400 * 5 customized pages * A custom color scheme * WordPress installation * Customized analytics software * One consulting session Package 2 - $650 Everything in package one, plus: * 2 customized forms * Search Engine Optimization
Guess which one they chose?
How can you oﬀer your service at diﬀerent price tiers?
Package 2. They chose it even though my upsell was terrible. They chose it even though I had no previous experience. And they chose it even though it only took me 6 hours to do the whole thing. I made over $100 per hour on that job and I could have easily charged double and they never would have blinked. So what's the lesson? Even if you're not comfortable with charging a high price you should give your clients the option to pay you the higher price. Setting diﬀerent price tiers allows you to do that.
Part V – Getting to “Yes”
The secret? Make it easy to accept your oﬀer.
Getting your clients to say “Yes” to your service is done long before you actually ask them to buy. This accomplished by putting extra work in beforehand that makes it super easy for your prospects to buy. 99% of people will never put in this extra work beforehand. But you will. And that's why you will be doing business instead of searching for it. Your goal is to ease their fears and worries, and solve their problems without them even asking. What can you do to make your prospective client's life easier, get the job started, and show them that you are the answer to their problems?
Think about the work and tasks preventing clients from hiring you. Then, do the work for them.
What are the barriers that get in the way of someone hiring you? Do they need to ﬁll out some paperwork? Set up a schedule or work around meeting times? What can you do to already start the job before you get it? Maybe you have done work with a client before and you know they have another project coming up. Can you notify them that you are ready to start? (Even though you haven't "won" the business yet.) Maybe you walk dogs. Can you email the client a sample dogwalking schedule that you can start next week?
Assume the sale
Put the work in before you ask your clients to buy.
When you contact prospective clients to notify them of the work you have put in beforehand, you should assume that you already have the sale completed. Don't be overbearing about it. A simple hint will do the trick. At the end of your email, phone call, or chat just ﬁnish with, "Sound good?"
Yep, another example
Finish your emails with “sound good?” All they have to say is, “Yes.”
Say you're doing web design work and you just sent a potential client an email like this: Hi Jane, Last time we spoke you mentioned the Smith Project that's coming up next month. I went ahead and set up a schedule in Basecamp for us to collaborate on. Take time to review the details on your end and we can set up a meeting for early next week. p.s. Get a free version of Basecamp here. (The link is in the ﬁne print.) Sound good? Joe Jane only has to say, "Yes" and Joe has his next job.
Part VI – The ﬁrst client
Yes, this is real. Want to earn more? You need to contact prospects.
Don't make getting clients more diﬃcult than it has to be. You know a little bit about the services you provide otherwise you wouldn't be oﬀering them. Right? So how did you learn those skills? Where do similar people hang out? What types of people have the problems that you provide solutions to? Where can you get in touch with them. Often, ﬁnding clients is a very simple matter of actually going out to talk to real people. That's it.
The single best way to get your ﬁrst client? Talk to people already know.
Reach out to your network. Who do you know that can connect you to clients? Referrals are the easiest way to get started. When you talk to the majority of freelancers that's how they got into the business. The journalist who does professional copywriting now? She started by doing jobs for her Mom's friends. My friend who installs car stereos for a fee? He started by doing it for family members. Me? I started by helping my Dad's coworkers. Referrals are the way most freelancers get their start because it's the easiest way to get started. Don't hesitate and don’t feel like you should tell everyone. Usually there is a handful of people that can point you in the right direction. You probably already know who they are.
Are you trying as hard as Colin did? People can never hire you if they don’t know you exist.
Here is a tip from Colin of ExileLifestyle.com about how he got started:
"Honestly, I just networked like crazy. I met my ﬁrst client while out at a wine bar with my girlfriend. She saw someone she knew on the way out and I talked up the group she was with. In LA, 'what do you do?' is almost always the ﬁrst question people ask after getting your name, and when it comes to things like design and development, everyone is looking or knows someone who is looking for someone reliable. The second client came from a social network I had joined...it was actually the CEO of the network that asked me if I would be interested in doing some graphic work for them, as they had just started up and they liked the work I put up on their site. The third came from Twitter - I was in the process of branding myself as a sustainable designer, and a company with a sustainable technology product wanted a 'green' brand. I was happy to oblige. Networking across all available avenues is important, though, as it is allows you to meet potential clients, but also to expand your network so that when anyone you know hears that a friend is looking for someone who does what you do, they'll think of you ﬁrst. Most of my later clients came from friends of friends of friends who had heard of me and my work." - Colin Wright
Attention: Action needed.
Rule: No complaining until you’ve tried and failed 10 times.
If you’re serious about earning more, then I suggest contacting at least three new people today to oﬀer your service or let them know about it. The only way to get clients is to let them know that you exist. Don't think it can work? Still want more information? Worried that you aren't "ready"? Stop making excuses. You're assuming that things won't work out when you have never actually tested to see if that is true. Abandon your assumptions and try something new. Ask for clients. Get out there. I'm really excited to hear about what happens.
Part VII - Productivity Tips
Freelancing may not be perfect, but it works.
The primary knock on freelancing as a business model is that it doesn't scale the way a product does. That's true, but every business model has limitations. Freelancing may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Here is a list of productivity tips to make things easier on yourself as you continue to move forward. These suggestions will improve your freelancing business by decreasing problems, improving eﬃciency, and even productizing your services. Note: You can implement many of these suggestions right away, if you want.
Take these productivity tips to heart, and you will see your return on investment skyrocket.
Communication is key. The vast majority of problems that occur are a result of poor communication between the client and the provider (you). Make sure you establish clear guidelines for payment, project completion and other deliverables, and any other critical tasks.
Manage you energy as well as your time. Your best work may not come during regular work hours. If you can reorganize your freelancing eﬀorts around the times you are most productive, then do so. You have a responsibility to keep yourself fresh... not to simply work as hard as possible. To earn more you must learn how to function at an optimal level.
If you are already working, then your goal should be to allocate just one hour of real energy to your work each day. If you're freelancing full time, realize that in the majority of cases you won't realistically do more than 4 hours of actual, high energy work in a single day. Plan accordingly.
More productivity suggestions for your income generating needs.
Work hard to eliminate low-value activities.
It's really simple to eliminate extra work if you simply focus on activities that are valuable. What activities are valuable? There are only two of them. 1) Doing work for clients. 2) Getting clients. That's it. Only do a task that either gets you a client or completes work for one of them. Everything else is just ﬂuﬀ. Don't forget about the power of asking. You can create your own clients by asking them for business. Let's start with a simple fact: people do business all the time. And because they are doing business all the time, they are busy. Really busy. This means they are way too busy to reach out and hire you. You have to do it for them.
One ﬁnal suggestion
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks for reading Freelancing 101. I really hope you enjoyed it. With that said, I have one ﬁnal suggestion. Don’t make excuses. 99% of people will always want to earn more, but will convince themselves that they can’t do it, ﬁnd a reason why now isn’t the right time, or otherwise talk themselves out of it. You don’t need experience – otherwise no one would ever start. You don’t need to learn more. You don’t need luck. You just need to start.
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If you want, please take a moment and share this with a friend.
If you liked Freelancing 101, then I would really appreciate if if you let your friends know about it. The great thing about freelancing is that there is room for everyone. All you need to do is share the following link through email, Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you wish! http://passivepanda.com/resources/newsletter Thanks again! And please let me know how I can make Freelancing 101 better! James Clear Founder, Passive Panda
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