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The Introverted Freelancer's Guide to Finding Clients


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Sandi and Nick Batik lead this Austin WordPress Meetup Deep Dive Discussion about starting and building a successful WordPress-based,  freelance business. We looked at how to to find and on-board clients for your freelance business, even if you are an introvert, by focusing in those specialized services you are best suited to offer.

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The Introverted Freelancer's Guide to Finding Clients

  1. 1. @nick_batik@sandi_batik The Introvert’s Guide to Finding Clients Austin WordPress Meetup
  2. 2. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Austin WordPress Meetup Monday, March 14, 2016 Presenters: Sandi Batik Follow her at: @sandi_batik Nick Batik Follow him at: @nick_batik
  3. 3. @nick_batik@sandi_batik The Wordpress Ecosystem Offers an Amazing Diversity of Freelance Opportunities for: • WordPress back-end developers • WordPress front-end developers — UX /UI • Plugin developers • Theme designers • Graphic designers • Content creators, curators, managers • Information architects • Inbound marketers • SEO managers • Social medial managers • Photographers • Illustrators • Site security specialists • Site maintenance heroes
  4. 4. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Becoming a Full-Time Freelancer • The choice to become a full-time freelancer in the WordPress Community needs to start with some serious soul searching • Freelancing sounds friendlier and a bit more approachable than entrepreneurship —its not • Building a successful (read profitable) freelance practice is the hardest jobs you will ever have • Done right, being a successful freelancer can be the best professional experience you have ever had
  5. 5. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Where To Start Doing It Right As you are your Freelance Business — It makes sense to start with YOU!
  6. 6. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Introvert or Not, in the Final Analysis Your Freelance WordPress Practice IS ALL ABOUT YOU! You can't communicate to a client, either within your site's content, or in person, what you have not yet clearly defended in your own mind
  7. 7. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Warning: For an introvert the following steps will be uncomfortable, but necessary
  8. 8. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What is your Personal "Super Power" • The things that come to you easily, you may tend to under value • But in reality that innate skill or passion is your personal superpower • It is the differentiator that makes a client want YOU instead of another Freelancer
  9. 9. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What is Your Personal "Super Power" • The business management name for your personal "Super Power" is your "Value Proposition" • It describes your target client, the problem you solve, and why you’re uniquely a better choice than other freelancers.
  10. 10. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What is Your Personal "Super Power" • Your value proposition is your personal positioning statement that explains: • what benefits you provide • for who • and how you do it uniquely well.
  11. 11. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What is Your Personal "Super Power" • You are the core of your Freelance Practice's value proposition. • What problems do you understand uniquely well? • What unique solution can you deliver? • What kind of personal super power can you bring to solve a client's problem?
  12. 12. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What is Your Personal "Super Power" • Your personal talents and abilities make you a thought leader in your part of the WordPress Ecosystem. • Being an introvert does not mean lacking confidence in our skill set • It’s just hard for us to talk about ourselves
  13. 13. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How to Define The Value Proposition For Your Freelance Business Build your professional value proposition by answering the following questions 1. Why would a client choose you? 2. Who am I best suited to help? 3. Why would clients choose me over another Freelancer in my field?
  14. 14. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How To Define The Value Proposition For Your Freelance Business 4. What business problem or issue am I uniquely qualified to solve? 5. How do I proceed? (Your action steps to solve a problem) 6. Which area should I focus on, based on my current skill set? 7. What results can I deliver? 8. For what improvement?
  15. 15. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How To Define The Value Proposition For Your Freelance Business • Develop a simple, concise sentence that states your unique value proposition as it relates to your current skills. • Review it once or twice a year to keep it current as your skill set and client base evolves.
  16. 16. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What Is Your Compelling Vision • Invest the time it takes to define your compelling vision • You are a self-identified Introvert who has chosen to pursue a WordPress freelancer's life • What is the compelling vision that is driving you to build a full-time business? • What is your personal “why”?
  17. 17. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Your Compelling Vision Should ... • Make you willing to live on the edge of income insecurity during your startup • Help your friends and family understand your commitment to building your business
  18. 18. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Your Compelling Vision Should ... • Inspire you take action even when you are tired • Give you the focus and energy to you pull an occasional all-nighter • Drive you out of your comfort zone to build your ‘Tribe of Supporters’ • Help you clearly articulate your life goals and objectives
  19. 19. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Questions You Need To Address About Your Compelling Vision • How will your WordPress Freelance Business help you achieve the goals and dreams in your Compelling Vision? • How much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals and dreams? • How does your significant other feel about your compelling vision as it relates to your freelance business? • Is that personal partner "All-In" to support your dreams and help you reach those goals?
  20. 20. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Before You Answer…There Is Somethings We Need To Examine Closely • Really knowing and understanding your personal strengths and weakness is crucial to your success as a freelancer • You need to set your goals based on your current skill set, your experience, and your compelling passion • Online tools to assess your personality, passions, strengths, skills and expertise • Personality • Skills, Expertise & Experiences &
  21. 21. @nick_batik@sandi_batik What Specialized Services Are You Best Suited to Offer? • What do you do best? • What do you love to do? • What experience and training do you have? • What type of client fits your unique set of skills?
  22. 22. @nick_batik@sandi_batik A Smart Start For Your Freelance Business • The best way to start is part-time and build your WordPress Freelance business on the side with the safety and security of your day job. • Before You Quit Your Full Time J.O.B — Get your finances in order • Know to the exact dollar — your REAL monthly expenses • Ruthlessly cut unnecessary expenses • Honestly assess and strengthen your emotional support system • Honestly assess and sharpen your skill set
  23. 23. @nick_batik@sandi_batik A Smart Start For Your Freelance Business • Identify the ideal clients that match and need your current skill set • Research your ideal client base — where does this type of client hang out online and IRL? • Work to build and enhance your skills everyday
  24. 24. @nick_batik@sandi_batik So What Happens If You Didn't Leave Your Job, But Your Job Left You? • Do all of the above only FASTER! • Think like a Gazelle! • Run like your life depends on it - because it does
  25. 25. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How Introverted Freelancers Can Land Their First Client • Start by building the very best site you can — for your self • Apply the Dave Ramsey' Debt Snowball' to building your freelance business — start small and steadily build up to big jobs • Look around for your first clients • Make a list of who you know and who needs a web site or a design • Non-profits • Beginning Bloggers • Small business you love and want to support
  26. 26. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How Introverted Freelancers Can Land Their First Client • Start somewhere — Anywhere —but get that first freelance client • Build on that first client job — It’s you first small snowball • Use it to get a happy customer testimonial, an example for your portfolio — which will you get addition and better work • With each small job, build on your client snowball to learn more, get better and be paid more • When you are starting out — take whatever you can get • Design and promote your own pet projects • Put those projects in your portfolio
  27. 27. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Building A Professional Portfolio From Scratch • Your portfolio sells your services • The quality of your work determines: • How much you get paid • The type of clients that are attracted to your freelance business • Repeat business and client referrals
  28. 28. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Best Way To Build Your Marketing Funnel • The goal of your content marketing strategy is to create a demand your work • The more demand — the higher your fees • The most successful content marketing funnels focus on your identified niche clients
  29. 29. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Best Way To Build Your Marketing Funnel • Identify and reach out to those target customers that best fit your experience and skill set • Invest the time to build a powerful online presence — your site will consistently bring you opportunities to help new clients • Build your website content strategy completely around attracting those folks that have problems you are uniquely positioned to solve
  30. 30. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Building Your Personal Brand All in-demand freelancers in the WordPress space have three things in common: • A powerful, unique personal brand • A reputation for great work • A powerful online presence that guarantees a steady flow of new business
  31. 31. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Building Your Personal Brand How do successful freelancers attract clients online? • A website that sets them apart from other freelancers in their space — that very specifically states what they do and how • An impressive portfolio • Testimonials from happy clients
  32. 32. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Use Your Portfolio To Reinforce Your Personal Positioning Your portfolio is your opportunity to boost your personal brand by: • Practicing your niche skill • Building your own ideas • Exhibiting your technical chops
  33. 33. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Use Your Portfolio To Reinforce Your Personal Positioning Your portfolio is your opportunity to boost your personal brand by: • Representing your very best work • Defining your “place” in a crowed marketplace An effective Portfolio helps clients self-select, saving you from getting proposal requests for work you are not interested in, or cannot do
  34. 34. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Provide Easy-to-Find Contact Information On All Your Site's Pages This may include your: • Contact Address • Phone Number • LinkedIn URL • Twitter Handle • Any other social media that your clients use
  35. 35. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Testimonials Testimonials can give your reputation as a freelancer a major boost • After completing a project, get a testimonial from your client • If given permission by client include the client’s name and company • Prospective clients want to know more about your experience • Ask for and include testimonials received from your volunteer and charity projects in your portfolio
  36. 36. @nick_batik@sandi_batik The Introverted Freelancer's Favorite Tool The Content Marketing Sales Funnel • Build your content funnel to attract your target- market clients • Blogging is an important tool to help you establish a unique presence online • Blog about your area of expertise and show off your best work samples • Write solid ‘Cornerstone’ content pages and link to them internally
  37. 37. @nick_batik@sandi_batik The Introverted Freelancer's Favorite Tool The Content Marketing Sales Funnel • When you write, reveal your personality, have an opinion - you have unique mixture of quirks, and interests. Let your clients know you! • Make sure you have a picture of yourself as part of your blog bio or on your about page • Use social media to promote your blogs • Twitter and LinkedIn are great in our market
  38. 38. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Developing A Winning Content Strategy We have talked about this before, check my blogs from previous WPATX classes
  39. 39. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Here Is A Fast Content Development Process Review Structure your content development plan • Install a content calendar plugin and use it • Create an editorial plan (what you will write about and why) • Start with headlines that solve your target client’s problems
  40. 40. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Finding Inspiration About Problems That Are Plaguing Your Target Clients • Google Alerts (by topic): Set a key term for each of your important and secondary topics • Google Analytics (keyword traffic section): This has proven to be an invaluable tool for inspiration • Twitter (with Hootsuite help): Within Hootsuite search for a specific key term and then save the search to a separate feed
  41. 41. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Use Your Process To Write Your Content Go solve a vexing problem in 300-500 words with a great headline.
  42. 42. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Stick To The Publication Schedule in Your Editorial Calendar Deadlines are deadlines — even of your own making
  43. 43. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Keep A High Standard Proof your work and use your pre-post checklist to get the most ‘Google Love’ for your effort
  44. 44. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Track Your Successes and Your Failures Follow your analytics like a hungry hawk looking to snag lunch Seriously, those clients are your lunch, also your mortgage and car payment - focus folks
  45. 45. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Content Development Process Conclusion Creating good relevant content is never easy But with an actionable plan it gets easier to attract your ideal client into your sales funnel
  46. 46. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Getting Site Visitors to Enter Your Sales Funnel The difference between a subscription and a registration
  47. 47. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Develop ‘Content Goodies’ To Encourage Clients to Register or Subscribe To Your Site’s Special Offers • The content you offer has to specifically address the issues of your targeted client • eMail newsletters • eBooks • Video tutorials • Free webinars and seminars • Discounts and special offers for ‘Your Tribe’
  48. 48. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Building Your Tribe Be an Online Contributor • Take part in online discussions related to your area of expertise • Interact online by answering questions on forums and sites like StackOverflow, Genesis forums, WordPress Slack channels etc.
  49. 49. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Contribute To Open Source Projects • While many potential clients don’t have a WordPress development background, others may, so might prefer freelancers with cool-code experience. • Working on an open source project establishes your credibility • Contributing to open source projects, can be part of your Value Proposition, and can give you an advantage over other freelancers.
  50. 50. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Here are a few open source contribution pointers • Start with newer projects that have fewer lines of code and less complexity than more mature projects • Once you’ve selected a project, look through the project’s issues list, then pick a small bug and try to fix it. • Create a personal project or utility and open source it on GitHub. If it appeals to other developers, they’ll request new features or updates. As your project gains recognition - so do you • Be sure to mention your open source achievements in your portfolio and your LinkedIn Bio
  51. 51. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Attend Meet-ups • Contribute to the WPATX meet-up as a volunteer, answer questions at WPATX Office Hours or on the WP Forum • Attend technical meet-ups outside the 'WordPress Bubble' • Interact with people — Let them know who you are and what you do • Meet-ups give you a chance to share your knowledge as well as learn new things from fellow attendees.
  52. 52. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Use Social Media • Social Media connections can have a drastic impact on the growth of your Freelance business • The better connected you are, the more likely you are to get projects.
  53. 53. @nick_batik@sandi_batik How Can An Introverted Freelancer Get Better Connected? • Most of us are more comfortable connecting on- line than IRL • Our Tech-Tribe and likely client base is most likely using one or more of the big Four: • Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook • Scouting your social media is probably a way that buyers might quickly and easily check out a perspective contractor
  54. 54. @nick_batik@sandi_batik • Most business use LinkedIn as a way to connect and vet fellow professionals • We in the WordPress Bubble tend to use Twitter: Follow me at @sand_batik • Google+ is also popular with WordHeads for publishing technical posts • There are numerous private FaceBook pages for WordPress Special interest like WProsper and PressNomics
  55. 55. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Why All Introverted Freelancers Need To Spend More Time Learning LinkedIn • LinkedIn is overwhelmingly the dominant source to evaluative prospective business associates • LinkedIn’s professional focus and the range of relevant information, makes it important to your Freelance strategy
  56. 56. @nick_batik@sandi_batik On LinkedIn, you can: • Check out a client’s LinkedIn page • Peruse the profiles and updates of possible team members • Explore their contributions to relevant LinkedIn Groups • Reach out to folks you need to know
  57. 57. @nick_batik@sandi_batik LinkedIn a particularly important place for Introverted Freelancers to make their expertise visible Don't think about LinkedIn as a 'marketing channel' — it is a business environment, very much like an ongoing, online professional conference
  58. 58. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Look For Partnering And Joint Venue Opportunities Find members of the community that might need your skills for a client project Offer to ‘White Label’ your services to them
  59. 59. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Look for Opportunities to Sell Retainer- Based Services For Ongoing Projects Site security and maintenance are always good options
  60. 60. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Use Video Tutorials As Part Of Your Content Strategy Clients love video blogs and tutorials Google will share extra love on your site
  61. 61. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Make Your Proposals Professional And Your Invoicing Prompt Review my February Deep Dive Discussion Tools and Processes for Freelancers Notes and Slides
  62. 62. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Constantly Look For Opportunities To Get Better At What You Do • Read • Take classes • Exercise your chops at hackathons
  63. 63. @nick_batik@sandi_batik For the introverted Freelancer, your website – particularly your portfolio is you biggest “selling point”
  64. 64. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Places To Find New Clients… Even For Introverts Sometimes Your Freelance career starts with a J.O.B to build your portfolio
  65. 65. @nick_batik@sandi_batik Freelance Resources • For a free copy of the freelance resources of jobsites and places to find freelance projects go to
  66. 66. @nick_batik@sandi_batik GET CONNECTED