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101 Ways to Elevate Yourself and Demand Higher Fees


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This presentation was first given at WordCamp Melbourne 2013 and is designed to help WordPress developers elevate themselves above the pack and demand higher fees for their work.

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101 Ways to Elevate Yourself and Demand Higher Fees

  1. 1. # 1Say“No”to initial client meetings.Say“No”to coffee and lunch requests from start-ups.Say“No”to requests for quotes.Saying“No”sends a clear message that you are in demand and thatyou do business on your terms.Say “No”
  2. 2. # 2Set up a simple form on your website or on and ask yourincoming leads questions about their project.This simple step will eliminate a large number of tyre kickers who arejust fishing for quotes.If they have not thought about their business enough to be able to fillin a simple form then they are not ready to work with you.Qualify Your Leads
  3. 3. # 3Ask better quality questions than the average web designer and youwill immediately be perceived as an above average specialist.Asking questions about their business, their industry, their clients andtheir competitors shows that you take your work seriously.Ask Quality ?’s
  4. 4. # 4Nobody expects you to ask why they need a new website.So when you do, it shows that you care about their project and youare not desperate for work.Ask Why?
  5. 5. # 5Ask your prospect what a successful online strategy looks like forthem in 12 months time.Ask them to describe the impact this will have on the business andhow important it is that the online strategy is a success.Ask them how the website fits into the overall strategy.Define Success
  6. 6. # 6The single biggest thing you can do to save yourself wasting hourswriting proposals that will never get read and to start attracting bet-ter quality clients is to ask your incoming leads about their budgetupfront.This positions you as a serious business instead of a needy freelancer.You will be surprised how many people will tell you the truth if youjust ask.Ask About Budget
  7. 7. # 7Rebranding the WordPress login screen with your prospect’s logo is atwo-minute job that goes a long way to showing them how easy youare about to make their life.Most clients have a horror story or three about their previous web de-signers. This simple act will put their mind at ease.Show them this rebranded login at your first meeting once you havequalified them as a serious prospect.Rebrand Login
  8. 8. # 8We all love the WordPress dashboard, however if you have never seenit before it can be a little overwhelming. Most of it is also useless tothe average business owner.Customise the dashboard to show them what it will look like if youdecide to work together.Include a Google analytics chart and a welcome video.Useful Dashboard
  9. 9. # 9When you first meet with a prospect let them know that you onlyhave 45 minutes to spare.This highlights to them that you are busy and that you value yourtime and theirs.We all know that if you want something done you should ask a busyperson to do it.Value Your Time
  10. 10. # 10Use a plug-in like Testimonials by WooThemes to show them howeasy it is to manage different types of content using WordPress.Show Ease of Use
  11. 11. # 11Do not meet in cafés, restaurants, bars or any other public place thatmight be noisy and full of distraction.If you do not have an office then go to your prospect’s office or hire ameeting room for an hour at the local council or a serviced office facil-ity.Meeting in a café will be very distracting and sends the message thatyou are a laid-back freelancer therefore your rates must be match thatperception.No Cafés
  12. 12. # 12Insist that all decision-makers must be in the initial meeting.There is no point getting boy wonder all excited about the project un-less Batman is prepared to foot the bill.Decision-Makers Only
  13. 13. # 13Let your prospect no that you have another meeting directly aftertheirs.This allows you to get out after 45 minutes and it lets them know thatyou are in demand.Tight Schedule
  14. 14. # 14It’s one thing to make a bit of small talk to build rapport, but it impor-tant to avoid excessive chitchat at the beginning of the meeting.Your time is valuable and dissecting the latest sporting scandal is notgoing to benefit anyone.Avoid Chit-Chat
  15. 15. # 15Dress like you mean business.That doesn’t mean you need wear a suit or even a collared shirt withnice trousers.Just try and avoid board shorts and thongs.I’ve seen it and it’s not good for anyone.Dress Well
  16. 16. # 16Do not mention any plug-ins in your initial meetings with the client.First of all, it will not mean anything to them and second of all if youare secure enough in your process and the value you add you shouldspend all your time talking about the benefits they are going to re-ceive instead of the technology you are going to use.No Plugin Talk
  17. 17. # 17Do your homework before you meet with your prospect so that youcan talk to them about the specific problems they may have and anyparticular quirks within their industry.Do Your Homework
  18. 18. # 18Ask your prospect what superpower they think you bring to thisproject.If they decide for themselves that you are above average it is mucheasier to charge above-average rates.Try and do this with some light-hearted humour.Claim SuperPowers
  19. 19. # 19Busy people do not need business cards.Make sure you get a business card so that you can follow them upwith your process and on your terms.Again, busy people do not need business cards.Don’t Do Cards
  20. 20. # 20Record the initial client meeting on your iPhone so that nothing fallsthrough the cracks later.I promise you other web designers are not doing this so this will dif-ferentiate you immediately.Record Meetings
  21. 21. # 21Email your prospect a summary of the meeting from your iPhone re-cording outlining the success factors they spoke about and the an-swers to the high-quality questions you asked them.Mention the superpowers they gave you during the meeting.Email Summary
  22. 22. # 22Reiterate the success factors they spoke about when you submit yourproposal.This demonstrates you are a good listener but it also gets everyoneon the same page from the get goReiterate Success
  23. 23. # 23Avoid writing functional specification documents unless it is a deal-breaker for the IT department.Try and avoid dealing with the IT department altogether if you can.A website is a marketing activity not an IT activity.Don’t Bore Them
  24. 24. # 24Read“Rework”by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.Enough said.Read “ReWork”
  25. 25. # 25Use bidsketch to create beautiful and consistent proposals in a quar-ter of the time.Your client can electronically approve the proposal or leave com-ments for clarification.Use Bidsketch
  26. 26. # 26Re-read your proposal and tighten it up before sending it to the cli-ent.Take out anything that is fluff and that doesn’t spell out the benefitsof working together.Tighten Up
  27. 27. # 27Build checkpoints into your proposal so that your client must sign offon wireframes, design and development and must pay you through-out the project.Avoid the usual 50% upfront and 50% on delivery.Paying you throughout the project gets greater buy-in from the client.Checkpoints
  28. 28. # 28I know this is obvious, but I recently received a proposal from a multi-million dollar software company who repeatedly referenced my com-pany as Uber the town car service.I do not work for Uber.Fail.Check Grammar
  29. 29. # 29This may go against everything you have ever learnt but I suggest youdo not call to follow-up after you have sent a proposal.We all know after you’ve been out on a date that it comes off as a bitdesperate if you call the next day.Besides, you should be too busy to follow them up.Do Not Call
  30. 30. # 30Instead of calling, drop your prospect into an email sequence thatincludes a couple of testimonials from past clients or preferably refer-ences from people in their industry.Email Proof
  31. 31. # 31Do not negotiate on your process.A little bit of knowledge is dangerous and your prospect may suggestyou use a certain plug-in to speed up the process and save money.You cannot negotiate with a doctor or your mechanic about theirprocess.Keep Process
  32. 32. # 32Show the client timeframes and milestones.Avoid compromising on these timelines just because the client needsthings quicker.Use to show the milestones and dependencies for theprojectKeep Time Frames
  33. 33. # 33Do not discount your price just because the client asks you to or indi-cates it does not fit within their budget.If the client really is out of budget then take something out of theproject as a compromise.Discounting your original price just lets them know that you had add-ed too much fat in the first place.Do Not Discount
  34. 34. # 34Drop your prospect into an email sequence that includes articles onlatest trends and technology in the web design space.This is much more effective than calling them and asking them whatthey thought of your proposal.Keep ‘Em Informed
  35. 35. # 35Email your prospect and article that you disagree with and tell themwhy you disagree with it.Write up your opinion piece as a blog post or better still should a vid-eo to explain.Have An Opinion
  36. 36. # 36E1mail your client articles from Smashing Magazine to show that youare at the top of your game and following best practices.Show Credibility
  37. 37. # 37Email your client links to inspirational talks at by influencersand entrepreneurs from around the world.They will love you for it.Show TED Talks
  38. 38. # 38Email your client case studies.If you don’t have case studies read the book by Jonathan Kranz andcreate some case studies that will help you attract new clients.Case Studies
  39. 39. # 39Let your client know that the window of opportunity for you to workon their project in the next three months is closing becasue there areother projects on the slate.Be prepared to walk away.Window Closing
  40. 40. # 40Make a great product such as a WordPress plug-in or a design UI kitlike Blaz Robar did with the layout lab.Email your client and show them what you’ve been up to.It’s kind hard to argue on price with a designer or developer whoseproducts are being used by hundreds of other designers or develop-ers .Make Product
  41. 41. # 41Use Gather Content to collaborate with your client on the content fortheir site.The earlier you can get buyin to your process from the client the eas-ier there will be to manage throughout the project and the safer theywill feel in your hands.Content First
  42. 42. # 42Design as much as you can in the browser.Seeing a website come to life in the browser is a much nicer experi-ence for your client and helps you manage their expectations.Tools like make this a pleasureDesign In Browser
  43. 43. # 43Present clickable prototypes to your client early in the process andsee how fast decisions get made.Using something like can rapidly increase the speedof implementation.Clickable Prototypes
  44. 44. # 44Use the canvas theme from to show your client whatyou are talking about rather than trying to explain it in a document.Proof of Concept
  45. 45. # 45Show your client the deadlines for the project right from the begin-ning.This includes your commitment to them and also outlines they com-mitment to you in terms of providing content, approvals and mostimportantly payment.Show Deadlines
  46. 46. # 46Collaborate with your client throughout the project using somethinglike basecamp.comHaving all of your milestones, files, discussions and to do items in oneplace keeps everybody on track and shows you are a professional.Collaborate
  47. 47. # 47Refuse to launch anything on a Friday.Refuse Friday Launch
  48. 48. # 48Find somebody within the client’s organisation who can championthe project and you.This person will be the one to help you get the project and start whenit inevitably starts to derail .Client Champion
  49. 49. # 49Premium plug-ins save you time and give you the peace of mind thatyou will have premium support and a healthy development cyclemoving forward.Gravity forms is a great example of a premium plug-in that really is agame changer.Use Premium Plugins
  50. 50. # 50Document your processes and workflow so that you can produce con-sistent results and share your methodology with your team, whetherthey be local or remote.Cloud-based services like make this a breeze.Document Processes
  51. 51. # 51Suggest specialised WordPress hosting and explain to your client whyit is more expensive than Bluehost or GoDaddy.There really is no excuse not to use wpengine.comPremium Hosting
  52. 52. # 52If you need to use their existing hosting environment make sure youcheck that it is compatible with WordPress.Check Environment
  53. 53. # 53Tell your client that you are adopting best practices throughout theproject and email them links to the resources you are using to devel-op your best practicesBest Practices
  54. 54. # 54Avoid scope creep.Adding new features throughout the project is a disaster and willdestabilise the relationship.Exercise mutual respect and politely say“no”- unless the projectbudget expands accordingly.Avoid Scope Creep
  55. 55. # 55Show your client the development site at early stages so they can seeyou are pro actively working on their project.You can have a lot of fun with lorem ipsum and placeholder images.Preview Early
  56. 56. # 56Advanced custom fields make WordPress even easier for your clientsto use to manage their content.If you are not using it, you should be.If you are, well done.Use ACF
  57. 57. # 57Check the website in all modern browsers even if your client has notrequested it.Using is easy and fast. You can then let your clientno their website is cross-browser compatible.Cross Browser
  58. 58. # 58Use the proposal as a constant reference guide throughout theproject to make sure everyone stays on the same page.This is the project that everyone agreed to.Stick To The Proposal
  59. 59. # 59Send chocolates and champagne when the website goes live.It’s the little things that count.Just make sure they are good quality.Celebrate
  60. 60. # 60Send an email to the client congratulating them when their website islaunched.Tell them how much you have enjoyed working on the project andhow proud you are that it is now live.Send Congrats Email
  61. 61. # 61Say“thank you”when your client pays you.Say “Thank You”
  62. 62. # 62If you do nothing else from an SEO viewpoint for your client makesure you use WP SEO by Yoast.It does so many great things out of the box your client will think youare a genius.Use WP SEO by Yoast
  63. 63. # 63Verify your clients website with Google’s Webmaster tools.It takes less than two minutes and ensures that Google knows aboutthe website and will come visit.Verify with Google
  64. 64. # 64Give your client the details of their host and make it perfectly clearwho they need to call when their website or email’s crash.If you host a website then set up a support desk and show them howto use it.Give Host Details
  65. 65. # 65Don’t send your client and invoice the day after their website goeslive.Schedule your emails and invoices so that there is at least 72 hoursbetween a deliverable and a bill.Eager for $$$?
  66. 66. # 66Install Google Analytics on the website and show your client how tolog into Google Analytics and check their stats.Even if they never do it (which they probably won’t) they will appreci-ate it nonetheless.Install Analytics
  67. 67. # 67Use to manage all of your WordPress websites fromone dashboard.Updating core installations, plug-ins, running security checks andscheduling backups is easy and adds massive value to your client.Use ManageWP
  68. 68. # 68Tweak the caching of your clients website for maximum speed.Search engines and users love fast websites and with the number ofplug-ins and services are available there is no excuse for slow ones.Tweak Caching
  69. 69. # 69Do not use“admin”as the admin username and use strong passwords.WordPress may be secure out-of-the-box but it is extremely vulner-able to hackers once plug-ins and clients get involved.Premium hosting will help.Secure WordPress
  70. 70. # 70Type“”into Google and check whether or not yourclient’s website is in the index.Of course, replace with the web address of your client’swebsite.Check The Index
  71. 71. # 71Schedule regular backups of your client’s website and have beenstored in third-party storage services like Amazon S3 or Dropbox.Schedule Backups
  72. 72. # 72Provide video tutorials to show your client how to use WordPress.Juat because you know how to use it doesn’t mean they will.The Video User Manuals plugin allows you to set this up in two min-utes.Provide Video Tuts
  73. 73. # 73Submit your client’s website to and email them a screen-shot to show them you are sharing the love.Digg The Site
  74. 74. # 74Shoot a quick welcome video that explains the dashboard to your cli-ent and embed it in the dashboard so it’s the first thing they see whenthey login.Embed Welcome Vid
  75. 75. # 75Show your client how tou se the Google URL Builder tool so they cantag their links and track what’s working and what’s not when theyshare links to their website on the internet.If you don’t know how to use this tool, learn. It wil take you 5 minutes.Link Tagger
  76. 76. # 76Schedule reminders in your calendar to follow your client up 30, 60,90 and 120 days after launch to make sure everything is runningsmoothly and they are on track to achieve the success goals they toldyou about in the initail meeting.Set Follow Ups
  77. 77. # 77Ask your clients for feedback on how you could improve your processand approach.Get Feedback
  78. 78. # 78Read“The Referral Engine”by John Jantsch.It’s available at for ten bucks.Read This Book
  79. 79. # 79Plant the RSS feed for your blog in the dashboard so everytime yourclients login they get your latest posts with your awesome, helpfulcontent.Oh, make sure your blog is full of awesome, helpful content.In Dash RSS Feed
  80. 80. # 80Add your clients to your email list so you can continue to nurturethem with your value-adding emails.Make sure you write value adding emails.Add Clients To List
  81. 81. # 81Send your client the Beginners Guide to SEO from SEOMoz.Read it yourself first.It’s awesome.SEOMoz Beginners
  82. 82. # 82Suggest content experiments and ideas for split testing on your cli-ent’s site.A small tweak could have a major impact on your client’s business.If you don’t know how to do this, learn.Suggest Split Testing
  83. 83. # 83Send your client the Beginners Guide to Social from Mashable.Read it yourself first.It’s awesome.Mashable Social
  84. 84. # 84For less $100 per year you can give your client all the videos they willever need to teach them how to use the internet for business.From Google Analytics to search to social to email marketing and eve-rything in between.You can get it at grovo.comGive Premium Grovo
  85. 85. # 85What? Who? Where?Make a video explaining how to use Google Analytics Multi Chan-nel reports and send them a mobile friendly version of the video towatch.Elevation.Give GA MC Video
  86. 86. # 86Use to send your client a beautiful infographic outlining theirGoogle Analytics main metrics and movement every week.Boom goes the dynamite.Beautiful Analytics
  87. 87. # 87Setup a campaign using and send your client a brand-ed report every week showing them the movement of their websitein search engine rankings for their top keywords.They’ll think you built the internet.Branded SEO Reports
  88. 88. # 88Make a note about theior website in and send it tothem out of the blue.Better still, set a reminder in your calendar to do this 34 days afterthey launch so you don’t forget.Send Them Evernote
  89. 89. # 89Showcase their site on your portfolio and send them a link showingthem what you’ve done.If you are not proud enough to put it on your portfolio ask yourselfwhy you’re working on this project.Portfolio Piece
  90. 90. # 90Find a great book at Amazon that you know would benefit them andsend it to them in the post as a gift.You wanna put your fees up or not?Post Them A Book
  91. 91. # 91Use to track the uptime of your client sites and theircompetitors.Of course, theirs will win, right?Use Pingdom
  92. 92. # 92Introduce your clients to the wonders of HubSpot.Their free content is amaaaaazing.It will not put you out of a job.It will elevate you.Intro To HubSpot
  93. 93. # 93Continue to ask good quality questions about your client’s businessso you can learn how you can better serve them.Continue Asking ???’s
  94. 94. # 94Find an awesome local event on that will benefit youand them and invite them along.Pay for them.Invite To An Event
  95. 95. # 95If you believe they are worthy, nominate them for a local businessaward.If you do not believe they are worthy, see slide #89.Nominate Them
  96. 96. # 96Discover useful apps that will benefit your client and email them links.Easy.Send Useful Apps
  97. 97. # 97Just because you have a great relationship with them doesn’t meanyou should say“yes”to everything.Challenge them, say“no”and ask“why?”Say “No”
  98. 98. # 98Nine months after launch, schedule a reminder to check their site forbroken links and email them a report outlining the issues.Broken Link Check
  99. 99. # 99Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check the page speed of their siteand let them know where they’re humming along and where theycould improve.Explain that Page Speed is a factor the influences search engine rank-ings.Check Page Speed
  100. 100. # 100Twelve months after launch remind them of their initial goals and suc-cess factors and see how they’re doing.Remind Goals
  101. 101. # 101The easiest way to get referrals is to give them.Refer THEM A Client
  102. 102. # 102There’s more.Here’s the bonus.But Wait!...
  103. 103. # 103I promise you.The quickest way to increase your fees and elevate yourself above thepack is to lose your hourly rate...because everyone else is too scared to.Lose Your Hourly Rate
  104. 104. # 104Troy Dean is a digital strategist, online marketing coach and co-found-er of the Video User Manuals plugin.You can connect with him at can get the plugin at videousermanuals.comNow go Elevate!About The Author