6 Figure Creative Icon

6 Ways To Get More Clients In An EXTREMELY Competitive Industry

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The sad reality for most freelancers is that they're just offering the same “copycat” services as everyone else around them. Because of this, they're stuck in a competitive hell.
This is called a “commoditized service”.
Think about how you buy a commodity like salt and pepper… You look at the shelf and buy the first thing you see that matches your pricing expectation. As far as you're concerned, all the options are pretty much the same.
This is what it's like for freelancers. Anyone who's looking to hire a freelancer can literally “shop” Fiverr.com for dozens of different creative services where thousands of freelancers are competing with each other.
In the perfect world, you'd find a way to stand out and become a “monopolized service”, but that takes a LOT of time, effort, and energy to develop the necessary skills.
The good news is that you can still thrive in an extremely competitive industry, and this week's episode will give you 6 ways to get more clients even as a copycat freelancer.
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • Why you need to stand out as a freelancer
  • The dangers of rock bottom pricing in commoditized services
  • Reviews vs. testimonials
  • Providing a premium service for your customers
  • Finding clients who know, like, and trust you
  • Digital relationships
  • The value of good copywriting for your business
  • Funnels for freelancers

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello and welcome to the six Figure Creative podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time listening to the show, first of all, thank you so much for giving the show a chance.

[00:00:07] Brian: You are at the right place. If you are a creative and you are either already earning six figures a year or you were trying to get to six figures a year, and you are maybe lonely, maybe confused, maybe you lost along the way, you're at the right place. Especially if you believe that it takes more than just passion to become a six figure creative or you're at least open to the idea that it probably takes more than just passion, to become a six figure creative.

[00:00:28] Brian: If you're a returning listener or if viewer on YouTube. Thank you for coming back again and again. It really means a lot to me. I have been kind of getting settled back in after my wife and i's long trip we were gone abroad for 60 something days.

[00:00:38] Brian: Got over jet lag, getting back into the groove here and , it feels like I'm, I'm like finally back into the groove work-wise and life-wise and like sleep-wise, right as we gear up to take time off for the holidays. This episode is scheduled to come out the week before Christmas, which is, by the way, my favorite holiday of the year. I'm the kind of person that's like singing Christmas songs in the middle of July. Like, you can ask my wife, I'm like, cooking or cleaning and just randomly singing Christmas songs and it's, I like it a [00:01:00] lot. It's like happy, there's light, there's presents, there's friends, there's family. I get to take some time off at the end of the year where nobody bothers me, , and I'm looking forward to it. I don't know about you. Hopefully you have some plans with your friends, family, whatever, for the holidays.

[00:01:10] Brian: And if not, you still got me. You can binge through the last 230 episodes that you missed at this podcast for you new listeners.

[00:01:15] Brian: I am also about to go away to do one of my favorite things that I get to do after Christmas every year, on that week after Christmas when nobody bothers you and there's nothing else really going on. I do my year end retreat this is now becoming a routine and will eventually become a ritual, I go to Chattanooga, which is like two hour drive from here.

[00:01:32] Brian: And I, I book, a room at the Reid House, which is like a really nice hotel in downtown Chattanooga to kind of separate myself from my normal day-to-day life. And I do like a year end planning retreat there. And I got this from, I mean, there's multiple people to do this, but the person that inspired me to do this was actually Graham Cochran.

[00:01:45] Brian: And he has an episode on his podcast called the Graham Cochran Show, where he talks about, what he does on his year end retreats, just like that. I've literally just copied everything that he does with exception of, I went through last year the book vision Driven Leader.

[00:01:57] Brian: I think I've talked about this on the podcast I came up with a five-year [00:02:00] vision and then I broke that down into like a one year, what things I can reasonably do in 2022. And then brought those down even to smaller chunks for like quarterly objectives. And then like monthly and weekly it gets really granular and the more granular you get the, less fun it becomes

[00:02:13] Brian: But this is time of the year where I just come up with what if my five year vision do I wanna actually accomplish in 2023? So I'm about to go do that. Maybe I'll do a podcast episode on that if you're interested. Otherwise, honestly, just go listen to Graham Cochran show, go find whatever episode it was where he talks about his year end planning retreat.

[00:02:25] Brian: And that'll pretty much give you everything you need to know, although there are some new things I'm trying this year, based on my experience last year and I, if any of those work out are, are cool or good takeaways from that, I'll bring it back to our audience if anyone's interested in hearing that.

[00:02:36] Brian: Let's actually dive into the topic of the day cuz our topic today is not year end planning retreat. It's more on the, topic I'm more of what I consider an expert at and something that I talk more and more about recently. this is something that was actually in our um, feedback survey that a lot of our listeners have filled out, that they wanna hear more about client acquisition, how to get clients in a really competitive industry, where there's tons of competition And it's hard to stand out. What can you do to get clients in that sort of environment? That's an environment that many creatives [00:03:00] are stuck in right now. And if you're regular listening to the show, that's something that we call on the show, A commoditized service. You're a commodity just like salt. when I'm looking on the shelf, maybe there's a brand that I trust, I don't really know, but in the reality, like I'm just gonna pick the cheapest salt that matches the needs and the size that I need, I'm gonna go on my way. Like salt is salt, it's gonna taste relatively the same no matter what brand I pick.

[00:03:18] Brian: That's a commodity. and in some industries, even in creative industries, it can be about that competitive where it you don't make a difference. You're a butt in a seat. you're gonna do something for me that I need done, and I can maybe go on fiber and find that service for a really cheap amount of money.

[00:03:32] Brian: If that is you, You're in a commoditized service industry. You are not standing out from your competitors, and you're gonna have a really tough time to make ends meet. Now that being said, you can get clients as a commoditized service. You can make six figures as a commoditized service. You can stand out and you can still succeed.

[00:03:47] Brian: So this episode is not gonna tell you how to decom commoditize yourself. It's not gonna talk about how to, create a monopoly service, which is a way better place to. Where you're one of a kind and they can't price shop you around. That's another episode actually, if you go back to episode [00:04:00] 225 of the podcast, I break down in, in the first portion of that, when building your client acquisition machine, that's one of the first things I do with people.

[00:04:05] Brian: And I talk through the beginning of that episode more about how to decom commoditize yourself, So you can charge what you want, basically within reason. You still have to charge based on the value you provide, but at least you're not a commodity anymore at that point.

[00:04:14] Brian: But if you're stuck as a commoditized service, meaning I can just shop you versus someone else directly, this person's charging X amount. You're charging y m out. gonna pick the cheaper version. If that's you, you're stuck in this world right now. At least don't see any, quick way out.

[00:04:26] Brian: I'm gonna give you six different ways. to get clients and stand out in a commoditized service or just a really, really competitive industry.

[00:04:32] Brian: So I'm actually gonna start with number one here. The first way to get clients in a commoditized market or a really, really competitive market, and this is the way that I think most people jump to when it comes to finding ways to stand out and get clients in this sort of environment is lowering your rates, charging less.

[00:04:48] Brian: This is the most common way to do it. It is also the number one mistake when it comes to trying to stand out in the really competitive industry. This is the last thing I would ever want you to do, and I don't want anyone here to do this, but you can do [00:05:00] this if you wanted to. The less you charge, the more clients you tend to get.

[00:05:03] Brian: Again, that's not always a guarantee, but it can. and that's the danger of staying in a commoditized industry like, and, and here's some examples, just so you have like real actual examples and not just like me talking about commoditized service, commoditized service someone doing logos, that tends to be a commoditized service where I can shop that service around to like 20 different people.

[00:05:21] Brian: I can go on five right now. Basically, if you can find the service on five, it's probably a commoditized service. That's actually a fair thing. You know what I'm gonna do? you can do this along with me if you want. I'm opening up fiver.com right now, and we're gonna see what categories they have as services right now. And if you're watching it on YouTube right now, you can actually follow along with my screen share. first of all, We have popular tags here on fiver.com.

[00:05:41] Brian: Website design is one, so that would be if you just offer general website design, that's a commoditized service if you do WordPress development, logo design, that was one that I was about to mention. Video editing. Those are the foremost popular on the homepage of fiver.com. If you scroll down,

[00:05:56] Brian: they have even more. So explore the marketplace. You have graphic design,

[00:05:59] Brian: [00:06:00] digital marketing, writing and translating, video and animation, music and audio. That's my personal background. Programming and tech business lifestyle data. I'm gonna open up three categories that kind of match our listeners in our industry. Graphic design. This and this breaks down to really granular stuff, logo design, brand style guides, font, topography, web design, UX design, illustration.

[00:06:20] Brian: Even tattoo design. Oh man, I can't imagine hiring someone off Fiver to get my tattoo done. . Then we move over to video and animation category. We have things like editing and post-production. especially like really technical work, like video editing is an era that I would consider definitely a commoditized service.

[00:06:35] Brian: Visual effects, intro and outro videos,

[00:06:37] Brian: logo animations, social media videos, music videos. That's another one.

[00:06:42] Brian: Even going down to just general videographer. And then the last category, which is my background, which is music and audio producers are composer songwriters, beat making, massive commoditized market mixing and mastering audio editing, vocal tuning, voiceover work, podcast production. Yes. So if you can find somebody that it offers your exact service on [00:07:00] a service like fiber.com, chances are you are offering what is a commoditized service. It is an apples to apples comparison, but it doesn't mean you can't succeed. As a matter of fact, copywriting tends to be commoditized service.

[00:07:11] Brian: we actually had Alex Fasc On episode 155 and she was making, multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. I think she'd made well over a million dollars off of fiber gigs. Like I said, it can be done. I'm not saying that fiber's the way, as a matter of fact, I would tell most of our audience to stay away from fiber, but I'm just using that as an example to say that you can make a lot of money as a commod service, and it doesn't have to be fiver either by the.

[00:07:33] Brian: So price is the first way to get clients lowering your price. Again, going back to that, and this is typically the race to the bottom, who is willing to work for the least amount of money possible. And in creative worlds like ours, this can get especially nasty because we love what we do.

[00:07:46] Brian: we're just feel lucky to get any amount of money for what we're doing. Therefore we are willing to take a massive pay cut.

[00:07:52] Brian: So if the only thing you have to compete off of is price, it's a race to the bottom. And if, if you go back to episode 92 of our podcast, back when we used to be called the Six Figure [00:08:00] Home Studio, there's an episode called What to Do When Someone in Your Area is Charging $5 per Song.

[00:08:05] Brian: There was somebody, we called him Butt Rock Barry or something like that, , and he was like a producer in some random city charging $5 per song for like mixing services or music production services, something really low. And a lot of the things I'm gonna talk about today is like when someone in your area is just race to the bottom.

[00:08:19] Brian: Rock bottom prices. We can't just react to those sorts of low prices. We're gonna do a lot of other things to stand out and get clients that don't involve lowering your rates. So that's the first area that we tend to go to as creatives.

[00:08:30] Brian: Very toxic area to go to because it hurts our bottom line. And as a show, that's called the Six Figure Creative. You know, I don't like anything where you're lowering your rates. If anything you hear me talk about all the time, raise your rates, always up, never down. Actually, if you listen last week's episode, sometimes down dynamic pricing. Good episode. episode two 30 if, if you're not sure what I'm talking about. Alright, so that's the first thing. First way to get clients. lower your rates, rock bottom prices, $5 a service, whatever. That's a way to get clients.

[00:08:52] Brian: Horrible way to do it. Don't do it. I shouldn't have to explain why and this is like not a foolproof, do this and you will get clients. These are different ways [00:09:00] to stand out so that you can get more clients and look at this as more like a holistic approach to getting more clients as a commoditized service, but not Hey, this is the one way to get more clients.

[00:09:08] Brian: Yes, one of these ways can get you more clients, but it's really about putting all these things into place. the second way is adding social proof elements into your business. And probably the easiest way of doing this is just thinking about other commoditized services that are out there. Something not in the creative world, something that you experience all the time.

[00:09:25] Brian: In other service industries. So think about barbers, think about nail salons. Who else gets pedicures out there? I love pedicures. Think about, massage spas day spas or whatever. Think about how those people use social proof to their advantage. When you're in a new city or someplace you've never been, and you're like, or a restaurant even, and you're trying to think what restaurant do I wanna eat at?

[00:09:43] Brian: What spot do I wanna go get a massage at? What place do I wanna get a pedicure, A mini petty ? And you start looking at Google Maps or just Googling it in general. the first thing you're gonna look at is the reviews, right? So social proof is someone else out there saying, this is good, so therefore you'll like it.

[00:09:58] Brian: And there's different types of social proof. [00:10:00] By the way. Reviews are just one of them. But reviews are a wonderful. For people to say this person is good at what they do. Believe me. the belief part is the important part of this to actually work. So let me actually talk about the different types of social proof that you can implement as a freelancer and as a creative.

[00:10:14] Brian: Reviews are. One of the ways, and I'll tell you one of this sort of makes sense. The other way is case studies and the third way is testimonials. And let me elaborate. When someone works with you and they're happy, what tends to happen is you get a testimonial from them and then you put the testimonial on your website.

[00:10:28] Brian: Maybe you do a nice little graphic and put so on social media and they're like, oh, Jane Doe was so amazing as a photographer. She did such great work. Highly recommended. And that's 99% of testimonials. That is not a good testimonial. That's a garbage testimonial in most cases. And and lemme come and explain when you need to use a testimonial versus a review versus a case study, cuz they're all three amazing tools that need to be used in different sort of use cases.

[00:10:53] Brian: A testimonial, lemme start there. A testimonial in my opinion, and this is a strong opinion and a strong belief that I have, and I hope that you agree [00:11:00] with me here. A testimonial is only valid when people that see it already know who this person is. an example would be like in my world as a music producer, if I get a testimonial from a band that I recorded or an artist that I mixed, and I put that testimonial on my website, that testimonial is basically meaningless.

[00:11:16] Brian: unless it's an artist that other artists know about. So, If I have a testimonial from Taylor Swift on my website, other people know who Taylor Swift is. So that short, little blurb, Brian Hood is amazing producer. He made such an comfortable environment for me.

[00:11:29] Brian: Highly recommended. That means a lot coming from Taylor Swift because she's a known artist. She's a aaa, one of the biggest artists that are out there, right? That holds a lot of sway. And so if it's strange on the internet, sees that Taylor Swift has endorsed me, has given me a testimonial, that lends me a lot of credibility. That's one way to stand out against everyone else that's out there because I'm the one producer with a Taylor Swift testimonial on my website. I'm not saying that that's the case.

[00:11:51] Brian: I'm just using this as an example Swift versus a random artist you've never heard of because it's their first release. That testimonial has [00:12:00] no authority behind it. Therefore, it is meaningless on my website. In those cases, a testimonial is not what you use. You either use a review, which needs to be on a third party website, you don't control.

[00:12:10] Brian: So neither needs to be on like, usually Google is the best place to do it because that's like the most trusted source of reviews. But it could be fiber. Like If you have a fiber profile, obviously reviews are the number one way the people are differentiated on five. another platform is Facebook, although that's dying or dead, if not already dead, but it's a third party site where you don't have the ability to delete reviews.

[00:12:28] Brian: That's it. You can't just put reviews on your website. So if you have a lot of them, at least 20 or more of random strangers saying good things about you, a review is what you want to get. if you don't have a lot of those and you don't work with a lot of clients, but you go deep with your clients, meaning you just work on maybe a couple projects a month, a few projects a month are really high paying If you're at that level, you just work really in depth with your artists. maybe you only have a handful of your clients on retainer every month, which means you're not churning through 5, 10, 15 new clients a month.

[00:12:55] Brian: You don't have a lot of reviews to get on your website. In that case, case studies are the way you [00:13:00] build social proof. So what you need to do is work with your clients to create a wonderful case study. Here's what they were before you, here's what you helped them through.

[00:13:08] Brian: Here's what their life's like now after working with you. And the more transformational your service. By the way, the more impact that case study will have on potential clients who are analyzing your business for your services.

[00:13:18] Brian: So that's the breakdown. If it's a known person in your industry, get a testimonial. If it's an unknown person in your industry, either build a really nice case study out, you can do it with interview, you can do it written or get a bunch of those onto a review. And if you're struggling to get reviews and you don't know how to even approach that process, episode four of the podcast, we actually talked about how to get a bunch of reviews for your recording studio. That approach would work for any industry, for anyone trying to get reviews. We actually used it for this show, . So we got like 75 reviews for this podcast, like the first month using the exact technique we talked about in that episode. And I can save you, 30 minutes of listening to that show. All you do is you ask for feedback from your clients.

[00:13:54] Brian: In like a text or an email and whatever feedback they give you, say, awesome. So happy you were stoked with my [00:14:00] services. Do you mind leaving this in a review one click link to whatever platform you're trying to build your reviews on? It could be Fiver, could be Google. Hopefully it's not five.

[00:14:08] Brian: Hopefully it's Google And that one click just, they can copy and paste that feedback they gave you into the review. That also ensures you get more good reviews, because if it's bad feedback, , you can address the problem instead of sending them straight to get reviews. So that's the, 32nd version instead of the 30 minute version.

[00:14:22] Brian: So the first way of getting clients in a really competitive industry is just lower your rates. That's the bad way. Don't do that. The second way is building social proof so that you have other people telling your ideal clients that you're a good match for them. Like, Hey, Brian Hood's legit. He's amazing.

[00:14:37] Brian: He's the best in the world the second element of social proof. Third element is one that I think we as creatives are better at, but we're not the best at, and that is something called customer experience. and there's a lot of different areas this can play out.

[00:14:49] Brian: But in my opinion, this is something we should be obsessing over And I have a few things to talk about within customer experience as a whole. Bottom line is the better your client's experience is with you as a [00:15:00] customer or a client, the more referrals you are going to get. Referrals are usually the number one source of clients for most freelancers. And there's a reason for that.

[00:15:07] Brian: I'm not gonna get into it right now. It's called the word of mouth death trap. But that doesn't mean that word of mouth isn't powerful. It doesn't mean we shouldn't do as much as possible to get more referrals from our clients. And then the way we're gonna get more referrals, is making sure we have really happy clients who are ecstatic with our services. And we do that by obsessing over customer experience. So there's a few areas. So first of all is what is the first experience your clients have with you before they've even hired you?

[00:15:29] Brian: customer experience? after the sale, but in my opinion, it just starts before the sale even begins. So what is the experience anyone has when they first interact with you or your brand? It could be social media, it could be your website, it could be they call you on the phone. What is the experience that they have?

[00:15:43] Brian: Is your website slow and buggy? Is your social media account full of just political crap? Where you're complaining all the time? Is your phone call just going to voicemail and it's like a generic robot voicemail? If that's the case, you're turning people away before they even have a chance to hire you in the first place.

[00:15:57] Brian: You only get the chance to make one first impression[00:16:00] and you gotta make sure that first impression is amazing.

[00:16:02] Brian: But what about whenever they actually start talking to you, you have the conversation with them about being a potential client. How was your sales process? Do you have a really good sales process that not only closes clients so you get the customer, but makes them feel good in the process and doesn't turn people away or make them feel.

[00:16:15] Brian: What is your onboarding experience? Have you put a lot of thought in your onboarding experience so that there's never any questions, they're never confused, they're never overwhelmed, They always know what their next step is, and you do whatever you can to make sure the project is a success.

[00:16:28] Brian: You are likely just wing it every time. And I know this because most of my career I was just winging onboarding. I had a few like half-baked processes, but there was so much more that I could do if I would've put more time in. Obsessed over the customer experience. So onboarding, what have you done? If you haven't already gotten my onboarding guide, go to six figure creative.com/onboarding.

[00:16:47] Brian: I have my five step onboarding guide that I give away for free.

[00:16:49] Brian: But once you're done onboarding and you've actually started the project, what is your client or customer experience with your fulfillment process? Some services are way more hands-on than others. Like in my day when I was [00:17:00] doing music production and I actually had bands in my studio that I was producing their music, that's a really intimate, handholding process where I'm really close with my clients.

[00:17:08] Brian: So in those cases, there's so much you can do to make the customer experience in your. The best it can be. And I did some things, like I had, lodging for my clients at the studio. I had video games. waters for them. I had snacks for them. but there's so much more I could have done but that's for like really high touch in-person kind of client relations where you're fulfilling in person and that's not everybody.

[00:17:28] Brian: A lot of people it's done remotely now, especially post 2020 so much in-person stuff has moved to online stuff. There's still a lot you can do to make the customer experience or the client experience as seamless and high value as possible.

[00:17:42] Brian: And it might even mean going less automated and more like handhold where you have a bit of a more of a chance to build relationships with clients. I know that when I stopped producing bands and I moved to mixing full-time where I was like just getting files from artists and making it sound amazing.

[00:17:55] Brian: In those cases the client never came to my studio. They didn't live with me. It was amazing. I [00:18:00] loved it way more, but I also wasn't talking to the clients. I didn't have them in the studio. I wasn't building the relationship with them in real time. there were times where you could get on the phone, face-to-face conversations, have a better communication style when I'm working with them, and make sure the project goes off without a hitch. And At the end of the day with this entire like, obsessing over the customer or the client experience, what do they think? What do they feel? What do they say behind our backs when we're not around?

[00:18:25] Brian: Think about that.

[00:18:26] Brian: Do they have good things or bad things to say? Are you leading a really good emotion, imprint on them when they leave your services, when you're done with them? If that's the case, you're gonna get more referrals. You're gonna get more repeat clients, and you're gonna get those good testimonials or case studies or reviews for your business and it's a win-win.

[00:18:42] Brian: so customer experience or client experience, those hand-in-hand with good reviews or social proof.

[00:18:46] Brian: And again, if you go back to the, non-creative industries to kind of look at what they have to do to compete with each other, think about like nail salons, or maybe something more relatable to my mail audience, barbers. there's not a lot of difference in the actual service that's being done, but there's a [00:19:00] huge difference in the customer experience when you're in the facility.

[00:19:03] Brian: like my barber Black Heart Barbershop in East Nashville. Ryan has been my barber for the last eight years. He launched that, barbershop, like last year. he put a lot of thought and care into the vibe of the entire room.

[00:19:14] Brian: The decor, the niche he's a part of, which we'll talk about in a second. It's kinda like dark gothic, a lot of dead things everywhere. It sounds weird, but it's a cool vibe and it's a unique customer experience. It's unlike any other barbershop that I've been to. and so when he charges his rates for a haircut, which I think for him right now, he might be going up soon, but it's like 40 or 50 bucks, 45, 50 bucks for a haircut, which by the way, I'm getting a haircut tomorrow.

[00:19:35] Brian: I dunno if you can tell or not, but I have not had my haircut since before we left for Bali. it's been three months almost to the day since my last haircut. , I'm so excited for tomorrow. But he has put a lot of thought into that, and even though there's probably not a lot of difference in quality haircut between him and a 15 or $20 barbershop, I'm willing to pay more, because of the customer experience that he's built out.

[00:19:55] Brian: There's more to it than that. pretty much everything that Ryan does at his barbershop. He's implemented [00:20:00] himself in his business. So maybe I'll just use some example for the rest of this. But there's also nail salons, and I'm thinking about there's a specific nail salon in a neighborhood.

[00:20:06] Brian: And the reason I'm using them is that's a really competitive industry, hard to stand out. They are all pretty much the same, and they all pretty much have the same rates. So it's really commoditized. But there's one in my neighborhood that's about twice the price of everyone else because they put so much care into the buildout.

[00:20:20] Brian: The look, the fill of the room, the website, the branding, everything is so top-notch. They've obsessed over the customer experience and so they can charge more, command higher rates and they're always booked up. It's by appointment only. No one walk-ins allowed. think about those sorts of industries when you're looking at your own customer experience and see if you even remotely close to the same thing.

[00:20:38] Brian: Chances are you're not.

[00:20:39] Brian: So the fourth area to look at when it comes to getting more clients in a really competitive industry is nicheing down. this sermon has been preached before, so I, I won't talk for too long on this, but you can take a service that is broad appeal. Something that is hard to compete in, but you bring it to an underserved niche where there's no one really doing that thing in that niche, or no one's really established himself as the [00:21:00] go-to person in that niche.

[00:21:01] Brian: You can really stand out and have a really good career doing that. One example is my barber. he comes from like the hardcore metal background for So everyone in his barbershops super tattooed up.

[00:21:10] Brian: A lot of his clients are from the hardcore metal world, of the yester year. Like I said, the entire interior is black on black animals everywhere and like, bizarre kind of decor. But honestly, it really works. he's in a really interesting niche and he, because of that, he's booked up, three months in advance for haircuts. So like, you're not gonna game with Ryan if you want to, if you're looking for a new barber, Ryan's not your guy. He's, he's already booked up.

[00:21:31] Brian: He's got three other barbers there. That might be your person. Another example is something like the photography industry.

[00:21:35] Brian: really competitive industry, so a lot of people, they try to narrow down into like a niche that's a little, a little underserved maybe. Episode 172, how to earn six figures in an obscure niche with Sean Aza, he did exactly this. He took what was, kinda the wedding photo.

[00:21:49] Brian: Industry, which is extremely competitive, and broke that down into an even smaller niche, which is adventure, elopement, photography, and is dominated made, over six figures a year in that. So that's just another example of taking [00:22:00] something that is a service and a skillset that you already own and nicheing down further into an underserved market or a market with a lot less competition.

[00:22:07] Brian: a red ocean to a blue ocean, red ocean, a lot of sharks, a lot of dead bodies, a lot of blood in the water, blue ocean, not as many sharks. Lot more to go around. Easier business to manage. And as a matter of fact, one of my software companies, easy funnels.io, it is a website and funnel builder with EMA marketing capabilities with a really competitive market, extremely competitive. There are tons of people out there offering that sort of thing. But I've niche mine down to the recording industry right now. I might eventually kind of branch out my branding around like other creative industries, cuz really it can work in any industry.

[00:22:38] Brian: We have people in easy funnels that are like yoga instructors. We have people that are doing like selling makeup. So like it works in other industries. I just don't target those industries because it is a bloodbath trying to appeal to all of these people. So I know that I can get more than I would ever need just serving one industry extremely well and building my features and, templates and all that around that.

[00:22:55] Brian: So that's just a non-creative example of nicheing down in order to [00:23:00] appeal to more people.

[00:23:00] Brian: So now let's move to number five. The fifth way to get more clients in a really competitive industry. And that is through building personal relationships. This is probably the f tail as oldest time as well when it comes to. Getting clients in a service-based industry or in a relational industry.

[00:23:15] Brian: people only hire people they know like, and trust. And yes, you can build that trust in one sales conversation. barely knowing you, to actually liking you, and then now trusting you enough to pay you. That can happen in one sales conversation. But in general, the more people that know you like you and trust you, the more clients you're gonna have.

[00:23:30] Brian: That's just a general blanket statement that is almost always true. if you're not getting enough clients to keep your calendar full with your ideal clients, then chances are there are not enough people that know like, and trust you. . is a pretty fair assumption.

[00:23:42] Brian: Or if they do, it could be the wrong social circle. Maybe that you built your entire career around one thing and your social circle and your friends around one thing, and you're trying to build a creative business around something completely different. Where the social circles do not overlap. That's another common thing.

[00:23:56] Brian: but when you're trying to build these personal relationships, getting more people to know you, [00:24:00] like you and trust you, social skills are at the core of this. again, I'm not a social skills expert, but there's a book I read every year.

[00:24:05] Brian: I actually have a a first edition in my bookshelf in the other room how to Win Friends and Influence People. That's a really good yearly read that I actually didn't even read this year. I need to go reread it before the end of the year so it can still be part of my yearly reading list.

[00:24:15] Brian: Wonderful book. sounds more slimy than it is, but it's genuinely a good book. Anytime I read that book, I have some of the best interactions with people after reading that book because it's top of mind.

[00:24:26] Brian: And that's why it has to be a yearly read for me, because like, especially after 2020, I forgot how to communicate with people. I'm like such a recluse now. a friend of mine, um, my co-founder at at File Pass, he has another company called Sound Stripe. you know, large company, like they've had many millions of venture capitalist dollars invested in that business.

[00:24:42] Brian: They have probably like a hundred employees at this point. And so they do this big Christmas party every year. And, since we were gone for three months my wife and I for our trip, our battery was just dead in one of our cars. My wife had the other car, she was out for the night. And when I got to the car, I was gonna go to the party I, and I didn't really wanna go.

[00:24:59] Brian: It was kinda like the thing [00:25:00] where I'm like, ah, I don't wanna be around a lot of people, you know, and I try to start the car and the battery's dead and It was like that little bit of friction, it pushed me over the edge of just not wanting to go. So I had to call my wife. she was watching somebody's baby for them. And I had to get her to like pep talk me into going to this Christmas party cuz I knew deep down this was gonna be something that I would really enjoy. I would genuinely enjoy.

[00:25:19] Brian: But at that moment I didn't want to do it. And again, I blame this on like covid times where I just, I've just grown to be really antisocial. And so eventually I called an Uber. Once I called the Uber, that was the tiny kick I needed to make myself go. And it ended up being a wonderful night. Had a great time being around a lot of people that I haven't seen in years.

[00:25:36] Brian: It was wonder. So how does this come back to you? We all can improve our social skills. . We all can become more social and as service providers, freelancers or usually your service providers, a freelancer, but not always. But we can always benefit our business by having more people in our lives around us, if not for direct monetization through clients.

[00:25:56] Brian: At least to keep a sane, healthy to [00:26:00] motivate us, to inspire us. some of my friends are some of my best people around me. To help me stay sane and healthy as a business owner so that my business can thrive as well. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you've already read it, go read it again.

[00:26:12] Brian: I'm gonna, you know what, I'm actually gonna read it on my year end retreat. But there's more to this conversation than just people's skills, more than just Traditional, what I'd call like networking or building friendships.

[00:26:20] Brian: There's what I call nineties networking. This is like one-to-one relationships shaking hands and you're going to networking events, you're going to holiday parties, you're meeting people, you're hanging out. Like a lot of business cards and shaking of hands and no real relationships built. that's fine and that's good for making friends. But that's not the only way to like build relationships, to get more people to know, like, and trust you. There's also like social media, what I call digital networking. That's where you're building relationships online.

[00:26:42] Brian: Like some of my closest relationships, mark, who's a substitute co-host on the show all the time, mark Eckert, he and I just talk on the phone all the time. I call this a relationship. a lot of relationships now are moving to digital realm, dms on social media, keeping in touch through social media, keeping in touch through text messages or Marco Polo, which I use a lot on the trip that we just went [00:27:00] on.

[00:27:00] Brian: There's a lot of digital enabled relationship building that is out there that you can still utilize even if you're not physically in a place that you can surround yourself with the right people. So there's communities to join Facebook groups, other non-Facebook groups, which is what I prefer, but that's like still not that far from nineties networking one to one.

[00:27:16] Brian: The other way in the way I prefer when it comes to client acquisition is through one to many networking, building relationships at scale. That's what I'm doing literally right. Sorry if this is new to you, , you're listening to a podcast right now. I'm talking to thousands of people right now who are consuming the same piece of content that you're listening to right now or watching right now.

[00:27:35] Brian: I'm looking straight into the camera, so it looks like I'm looking at you in the eyes. I'm building a relationship with you, whether you like it or not. , he may hate me, but there's still some relationship being built. Chances are, if you've listened to show a bunch and I've added some value to your life, and I've, there's plenty of people that I've literally changed the trajectory of their lives, where they've left a day job, they've pursued their creative careers and they've flourished.

[00:27:54] Brian: Many of them we've had on the podcast, John MCs Steven Hevi Toby Lloyd. These are all people that I've [00:28:00] made, or at least they've told me I've made a massive change in their lives. They've even come on the show to talk about their careers and their lives and the businesses after the fact.

[00:28:06] Brian: This is just part of how I do this is one to many relationship building. And if I've added value to your life, you'll learn to like me and trust me more . it's not like an evil ulterior motive. it's a way for me to build relationship on a one to many scale where I'm not directly bumping bellies and shaking hands and, and exchanging business cards.

[00:28:26] Brian: So you can do this through content creation. We've actually talked about it on this podcast many times. Matter of fact, if you go back to episode 228, the secret ingredient to higher paying gigs. In that episode, we break down, that secret ingredient and part of getting that secret ingredient is through content marketing.

[00:28:42] Brian: So, Again number five personal relationships, this whole idea HIEs on the fact that the more people that know you, like you and trust you, the more clients you're gonna get. And that's even if you are offering commoditized services. the real estate industry, If you are a, a real estate agent, you're a dime a dozen in a lot of cases. And I don't, I'm not trying to demean or devalue them, but to a certain [00:29:00] extent, there are plenty to choose from. They all do relatively the same thing. There is obviously differences in some of the things I talked about.

[00:29:07] Brian: Now, there's people that are in certain niches, there's people that are obsessed over customer experience. There's people that have great social proof testimonials. They have reviews. They have case studies. there's different ways that. Separated themselves, but at the end of the day, they're offering basically the same service.

[00:29:22] Brian: So in most cases, this is the way that real estate agents get more clients is by building their personal relationships Most of the real estate agents that I know, they're like extremely social people.

[00:29:31] Brian: So this is what they heavily rely on because it's extremely effective. you wanna be the person who is, always on the top of somebody's mind because you've had that recent interaction that, one-to-one or one to mini interaction with somebody. When someone says, oh, I'm about to sell my house and I'm looking for an agent, oh yeah, you should get uh, this guy, he's, sold our house, or he just helped us buy a house or whatever.

[00:29:48] Brian: Like, You wanna be the person that is top of mind when that conversation comes up with other people. and you do this by being known, liked, and trusted by the most people possible. and the bigger that number is, the more successful you will be in [00:30:00] most cases. And finally, we're onto number six, and this is the sixth way to get more clients in extremely competitive markets or industries. that is by building your marketing skills . There's two sides of being, having a creative business.

[00:30:12] Brian: There's like the creative elements side, being good at your craft, building that skillset. that's half of the recipe, You can still be successful without having the other half, which is the marketing and business skills side of things.

[00:30:24] Brian: But you're going to struggle a lot. Certain people, they have a few skills. Like If you're really good at your craft and you have really good social skills, you can probably succeed. But for people that really don't have the social skills or the thought of them creating content is like, ugh.

[00:30:38] Brian: I don't wanna do it, or like you just lack some area that's not gonna allow you to build relationships at the scale that you need to become successful. Then there's a bunch of marketing skills that you probably need when it comes to getting clients. And again, you are competing directly with someone else as a commoditized service provider.

[00:30:53] Brian: apples to apples pretty much the same. So how do you stand out? There's a few marketing skills that you can develop to stand out from other people that are [00:31:00] offering the same or similar services to you. The first is persuasive copywriting. This is like one of the number one things I work on with my coaching clients because persuasive copy really helps.

[00:31:09] Brian: You can disagree all you want, but like studies and split tests and, sales numbers have proven that persuasive copy helps people make the decision in your favor.

[00:31:20] Brian: I'm not a copywriting expert. As a matter of fact, I just had a conversation last week with a new copywriting coach that I'm bringing on my coaching program. I'm not going to talk about names yet, cause I don't wanna count chickens before the hatch, but she's set to start in January, And she's a specialist. She's somebody that's been in the game for a long time. She's actually the host of one of the biggest copywriting podcasts in the copywriting industry. and so that's a skill that I wholeheartedly believe is something that needs to be developed in our community, which is why I'm building that relationship.

[00:31:45] Brian: There's courses out there, there's communities out there. We'll talk more about that in the future, most likely. But persuasive copywriting is a skill worth investing in. There's plenty of books that are out there to learn this. There are courses, there are other communities that are out there. And again, we'll bring some more resources on, and maybe I'll bring her on the [00:32:00] show when it makes sense to, talk more about this.

[00:32:02] Brian: But persuasive copywriting can make the difference. It comes across in your social posts. You create, if you're writing captions, it comes across obviously in any emails you send to your email list. If you're billing an email list, it comes across in your website copies, which most people has a website.

[00:32:15] Brian: Now, if you don't have a website, you're already behind the curve. Sorry about that. But persuasive copy is it is the way you interface with people, and it is basically your internet people skills. . If you're not talking on camera like I am right now, or you're not face-to-face, or you're not on the phone or you're not on screen time, then the only other way you can communicate with people is through written text.

[00:32:33] Brian: And that is your copywriting skills. The better you are at persuasive copywriting. So writing persuasive words that gets people to do what you need them to do, , the better you are at that, the better your business is going to perform.

[00:32:44] Brian: So that's the first kind of marketing skill to develop and hone if you're trying to stand out from your competitors. The second, marketing skill is learning how to follow up or doing retargeting. And this is kinda like bundles together in the same, imagine all the people that have come to your site that just fall off and never do [00:33:00] anything else.

[00:33:00] Brian: Or people that have interacted with you on social media and fallen off they liked to post, right? They left a comment somewhere and then just fell away. There's ways you can follow up with them that are massively underutilized by almost all of the creative industry.

[00:33:12] Brian: You can do what's called retargeting ads, which is someone that's visited your site or engaged with you on social media. They see ads from you for a long time, like six months . And you can change those ads out and they can say different things and they can lead to different things, which we'll talk about in a second.

[00:33:24] Brian: But you can also manually follow up with people. how good are you at manually falling out with people? The worse you are, the more you're gonna need to rely on remarketing or retargeting is kind of one of the same with paid advertising or automated solutions like drip email marketing, which we can talk about at some point as well if you were interested.

[00:33:40] Brian: But the reason this is an important part is because. Of what I've talked about on this, this show before called the 3% Rule. Only about 3% of people are ready to make a decision right now. So if you have like a hundred people in a room that are your ideal clients, only about three of those people are actually in buying mode right now.

[00:33:55] Brian: The other 97 of those people are, 97% of those people are not ready right now. [00:34:00] if you wanna get those clients, eventually you have to be top of mind when it comes time for them to hire you for the project. And if you're not top of mind, they're likely you're gonna hire somebody else. So how do you say top of mind for like an entire year until they're actually ready. You do that through follow up and you can follow up one-to-one, you can follow up one to many. You can follow up with paid advertising retargeting, but some sort of follow up is absolutely needed. So that is the, other marketing skill to develop, because there's skills around paid ads, there's skills around email marketing has kind of come together, but these are all part of what I would consider the marketer skillset you don't have to learn these things We talked about this on the show before. This is an advice buffet. You don't have to take all of these things and do 'em at the same time. but some of these skill sets are gonna be more natural for some versus others.

[00:34:39] Brian: And so you've gotta find the ones that are gonna work for you. and kind of the final skillset when it comes to the marketing world is building funnels. And this is, I have a website called Easy funnels.io , so obviously I'm gonna talk about this, but this is something that, some freelancers are like hip to this, they already do this, or they're smart with it.

[00:34:55] Brian: A lot of like podcast in the creative world, grow your video business. We've had Ryan [00:35:00] coral on the show before. Ben Hartley six Figure Photography. We at the six figure home studio back before we moved to the Six Figure Creative. And and Christo at um, All of these podcasts, and there's more in the creative world for sure. But all of these podcasts, I've heard at least one guest, if not the host, if not both, talk about the power of funnels when it comes to client acquisition.

[00:35:20] Brian: And a funnel for those who are unaware, is like a website, but it's more of a guided path for someone to go down where a hundred people come in the top and one person comes in the bottom right. That's kind of, the whole funnel effect. an easy funnel for you to of conceptualize and this is one I'm running right now, so you might see my ad.

[00:35:36] Brian: Maybe you're listener to this podcast right now because you came through a funnel of mine and now you're in a certain section of the funnel, which we'll talk about. But an easy funnel to understand is a paid ad or you can do content marketing, a paid ad two, a lead magnet of some sort. So you've heard me mention a couple on this show so far.

[00:35:50] Brian: One was that, onboarding, guide that I created a while back that I shared with you earlier? And I may have shared some others here, but a lead magnet, something that's valuable to your IEO client. And then [00:36:00] once they're on your email list, you nurture them over time through content like this or through follow up emails, automated or manual, or even one-to-one interactions, sending emails to people.

[00:36:09] Brian: People reply to my automated email series all the time and I have conversations to them from email. And you nurture that relationship over the next year or two or three or four or five until they either refer someone to you or they buy something from you or they just leave. It's okay if they don't.

[00:36:23] Brian: Most people won't actually ever buy anything from you. That is a funnel in a nutshell, and the better you get at creating those and implementing all the skill sets around managing those, the better off you're going to be as a business owner. And this is especially true in really competitive industries.

[00:36:36] Brian: So again, let's recap all of these, six ways to get more clients If you're in a really highly competitive industry, first is just lower your price. That's a bad way to do it. Don't do that.

[00:36:45] Brian: Second is adding social proof to your business, through reviews, case studies, testimonials. The third way is obsessing over the customer experience so that you leave a lasting impression on your clients so that they are static to refer others to you because you, they know [00:37:00] you will take amazing care of them.

[00:37:02] Brian: The fourth way is by nicheing down because you appeal to more people by excluding more people. the more you exclude, the more you attract. really counterintuitive, but it really works when you're really a part of a tight-knit. It's easier to succeed in that small niche than it is to attack the big niche.

[00:37:16] Brian: At the same time, actually with a six figure creative. That's exactly what we did. We attacked the small, tight knit niche of home studio owners, and then now we've broadened out to the greater creative industry. Much more difficult to stand out, but it's working so far. Number five is building personal relationships through your social skills.

[00:37:31] Brian: That can be one-to-one, and that can be one to many. I prefer one to many. And then final number six is just honing, developing and deploying your marketing skills like persuasive copywriting. Following up with people more retargeting people with, ads, and then building funnels.

[00:37:44] Brian: Again, there's more that goes into this than anything else. And, these six things the goal here is to not have to worry about this stuff The goal is for you to be a monopoly service, not a commodity service. You're not salt, you're like this magic pill, right?

[00:37:57] Brian: there's only one of you in the world. That's the goal. Really hard to [00:38:00] get there, but it's worth the effort if you can put in the effort, time, and energy to get there. The tips from this episode are more for those of you who are stuck in commodity, if you want my personal help getting out of commodity health into more of the monopolized service where you're not having to try as hard to get clients because you are the only solution for this sort of thing, if you're trying to get out of that and you want my personal help, So you can charge more, so you can eliminate your competitors, I mean, Eliminate them in a good way, like you eliminate them because you are no longer a competitor of theirs. Not because you've killed them or anything , but you wanna be able to eliminate your competitors because you are not competing with 'em anymore.

[00:38:31] Brian: And then actually build a client acquisition machine that keeps your calendar full. Go to apply for my coaching program. It's called Clients By Design. Go to six figure creative.com/clients. That's the u r to start the application process. That gives you an overview of the entire program.

[00:38:44] Brian: I already filled up all of my enrollment spots for Q4 of this year, so I had opened up 15 spots. Those were filled very quickly, mostly from my waiting list that was waiting for those spots to open. by signing up, applying for that, now you will be on the waiting list when I open up more spots next [00:39:00] year.

[00:39:00] Brian: I have some people that are graduating out in January, so they'll open up some spots there. And then, so you're better off getting your application in sooner than later if you wanna be a part of this coaching program. again, if that's, if you want my personal help This coaching program is not for everybody. And I would actually say in most cases, if you're new to this show, you're new to my world, don't apply. Give yourself a chance to get to know me, get to know my personality, my teaching style, my methodologies, what I believe, what I don't believe. Because again if you don't like the way I do things, , you definitely don't want me to coach you.

[00:39:26] Brian: So stay around for a bit, get to know me, build a relationship, and then when it makes sense for you, then go apply for the coaching program@sixfigurecreative.com slash clients. Anyways I, I appreciate everyone who gives this show a chance week to week, month to month, year to year. we've been around for a while now, this show will continue to grow and evolve over time.

[00:39:43] Brian: and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Have a happy New Year, and you'll hear from me again probably after Christmas, unless I don't get an episode done in, in that case, it'll be a replay episode. It gets really dicey at the end of the year. It's hard to get guests on the show. I'm busy trying to get everything finished up for the holidays And sometimes you, you have to just get to the [00:40:00] mode where you're doing replay episodes, , at the very end of the year. I think the last two outta three years I think has been like a replay episode after our around Christmas time. So it is what it is. But you'll, we'll be coming at you fresh with some good episodes, some amazing guests on the show coming in 2023.

[00:40:12] Brian: And I'm excited about you. stay tuned for episode. Until next time, thanks for listening and have an amazing Christmas.

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