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Contracting Is For Suckers | There’s A Better Way To Freelance

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Ever been offered a gig where a company or agency is hiring you on as a contractor (or subcontractor)?
 
To anyone desperate for work it an sound like a dream, but here's the catch – it's actually a trap.
 
In our latest podcast episode, I break down why contracting can seem like a godsend for freelancers desperate for gigs, but it often becomes a nightmare that's impossible to escape.
 
So, what’s the alternative? This week I dive into:
  • The 10% rule every freelancer should follow.
  • The illusion of security in contracting gigs
  • A stable freelancing model with diversified income streams, stackable projects, and flat-rate pricing
For anyone who's currently contracting under another company, I hope by the end of this episode, you get away from the “dark side” and learn how much better a stable freelancing model can work for you.
 
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • The illusion of security in contracting gigs
  • How dependency on contracting can eventually lead to $0
  • Why contracting stifles your ability to find better opportunities
  • The better model for stable, diversified income
  • The 10% rule for balanced client income
  • How to stack projects for consistent cash flow
  • The advantages of flat-rate pricing
  • Real-life examples of freelancers who escaped the contracting trap

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316. Contracting is for suckers

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[00:00:00] Brian: ~Recently, I talked to somebody who was contracting for the company Dropbox. Most people here know what Dropbox is. and they were getting like 20, 000 a month as a contractor for Dropbox. And at the time I was like, Damn, that's awesome. Keep that train going as long as you possibly can.~

[00:00:00] Brian: ~But the more I thought about it and the more people I talked to in situations where there are contractors, the more I realized that the life of the contractor actually sucks. And in this episode, I want to dive into why that is and what the alternative is and what is better than contracting. And if you're not sure what contracting is as a freelancer, what is this actually a essentially it's a time job.~

[00:00:00] Brian: ~With no benefits, right? Ah, fuck, I'm going to try this again. I didn't like that. Let's do a different intro. First was a contractor. Okay. So~ recently I had a conversation with somebody who was a contractor for Dropbox. Meaning that they were getting paid from Dropbox every month to fulfill on services Dropbox needed.

[00:00:08] Brian: And they were getting 20, 000 a month. Which is a lot for anybody, right? Any solo freelancer, entrepreneur, anyone making 20 grand a month is doing alright. So I thought when I first heard it, I was like, awesome, keep that going as long as you can. And the more I thought about it actually, the more I realized this actually sucks.

[00:00:24] Brian: And other people that I've talked to who are contractors, it's actually awful. if you're not sure what a contractor is, it's basically you are providing services to a client. For a temporary basis rather than full time again, I'll get in more distinctions in a second But this dude that I talked to is a lot like ~people ~other freelancers.

[00:00:37] Brian: I talked to that are what I consider suckered into Contracting some might be a few months at a time Some might be indefinite like this Dropbox one where there was no like~ like ~set end date for the contract ~ is why did somebody, ~And if you're wondering why is this suck, why would I say somebody who's making 20 grand a month as a Dropbox contractor, a sucker I wouldn't say him specifically, but contractors in general are getting suckered into becoming a contractor for clients.

[00:00:59] Brian: And it sucks [00:01:00] because you essentially have no benefits, no pay time off, no stability, no real guarantee that you're going to have your job tomorrow.

[00:01:06] Brian: You still have a boss. You don't have a client in this case. You have a boss.

[00:01:09] Brian: Whereas freelancing. Real freelancing should be your terms. It should be your processes, your systems that you're working through. You should have clients, not bosses, at least not a boss in the traditional sense. But this is not really what happens when you're a contractor, especially for bigger companies like Dropbox.

[00:01:24] Brian: ~Actually, let me try that again. ~At best, you're getting paid well, but then you're finding a new job every few months, which if you try to think through like the job search process or the contractor search process, doing that every few months when every contract ends, how much that's going to kill momentum.

[00:01:37] Brian: Take away focus from either what you're doing or what you're working on every few months trying to find a new job Essentially that's at best and then at worst is you have no idea when the contract is going to end You build your life thinking you're safe It lulls you into this false sense of security thing You're going to get that 20k a month every month ~and this guy that I'm, ~and this guy that I'm talking about, he lived in a very expensive area, had a wife, they had a house, and so what happens when, all of a sudden, that next month, Dropbox [00:02:00] decides to just cut off that contract?

[00:02:02] Brian: I don't know if anyone, myself included, as a freelancer, would turn down a 20, 000 contract. Every month that's idiotic to do that. However, when you build your life around this that has a lot of negative things that can come with it Especially when that contract dries up and you don't have prospects for projects clients the next contract lined up

[00:02:18] Brian: So this sort of like high paying 20, 000 a month contract is the extreme it is not the Norm, it is the exception,

[00:02:25] Brian: but some other people I talked to, there's a guy that was working at a post production studios the video space and did that full time for several years, left that and was on a contractor basis, getting paid the same exact hourly pays getting at his old job, except he had no benefits.

[00:02:39] Brian: They didn't have to pay payroll taxes. They were saving so much money, turning him into a contractor. And that to me. Is the real suckers game when you're getting paid the same you have no benefits no stability no legal protection as a contractor versus an employee you are on the hook for all taxes That's another big thing So in this episode, I want to dive into a better model for freelancers, ~are pulled by the siren That is the Pulled by the song of the siren especially those that ~especially those that are pulled [00:03:00] by the song of the siren ~into ~into potential peril, if I could just do that as a few months of income, I'll figure out the freelancing thing later. So I want to talk through a model that's more stable, more reliable, and should definitely make you sleep better at night.

[00:03:11] Brian: ~And this episode is going to be relevant for you, whether you are a freelancer who's ever contracted, has any interest in contracting, Or try this again. And this element, ~is gonna be highly relevant for you no matter what you are doing. If you are doing client work, you're the traditional freelancer, there's still gonna be something in this episode that's gonna be highly relevant to you and something you're gonna want to hear.

[00:03:19] Brian: But especially if you are a contractor freelancer, you are working with one client at a time typically, you're definitely going to want to watch this episode. If this is your first time listening to the show, Hi, I'm Brian. This is the Six Figure Creative Podcast. This podcast is for you. If you are a creative freelancer, you offer freelance services, and you want to make more money without selling your soul I cannot think of a worse way to sell your soul than to make no money as a freelancer, have that contract cut off, and then be forced To either settle for these low paying gigs off Fiverr or whatever crap hits your inbox because you're waiting around or you have to go get another day job because you couldn't make it work as a freelancer.

[00:03:51] Brian: That to me is the ultimate selling of your soul. So this episode, we're gonna talk about how you make money as a freelancer. What's the best model to do this in? In 2024 and beyond

[00:03:59] Brian: so [00:04:00] first we got to make money and then we can worry about when we're stable How do we turn that into more of a passion focus? How do we find that blend between passion finances versus just focusing on passion the sign behind me? It takes more than passion. You just focus on passion.

[00:04:13] Brian: You don't make money You give up go get a day job. That's truly selling your soul So again, we got to get money first and then we can worry about how do we make more without selling our soul? Or how do we get more of our soul back? Once we've made money as a freelancer either way, it's a spectrum There's no black or white here.

[00:04:25] Brian: Let's talk about the Stable freelancing model ~i've talked to again ~if you listen to last week's episode talked to over 800 freelancers in the last year or so.

[00:04:32] Brian: And the contractor world was something I was not at all familiar with because my background is in music production, typically working with more hobbyists or musicians.~ and ~in no world ~am I like, ~have I ever thought about or consider even been offered a contractor role with a bigger company.

[00:04:45] Brian: So that's just something that was never on my radar. But after talking with hundreds and hundreds of freelancers, this is something that's So common, I'd say one in three freelancers that I talk to, if not more, are doing contracting currently or has~ has ~done contracting in the past. I end up having to explain to people over and over and over again on [00:05:00] conversations one on one, and this is why I'm doing this episode so I don't have to do this anymore.

[00:05:03] Brian: ~Is ~there is a better way than just contracting

[00:05:05] Brian: and there's a few kind of like~ like ~benchmarks or rules of thumb when it comes to freelancing that provides a better overall model to follow versus just picking up a big contract here, picking up a little contract here, getting a monthly contract there. Getting ~caught, ~brought on for this one project with a company or an agency over here the first one is ~the 10 percent rule, ~the 10 percent rule.

[00:05:20] Brian: The 10 percent rule is no one client, no one source of income as a freelancer should represent than 10 percent of income for the year. And it should not represent more than 10 percent of your time in a given year. ~Neither one of those. ~Not a single client should represent more than 10 percent of income or 10 percent of time.

[00:05:33] Brian: And the reason is, as freelancers, what helps us ~sleep at night is diversification. What happens to ~sleep at night is diversification of income. When you have a day job, you have a single source of income. ~if that client, ~if that day job fires you, you lose that single source of income. You go to zero overnight.

[00:05:44] Brian: Now that's relatively rare. If you're not performing correctly,~ If you're not performing correctly if you, ~they'll usually put you on a performance improvement plan of some sort, ~if they're a good leader. ~And then if you don't improve, maybe they'll let you go, there can be downsizing. Sometimes you have warnings there. generally less rare.

[00:05:56] Brian: Then as a contractor, ~it's generally less rare than if you're just a contractor and ~they can just cut the contract anytime with no consequences because there's usually [00:06:00] some legal protection to make sure that they're just not firing people for things that they shouldn't fire people for, right?

[00:06:04] Brian: But it's still one source of income. As a contractor, when you're working with one or just a few people a year, every one of those is a single source of income. And as soon as it cuts off, you're back down to zero. So why the rule of 10? ~because it is split relatively, ~if you have 10 different sources of income from 10 different clients or 10 different projects 10 different independent sources, by the way, it could be client giving you 10 different projects.

[00:06:21] Brian: It's actually just one source of income. So I mean, one specific client should never be more than 10 percent of your annual income, or you have what's called a well and whales will kill your business. So for stability, to be able to sleep well at night. We have 10 different sources of income at a minimum as a freelancer that if we lose a client, our income drops no more than 10 percent at the most.

[00:06:39] Brian: ~And when that's the case, ~and when that's the case, you're not as stressed. You're not trying to make sure that you keep that one client happy. You're not stressed when that one client decides not to re up the contract this year. I actually had a friend who ran an agency, by the way, an agency with multiple employees, 10, 15 employees.

[00:06:52] Brian: their biggest client, like 90 percent of the agency's income was from one big publicly traded company. On a contract basis and that reupped every [00:07:00] year and they built that agency and then as soon as COVID happened That contract and that agency essentially folded. They're still around to some extent, but I think it's just the two founders at this point.

[00:07:10] Brian: I don't know all the details there, but of their income came from one source of income. And when that income source ended because of the pandemic, they were left scrambling, They had to let a lot of people go. It was not a good time.

[00:07:20] Brian: So whether it's a. Massive worldwide event like a pandemic or just a local event like the person filed bankruptcy or the client just decided that this project's not worth pursuing anymore or they don't want to allocate budget to that or they're done here and they don't need you anymore, whatever the reason, when you lose that one source of income, that's more than 10 percent of your income, or maybe it's 100 percent of your income, you're back to zero and you are scrambling and you are stressed and now you're eating into your savings and now you're just going to take whatever comes your way.

[00:07:44] Brian: That's a horrible place to live. So that's the 10 percent rule. No client, no budget. Takes up more than 10 percent of your time and no client represents more than 10 percent of your income. And so that means if your goal is a hundred grand a year, every client should be 10 grand or less. Now obviously we don't want to go too low.

[00:07:57] Brian: We don't want to every client to be worth a hundred bucks because. That's just [00:08:00] a nightmare of admin and operations and project management. That's just awful. You become a drive through window at McDonald's at that point. But there's a sweet spot in that one to 10 K range for a client. And that obviously depends on how long it takes to fulfill.

[00:08:12] Brian: So that generally means you need to create some sort of productized service. In freelancing, there is the freelancer who just offers all things to all people. And those are the people who end up getting contract gigs because they have a diverse skill set. And the person who hires them can utilize them as a tool for their business instead of you using yourself as a tool for your business, because that client either has the project deal flow.

[00:08:32] Brian: A lot of agencies, by the way, we'll talk about this in a second. A lot of agencies have the deal flow, and so they can utilize you as a tool. But when you, create a product, I service that solves a specific problem or creates a specific outcome for a specific person. That's how you start to get those well defined projects that are in that one to 10, 000 range 15, 20 grand.

[00:08:50] Brian: ~If it's a, ~you can do at least 10 of them a year, you can do 15, 20 grand

[00:08:52] Brian: And you start to build out a diversified client base versus one source of income. So that's the first thing, the 10 percent rule. The second part of this model [00:09:00] is projects that are stackable, and that could be you stack them on top of each other, meaning you can do multiple projects at the same time.

[00:09:04] Brian: So this can be the case in certain niches where a project might be ongoing for like a month, but it doesn't take up your full time every day, right? There like photography might do a shoot one day or shoot one weekend and you edit throughout the week. And so you might stack multiple projects on top of each other at the same time.

[00:09:17] Brian: That's one way. The other side is when it does take up ~your full~ your full entire being for a short amount of time and you stack them one after another. That was my model back in the day. I was producing bands and we would do a single, an EP, an album, and that would just essentially get blocked off of my calendar one after another with a day or two buffer between.

[00:09:35] Brian: And that allowed me to book my calendar up three to six months in advance. So I could have predictability in my own income when I'm taking deposits and I have demand for my services and the projects are being placed on my calendar ahead of time. and those deposits are non refundable.

[00:09:48] Brian: Those projects won't just evaporate out of, nowhere. And if they do, I keep the deposit and I'll try to refill that date with someone else. And because I got the non refundable 40 to 50 percent deposit, I can even offer discounts. For last minute bookings to incentivize people [00:10:00] to fill up dates on my calendar that otherwise would have been a big fat zero

[00:10:02] Brian: Or at least zero more dollars on top of what I've already gotten with a deposit

[00:10:05] Brian: So that's the second part of this stable freelancing model. The first is the 10 percent rule. The second is they're stackable projects The third is you offer it at a flat rate. And this is something that trips up so many freelancers. ~They think that I was talking to somebody yesterday about this.~

[00:10:16] Brian: They hate flat rates because the project ended up going on forever and it eats at their, what their profit is. And that's the most common scenario. Why no one wants to offer flat rates. And that's why when you offer flat rates, You need guardrails in place. And the reason we want flat rates in the first place is because ~when you start, ~when you create a product, I service where like in my background, producing a song from start to finish, mixing a song from start to finish wedding photography is a product.

[00:10:37] Brian: I service show up to the wedding, take the photos. Process the photos, send it to the client, make them happy.

[00:10:42] Brian: full service branding as a designer. That's a productized service. Things where it's ~a clear deliverable. There's clear there's clear things where there's ~a clear deliverable. There's clear milestones. There's clear set things that you're going to do with every client, regardless of the project.

[00:10:51] Brian: When you offer a productized service like this, the more you do it. The more efficient you tend to become, you figure out better processes. You figure out things you can cut out that you don't need. You [00:11:00] figure out how to hire a team and bring them on. You just get naturally faster at doing things as you do it.

[00:11:04] Brian: If you put your 10, 000 hours in. And when you offer a flat day rate or an hourly rate and you get more efficient, Who benefits from that efficiency? Who benefits from the systems and the processes and the team making things run more smoothly, getting things done faster? When you charge a flat day rate or an hourly rate, the client is getting all that benefit.

[00:11:23] Brian: Whereas if you charge a flat rate and you're getting 10, 000 for a project and it's going to take you 100 hours to complete can make a hundred bucks an hour, right? What happens if you bring on somebody who can save you 15 hours and you don't have to pay them 15 bucks an hour. Now what happens if you've automated a certain things and you bring that down another five hours.

[00:11:41] Brian: Now you're at 80 hours.

[00:11:43] Brian: You're netting about 9, 700. You have to pay the contractor, the person who delegated that 15 an hour task to ~you're ~For 9700 bucks, your hourly pay just shot up to 121 bucks an hour and the more efficient you become, the more of a team you build around you,~ you, the more of ~the more you get to actually benefit from that save time, the more efficient you get and a flat rate project, [00:12:00] the more money you make as a freelancer, the more profit you make as a freelancer and the more your income will start to skyrocket.

[00:12:04] Brian: That's why I was able to get my income as a music producer producing metal bands in Nashville, Tennessee, country music capital of America. I was able to get my hourly income up to over 300 bucks an hour because of flat rates. That's why~ That's why a ~In a no universe, am I charging a client 300 bucks an hour on the clock?

[00:12:21] Brian: They would laugh me out of the door if I said it's going to be 300 bucks an hour.

[00:12:24] Brian: ~So those are the three big level. ~So those are the three big parts of a stable freelancing model. 10 percent rule. If all your clients are percent or less of your income in time. You can stack the projects on top of each other either vertically or horizontally and you can offer them at a flat rate where you can start to become more efficient and you get the benefit from the upside of that.

[00:12:40] Brian: Now you have a very stable model. Which leads me to the point of why don't all freelancers do this? ~Why do freelancers just take contractor gigs or have to ultimately give up and get day jobs is because what I'm actually take that again ~Why do freelancers take contract gigs? It's because when a big company wants talent and they don't want to hire a full time employee because of the payroll taxes that incurs the Benefits they have to pay out insurance All sorts of like, things they have to go through.

[00:12:57] Brian: They don't want to deal with that. When they can just bring a [00:13:00] contractor on, they can just save all of that time, all of that money, all of that,~ that ~potential legal trouble they could get into if they know going to have to let somebody go in just a few months for this temporary project.

[00:13:08] Brian: Sometimes, the client will pay a premium, but not always.

[00:13:11] Brian: And it can be really tempting to say well, for the next three months I can get five grand a month, that's less than I want to make, but it's some stable income, I know it's going to suck up all my time, effort, energy, and money. Probably not. You probably don't know that you think you can actually still work on the side as a freelancer, but you don't realize they're going to be very demanding of your time because they're paying you a flat rate is essentially a five grand a month salary, and you're going to do a whole lot of work for your boss, you're going to have no benefits, no pay time off and they can cut the cord at any point with no repercussions, That's the first reason people fall into this is because they just get lulled into, ah, I need the money. Right? On the flip side, there's agencies. A lot of agencies want to sub out work, and this is the most common thing I see with freelancers. They want to sub out work to talent, So if I'm big agency owner, I've got a team of 30 people. We've got more products than we can handle, or there's some specialty or thing that we don't really handle well, and I still want to say yes to the client, then I'll go out. I'll find a freelancer. I'll hire them on a contract basis. And also [00:14:00] about to the work, paying them about 15 to 30 percent of what I'm getting paid for that project.

[00:14:05] Brian: So if I'm making 10 grand for the project, you lowly freelancer, you're going to get 1500 to three grand to do this for me. And the remaining balance is for my operation expenses as an agency to pay the rest of my team, to pay my salary as the founder owner, and then ultimately for profit leftover at the end of the month or year or quarter, whatever you do as a business owner.

[00:14:24] Brian: And this is the crux of everything for the agency. They have the deal flow. They have more work than they can handle. They're the ones getting the projects in the door. They're the ones getting their own clients. lowly freelancer out there who doesn't understand how to bring in clients, doesn't understand deal flow, doesn't understand client acquisition.

[00:14:39] Brian: They get the little ping, the little ring in the door, the little, ping in their inbox, the texts, the phone call from the agency owner offering short term, a long term, a midterm project. On a contract basis. Real hard to say no to that. I don't want to say no to money. And then three months later, the project's dried up.

[00:14:53] Brian: You haven't done anything for client acquisition. hoping and praying that one of those pings is another agency or another contract. And that's why this is for [00:15:00] suckers.

[00:15:00] Brian: The only way to get out of this trap ~is ~And to not be a sucker ~a ~is to a follow some semblance of that stable freelance model that talked about a second ago. 10 percent rule stackable projects, flat rate pricing, ~some amount of that ~have some sort of thing like that while also having your own deal flow.

[00:15:14] Brian: So how do you get your own deal flow? I want to talk about this because I don't want to just. Leave you high and dry here. I will say, well, next week we're going to start the client acquisition series again. If you missed it last time, it's going to be super helpful for you. ~If you missed it, ~If you happen to catch it last time, well this time listen again because you need to be reminded about things more than you need to be taught about things. So a lot of things you already know, but you just don't do, or you forgot about, or you heard one time, started implementing it and fell off.

[00:15:34] Brian: Who knows? There's a million things. Go through it again.

[00:15:36] Brian: But the big thing that I want to talk about right now is. When it comes to getting your own deal flow as a freelancer, you have to understand where you belong as a freelancer. Where do you belong in the universe? This is something that many people I talk to have no idea how they fit in.

[00:15:48] Brian: And so I want to talk about B2B freelancers first. B2B freelancing is business to business. As a freelancer, you are a business, whether you like it or not. And freelancers who work with other businesses tend to make more money.

[00:15:57] Brian: And the reason they tend to make more money is because In [00:16:00] freelancing, the closer your services to the money, the more you will get paid.

[00:16:03] Brian: If you're a copywriter who can write great compelling ads for social media, advertising, Tik TOK Instagram, Facebook, you're able to write compelling ads that get conversions, get customers for your clients.

[00:16:14] Brian: Maybe you work with e commerce, maybe you work in software SaaS, something like that. If you're able to write great copy that directly attributes to money, you'll never have to worry about money again as a copywriter. I can promise you that. But what happens is you take your skillset and you apply it to something that's just so far from money.

[00:16:28] Brian: you just don't get much of it. that same copywriter might be just doing blogs instead blogs while great are not as directly attributable to income, Because blogs are for nurturing, for building trust, sometimes for SEO. And sometimes that SEO can be attributed back to money, but usually SEO content is different from blogging. trust building content. And so you're just going to get paid less if you're just creating fun content for a brand or educational content for a brand.

[00:16:55] Brian: It's not as valuable as a skill set as writing ads that directly bring in revenue. That's what I mean when [00:17:00] I'm saying the closer you are to the money, the more you will get paid. when we're talking B2B, business to business, it can be a little easier to find things that are closer to the money.

[00:17:07] Brian: However, just about every damn freelancer I talk to doesn't understand where they fit in the freelance world.

[00:17:12] Brian: And here's what I mean. If you are working with businesses that are under a million dollars a year, they're generally broke. And if they're not broke, they're at least just not investing heavily into the thing that you offer. In most cases, there are some rare exceptions, but in most cases, they're just not heavily investing into whatever service that you offer.

[00:17:27] Brian: If they're over 20 to 25 million,

[00:17:29] Brian: for lack of a better term, they're out of your league. Over 20 to 25 million dollars a year the person who's making the decision is not the founder, it's not the CEO, it's not a partner in the business. It's almost always going to be some sort of department head. It might be the head of marketing, it might be a creative director, it might be whoever.

[00:17:45] Brian: And when it's a non founder decision maker choosing where they're going to work with, they want what's called a safe bet. And you know why? It's because they value their jobs. They don't want to get fired. They want to make their boss happy. They don't have a high threshold for risk or else they would have their own business, And because of that, they're going to [00:18:00] hire safe, nice agencies that are well established. And they're going to pay a premium for it because they have the money to. Because when they hire a big, safe, fancy agency who's worked with 30 other people just like you in their field and charged three times to four times more than any freelancer would.

[00:18:13] Brian: Mr. CEO man says, great job. I know they'll do a good job. I feel good about this choice. Pat him on the head, but they're not going to hire you, Mr. Freelancer, Ms. Freelancer, solopreneur~ you're, you don't have ~freelancers just don't have a good track record of being reliable. Being on time, even if they're overall cheaper than the agency, but there's other things besides this.

[00:18:30] Brian: There's other reasons besides. Safety that a larger company would go with an agency versus a freelancer. One of those being really complex procurement processes.

[00:18:38] Brian: ~Now, if you don't know what, ~now, if you don't know what that means, that's likely why you're not going to get these gigs. But when bigger companies are working with agencies or even maybe a freelancer or even contractors, there can be some legal things that you need to look into. There might be some compliance things that they have to go through before they're actually going to decide.

[00:18:53] Brian: also there's gonna be multiple decision makers as well. So when you're trying to navigate a really complex procurement process for a [00:19:00] contractor or a vendor or whatever, most freelancers don't know how to navigate that world. There's also longer sales cycles. Bigger companies, slower sales cycles.

[00:19:07] Brian: That means that if you don't understand how to navigate an enterprise sales process and how long those can take and how many decision makers you need to talk to, and you don't have the skillset knowledge or patience to navigate that entire thing, you're not going to get the gig.

[00:19:20] Brian: Because bigger companies make slower decisions.

[00:19:22] Brian: It can also be really difficult with payment terms because larger companies typically want to do like a net 30, net 60, net 90 payment terms where you get paid way later and that can crush you cash flow wise as a solo freelancer. Even agencies can struggle with cash flow. ~Meaning you're getting paid your ~meaning you're paying out talent or performing work now that you're not getting paid for for 30 60 90 days from now and most people do not have the war chest aka the funds the dry powder sitting aside to live off of ~in order to do You know, three, three, ~in order to do one to three months of work or to wait one to three months to get paid.

[00:19:50] Brian: And then lastly, when it comes to these larger businesses, the reason you're not going to get these gigs is because they just have higher expectations that you cannot fulfill on.

[00:19:56] Brian: ~Solo freelancers just don't have the resources or requirement. ~Solo freelancers just don't have the resources or any of the infrastructure [00:20:00] required to fulfill on the level of work that larger companies need, So when you put all these things together. Under 1 million broke over 20, 25 million, sometimes 10 to 15 in some niches or industries, depending on how complex it is.

[00:20:12] Brian: These companies are out of your league. So what's our sweet spot? It's between one and 20, 25 million a year as far as B2B goes. And if you think that you're going to work with Gucci as a solo freelancer, the Gucci is going to directly hire you. You are solely mistaken. We see this all the time. Who's your ideal client?

[00:20:27] Brian: Luxury fashion brands like Gucci, Armani. I don't know. Armani is still luxury. I don't know. but you see what I'm saying. And many freelancers have those sorts of brands on their portfolio, not because they've worked with them before, but because they were subbed out under the agency, getting paid pennies on every dollar for what the agency is getting paid.

[00:20:44] Brian: AKA they were suckered into contract work. It looks good on the portfolio. It looks great to have those associations as a brand. I'm not going to say don't do that occasionally for trying to build your portfolio up, but all I am saying is you're not building a stable, long term repeatable business that'll let you sleep at night if you do this.

[00:20:58] Brian: So that's where freelancers [00:21:00] live in the B2B world, one to 20 million a year businesses.

[00:21:03] Brian: Now let's talk about B2C. That's business to consumer. if your client is not a for profit business or even nonprofit, if it's not a business. You're probably working in business to consumer or business to customer, whatever you want to call it, ~Cut that out. ~When you're working with consumers, it's a whole different ballgame. That's what my background was. I was, technically, B2B because bands, musicians are for profit businesses, but They're not really. They are mostly aspirational.

[00:21:27] Brian: They're mostly passion led. They're mostly going towards some pursuit that they're trying to get either for status or for fame sometimes for money, but usually for status, fame or self actualization. But there's a quote that I'll bring up here that ruffles some feathers. It is. I think it was Alex Mosey who said this solve rich people problems.

[00:21:44] Brian: They pay better

[00:21:45] Brian: solve rich people problems. They pay better. That is true in B2B. That is also true in B2C. when you're working with general population, when you're working with families, when you're working with, broke musicians,

[00:21:55] Brian: this still rings true, broke clients. We'll always be broke. Rich clients will always [00:22:00] have money and you can get your Jimmy's wrestled by this, but it's also the way the world works. So if that's the truth, what does that mean to us as freelancers? it means this sometimes your skillset is more valuable.

[00:22:11] Brian: To certain populations than they are to others. Now, this is financially ideal if you can solve rich people problems, but it's not a hundred percent required because my background again, was not working with rich people, But I still want to talk through this. So

[00:22:22] Brian: just because people have disposable income, the exact service you offer is going to be more valuable to them. Then it won't be valuable to somebody with no disposable income.

[00:22:30] Brian: ~So ~if there's a rich family with kids versus a poor family with kids, My family growing up was poor. My family would never ever spend 1, 2, 000 or more dollars on a family photo session. Never in a million years. It's not that my parents didn't value their children, it's that they just didn't have the finances.

[00:22:47] Brian: To invest into things like that things that are nice to have not need to have nice to have~ to have nice ~what my family did do Was spend 20 50 bucks on like a walmart photography family photo session, You know those everyone has these on their [00:23:00] wall or like some scan of it now They're just like these really cheesy photos with your family.

[00:23:05] Brian: Those were like 20 to 50 bucks Maybe 100 bucks at most and that's what ~I did ~Broke families had to do to get family photos back in the day, especially

[00:23:11] Brian: now when you compare that to Anna Mae Tonkin, who's been on the podcast before she does family photo and she's working with more affluent families and she's charging them, a thousand plus a year for her yearbook club. I don't know what her single solo sessions are for family photography, but she charges, I think it's a hundred and something a month for the yearbook club as she called it.

[00:23:28] Brian: Go back and listen to that episode.

[00:23:29] Brian: Go all the way back to episode 223, where she talks about shifting her clients from one time. Projects to monthly recurring subscription. Fascinating episode. But the point remains like she works with more affluent families. Because they had the funds to invest their kids, they have disposable income so that when a photographer comes their way They're more willing to invest into their children photos like family photos and things

[00:23:51] Brian: now the problem comes if you have like a bleeding heart for People that are in in need or something, right? and you want to do stuff because like maybe that's where your passion is or that's where you want to focus [00:24:00] or you like Working with broke musicians or whatever like I did in those cases

[00:24:04] Brian: You have to make the decision. Can you make a profitable business work? you make it work or not? If you can, then by all means, go for it. That's what I did. If you can't, you have to just suck it up and work with clients who can pay you. And then you can volunteer your time to help those in need. On your spare time, but you have to realize that business and charity are two separate things, You got to make money. You got to survive first. You got to make sure you are not broke and that your family is not broke. And then you can invest your time into things that you really care about helping those who maybe don't have the means to do so. if that's something you're really passionate about.

[00:24:33] Brian: But now let's talk about one more thing here. That's really important here, especially if you're working the B2C world and that is finding out where your service lives in the spectrum. ~It's not a gradient or ~it's not a black and white It's a spectrum of nice to have versus need to have.

[00:24:46] Brian: Some people you're offering services that are just super need to have, and it'll be much easier for you to get clients because they have to have that service, right? Flip it all the way over to the other side. There's people that are offering just super ~need are ~nice to have things, it'd be nice to have that, but I don't need it.

[00:24:58] Brian: It's gonna be much harder to sell [00:25:00] that, especially in times where finances are struggle in downturn markets, like the great recession.

[00:25:05] Brian: I want to get some examples here to know kind of where you fit, because you could take your same skillset and just move it from a nice to have to a need to have, and all of a sudden Now your same skillsets worth more. You could also take your skillset out of this B2C world into the B2B world Make sure it fits closer to earning money and all of a sudden see your income skyrocket.

[00:25:22] Brian: So I'll give you some examples here. So ~couple photos, ~couple's photos. My wife and I, we did a couple's photo shoot recently. Wonderful photographer from Nashville came over to our home. She took some amazing photos of us. I have not posted them on socials because I'm a horrible husband. Now that I'm thinking about it, I need to go do it.

[00:25:34] Brian: But we did it. It was nice to have. They're beautiful. They're on our photo frame now. Our little aura photo frame that kind of rotates through some more photos from travels and life and friends and family or whatever. And that's about all it'll do. ~And. ~It wasn't particularly expensive. I think she charges like 200 bucks.

[00:25:47] Brian: That was it. No upsells, no repeat, ~no, ~no referral ask. ~She, ~if she's listening to the show, which I know she's not hit me up and I will help you make more money guaranteed. There's so many things that you're not doing that you could be doing. You should be doing, that is a nice to have [00:26:00] service.

[00:26:00] Brian: Definitely don't need it. We have disposable income. Nice to have. We invested into that. Wonderful. She did a great job, by the way. Loved working with her. She's just not running her business well. Now you can take the same photo skill and put it into a wedding. And now all of a sudden wedding photos are much closer to that need to have on the spectrum.

[00:26:14] Brian: No one wants to have a wedding day with no photos. Now you could just go with iPhone photos. I've seen weddings that just everyone has a place they dump their iPhone photos from the wedding. Everyone's the phones out, whatever. That's the exception to the rule. Most people want professional, great looking photos for what will be the biggest day of their life, at least for your first wedding.

[00:26:31] Brian: I know people that are on their second or third marriages now. gets to be a less a bigger deal every time believe. But I've only had one wedding and it was a massive, awesome event. Biggest event in my life loved it had a great photographer there. We paid her a lot more money thousands of dollars it wasn't 20 times more work than the couple's photos.

[00:26:46] Brian: I can promise you that it wasn't 10 20 times more work It was maybe two to three times more work But she got paid a lot more and that's because she's closer to that spectrum of need to have now. Let's talk about Zoom out one more what if you're taking that same photography skill and moved it up to b2b [00:27:00] world we know people that are doing product photography where you are taking great photos of products and those photos make things more appealing It's either restaurant photos making food look amazing So people come out to your restaurant and buy more food or product photography for e commerce to make the products look more cool or look More action packed or look more chill or cozy or whatever the vibe is and because those photos represent the products better They sell more products AKA your service is closer to the money.

[00:27:23] Brian: You're not far from money. You're close to the money. Those sorts of photographers tend to make more money, well over six figures a year.

[00:27:29] Brian: And then when you look back to my career as a music producer, where does that slide on the spectrum? Nice to have versus need to have actually music production was pretty high on the need to have spectrum. If you are a musician and you have any aspirations to be serious in your career. As a career oriented musician, which most people I worked with were serious about their careers.

[00:27:46] Brian: Then you have to have ~musically ~music that's professionally produced. It sounds great, You have to have it. So that's very high on the spectrum for need to have. So even though I'm working with relatively broke musicians, like I remember working with a band, all the people in the band worked at Taco Bell for minimum wage.

[00:27:59] Brian: They could [00:28:00] still afford my services because between the five of them, they could save up enough money that once a year they could come into the studio. They could record an EP or an album. They could pay me. I don't know how much I was charging at the time, but maybe. 10 grand for an album, something like that.

[00:28:11] Brian: That means that each member

[00:28:13] Brian: needs to save about 166 bucks a month to do that. If they were doing an album every year. Now they probably weren't, they're probably doing like an EP, but the point remains, even at the brokest, they could still afford me because they were serious about it because they needed it. And they wanted my specific sound.

[00:28:25] Brian: And if you're obviously a signed band or sign artists, which I work with many of those as well, many who are still crushing it to this day, those people have to have album done. They literally have a budget from the label that they have to spend. So that's very high on the need to have list. ~So if you hear yourself, so if you, ~so if you're listening to this episode and you feel yourself dawning on you that.

[00:28:41] Brian: You are way out of the pocket of where you should be as a freelancer. Maybe if you're in B2B, maybe you are trying to target people who are outside of that one to 20 million a year range. Maybe you don't have a product high service. Maybe you don't have flat rate pricing. Maybe you don't have, the 10 percent rule followed where one client's not worth any more than 10 percent of your time or money.

[00:28:57] Brian: You don't have projects that are stackable. And maybe even [00:29:00] you're not as close to the money as you should be as far as the services you could offer ~or if you're B2C~

[00:29:03] Brian: or if you're B2C, you're starting to dawn on you why your clients are all beating you down on price because you're nice to have, not need to have, or you're working with broke clients instead of rich clients, as Alex says, solve rich people problems. They pay more. If that's starting to dawn on you that you've made this mistake, then I encourage you to do two things.

[00:29:18] Brian: Right now I am. In Europe, on my mom's retirement trip, I've talked about this a few times,

[00:29:22] Brian: she's finally retiring after decades of service for the city of Decatur, Alabama, as the secretary for the mayor of Decatur. Wonderful woman, wonderful lady. We are on our trip right now. If all things went well, according to plan, hopefully, crossing fingers that that is actually the case, then that means, while I'm traveling, we're putting the client acquisition series up.

[00:29:37] Brian: And I want you to go listen to that. It'll go up at least one a week. We might do two a week for this. but go through that.

[00:29:43] Brian: In the meantime, if you feel like you need help figuring these things out, You're relying on contracts as a contractor. You've been suckered into it. You know, You need to get out and diversify your income streams to multiple clients. ~where you're really fit. I don't know what the fuck my camera just did.~

[00:29:53] Brian: ~You don't know really where you fit. You don't know ~You don't know really where you fit in the overall market. As far as your product, I service, you don't know how to~ I ~price it, package it. You don't know how to [00:30:00] generate leads or get clients, get your own deal flow. These are things that we can help with.

[00:30:03] Brian: We can help you one on one. We can create a full marketing plan. We will pitch it to you. If you approve it, we'll work together. If you reject it, we part ways as friends and we will help you implement every single thing on that we create for you. That sounds at all appealing to have some one on one help from people who have.

[00:30:18] Brian: Done way more than you have. I can promise you, I don't say that out of,~ out of ~ego. I say that out of truth, me and my team have done this a lot. Go to six figure creative. com slash coaching, fill out the short application and we will let you know if it's a good fit or not. Otherwise keep checking along.

[00:30:32] Brian: We've got more than enough content here to help you out. We will be here when you need us. And I will hopefully be enjoying my time away. Hit me up on Instagram. Shoot me a DM. If you have any questions or if you just want to chat, travel, I'll talk to you. The link will be in the show notes at six figure creative.

[00:30:45] Brian: com slash three one six for this episode all links that I mentioned this episode, including past episodes I mentioned, et cetera, et cetera. So that's it for this episode of the six figure creative podcast. I will see you after my trip.

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