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How To Attract (And Close) High-Budget Clients | With Jay Clouse

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Freelancers are always looking for ways to make more money and grow their businesses. To make that happen, you have 3 main methods…

Method #1: Raise your rates. 

Method #2: Find more leads.

Method #3: Close more clients. 

In this week’s interview, Jay Clouse shares his methods for attracting and closing high-budget clients.

Jay’s background in the tech startup world brings us a fresh perspective for positioning and sales as a freelancer. 

Watch now to learn how Jay Clouse attracts and closes high-budget clients. 

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • What the three most common business models for freelancers are
  • How you can harness each different business model to grow your business
  • Why it’s important to choose the right model
  • How to flip the sales process and close more deals
  • Why working as a contractor is great – sometimes
  • How to have consistency in your business
  • How to close deals without being pushy
  • Why you need to get on the phone
  • When money is no object
  • How having too many clients hurts your business

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“If you truly, truly need this project to land for you to pay your bills it’s hard to enter with the confidence and certainty that you need. The client senses it.” – Jay Clouse


“Not all communication is sales, but all sales is communication.” – Chris Graham

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[00:00:00] Brian: Welcome back to another episode of the six figure creative podcast. I am your host Brian Hood, and I'm here with my big bald beautiful purple shirt. It refuses to wear a large, even though he's a large guy, he's still in a medium shirt, six foot, one, 200 pounds. My man, Christopher J. Graham. How you doing today? 

[00:00:15] My 

[00:00:16] Chris: I just love getting introed, man. I'm doing great now. 

[00:00:19] Brian: always a surprise. I just make it up. I don't know what I'm gonna say 

[00:00:21] Chris: It's it feels good. 

[00:00:23] Brian: Yeah, yeah, 

[00:00:24] Chris: good. 

[00:00:25] Brian: yeah. So, 

[00:00:25] Chris: How are you? 

[00:00:26] Brian: oh, I'm doing good, man. Dude, I uh, I'm enjoying my new background that I have in my place. If, if anyone is now watching the video podcast, cause we used to just only be audio. 

[00:00:34] So anyone who's listening to the audio should go. Let's watch our video podcasts on YouTube. I like took some time to make the room a little better and make the virus a little better. And I'd like to know what you think, Chris, what do you think? It's, it's a little better vibes or it's too much. Is it too extra? 

[00:00:46] Chris: It's a little extra. And, and we've talked about this a little bit. I, I think you need better. 

[00:00:52] Brian: Yeah. You're I agree with that. I, my lighting kind of sucks, but it's what you get when you get like a relatively cheap led kit. But you know what? 

[00:00:59] Jay: Yeah, 

[00:00:59] Brian: I like it. I like it better than I had before. Oh, there's a stranger in the, in the, in the 

[00:01:04] Chris: what was that noise 

[00:01:05] Brian: Yeah. Who was that? 

[00:01:06] Chris: I hear a podcast guest sitting next to me in my very own office. Amazing. 

[00:01:11] Jay: I got to say Brian, now that I'm sitting here next to Chris you call him big bald. Beautiful. He's not big he's 

[00:01:16] Chris: regulation, size regulation 

[00:01:18] Brian: you're like you're six, two or 

[00:01:20] Chris: You know what it is? 

[00:01:21] Um, regulation, Ohio size, Ohio makes them 

[00:01:23] Jay: bigger. That's true. 

[00:01:25] Brian: Jay. How tall are you? 

[00:01:26] Jay: I'm five, 10 

[00:01:27] Brian: Okay. Yeah. So you five, 10 is a good size, like a good tall dude. But next to Chris, you're just like, I'm sure. That's why he call you big Chris. Not cause you're I don't call you fat. You're not 

[00:01:36] Chris: tall. You mean you don't mean? Okay. I wasn't totally clear on that this whole time. 

[00:01:40] Brian: I've been saying that for three years. 

[00:01:43] Chris: it's like, okay. I guess. 

[00:01:45] Brian: All right. Let's let's, let's reign this in. So today's guest is Jay Clouse. He has a podcast called creative elements, which is also one of the cooler podcasts arts that I've seen, which is like, he's got the elements table behind him. Go listen to the podcast. It's, it's a good supplement to the six-figure creative podcasts. 

[00:02:00] And he is also the founder of something called the freelancing school. Is that, is that right? 

[00:02:06] Chris: That is correct. 

[00:02:07] Brian: Can I, can I mention something real quick? You can buy freelancer school.school for 400 bucks right now. I, I went to that site by the way, and it was available for 400 bucks. So you might want to yeah, yeah, 

[00:02:17] Jay: 400 bucks 

[00:02:18] Brian: 400 bucks right now, just so you know, 

[00:02:20] Jay: maybe, Hey, maybe I'll do that. I love.school domains. Now I got to do it before this air is, or it's going to be 

[00:02:24] Chris: gone. Let's take a hard left turn here. I have to tell you guys the story of how Jay and I met approximately 15 minutes ago. so Jay and I have a bunch of mutual friends for some reason, Columbus, Ohio is. 

[00:02:36] A dope place to be a creative businessy person. So yes, you're here. You know, Ben Hartley, I don't know Ben Hartley. He does the six figure photography podcast and is crushing he's at 30 minutes up the road, you know, Andy J pizza. I know Andy J pizza. His office is upstairs. 

[00:02:51] Jay: Uh, Josh hall is also in Columbus. 

[00:02:53] He does a web design podcast 

[00:02:56] Chris: and big one. Should he? Maybe he should be our guest. He should be our guests. Anyways, let me talk about, talk to you guys about what was so ridiculous. So I got the studio all set up and I got a brand new flavor of the Croix and I put them out one for me, one for Jay it's lemon cello today. 

[00:03:16] And Jay walked in with a freaking Yeti cozy. And inside of that, Yeti cozy was a can of a lemon cello licorice, complete insanity 

[00:03:27] Jay: because 

[00:03:28] Brian: which I'm going to go ahead and say, I hate that. I hate that you guys both had it. Cause it's literally the worst flavor that exists only as a close second to the worst other second worst flavor, which is Keyline, which you guys both love. I think 

[00:03:39] Chris: I haven't had key lime, but lemon cello. I'm going to say, I mean, Palm firmness is always gonna be number one for me, but Ooh, controversial opinion 

[00:03:49] Jay: into it. Not not into grapefruit, generally. Grapefruit to me is like, it's the worst of the fruits. It's not even fruity. It's very bitter. It's 

[00:03:56] Chris: not fruity. It is a fact. 

[00:03:57] It is off on its own as like it's sort of in the orange family, but it has like a, you know, grapefruit actually, if you drink grapefruit juice, there are certain prescription medications that react really bad with it. I think that 

[00:04:13] Jay: should be a 

[00:04:14] Chris: sign. I agree. 

[00:04:17] Brian: we need that. Now you have the little star that goes across the screen. That's like the more, you know, 

[00:04:22] Chris: Maybe we should all start a band called the grapefruit conspiracy. Ooh. 

[00:04:26] Brian: can start a podcast that talks about business instead of the recording. What do you think about that, 

[00:04:30] Chris: That's true. 

[00:04:31] Brian: dude, let's do that. All right. the best transition in the world or the best segue in the world back to business. This is, this is Brett. So here's the thing about Chris and, and Mr. Jay clouds here is they're like Chris J Klaus is simply a calmer version of Chris Graham. 

[00:04:45] And so I have to usually reign in 

[00:04:47] Chris: Probably smarter too small 

[00:04:50] Jay: haired and ugly. 

[00:04:51] Brian: now I have to, I have two people I have to reign in for this episode. This will get to be a fun one today. So, so Jay runs something called freelancing school, and I actually I found you via Google. Surprisingly, I was looking up like starting a freelance business, just like looking up some topics on that. 

[00:05:04] And you rank number one on Google for the term, how to start a freelance business, which is really cool. 

[00:05:08] Chris: And how many miles away from here? Do you live? A 10 support? What are you doing here? What am I doing here? This is weird. I love it. It's crazy. 

[00:05:15] Jay: Columbus is a great place for Korean people. Like, is it sure 

[00:05:18] Chris: is man. 

[00:05:19] Brian: addition, Chris, thank you for pulling me back off topic. So back on topic here, valuable edition, 10 miles away. Today we brought Jay on to talk about a subject that I think is a little scary for a lot of freelancers. And one that I think is something Jay is great at based on his experience. 

[00:05:36] He's his clients include Atlassian, LinkedIn smart, passive income. For any of you PatFlynn fans, lynda.com, which is now I think LinkedIn learning and Ohio state university, or you said the Ohio state university. You scolded me for not putting the word there in there. 

[00:05:51] Chris: you, 

[00:05:52] Brian: Yes, you literally, you, you S you like sh you shamed me. 

[00:05:56] You put the, you rang the shame bell from game of Thrones 

[00:05:58] Chris: in Ohio. You're not allowed to call it Ohio state university. You have to call it the Ohio state university, which is actually a dig at my Alma mater Ohio university, which is not great branding on Ohio's part. Like the two biggest colleges are the Ohio state university and Ohio university. 

[00:06:16] Brian: J before, before we started this interview today you talked about something before we even talk about the sales conversation, and that is three, the three types of ways to make money as a freelancer. And this is I think, a great launching point for the discussion of sales before we even get into sales. 

[00:06:29] And yeah. 

[00:06:30] Jay: Yeah, totally. I see it as three paths, which don't need to be mutually the exclusive strategies. I think, especially for getting started, you can pursue all three of these or a mix of all three of these, the first one being direct to client sales, where you talk with a client, you sell the project, you scope out the entire thing. 

[00:06:47] You'd handle all the details you interface with them directly. And you know, your response before delivering the final product, that's kind of the bread and butter. What freelancing was born to be, then you have sub contracting where you work with another agency or entity. They sell the projects to the clients you're brought into implement, execute, deliver part of that project scope on their behalf. 

[00:07:09] The clear downsides of that. Sometimes you don't get to interface the client directly at all. If you do, you're usually underneath the brand of that agency or entity and you have to represent them. You don't own that relationship. You also have pretty much no control over when projects come in. So it's really hard to count on those sub contracting type relationships, but when they happen, it's great because you don't do any selling. 

[00:07:36] It comes to you, you fulfill your obligations and sometimes if you don't want to interact with clients directly, it can be really nice. 

[00:07:43] Brian: Can you give us an example of a relationship that might be like a common area that, that freelancers might work with agencies? Cause I know in the, in the recording world, you don't really see that, which is my background in, in an audio production music production. You don't really have agencies in that world. 

[00:07:58] So everyone is pretty much either on a direct to client or they're on a marketplace. 

[00:08:03] Jay: Yeah. What I see most often is I'll see creative agencies that are selling like branding. Let's just call it a branding. They may bring in a separate partner or another agency to build a website. They might bring in somebody else to do the copy for the website. They might bring in a photographer, do lifestyle photography, any one of those component parts, which could be a large project scope entirely. 

[00:08:26] They might bring in a freelancer or a, an outside agency to fulfill part of that. I don't know if I've seen in the audio world. It seems like it could be that an agency sells like a video project and they might bring in an outside audio engineer 

[00:08:41] Chris: to help with that. But funny story on that, that is actually how we know each other. 

[00:08:46] Brian skill. One of my favorite people in the world, great mutual friend of ours, was my mix engineer. And so my story is I started this mastering company. I grew up really big and like five times a day, somebody would be like, do you offer mixing too? And I said, no, like hundreds of times. And then finally was like, I'm just. 

[00:09:04] Bringing a mix engineer and we'll profit share. And I met Brian down the street and heard his work and was like, oh my gosh, you're amazing. Brought him in. And it was awesome until he learned too much about business and had to quit because he was so successful, which makes me so ridiculously proud of him. 

[00:09:23] It's amazing. He's crushing it 

[00:09:25] Brian: it's a bittersweet feeling when someone under your wing leaves you because they've become too successful. That happened to my last assistant. Yeah. 

[00:09:30] Chris: oh, you learned? And he did the things. So I'm like, gosh. Yeah, really, really cool. But Brian is so funny. Like I reached out to Brian cause we, I think Brian had mentioned you to us maybe a few times. And somehow it came up and I texted Brian and I was like, Hey, would you let know Jane? I was going to reach out. 

[00:09:47] And he's like, well, I've been telling Jay about you for three years. I think he's so, yeah, while it's wild to have that connection, that plugs perfectly into the stories. In our industry, occasionally you will have what are called white label projects where it's basically you, especially for mixing and mastering, not so much for producers or anything like that, but a company that has a lot of leads says, Hey, we do this project for us, but we don't want to credit you. 

[00:10:11] Go for it. And I did credit Brian on every project we ever did, but it, Brian wasn't like, we didn't advertise his name or anything. It was like, Hey, if you're looking for mastering and you don't like your mix, maybe you should get it mixed first. And then I'll send you to Brian and Brian walk you through that process. 

[00:10:25] And it was awesome, but I think it was awesome for Brian too, is he didn't have to worry about trying to find projects. He just, he had a every single month we had a ridiculous amount of consistency over, I think, like three years. And it was cool. Cause it just grew and he grew and he just became like this incredible sales guy, just so good. 

[00:10:46] I. He would reach out to these potential clients and have a conversation with them. And what made him such a good sales guy. He's just so easy to like he's so upfront. He's so clear. He's so and he listens and he listens, 

[00:10:59] Jay: which is really important. Yeah. in the sub contracting world, you know, a lot of people will hear this and be like, why don't I just do that? 

[00:11:06] I can just sell an agency on a relationship as opposed to a client and I can work with them over and over and over again. And yes, potentially. Definitely. Yes. And that can be great, especially if it is augmenting the projects you're selling yourself, because like I said, it could just drop you off and you're like, wow, this is, this is great. 

[00:11:23] I have a new project next month and I don't have to worry about where money's coming from. The challenge is. People like to work with the people they like to work. Right? So like you and Brian, once you built that relationship, you're like, Brian's my guy for mixing. If some other mixing engineer came to you and said, Hey, I want to work with you. 

[00:11:38] Would you mind keeping me in mind for time attracting deals? You're always going to go to 

[00:11:42] Chris: Brian first that happened all the time. And that was part of the weird thing with our, our podcast is we, I tell this story, parts of this story, not as much as I just shared and people would reach out to me all the time and ask about being a mix engineer for me. 

[00:11:56] And I knew Brian before the podcast took off and much to Brian's credit. There was a lot of competition for his job. I never for a moment considered like handing it to somebody else. He was just so consistent and so good at sales. And a lot of this when we can kind of get into this more. But we had an awesome system that made it easy for us to work together. 

[00:12:19] Yeah. And when I say awesome system, I mean like actual apps that I made to make that interfacing really easy. All the files showed up in predictable ways labeled you know, he had a whole invoicing system where he, he never had to do math to invoice me. We had everything calculated and it was awesome. 

[00:12:36] But the fact that we were able to work together was really due to the system. It made it so much easier to interface. And just to put him in a spot where he had nothing to worry about, about except mixing and selling 

[00:12:47] Jay: and that system, whether it's custom built apps or things like that, or workflows like that exists in all those relationships too. 

[00:12:54] Even if it's like pretty informal where it's just, we have a shared vocabulary and we have a shared understanding and this person is just professional. So when I plugged them into PR into a project, I don't actually have to tell them anything other than like, Hey, show up here on this date. And they show up, like, that saves so much time. 

[00:13:09] It's so valuable to spend. So, if you are thinking about going the subcontracting route, it's really a relationship based game. It's probably a numbers game to start. You got to try to meet a lot of people and form those relationships. When you get a chance, you have to just crush it. Be somebody that they're like, wow, it was so easy working with that person. 

[00:13:26] It was like magic working with that person. And I think in the beginning it really comes down to how do you make yourself stand out as the perfect answer for this one situation? You know, if, if Brian would have come to you and said, I'm a mixing engineer, but I work specifically with indie bands that use banjo, you know, you might say, okay, well, that's never going to come up, but if you did work with any band who uses banjo, you're going to remember that. 

[00:13:50] You're going to say that I know the perfect person was 

[00:13:52] Chris: his niche, except that they had to have the word hae or hoe in the bridge of the song. And if, if that was part of it, then Brian would work with them on 

[00:14:02] Brian: You just described an entire decade of music. 

[00:14:05] Jay: or the luminary. That's true. 

[00:14:07] Brian: that's basically it that's, it. That's all we're talking about. All right. So you talked about two of the three ways to make money as a freelancer. The first was direct to client, which to me is the most common, at least in our world and the audio world. The second was subcontracting either from someone like Chris, who's just a freelancer himself or through a full on agency, someone in the bigger world. 

[00:14:25] And I'm sure that that may be some of the clients you've had in your past, because you're kind of from the startup world, we didn't really get into your backstory here, but that's kind of relevant to how you're you're looking through this world view is from the frame of like the startup world, which is so much different than the world Chris and I grew up in. 

[00:14:38] And then what's the third, the third type of a way of making money as a freelancer that is worth touching on. 

[00:14:43] Jay: The third one is a freelance jobs marketplace. Probably the most popular is Upwork, but there's also fiber or there's a flex jobs there, solid gigs. And these platforms work really well for the people they work well for. But it's tough to get started there now because there's a ton of competition. And until you have some. 

[00:15:03] Reputation on those platforms. It's really hard to win projects and to get reputation. There's a ton of downward price pressure, because there is so much competition. So it's really hard to get started. If you have already, if you are getting started, expect that you'll have to do some gigs for prices that don't make you happy, unfortunately, until you build a bit of a reputation. 

[00:15:24] But if you do that, if you get over the hump and you have really high satisfaction scores there and a good portfolio, you can really charge pretty much whatever you want because people go to this platforms and they're looking for usually one of two things, the cheapest route that they trust to get done, or somebody that's just a real professional, they know we'll do it really well. 

[00:15:44] And in the beginning you probably got to compete on the cheaper side. And then once you build reputation, you, you really have a ton of people coming to you, offering you work, and you don't have to worry about going out and selling you, just open your inbox and you pick the projects that you want, and it can be really great, but it's tough to get. 

[00:16:00] Brian: It's very appealing. Like we had Alex Facila on the podcast on episode 1 55 and where she talked about how she makes over 300 grand a year off that, and she's made over a million in the last, like five years or four years alone on, on five or maybe in the last three years. Anyways, she's done incredible on that website, but she did start out kind of like picking up nickels off the floor for, for lack of a better phrasing. 

[00:16:19] Like she was just doing for 10, 15 scene, $20 projects here and there. And it really wasn't making that much money in the grand scheme of things. And she ultimately figured it out and she did well. However, the reason people go to those sites and they flock to those sites is because they're scared of, and I think that's, that's really what we want to address on the majority of this interview today is how can we as freelancers sell ourselves without feeling awkward, without feeling sleazy, like without being one of those people that you just cringe when they say something, you know, like when you're just like, I know that person's full of I don't want to be So I want to focus in on the direct to client conversation cause that's where a lot of our, our audience is. 

[00:16:56] And that's the area that I think you have the most control longterm sites like Fiverr. They can just pull the floor out from under you. At any point, the algorithm can change. They can decide that the Fiverr tax is no longer 20%. That is 25, 30% of your income. Same with Upwork. Some of these other sites, you're putting all your eggs in that basket. 

[00:17:13] And for that, I can't personally support that being your main revenue driver as you're growing your business. So let's talk about the sales for freelancers in the direct to client. 

[00:17:21] Jay: Let's do it. I gotta say, I want to start with some real talk because anyone listening to this show, they, I would wager to bet got into freelancing because they wanted to be able to make more money than they're making at a job. They want to have more time, or at least more control over their time than they had. 

[00:17:36] And the, the tragedy of so many freelancers is unless you embrace the fact that this is a business, you're not going to be rewarded with more money or with more time, you're going to be working more hours than you've ever worked, making less than you've ever made. And that just really, really sucks if you got into this for the inverse. 

[00:17:54] And I get it because. 

[00:17:55] Brian: I will, I will push back a little bit and just say, I know some of our audience would be willing to take a massive pay cut just because they love doing audio or video or design more than they love their day job. But that's not, I don't want to diminish the point, but I just, I want to say anyone that thinks that, like, it doesn't mean you can't ignore the business stuff or the sales stuff, but I just want to say if that's in your head right now as a listener, like, I don't want to make it more than I'm making now. 

[00:18:17] I would take a pay cut to get out of this damn job. You still have to understand how to make a better, a minimum to pay your bills. So even if that's, if it's not like I need more money, I'm going to take a pay. Cut. Yeah. So I'm repeating myself. Go ahead, Jay. 

[00:18:28] Jay: And I get it because, you know, as creative people, we've probably had a bad experience with business as an idea, or with being sold to, I don't know what it is about. Especially Midwestern upbringing. We seem to have like a lot of shame around the idea of selling. And I think it's because the best sales are totally invisible because it's just. 

[00:18:50] Expected and appreciated in a situation. And you don't think of it as a sale when it happens. You just think of this, the person helping you, and now you're getting that thing that you wanted. And you're happy about that when you realize sales is happening, it's not good because the person's not listening or they're being pushy or, or whatever. 

[00:19:07] So you can just resolve to be the salesperson who people don't even realize sales is happening because they're just grateful that you're helping them and you're getting them to where they're trying to go. That's like, The thing I want people to realize there's actually this really came to me. 

[00:19:22] I was listening to an interview with a comedian Pete Holmes. 

[00:19:25] Chris: You ever listened to, you made aware he'd love Pete 

[00:19:26] Jay: Holmes. Okay. So Pete Holmes, a comedian, but was also an actor and a bunch of stuff. Recently had a show on HBO called crashing. I loved 

[00:19:34] Chris: it. Crashing was great. 

[00:19:35] Jay: He was talking about when he was doing the audition process for crashing as a director. He had a realization that when he was just acting, he would go into auditions and think like, oh, these people want me to fail. Like, this is really hard. It's really intense. But when he transitioned to being the person hiring in the auditions, he realized that everyone who came to that door, he wanted them to be the answer you wanted to stop doing interviews. 

[00:19:59] He wanted to be confident that, okay. I found my person as quickly as possible. The same thing is happening when people are looking to hire help. I think they are trying to get to the outcome as quickly as possible, but they need to be confident that you are the answer. And that's just like how you show up to these conversations. 

[00:20:16] Not only should it be, you know, really natural to get to the solution, which is hiring you, but you need to lead that process because when we trade our money for something it's because we want an outcome know. You go to Starbucks and you see the menu and you see the prices and you say, I want that, here's my money for it. 

[00:20:36] And you leave and you're happy. And you're like, I got what I wanted. Same thing can happen in a services world where you say, okay, it's very clear to me what you're selling. And I know I want that. And you told me the price. I'm happy to pay that. And 

[00:20:48] Chris: there we go. 

[00:20:49] Jay: You know, it doesn't have to be this gross 

[00:20:52] Brian: Wolf of wall street. 

[00:20:53] Jay: Yeah. Like it's just like, you can just be very direct. I actually, the, the, the less, I tried to sell things, quote unquote, the more successful I was, because it just became a matter of fact that this is the price. There was no emotion involved. It was clear that I wasn't just like trying to win one over on these people. 

[00:21:13] We'd have a conversation. And I would say, okay let me just repeat that back to you. It sounds like your problem is this. And the outcome that you want is this, is that correct? And they would say, okay. Yeah, I say, okay, so what is your timeline like when in a perfect world, would this be done? And they would tell me a date and I say, okay, well, for that to happen, we need to get started by this time. 

[00:21:32] And you know, whether you want to go back and mock up an actual proposal and put numbers together and say, let me, let me crunch the numbers, get back to you. That's fine. Or like, for me, a lot of my stuff was productized. So I could just say like, okay, well, this is the Haast, you know, it's going to be a month retainer. 

[00:21:48] It's going to be this many dollars per month. We can start on the state. That's going to get you to the outcome on the day that you want, you know, and it's basically gonna take her to leave it. It's like, do you want to keep moving forward? And where a lot of freelancers struggle, they'll send a proposal and just not hear anything back. 

[00:22:02] And they'll be like, what do I do next? Do I follow up? How will they hate me? How many times do I follow up? And the reason that you lead the conversation and you ask questions is because if I don't know your timeline as a client, and if I follow up on my proposal, It feels a little bit pushy, right? It's like, Hey, make a decision. 

[00:22:21] Now pay me it to like, create this false urgency. Whereas if in the conversation you had, initially, you say, when do you want that done? And they say October, and you say, okay, well it's August 1st right now for us to get this done by October, we need to get started by August 20th. Now, when you send that proposal, you can follow up and say, Hey, I know you wanted to have this done by October for us to hit that timeline. 

[00:22:45] We need to get started by August 20th. So please let me know what you're thinking on this. And it's now it's no longer pushy. There's no longer false urgency. You're using their information. They gave you about their timeline. And it's showing that you have their interests at heart. You are listening to them and you know your stuff so well that, you know, the time period you need to get started on to actually get to that result. 

[00:23:08] Brian: So, are you putting, are you with every single sales conversation you have, or really it's like a discovery call or we can talk about the actual format of you talking to clients in a second, whether it's email or phone or some other things, but with every single client, are you looking for that timeline? 

[00:23:21] Are you trying to get a timeline out of them? Just to have, Cause this does something that I think a lot of people struggle with this freelancers and that is introducing scarcity to the equation. Scarcity is one of the most powerful, psychological elements when it comes to sales because something's disappearing potentially. 

[00:23:37] And it's really hard to do in the service world because you can't just say like buy now or I'm gone forever. Like, Hey, that's lying be that's a little scummy sounding and see like there's no way you can argue that realistically. So going by their timeline is actually putting scarcity into their court and it's something that they gave you. 

[00:23:53] I love the fact that you're using scarcity in this kind of clever way to keep pushing the project forward and having an excuse to. 

[00:23:59] Jay: Totally scarcity is really powerful and scarcity has a powerful position called urgency. When you manufacture it, it's just gross and a bad experience. But when there's real reason for it, like these deadlines, there's a reason to have urgency because people won't make a decision until they have to. 

[00:24:16] We have infinite decision in anything that we do today, anything in the world, and we're afraid of making the wrong decision. So what we'll do is just not make one at all 

[00:24:24] Brian: And I'm so guilty of this. I am eerily. That sounds super accurate to me. 

[00:24:31] Chris: my observation as your friend is that, that is absolutely true. 

[00:24:35] Brian: Yes. Yes. So, 

[00:24:37] Chris: asked you questions before, when you've been stressed and, and seeing your eyes go glassy. 

[00:24:42] Brian: how does one get past that? 

[00:24:43] Jay: Yeah. It's, it's really ask these questions. So like at a, at a high level, the experience the client wants to have is they want to have this conversation and then it will leave that conversation feeling confident that I can just throw money at this person. And my problem goes away and it's like, so the more that you can do as a freelancer to make that entire experience magic and make the input required by the clients so low, the better off you'll be. 

[00:25:08] And that starts with questions like you need data to make your own decisions and to do your work. Right? So all my client conversations, I don't start with like, well, let me tell you a little bit about me first. It's very much like you, you, you, you, you, I'm going to ask you questions about you and your priorities and your business until you ask me proactively to talk about my stuff. 

[00:25:28] But in the process of me asking you questions, I'm going to be friendly. I'm going to have some presumed 

[00:25:33] Chris: rapport. So we get 

[00:25:35] Jay: along pretty well. And I'm going to be asking smart questions that allow me to lead the conversation. You know, any conversation you have with a potential client, there was already something that happened that spurred that conversation, right? 

[00:25:48] You have some level of context that they're looking for something, and you can really just start the conversation. Replaying that context and be like, okay, so we got introduced by Brian. Uh, He said you had some audio needs. So just tell me a little bit about your business and what brought you to this conversation today and let them give you all the context they can. 

[00:26:07] And if they stop before you have all the information you want, you just want them to keep going. You can say, tell me more about that or say more, you know, and they'll just keep going. at some point, when you feel like you understand what they're trying to get, and the answer is probably higher revenue or lower cost or a finished project in your guys's world by a deadline once, you know what they're trying to get you say, okay, let me see if I have the straight. 

[00:26:29] It sounds like you're trying to get X and your constraints are Y and Z. Does that sound right? And they'll say yes or they'll say, well, actually you say, okay. And you repeat back when you have the answers. So they have confidence that you're hearing their problem and that you understand them. And then you say, okay very confident that I can help you. 

[00:26:47] If you are coffee, you can help them. If you're not confident, say this doesn't sound like me actually, but I do know someone great that refer you to, but if you're sitting there saying I can do this, the project you need to say, okay, I'm very confident that I can help you with this because that just affirms for them. 

[00:27:01] It puts them at ease that, okay, if this person's confident, now I can be confident in them. Then you ask your questions about timeline. So say, okay, so you want this, these are your constraints. What kind of timeline are we talking about here? When do you want to have this done? And they'll give you an answer and you can say, okay, if you want to have it done by that time, we need to get started by this time. 

[00:27:20] And that's where you can create your urgency if you need to follow up and get them to move later. But I really like to hash out just about all the details about a project in that first call, 

[00:27:31] Brian: So you are doing this all over the call, like on a call cause here's in our world and the audio world. I CA I can't tell you how many, how long it took me to understand that. No, you don't close all clients through email. That's the stupidest, least effective way. Like I did that. So for so long and it, it, it can work. 

[00:27:46] I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna say I never, I closed clients doing that, but I didn't realize how, how much more effective a one-on-one conversation on the phone or through zoom can be. 

[00:27:55] Chris: Yeah. That was absolutely my education and every business I've ever run that I was actually explaining this earlier today, the Kyle, my manager about how, when I first got my master's in business, it grew really, really fast. As I figured out marketing systems and then slowed down until I figured out service systems. 

[00:28:13] and then what would happen is like it would, you know, it would make a lot of money and I'd get really, really bad. And I'd stopped calling potential customers and then the revenues would go down and then I'd remember, oh yeah, that's the one thing that works really, really well. So I'd start making phone calls again. 

[00:28:27] Sales would skyrocket and it was weird. I like, I find myself continually forgetting how effective that was and that it was the number one driver of growth. And I don't know, man, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that. Yeah, totally. I mean, sales is not unlike dating. 

[00:28:45] Brian: I love going back to dating analogies all the time on this podcast. So go there please. 

[00:28:49] Jay: I mean, you might strike up a conversation. You might have a good feeling about this person, but you're not going to be interested in a relationship with this person until you at least talk on the phone. If not like have a face-to-face interaction with this person, because there's just always going to be doubts. 

[00:29:04] There's going to be stuff like, well, it's so easy to lose something in translation in written form that you can read into too deeply. Whereas we're social creatures. Like even if. Say something incorrectly or my grammar is off. You can Intuit my intentions, my vibe, how well we'll get along. I try to close everything on the phone or in person or on a video call something real time. 

[00:29:29] Brian: So it's funny you say that my, my wife and I, we had a role since we started dating, which was like 2015, that in a serious conversation, we do not have it. Anything serious. The reason being exactly what you just said right there, you can take, you can project tones and meanings into words on a screen that are not actually there. 

[00:29:50] And I can't tell you how many friends of mine have had relationships blow up because of that very reason. And so I love that you brought this back to dating because the same thing can happen in the client world. You can send a text or an email, and it comes off very aggressive when he didn't mean it to be that way. 

[00:30:03] That's just how you type and you lose the project. So I love getting on the phone because tonality, body language, all of these things can really help the person interpret your meaning, your vibe, what you stand for, how you are. And they may learn that they really like you, even though you're awful at texting, you have typos everywhere and so on and so forth. 

[00:30:21] So I, I love there's no reason not to get on the phone. 

[00:30:23] Chris: Well, and a couple of thoughts with that, Brian, you know, we've talked about the book influence uh, in the past. Are you familiar with. Of course you are. I almost didn't ask it. I was like, you're Bob was like, of course he's read that book. 

[00:30:34] Jay: Like, of course I've read like 10 books. That's one of the 

[00:30:36] Chris: game and influence. 

[00:30:39] They talk about liking and how powerful that is in regards to influence, which is, you know, it's sales. And it's interesting. It's really hard to get someone to like you over email or text, you can communicate with them. But one of the things that I'm learning right now I'm not going to go super deep into this, but we talk about mental health, an awful lot on this podcast. 

[00:30:57] And as I've been on my own journey and in therapy, I've learned that there are certain words that have a connotation to me because of my past that don't have a connotation of other people. And what's been fascinating about that in regards to just human communication, which sales is not all communication is sales, but all sales is communicates. Well, that was kind of nice, but irrelevant 

[00:31:22] Jay: square rectangle situation. 

[00:31:24] Brian: Very tweetable man. Very 

[00:31:26] Chris: very tweetable. But what I've been learning, that's been so interesting is like I used to get in arguments with a lot of people in my family a lot. And I, what I would always do is I would say what you said, and I paraphrase what they said, but it wasn't what they said. 

[00:31:43] It was what I perceived that they said. what I've learned has been so interesting about language is that when you have a feeling your computer inside your brain translates that to words with a certain degree of accuracy, not 100% accuracy, I would guess like four times in human history has any human effectively communicated 100% of how they felt using words alone. You have a feeling, a thing you want to communicate, you translate that to words with a certain degree of accuracy, they hear what you said to a certain degree of accuracy, and then they translate it back into feelings with an even less degree of accuracy. 

[00:32:24] Brian: It's the emotional telephone game, basically like he played in, in kindergarten. 

[00:32:27] Chris: Yeah. It's the emotional telephone game. And that makes relationships and communication really hard when there's not a shared vocabulary or worse. When there seems to be a shared vocabulary. And man, I used to run into that all the time with clients where they would say one thing and they'd use like an industry buzzword. 

[00:32:47] but they meant something totally different. they'd be like, oh, it feels like the masters clipping. It was like a nerd thing that our audience will vibe with. And I'd be like, Hmm, none of my masters have ever clipped that's preposterous. And what they meant was there was some distortion. In their mix that the master brought out a little bit more, that they didn't love. 

[00:33:06] it's so weird when, when you're having these conversations with people, trying to make sure that you are saying what you actually mean, and they are hearing what you actually mean. And that's really hard because they're only the only feedback loop is more words. 

[00:33:18] Jay: Yeah. well if anybody listening to this feels afraid of taking the leap to doing time communication. 

[00:33:24] One, I would ask you to try to power through it cause you ain't gonna get better with practice. You shouldn't expect that you're good at it. If you haven't done it a bunch of times, but to let's say you're in a situation where the client doesn't have time or isn't willing to go to a real-time conversation. Use a loom.com free video recording software, literally just force a real-time conversation or half of one where you explain your proposal. I love this. When people send me proposals that are written, but then they say, and here's me walking through it. And instead of reading the document, I just put the video on one and a half speed and listen to them, talk through it. 

[00:33:59] And it's just way more clear. It's way more high-fidelity is way more personal. It's way more compelling. And you can rerecord that as many times as you want until you feel confident 

[00:34:08] Chris: in it. Let me ask you a question. You brought up loom and you are, our people is we're obsessed with loom. Have you tried the new recording feature in descript and have you gripped? 

[00:34:19] Jay: I've used a script, but I built my system around not descript. So to go back and change the system to use the script and the pricing model, doesn't it's not gonna save me money and I'm not sure it's going to give me a save me time with the way I've built my. 

[00:34:33] Brian: So it sounds like Jay-Z's smart guy who realizes that there's a time cost associated to switching something like that. And it's not worth it to, to mess with your systems in something that's already working. 

[00:34:43] Chris: Very often. That's true. I, I have done exactly what you're talking about as far as using videos in an email for sales, one of the things that's so cool about loom that I prefer over Dropbox for this feature is that when you record a short video, so I've got nice camera, nice mic. And I'll pull loom up. And if I have a message that I want to make sure it feels. Did somebody I'll record it one minute video and send it to them. And then this is a little creepy, but when they watch it, you get a notification. It's great. It's so good. 

[00:35:14] So useful. Yeah, because okay. They did watch it. And they're thinking about me right now. So I'm gonna respond to them. Yep. Or send them one more message or something like that. Yep. What I like about descript for this feature votes for some people might be an easier tool. These are both tools where you can record yourself pretty easily or record your screen pretty easily with descript. 

[00:35:32] It does the same thing LUME does, but then once you're done, you have a text document of the video you just recorded and anything you edit in that text document edits the video itself. see like sometimes I'm I do some activism and I'm reaching out to different politicians to change, a couple of different laws in Ohio that I'm passionate about. 

[00:35:50] And with people like that, I get nervous and I want to make a pitch a couple of times and make sure I nail it and with the script and be like, okay, cool, cool, cool. I will take one. That was pretty good. And then middle of take three and then the end of take four. Cool. Awesome. This sounds amazing. Wow. And I pushed button and all of the filler words like, you know, deleted, 

[00:36:09] Brian: let's pause this conversation and just say like, we're not going to bog people down by specific tools more than just the general principle of talking to your customer. That's that's the whole point of this conversation here is staying away from text when you, when you can. And if you have, if you have to send an email, let's try something like loom or descrip or whatever tool is out there. 

[00:36:26] If you have, if you have a tool that can take video, use that, it doesn't really matter that much. You can get to the weeds of it later on when you get more experienced with this stuff, 

[00:36:33] Chris: there's a let me add one more tool to this. 

[00:36:35] Brian: Let's move on from toes. Okay. Cool. Let me add one more tool to this. That's classic. Chris Graham, 

[00:36:39] Chris: I was going to use an 

[00:36:39] example, but my, my friend Ben who Ben Hartley who've had on the podcast in the past. He uses the video chat feature in Instagram a lot. So he loves to send videos that way I've used Marco polo for that feature. If there's a long conversation, that can be really, really nice as well. 

[00:36:56] But yeah, there are just so many tools that can tweak it enough where it's, doesn't the real-time aspect of, of having a conversation is tricky. And these tools allow you to, to remove that from the 

[00:37:10] Jay: equation, we've all lost projects to somebody. And for whatever, the reason, the person that won that project stood out. 

[00:37:16] And what we're talking about is just a bunch of ways that you can stand out. 

[00:37:19] Brian: let's elaborate on that a little bit. You, you mentioned something earlier that I want to touch on The whole point of sales. It doesn't have to be like this, this dirty thing that like, you have all this crazy strategy and this like script you'd go by. And like all these things that people try to project that sales is it really isn't, especially in the, in the freelance world where we're just trying to help people with solutions. 

[00:37:36] We're trying to say that, like, first of all, I want to figure out if I can help you at all. And if I figured out that I can't help you, I'll let you know what it looks like to work with me. We're going to find a timeline that works for you. And then I'll let you know pricing around that. And then I can follow up from there. 

[00:37:49] That's kind of like your flow. You're trying to do this over phone, but you mentioned something about like how a lot of business owners, which is freelancers are working directly with business owners. I know our, our past audience, a lot of the working with bands, which are kind of miniature businesses. 

[00:38:03] Some are more serious than others, but I 

[00:38:05] Chris: Some are more miniature than others, 

[00:38:06] Brian: yes. Yeah. I brought, I liked the idea that you brought up where the business owner. But problem solved as simple as possible with as few hoops for them to jump through as possible. And I resonate with this as a business owner who hires freelancers regularly, because I know with this, I have multiple businesses and with those businesses, I work with freelancers. 

[00:38:23] And I can't tell you how many times how I, I can't even express how low the bar truly is. I'm not pinching pennies. I'm not like looking for the lowest bidder of the project. I'm looking for someone who can just do the damn job. And it's so hard to just find that. And if, if the person can even do the job, even for finding someone that can communicate that they can do the job with confidence, like these are things that I struggle with with someone hiring freelancers. 

[00:38:47] So I think that's a huge part of the sales process is just being able to communicate your value to someone in a confident way. 

[00:38:53] Chris: One of the things too, that I think is important to point out. I love this perspective that you're bringing in about when you hire freelancers. And I want, I want to dig into that a little bit more when I'm looking to hire a freelance. The price is usually not the most expensive thing that I'm risking hiring someone and it going south, and then having to hire somebody else and losing time. 

[00:39:16] That's worst case scenario. Yep. I will pay significantly more just to remove that risk. And so when you're, when you're competing on price, sometimes you're, you're shooting yourself in the foot on how dependable you appear to be, how sure is your client that it's going to be, Hey, we showed up, he got us through the whole process. 

[00:39:37] He was a total pro absolutely no hiccups. It was fast and his price wasn't too bad either. That's so much more important than your business will grow so much more by then. Like he was real cheap. 

[00:39:48] Jay: I can probably count on one hand the number of early stage, or like even potential freelancers that I've talked to, who didn't have enough skill to make a living freelancing, you know, It's not about the Roskill. 

[00:40:01] If you're even drawn to this chances, are you already have enough skill in some area that you can get paid well, doing it it's more about the soft skills is about being able to sell about marketing yourself and being that pro that people can just 

[00:40:14] Chris: plug in, because it is usually about time 

[00:40:17] Jay: you, the people you're hiring, you can do that, work yourself. 

[00:40:21] They don't need to be better than you at that, or even as good as you at that, they need to get the job done to the degree that you would be happy with. And it needs to take the time off of your plate and give it back to you. And that's what most clients want. They just want to be able to put money towards something so they can reclaim their time and have confidence that that money is going to get the outcome they want and give them back as much time as possible. 

[00:40:46] So if you show up and you're somebody that they trust understands, their problem can deliver the solution and on time and match the communication style. You know, I don't want to say that you needed to be hyper communicative. Sometimes you do. Some clients don't want that. They actually want to be really hands-off it's about figuring out what they want, what communication style they have so that you can match it in a way that serves them. 

[00:41:09] And again, it just comes down to, can you make this entire experience feel like magic because if you can, that person's going to refer more people. They're going to keep hiring you as often as possible. They may like actively stop referring people and try to pay for all of your time, because you're so good at what you do. 

[00:41:24] Which is an interesting challenge because that's not best business sense for you to have a one client on retainer, but it's a good signal that what you're doing is good enough that you can get paid really well for it. 

[00:41:35] Chris: Yeah, that's fascinating. I've always been, been really interested in freelancers that have a very small number of clients and hit the nail on the head there. 

[00:41:44] Like there's an interesting topic there because if you have a bunch of clients and that was really my business model, Now as I get to know myself better through all this mental health exploration, I look back like, oh yeah, I was low priced high volume. So I had a ton of customers so that none of them had control of me. 

[00:42:00] No customer represented like even close to 1% of my revenue 

[00:42:05] Brian: classic Enneagram eight move 

[00:42:06] Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there was a psychological, I did that because my, of my, my issues, it wasn't a super great business decision, but it was for what I wanted. I was able to get exactly what I wanted. Just what I wanted. Wasn't it's pretty stupid. 

[00:42:22] Brian: Yeah. I mean, I joked with you. I've joked with him many times to say, like, if you take an, all of those skills and time you put into the mastering business and put it into any other business, you'd be a multimillionaire, right. 

[00:42:30] Chris: Yeah, you're right. I think you're right. But, so it's interesting. So one of my friends his name is Brandon Reich. Do another podcast with him. He's been on the show in the past and Brandon's this amazing guy. he was one of the most successful. Freelance band merged designers in the world. And then he got, he created a new job called creative director who oversees all branding during an album cycle for a band. 

[00:42:54] And now he's like 21 pilots, his creative director, and a whole bunch of other bands just he's incredible. And I was always fascinated with, with him business cause we would hang out and talk about our businesses all the time. And he was like, I have five customers, I have five companies hire me. And then the clients are actually, they belong to these agencies and it was always interesting to me to be like, oh, you're really making a lot of money. 

[00:43:16] You're getting paid really well. But it's so scary to me to be like, if one of those companies starts to get a little bit in your face, you, you gotta jump. Like you have to respond to them or you can lose 20% of your revenue overnight. 

[00:43:30] Jay: Yeah. And that may not be a bad, that's not terrible. You know? So to me. 

[00:43:36] I'm also one of those people where I wanted to work with actually as few people as possible so that I knew that I was comfortable and I had some level of psychological safety, but actually gave me enough time to pursue my own creative projects. Yeah. The more clients you have, the higher switching costs, just the more like things you have to tend to. 

[00:43:54] I have a friend of mine who says you can have as many cats as you want, but you have to feed all of them. 

[00:43:58] Brian: Does any mastering engineer listening to our podcast right now is just groaning right now because they, that hit them so hard. 

[00:44:06] Jay: I wanted to feed as few cats as possible. But the thing that I did to protect 

[00:44:10] Chris: myself where reminds me, I need to feed my cat. He was almost out of food. When I left today, 

[00:44:14] Brian: Thanks for interrupting our guests for that line. 

[00:44:17] Chris: my job burden Ernie. 

[00:44:19] Jay: I loved recurring contracts, retainers and things. And I would have at least 30 days notice to cancel the contract. I would prefer 60 days, but that's a little intense. Those are tough terms to get all the time. But the thing is like the more confident you become, not even just your ability to deliver work, but to sell it. 

[00:44:37] To me like real job security is just feeling secure in the fact that when I need to bring money in the door, I can do it. And it got to the point for me that like that was never questioned. And if it will got to a really bad situation where I had to go get a part-time or even full-time job, I also felt confident I could do that. 

[00:44:52] So I would rather err on the side of building my business, the way that I wanted to build it which was saving a lot of time for my creative projects. And even if it was risky to have fewer clients at a time, it allowed me to be better for each of those clients. It allowed me to care more about each of those projects. 

[00:45:10] And I just had fewer casts to feed 

[00:45:12] Chris: man. I'm right in that spot right now. So I started doing business coaching when the podcast took off, I worked with a lot of people and it was really fun, but as I've been, you know, sort of processing life and all the changes that are going on. I've been been niching down to be like, well, systems is the thing that I'm really, really good at and systems is what I want. 

[00:45:30] I want to coach people on 

[00:45:31] Brian: productivity. 

[00:45:32] Chris: productivity. Productivity is what I want to coach people. What product I'm trying to find a way to 

[00:45:38] Brian: I'm coaching. I'm coaching Chris here for a second systems is not very interesting. 

[00:45:41] Chris: don't know how to, how to make systems sexy. I had an idea earlier, maybe I'll call my course, like, you know, system Nater from, 

[00:45:49] Brian: God, go away. No, 

[00:45:51] Chris: I'm a big fan of NH tours from Paris Platypus. 

[00:45:55] But 

[00:45:56] Brian: I don't even know what that is. 

[00:45:58] Chris: I'm in a place right now where I'm starting to focus on going much more in depth with people that I'm coaching, helping them build a God system for their business. And that has been really, really fun to just be like, okay, well, I've got my, my squad here and I'm just going to love them really well and focus on them and think about them and 

[00:46:18] Brian: Well, I think, I think this is worth exploring just a little bit. And then I want to actually talk about proposals as well, just to kind of see the next thing that I think is worth discussing, but this brings up the topic of finding the audience that is going to get the most value from what it is that you offer. 

[00:46:34] If you can find the audience that finds more value in what you create, like what you do as a, as a creator. If you find that audience, you can charge more and you can give more time to that person to keep them happier. But the world you were stuck in Chris for so long is you were working with unsigned artists at scale. 

[00:46:51] The most part, a lot of the ones that are, is at scale. I'm not trying to insult any of your clients. I'm just letting you know you, weren't working with the people who could have made the most of the work that you were doing, or the skill set that you had. Therefore you were in this nickel and dime land instead of the world that you're kind of at now where you've really cultivated this very valuable skillset. 

[00:47:09] And you're starting to find the place that, that lives in the most valuable place. And that allows you to charge more per client. It allows you to scale your business to a higher level without having to juggle hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients. I think Jay that's what you did. 

[00:47:21] Jay: Oh, yeah. I mean, listen, it's easier to sell to people who have money. And also sometimes it's easier to work with people who don't need your help, all that much. Like when you put yourself in a situation where you're working with people who can't afford you, and it also feels like so high stakes, so desperate, it can be really intense and really hard, not even just financially, but like emotionally psychologic. 

[00:47:46] And you don't always have to fight uphill. Like it's okay. Sometimes to find clients that have deep pockets, that like you, you build a good relationship and it's a good, steady, reliable paycheck or retainer, or, you know, gig whenever it comes in. And the thing about any client is more begets more. So if you work with these nickel and dime clients, the people that they're talking with, the people that they're going to refer to you, same type of client. 

[00:48:11] If you go upstream and you work with somebody that has a bigger budget that works with the sign artists, they probably represent more of those people. Or they at least have another friend who works in another label who represents the same type of client. So like you got to pick what 

[00:48:26] Chris: pond you want to swim in. 

[00:48:28] Jay: And I just got to a point where it's like for, for my mastermind program specifically, that was a point where the price point that those clients could afford just no longer aligned with how I valued my time. And it just didn't make sense anymore. So I started doing more corporate gigs because it was 

[00:48:45] more lucrative. 

[00:48:46] It fed 

[00:48:48] what I was trying to do, which was save more time for my own projects. And I think at some point you got to ask yourself, like, why am I doing this business? And is the execution of it 

[00:48:58] aligned with, 

[00:48:59] you know, my goals, if the system here we go, every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results that it achieves. 

[00:49:07] If you don't like the results that you're achieving, you need to change the system, you need to change the input. And you gotta do that process. Like pretty regularly. If you start feeling yourself getting like, even depressed or like questioning things are lost, like, think about, is this doing for me? 

[00:49:21] What I wanted it to do? And if not, maybe it's trying to change the, the system. 

[00:49:26] Chris: Yeah. Or just build us system. I think for a lot of people, when, when they're early on in their freelancer career, it's literally just. You know, those, those booths at the fair, or that's just like money fine around in a winter tunnel. 

[00:49:39] And you're just trying to grab it like that's, I think the first year of freelancing for a lot of people, instead of figuring out like, , here's a system, all the money, you can just trap it in the corner. So just like push it all up there and then do the same thing again. And again, don't just like reach all over the place, trying to grab any money that you can high, low left, four left forward, right back, you know, finding a system is really hard to do until you niche down to one specific service. 

[00:50:06] And I think when you're doing that first year of freelancing, and you're just trying anything that you can, you're saying, yeah. Asked every project, which I think you should, you have to figure out where your superpowers are, but then eventually having the discipline to say, ah, I'm going to focus on this one thing. 

[00:50:21] So that I can build a system around it where it just does, you know, day in and day out, things operate in the same way. It's not like one project I got paid in advance and other project I got paid 90 days later, another project was 50% down. Having one way of doing business allows you to become really good at doing business. 

[00:50:40] And then when there's a problem, you can address that in the system. You can tweak that and say, oh man, case in point, there were some genres of music. When I was mastering was like my only gig. There were some genres of music that were much less profitable than others, honors of music. And I had this before and after playing on my website. 

[00:50:58] So you choose the style of music you wanted and then you could listen to it before I mastered it. And after I mastered it and it was cool, people love playing with it and we'll probably edit this out. Cause I've explained this 17 million times on the, on the 

[00:51:09] Brian: Every episode, every right. 

[00:51:10] Chris: so people would come on there, they choose the genre that they wanted. 

[00:51:13] And then they would ask me for a free sample using like a call to action on the web. And what I started to experiment with was, okay, I'm running a lot of ads on this particular master in website, I'm going to change the genres of music to reflect the genres of music that I would like to work with more and that are more profitable. 

[00:51:30] And just something like that of removing a genre. That was, I remember I did the research and I, I used to measure what people had listened to on the website. This is way back when you were allowed to gather data like this. And so I would look at like what genres they listened to. 

[00:51:45] And I was able to calculate how they interact with my website was an indicator of how valuable as a customer they were. And then I started to recognize, okay, well, if they go to this, I'm not interested in them. So I'll change the website to focus it on serving my ideal customer. 

[00:52:01] Jay: Totally. Totally. Yeah. I mean, you can extrapolate this all the way up and think about your entire business as a system. 

[00:52:08] And like, if the clients are getting aren't the clients that. The system that is your entire operation of that business is not serving you the way you want. So like, how do I change this? And for you, it was changing like, okay, I actually just want to reflect the messaging and the way I give you the experience of experiencing my website to be for the people that I want to work with, you put a filter in place, change the system. 

[00:52:30] For me, I realized like sales instead of trying to double or triple the number of potential sales conversations I had, I just wanted to get more effective at each. And every one of those conversations, like I can either get twice as effective at closing deals, or I can have twice as many conversations. I picked the one that was twice as effective. That's the route I wanted to go. I wanted to just close more deals. And so the process was getting better at filtering. So the conversations I had were more quality. And then it's these things like, okay. I realized that if I have a real time conversation, it works. 

[00:53:04] I understand if I start with questions, it works even got to the point where I had like the perfect email descend to set up the conversation, because I realized the point of the email, the none of the email was not a project. The one of the email was having a conversation because I only sent them email. 

[00:53:20] So the people that I had qualified as a good target, and I will give them very brief context and say, if this is interesting to you at all, I would love to get on a call zero pressures, your obligation, but let's just talk about it. And if that email could convert into a phone call, I knew phone calls converted well to projects. 

[00:53:37] So, you know, you just change the system to get a better result that you're looking for. Sometimes it might be working with a different kind of client because referrals are, where are you getting most of your client deals? And if the people you're being referred, aren't the type of client you want to work with. 

[00:53:49] You need to think about, okay, well, why are they referring this type of person? Maybe I need to be working with somebody else so that their pool of referrals is there. 

[00:53:56] Brian: Can we talk about how your average of the five people you surround yourself with the most? Therefore, if you work with somebody, you don't like the people they surround themselves with. You're probably also not going to like as well. So why work with people who you don't like at all? 

[00:54:07] Chris: So I think one of the things that's interesting about that, I love what you just said there, Brian, you're an average of the five people you hang out with the most. I think you could also extrapolate that to say that your future customers are an average of your present customers. 

[00:54:21] Jay: Totally. You're going to get more of the same. You know, if you gave someone a sweetheart deal and you said, you know what, I usually charge $500 for this, but for you, I'm going to give you a $200 price. You think they're telling their best friend that they paid you $500. They're not, they're going to tell the price that you gave and it's going to be awkward when you talk to them. 

[00:54:37] And you're now pitching the same project. They want the price, their friend, God, it works in the inverse too. Whereas if you're just charging what you think you're worth and what you would be happy with getting from a product. That's the price they're going to tell to the person they're referring, because we often talk about the price we paid. 

[00:54:50] If we're referring somebody or you're saying, oh, I went to this person. Oh, I'm sure that costs us this much. Great. So if you're discounting yourself, that's going to get passed along infinitely. 

[00:54:59] Brian: Yeah. And I, I can, as, as someone who has both hired freelancers and has been hired as a freelancer, I can tell you that it is, it is you never, you just never want to discount yourself if you can. And, and I think the, I think the core reason that people discount themselves like that. Giving a $200 deal to the $500 instead of the $500 is because you are afraid of rejection. 

[00:55:18] And I think you could probably speak to this, but I'm just telling from my experience, you will be, and you probably should be rejected the majority of the time 

[00:55:27] Jay: totally. 

[00:55:28] Brian: or else you're not charging enough. 

[00:55:29] Jay: Yep. Totally agree. If you're not being rejected, then you're being taken advantage 

[00:55:33] Chris: of. I wonder if the same applies to dating. 

[00:55:36] Jay: Let me think 

[00:55:39] Brian: don't think it 

[00:55:39] Jay: I don't think it does. 

[00:55:41] Brian: I don't think that's dating, 

[00:55:42] Chris: I dunno. I, I think that 

[00:55:44] Jay: well, I mean, statistically speaking, almost nobody that you meet is going to be a romantic interest in literally nobody except for one person will be your partner. 

[00:55:54] Brian: Oh, if you're talking about my rejection, yes. I think you're talking, you're talking to, you're talking about discounting your services. That's where my brain was. 

[00:56:01] Chris: No, absolutely not. No. Well, I don't know. I'm not experienced in the dating front. I've only been on dates with like three people in my life. Like 

[00:56:10] Brian: You got married young Chris. 

[00:56:11] Chris: I did get married young. 

[00:56:12] Brian: yeah, I got married at like, I want to say close to 30, 29, maybe. So I had a few more dates in my life, but it, yeah, you have to be rejected a lot to be willing to be rejected, at least in order to take a date. So let's actually talk about the final piece of this puzzle that I wanted. 

[00:56:26] I've been wanting to talk about, and that is proposals. This is something that's, that's honestly not that common in the audio world or the music world and the music production world specifically. But something that I've been trying to bring to our world is sending proposals to your clients. But I've, I've actually kind of gone away from that because I've been talking to people about trying to close on the call. 

[00:56:44] If you can, to get a deposit, instead of being too scared to talk about pricing on the call and saying, oh, there's a proposal after this call and we'll go through the details. What do you recommend, Jay? Do you send a proposal every time? Do you recommend sending a proposal or trying to collect the deposit on the phone and close them? 

[00:56:58] Jay: I don't collect payment on the phone. I think you, if you can, that's awesome. That means you have like really good project solution. But I like to give people some space. What I do collect on the phone is commitment and I give them the details for them to make a decision to tell me like, yeah, I think I'm a move forward this because that's, that's a consistency bias thing. 

[00:57:19] If I tell you on the phone that I'm interested now and move forward and I all the necessary relevant inputs to make that decision pricing, being a very important one. If I say on the phone that I'm going to do it, like I can send you a payment link later and you'll probably do it. 

[00:57:32] Chris: I'm terrified of this. 

[00:57:34] I, this is funny Brian, because there's a lot of areas of sales that don't scare me at all, but asking for a commitment on the phone terrifies me. And it's funny. Like, I, I, I was talking to somebody yesterday, who making a commitment on the phone and I was perfectly transparent about this. I was like, I, people, they tell me I'm supposed to close on the phone. 

[00:57:55] I don't know about that. So I'm going to sales pitch. You hear like, I just like bumbled into it. And I was like, I feel awkward. I don't know how to do this. It worked because it was a great fit. Like it was the perfect, coaching package for this. 

[00:58:08] Brian: here's, here's the thing I think is, is worth, at least pushing a little bit for a commitment, like you said, Jay, if not a deposit, if it's possible, is that until you push for some sort of commitment or deposit or a pay. I don't think you're going to get to the true objections as to why they're they don't want to hire you. 

[00:58:24] And I think just for anything, if for any other reason than just for experimentation and learning is, is pushing for it and being willing to push for a little bit, not like the sleazy, like, well, if you don't buy now, we're going to, you're never going to get this offer again, like none of that crap, but like, just even, even what Jay is saying, just pushing for commitment to say a verbal. 

[00:58:43] Yes, I'm in is a, is a really good way because if they're not willing to commit verbally, they're never not going to commit monetarily. And until money is exchanged, I don't think they're really that committed. So that's when you start getting to the real objections of why they don't want to hire you or why they think they can't hire you. 

[00:58:59] Jay: I think where a lot of people fall short here is they don't think ahead of time about what they want to have happen with that. And then they don't trust their word vomit to give the right answer, or they think it's going to back them into a corner. So every conversation that I have beforehand, I have an outcome that I think we're going to get to and that I want to get to, and I can revise that on the fly if I, if their needs are different than I expected, 

[00:59:22] but I go into every call. 

[00:59:25] That's a sales call with at least a proposed format and objective that I've gathered from some conversation or past projects that I can point to and say, here's what I've done in the past. But my goal on that phone is to make it so clear and so obvious that I am a great answer to this problem, that at the end, I can just sit in a lot of silence most of the time. 

[00:59:49] And I've answered all the questions I've told them. If you want to get this done by this date, we have to start by this time. Here's a price. What do you think? And let them. They'll bring up that objective, like your objection, like you're talking about Brian and I'll answer that. And I'll, it'll usually be pretty straightforward because if I believe it's a good fit and I've already spoken to why it's a good fit and how I can help them, it's almost like it wouldn't make sense for us to leave that call and not continue this conversation continue working together unless I named my price and they said, ah, that's kind of high. 

[01:00:19] Or can you do this? In which case we can negotiate and have more of a conversation. But most of the time I stick to my guns on this, because again, it comes back to a confidence thing where I'm confident that I can find another person who will pay that price. And I'm comfortable enough that like, I don't need, this is really hard. 

[01:00:37] I mean, it's, it's a vicious cycle to get out of. Like, 

[01:00:40] if you truly, truly need this project to land for you to pay your bills is hard to enter with the confidence and certainty that you need. Like the client senses it negative. If they don't know. That it's just like a money insecurity thing and not a confidence that you can do the problem thing. 

[01:00:56] They sense something's off and it creates this doubt and it creates some friction. You, you really need to be confident in your delivering the price and your ability to fulfill it. But yeah, by the time I get off the phone, we've already sketched out the details of what's going to happen. I send them a very light proposal as a formality, just putting into writing exactly what I said. 

[01:01:16] It has a deposit link. 

[01:01:18] Chris: And we go from there. 

[01:01:19] I love that, man. I've been, this is exactly where I've been as, as far as my own growth in my businesses right now is trying to think more about to, to ask myself questions about if there are things I could be doing better in sales. And I think that that's an important place for all of us to get everyone listening to this podcast, just to pause and think, could I improve at this? 

[01:01:41] Is there room for me to be more effective? And what would it look like? If I was more effective, what would the, what would the impact be of me having a couple, couple of take-homes from this conversation here, me having a clear objective of what I want to do. And then Brian, I love what you said about, I want to present that on the phone because I want to hear objections so that I can address those with the next customer ahead of time or change my offering. 

[01:02:06] Brian: Or change your messaging on your website to address those objections before they even get on a call or an email that you send before they even get on the call, it allows you to crush objections. 

[01:02:15] Chris: Yeah. I hadn't thought of it from the standpoint you started to, I'd never heard you talk about how intense you were for pro closing on the phone until we hung out in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. And it's come up a couple of times since then. So I've been thinking a lot about it, but yeah, you're right. 

[01:02:30] That there too, to approach it from an object, I want to be an objection. Crusher. That's really interesting that this is the purpose of the sale, the purpose of the sales process. You want to get the sale? But the real purpose of the sales process, most of the time is to improve your sales process. 

[01:02:47] Jay: You also need to be aware going into that conversation. 

[01:02:50] If this is the person who can say yes and make the payment, 

[01:02:54] Brian: Oh, sorry. Just. 

[01:02:56] Jay: Yes. Yeah. This person has to be the decision maker. If they're not the decision maker, your goal on that call is selling them to becoming an advocate for you being the solution. And the follow-ups a little bit different. 

[01:03:08] You ask them questions like once you, once you've got them bought in that, you're their person and they want to present you as the solution. Then you need to talk to them differently. Be like, how do I make you look awesome in your role? How do I make this really easy for you to explain to your boss? And they'll just give you the playbook and they'll tell you exactly what you need to say and how you need to send it. 

[01:03:25] If you need to put in a proposal, what form. 

[01:03:27] Brian: Or in our case, you're working with a lot of people are working with a lot of musicians and artists and bands. So bands are five members, times four to five members. And if you're only talking to one of those members, you'd be rest assured. You need to convince the rest of those members that you're the right solution as well. 

[01:03:41] So getting that band member that you talked to on the phone, as the advocate for you as the producer, or even doing music, videos, videographers, this is something that you have to deal with. So I'm glad you brought that up. 

[01:03:51] Jay: Yeah. Again, another reason why, if you send a proposal, do a loom overview or a descript overview walking through it, because then that person gets a good sense of who you are. Some people are just, you know, they, they want to say no to everything. They're looking for reason to say no. And is a lot harder to say no, when they're seeing you in real time as a person, even if it's prerecorded, 

[01:04:11] Chris: I'm going to, I'm going to convert this to action. 

[01:04:13] I love what you're saying. And even the idea of doing a followup via loom, I've never, well, yep. I've done followups. Pre-sale I've never done it too close. Yeah. It's always been like, well, I'm just building a relationship. I'm just touching base with, 

[01:04:28] Jay: if you do it, like again, reiterate like, Hey, I had such a great time talking with you. 

[01:04:32] I think we can do some incredible things with this project. I'm totally confident I can get it done by this date. Here's some information you need to know. If you want to take the next step, here's what the next step is. I need it by this time. If you have any questions at all, let me know, and I'd be happy to talk more about it or get on the phone again. 

[01:04:46] But thanks again for taking the time and really looking forward to this of it. 

[01:04:50] Brian: are you willing to share what your what's your typical close rate is? Like your closing percentage on a sales call? Like, do you know how many, what percentage of people 

[01:04:57] Jay: It's, it's probably like in the 70 or 80 percents again, I worked with very few clients at a time. So when I signed a client, it was usually like a multi-month committed. 

[01:05:08] Brian: it's like a miniature marriage? 

[01:05:10] Jay: Yeah, totally. 

[01:05:11] Chris: What is that? I don't think that's a thing. Totally. 

[01:05:14] Jay: I mean, I hate reading as much as the next person. So I would even say that I've probably under-priced myself in the past, if I'm hitting that high bucket close rate. 

[01:05:22] But for me, like I was looking for client fit too. And the client fit for me was like, am I going to get along with this person? Do they match my communication style? Which is, I want to be proactive and telling you what's going on. I don't want you bugging me all the time. 

[01:05:35] Brian: Well, that's kind of our philosophy here at six-figure creative. We're not just after making money, we're trying to pursue our creative passions, that we can also monetize. And part of that, isn't just maximizing every single dollar we can possibly make. A lot of times, we're just trying to find the right client, like you said, the right client for our lifestyle, for our creative needs and for our, for our businesses, it's not the person who's always paying the most. 

[01:05:56] Sometimes it's the person who may not have the highest budget, but they're just a delight to work with. And we have to take that into account with our, with our sales process. 

[01:06:03] Jay: When the client is right. And you're confident that you can do the work. You can be very Frank in these phone calls and it gets you off on a good foot and you can just be like, listen, here's the price. I don't like to negotiate. This is not me trying to anchor you to a price that we get somewhere in the middle. 

[01:06:19] Like, this is what I charge for this. And just, you know, you go from there and they respect that honesty. But I'm sure I've underpriced myself at times, but the thing is like, what is pricing? Pricing is. Every time anybody pays anything for anything it's because they told themselves a story. So if you do sales well, you're understanding the levers in their mind that helped them tell a story to themselves, why this is worth the price, and it can be whatever it is, as long as they can tell themselves a story that this is worth it. 

[01:06:49] So when I say I've underpriced myself, I don't mean like, in an absolute sense. I mean, I sold the project so well in the fit, so, well, I probably could have charged more in, even if before that call, they wouldn't have paid that by the time that call was over, they could tell themselves a story that this is worth it. 

[01:07:05] And I've got a higher J. 

[01:07:06] Brian: Yeah. And we also, we talked about this in the past, where sometimes when you leave money on the table as a creative, that's just good marketing. You are, you are selling yourself. You, you call it under undercharging here. But the reality is like when I buy a $5 hamburger that costs $5 and tastes like a $5 hamburger. 

[01:07:22] I'm not telling you what about it? When I buy a $5 hamburger that. Dollars and tastes 10 or $15, the luxury gourmet hamburger. I'm telling everyone around town about that. So a lot of times that's what we look at as our marketing budget, because we are so good at the price that we do. We deliver our services, people shout at the rooftops to all their friends that were the person to hire for that need. 

[01:07:42] Chris: Case in point when we just hung out in Nashville within five minutes of me being at your house, you were selling me on where I should go get a hamburger. And then we did. 

[01:07:51] Brian: That's true. All right, Jay. So I think this is a good place to kinda wrap this conversation up. For those who are into this kind of conversation about sales, what can people do to kind of connect with you or any resources you might have for them for that con that sort of continued this conversation. 

[01:08:03] Jay: You can connect with me anywhere at J Klaus, Twitter, Instagram, or where I'm most active. I have a free five day course on making more money as a freelancer. It's called five ways and five days to make more money freelancing. You can get that@freelancing.school. You can see the link there. And if you like podcasts, check out creative elements, 

[01:08:20] Brian: Okay. 

[01:08:21] Chris: Jay, thank you so much. 

[01:08:22] Thanks Jamie guys. This is fun.

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