- Brian's journey to increased fitness
- Important January deadlines
- The balance between marketing and fulfillment
- Keeping your clients happy
- Knocking it out of the park for your clients
- The five phases of business
- Minding your boundaries
- Where to share your feedback and ideas for the podcast
Join The Discussion In Our Community
Click the play button below in order to listen to this episode:
Send Us Your Feedback!
Companies and Other
[00:00:00] Brian: hello and welcome to the Six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time ever listening to the show, first of all, hi, hey, hello, welcome. So glad to have you here. This podcast is for you. If you are a freelancer who offers creative services and you want to make more money from your creative skills without selling your soul, that's you.
[00:00:17] Brian: You are in the right spot. For my returning listeners. Kind of big deal here. We hit number two on the charts, on the podcast charts. I posted it on my Instagram stories.
[00:00:25] Brian: There was one podcast that people have probably heard of, because it's huge, called 99 percent Invisible, that just passed us, barely, just barely passed. They're probably so far ahead of us, but they're number one, we're number two. And I thought that was cool. I think these are like weekly charts, so the update weekly, so maybe next week I'm not, but like being the number two podcast, history lesson here. We used to be called the Six Figure Home Studio podcast way back in the day. We actually almost have more episodes of the six figure creative than we do the six Figure home studio, but the first 150 episodes. the six figure home studio and we were by default the number one business podcast in the audio industry and that was cool, but we were also the only business podcast in the audio industry.
[00:00:58] Brian: So now it's a little more competitive in this [00:01:00] space, so I'll take number two right now. So we are in the middle of January right now for me personally, fitness is on my mind. after the, just the absolute horror that happened through the holidays as far as eating and health and diet and all that stuff.
[00:01:11] Brian: I tend to make January the first quarter of the year like a big health initiative for me. this year is no different. So this year I joined a uh, classes type gym because my workout partner that I've been working out for like five, six, seven, eight years, moved. So now it's like just me.
[00:01:23] Brian: And if it's just me, I don't have a forcing function to make me show up at the gym. And I found out that if I don't have my gym partner at the gym, I just don't go. So I joined one of those gym classes things that have classes. I'm not going to say the one right now. Cause I'm, I'm still trying to, I really love it right now.
[00:01:35] Brian: It's not CrossFit by the way. I did not go to the dark side. No hate to my CrossFitters out there. But I joined this class based gym thing, really awesome. It's like HIIT training with a mixture of cardio, weight training really focused on like hitting certain heart rate zones and stuff. and then I hired a nutrition coach as well, because it's the first time I've ever done this. as of right now, we're nine days into January for me. It's like 16 days in for you if you're listening the day this came out, but, you know, I record this ahead of time. Nine days in for me, down six pounds.
[00:01:58] Brian: I'd say most of that is probably [00:02:00] just like the impacted food in my body from the holiday eating, and then just purging that out over the last nine days. Good visual for you listeners. we're not going to talk about any more of that today, but I just wanted to share kind of what's going on there. I'll kind of share the fitness journey as it goes on just cause it's, top of mind for me right now. public service announcement for all freelancers right now. This is big deal if you've tuned out cause you're like, Brian's talking about fitness.
[00:02:19] Brian: I'm not into that. I've tuned out but tune back in now because this is for all freelancers. This is mid January right now. This is tax time. This is not what this episode is about. So breathe a sigh of relief for everyone.
[00:02:29] Brian: But there's a few things you need to know this time of year. The first is quarterly estimated payments were due yesterday. If you didn't already do this, you can still send it in. It'll be like a tiny little penalty for not doing it. But if you pay your quarterly estimated payments, so you don't have like a big chunk that you owe in April then.
[00:02:43] Brian: Yesterday what that was due so make sure you filed and send that off and pay that whatever next is 10 99s are due at the end of the month So, if you have subcontractors under you, especially my agency listeners you need to get those all the 1099s out to them before the end of the month.
[00:02:56] Brian: That's the deadline for sending out 1099s. And a side note, if [00:03:00] you are paying someone via credit card or through some platform like Stripe or PayPal, talk to your CPA, but I'm pretty sure you don't have to send a 1099. Those platforms actually calculate and send their own version of that. I forget what it's called, but essentially the tax reporting is done on their end.
[00:03:13] Brian: You don't have to worry about it as the, business. And if this is all going over your head, just ask your CPA at the end of the day, anyone ever asked tax questions to me, I just say, go talk to your CPA. speaking of that, this is a good time of year to just wrap up your books.
[00:03:26] Brian: So if you have a bookkeeping app like QuickBooks or Xero, I use Xero, X E R O, get those all tidied up and send out your P& Ls and all that stuff that they need sent out to your CPA. So that's my little public service announcement for this episode. I think this is the first one I've ever done, but maybe I'll start doing more of these. Now let's talk about what we're actually discussing in this episode, as you probably saw by the title. this episode, we're going to discuss what if every single client that hired you referred at least one more client to you, at least meaning that on average, 1. 1 clients per client that you gained, that would mean that you would actually have a viral business.
[00:03:56] Brian: And this is like. the holy grail of freelancing. That means you can literally [00:04:00] never have to market again because every client you get turns into at least one client. You know, you get a few clients and then those clients refer more clients to you and those clients refer more clients to you. And then especially if clients are coming back to you for repeat work, then past a certain point, you never have to market again.
[00:04:13] Brian: Like that's the place I think every freelancer on earth would want to be where they don't have to worry about marketing. They can just do the thing they love to do. most freelancers are not there. There's this balance we have to do as freelancers between kind of the five big areas of business. And I'm going to talk through those really quick.
[00:04:26] Brian: And then we'll talk about the thing that I think affects this thing the most. call it the viral coefficient. Call it getting a ton of referrals, whatever you want to say, getting one referral from every single client. listening. It's something to strive for. I don't know if it's realistic, but it's something to absolutely strive for.
[00:04:38] Brian: But there are five big areas of your business. There's the lead generation side of things. How do you generate leads? There's a lead nurture of things. Like what do you do to stay top of mind, build trust, credibility over a long period of time so that when they're ready to hire, they're hiring you. The third part is sales, like of the opportunities you get and quotes or inquiries that you get, how many of those do you actually close as clients?
[00:04:57] Brian: The fourth part is fulfillment. So when you get a project, [00:05:00] how well do you actually fulfill on what they hired you to do? And the fifth part is pricing. Like What are you charging? There's more that goes into each of these, but that's kind of like the five big areas that you have to balance as an entrepreneur.
[00:05:09] Brian: And people make the mistake of falling into like one or two camps. The first camp is the people that just go for the sexy fun stuff where it's like, Oh, I just love legeneration. I'm a, marketer, right? Like this stuff's fun. That's not a lot of you, but some of you, you fall into, tweaking with pricing, setting up all these systems and software and apps and automations.
[00:05:26] Brian: Like we all have these things we're drawn towards, or it could just be that we're really drawn towards to us. The sexy fun stuff is.
[00:05:31] Brian: Being the creative, which kind of falls into the second area that's mistake is focusing just on the stuff that you're passionate about. So those are kind of the two big areas that people gravitate towards. It's like, I'm passionate about this, or this is fun and sexy. but then we neglect One or more of those five areas, and that can really hurt our business. An example is if you have no leads, it's hard to get clients. If you have clients, but you're charging very little, it's hard to actually make money.
[00:05:53] Brian: So you can start to see how these things are all things that we need to pay attention to.
[00:05:56] Brian: Right. This episode is actually the beginning of a series I'm starting that [00:06:00] focuses on the most important of all five of those. And that is fulfillment. I don't talk about this often on the show. Or I haven't in a while have on past episodes, but this is honestly the most important thing. Because if. People are hiring you for something.
[00:06:12] Brian: The fulfillment is actually where you deliver on what you're hired to do. And you can see how if they're unhappy with what you delivered on, they're probably not going to refer people to you. So you can see how this really affects referrals overall. Fulfillment is a complex subject.
[00:06:23] Brian: This is going to be a very long series, but this is more than just your creative skills. lot of people, when you think through those five things that I just threw at you, lead gen, lead nurture, sales, fulfillment and pricing,
[00:06:32] Brian: You think of fulfillment as just like the thing I'm good at. I'm good at music production. I'm good at, design. I'm good at videography. That is a huge part of it, obviously. but there are a bunch of other things that you can still mess up that will lead to unhappy clients. And that's what this series is going to be all about.
[00:06:46] Brian: because we all know that if we're going to get referrals from our clients, then our clients have to be happy. But if we have unhappy clients for any reason, doesn't matter what the reason is, if for any reason we have unhappy clients, it leads to three problems.
[00:06:57] Brian: The first is you won't retain them. So if you're on a monthly retainer, they'll [00:07:00] cancel or they'll try to weasel their way out of it. or if you do project based work, they won't rehire you. Number two is they won't refer you to others. if they're not happy, they're not going to refer you.
[00:07:08] Brian: And then number three is they might even become a detractor. That means that they're actively out there. Trying to persuade people not to hire you to go somewhere else. That's the worst of the worst. One bad detractor can undo the work of so many good, happy clients that are out there. So we want to make sure that we have a fulfillment process that's set up to make our clients happy.
[00:07:25] Brian: At the end of the day, definitely not unhappy and absolutely not a detractor. So now answering this question, how do we get one referral from every new client?
[00:07:34] Brian: This is one of those simple, not easy things. It's not easy at all. It's very difficult, but it's pretty simple. Give them an incredible experience that surpasses their expectations. help them actually get what they wanted from you. so whatever end result that they came to you for, that you delivered on that. And then all along the way, keep them happy. You can give them a really good experience.
[00:07:54] Brian: You can give them the results that they wanted or the thing that they came to you for. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be happy. And there's [00:08:00] Again, we'll talk more about this throughout this series, but this is a huge thing I want to really drive home. happy, successful clients lead to referrals, especially if they're blown away.
[00:08:07] Brian: So the bottom line for this entire series is that your fulfillment process should be intentionally, that's the word, intentionally crafted to do this. So the bottom line for this entire series and the thing that I want you to be thinking about as we move forward to the rest of this month is how can you craft an intentional fulfillment process exceeds your client's expectations and really keeps them happy
[00:08:29] Brian: so that your project goes smoother so that deadlines are actually hit so that you're kept sane throughout the entire process as well because if you're not at your best, you're not going to do your best work
[00:08:38] Brian: so that you get it. the thing that you really want from all this, which is to earn more money without selling your soul, getting referrals, getting repeat clients, getting a packed calendar of clients so that you can eventually raise your rates because you're in such high demand. It takes a lot to get there, but the foundation of it, you've got to have a great fulfillment process that will forgive a lot of other things.
[00:08:56] Brian: For example, if you are not so great at lead generation, you're not so [00:09:00] great at sales, your pricing's meh. If your fulfillment is amazing, a lot of that stuff can eventually sort that out. Meaning if everyone's referring you to other people, you'll eventually be so swamped that you're forced to raise rates just to drive down demand.
[00:09:13] Brian: So again, if you have a great fulfillment process, that's the beginning of this. So this might be a really long series because there's so much to cover in this. And as I was mapping this series out, thinking about all the things I wanted to share with you guys. And girls,
[00:09:24] Brian: here's some of the stuff that's going to be in this series. We got client onboarding. This is a big part of this. So this is like the first thing you do with a client when they actually pay money to you and you're officially starting the project off. That's the onboarding phase.
[00:09:34] Brian: There are five big things you do within that. I'm going to talk about all of those things. And the whole point of this is making sure you start the relationship off on the right foot. I mentioned again, this episode, I hired a nutrition coach and I joined a fitness studio or gym.
[00:09:46] Brian: Both of them had very different onboarding processes. It was actually fascinating. It The fitness studio, very good fitness, onboarding process, very clear expectation set. I walked into the gym. They literally had my name on like a letterboard. Welcome, [00:10:00] Brian, like blew me away. On the other side, the nutrition coach is actually part of a larger company.
[00:10:05] Brian: They have a really good reputation referred by other people, multiple people. I'd heard the name around. I'm not going to share the name right now because it's still early in the relationship, but their onboarding process was actually pretty mid. It was like all through email. the like kickoff call we did was like the bunch of calendar tag, They followed barely if any of the things that I talk about in the five onboarding steps that I'm going to share probably next episode. but this is a really important part about making sure you set things off on the right foot because I have a lot more forgiveness for the fitness studio with a great onboarding process and it started strong. It's continued to be strong. I've loved it. And then the nutrition coach is a new relationship.
[00:10:38] Brian: I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm going to continue on with it, but it's more of a trepidation with it. So we got to make sure we nail that part. Again, we'll share more about this in future and probably the next episode of the series.
[00:10:48] Brian: The next part of a really good fulfillment process that we're going to cover in this series again, the goal is to get more than one referral from every client that we get is communication. this is thing I think freelancers probably worst at all these things is actually communicating with their [00:11:00] clients.
[00:11:00] Brian: Many times, you know things. And you think your client knows those things, but they don't know those things. Miscommunications are some the biggest things that can ruin relationships. not just with clients. That's with friends. That's with family. That's with spouses and partners. Miscommunication is a huge problem for pretty much all people.
[00:11:17] Brian: Or it can be a huge problem for all people. we're going to talk about how that looks for a freelance relationship with our clients. Essentially, how, when, and how often you'll be communicating with them, and then a few other tips that I have for just best practices around communicating.
[00:11:29] Brian: We're going to talk about boundaries, so making sure your clients don't overstep your boundaries and you don't overstep their boundaries, either on accident or on purpose.
[00:11:35] Brian: Again, I talked earlier about if you're not in your best headspace. You're not going to put out your best work. So boundaries are a really good thing to have when it comes to staying in a good headspace. Next is project management. This is actually a big part. We've, rarely, if ever really done a deep dive on project management, especially for freelancers.
[00:11:50] Brian: But this is something that all of us need some form of it. Doesn't have to be some crazy complicated project management software, like a full build out of ClickUp or anything like that. But we need some way to make [00:12:00] sure that we don't drop the ball on the projects so that deadlines are hit
[00:12:03] Brian: and that everything's moving forward at the speed that we're supposed to move it forward. if you are the person who's constantly forgetting to follow up on things, forgetting to deliver this thing, forgetting this date of this deadline, you've got a lot balls are juggling and multiple projects, or you just work on one project at a time and there's a lot that goes into that one project.
[00:12:18] Brian: There's just so many moving parts and so many things you're supposed to do. Project management is a must. Next is client revisions. We'll talk about this again. This is not in any specific order, but these are the things we're going to talk about through this fulfillment series, client revisions.
[00:12:28] Brian: That last five to 10 percent of the project can make or break this. You could have an amazing process all the way up to this point. You've delivered all the things you've said you're going to do. You've hit the deadlines. The onboarding process was amazing. The client loves you, that entire relationship.
[00:12:41] Brian: Can quickly deteriorate during the revision process. This is something that has happened to me many times in my life where you get that long 2000 word email from the client of all the things they hate about the thing you've delivered to them and your stomach drops. This can make or break the project.
[00:12:57] Brian: So we'll talk through some of the best practices and things to keep in mind and [00:13:00] do and set up so that this part of the project goes as smoothly as possible so that you end on a note again. You can do everything right to this point, if the revision process fails, your clients leave with a bad taste, they're not going to come back to you.
[00:13:13] Brian: They're not going to refer people to you, and they might even detract people from coming back to you. and then we'll also talk kind of the fun stuff to me is like tech and tools. Like what are the things that will make us better, faster, stronger as freelancers when it comes to fulfillment? There'll probably be some more things to kind of pop up as I do this,
[00:13:25] Brian: But this is something I'm really excited to get into nerd out about this stuff. And what I want from you is to think through that list that I just shared whether it's client onboarding, communication, boundaries with your clients, project management, client revisions, tech and tools, or if it's something else. what do you feel is your weakest point in your entire fulfillment process? We can talk about the actual creativity of delivering on what you do, but that varies so much from niche to niche that I don't know if I'm going to even begin to broach that topic, but just let me know what you think your weakest part of fulfillment is.
[00:13:53] Brian: And I literally want you to email me. I want to get some feedback because this will be helpful for me to use within this actual series that we're doing. Because it might go pretty long. I [00:14:00] don't know yet. But email me podcast at six figure creative. com. That's the number six figure creative. com podcast at the six figure creative.
[00:14:06] Brian: com. And just let me know what you want to hear in the series. Let me know what your struggle is. Any of this sort of feedback is great for me because I've said this before on the show, but podcasting is very much like you're in a hole. This past year was our best year ever as far as downloads and,
[00:14:19] Brian: That's cool. But it's also was like my loneliest year as a podcast. I didn't have a single guest other than the replays we did from past guests. I don't have a co host at this point and those are two things I want to change moving forward. I feel like this podcast has stagnated a bit, how I'm showing up, what I'm enjoying out of this.
[00:14:33] Brian: Because it feels like I'm in a hole sometimes. I don't get a lot of feedback unless I ask for it specifically. So this is me begging. I'm on my knees begging.
[00:14:40] Brian: Email me, podcast at Six Figure Creative. Give me your feedback on what you want to see in this series. And then, uh, yeah, look out 2024. My goal is to shake things up in this podcast a little bit, just to keep it fresh. So that's it for this episode. We'll come back to you next week with the first in this series.
[00:14:54] Brian: And I can't wait. Thank you so much for listening to the Six Figure Creative Podcast.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.