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The 10 Most Brutal Client Acquisition Mistakes That Are Wrecking Your Earning Potential

Episode art
Client acquisition is obviously an important part of running a freelance business because it’s how you make sure you keep getting paid every month.
Despite how obvious this is, many freelancers don’t take this seriously enough… and it shows when work dries up and you're back into the dreaded feast-or-famine cycle.
If you worked in a day job that decided to stop paying you for weeks or months at a time, you'd probably do something about it. However, many freelancers never do anything about this in their own business.
They just keep showing up to “work” week after week, month after month, accepting their fate.
If you'd like to be a better “boss” to yourself and actually make sure you get paid every month, this week's episode is all about avoiding some of the most common client acquisition mistakes
If you stop making these mistakes and start taking client acquisition seriously, you’ll have more stability, better projects, and fewer dry spells. What’s not to like about that?
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • Avoiding the basic mistakes that you make during client acquisition
  • Adding value as a freelancer
  • Why a high close rate is dangerous for your business
  • How to increase your sales with a high-quality follow-up sequence
  • Fix your pricing model!

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello and welcome to the Six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time ever listening to the show, glad to have you here. I don't know why you chose 304 as your first episode, little bit of a random choice, but you are in the right place right now.

[00:00:10] Brian: If you are a freelancer, you offer creative services and you want to make more money from those creative skills without selling your soul. That sounds like you, you're in the right spot. For my returning listeners,

[00:00:19] Brian: Glad you're still here. Thanks for showing up again.

[00:00:21] Brian: for those who don't know corporate terminology, we are now into Q2, It's the second quarter of the year. There's four quarters, if you didn't know. a little past, I guess the time this episode airs, we're a little past the quarterway point of the year.

[00:00:31] Brian: So there's an exercise I like to do. it's fun to do right now. You should probably be able to do this if you know how much you've made so far this year is uh, Look at how much you've made so far this year and look at how that multiplies by four and what that number is going to be at the end of the year.

[00:00:42] Brian: And you tell yourself, is this something I'm happy with or something I'm sad about? Is this happy face or sad face? the good thing about being in Q2 is we still have a. Ton of time to solve whatever issues are causing us to be a sad face right now if we're not happy with the number that we have right now after the first quarter of the year.

[00:00:58] Brian: So if you're stoked, keep doing what you're [00:01:00] doing. You're doing awesome. I'm glad you're here, even though you probably don't need my help if you're happy with that Q1 results. However, if you're unhappy, Today's episode I hope is going to be something that's going to enlighten you on ways to potentially fix that.

[00:01:10] Brian: Because something closely tied to income or revenue for your freelance business is something called client acquisition. and more specifically client acquisition strategies are how you actually get clients as a freelancer, something very important.

[00:01:22] Brian: This episode specifically, we're going to be diving into 10 brutal client acquisition mistakes that are crushing your earning potential as a freelancer.

[00:01:29] Brian: You see Most freelancers, they do not take client acquisition seriously.

[00:01:32] Brian: And so when we get to this point in the year where we're one quarter of the way through one fourth of the way through, we're not happy with that number that we see. or you might actually be happy with that number, but you know, that was a feast season and we're about to hit that famine season.

[00:01:43] Brian: And so you hit this constant cycle of feast and famine, feast and famine. So if you feel like you're in that kind of cycle, maybe right now you're in a feast or a famine, but you know, you've been in that before you want to solve it. I'm going to talk through those 10 mistakes in this episode. And I'm going to bet that you're going to fall into at least four or five of these mistakes. And here's the thing. If you solve those [00:02:00] mistakes, things will get better. It's an inevitability.

[00:02:02] Brian: We We all got into this freelancing game. I think most of us got into it because of the, if you look at the sign behind me, because of the passion piece. For those who are listening right now, there's a sign behind me says, it takes more than passion. We all got into this because of passion.

[00:02:12] Brian: And so in a perfect world, we have a consistent flow of clients, the perfect types of people we love to work with, not those bill paying gigs, but the ones that actually fulfill us. There's only feast, there's no famine, to get there, we've got to avoid these 10 mistakes. So let's get into this.

[00:02:26] Brian: The first mistake I'm going to quickly just breeze over. It's what I call the obvious basics.

[00:02:30] Brian: And it's stuff I've talked about again and again and again on the show before. If you are just waiting around for clients to magically appear, that's called a word of mouth death trap. That is a disaster waiting to happen. If it hasn't already happened, it is literally the reason you get the feast and famine because you get a bunch of referrals.

[00:02:44] Brian: You have a ton of work to fulfill on, you get busy doing all that work, you neglect client acquisition even more, and you actually probably get a little overconfident because of those clients coming in from referrals, and then as you start to do the work, and time passes, All of a sudden, fewer and fewer [00:03:00] inquiries are coming in.

[00:03:00] Brian: Fewer and fewer referrals are coming in. And then you have a long season of famine where you start hustling for client acquisition. It's that feast your f This is literally the rollercoaster. This is the bare basics. So if you are here and you are new and this is the first time you're hearing about this, we do not just wait around for referrals this community.

[00:03:15] Brian: We take proactive actions. to get more than just referrals. Referrals are fantastic. They're an inevitability if you're good at what you do, but they're not how we get clients exclusively. So that's the first obvious basic that I'm just going to breeze over. If you want more on that, we've got plenty on the podcast backlog.

[00:03:29] Brian: just go back to episode 182 called the word of mouth death trap and how to avoid it. That's probably a good place for you to start. The other kind of obvious basic that I talk about all the time in this podcast is you're trying to appeal to everyone. And. Finish the sentence if you've heard this before.

[00:03:42] Brian: If you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

[00:03:44] Brian: There's this weird counterintuitive thing as freelancers that when we are desperate for clients, then we try to appeal to more people because if we could just get one of each little niche that we're going after and one for this service and one for that service and one for this type of client, one for that type of client, that it'll all add up to enough clients to pay the bills and it couldn't be further from the [00:04:00] truth.

[00:04:00] Brian: The more broad you are in your appeal, the more you will just be like water off a duck's back. You are. Ignorable. You are not specific enough for people to want to actually hire you.

[00:04:09] Brian: So that's the first mistake is just falling into the obvious basics. If you're new here, then maybe you're falling into those.

[00:04:13] Brian: If you've been around a while, then you're probably not falling into these mistakes, which leads us to mistake number two for client acquisition. And that is. You're a dabbler. This is another almost obvious basic, I almost put in the obvious basics area, but it's still worth really, really diving into, is you hear something on the show another creator out there who's telling you what to do. a good example would be Christo from the future. He tells you something really smart because he's really smart. And you're like, damn, I should really do that.

[00:04:35] Brian: And you start to do it. But you kind of. half ass it, or you just kind of dabble in it for a while. Maybe you get bored, maybe it didn't work well, maybe it did work, but you just stopped doing it for whatever reason. This is one of the most insidious things freelancers do.

[00:04:47] Brian: We want to focus on what we love and we want to ignore those things that we don't love, even though when you start a freelance business, there is a bunch of stuff that you're going to have to do. You don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. No one wants to do it, but you have to do it. And this is one of those [00:05:00] things.

[00:05:00] Brian: you find a great strategy and only dabble in it. It's a recipe for disaster. example I see all the time in our community is the boosted posts.

[00:05:07] Brian: Someone says, Oh yeah, I've tried paid advertising. I asked them, cool. Tell me more about it. What have you done? And they say, you know, I've just boosted some posts. I've spent, 10 here, 20 there.

[00:05:16] Brian: And maybe you've seen that. You've seen the boost post button. You post something on socials. It's doing well, sure. Whatever well means to you because most people don't have a strategy on social. They're just like, Oh, it got a lot of likes. Cool. That's got a lot of views on reels. Cool. So I'm going to boost that and maybe get some strangers into my ecosystem.

[00:05:30] Brian: Maybe I can get some strangers to check out my website or check out my portfolio and fill out the form. And maybe I have a new inquiry now and I'll get more clients that way. The boosted post button on Facebook, Instagram, and likely any platform that makes it that easy to just hit boost post, put a budget in and hit submit.

[00:05:44] Brian: That's what I call the donate to Zuckerberg button. Meta owns Instagram and Facebook, so if you are on that platform and you're advertising and you hit the boosted post button, it is owned by Mark Zuckerberg and you are essentially donating money, aka wasting your dollars.

[00:05:58] Brian: Great example of something that I call [00:06:00] dabbling. You did not take a strategy that is proven to work. I know it works. It works for me. It works for my clients.

[00:06:06] Brian: It works for my friends. It works in all my businesses.

[00:06:09] Brian: But because you were intimidated and you didn't go all in and learn the strategies to actually compete with paid ads, you took the easy route. You dabbled. You just said, I'm gonna hit boost post. There's a really good story that probably illustrates this point even better with Alex Ramosi. when he was running his gym business early on.

[00:06:24] Brian: If you don't know Alex Ramosi, just go look him up. He's everywhere, ran gyms early on and he was trying to get more people into his gyms. Does this sound familiar? And so he heard that putting out flyers on cars is a great way to drum up business. because he heard that from a mentor who does that for his business.

[00:06:39] Brian: So he did the strategy and he got one call from it and that person called him to complain that he scratched his car and that was that so the strategy doesn't work right well let's talk about how this was a dabble instead of an actually all in when he talked to his mentor did the flyers it didn't work the mentor said something like so what was your test size and Alex says what is a test size

[00:06:58] Brian: And then the mentor asks [00:07:00] him how many flyers did you put out? And Alex says, 500, 500 flyers. That sounds like a lot of flyers, right? The mentor just kind of laughed at him and said, 500? I do 5, 000 as a test. And then when I get the numbers back, I decide, am I going to do more? If so, I'm going to do 5, 000 a day.

[00:07:15] Brian: this is one great example of when we're doing something and we're kind of in this echo chamber or this, silo as a freelancer, we don't have a lot of great people out there to tell us that, hey, it's not 500 one time, it's 5, 000 a day. when we don't know that we're doing those sorts of mistakes.

[00:07:30] Brian: We end up just dabbling in a bunch of different things.

[00:07:33] Brian: Here's the thing. Most freelancers can get to six figures a year with one type of client acquisition strategy. One approach. They find one that works and they double down on it. The problem is most people never get to that one that works because they're dabbling in a bunch of different things. So that's brutal client acquisition mistake number two.

[00:07:49] Brian: Dabbling.

[00:07:49] Brian: Mistake number three is you are working with the wrong client. And there's a number of ways this can look. This isn't the same for everyone. But a easy example of this is you're working with broke clients.

[00:07:59] Brian: A nicer [00:08:00] way of saying it is they just don't have a budget for your services. And there's a quote I love. It says, solve rich people problems, they pay more.

[00:08:07] Brian: And there's a truth to this. It sounds like callous. It sounds horrible when you put it that way. But the truth is this. The same problem. is more valuable to be solved from some people versus others.

[00:08:17] Brian: if you're a podcast production company and you're working with podcasts, Your services are not equal to two different clients. And here's why one client might be

[00:08:25] Brian: a freelancer. For example, if you're a freelancer and a client is worth a few grand to you, maybe two to three, 4, 000 is what a client's worth to you. even if you're earning a hundred grand a year, you don't have that much money you can devote towards paying a podcast production company to run your show.

[00:08:40] Brian: If they can bring in. 10 clients for you in a year. That's 20, 30, 40 grand. It sounds like a lot, but it's not. That's how much value you're getting from your podcast if this podcast production company is serving. Now let's counter that. Same podcast production services, but it's not for a solo freelancer.

[00:08:55] Brian: It's for a

[00:08:56] Brian: video production agency. And that agency is doing three million a [00:09:00] year. and they work with clients that are averaging 50 to 100, 000 per project.

[00:09:04] Brian: Now, how does that math work out? It's about 10x. That podcast brings in maybe 10 clients a year for that agency, and those 10 clients are worth 500, 000 to a million dollars.

[00:09:14] Brian: So it's the same exact service that the podcast production agency is offering, but it's only worth 30, 000 to 40, 000 a year for the solo freelancer, and it's worth half a million to a million dollars a year for an agency. you see how not all customers are created equally Not all clients are created equally at the end of the day it all comes down to how much value are you creating for your clients?

[00:09:35] Brian: I see this in music production when you're working with really bad artists who are not gonna get fans. They're not gonna get signed They're not gonna go on tour. They're not gonna get a record label budget They're just bad versus an incredibly talented artist who has tons of potential or even better yet, an already successful artist who has already proven their potential.

[00:09:51] Brian: They are already famous. They are already putting out songs that are known to be hits. Now there is a level up you have to make as a freelancer with every [00:10:00] level up you go in the customer base or the client base. You're going after you have to get better and better. in order to compete. And sometimes you have to earn your way there.

[00:10:07] Brian: But sometimes it's as simple as you just went into a market because that's all you knew, or that's all you were surrounded by. And you took no real initiative to break into a market with better clients for you. And so you end up by default serving broke clients and broke clients have little to no budget.

[00:10:23] Brian: And little to no budget means you were always going to be beat down on your price. And when you're beat down on your price, you start to lose confidence in yourself. And you start to think that you're only worth that amount. And you start to see how this is a downward spiral. You're worth less so that you charge less.

[00:10:36] Brian: And every time you charge less and people still push back, you feel like you're worth less.

[00:10:40] Brian: And when you're working with clients who are not serious about what they're doing, they're not implementing the things that you create for them, they're not doing anything with the art that you have created,

[00:10:47] Brian: you literally are creating less value for the world as a creative. And how we make money as creatives is we create more value. If we're trying to earn more without selling ourselves, we have to find a sustainable place where our value of what we [00:11:00] create is as high as we can manage. Given ethics when I say without selling your soul that phrase means something different for every person That is something that only you can decide for yourself. But one universal truth is the more value you create with your services, the more money you will make as a freelancer.

[00:11:17] Brian: another reason that you might be working with broke clients. And there's something called lead qualification. I want to bring to your attention is how do we qualify that someone is the right fit for us? Because you've got to look at it as a two way street. It is not just, I will take any client I can get.

[00:11:30] Brian: It should be, I will take the clients that are right fit for me. only take on the clients that I know I can help that are going to be gaining the most value for what I create. Because when I spend time on something, I want it to be valuable. I want it to be good. I want it to be shown to the world and actually utilized.

[00:11:43] Brian: I want to have standards as a freelancer. And I think that most people listening to the show also want to have standards as a freelancer. so what are those standards?

[00:11:51] Brian: Well, There's a simple qualifying framework. you can use when you're talking to a potential lead. And everyone can add to this or take away from this, but the core of it is this. It's called BANT. B [00:12:00] A N T. It is budget, authority, need, and timing. The first one's obvious. Do they have a budget? Is it even in the ballpark of what you're going to charge or what you need to charge to be a sustainable freelancer?

[00:12:09] Brian: The second is authority. Does the person you're talking to have the authority to make the decision? An example could be if you're talking to a bigger company, is it the right decision maker at that company? if you're a producer working with a band, is that the right band member in that band?

[00:12:19] Brian: This can look different in every industry. A lot of times you're probably talking to the decision maker, so authority's never the biggest issue. Then we get to need. That's the N N Bant. B A N T. Need. this is one of the biggest areas freelancers really struggle with is they have a vitamin, not a painkiller.

[00:12:34] Brian: And if you look at the value of a vitamin versus a painkiller, a vitamin is something we take when we remember to, when we're trying to be our best, maybe I need to get more vitamin D. I'm going to take vitamin versus the painkiller, which is like, I have a massive migraine or I have horrible back pain.

[00:12:48] Brian: I need a painkiller. You see the difference of those two things, whereas many freelancers are just offering vitamin services. Instead of painkiller services, where can you move to a painkiller [00:13:00] service? Where can you create an offer or a service or a package that your clients need versus something that they might want one day?

[00:13:06] Brian: Many freelance industries have the ability to move on that spectrum. It is not a yes or no, it is a spectrum, anything from that vitamin all the way to that painkiller. And then the final thing in BANT is timing, is the timing going to match up? Are they wanting to do it now versus later? Is there time expectations for how long it should take? Is that all lining up? So that's like a basic qualification framework.

[00:13:27] Brian: And then on top of that, you need to bolt. onto that what your ideal client might look like. So it could be a certain size of business. It could be a certain number of Spotify streams for a band.

[00:13:37] Brian: It could be

[00:13:38] Brian: a type of business model.

[00:13:40] Brian: So let's say you do all these things, lead qualification. There's a point of, I'm bringing this to you. It comes back to this client acquisition mistake of working with the wrong client. You have this qualification framework. you know, To make sure that the budget's going to align, you're going to make sure that the timing and the need is there, all those things.

[00:13:54] Brian: And you even have some specifics of what your ideal perfect fit client is that you can create the most value for. The problem is [00:14:00] every conversation you have, which is already few and far between, tends to have something that's off, something that shows that they're not a perfect fit client. And that shows the real issue here is that you don't actually have high enough lead flow.

[00:14:10] Brian: Six Figure Creative generated tens of thousands of leads last year. the equivalent of thousands of inquiries through applications for coaching. We reject most people. It's because most people are not a perfect fit client for us.

[00:14:20] Brian: And if we just sat around waiting for referrals and word of mouth applications for this coaching program that we offer, We would have a business. probably be broke.

[00:14:28] Brian: we'd fall into the same trap that most freelancers fall into with a feast or family. We have a bunch and we have none.

[00:14:33] Brian: we would start falling into this trap of taking on any client we can get. That's a horrible place to be because now you are charging money to people who are not a good fit for you. You cannot add as much value as you need to to those people. Yeah. So you see how in order to have a large enough pool of people to select from to cherry pick, in other words, you have to have. a wide funnel at the top, aka a lot of leads, a lot of inquiries at the top of the funnel in order for you to narrow things down and cherry pick the ones that are the best fit for you.

[00:14:58] Brian: That is the core to all of this. And if [00:15:00] you don't have a lot of those, a lot of leads, a lot of inquiries, that is why you're working with broke clients or the wrong fit clients for you. So that is brutal client acquisition mistake number three. Working with the wrong client.

[00:15:10] Brian: That leads us to mistake number four. I call it a lazy sales process.

[00:15:14] Brian: Most freelancers never bother getting good at sales, and they have this inflated sense that they're actually good at sales because most of the people they talk to, they end up closing. I hear freelancers boasting about like 80, 90%, a hundred percent close rate. Of all the people they talk to, all the inquiries they get, they just close 'em all.

[00:15:29] Brian: and because of this inflated sense that they're actually good at sales, they never actually get good at sales.

[00:15:34] Brian: If you were closing that high of a percentage of clients. There's probably two things wrong with that. Definitely you don't have enough leads coming in because the only people you're getting are just the lowest hanging fruit. The people that we're going to hire you no matter what.

[00:15:47] Brian: They were the warmest referrals. They were just to repeat clients. There were people that had been following you on social media for years.

[00:15:53] Brian: the second reason you're probably closing too high of a percentage is because your prices are too low. So because you're only getting the lowest hanging fruit and your [00:16:00] rates are too low.

[00:16:00] Brian: You end up closing a high percentage of the leads that you get, and you never bother getting good at sales. You get lazy, in other words. and then when you start actually getting some other stream of, leads and clients to work, potential clients to work, let's say you get paid ads to work and you start getting a bunch of leads from that and you start getting inquiries and book calls.

[00:16:16] Brian: If you do a sales process or you start sending out proposals, if you do proposal process

[00:16:20] Brian: all of a sudden your sales process falls apart and you start saying to yourself, paid ads doesn't work for me. They're just low quality leads. but you fail to realize that's just what leads are like when they're not the warmest bottom low hanging fruit easiest to pick.

[00:16:34] Brian: And you actually have to start working for it and you have to be good at sales.

[00:16:37] Brian: You got lazy. And the worst place you can be as a freelancer is that fat and happy. You get tons of referrals. And those are just what we call shooting fish in a barrel or whatever.

[00:16:45] Brian: It's just super easy for you to close those people. And you have this wonderful feast period for some people that can be months, for some people it can be years. That false sense of like, I've got a real business of just referrals. I never have to advertise or do anything. To get clients, and then [00:17:00] it just starts to just whittle down.

[00:17:01] Brian: I've seen this so many times, it makes me sick, where you have that business that was flourishing and then starts to fall off, and you don't know what to do about it. You didn't get bad at what you do. Most likely, competitors started coming in, they have more options now, and you're not the only option they have.

[00:17:15] Brian: You never found a sustainable way to get strangers to hire you. and your lazy sales process led you down this path of destruction.

[00:17:21] Brian: If this is you, encourage you go back to episode 286, the super simple four part process for sales calls. That's a good primer into getting a real sales process together. That's for phone sales. the only reason you should not do phone sales is if your client value is really low.

[00:17:35] Brian: I'm saying like, Transcribed A thousand or fifteen hundred or less. people I see a thousand, they still make phone sales work. But everyone's different. But I'd say if you do not have a freelance business where phone sales make sense because the client value is too low, there's likely something in your business model that needs to change, or your pricing model, or your approach, or your packaging that needs to change in order to bring that up.

[00:17:53] Brian: Because it's really hard to make that kind of business work. If you have to get a hundred clients in a year to make a hundred thousand dollars, that's a very [00:18:00] difficult, operationally complex, a lot of lead gen, you have to do a lot of automation and systems on the backend to make sure you don't drop the ball with that many leads and clients.

[00:18:07] Brian: But for most freelancers, phone sales are the way to go. Phone, in person, Zoom, whatever. So that's brutal client acquisition mistake number four, and that is a lazy sales process.

[00:18:16] Brian: That leads us to mistake number five. This is kind of a follow up to a lazy sales process, and that is, You got weak follow up game. I'm going to beat this one to death on the podcast. I won't talk about it for too long, but it's worth mentioning here for anyone who maybe wasn't around when I've talked about that.

[00:18:27] Brian: If you fail to follow up with leads, inquiries, you're losing half your income. another way of framing is if you follow up, you can double your income.

[00:18:34] Brian: We have a whole episode on this, episode 287. It's right after the sales process episode. So you just go back to uh, just December of last year. the followup process that helped me double my freelance business.

[00:18:43] Brian: I share the stats in that, the specifics, but it's something like, 50 percent of my income came from leads that I had to follow up with. we see those same numbers play out again and again with the clients that we coach, but then also something like about 20, maybe 30 percent of my income came from follow up four or more.

[00:18:57] Brian: Meaning if I would have stopped at follow up three or four [00:19:00] and not followed up anything past that, I would have lost out on another 20 to 30 percent of my income. So if you have a weak follow up game, Which is brutal mistake number five, then go back to episode 287.

[00:19:09] Brian: That leads us to mistake number six, client acquisition mistake number six, and that's ignoring your gold mines. What are gold mines?

[00:19:15] Brian: Gold mines are your existing clients. This isn't for everyone. This is not a blanket statement for everyone, but in most industries, your existing clients are the best place to go when you need more clients, when you need more projects, more gigs. It could be if you're on a recurring retainer business.

[00:19:28] Brian: Those clients that are have turned or canceled or they stopped working with you for whatever reason, getting them back on, whatever retainer package you have can be a wonderful way of just, it's called reactivation, reactivating your clients. But if you don't have that type of client you offer more one off packages, which is most freelancers your past clients A lot of times you can just sell them the same thing again and again I do the same music production where I'd work with the client They'd record an EP or a single or an album and then six eight nine twelve months later.

[00:19:55] Brian: They're ready to do it again So I just resell them the same thing That's a really valuable client just [00:20:00] having come back again and again and again and by ignoring that goldmine You're missing out on 50 to 70 percent of your clients coming back to you every single year, depending on the industry. And that can be a wonderful source of how you're going to scale because if you bring in 10 clients this year, and five of them come back to you next year, and you can bring in 10 clients next year, you've brought in 15 clients.

[00:20:19] Brian: for next year. That means you bring in seven or eight the following year and you bring in 10 new clients that year. Now you're up to 18. You start to see how that starts to stack.

[00:20:27] Brian: but if you're in a niche or an industry where you can't just sell the same thing over and over again to a client on repeat, maybe you're wedding photographer, unless you're working in a very high divorce rate industry, you're probably going to client one time. There's also upsells and cross sells where you Sell a different thing to the exact same client that you just had an example would be the couple's photographer.

[00:20:45] Brian: We just worked with i'm throwing her under the bus here. I'm not gonna name her. She is wonderful what she does She did a great job. for those who don't didn't hear in the past episode my wife and I for our fifth anniversary We just took photos around the house just like capturing our life as it stands five years into marriage Which is crazy [00:21:00] to think about because I was doing We were like in episode 60 something when I went on my honeymoon, somewhere around that.

[00:21:04] Brian: This podcast has been around for a while. but she did a wonderful job capturing us Very much a vitamin service. We do not need it, but we wanted it. It was not a painkiller service, but we wanted it and it was nice to have. It was not a need to have.

[00:21:15] Brian: She charged just what I feel like was low rates. I'm not going to say the specifics, but I thought it was pretty low rates. And me as a, Freelancer coach and podcaster, I am always fascinated to watch how freelancers do things from just the analytical business perspective. So some mistakes she made with us is, first of all, we're not going to be a repeat customer for her, most likely for a couple of shoots because it's something that you just do very rarely.

[00:21:39] Brian: Transcribed by https: otter. ai

[00:21:39] Brian: Couples will do it for like engagement shoots or you know special occasions five year anniversary that kind of thing So repeat work unless there's some other type of things she could do for us. It's probably not gonna go well what else could she have done is upsells or cross sells at no point? Did she attempt to make a upsell or a cross sell to us for anything not for physical prints not for frames Not for additional services that we might [00:22:00] have wanted.

[00:22:00] Brian: I don't know what she could have offered. Maybe some like new headshots professional shots for me as a personal brand for this podcast, because I have no real photos of anything of me as a personal brand. My personal brand is garbage for the most part, at least when it comes to like the visual professional look.

[00:22:14] Brian: If you look at the headshot I use everywhere, it's actually a cropped in photo from Christmas. Santa is actually on my left in that photograph. And it's just. A cropped photo of me with Santa at my in laws Christmas gathering. If she would have sold me a package on like personal brand photos or whatever, I would have bought it instantly.

[00:22:32] Brian: She did not offer it.

[00:22:33] Brian: Another goldmine she ignored with us was she didn't ask for referrals. At least not yet. She might. But she could have asked. When she finished with us, she could have asked when she delivered the sample photo she gave us a few days later, and she could have asked us for a referral when she sent all the photos, which she sent today, she's not asked at one point, has she asked for a single referral from us, and that is a goldmine opportunity missed by her, so if you listen to the show, Then congratulations, free consulting for you.

[00:22:58] Brian: Happy to chat more about it if you want. [00:23:00] Otherwise, I do not go around giving unsolicited advice to freelancers that we work with. So I just use them as examples on the show. Unnamed, of course. So that is brutal client acquisition mistake number six, ignoring your gold mines.

[00:23:12] Brian: That brings us to number seven, and that's neglecting your online presence, especially if you want strangers to hire you. I kind of alluded to this. My online presence isn't great. I don't have great headshots and professional photos and personal brand stuff. For me, Our website is so so.

[00:23:27] Brian: All my websites are so so. They're not great. My social accounts are meh, especially LinkedIn. Our LinkedIn account, we don't even have one for Six Figure Creative. Which probably hurts us when we hire because people look us up on there all the time. But fortunately, the big pieces are there.

[00:23:40] Brian: We can be found if you Google us. All my businesses can be found if they're Googled and you got to start looking from the perspective of an ideal client for you, especially if you're trying to shift industries. You're trying to go from that, broke client to that rich client. If you're trying to appeal to the rich client, think through it from the perspective of, what if a stranger just hears about me as a freelancer?

[00:23:58] Brian: What if a stranger just heard about me? [00:24:00] What are they going to do? They're going to start doing their due diligence, their research. They're going to look me up on Google, on socials, and they're going to look for credibility indicators. We talked about all this on the last series we talked about

[00:24:10] Brian: called how to set yourself apart from the other half a billion freelancers coming online. That was again, few episodes ago. We did that whole series.

[00:24:16] Brian: When someone first hears about you, trying to compare you to. To someone else. And there's a lot they're looking for. How is your website set up? Is it professional? Does it give me the information I need to know? For most freelancers, that's a no,

[00:24:26] Brian: especially if you're that or photographer or graphic designer who just has a grid of all your work on your homepage. No copy, nothing to tell me who you are, what you do, what you're going to do for me, why you're different, why I should hire you. None of those things.

[00:24:39] Brian: You just have your work on a page.

[00:24:41] Brian: That is a neglected website. maybe your socials haven't been updated for weeks, months, or even years in some cases. I know my personal Instagram, I post on there about once a year, other than stories. For our professional stuff, we do have more content on there.

[00:24:53] Brian: Online presence doesn't really matter as much. If you were just doing like old school, belly to belly, shaking [00:25:00] hands, relying on your immediate network of people to hire you, that can work fine with very little to no online presence.

[00:25:06] Brian: Although, even in those instances, those people, even if they might like you, they still want to look into you, do their due diligence, see what your work looks like. You can get by with a bad website with that. But if you start doing things online, where you're now competing with the attention and options of all the other freelancers in the world, Neglecting your online presence will not work. It is a brutal mistake if you're making it. So that's brutal mistake number seven, neglecting your online presence.

[00:25:29] Brian: We got three more to go and these will go pretty quick here, but I hope you're enjoying this episode so far. Number eight mistake for client acquisition is you cave. You cave and you join one of those meat markets. And by meat markets, I'm talking about Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer. com, some of the specialty niche ones like Sound Better if you're in audio, air gigs, things like that.

[00:25:47] Brian: this is a move I understand. The promise of those sites is great. You just sign up and you're going to send me work. When sound better first came out, I joined it just out of curiosity,

[00:25:55] Brian: but the reality is kind of dark first and foremost. It is a transactional website. [00:26:00] They're not buying a relationship. they're not going to get to know you really They are comparing you with a grid of all the other freelancers out there They're lining you up against all the other people and they're choosing which one they want to transact with Very impersonal. But let's just say perfect case scenario here is you get into the meat market, they decide that your meat's the best meat, they buy your meat, you get transactions coming in, you're making good money. Awesome. Fiver's a win, right?

[00:26:22] Brian: But all of a sudden, you realize have a massive chunk of money coming from one source. Something you have no control over. And one algorithm change on that Fiverr homepage or that Fiverr search result or that one person that comes up and swoops the top spy out from you, all your income's gone in one instant. One quick thing, one change that you have no control over. Maybe they think that you were trying to pull people off the platform and work with them outside of their platform, so they've banned you and now you have no money coming from it.

[00:26:48] Brian: All these things and more have happened to people. Money's been withheld. Profiles have been buried in the results.

[00:26:54] Brian: I'm on some freelancer community groups on Facebook, and I see it all the time. People making massive complaints about what it's like to [00:27:00] work as a freelancer for Fiverr, what it's like to try to work with customer support to resolve issues, what they do to try to make you keep your ratings up as a freelancer, and what happens if you don't keep your ratings up, your response time's up.

[00:27:09] Brian: You become a slave to Fiverr, basically. and then best case scenario, that money keeps coming in. Well, Guess what? You still got that 20 percent Fiverr tax for the rest of your life, meaning 20 percent of your money or whatever percentage Fiverr takes right now, you're going to be paying out to that platform on top of your income tax every single month for the rest of your life.

[00:27:27] Brian: That is brutal client acquisition mistake number eight. Is joining one of those meat markets like Fiverr, Upwork, and falling for that,

[00:27:33] Brian: what I consider too good to be true promise of like, you don't have to worry about client acquisition. Thunder. That brings us to mistake number nine, as a storm passes through the area and lightning and thunder happens all around me.

[00:27:46] Brian: is you've got a dumb pricing model. There's a number of things that can go into a dumb pricing model, but this is brutal in a bunch of ways. But the first thing I'm going to say is raise your damn rates. We had a whole episode on this.

[00:27:58] Brian: Episode [00:28:00] 229 came out December 2022. So it's called raise your gosh darn rates. this is just a, uh, chant at this point for the people I work with, for the clients that I consult. Just raise your damn rates. Just raise them. That's all you got to do. All things being equal, the increase you get in money will more than make up for the decrease you get in clients.

[00:28:17] Brian: But it is an emotional decision. I understand that.

[00:28:19] Brian: At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is raise what we call AACV, Average Annual Client Value. How much is a client worth to us in one year? The higher that number, the fewer clients you need to hit your income goals. If your average client is worth 500, then you need 200 clients to make it to six figures.

[00:28:34] Brian: If your average client is worth 5, 000, you only need 20 clients. You see how much different of a business that is to run. It all comes to AACV. What is an average client worth to you in one year span? If you want to know how to figure this out, look over the last 12 months. How much did you make over the last 12 months?

[00:28:47] Brian: How many clients did you work with? That is the number. Just divide those two numbers together.

[00:28:51] Brian: So you can raise your rates or you can consider some other things. Things like. Finding a way to shift from a one time package, a one and done solution to something like a [00:29:00] recurring revenue service. I've referred to this episode many times on the show.

[00:29:03] Brian: I'll do it one more time. Annamay Tonkin's episode,

[00:29:05] Brian: back on episode 276, how to shift your clients from one time projects to monthly recurring subscriptions. She's in an industry where it wouldn't make sense. To offer a recurring subscription because she does family photography.

[00:29:16] Brian: So if she wanted to increase her average client value, she could do it by just raising rates. But every market has that upper limit. How high can we raise rates before we just start hemorrhaging clients? There is an upper limit in every market. So there is a true point that you just can't raise rates anymore.

[00:29:32] Brian: So what do you do? She did it the smart way. She said instead of Raising my rates more, I will just increase the frequency that someone works with me. And the way to increase the frequency someone works with me in a nice to have, not need to have service like Family Photos, she offers the Yearbook Club.

[00:29:45] Brian: It is a recurring subscription. People pay her monthly and they get a set number of sessions with her every year to quote something like this, I'm paraphrasing here, quote, capture All life's moments as your child grows, something like that. It's pretty good pitch.

[00:29:58] Brian: That is a better pricing [00:30:00] model than most, family photographers. And she makes six figures a year just from recurring revenue in that business.

[00:30:05] Brian: And that leads us to, an episode that was going to be part of the past series. I'm going to breeze through this cause it's not a full episode. But it's something called Goldilocks pricing. I kind of alluded to earlier how there's an upper limit in every industry about how high you can charge.

[00:30:17] Brian: Go to Lux pricing is just finding what's the thing that's perfect. There's too low pricing and that's unsustainable for you. It makes you look desperate. It probably makes people resent you in your industry. Your peers around you will resent you and not respect you if your prices are too low. Hurts your reputation.

[00:30:32] Brian: Then there's the too high, the unjustifiably high rates, you are one of the 1 percent of people listening to the podcast right now actually took my advice of raising your rates, even though you shouldn't have. You're one of the very small percentage who are already on the upper echelon of how high you should go, and you went above that, the unjustifiably high rates.

[00:30:50] Brian: That is very few and far between people, but it does happen. So I just want to put that caveat that this is a really rare issue, but it can be off putting for clients. Justifiably so. if I try to charge 100, [00:31:00] 000

[00:31:00] Brian: to launch a podcast for a solo freelancer, it's probably not going to go well for me.

[00:31:05] Brian: And that gets us to the Goldilocks pricing. Just right. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.

[00:31:09] Brian: And the way we get there in every industry is different. But it all comes down to the same core thing, and that is value based pricing. Most people just do pricing this way. They say, how long does it take me to do something? How many hours? What is my ideal hourly income? Say 50 bucks an hour takes me 10 hours to do something if 50 bucks an hour I'll charge 500 bucks that doesn't take into account how valuable it is to the client if to the client It's only worth 200 bucks.

[00:31:31] Brian: They're not gonna pay you if to the client. It's worth 50, 000 They're gonna pay you but you just way under charge for what you're offering

[00:31:38] Brian: the same when it comes to day rates and hourly rates We're I'm just gonna charge 100 bucks a day or 500 bucks a day to my client Again, it completely ignores the whole value part of this.

[00:31:46] Brian: So it can be a good place to start to figure out a price for a package, like how many hours does it take me to fulfill? Is there any wasted time in that? Et cetera, et cetera. What I want to earn, but it's not where you finish. There's still the value part of this.

[00:31:57] Brian: I think Chris Doe has I know he has a YouTube short and a [00:32:00] reel that kind of went mega viral on YouTube. Tens of millions of views on value pricing. It's probably worth watching. We'll link to it in the show notes at six figure creative. com slash 304. I think he has even more material if you want to go about that.

[00:32:10] Brian: but when you get there, when you find that Goldilocks pricing that, just right place

[00:32:14] Brian: is something that's very sustainable for you. It's something that clients won't balk at because it's in line with the value that you're providing for them.

[00:32:20] Brian: and it's a pricing you can actually feel good about because you understand the value you're providing. one of the biggest issues freelancers have when I say raise your damn rates just over and over again to them is they don't believe that they're worth more because they don't understand the value they provide. They haven't actually worked it out in their head.

[00:32:33] Brian: They haven't done the mental math. They haven't done the actual like thought process of like, wow, I actually am providing a ton of value for my clients

[00:32:39] Brian: and value by the way is not just money value is a lot of times intangible. So when I'm working with, bands doing music production, In most cases, they're not going to get a financial ROI in the money they invest with me, but it's fulfilling their great desires. Almost like they say something like a high percentage of people always have wanted to write a book.

[00:32:57] Brian: It's the same for musicians. They've always wanted to write and record an [00:33:00] album, or they always wanted to work with somebody that they, looked up to from a music production perspective or worked with their favorite band or whatever. So there's many intangible things that are value created for the client that are not just money.

[00:33:10] Brian: And so if you're working in a. field where there's not a high financial ROI, that doesn't mean it's not valuable for people. in many cases, it's even more valuable for people because it's self actualization or it's ego based. They're trying to look good to their peers and people pay a lot of money for that.

[00:33:23] Brian: That's the reason Rolex exists. They want to look good. It's the saddest symbol.

[00:33:26] Brian: So that is brutal client acquisition mistake number nine is just a dumb pricing model. I want to say dumb, ignorant, bad pricing model. It's not an insult. It's just a reality. And that leads us to the last mistake. Brutal. Client acquisition mistake number 10, and that is doing nothing about any of these mistakes.

[00:33:43] Brian: Here's what I mean. You're going to hear this episode,

[00:33:44] Brian: and you've identified that there's probably three, four, maybe even five or more. of these mistakes that you are making. Hopefully this is not one of the mistakes you're going to make is doing nothing about it. But for many people, they're going to hear this entire episode. They know they have these mistakes and they're going to do nothing about it.

[00:33:58] Brian: And so they're going to finish out the rest of [00:34:00] this year and their income is going to be whatever happened the first quarter of the year multiplied by four and that number's a sad number. Make the sad trombone sound here. If my podcast editor will do it. Wah wah, wah. Whatever. Because you knew what needed to be changed and you did nothing about it.

[00:34:17] Brian: the only way To fix these mistakes is to stop doing what you're doing or start doing something else. See, most freelancers are working on the wrong things almost all the time. Other than the client work you're fulfilling right now, which even that I could argue is the wrong thing because you're working with the wrong client.

[00:34:32] Brian: Other than working on client work, all the other stuff you're doing, in most cases, is wasted time and effort. You are improving your creative skills, which is not the thing that's holding you back right now. You are automating random things in your business because you're an engineer brain and you have to find ways to tinker with a bunch of different little fun things that are fun for your brain.

[00:34:48] Brian: They give you those dopamine hits, but they're not actually changing the bottom line of your business. You're researching that new and fun, exciting gear. You're on those gear websites. You're watching gear reviews on YouTube. I've been guilty of pretty much all these things.

[00:34:59] Brian: but it [00:35:00] doesn't make it any less true. Many times for many people, we're working on the wrong things in our business. So that even if we executed those things perfectly, our income is unchanged.

[00:35:09] Brian: You likely have no plan for what to do to fix these issues. You don't know what the right things are in your business. You don't know what those bottlenecks are.

[00:35:15] Brian: You might not even know where to start.

[00:35:16] Brian: And even if I did convince you. That these things are brutal mistakes that should be addressed ASAP. You might be inspired to make change and you tackle these things specifically that you know are mistakes in your business. You start to do those things, but nothing changes because you're doing them the wrong way.

[00:35:32] Brian: You find what you need to fix. You start implementing changes, but they're the wrong changes. They're the wrong things. You do them the wrong way.

[00:35:37] Brian: It's the reason that clients tell you you're too expensive in your sales process. It's the reason that your website is generating a sad trickle of inquiries. It's the reason that when you have a sales opportunity or an inquiry or a sales conversation and it doesn't close, you never followed up or you failed to follow up or you only followed up one or two times and then you gave up.

[00:35:53] Brian: It's because you may have tried to do the right things, but you were not doing them the right way.

[00:35:57] Brian: and there's a really good reason that you're making all [00:36:00] these mistakes, that you're doing things the wrong way. And that's because change is hard. It's easy to dabble. It's easy to just try things and give up when they're hard,

[00:36:07] Brian: but it's hard to actually fix a mistake. It's hard to actually change something in your business and see the result that you want.

[00:36:13] Brian: And it might be that, no one's holding you accountable, so you just kind of give up when things get hard. It could be that you are, doing things, but you don't have the self confidence to know you're doing it the right way.

[00:36:21] Brian: But if you actually want to change, if you want to. Fix the mistakes. If you want to make sure you're working on the right things at the right time, the right way, we are happy to help you.

[00:36:29] Brian: It is our spring enrollment period starting today for this coaching program. We have 15 spots available on the roster. That is it. No joke. 15 spots available on the roster right now.

[00:36:40] Brian: Maybe less by the time you're actually listening to this. But if you want to work with us, we will work with you to come up with a full client acquisition strategy, and we will pitch it to you.

[00:36:47] Brian: This is your plan for what we'll do to work together in coaching. And if you don't accept that plan, we just part ways. You wash your hands of us. We move on and you have no obligation to work with us. If you do approve that plan, we will work with you one on one to actually implement that plan, all the steps in [00:37:00] it, making sure you're doing things the right way, we will look over your work, we will give you feedback, we will collaborate with you to make sure that those things that you're doing, those problems you're solving, are actually done the right way, that your pricing, your packaging is right, that your messaging is good, that your website's actually going to convert, that any ads or paid stuff or any funnels you create or any Anything you do from client acquisition standpoint, anything that's in that roadmap and that plan that we create for you is done the right way and then we will politely but firmly hold you accountable so that you don't just give up and stop working on it, that you actually see the plan to completion because if you do not complete it,

[00:37:32] Brian: So if you're at least interested, go to six figure creative. com slash coaching and apply. I can promise you we will not waste your time if we do not think you're a good fit. We reject most people

[00:37:42] Brian: and that is not a slight on you. It is just literally basically exactly what I talked about in this episode. We work with our perfect fit clients and if we cannot help you, we will not waste your time or money working with us. But if we think you're a good fit, we'll chat with you about it.

[00:37:55] Brian: This is same application, the same process that John went through. John came to us, he was at, 8, [00:38:00] 000 a year as a freelancer. Very low income. It was his part time gig, he was working at a church, and I checked with him a few weeks ago, and he is now over 150, 000 a year. We worked with him 2022, that first year we worked together over a hundred grand 2023 over 150, 000 2024. He's now on pace to do even more than that. But his bottleneck now is he needs people to help him because he's capped out as many clients as he can work with right now. That's the place I want anyone that I work with to be is that capped out point where now I literally cannot take on more clients, meaning I will cherry pick the ones I want to work with.

[00:38:29] Brian: And if I want to grow further, I can hire help underneath me. That's a great place to be. Again, if you go to that page, six figure creative. com slash coaching, it's the same application that Nick filled out when he came to us. He was at 000 a year.

[00:38:39] Brian: Again, now he's over six figures. and the cool thing about Nick was when we talked, his goal was to quote, retire his wife, meaning his wife comes home, helps with the kids.

[00:38:47] Brian: he just retired his wife earlier this year. Massive win for him.

[00:38:51] Brian: If you fill that application out and you decide to work together with us, the first thing we'll do is come up with a plan. If you do not believe in that plan, we just ask you to reject it. And we will part ways again. I [00:39:00] do not want to work with somebody that is not all in with the plan that we've created for them.

[00:39:03] Brian: So it's at least worth if you're at all interested to see what that plan would be if it's better than what you would do on your own. even if you approve that plan, And we work together. Our coaching is month to month. You can pause it. You can cancel it at any time. We do not lock people into year long contracts.

[00:39:16] Brian: If you are unhappy with us, you just kick us to the curb.

[00:39:19] Brian: So if that sounds interesting, just go to SixFigureCreative. com slash coaching. Thank you so much for listening to the Six Figure Creative Podcast. See you next week.

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