I went to a wedding last weekend in Louisiana.
We stayed at a boutique hotel in a small town. The hotel curated our experience from start to finish. Even though there were a handful of small issues we left happy.
As a freelancer hotels fascinate me. (Overlook Hotel Anyone?)
Think About This:The boutique hotel charged twice the regular fee other hotels in town charged and we were happy to pay it.
The hotel provided a consistent experience that was backed up by social proof through attention to detail.
Example:The air conditioning piped in a light scent of rose petals in every room in the hotel. This made everything feel fresh even after you quit noticing the scent.
Imagine if you played the freelancing game with that attention to detail. I am a huge believer in social proof. Imagine the impact supplying social proof on the level the boutique hotel did for your customers.
Can you guess how many more clients you’d have, how much more you could charge, and how often clients would come back again and again to work with you?
Freelancers are like a normal hotel. You charge a fee similar to what everyone else in the market offers, you give them a room, a crappy breakfast, and send them on their way.
Charge a higher fee that supplies a better and more thorough experience. There are two ways you can do this. The first way is to bring more value to the table as a freelancer. The second way is to supply profound social proof.
How To Increase The Value You Bring Clients
Every week I get emails from people asking me how to raise their rates. If i’m not in a snarky mood I’ll suggest increasing the value they bring clients. This response generates crickets.
Look if you want to charge more just increase your rates next time you talk with a client. Chances are you’ll get booked. Most freelancers don’t realize this.
The Truth Behind Fees:Clients have budgets they have to stick to but they are usually larger than we think. Not only that clients are less interested in costs and more interested in results and time.
I know I say that a lot. I repeat it because most people don’t believe me. They say,
‘My client asked if I could go lower.’
‘Clients don’t want to pay for value.’
‘When I told them my rate they told me they could find a freelancer charging half that.’
Freelancer Truth:You are going to get turned down 60-75% of the time. That’s a good thing. Unless you are famous your rate should turn away a lot of clients. Remember you only want to work with the best. The best aren’t interested in costs, they are interested in results.
Mental Tactics To Raising Your Rates And Feeling Good About Yourself
Here are three mindsets you can use to raise your rates and feel good about doing it.
1)Most people undercharge. If you accept that you can raise your rates.
2)Don’t value your time value your results. The hourly grind devalues your work as a commodity. If you are delivering a project you are not a commodity.
3)Learn new skills that increase the results for a project.
Say you are a writer who wants to raise their rates. You could bring new skills to your client’s needs by learning:
*Narrative Brand Marketing
When you provide value you can expect value in return.
The second way you can increase your value is to provide ‘Profound’ social proof.
The Key To Creating Profound Social Proof
You guys don’t know this but booking a freelancer is scary. Clients don’t have experience booking freelancers. Most of the time they are told to do it by their boss and left to it with little guidance.
That means that the burden of the quality of your work rests on their shoulders. So after you’re gone they have to deal with the repercussions. Here is what they do.
They post a job on whatever job board has the easiest sign up and ten minutes later are flooded with templates proposals, low quality work, and more.
They low key freak out for ten minutes then start picking freelancers. They create a pool and start researching their pool. They might not know what they are looking for at first but when they see it they’ll know.
What The Pros Won’t Tell You
The freelancers who get booked supply clients with massive social proof. Yeah they use the traditional ways of supplying social proof such as:
Note:If all you ever used was this you’d crush it. Most freelancers don’t think to include these. They either copy and paste a crappy template that never gets them booked or they write a short and hard to read proposals that gets trashed.
But if you want to go deeper and deliver content that develops lasting relationships you need to supply ‘Profound’ social proof.
The Secret To Creating Profound Social Proof
Here’s how to create ‘profound’ social proof:
1)Include your client’s name in the proposals:
This way they know you wrote at least part of it. I mention this a lot in the past but so many people overlook it! Seriously this is massive. Seeing your name arrests your attention.
That’s why so many email services charge a fee to insert your user’s names at the top of the email. People are interested when they see their name.
2)Mention some relation between you, them, their project, anything you can make a note of:
When I booked a real estate writing gig last week I mentioned I read the same blog the client did and felt it had gone downhill. This sparked a conversation that led to me getting booked.
I also mention this a lot. I keep going back to it. Why? If using their name is interesting, mentioning a relation between you and the client is humanizing. You have to understand that until you speak to a client you are part of a pool of people the client sees as the same.
Standing out will make everything else irrelevant. Stand out by creating a relation to the client.
3)Including unique projects that don’t match a client’s needs but explaining the deeper reason it fits their needs:
This gives the client a lateral view of your approach and forces them to see your work in a broader picture
This is a new tip for me but an old idea. Clients appreciate people who can solve problems. Showing a client you can think around corners and apply ideas from other projects to their results is interesting.
Be interesting. The most interesting person is often the person who gets hired.
4)Provide non-project related social proof. In my case I use my website:
Do you have a website? If not you should.
It can be a pain in the ass but buying some cheap hosting, spending some money on a theme, and putting up two to four really solid articles will transform your bookings.
Why? Because it creates social proof. Think about it like this. You are a client and you need an article written. You narrowed down your choices to two people.
Freelancer 1:They have a great proposals and testimonials. They responded well and seem interesting.
Freelancer 2:Has everything the first freelancer has plus a website the client can visit and read articles that no one paid you to write that are fun, well written, and interesting.
Who do you think the client is going to hire? Freelancer 2 of course!
I call this ‘Mastering The Small Advantage’.
How Small Advantages Leads To Big Results
Freelancers who book big contracts and make real money have mastered the art of using the small advantage. What does this mean?
Simple. They figured out how to impress clients indirectly. This is nothing new. Enterprise level companies use this to their advantage. Think about the last time you bought a fancy piece of technology. Remember opening the box? I bet it was a nice experience.
The Experience Economy
Technology companies know opening your product is often the first experience you’ll have with their product and they make it count. Remember the first time you pulled the screen plastic off your new phone? Divine.
Remember the first time you sat in your new car by yourself? I bet you inhaled a big old noseful of that new car scent.
These details add to the LONG experience of their product. You can do the same thing for a client with a website. In their eyes they get to see you ‘exposed’. Want to leverage your website without spending weeks or even months producing content for it? Here’s how.
How To Make A Website That Get You More Bookings
Below is an outline of what you need for your website to increase your bookings. I am working on an epic future post that covers everything in depth. Until then you can use this to get started.
For your website to convert potential clients you need.
1)Landing Page:This is huge. Your main page needs to contain your core message in one sentence.
2)About Me Page:Keep it to the point. Discuss why you do what you do and the results you get. Keep it under 600 words.
3)Contact Me Page:Duh
4)4 Blog Posts:This is where you need to shine. Take your time. Make your articles over 1,000 words and make every word count. Remember you are running long game here. The clients you read this are going to be booking you for big contracts.
Go to Godaddy or a host buying site and buy a blog domain. After that I suggest buying cheap hosting (don’t use free hosting though, it looks tacky). You don’t plan on driving lots of traffic so expensive hosting isn’t needed.
To make your site easy to build I suggest paying for Thrive Themes. I am using it for my upcoming Summit and love it. It cost $67 for the year and has tons of landing pages you get access to for free.
Total Out Of Pocket Cost:$119ish
Quick Note:I am not getting paid to promote any of this. I am giving you the easiest, fastest, cheapest avenue to get this up. If you want to make something high quality and leverage your blog as a direct marketing tool message me. I can give you high performance suggestions.
Bonus Tip:Don’t want to spend money right now? You can also skip all of this and start a Quora profile. Answer ten to twenty questions related to your service and link client’s to your profile. You get the same result PLUS they can see your content getting upvoted.
Okay, you have your site up, your blogs posted. Now you need to low key promote it in your proposals. Here’s how I do it.
How To Use Your Website To Increase Your Bookings
This is simple. What I do is this:
At the end of every proposal I include a link to my website. My website is filled with social proof (like we discussed earlier). It is:
-Well laid out
-Had powerful copy
-Has a high converting landing page
-Includes pages of my blog content about marketing
Note:My blog has a lot of content and is geared towards marketing. You don’t need what my blog has. Remember you are using this blog as an extension of social proof, not a marketing tool.
Why This Works
Why does this work? What makes clients look at your content and decide to book you over a more experienced lower cost freelancer? Simple. Client’s like to peruse. We forget that curious part to being human. When you satisfy it with content related to a project you create powerful social proof.
I booked a small sales page last month because a client read my proposal, went to my site and read a blog article about what I learned from people who sell $1k bottles of win.
The client wanted a similar approach to their project and when they saw that I had experience in that field they booked me.
The same thing can work for your Youtube account. I would suggest sending targeted links to videos that match the clients needs since there is a lot of clicking needed for a Youtube account.
If you want to take your freelancing to the next level you need to learn to play the deeper game. Supplying ‘profound’ social proof is a start.
If you have experience booking clients with unusual methods or have a unique story about something that got you booked share it in the comments below!