Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success brought to you by Freelancer masterclass calm. You’re listening to freelancing school with your instructor Mike Volkin.
Alright, thank you for joining me with freelancers school. Today I have with me Andrew Lee Miller, who spent over 13 years growth hacking startup wins, including five years in Dubai and five years in Silicon Valley. And since his third exit as head of marketing, he’s launched and grown tech companies in over 15 countries driving traction over 22 million in funding rounds as a consultant via his company, which is growth experts with a Z including launching a new dating app for Tinder last year that ended up being internally acquired by none other than match.com. If that’s not enough, he is also lectured. Over a dozen countries about low budget growth hacking strategies, one of my favorite strategies, working in both 500 startups and Y Combinator projects. He’s written for Startup Grind startup nation and magazine. Andrew is also launched an interactive online growth hacking course, which we’ll talk about, that teaches unfunded startup founders how to build scalable organic growth themselves without any outsourcing or paid advertising. So Andrew can be found online by simply googling Andrew startups. So today, I figured, Andrew, welcome to the show, by the way.
Today I’m having an open conversation about how freelancers can bring in their first few clients. I talked to a lot of freelancers, as you can imagine, and many of them are startups, startup freelancers, part timers looking to be full timers, and they always ask me how can I bring in my first few clients. So given all of your growth hacking strategies, your endless knowledge on, on, on growth hacking? What Some of the quick easy wins that a freelancer can do to bring in their first client.
So I think there’s two things I can talk about I could talk about specific channels or I can tell exactly how I got started. So after the third exit, I went to a convention called hustle con if you have you’re in the Bay Area, you can go to the dude in New York to It’s amazing. And I went with the intention of finding consulting clients but I was you know, as a freelancer, but I just didn’t care what people would pay I was totally focused on the value. So the first tip is, don’t worry about what you’re going to charge someone that first client just won’t focus on crushing it for them remotely. And whether if you’re there in person or not, but just really focused on crushing it for them and getting paid for it. So a lot of times if you’ve never done the work as a consultant, some people will even start for free. So I did I started actually by bartering so with, you know, small businesses, I’ll barter with you for some marketing help. Then I started to get my confidence up. started charging more and more, I think I started just 1500 dollars a month. Let me focus on really crushing it for you, then I get my confidence up, then I get case studies, and then I can raise my rate up. So I think the first piece of advice is just really get that first company in the door, that first client in the door will matter what they’re going to pay you work as hard as you can to crush it and make it a successful testimonial. And then you can just move your rate up and you can start charging what you want. So that’s the first tip. But as far as the first channel, I think you should go to it’s really
hold on. Can we talk? I have a question about that really quick. So you went to her? Right hustle con, which I’ve heard of it never been to us. I’m gonna go are you going to the next one? Or
if I’m in America? Yeah, sure. Yeah, by
the way, you’re in Thailand right now. Right Roman.
This was I’m actually I I always I lived in Oakland, where the where the convention was so I wrote their press release. I even growth packed. Getting into the event. I wrote their press release one year so they gave me a ticket the next year. I gave them some marketing advice. I wrote the blog I think as well, but so I didn’t have any expectations. But I spent the whole conference in the lobby just giving free marketing advice to founders. So I think one of the biggest tips is really just focusing on creating value. You know, it feels really stressful when you’re starting out as a freelancer, you want to just sell people sell people sell people, but everybody’s out there selling so you could go to a platform like Upwork you can go to other platforms and really try and find micro jobs there. But if you really focus on just creating value and really helping people, the jobs are going to come so I was in lobby the for the eight hour day just you know, I wrote like need free marketing advice or something on a white shirt and permanent marker. And why why can you get free market advice and like I said, I just had my third exit as the marketing person or somebody just had third exit, need marketing advice. And then so there was a line of people just asking, Hey, I’ve got this problem. They’ve got this problem. And I, you know, some that really liked the advice would give me their card and then I followed up with them and I clicked To 1500 dollar a month clients right outside of that event or right after, after I moved to Nicaragua, you can’t really live on $3,000 a month in the Bay Area, my rent was half that at least. So I moved to Nicaragua for six months at $300 a month rent. And I didn’t try and upsell those clients, I didn’t try and bring on other clients, I just focused on crushing it for them. For six months, I mean, I was still making 10 times my rent, so I didn’t have to worry about the top of the funnel and money coming in. Instead, I just worried about crushing it for those clients, six months. My goal, my goal as a consultant and as a freelancer is to get them to outgrow it, get them to outgrow me within six to 12 months, so that they need a full time marketing hire and a team and then I help them to hire and train that team and then hand over everything. So I did that with those clients within those six months. And then the next client I was like, Well, I know I did $10,000 worth of work for these guys, but I’m going to go in at 5000 and then I literally closed my The first person I pitched that 5000 because the amount of work that I did for this other company at 1500, which I didn’t tell them, yeah. How many five? Yeah, you know, like, because it’s still full time work, you’re still getting this guy from San Francisco. So it’s just basically about increasing your confidence in that building. Right?
So your advice is just to get out there. I know a lot of freelancers are introverts. As as myself, I don’t see myself going to an event. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. But I always encourage freelancers to go outside their comfort zone and do some kind of prospecting. But I really like that idea going with a blank t shirt writing in like a marker like, Hey, you need design helping each new market out. Really cool. So you didn’t have a booth or anything. You just went there and you started mingling. And people were coming up to
you ever pay for a booth? No, I’m all about growth hacking about getting shit for free. And so I worked with the startup founder A long time ago, we were in the travel space. And we looked at the cost of booths at events and he was like, I’m just gonna go and talk to people and so, especially being in San Francisco, I would say 30% of all Good events happened in San Francisco or New York, you can just fly to either of them and literally be in the lobby and you’ll get 50% also targeting people on social media before the event and saying that you’re going to be there you can line up meetings in the lobbies like, like crazy like but
a lot of people released their, their their exhibitor list, right, and even attendee list before the show, so you can just follow them all on on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve done that before. When I was attending an accelerator program for startup investors, and it worked out very well. By the time I got the show, everybody knew me. And I knew that everybody knows you
knew the hashtag using the hashtag of the event is really good. But if you’re a super introvert, let me just touch on a couple like digital channels. So if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking like going to event is impossible for me, you can do the digital version of that. So you can use a tool called Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, and you can look at people griping or complaining about the problems that you’re able to solve. And you can direct message you can respond to people at scale. It’s really easy. So tweet deck and Hootsuite these are search engines for social media. You can search on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook by keyword or hashtag. And then you can so if someone’s saying, God, the design of my website sucks, I really need help. Obviously, there’s other freelancers out there doing this. So you need to be the most valuable message but you can offer them a free 20 minute chat with you digitally, you don’t have to step outside your comfort zone and say, hey, I’ve got 10 years experience, I’d love to give you some free advice here. Here’s my calendly link to book a call with me. And you know, you’re not focused on selling them in that call, you’re just giving them as much advice as possible. And then you know, after the call, you can send them by the way, these are some things that I do you know, I’m freelancer, you know, if you’re interested in following up, these are the products that it’s that I have are the ways that I can help you. So there’s the digital, that’s one thing I think you can do for free. You can you can also give those same posts on groups. So go into group and I’m a 10 year design expert or growth hacker and recently starting my freelancing business and I’m for one week only. I love this Group I’ve been getting a lot of value from this group, I would love to give anybody a free 10 minute call you can, you know, or do an ask an AMA on Reddit. So I’ve done those a couple times. And ama if you’re listening and you don’t know anything about Reddit as an Ask me anything, it’s literally you giving yourself to the community for about an eight hour period of just answering questions. I mean, it takes forever, but it’s really valuable. I personally did that on the entrepreneur subreddit, maybe six months ago, and it got 500 upvotes thousands of comments. And you can still find it on there. I just wrote on a 10 year Facebook ads expert giving away any free advice for the day to entrepreneurs. And it didn’t really move top of the needle for like the big big consulting, but I got a lot of books, I do add reviews for $500. I’ll dive into your ad campaigns and help you figure out the problems the targeting mistakes, the wording problems, you know, and I got a lot of those clients out of that. So it’s just good for giving back. You shouldn’t think about how am I going to make money it’s how can I give back Two people and then the money will just come.
Yeah, interesting. We haven’t talked about anaise. before. I haven’t done one, but I know freelancers who’ve done it in the past, so basically, you would sign up with a Reddit account. Ama for those of you don’t know, stand for Ask me anything. So you go into a Reddit account and what do you do you suggest to the owner of the board or if there is one, and if you say, listen, I’d like to do an MBA on an MBA on this particular day or what’s the process there?
Yeah, so you you messaged the moderators of the board. I like entrepreneur, if depending on what your industry is, or who your target demographic is, or what problems you think you can solve. If it’s a design one, you might want to do it on design, or maybe not you want to go on entrepreneur or startup subreddit, but you messaged the moderator. This is the value I can create. I’m interested in doing this and your be transparent. You know, like, I’m starting out my freelancing business. So I’ve been told by my mentor to give away as much free advice as possible. So not going to upsell these people but I’m really interested and then you don’t have to upsell people. They see See that you’re a thought leader and that you’re an expert. And then they start to dm you and they start to slide in your inbox. And they start to I mean, I got messages through my website messages through social media. And so it comes naturally to that’s one thing, you can do an AMA. You can do it on Facebook groups as well. So you messaged the owner of the Facebook group and you say, you know, I want to do an AMA on your Facebook group. We can do it on video, I can respond to questions that people have. And so, but again, the mindset is really just about creating value.
Okay, well, that’s a really good strategy. We can talk about that more in detail later on. I want to talk about maybe some setbacks that you’ve had in your career, maybe like one or two that stand out, were you like, wow, I learned my lesson there. I won’t do that again. I’m gonna I haven’t like prepared these questions in advance for you. So I’m kind of putting you on the spot, but it’s a one thing that really stuck out over the course of your career said, Wow, that was a bad mistake. Maybe I should do that again. And something I can easily teach other freelancers, not still Yeah,
so as a freelancer, you know, when you do get a lot of work coming inbound, you think that that gravy train is going to last forever, and you stop Focusing on the b2b marketing, right, I’m just focusing on crushing it for these clients. But that isn’t always the case. And you need a steady pipeline of new clients coming in as new, older clients are going out. And it’s really difficult to get that down to a science. And you know, it’s difficult at the end of the day, you know, after working five or 10, or whatever hours to then go back to the top of the funnel, and create more content and put out more blog posts and make more videos and reach out to more companies and offer yourself but you got to keep doing that. And I think a mistake that I made was, you know, 2017 was an unbelievable year for me, and like, just everything just came inbound and 2018 was also pretty good 2019 I don’t know if it’s people feel an impending recession or Trump’s going crazy or whatever it is, but I’ve had to work a lot harder at my level to even to put outbound stuff out there and I never had to do that before as a consultant. You know, like, I had PR from the last exit. Like I said, I went to these events and I really just focused on my network. But since I maybe also been traveling a lot more and left San Francisco where your network is tight, but I really feel like a big lesson for me has been you know keep that pipeline warm and keep that top of the funnel rich
Freelancer masterclass we call that a dp always be prospecting and we talked about like dry spells and whole class on and like sometimes your seasonal variations depending what type of freelance you are. Sometimes there’s an economic variations like you would mention that may or may not be affecting the economy and freelancers and sometimes I just mentioned the seasonality it’s like you know, maybe you’re maybe if you’re an e commerce marketing expert, maybe fourth quarter is like super hot because everybody needs marketers in the fourth quarter I think we’re most of the online sales occur and then the first quarter just kind of is dry. So you always have to have that that pipeline going so that’s right. You mentioned earlier Tweet Deck. And for those of you don’t know that is a live streaming keyword based Twitter. Search, right. I’ve used that before. So you can search hashtags and having streaming on your computer. And you had mentioned the value of, of, you know, providing better value like a freelancer can reach out to you. But I think TweetDeck is really used for the timeliness of it. Sometimes you’re not, you might not even be the best value, or even the best match for a client. But if you’re the first one to reach out to them, and show them that your solution to our problems, then you can probably get the job, you know, that way just by being timely, more so than people. Right?
Right. And I think the goal is to just really get them to chat with you and provide a much so much value that they’re like screw anybody else because no one else is going to focus on creating value for that. I think that’s really how you win is you know, like, Oh, I have an article I wrote that’ll help you write on there and just really creating value, then they go this guy or girl is the most helpful. I’m going to work with them because I trust them more than people try to sell me and take my money. So that should be the focus.
How much of your work is referral work at this point?
What percentage 75% I think a good It wasn’t
like that when you got started right?
It was probably wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that. But I also hadn’t been a consultant. So I, you know, people had been coming inbound to me for years as when I had full time marketing jobs. And I said, No, I’m not available. So putting myself out there really taking the plunge. I think like, and really posting publicly that I was out there, as a consultant, a lot of referrals really started. And you know, the proof is in the pudding, right? So if you if you’re a designer, and you know, you’re not sure if you want to be a freelancer, if you’ve got an amazing portfolio, then you’re going to be able to create and same thing with marketers, it’s all tracked, and, you know, qualitative quantitative right there, I can prove the numbers that I’ve gotten the companies that I’ve worked for, that have exited. So the referrals keep coming and I’m really happy and very blessed of that. And it is much harder to pitch and sell. So if you can keep the referral game strong and that’s definitely the easiest thing to do. Much easier
to bring a referral client in the door right not only for, you know, closing them, but also for charging them more along What you think you deserve rather than trying to, you know, I tend to not negotiate with referral clients at all. They’ll just I’ll just tell them, you know, this is what I’m going to charge you. And they were like, Yeah, I heard great things. So you know how absolutely let’s get on board.
If anybody comes, if anybody comes inbound to me, then they already you know, they saw me speak publicly, they read an article I wrote, then there is no negotiation, you know, like, I’m not going you know, go ahead and talk to someone else hire a junior marketer come back in six months, and they’ve made the mistakes or you haven’t gotten the work done and that’s fine. I, I find that you know, you don’t want to be offended and burn a bridge or anything, but anybody that tries to cut you down for what you’re charging. I think that’s another piece of advice from sure you help freelancers? I actually, that’s probably one of the biggest things for my fellow freelancers are like how do you charge money? How do people on Reddit that I give advice to you know, it’s, it’s if you’re I focused on putting full time working, I know we’ve chatted about our different work focus. Instead of optimizing for what I’m going to charge I optimize for the month. A value I can put out. And if you think that you’re doing as much as a full time hire, then that’s what you that’s what you should be charging. Don’t worry that you’re not in their office, let them worry about it’s a results oriented work environment. These are freelancing, you know what I mean? So yeah, just other results.
Yeah, very much so especially in the marketing field. So, before I asked you where our audience can can find you and follow you online, I want I have one last question. I would like to ask you talked about your successful speaker. It’s a great way to build a brand a great way to develop leads. So how does someone who’s interested in getting up on stage and developing a speaking tour or even even something just local like what’s, what’s your goal is like a first step to get started? Is it just find something to talk about and develop a presentation or is it something else?
Yeah, developed something valuable to talk about. So for me, I actually synthesize my growth hacking course. The course that walk that has 45 HD videos and blah, blah, blah, blah, amazing. Value it’s hours of video, I synthesize it into a two hour talk where I walk business owners how to through how to do their own PR, how to do their own social media marketing, like talking about that tool with Tweet Deck and other tools for scaling up social media marketing. So I created a two hour or hour and a half to two hour presentation. And then I just basically reached out to organizations and partnered with we work with founders Institute, Startup Grind, startup blink, and a bunch of different co working spaces around the world. And then I basically just went on tour on my own on my own bill. And again, just really focusing on the value I can create. I obviously started where I lived in San Francisco first really focused on getting feedback from people learning about what I’m good and what I’m not good at on public speaking but you just do free events. You don’t really need anybody, you don’t even need a partner. a month or two ago, I did a free I couldn’t get a partner in Tel Aviv until the last minute when I was there, for I was speaking out of university so I wanted another free event. So I just did it at the beach. I literally put it up on Facebook and an event, right it had 15 people come. And I ended up working with a couple of those founders for add reviews and other cheaper, lower funnel, lower ticket price consulting engagements, but like a totally free event because of Facebook and event right and Meetup group meetup. com, you can pretty much promote your events for free. Obviously, as a marketer, I do a little bit of spend on Facebook ads as well, especially if it’s a paid event. But I yeah, I’ve done like 15 events this year, I would say 75% of those were my I created the event myself, then I found partners. And then the more and more events you do, like you said, They’re great content, you put them in your social media, and then stuff starts to come inbound after that. So people hired me to speak to their organization, or hire me to speak at their event series and and so you start out doing it yourself, then you just be like, you know, pay for my travel and that’s enough and then as you move up, you can charge more and more. And even me I mean, I’ve probably done 5030 to 50. And I’m still only like, if it’s if I’m not going to lose the opportunity if they can’t pay me, right if they don’t we’ll cover my travel I really want to speak to the so for me, I’m not it’s not a revenue generator, I just really want to get out there and speak. And then I find like two to 3% of people in the audience end up buying products from me. So it’s it’s
like it’s a when you’re building your portfolio just like you’re getting clients like you say, you spoke at this event and that event, and that helps bigger I say, hey, this guy knows what he’s doing right? Now. That’s probably a whole other topic of discussion we can have is on on building a speaking engagement, base and tour and even mentioned something interesting is like, Don’t even worry about if there’s an event exist, just create one. There’s opportunities through meetup com and all these other places, just create an event and just start inviting people. That’s a that’s we could talk about an hour about that. I actually give complimentary talks, I give talks on on branding and marketing communications, and you give talks on growth hacking, so we probably should combine our forces at some point and have a really, really
Yeah, absolutely. And I have, I have some of my talks recorded as well, so we can share them with your students if we want. One thing I have noticed over the past six months, so I had a talk in South Africa with a organization, and they refuse to let me do a free talk. Normally, my talks are free because I don’t focus on the revenue I generate. It was a really, really high end. founders only invite only co working space in Cape Town, South Africa, and they charged like $10 a person. And I was offended. I didn’t know how to feel. I was like, I want it to be free. And they were like, no trust as we know the market, you’ll get way higher quality attendees. And I was blown away. It was the most engaging audience. The most highest quality in the sense of everybody had a real startup. It wasn’t you know, no offense to the dreamers and everything but if you don’t have and if you’re only at ideas that you might not be able to benefit from the tactics that I’m teaching, so like real founders that had real projects that were out there in the wild, so I’ve learned Reese, you know, if you’re if you are starting an event, charged A minimal a nominal fee, like five to $10 a ticket that it might sound stupid. But you know if I’ve had an IDA free event in Dubai, where we had 500 people come to a 200 person auditorium, and it literally burnt the bridge with the organization because it destroyed they’re like, you know, they had people sitting on desks and yeah, you know, angry and writing and posting bad things on social media about the event space, because I didn’t, I didn’t cap the tickets. I just said, okay, but anyway, I didn’t think all 500 will come anyway. So I think it’s important lesson for me to price it, even five to $10. And then it makes you a little bit of revenue. And that’ll help you get your confidence up. But then you can reinvest that in the paid ads promoting your couldn’t agree with that
more for sure. So tell us, our audience how they can follow you online and learn more about you.
Yeah, so there’s three main things that I do for startups if there’s a startup founder or a business owner or freelancer, that’s listening You’re probably not interested in my high level consulting stuff unless you’ve raised millions of dollars. You can message me then. But for freelancers, I’m definitely interested in coaching or helping them with the business. I do like an hourly coaching thing. You can find me online at Andrew startups.com Andrew startups on Instagram or any other social media. And yeah, just google Andrew startups one word and you’ll find content that I’ve written that I would love to help anybody that’s interested in chatting.
Okay, Andrew startups. I’m a follower and a fan. Thanks so much for joining us. Let’s keep in touch for future talks. Okay.
Definitely might take too much. Take care.
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