Laura Pennington Briggs owns betterbizacademy.com. She is a freelance writer, a coach, an author and an entrepreneur who threw out her entire business model in 2015. She fired half her clients and made some new commitments, one of which was to work only with clients who allowed her to grow her business the way she wanted
- You mention on your website, one of the biggest changes in your business came when you hired your first VA. Can you tell us about your decision to do that and the effect it had on your business?
- Let’s talk about keep clients happy, what tips can you provide our freelance audience about the best ways to keep a client happy? And what does it mean to keep them happy?
- Freelancers coming in now see a sea of competition, what are some tips you have for them getting started without having to worry about the other freelancers out there?
- How do you determine your freelance rate and does it change often?
- How do you scope out your competition?
- Where can our audience learn more about you?
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
Welcome to freelancing school today we’re interviewing successful writer, author, speaker you name it, she does it. Laura Briggs. Let’s get to the interview. Thank you for joining me today. I’m here with Laura.
Is it Briggs? Is that the best way to pronounce it or I know you do a hyphenated sometimes so or Yes.
Okay. It gets confusing, but yes, it’s Briggs is fine. Laura Briggs,
who owns better visit katomina.com. She’s a freelance writer. Listen to this freelance writer. She’s a coach and author and an entrepreneur who actually throughout her entire business model and 2015. So she fired half her clients, she made some new commitments to herself into her business, one of which was to work only with clients who allowed her to grow her business the way that she wanted. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that and her successes along the way. If you check her out on Upwork, you’ll see she’s a very active Upwork Freelancer who’s got a lot of attention and captured a lot of revenue. So I want to talk to her a little bit about that. But first, I noticed on your website, by the way, welcome to the show.
Hey, thanks for having me.
I noticed on your website that one of the biggest changes you mentioned in your business came from the point at which you hired your first virtual assistant, otherwise known as a VA and I agree with that I kind of the same way. I wanted to talk to you about your decision to do that, and then what impact it had on your business. So can you tell us a little bit about that?
Sure. So most of us freelancers have been doing everything ourselves since we started and it’s really hard to give up control, partly because we get this mindset said, Okay, my success is, you know, built on me. And if I give that any piece of that to someone else, I’m risking the potential for mistakes to be made. And so a lot of people have hesitations about doing that. But one of my mentors sort of early on pointed out to me that I was actually losing money and leaving money on the table by doing all the $20 $25 an hour and $30 an hour tasks that were not the best use of my time, and it was blocking me from making other revenue. So he actually encouraged me to start outsourcing at home first, he’s like you’re not buying a lawn mower and mowing your own huge lawn. So you’re going to outsource that first. And then I grew that into working with a virtual assistant and one of the first VA is I ever hired is still working with me today. And so now I work with several VA to help run my business and keep things streamlined, but it’s made a huge impact. I often hear people say it seems like you’re everywhere. I see you everywhere. You’re doing all these things. That is a mirage. Right, like it’s only because there’s all these people behind the scenes, who helped make everything sort of come to life and make it seem as though I’m everywhere at the same
Yeah, you kind of taken the same approach. I started off hiring a VA just for general things like redundant work and and now I have a few of them that are specialists in certain areas that I think that’s better but I don’t think hiring any VA to get started is a bad idea for freelancers who are just starting to feel that that they can’t scale anymore. They don’t have any more free time. You’re thinking about the highest and best use of your time I talked about that in Freelancer masterclass, the highest and best use of your time anything other than that, you’ve got to outsource. Let’s shift direction a little bit in terms of like, let’s make talk about making clients happy. Okay, so can you talk a little bit about your tips for making clients happy? That’s a big, hot button for clients could or are freelancers because keeping existing clients is 19 times easier than finding new ones and that’s a statistical fact. There was a study done I believe by marketing channel So why why would you want to spend time searching for new clients when you could just focus on keeping existing ones happy. So tell us about how you do that. Because you seem to do that very, very well.
existing clients don’t just generate future business in their contracts, they’re also more likely to send you testimonials and referrals to other clients like them. So it’s just smart business across the board. Keep your existing clients happy. I think two of the easiest ways to do that are asked questions up front. So don’t wait until the day before something is due to say, Hey, I don’t understand the instructions. Or this doesn’t make sense. Offer to get on that 15 minute phone call and say, hey, I’ve got four questions. I think we can knock these out pretty quickly. I don’t want to start on your project until I understand what it is you’re asking. And then the second one is literally meeting deadlines. I joke that it’s half the reason I’m in business because other writers cannot meet deadlines, but be realistic with your deadlines. If the client says I need it tomorrow and that’s not feasible. It’s better to pass on that project. Because you’re going to burn the bridge with that potential client forever if they’re not willing to work with you. And if you say sure I can do it tomorrow, and you really can’t, and then you let them down. So it’s far better to say that’s an unrealistic deadline, I could get it to you in three days would that work? Worst case scenario, they’re going to say no, but that’s much better than dealing with the other situation where the client is angry, and then has to go hire somebody all over again. So be realistic with your deadlines and stick to them.
Those are two very good tips. One of the tips I always give is set expectations on your communication early. When you’re filling out your scope work, tell them that, hey, I answer emails three times a day, or you can call me anytime as long as you schedule it on my calendar, because unscheduled calls, I have to stick to client work. You know, I said that early, because I tell them, you know, if you start off responding to your clients really fast, they’re going to expect that for the length of the relationship. And you know, what, if you start responding them 10 minutes slower than you normally do. you’re seen as a kind of a little bit of a degradation of quality. There you go. Don’t want that even though you’re still responding fast then see them. So those are some good tips in there, as you know, freelancers, there’s hundreds of thousands of them on Upwork. There’s a sea of competition. We talk about competition for a little bit and, and maybe your tips on, on how someone can separate themselves from feeling like they have an endless amount of competition and in dust, doing the obvious thing, having to reduce their price just to get a job.
Yeah, so it’s important to remember that people are hiring you. They’re not actually hiring the service that you do, because there are thousands of people who do the service that you do, but they don’t all do it in the way that you do with the personality and professionalism that you bring to the table. So stop trying to compete on things like price, because honestly, you can’t, you can never compete with the cheapest person because someone will always potentially underbid you, right. It’s a good strategy for potentially getting your foot in the door. But after that, it’s time to start thinking about and asking your clients what Isn’t that makes me different, you know, what is the experience that my clients enjoy having with me. And using that in your marketing, even on competitive platforms like Upwork, I know that when I submit a bid, I will not be the cheapest person. Sometimes I even directly say that in my proposal, but I’ll focus on other things that clients have told me about working with me, because that’s going to repel those people who are shopping on price alone. And it’s going to attract those people who are like, Yeah, I’m fine with paying for quality, because you have the background or the approach that I need for this specific project.
I put that in our proposal to I say, Hey, I’m not the cheapest, and that that’s not for them. It’s, it’s for me, I don’t want to deal with clients who are going to price challenge me and I want them to know, you know, in fact, I would be considered as a premium price and I want those clients that are willing to pay a premium price. Yeah. By the way, what type of writer Are you have a certain niche or certain type of work that you’d like to take on more than others?
Yeah, it’s shifted for a long time. It was attorneys, most of my core retainer clients I write their blogs and website content. So that’s a niche that I rock pretty often. But I’m doing more and more email newsletter writing sales, copywriting building online courses for people marketing consulting. So it goes kind of a little bit all over the place. I’ve also done some content management, hiring teams of other writers and setting that up for businesses as well. But mostly, it’s blogs, website content and emails. Cool. That’s a good
niche, because content is king. So yeah, that’s, that’s great. How do you determine your rate? How can we, you know, a freelancer listening to this thing? Am I charging too much or too little? I mean, is there a formula that you use? Or is it just kind of it also to piggyback on that question, how often you change your room.
So I changed my rate. Often I raise my rates on existing clients at least once or twice a year, I changed my rate on Upwork specifically all the time, because I’m just always testing it to see if people are sensitive to that, and to see if maybe I set it too low to where someone lands on my profile and thinks that I’m actually too cheap. Sometimes if I’m full booked, I pushed my rate up really high so that only someone who really, really wants to work with me, I do that too. So it depends on a lot of things. I’ll say that if you’re fully booked, and you’ve been that way, a long time, your rate is too low. And if you’re not converting anyone and as soon as you state your price, everyone goes to you, then your rate is probably a little too high
or your value proposition the way you’re positioning yourself is not good enough right now. Yes. Okay. So So yeah, I mean, we’re just talking about competition. We talked about price and going back to competition a little bit, how do you scope out your Do you have competition even worry about it? And if so, how do you keep a pulse on your competition?
So the only thing I really worry about with my competition is if they’re stealing something that I’ve created, so I write quite a bit on places like LinkedIn about my niche. So unless somebody directly takes something from me, I don’t really worry about it because and even as a freelance coach, right, like there’s plenty of competition out there, but that’s okay because I still want someone to feel helped if they land on my site or my YouTube channel and say she’s not for me, I don’t like her. That’s fine. That’s valuable to know. Right? So you only want to work with the people who are absolutely right for you. So I often don’t think about other freelancers, I think that compare and despair is a real thing that freelancers get into. They’re always like, that person’s ahead of me, they charge more, they seem to be doing this better. And it’s a really negative place to go mindset wise, because you can’t really drag yourself out of that you can always find someone who at least appears to be doing better than you. And it’s not a productive exercise. So why do it?
Yeah, I don’t actually know somebody who’s not a freelancer, but he’s a successful business owner. He has like, I don’t know, I don’t know what network it’s got to be at least 10 to 15 million looking at his house and his cars and stuff. And he’s just negative because he’s looking at somebody who has 60 million is those kind of people are just never happy. You just gotta open yourself and you’ll be fine. If you just do all the practices and the teachings that Laura and I show you along the way the tips. So I you’ve done a TEDx talk, and that’s one of the things that In. I mean, I introduced you as a writer, a coach and author but didn’t talk about your speaking engagements. Can you talk a little bit about what you do on a speaking engagement wise? I mean, are you on tour now? Or do you just do as they come up?
I sort of do them as they come up. But it’s it’s kind of been like a tour this entire summer. I’ve been at a number of conferences. I was just at the editorial freelancers Association last week delivering to talks to that group. And I really enjoy doing speaking because it’s another way to get the word out there about freelancing. The reason I went for a TED talk specifically, is because I felt that there were not enough people talking about how much work is changing and why freelancers are jumping ship and staying there, right. It’s not out of desperation. It’s not because we can’t find another job. A lot of more people are choosing to go freelance and stay that way full time because it suits their lifestyle better. So I love speaking because it’s a new way to share your information with people to inspire other people who never thought about it. One of my TEDx talks was at Georgia Tech and it was like My target audience of millennials. And so afterwards, I did not even get to eat after that event because it was two hours worth of people in line. All students asking questions. How do I freelance? How do I start? What do I do? I’m graduating next year. And so it really showed to me there’s a lot of people that have these questions and concerns. And that’s why I like doing speaking, because it helps introduce you to a whole new group of people.
Yeah, that’s well said. I think there’s no freelancing major in school is there, they’re just prepare you for working with someone they set you up for that, hey, your time is your money and you got to work eight to five and you know, you and I are trying to break that that cycle. Is there a freelancing major somewhere and I know there’s entrepreneurship, that’s not quite the same thing.
It’s not the same and there are some I’m seeing more and more schools. I think UC San Diego has a program. They have like certifications and copy editing, digital marketing, that sort of thing that anyone can take, which I think is huge, because that’s not really anywhere else and a lot of schools curriculum still, but a lot of schools are still old fashion. I even offered to come speak to professors class in the business department a couple of years ago and he said, Oh, we don’t want to teach students about freelancing. We’re preparing them for real careers. And I was like, so my job isn’t real. IRS thinks it is.
Prince opinion there.
I’ll tell you I’ve made way more money, freelancing, a habit, any salary job, that’s for sure. Exactly, exactly. A lot of a lot of professionals are retired from from their eight to five jobs Anyway, you know, they’re just they’re doing that as, you know, just their own for their own thing, own reasons. But, you know, given how popular freelancing is, and the stats at Upwork has coming out, they do a lot of research about how much what is it like a third of the workforce now does at least some kind of freelancing? I mean, I’m shocked that there’s no kind of freelancing major or something that maybe we should start looking at a university so
well, and especially because we have such a technical skills gap here in the US and all over the world. We teach students a certain thing and then they graduate and they show up at their interviews and the interviewer says, Okay, do you You know, Salesforce, Do you know ontraport? Do you know Infusionsoft? How are you running Facebook ads? And the students are like, I don’t know any of that.
No idea. So that’s how I found you is through one of your talks. I would encourage all anybody’s listening here and go to type in Laura Briggs or something similar like that just like talk or TEDx or something like you’ll find a lot of your talks on YouTube. What else can my audience learn more about you?
So I have my own podcast called Advanced freelancing. You can check that out on my website better biz academy. com and I’ve got a Facebook group of around 1000 freelancers pretty active, all very helpful positive atmosphere to it’s called mastering your freelance life with Laura.
Great and don’t you have a new book coming out?
My book just came out six weeks ago, sort of how to start your own freelance writing business with entrepreneur press. So that’s specific for those one of the writers and the whole is it on Amazon?
Where can we get this?
Yep, you can get on Amazon Barnes and Noble. It’s, there’s an audiobook version and pretty much any way you want to consume it.
Hey, after this interview, Send me a link to that. I’ll put it in the show notes to the podcast and on this YouTube videos, people can go ahead and buy it straight from there and I’ll link to a couple of the videos on YouTube. I saw you speaking which are great, too. Thank you so much for joining us. Hopefully we can talk more in the future.
Yeah, thank you.
Thanks a lot. Bye.
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