An interview with Michael Brooks, founder of goLance

Show Notes:

Michael Brooks is a successful digital investor and entrepreneur, Michael carries with him over 17 years of experience in FinTech, payment processing and digital marketing. Michael finds new strategic business solutions through software development and electronic payments.
He is the founder and of two global brands: the popular subscription billing and digital marketing platform Response CRM. and global freelancing network, goLance.

goLance was launched in 2015 and has paid out more than $63 million to its recipients.
Response CRM has 300 plus e-commerce clients worldwide.

Michael is also the author of two published books on electronic payments and digital currency
-How important is it for a freelancer to maintain a good reputation?
-What can a freelancer do to maintain a good reputation?
-How should a freelancer diffuse conflict with a client?
-What are some common mistakes freelancers make?
-How can our audience learn more about you?

Raw Transcipt

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.

All right. Thank you for joining me everybody. I’m Mike Volkin, host of freelancers school and lead instructor Freelancer masterclass. Today, we have with us michael brooks, a very successful digital investor and entrepreneur, Michael carries with him over 17 years of experience in FinTech payment processing, digital marketing, and Michael finds new strategic business solutions through software development and electronic payments and we’re going to talk about that. In addition to some advice he has for freelancers, he is the founder of two global brands, the popular subscription billing and digital marketing platform called response CRM and global freelancing network called golems, which I’m now a proud member of, as of this morning, I signed

And Gold Rush was launched in 2015, and has paid more than 63 million to its recipients. And response. CRM, by the way, has 300 plus e commerce clients worldwide. So if you own or want to start an e commerce company, be sure to check out response CRM. Michael is the author of two published books, which we’ll talk about one’s on electronic payments, and the other one is on digital currency. Welcome to the show, Michael. Thank you, Mike. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. It’s a pleasure to be on this program. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. I have to address this right from the start. This is the coolest background I’ve ever had. You’ve got a night where are you right now and tell us tell us how you got there. And and why that if you can’t explain that night, that’d be cool. But I understand you can’t. Absolutely. So this was in the castle that we rented. We have a nine room castle here with the 18 of us rented, rented a castle and we just kind of meet up and we all work and but it’s a combination of business owners and freelancers.

Live in affiliate marketing, and we just kind of go places around the world and meet up and do cool stuff. So this will divine on Airbnb get really good prices on castles if they’re in the middle of nowhere. But this is actually centrally located the machine castle in Ireland. And it’s just been a great week and everyone kind of does their own thing, but we get time to spend together and we’re meeting up after this with another group in Croatia, on an island called brush with lawyers and software developers, people from all around the world. And my friends from here are going to Munich for Oktoberfest. So we just kind of go and like we really live true to our core which is

freedom where you want to go and and work where you want to work every my kids with me so I’ve got a wife and two, great. We homeschool and bring them with us. So it’s it really is a lifestyle choice. That’s great. And I’ve been on that island in Croatia. It’s freaking unbelievable.

I love to travel to. So hopefully I can work my way into your group there. That sounds very exciting, although I do have a 10 week old at home, so I don’t know how much traveling I’m going to be doing next few months, but

let’s definitely keep in touch. So you obviously have a very good reputation out there. You’ve been doing digital marketing and other things for a very long time. How important is it for a freelancer to maintain a good reputation? It’s everything. Right? It’s, it’s easy to lose it one one mistake. I mean, this is a experience that wisdom, you know, I’ve been I’ve been working since I was 19. building businesses since I was 19. And, you know, a mistake can cost you a decade. So be really careful who you work with the type of projects you take, and then also contributing constantly and constantly doing things like this podcast, you know, we get to know each other we’re getting, we’re getting exposure, getting to talk, all that thing, builds up reputation, reputation is essentially something worthless.

Yeah, wants to know who you are, do you have do you value what people say about you, your reputation, your reputation, use your credit. So that’s a that’s, again very hard to build, very easy to lose. So there’s rules that you want to processes and, and things you want to think about when you’re when you’re taking on work. And when you’re taking on a freelancer to find that you’re equally yoked and that you’re, you’re both aligned in Division professional. Yep. We talked about Freelancer reputation in the master class. And one of the things I say is that don’t underestimate how one bad review of you or posting of you out there could hurt your in damage your company, because you have to think of yourself as a company. So I didn’t want to make makes make it clear to our audience that one, even bad review, even if it’s not justified could really hurt your reputation. And speaking of that, though, that leads into my next question, What can a freelancer do from your perspective to maintain a good reputation?

Well, it’s it’s, it’s challenging, right, and we face the same challenge. So we’re on trustpilot. And, and we care a lot about our reviews, some of the other guys care a lot, also some don’t care at all. And we go in and if somebody gets a bad review, I personally will go in and ask them why, what we can do to change it. What was their experience? And we’ve learned a lot from that. We’re not in the luxury position of rejecting people and accepting people, we have to let people work as long as they meet our requirements, we’re going to work with them. But a freelancer and a client have the luxury of saying, You know what, I don’t necessarily know that I’m going to take this you know, or

and that’s, that’s tough because the freelancer wants work right there. They’re there. They don’t want the job of going out and finding work because that’s easy to do their hours, the hours and the time, the time is their money. And so if they get presented with something, a job, something that seems really good. You really want to take a look at the people behind it.

You want to look at what what they’ve done and see what protections you can put in place. Even saying, hey, look, I like you, I wanted to test to see how we work together because like you said, one bad review from one nasty person can hurt. And and it’s and it’s damaging. And it’s, you know, a lot of times, especially in this world, there’s a sickness that we’re trying to cure. And that is that you’re over there. I’m over here, I don’t really know.

You know,

people are less likely to do damage or spew nastiness of somebody that they can look at the face and look at the rights to recognize their humanity. But how do you recognize the humanity of someone? You thought you were paying $500 for a website, and what they delivered you was not what you were thinking, even if it was they were thinking there was no meeting of minds you were blank. Right. So clarity of project, clarity of expectations, lots of good work, if you have to take on clients where you’re not sure about him clarity of x

vacations and snippets constant check ins, is this your direction? Is this What’s going on? This is the expectations constantly checking those. So you don’t have to walk back or cancel a project, which is possible. But I would say the number one thing, even if even if somebody’s not the greatest, the number one thing is is professionalism. And that’s the one thing you can control. Right. And it will probably have the greatest impact is just be professional. I’ve seen it. We’ve seen people that have made mistakes. We’ve seen people that have clients that are not aren’t happy. We’ve seen people that have made clients really happy but one consistent thing they do is behave in a professional manner and and hold themselves to up to a higher caliber. And that’s a that’s, I’d say that’s probably the most impactful factor. Yeah, when it doesn’t take much training either. Right? being professional,

self discipline, Warren Buffett has a excellent he said something I’ve read it on Facebook.

said that if you can’t control your if you can’t control your emotions, you can’t control your money. We’ve all had. We wanted to say things because of the way they made us feel. But if you’re in a position in somebody’s hands you trust of their project, their work. Whatever happens professionalism wins. Yeah, no. But but most of the time that part’s disease. Yep. And early communication. That was another point that you brought up that super important. So I like that I didn’t get a chance yet to introduce the audience to go Lance, can you tell me a little bit about go Lance and its value prop? Sure. I’d love to, like I mentioned, I founded response CRM, and that company a few years back, I turned to taking on a partner, someone that took more and more of the responsibility and I’m almost completely out of responsibility there. And and I started looking around, I’d written two books on electronic payments and digital currency. I was kind of like, what am I

Going to do with my life. And I started walking things backwards saying, Well, how much longer do I want to work? So I guess it 40 years I can where I was 3536 41. Now, I’m going well, I could work another 40 years, right? That’s I’m not going to quit from 75.

I don’t plan to so if I was going to do something for the next 40 years, what would I want to do? And I used other freelance platforms out there, and I love this space. It was a burgeoning space. It’s it still is. I love the payments aspect, lower fees, faster payments, that’s what we’re about. But it was like we when you can commit and obligate yourself to such a long term vision. It helps lay a foundation that you wouldn’t normally like if you have heavy investor demands and things of that sort. So we’ve been able to make decisions that say,

you know what, we’re

We’re going to take things slower. We’re going to look at the long play well, how are we going to fix things and get the best experience? for the long run? How are we position ourselves for the next 40 years now for the next 35 years, and with the people I worked on with, with response, I said, you know, if I’m going to do this, I’d like to give half the company away to our community, because I think that’s the best way to build

a company. So I went to my attorney and I said, How do I give away half the stock and I want to create a formula that issue stock based upon someone’s value to the business and he just thought I’d be in the business of issuing stock and we’d have massive lower fees probably gets too long. So I scrapped that idea I actually wrote before even heard the term Ico or even ripple who we work with now. We wrote a cryptocurrency. We’re like, hey, well, what if we gave away this coin? It was kind of like Bitcoin is Thursday. It’s that time and my second book, I finished my second book on digital currency.

Like, now you know what, we’re going to go build a business first, and then we may introduce that later. And we still met, we still might issue a coin as an incentive. But right now we do things like cashback, we’re constantly lowering fees, which is great, and that’s a real benefit to our community. It doesn’t end cashback lower fees, we pay referral fees, and we do what we can to help build our community organically. But it’s for the long run. I will say the the number one most impactful thing that go Lance has on the industry is we go there. And when I say that, I mean I’ve gone as far as on Siberia. So we started we found some really talented PHP developer how to arm Siberia, which is nowhere you ever really want to go it’s old. And there’s lots of reasons that together I unless you’re on a train through but

I had some time to that region. And when you’re traveling as I’m sure

You had, you know, you don’t like being away from your family too long. But there are times where you’re stuck three or four days or over a weekend you have, you have time between your meetings or conferences. And I was like, You know what, this guy out here, he’s all the way, way down there. Part of Earth I’ve never even contemplate going to. But he’s really good guy. And he’s delighting our clients and I want to go meet it. So I called him I flew out there and stayed at his house and his family. And then you know, he’s made over $800,000 on our platform now, just because we’ve been able to refer him and recommend him and he moved down to Poland with his family which is probably that something could have done had we not taken such an interest in impacted his life and that’s been the the number one cure for the what I consider to the sickness of the industry. That’s really cool. What does he do? He’s a PHP developer. And so but he’s created little companies on go last because you can create companies on go Lance and he’s hazal split.

Contracts because you can do split payment contracts. And he has his team of subcontractors, and he’s built his business and his team. And so we took a really solid solopreneur and turned him into an entrepreneur. And now he’s has a process by which he checks their work he delivers for clients, he’s maintain that high quality, but he’s been able to grow his revenues. I love that. That’s very cool. Thanks. We do as much of that as we can. Yeah, I love how you’re being careful about how you scale. I’ve worked with public companies before and they their their business, the revenue, their objects, everything they do to make decisions about growth, and their scalability is dependent on their investors. Because if they once you get an investment, you’re always seeking another round of investment, it seems, and you’re always trying to appease investors and Upwork obviously the largest Freelancer platform in the world currently, has recently taken on some investments and they’ve changed a lot about their business model. A lot of freelancers are not happy about it. And it’s all because of investors and obligate

To those investors, so you know that you choose how you want to scale. So you’re doing it smart. You’re doing it for the long term. I like that. Thank you to that, to that point. I couldn’t agree with you more. And on just not just them specifically, but business in general, when you take on capital, you make capital decisions, and I understand that’s what a business should do. But we look at our community, as our investors is a guy who puts in a million is a guy living in Silicon Valley, with a multimillion dollar house put $200,000 into a business, does he risk any more than a guy who’s living in Gurgaon, India, who works for $5 an hour to feed his family. Yeah, it’s more, and it’s how you address and you treat that risk. And we built our business lean, so that we can treat our community as our investor. I like it. I’m so excited to see what go Lance and in myself can do on the platform. So I’m going to spend a good part of the rest of the day really diving into all the aspects of it right now. I just set up my profile. So it was very easy setup. Everybody took me like five, six minutes. So it’s

The UX and UI design of the site is really nice. Going back to Freelancer advice.

We were talking about reputation. But inevitably, every Freelancer has to deal with a difficult client. How in your experience, how do you deal best with freelancers who you just can’t please? And there becomes a situation that you have to defuse? What’s the best way to approach that?


How do you deal with a difficult client goes back to professional answer is what you can control. Right? And and sometimes there’s a way to mitigate. I mean, Hey, can you say Look, I’m sorry, what can we do to solve this? Do you want me to put in a few extra hours you want me just give you a little bit of pain and back with what is it going to be to make you happy and sometimes people start and the concept does look, the announcer prevention is how the cure, right vetting your clients, making sure you’re equally yoked as your clients

Laying expectations but how do you deal with somebody really difficult?

Yeah, that’s that’s the million dollar question. One of the things that I do is I go, I spent so much extra time in the scope of work, what exactly is your goal? And the one question I asked my clients, all my clients would have fun is what does success look like? Three months from now six months from now, however long the project is going to take, what would it look like to make it a successful project or successful relationship and that usually sets the tone for the whole scope of work? I usually work off that answer and set the scope of work that way.

Perfect. That cures the sickness. Yep. Right. thickness is I’ve gotten thousand dollars. I’ve got something in my head that I want. I’m going to create an agreement with a guy in another part of the world because that guy’s not making that much money and that’s a lot.

And my ex, I’m not happy my expectations aren’t met but the the freelancer should say, Hey, this is what I need, understanding how to pull that vision.

From beginning, and if the client can’t do that, then you got to seriously consider whether you want to take that client, right, because they’re walking into that path of no scope. If the, if the client goes through that exercise and participates, great, he can get a great value from someone on the other side of the planet. And that person can meet those expectations. Yeah, I totally agree with very true. And another thing is clients don’t always know what they want. They know what problem they need to solve, but they don’t know what the outcome should be. Like, for example, I’m a marketing strategist. When I, when I sometimes talk to clients, they’re looking they’re expecting maybe a document like a 50 page document they have to read through. And sometimes they just want a spreadsheet of actionable tasks that their team can do you know, marketing tasks, is a marketing strategy, such a loose term and you know, when people want a logo design, they don’t know Do they need the the GPS rendered vector version? Do they need to just a JPEG? Like they don’t know any of that stuff? They just know they need a logo. So a lot of times they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Right? So you have

have to be very clear with your scope of work and tell them what what the outcome is going to be touting yourself as an expert in that you should have a method of pulling that scope out right mindset that they don’t know what they want, right? They just they know they want a solution. But they don’t know. Yet the scope of that

we do and Freelancer masterclass is we have an exercise where you should have standard questions that you’re going to be asking all the clients on the Discovery call before they even get hired or an agreement starts. So you know, you don’t leave anything unturned. I memorize all this question now because I’ve been doing it for years, but there should be 10 questions you’re going to be you need to know from every single client regardless of the project, right. So I recommend freelancers should follow that advice. Yeah, for sure. So where can our audience learn more about you, your books, your businesses, all that great stuff you have going on? Because you have so much stuff you got going on? Right? Well, our primary company is go Lance calm and they can go there visit they can always hit us up through our chat. We are growing we’re sitting

scaling customer service. So for a little slow, we apologize, we’re adding more people. That’s, that’s one area where we’re constantly improving.

And our books are on my books are on Amazon, but they’re they’re very, very important. Okay? You have to have a love for electronic payment technology. Yeah. And the industry, but I look at this business as payments, and I look at it as a race to banking. And that’s ultimately what what people want. That is when you have the driving that cost down, speeding up that payment and increasing validation, reducing fraud. That’s what that’s going to win. That’s what’s going to win the space. And I look at some of the other companies and why they made the decisions they’ve had because they can pick up a monster Silicon Valley, you know, tech giant, and make 10% of the revenue from it. Right? And they go great. Let’s get 10 more of those and we have no risk. But what does that do to the small

business, small business, the entrepreneur, what does that do to the freelancer that’s not part of part of the that elite group or agency that they’ve already put together. So do we want to continuously provide opportunity, but still at a very low cost? And we do that by validating client and validating the freelancer and bringing all of those things that you talked about checking works go? Happy, awesome. One symbiotic learn, is there certain niches of freelancers that go Lance is best for like designers or marketers are.

So developers are big, a lot of virtual assistants, a lot of a lot of call centers. In fact, we’re we’re adding one thing that’s really exciting. So we have a client that was working with us for a while that has 1000 agents. And what they have is they have their own tool they’ve integrated we’re now going to be releasing that tool to our other clients. So they they have

It’s a cost center tool, where you can go on hire a call center agent immediately. And it’ll route to like your phone a call. So they do a little online training, it’s very simple. rather call this phone, if you’re available, you press a button, like an Uber driver, you press a button, the call comes up and you read through the script. And that way, the client only pays for the top time was pretty powerful. So they’re not staffing people hourly to respond to tickets or respond to calls that that they can get those tickets or those calls. And they get to actually say, Yes, I’ll take that. And that kind of inverts the power scenario. And then with what is found is they can pay the high quality guys a little more, because they’re not paying for time that’s not being used. And then they look at the data and the results to decide how they’re running calls. It’s newer technology. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a big trend. I think we’re gonna see a lot more. That’s very cool. Yeah, there’s a lot of lot of good

Good possibilities come out and especially with the way that you’re scaling to take advantage of some of the things that other other freelance companies won’t. So, I like that we definitely got to stay in touch with a lot more we certainly could talk about maybe we’ll do a couple more of these. Thanks so much for joining us, Michael. That’s great. My gratulations off the 10 month old. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

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