An Interview With Robert Williams Owner of Folyo

Freelance Graphic Designers Listen Up! Today I interview Robert Williams who owns Folyo, a freelance design RFP site and community that helps over 7,000 freelancers find jobs that empower them to live their best life. They find hundreds of RFPs each month that are remote, fulfilling and high-paying and provide education on how to bid on open jobs quickly and effectively. Rob also hosts a podcast called Freelance which is all about how to be effective at independent work.

Robert Williams owns Folyo, a freelance design RFP site and community that helps over 7,000 freelancers find jobs that empower them to live their best life. They find hundreds of RFPs each month that are remote, fulfilling and high-paying and provide education on how to bid on open jobs quickly and effectively. Rob also hosts a podcast called Freelance which is all about how to be effective at independent work.

Raw Transcript

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.

Thank you for joining me again today. This is Mike Volkin with Freelancer school today I’m joined with a special guest, Robert Williams or is Rob right. Sorry, I just asked you that. Is there Rob?

Yeah. Rob Robert. Robert. Okay.

I’ll call you rob. He runs folio for Leo is or olio is a freelance design, RFP, site and community that helps over 7000 freelancers, find jobs that empower them to live their best life. They find hundreds of rsps each month that are remote, they’re fulfilling in their high paying and they provide education on how to bid on open jobs quickly and effectively. That’s part of what we’re going to talk about today. And he also hosts a podcast one of my favorite freelance podcasts. As you guys know, there’s there’s no shortage of freelance podcasts out there. But Rob hosts one called freelance, which is all about how to be effective at independent work and that that podcast is available pretty much everywhere, right? Google Play iTunes. Yeah, that’s right. All right. I listen to on iTunes. How often is that updated? Is that every week? Was there a particular day?

Yeah, Saturday morning.

Okay. Yeah, Saturday more excellent. I listened to that the gym. It’s one of my my go to podcast. First of all, as a successful freelancer, I have to ask you, how did you get started as a freelancer and get to be a success? You don’t have to tell us all your tricks of how you got to be so successful. But how did you get started? What made you think, okay, I want to be a freelancer.

Yeah, so I basically got started wanting to be a freelancer in college. And I but I didn’t really make the leap until I got fired. From from my full time job, that’s what kind of kind of forced my hand I think. And yeah, that’s when I kind of made the leap and decided, you know what, I’m going to really try to freelance full time. Hmm.

Interesting. So you do you write a lot about freelancing right? on your website, obviously on your podcast, what is your mission for all the content that you create?

My mission is to help independent designers, independent remote workers. Men can basically make a living, make a great living, and to make that easier for them. Yeah, that just goes back to me being a freelancer myself and seeing that it’s, you know, not always as easy as it should be, I think.

Yeah, I mean, it’s unfortunately freelancing as a part time job right. I’d like to see more more full time freelancers because I think it’s the best job in the world. If you can be full time freelancer, but a lot of freelancers, don’t do it right. In one of your blogs on link Then I noticed that you discuss getting clients on LinkedIn and LinkedIn. Obviously, that could be a very powerful platform for freelancers, and a lot of freelancers ignore that aspect of social media. So can you discuss some of your strategies with our freelance audience on marketing on LinkedIn?

Sure. Yeah, I had a whole podcast on this with my friend list and wetherill, who he’s he’s on the sales consultant side, so is not as much of a like a creative designer or anything. But he basically talk walk me through kind of how he uses LinkedIn. And what he does is he was using video quite a bit. Because video is kind of a more effective, I think of getting your attention, usually, especially on something like LinkedIn where you’re seeing things fly by one way I use LinkedIn personally, is to find kind of the RFPs that you mentioned, for my site. So what I’ve found is like LinkedIn suddenly has Kind of blossomed into this place where companies want like go to get the word out for certain things. And yes they have like the job site the job portion of their whatever they’re offering I don’t even know what they call it now it’s like pro search Finder. That’s a combination. Yeah. But uh, but I think it’s like, better used as a as a connection tool like, like you would use Twitter like you would use you know, something more authentic as like a then then just using it as a job search sites. So what I do is I search, I use just those the search window every morning, and I put in an RFP, and I usually do RFP plus a combination of like website redesign or logo design or branding. And, and I’ll, I’ll sort that by like content so it’s no longer no longer like jobs are like, you know, people’s profiles that have RFP in its Now, like companies and people who are posting about RFPs that have kind of that keyword, or basically it’s just basically people saying, Hey, I have this RFP out. And I need I want responses, and they’ll usually link to it. I’ve found LinkedIn has kind of they let you embed now RFPs are like PDFs in touch. Okay? Yeah. So often, it’ll just be like a direct link, you’ll be able to download it right off the site off that post

on folio, is that are your jobs? The RFPs that are are they usually a bigger size and what you would normally see on Upwork

Yeah, definitely. So I think you mentioned at the at the end, your great intro, by the way, and thank you for listening to the podcast. That’s awesome. You mentioned like all the jobs we try to feature on the site are, you know, remote fulfilling and high paying. And so by high paying, usually we’re looking at if it’s like a website redesign just give you a frame of reference It’ll usually be like a floor of like $5,000. Or it’s if it’s a logo redesign, maybe that’s 2000, or just basically trying and we surveyed kind of our customers, we saw kind of what the average price is for these different things. And that’s kind of how we developed like these floors to really help us gauge like, what, what a high paying job really looks like in the market in 2019. Like this, you know, right happening right now. Not not in 2007 or whatever. But yeah, Upwork I would say is probably quite a bit lower than those like floors. So

yeah, I don’t know too many people on a break out pay $2,000 for a logo designer, usually you see, I mean, I’m on my pulse on design. I’m a marketing guy, but usually see stuff around, you know, under 2000, right, at least, like 200 on some of these natural fibers for those $5 gigs, right. How do you How does someone a freelancer listening to this audience? How do they separate themselves from the sea of other freelancers, you have any quick action Tips for them.

Yeah, I mean, there’s one of my one of the things that I like to talk about a lot and kind of write about on my blog is, is positioning.

as a freelancer, I think

positioning is important. And there’s a couple good books on it that I recommend. I didn’t write them, but I’ll give a shout out anyway.

You can do that.

Philip Morgan, he wrote the the positioning manual. Yes. There’s also a new one out by April Dunford which I who I just interviewed on my podcast about it, it’s called obviously awesome. So there’s a couple positioning books, but um, I think yeah, I mean, I think just thinking about like, the context behind the work that you do that alone, I think is enough to kind of differentiate you quite a bit. Most, at least in the design market. Most people are focused on their portfolio and what that usually means is like a screenshot of my work, like Here’s the website that I designed, as opposed to, here’s the problem I solved. And here’s the Yeah, the solution versus the, you know, the the problem. And so thinking about I think that plus the positioning like focusing on that problem, that’s going to be painful to solve, that’s painful for the clients and expensive to solve. And then thinking about your positioning in terms of like, how can you specialize and and try to be like the world’s most leading person on that particular problem. I think that that is a good is a good way to kind of differentiate yourself and somebody who does that awesome. Val Geisler. Val Geisler calm i think is her is it if you want like a great case study on positioning that’s, I think, a great website.

That’s good. I know what else the benefit of branding yourself is you don’t have to compete for the lowest price. The more the better you brand yourself, the less you have to compete at freelance masterclass, we have a 10 step process right for becoming a great freelancer. And we put branding as a second module. And a lot of freelancers ask is why is this I don’t even know how to get clients yet. Like, why am I worried about my branding of myself and I told me, you know, you got to look within yourself first before you understand how to bring in clients if you don’t do it backwards. So you’re going to be falling in that that trap that all the other freelancers fall into. So I

think that’s a smart approach. And often it’s it gets skipped over like you said, because you kind of think that you have to start with like the market or whatever, but it does really start with you and like what you’re passionate about, and people, people love to throw around that the meme of like, don’t follow your passion anymore. Like your, you know, your forget your passion or whatever. But I think it still does it. There’s like, one way or the other. There’s a spectrum right and then and that advice I think might be going too far now where people are just totally ignoring what they care about or what they want to do and what they want to get out of it. Yeah, I think starting from there is a smart.

Absolutely. I think we’re in agreement on that. So in your career, was there a breakthrough in your business that stood out as a as a point in time that kind of helped establish your creativity? I mean, you’ve got a pretty good name out there. You cast a lot of nets you’ve interviewed a lot of important people look, can you give our Freelancer audience if they’re all trying to establish themselves as credible cast a wide net? So what was there a point in time you realize, Hey, you know what this is I’m doing this right or, or maybe a lucky, lucky break. You got at some point what happened?

I’m lucky break. I think one of the real turning points in my business has been taking a course on it was about it was it was I think, billed as like a product building course. But what it really kind of taught me was to look how to kind of look at a market and pull from that like the things that are going to sell. And it’s of course by Amy hoy, but there’s there’s the You know, there’s other courses, there’s the your freelance course, there’s, you know, tons of courses out there, but what what, what really was the turning point for me was like looking at pains that are that people are experiencing and that they’re already paying for. And that’s where I kind of that’s where to focus and that’s where to kind of just try to help in that situation. And so, once I did that,

yeah, understanding understanding the person you’re referring to putting them in your shoes, that type of thing, understand points,

you know, perspective,

instead of just trying to like shout out, be a billboard, you know, and constantly trying to sell yourself I guess that would be that would be a good way to approach it. So interesting.

It just made it made things a lot easier because it wasn’t like Justin Jackson talks about this like trying to create a market or trying to pull your market to your solution. Instead, just kind of giving them what they want and meeting them kind of where they are.

That’s true and listening to them. I can’t tell you how many times when I hire freelancers on up work, I just get the same copy and paste proposal. It’s like, did you even read anything but the title of my job description, typically that I don’t want, I don’t want this, I don’t want that. And they send the same proposal over and over again, if you took 10 seconds, look at the proposal and send me something custom, at least in the first sentence, and you gotta get my attention. I guess it kind of goes that way with everything more than just upward but LinkedIn as well. And I really liked that, that LinkedIn tip you gave with the RFP, that’s interesting. And you have to do that manually going back that you have to do that manually every single every single day. There’s no RSS feed or alert that can give you something like

that. Well, there’s my site, which I post all the RFPs too. Yeah. And there’s there’s a free plan there as well so you can get like a percentage of them and just kind of even even land a gig or two before you you know, pay anything so that there’s there’s that but I’m on the site as well. I have like some tips on like writing emails. specifically to like a job or an RFP situation. And I I appreciate you saying that because I think the tent the whole template thing, I think it paralyzes you almost because you almost you almost refer on rely on it too much. And you think you forget to kind of think for yourself and to just approach it like from a human perspective, like you’re saying, like just kind of, you know, yeah, reply it. Yeah, like

it’s a lazy way. I’m not saying go have a couple bullet points you want to say but, you know, copy and paste a standard boilerplate proposal. That’s the same from job to job and going to get you very far. so lazy man’s ways out, tell me a little bit of moral folio traction you’re getting where else our audience can find you online, all that stuff. So are my audience all your audience can follow you?

Yeah, so yeah, you already mentioned that the podcast I’ve freelance podcasts. I’ve interviewed some really cool people. Based like people at base camp Disney World, see? Yeah, bunch of cool sites why NAB and they basically kind of share what how they’re building their business and how they approach independent work, remote work, which is I think two very important things to master as a freelancer. So yeah, there’s the podcast. And then you mentioned the site, which is kind of where me where I and my team kind of come find these RFPs and these independent contract jobs for creatives and designers, and we put and we hand screen each one, and we post them on the site. And so we’re trying to be like a lot, a lot different from any other RFP site in a couple ways. Particularly, if you go to like to an RFP site, it kind of sucks because it’s going to be hundred page PDFs from these government entities that like robot spirit. It appears and so there’s no no filtering process. So with with our with this site like this is what my ideal version of a RFP site would look like. Like the RFP is basically come to you to your inbox. We’re hand screening them to make sure that they’re like written by humans. And we get additional information from these people that are wanting these proposals is what it’s mostly like website redesign stuff. Yeah. So that’s, that’s, we have a free newsletter on there that you can sign up for and get started. So that’s probably the best place to go. I think I appreciate you asking me that man.

Yeah, no problem. Are you thinking about expanding out to other industries, marketing, for example would be great.

Yeah, I do want to.

Yeah, I think creative in general, like writing and marketing stuff is on the horizon for us because it is kind of where I’ve grown to really enjoy that work as well and understand that work and so The more I feel like independent businesses that we can help make a better living for themselves and work from home and and because I really love that part of like my business like spend like in the other room my baby’s asleep taking a nap and I can go hang out with her and that’s like what I what I think to cut through all the the marketing or whatever like that’s I think more of the reason why I’m able to kind of keep doing this every day and kind of focus on it because I do I do think it’s like an awesome time to be working so

yeah, yeah, I mean like to say I’m I got a nine week old daughter in the other room that’s also napping and I want to be that’s great man. Me I look forward to more content need to put out remember he’s got a free newsletter on his website. He’s got right fo fly. Oh, I’m sure you’re very active on LinkedIn. So follow me on LinkedIn anywhere else we can follow you social media. What I’ll see you Facebook, Twitter,

yes Facebook and Twitter also folio on Twitter. It’s yo folio,

yo folio folio.

All right. Well, thanks so much for joining us, Rob. And hope to have you on again as a future guests

yeah anytime and

talk to you soon.

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