An interview with Trevor Twining: Freelancer Coach

Show Notes

Trevor Twining (rhymes w/ FINE-ing) has freelanced for almost two decades. He coaches freelancers to build profitable practices, particularly improving sales skills. Trevor hosts Freelance Foundations, a podcast that helps freelancers with both tactical and strategic issues. His own freelance practice focuses on podcast editing. He lives in Canada’s Niagara Region.
1. In your blog titled “3 Essential Freelancer Tactics for Getting Paid’ you talk about the importance of getting at least a 50% deposit before starting work. Can you explain how you ask for that 50% and why 50%?
2. What are some warning signs that a freelancer isn’t charging enough?
3. What are you doing now to fill your time?
4. Tell me about the mission for the freelance foundation podcast
5. How can our audience follow you online?

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 on freelancers School. My name is Mike Volkin. And today we have Trevor twining joining us. He’s freelance for almost two decades, and he coaches freelancers to build profitable practices, particularly improving their sales skills. Now, Trevor hosts freelance foundations, which where I found him from, which is a podcast that helps freelancers with both tactical and strategic issues, and his own freelance practice focuses on podcast editing, and hopefully he’s going to give me some tips later on about improving my microphone technique. Because I know I have issues there and his is really awesome if you could see it. If you’re watching this on YouTube, he was Canada’s Niagara, sorry, how does it net Niagara region? Niagara region. So in Canada that northern Canada?

No, it is. We’re 40 minutes from Buffalo, New York.

Okay. Well, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Mike. This is it’s great to be on.

Now. Thank you. I had found you on your podcast, obviously, it’s pretty popular. And then I started looking more into you and I found your blog. Love your blog. I’m a subscriber and I have to ask you in your blog that’s titled, The three essential Freelancer tactics for getting paid. You talk about the importance of getting at least 50% deposit before starting work, which is something I highly encourage our students to do at Freelancer masterclass. So, can you explain how you asked for the 50%? Because a lot of people feel uncomfortable about that. And then why 50% Why not? 25 Why not? 75 So where’s that 50% come from?

Oh, goodness.

How much time do you have?

Under 10 minutes,

okay, so So the reason 50% is so important is because, like long story short again, I have a you know, I have a coaching practice where where I help freelancers as well, but and I know that in in your class, this is one of the things that that you cover for sure, but long story short is that that 50% number really sort of locks in the client makes them committed to working with you 50% of you know, a of an overall project cost is too big to just walk away from or ghost on the side and it makes them essentially dedicate and focus the resources that you’re going to need as a freelancer internally on their side to make sure that you have all the things that you need to succeed. And while it doesn’t guarantee it, it certainly helps make it more likely because they’ve actually got a bunch of money on the line.

Okay, and Is that is that go for all size projects, whether it’s a $200 project or a $10,000? project still 50%.

So I would say that the, that the larger ones, it’s definitely a minimum of 50%. The smaller ones, like somebody could walk away from a, you know, 50% of a $200 deal, right? So it’s, in some cases, you might even say, you know, what, if you really want me to, to lock in the time to do this, you can, you can pay in advance and I’ve done that before. And it’s been, it’s been no problem. Actually, most of my podcasting clients currently pay in advance for a block of of work, and then I deliver that work incrementally as we go. So there, you just got that block.

Yeah, that’s smart. Okay, so what happens if a client comes to you and says, You know what, I pay my employees after they do work, you know, at the end of the month, why do I have to pay you in advance? Is there a Is there a good answer for that?

Oh, it’s part of it is you also pay your Employees whether or not they’re doing anything productive. You also, you know, you also pay all the overhead associated with your employee benefits. Exactly. And as a freelancer, I take care of all that stuff myself, you don’t pay you as the as the client. Don’t pay for a lick of that. Well, actually, you pay for your very specific portion of that as it relates to to the billable time that that our relationship covers. Good

answer. I like that. So what are some of the warning signs that a freelancer isn’t charging enough for their service?

Oh, my gosh. So I, I’m gonna I’m going to answer this question, but then also lead into what the most common underlying problem of the symptom is. So the symptom is, you know, you’re not necessarily earning enough in your practice. You feel like you’re, you know, you feel like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul and all that sort of thing and People like well, am I charging enough and one of the ways to tell whether or not you’re charging enough is if you are, you need to figure out a couple of things you need to figure out first, you’re basically what you want to earn as a freelancer after all your expenses are taken care of. You need to figure out what that what the number that represents those expenses are, and then you need to figure out the the level of activity that you need to that you need to generate in order to support that income. And so, if you are performing the work to generate that level of activity, and you still don’t have enough to, to do things like pay for equipment or replace equipment, cover ongoing training expenses, because we always need to keep our skills updated. You know, pay bills on a on a regular basis and You know, put money away for retirement savings, you know, those sorts of things. If you don’t have the funds to do that, but you’re the work, you’re doing enough work, like you feel like you’re, you’re constantly busy, you know actually doing billable stuff, then you’re probably not charging enough. But what actually happens is most people who think that they’re not charging enough, are actually not generating enough activity to get to the level of income that they’re wasting. Yeah, exactly. And that could be because they’re not spending enough time selling that could be because they’re, you know, they’re closing how they close deals is off or inefficient, or that sort of thing. And so, when I’m working with a client, we start to dig into like another Freelancer in my coaching, we start to dig into what, what all of those things look like. And as you start to uncover what each of those numbers are and what they represent and how they work in your practice. You end up in the situation where you have all the levers that you can Paul was actually doing the motion a little too low, right? We saw got all these little little levers here that you can pull in control to, to actually get the the kind of practice and the kind of income from your practice that you’re looking for.

Very good. So you’re suggesting that they don’t check Instagram 20 times a day? Is that what you’re suggesting?

unless their businesses posting stuff on Instagram? Yeah. Looking at that at all.

What you’re suggesting is that freelancers plan in advance their expenses and all that, you know, that’s one of the things that freelancers don’t do they they just shoot from the hip, the vast majority of them. I think that’s why you and I exist is to help these dancers understand that they gotta treat their business like a business, right?

It’s, it’s true and a lot of a lot of freelancers. They get into this. I mean, my, my story is, many, many moons ago, I was like many other freelancers. I was let go from, from a job and I didn’t know what I was going to Do and I thought well, maybe I’ll hang my, my shingle out. And when I first started, I struggled in many of the same ways that a lot of freelancers do, where it’s like I, I don’t know where the next check is coming from and all that sort of thing. And what I found was that the more that I paid diligent attention to it, and built the discipline to treat it as an actual business, which is why I call it a freelance practice. In the same way as a, as an architect or a doctor or a you know, a lawyer has a practice as freelancers, we have practice practices, where the focus of the business is to serve our clients. And so a freelance practice, when you have that level of rigor and, and discipline, it really becomes a bunch of habits where once you’ve developed the muscle memory, a lot of the effort actually can go into maintaining and growing and focusing on the kind of kind of work that you want to do. As as a freelancer and yeah, so,

so what what did you block off? Like a certain afternoon on your calendar every week to or month to plan in advance? Do you have a process for that? or?

Yeah, so basically, every, every Friday for me is spent doing that. So I have Yeah, I have a, cuz, Friday, it’s diff, it’s difficult to schedule client meetings. Usually I know who, who wants to be the guy or woman who’s scheduling a business meeting on Friday afternoon


Who wants to be that person? So yeah. So I use that time to reflect on the week that I had, I compare where I’m at within that month or quarter to what my goals had been. And I decided, you know, I’m not going to change anything in my, you know, what am I doing differently? What am I doing the same, it’s kind of if you were to sort of have three buckets where it’s like, start doing, keep doing and stop doing Right. Oh, yeah. And so that’s the, that’s the general approach that, that I take with it. From there, it’s, it’s really, that weekly increment keeps me keeps me on track, doing it either month and I actually do it more quarterly helps me keep on track with the with the, the, the year over year goals. And then because I’ve done I’ve done the work in that discipline of sort of keeping everything on track as I go if new opportunities emerge, or if emergencies come up or that sort of thing. I’ve already got my baseline and so I’m much more able to, to react, whether it’s deal with an emergency or take advantage of an opportunity. Whereas if you if you shoot by the hip, sometimes you have to let those things go because you don’t have the you don’t have the bandwidth to deal with them at that at that moment. And so I know

it’s great. Got to is it keeps stressing anxiety down a lot of times freelancers I get they have a lot of stress and anxiety about why where’s my next paycheck coming from? Like, if you already have your goals and you’ve reached your baseline, then you know you’re you have so a little bit of play room there. And you know, one of the two most hated words in the corporate world are working lunch, but I’ll tell you like every Friday I have a working lunch with myself that I scheduled twice as long as a normal lunch in my calendar. And that’s really just for like what you said like looking ahead, looking back and seeing what went wrong and my goals do I need to double down next week on something you know, so just taking it a working lunch and have reflecting on that just gets rid of so much stress and anxiety and helps set your whole your whole practice as you say, yeah, that’s where it should be. So

here’s what I do. So I I actually, I don’t do anything at lunch other than sometimes I’ll read sometimes I’ll like I do something leisure oriented at lunch. I use it a lot for going on walks because most of the time I’m sitting behind a computer, right? So. But what I do on Fridays is, I will go for a pint with some of my friends, I go for a beer, but I’ll go an hour before. And I’ll sit and I’ll have, you know, a much smaller pint. And I’ll, I’ll work on this this plan and we’ve sort of wrapped all of this into what me and a bunch of other freelancers call our fucking Friday. And I, if you need to bleep it out, it’s fine people, people will get what it is. Yeah, but this becomes a this becomes a ritual where we, we share successes, we celebrate failures, that sort of thing. And with other freelancers that sort of gives you the support the social support to continue on your on your plan.

Right, right. Very good. And you said smaller point, but I think you meant larger point, right?

It depends on how the plan works out.

I just, I’m just I don’t know you that well. I just want to guess. Are you a lager guy or an amber ale? I think you’re one Those two.

So I’m more of a an IPA guy or I’m a big fan of Porter’s. And so you know, an occasional stout. There’s a microbrew that is, that’s minutes from my house who that gets a lot of dangerous, man. Well, I don’t know if they have these in Canada yet, but I’m a big sour beer guy. Yeah, sour beers. I do. And I’ve, I’ve had a lot of them this summer, and I’m kind of tired of them. I’m actually looking. I’m looking forward to a lot of the a lot of the darker sort of stronger warmer beers that that winter usually brings. So nothing

wrong with that just can’t do that in the middle of the day. I don’t know if it’s my age or what but I’ll just want to take a nap after I hear you for like noon or two o’clock. So tell me a little bit about what are you doing now that fills your time?

So I I basically edit podcasts and I have my I switch practices a few years ago. I was a full time web developer and Now I am shifting into podcast development. And that’s, that’s going well. And I actually haven’t been doing a lot of work with freelance foundations the podcast in the last little bit because we’re giving that a break, but season seven will be starting up very soon. I have I have 13 episodes in, in production right now and that’s the full season is probably going to be double that. So. But yeah, that that starts October one.

Okay. foundation Give me the mission. What’s the mission to that?

freelance foundations? It’s a podcast for the independent workforce. And so I basically talk about freelancing and freelance related issues with sometimes with guests but a lot of times I’ll just pick a topic and I’ll define it and I’ll talk about I’ll share stories about you know, how things happen to me and how things have happened in in other freelancers practices where I’ve helped coach them or For for a number of years, I ran a co working space and so I worked with a lot of freelancers through through that. And so it’s just sharing the the things that I learned about freelancing in order to in order to help people build profitable freelance practices.

Very cool. How can our audience follow

you online and all your own cheese anywhere at anywhere online, basically at Trevor twining, Tw i n, G. And I’m, I’m fairly active on Twitter, I do a lot more reading and posting on Instagram, but I used to, and we’ll start again, shortly. I used to do a a weekly post on Instagram called Monday morning hustle, where it was like a very quick sort of set of tips. If you needed something, if you needed a way to sort of focus your freelance practice in some way and you needed like an idea. This was like a steady source of ideas that you could just sort of drop From and then I did it every Monday morning, and I kind of got out of the habit. But I’ve had a couple people reach out to me and say, is that coming back at any point? Yeah, so. So for me, that’s a really good social signal that that content was valuable. So I bet some more time and doing all the follow

you on Instagram. I am not I’m like you. But on Twitter, I read a lot, but I don’t post a lot. So I will find you on Twitter as well. And I’ll put all the links to all your social accounts and your website on our show notes and on our YouTube video and stuff. So thank you so much for joining us. I hope to have you on it sounds you sound like a resource that we can talk to about variety of topics. So I’d like to absolutely keep in touch with you, Mike. All right. Thanks. Thanks again. Thanks for having me.

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