Category: business

Six elements of influence for freelancers

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As a freelancer or solopreneur, you are responsible for attracting and retaining clients. You have a number of tools at your disposal for getting clients. One overlooked strategy involves increasing your influence – or your ability to get clients to come to you. Your influence serves as a magnet – it draws prospects to contact you and consider you for the services you provide. So how can you work on your “influence muscle” and get more prospects to see you as the solution to their needs?

Consider these six elements of influence, and work those muscles (all together or individually) to become more influential in your field.


Do something for someone else, and they will tend to return the favour. This is one of my preferred approaches. I will refer clients and leads to people, or help them find something they need – and they’ll be more likely to help me in the future. Reciprocity is a side effect of content marketing – you produce free useful content, and your readers / audience will feel obliged in some way to do something for you. Reciprocity involves giving now to receive later (but without making it feel like an obligation to do so).


People tend to follow or obey authority figures. It’s in our nature. What you need to develop is earned or demonstrated authority (NOT institutional authority) – your authority comes from your experience and showing your knowledge. Again, content marketing shows that you know what you are doing, which builds your authority.


We associate and do business with people we like. We want to associate with people we like. Become a likeable expert, and people will want to do business with you. Being likeable is subjective, but it’s relatively simple to achieve – be honest, be yourself, be friendly and approachable.

Social proof

People do what they see others doing. It’s why social networking websites do so well – people go where their friends and influencers go. When people say positive things about you (through testimonials or referrals), others will follow. Pay attention to what others say about you, and spread the word.

Commitment + consistency

When you commit to something, you tend to follow through and do it consistently. People are attracted to those who are committed to their craft, and who show that they are able to do it consistently. When you have a solution to a problem, and demonstrate that you can solve those issues consistently, prospects will want to work with you.


It’s the law of supply and demand. When a resource is scarce, or limited in time or availability, people will want it more. People tend to respond to avoid loss. Think of when you wanted to get something because it was running out. If you have a webinar or run a training course with limited seating or that is only available for a given time, it will trigger a response. This is my least favourite approach, as it can be used dishonestly and can backfire. But used properly, it can help with developing influence.

Build your influence, and you will attract prospects and grow your client list. Do it honestly and use the method(s) that work best for you.

Any questions or comments? Let me know –


Lead generation strategies for freelance writers

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If you’re self-employed, then you need to generate leads to keep bringing in new clients for your business. My advice to everyone is to find what works for you, and that you enjoy or are willing to do, and keep doing that. I tend to focus on contacting people through LinkedIn and sending customized emails to potential clients.

However, if you’re having difficulty finding lead generation strategies that work for you, then consider the following list – which I picked up from Josh Haynam at Hubspot.

  1. Collect and share success secrets from thought leaders. You can read books or interview industry experts, and summarize what they’ve said, much like Tim Ferriss has done in Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.
  2. Make helper videos to solve an issue for prospects. You can also create a learning centre on your website or with your own YouTube channel.
  3. Create a quiz on your website to learn more about visitors and obtain their contact info. You can then publish the results of the quiz.
  4. Provide best practices for a challenging tactic in your industry. Make and share a list of great ideas on how to tackle a challenge, such as best practices for publishing a blog that draws in readers.
  5. Show what is working for you in your business. Provide a list of tips on what has worked or not for you. For example, if you are great at writing white papers, then you can explain what has worked for you, and what to avoid.
  6. Create a useful spreadsheet of resources. Even with Google and the Internet, people appreciate when someone has done the work for them to put together a list of useful resources.
  7. Offer a deep dive answer on a tough question. This means giving in-depth, step-by-step information on how to address a difficult problem. For example, you could go into detail on how people can attract clients at a trade show.
  8. Create a worksheet that simplifies a process. A prospect would give you their email address in exchange for the worksheet that can simplify that aspect of their life. I’ve seen great worksheets on writing sales sheets and marketing materials.
  9. Create a list of useful tools. Readers will use the tools to accomplish a goal, and keep returning to your site to make use of those tools. Even something simple like calculators for specific purposes – mortgages, investments, etc. – would bring in leads, as long as they apply to your business.
  10. Compile examples and case studies for people to learn from. Show how people have succeeded by doing something or following a process. This is effective in niche industries, as people want to learn from others in their industry.
  11. Create a valuable email course that teaches people how to do something (like create the perfect prospecting email) through a series of email lessons. I’ve taken a number of email courses, and they are great for learning at your own schedule.
  12. Host a giveaway. Make the giveaway something that people really want (whatever is hot or useful at that time). Make it something different, like a fountain pen or media streaming device.
  13. Create a template to simplify an everyday process – such as a budget, calendar, schedule or market research.
  14. Offer a free trial of your services. For example, you could edit / review a website page to demonstrate the value you provide.
  15. Make a checklist that takes the reader through a series of steps to ensure that a task is completed. It could serve as an easy reference on a process, such as what you should include in any prospecting email.

What lead generation tools have worked for you? Let me know –


How can your website generate leads for your freelance writing business?

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Disclaimer: I’m the shoemaker whose kids have no shoes here – I’ve put off redoing my website, which is a must. I’ll use the excuse that I’ve been busy with client work, but in reality, I’m just procrastinating. Still, to follow is some good advice, so don’t let my negligence get in the way of improving your website.

As a freelancer, you need to use a variety of tools to attract new clients to your business. Your website should be one of those key tools. It should be more than a portfolio site – it should work for you 24 hours a day, attracting the leads and clients you want. There are scores of books, websites, blogs and experts who can help you to create a better website. I’ve distilled a few ideas that can help you – the freelancer – create a website that will make your business more stable (i.e., attract clients on a regular basis).

9 things that your website should do

  1. Fit the world view of your ideal client. Don’t be everything to everyone. Address the content on your website to your best or ideal clients. Think how they think. Use the language that they know and use.
  2. Follow design best practices. Find a design you like and emulate it. Make sure that it uses spacing well (not cluttered), clear imagery (nice photos), legible fonts (on all types of viewing devices), etc. Simple is better
  3. Use effective headings. Keep them under 10 words. Each one should explain why the visitor is in that section. Headings should be benefit-focused.
  4. Tell your dream client why they are in their current situation. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, point out the horrors that occurred when they tried to do all the writing themselves, or they used an amateur. Don’t brag about yourself.
  5. Show the reader your passion and experience. Tell them about who you’ve helped, what you’ve done, and why you enjoy doing it. Be real – be yourself.
  6. Explain solutions clearly. State a problem and how you solve it, clearly and simply.
  7. Maximize the value of their visit. Give the reader something for their time – an ebook, cheat sheet, free gift, etc. Encourage them to come back, or sign up to a mailing list or newsletter.
  8. Point to a victory. Include a case study that shows what you did for another client who is like them. Explain what you did differently, and how you solved a problem.
  9. Have a clear call to action. Tell the potential client what to do and what will happen next. If they provide their email address, you will schedule a time to talk about their needs.

Make these changes to your website and you should see results – not right away of course. Your website is a tool, along with marketing, networking, cold / warm calling, etc. Make your website do some of the heavy lifting for you, and you’ll see results.

Let me know if you need help with some of these elements. I can refer you to some great web designers and writers (if I’m not available). Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions –


Seven steps to growing your freelance writing business

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Some time ago, I attended a seminar called “Mastering your business for maximum profit and success” by Colin Sprake. He runs seminars and trains business owners on developing strategies to grow their businesses – whether they sell products, provide services or consult. The title of the seminar attracted me (NOTE: Strong headings are important), so I decided to get out of the office for a bit and check it out. Colin offered some great strategies and tips, although I did not sign up for his program.

NOTE: I rarely do, as the short-term costs outweigh the long-term benefits… for me.

I’d like to share some of the tips provided here, as I think that freelancers, solopreneurs, consultants and other small businesses can benefit and grow their businesses by following these strategies without having to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in the training.

NOTE: I’m not advising for or against Colin Sprake’s program – check it out and see if it’s right for you.

Seven steps to growing your freelance business

Be laser focused

Whatever your business, focus all your efforts on making it succeed. Develop a vivid vision of your target and purpose, and then put all your effort into reaching that target. Be tenacious in achieving your goal.

Determine what you want to be

Don’t be a “me too” business – like everyone else in your market. Be a “me only” business – the only company that does what you do. You can do this by identifying what works and what doesn’t in your market, and learning what’s missing (i.e., what your clients need that others don’t provide). Talk to your clients to understand their needs and challenges, and then create solutions / products / services that address those challenges. Create branding that differentiates you from your competition and helps you to stand out from the crowd. Then support your brand with marketing (e.g., website, tagline, marketing materials) that speaks to how address these challenges.

Identify your audience

Create an avatar – the best client that buys from you frequently, that you love to deal with, that pays regularly and never complains. This is your ideal client, and you must learn everything you can about them – including where they hang out, so that you can reach more of them.

Write powerful headlines

Your headlines (in your emails, website, articles, marketing materials, etc.) should grab the reader’s attention, target their pain and shout “This is for me!”

Advertise your services

Create advertisements with powerful headlines that install urgency and scarcity – so that potential clients act quickly on your offers. Include a lot of white space and a powerful call to action – get the reader to respond to your advertisement. Bridge the gap with credibility – quotes, case studies, testimonials, etc. Repeat your advertisements to the same potential clients 5-7 times, at least once a week.

Maximize your sales

Many freelancers spend most of their time on operations – running the business, paperwork and so on. You must spend most of you time on sales and marketing, which is how you get your clients. Increase the percentage of time you spend on sales and marketing by outsourcing or streamlining the operations work.

Invest in yourself

Invest in training and education, as well as sales and marketing, so that you can grow your skills and your business. These are not costs, as they benefit you and lead to income. Focus on results rather than excuses. Think of ways that you can achieve a goal, rather than thinking that something cannot be done.

Follow these tips and your business will improve, especially if you have not been following any of these strategies. You can also seek out Colin Sprake and find out where he is teaching his next seminar. Let me know what you think, and how it works for you –


Follow these daily habits to help your freelance writing business to succeed

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Many businesses use systems and repetitive processes to support their success. Repeatable processes are efficient and make it easier to run and grow a business. Similarly, successful people have daily habits that allow them to achieve more and succeed in what they do.

Everyone has different habits that work for them. Consider applying the following habits to help make your make your business a success.

  1. Continuously define success for yourself. What does success mean to you – making $100,000 per year, selling X units per month, being able to sit on a beach twice a year? Establish metrics so that you can measure and define your success, and then compare your results against those metrics.
  2. Always continue learning. Improve your skills and knowledge through courses, articles, books, webinars, etc., both inside and outside your industry.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open for popular ideas and trends, as well as what is going on behind the scenes. Don’t go after every new idea – focus on one or two and be the trend setter in that area.
  4. Be persistent. Don’t stop trying when you hear “No.” Each “No” is one step closer to the next “Yes.” Also, don’t just go for what is easy. Difficult paths have less competition.
  5. Be generous. The more you give (such as referrals), the more you get. Giving leads to healthy relationships.
  6. Use new technology to automate processes, attract new clients and provide better customer service. You don’t have to spend a lot on technology to achieve significant returns.
  7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take your work seriously. Treat your business like a business, but relax your view of yourself.
  8. Prioritize your customers’ needs over your own. Focus on what they need as a solution rather than what you want to sell.
  9. Create a list of tasks to do on a specific day, organized by priority. Accomplish those goals. Every little win is a move forward.

What do you think of these habits? What habits do you have that help you succeed? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How do you motivate yourself to market your freelance writing business?

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If you’re a freelance writer like me, then you know that to build your business, you must keep finding new clients – or get clients to find you. Successful marketing includes awareness creation – making prospects aware of you and the services that you provide.

Creating awareness of your services requires motivation – you must motivate yourself to market you and your business all the time. Technology and processes can help, but motivation is the engine that drives your marketing. Motivation comes from knowing why you must market yourself over time. When you understand why, motivation follows more easily. So, how do you achieve this motivation?

Know your value

Understand the value of what you do. You must know how you and your services help others. Make a list of your services, and how they help your clients (and you) to achieve their goals, address their needs, increase their income, solve problems, etc. Focus on the positives to understand your value.

Go for scale

Create a plan to scale your business. Work on getting more clients, and planning on how you will then serve those clients. You might get too many clients to handle now – that’s a good problem to have because you can choose to turn away lower paying clients, or outsource to handle that extra work. Continue working harder so that you can take on more work. You can also create and market supporting products (eBooks, webinars, email courses, etc.) to create additional income. The point is to not think small – do not be hesitant about growth.

Market for fun

Do what you enjoy if it does the job. Marketing should not be a chore to avoid. Add activities that you like doing to your marketing – networking, speaking at events, free talks at schools. As long as you enjoy it and it gets the word out, then keep doing it.

Focus on wins

Position your marketing in a way to create daily small wins. It could mean sending five emails per day, or calling one prospect a week, or writing a blog post / tweet. Traction stars with small wins, and every win is encouraging.


Motivation is the key – to marketing, working hard, improving yourself, and many other aspects of your work and life. Find what motivates you, and use it to market and grow your business.

Do you have more suggestions on motivating yourself to keep marketing? Let me know what you thought of my post –

David Gargaro

How to position your freelance writing or creative business

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Some freelancers, solopreneurs, and creative professionals want to be all things to all people. You can be a “Jack/Jill of all trades” and still be successful. I’m a bit of a generalist – I write on a wide range of topics for clients in different industries. There’s a book called Range by David Epstein which argues that you can have more success by not focusing on a niche (read it – it’s quite good).

However, some freelance writing experts argue you can find greater success by focusing on a niche and deciding upon who you want or need to serve. Position your services by focusing on an area to stand out among your competitors. Show your customers that YOU are the solution for them. Customers respond better to focused prospecting.

I think you can succeed by focusing even if you are a generalist. You can write just informative articles and blog posts for companies in different markets.

So, where do you start in positioning your freelance writing or creative business?

  • Explore 2-3 areas or industries that you want to work in based on your experience, connections, interests, etc. Start with what you know and where you have experience.
  • Look more deeply into the markets you serve. Determine what your clients/market needs, and determine how you can satisfy that need while doing something that you enjoy.
  • Follow current business trends and investments. Choose growing markets as well – such as ebooks and interactive publishers.
  • Tell your prospects that you understand their particular issues and that you can help them to address those needs. Using your industry experience, try to address those specific challenges.
  • Choose markets that have money to spend. Look at their websites and marketing materials, and collect marketing materials from trade shows. When examining the markets, take a look at the size of the market (number of prospects), the average project or purchase size, and the frequency of the need for your services.

There are many other ways to position your creative business, but these ideas should give you a leg up in attracting the clients that you want, and growing your business. Do you have other ideas for positioning your creative business? Let me know –

David Gargaro

The benefits of exploring value with clients – What I learned from Breaking the Time Barrier

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Some time ago, I read Breaking the Time Barrier by Mike McDerment of FreshBooks and Donald Cowper. The book describes (among other things) how freelancers and the self-employed can unlock their true earning potential by focusing on value instead of charging by the hour. It is written by Mike McDerment (from FreshBooks) and Donald Cowper, and can be downloaded from the FreshBooks website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow are seven mutual benefits of exploring value with clients from Breaking the Time Barrier, which I hope to achieve in building my business:

  1. Creates trust. Getting to know more about your client’s needs inspires trust that you care about them and their needs, and that you know what you are doing in your business.
  2. Fosters alignment. It ensures that you are on the same page with your client. Start by determining where they are now, and where they want to go. It helps you to identify their main problems (by asking them) so that you can find solutions specific to them. Ask clients about their goals so that you can help them to achieve those goals.
  3. Helps clients better evaluate vendors. The process of creating value helps the client to determine who will deliver value rather than focus on price. This enables the client to get more value for their money.
  4. Frames solution as investment, not an expense. Taking about prices focus on the cost of the service, while talking about value provided focuses on the return on investment. Clients prefer to invest in something that will provide value.
  5. Inspires action. Focusing on value gets the client to envision their goal, which makes them eager to proceed with your solution. They will act quicker with you to get results.
  6. Lets client make informed business decision. Provide the client with several choices and costs so that they can choose the right solution for them. They choose where to go and how much to pay to achieve a specific solution.
  7. Establishes a trusted partnership. The client gets to experience the impact of your work. Creating real value for the client makes you a trusted partner, and they will turn to you again when needed.

Breaking the Time Barrier is written as a real-world situation, following the story of a designer who is having trouble getting ahead in his business. He meets a successful designer who teaches him the benefit of exploring value with clients, and how to unlock his true earning potential. It’s an easy and enjoyable read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro

Make your freelance writing business more credible to attract bigger and better clients

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Do you want to increase the size and quality of your client base? One key strategy is to make your brand more credible. Increasing your professional credibility will help you to attract larger clients. The obvious benefit is that you will attract bigger clients with bigger budgets, which will also provide you with more work at higher rates.

So, how can you increase your credibility? There are several approaches, and combining them will go further toward making you more credible (and popular) in your field.

  • Act like a professional all the time. Behave professional toward clients and prospects. Treat your business and brand professionally, and others will do the same.
  • Create social proof of your credibility. Social proof is evidence that other people like and trust you. Examples include testimonials, case studies, awards, website logos of your large clients, recommendations, etc.
  • Become an expert in a niche or particular field. Become known for excelling in that one specific area of your industry or business.
  • Become an influencer. An influencer is someone who takes charge and leads people to make positive contributions in their industry. For example, you can connect people or clients to each other, set up events, blog / write about events and key issues in your field, or share your knowledge with the world.
  • Encourage referrals. Ask clients to refer you to people who could use your service.
  • Get interviewed. Contact bloggers in your industry to interview you on a subject that matters to your clients.
  • Be omnipresent. Tweet, blog, network, etc. Stay public and be seen.

What tips do you have on being more credible in your industry? Would you like help with becoming more credible in your industry? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to land better clients as a freelancer

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Some time ago, I read 9 Things Freelancers Absolutely Must Do to Land Lots of Quality Clients by Red Lemon Club. The book describes (among other things) a number of things that freelancers must do to improve the quantity and quality of their clients. Red Lemon Club has a lot to offer on its website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about getting more clients from Red Lemon Club’s eBook, and what I hope to apply in building my business.

  1. Write down your personal end goals. Put your goals in written form to clarify your mind. Goals should be short term and long term. Be as descriptive as possible – the point is to be list your motivations.
  2. Determine your target market. Be very clear in what companies and individuals you want to target. Know who they are, what they do, and what is important to them.
  3. Assess what your target market is really looking for. Research what they want and need so that you can target them with solutions.
  4. Know when your prospects are likely to look for you. Know the important moments in a client’s business life (e.g., when they publish, their busy and quiet times) so that you can contact them when you are most needed.
  5. Find out where clients look for people like you. Go where they search or hang out – online, forums, networking, trade shows, etc. Be where they are, and be visible.
  6. Determine what it is about you that attracts clients. Identify what is unique about you or your service, and express it as a selling point. Be clear in your description. Focus on the benefit you provide.
  7. Work out the main way for prospects to engage with you. Determine how you want prospects to develop a relationship with you – email, Twitter, phone, newsletter, etc.
  8. Spend time building credibility as a professional. Build your professional image – get testimonials, blog or write articles on your expertise, speak at conferences, etc.
  9. Develop and maintain relationships with prospects and past clients. Stay in communication with clients to stay top of mind – send check-in emails or postcards, make regular social network status updates, write blog / newsletter postings, etc.

Red Lemon Club has a lot more great content on its website, as well as the eBook. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read, and comb through the website. They have a lot of useful information for freelancers.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know –

David Gargaro