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Getting paid

I used to worry about asking to get paid. I still do. There is (was?) some part of me that feels like a scumbag because I’m asking for money.

But it’s not actually like that. I realised that my clients WANT to give me money.

One client is struggling because their client can’t afford to pay them. But they are putting a plan in place to make sure I get paid. They want to pay me.

I’ve got a new client and I was holding off writing the contract because I thought they weren’t ready. He rang me up, interrupting me, and made me do it.

I had a coaching client and I was struggling to charge him because I was unsure if what I was doing was helping or not. He kept ringing me up reminding me to send him an invoice.

People WANT to pay you. They want to give you a fair rate. They trust you to do a good job and they know what that’s worth.

The clients who battle you on price – they don’t believe in you – and they’re invariably the cheapskates who never get what they want.

So don’t work for them.

You know you’re good at what you do. That’s why you dropped everything to work for yourself.

Find the clients who can see that. Find the clients who value what you do.

They’re out there. You just need to look in the right places.

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Why you don’t need to write long, detailed proposals

I used to write long, detailed, proposals for my clients.

I was a software developer, the projects were complex and, as they say, the devil is in the details.

So the proposals have to be complex and detailed too, right?

There are two problems with this.

The proposal becomes really boring. I mean, do you really want to read a load of software tech specs? I write software and I don’t want to.

And the client doesn’t really care. They want to know “if I spend money with you can I be certain that you will make my business, and my life, better?”

So now, I make sure my proposals answer that last question and nothing more. I talk about the outcomes they want, what it’s worth to them and give them options on how to proceed.

And it’s rarely more than 7, sparse, pages long. I don’t spend more than an hour putting the proposal together.

But because it answers that fundamental question, I generally end up with a signed contract.

Do you have to write proposals for your projects? If so, what do they look like?

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How do I write my first proposal?

Congratulations.

You’ve done the hard work.

You’ve found a potential client.

You’ve listened to their needs.

You’ve explained what it is you do.

They sound really interested.

“Send me a proposal” they say.

And you stop dead.

Because you’ve not done a proposal yet.

You’ve never written one before.

What do you do?

The single most important thing to remember is you have not got the client yet. That means that your proposal is a sales document. You are still “persuading” the client that you’re the right person to work with.

And the client is going to be looking for three things:

  • Will you help me achieve my objectives?
  • Will the price you charge be worth it?
  • Are you capable of delivering this project?

So your proposal should not just say “I will build a 5 page website for this price” or “I will keyword optimise your site for this price” or “I will write a Javascript component that does X for this price”.

Because that does not answer the client’s questions.

They don’t want a 5 page website – they want more sales1.

They don’t want keyword optimisation – they want more traffic2.

They don’t want a javascript widget – they want happier customers3.

In all three cases I’ve made an assumption about what it is the client is actually looking for. It’s your job, during the course of your conversations to figure out what their objective actually is.

And then you state that, front and centre, in your proposal.

“The aim of this project is to help Client X achieve Objective Y”

Straight away, you’re answering the client’s question – will you help me achieve my objectives? Yes, it’s right there on page one, paragraph one.

Next, is the price you charge worth it?

Well, if you’re going to help them get more sales, how many more sales do they want? Is it £100/month, is it £1000/month, is it £10000/month?

If you’re going to help them get more traffic – what is that traffic worth? Do 1 in 10 visitors become customers? Do 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000 or 1 in 1000000 visitors become customers? And how much is a customer worth? You can then use this to figure out that if you boost their traffic by 100 or 1000 or 1000000 visitors per month, they are going to make £M in extra revenue.

If you’re going to help them keep their customers happy – what is their customer churn rate? If a customer stays with them for an extra six months, how much is that worth to them in subscription revenue (or however they make their money)?

Because once you’ve got a monetary value, a measure of the difference you’re going to make to their business, suddenly, you’ve got something to anchor your price against.

“According to the projections, implementing this project will raise your revenues by £1000/month”

When you then state that your price is £5000, you’re immediately saying “so you will have made your money back in 6 months” – answering question two.

Now you’ve proven that you know what they want to achieve, you’ve proven that it’s worth their while choosing you – now you just need to prove to them that you can be trusted.

The easiest way to do this is to offer some sort of guarantee.

This might fill you with terror – but remember, you can choose what the guarantee looks like.

So, never pick something that is outside your control. You can’t promise them £1000/month in extra sales, because what if their product is utter crap and no-one wants to buy it? Or a new competitor comes out with something better that’s half the price? Your guarantee just fell through the floor.

Instead, choose something you can control.

The website will be completed, to your specifications, with 3 revisions, within 6 weeks of the contract being signed.

The optimisation process will result in new website copy that reads naturally but has a keyword density of X.

The javascript widget will reduce the customer journey from 5 steps to 1 step, resulting in smoother order processing.

We guarantee that this project will meet the following criteria providing our specialist development process is followed.

And that way, your proposal answers your clients three major questions, puts their mind at ease and makes it easy for them to choose to work with you.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

Download your free planner now

  1. Probably
  2. Probably
  3. Probably