134 FS Finding Your Confidence as a Small Agency/Freelancer with Travis Northcutt

Download MP3

The panelists talk to Travis Northcutt about finding your confidence as a small agency and/or freelancer.


[This episode is sponsored by LessAccounting. Are you looking for a system that makes it easy to track all your expenses, income and your budget? Is QuickBooks too much of a pain for you? It was, for me, and I switched to LessAccounting and I love it. It makes things really easy to keep track of and it gives me a lot of charts and graphs to make it easy for me to look at and just know where I'm at with my expenses and everything else. One of the owners, Allan Branch, and his son have written a book for entrepreneurs’ children that talks about what entrepreneurs do and why they're important. If you're interested in that, you can go to lessaccounting.com/hero]**[This episode is brought to you by Audible. Audible is the first place I go to keep my business skills sharp. They offer over 150,000 books on business, finance, planning and much more. They also have a great selection of fiction that keeps me entertained when I'm just not up for some serious content. I love it because I can buy a book, download it to my iPhone, and listen while running errands or at the gym. Get your free trial at freelancersshow.com/audible]**[This episode is brought to you by Code School. Code School offers interactive online courses in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and iOS. Their courses are fun and interesting and include exercises for the student. To level up your development skills, go to freelancersshow.com/codeschool]**[This episode is brought to you by ProXPN. If you are out and about on public Wi-Fi, you never know who might be listening. With ProXPN, you no longer have to worry. ProXPN is a VPN solution which sends all of your traffic over a secure connection to one of their servers around the world. To sign up, go to ProXPN.com and use the promo code tmtcs (short for teach me to code screencasts) to get 10% off for life] **CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 134 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone. CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Hello. CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv, and this week we have a special guest Travis Northcutt. TRAVIS: Howdy. CHUCK: Awesome! You want to introduce yourself really quickly? TRAVIS: Oh, yeah! I’m Travis Northcutt. I run a business called The Bright Agency for myself and my partner Michael Steele. We do web design and development, and some general marketing consulting. We’ve been doing that for about four years now. CHUCK: Awesome. Well, we brought you on today to talk about finding confidence as a small consultancy. Do you run into people who run smaller companies that aren’t as confident in their ability to sell or do business? TRAVIS: Yeah, and probably mostly with solo freelancers. I see that a lot, especially as it relates to pricing. People just having confidence in what they charge their clients and being able to move up that ladder to better clients that pay more and treat them more like valued professionals than just the hired help that is really cheap. So yeah, I see that a good bit, especially with solo people. CURTIS: How do you think someone makes that transition from lack of confidence to confidence? TRAVIS: I think a lot of it is time, just gaining experience, but I think you can speed that up. In my case, I’ve been able to do that – to speed that process up by being intentional about your education, learning new skills, but then also not just your technical skills, but learning better how to deal with clients and how to sell your value, and really understand your value before you even try to sell it, and gaining confidence in that, just a repeated pounding it into your head style, if nothing else. CURTIS: What would be the best resources you’ve found for your value? TRAVIS: I think a lot of the stuff that Brennan Dunn puts out is pretty good. I’m sure you guys have talked about and you’ve had him on several times to talk about doubling your freelancing rate. His stuff is really good. It does a good job of convincing you that you can charge “real rates” for what you’re doing, and that applies to designers, developers but also I think other professions, also other things that people would do as a freelancer – writing or other types of consulting. I think that’s probably a really good starting point resource. CHUCK: What are some of the things that people can see that recognize this issue themselves? For example, are their behaviors or thought processes that people go through that demonstrate a lack of confidence? TRAVIS: Yeah, totally. I think a big one is not being firm and direct in communications with your clients. It’s easy for a lot of people to, especially when they start to talk money, to be timid about that and to throw out the invoice and just hope that the client pays it without arguing, and if the client tries to negotiate, then to just be a pushover. So yeah, I think that’s a huge area. The symptoms of pricing and invoicing is to mainly to be a pushover in that area and not have confidence in the value that you’re providing and letting the client just take what they want, really. CHUCK: One thing that I’ve seen or heard with some people is that it seems like – so they go out and they ask for that price, that price that they think they’re going to get from whatever, whoever, and they get some objection, and that’s where the confidence or lack of confidence really shows up. “Well, maybe I could cut you a deal” or “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” What is the approach you should have when you go in and do that? TRAVIS: Yeah, when you get that objection? I think a big thing, when we do our pricing we always present options to the client. First we talk with them, we learn about their needs, what their business objectives are and all that kind of stuff, and then we present different options that, if we’ve talked about budget then one will be below their budget, one will be at their budget, one will be above, loosely What you can do then if they try to negotiate price with you, you can just say “Yeah, sure, we can lower the price and we just cut this, and we cut this.” So they get less as a result but you can be flexible to work within somebody’s budget, to some extent. If they’re just completely low-balling you and just being overly stingy, then they’re probably not a great client. I think that’s a great approach, is to respond with the “Yeah, we can cut the price for sure, and here’s what we’ll cut out in the project” and to stand firm on the value that you’re delivering and to stand firm on what you’re going to charge for what you do. CHUCK: And then I know that some of the folks that I talk to would go “Well what if they don’t hire me?” TRAVIS: Great, move on to somebody better. There’s plenty of fish in the sea, and when you’re starting out it can be a struggle because you probably don’t have tons of leads and maybe you do have to negotiate and cut your prices and take what you can get, but as quick as you can. That’s another huge confidence booster, is to both you be the one to say no to a potential client. Say “Hey, we’re not a good fit” and to move on. I think that’s a huge confidence booster. Another thing is to fire a client that isn’t a good fit for you, that’s either an unhealthy relationship or they just don’t want to spend to get the value that you’re providing. I think those two things can be enormous confidence boosters. CURTIS: I think it’s more than they don’t want to spend, is that they don’t see the value in it, or their value perception is really low. I know I was talking to a friend last week and he was selling a nine-dollar plug-in and the person said “Hey, for nine bucks I should be getting like ten thousand extra things. This should be three dollars.” To which I thought, “$9?” You save so much time on that – it probably cost you $700, $800, $900 dollars to develop it, but $9? But their value perception was really low on that, which is something that – and I know that Travis and I both work on WordPress, that’s something that’s especially in the WordPress industry is low, right? TRAVIS: Yeah, totally. CURTIS: The value perception is often lower than what you'd get, even for developers in any other industry, often. TRAVIS: Definitely. I think there’s two things there – one, is that education is a big thing; so educating your clients or potential clients on the value that you’re delivering. If you haven’t done that upfront then of course they’re going to mock at your pricing if your rates are appropriate. Two – some people are just, I don’t know the right term, pathological. With all the education in the world, some people are just crazy. And then three, like Curtis said, different sort of ecosystems. That’s a real thing in the WordPress world, is that the value perception is lower because there’s lots of free or super cheap stuff out there, so you just have to do a better job of selling your value, for sure. CHUCK: If they do object, does that mean you didn’t sell your value well? TRAVIS: I don’t think necessarily. I think a lot of times it can mean that, but at the same time I think some people have that knee jerk reaction of always negotiate and try to get what they can, and in some cases, if that’s them doing their fiduciary duty to the business that they’re working for or that they own, then something’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But then if you respond with reason, showing them, “Hey, we talked about this. We agreed that this is the value that this provides and we’re providing a five or ten times return on investment over a year or two years,” or whatever the case may be. Then at that point, if they agree with you on the value that you’re providing, then either at that point, maybe they are one of those pathological people or they just really say they agree with the value, but they really don’t see it, or they just think they can get more elsewhere. Maybe that’s the case, yeah. CHUCK: It seems like the approach that you’re advocating is that you figure out what value it has for the customer and then your confidence comes out of the fact that you recognize that they are going to get a certain amount of value and so your work then has a certain amount of value. TRAVIS: Yeah, I’m becoming more and more of an advocate of that approach. I don’t at all think that that’s the only reasonable approach. Having an hourly price is perfectly reasonable in some cases, and if – Curtis is a big fan of weekly pricing, and that’s perfectly reasonable too. I think all of those things can be done well, but I think even if you are charging on a time basis, I think even then talking to the client about the value that you’re bringing and about the return that they’re going to get on that, I think that can really help with that sales process too; it can help with them not mocking at your rates. With Curtis, I don’t know what your weekly rate is, but if you tell the client your weekly rate and say “But, look at what I can build in that week and what that can do for you” then of course they would go along with that rate and be agreeable to that. CURTIS: Yeah, and actually currently I’ve moved to a bit of a hybrid of that, where I price based on value and divide it up into the weeks I think it will take, and my weekly rate is variable in that respect. TRAVIS: Oh, interesting. How has that gone so far with clients? CURTIS: It has gone well, which has allowed me to increase what I make per week, and it’s gone well from that. The subsequent week would cost the same amount, if we needed more to complete it. TRAVIS: Right, if you need to tack on more, yeah, that’s great. CHUCK: If you aren’t going with the value based price, let’s say you’re doing hourly or you just set a fixed rate for your weekly billing, how do you gain confidence that you’re providing the value for the customer? TRAVIS: I think again, experience plays a big part. With a new client, once you have the experience, you can say “Hey look, I did a similar project for Client X over here. This is what we were able to accomplish in that week, and building that same thing or designing that same thing, or similar, in your business can have this kind of an impact.” It requires you to build trust with your clients, so that they’re willing to talk about their business with you. If you’re strictly a technical implementer and they just bring you a list of requirements, then I don’t know if you can talk about their specific business and the value it’ll bring there, but I think you can still make a case for the amount of value you can provide in that amount of time, in that week’s time or two week’s time, whatever it is. Again, a lot of it probably does come down to experience. CURTIS: I think even as a technical implementer, you need to have the value discussion though, because it may not be of any value for them, and no one really thought about it yet, or it just sounded like a good idea and there’s no outside voice saying “Well, let’s double check that first.” I’ve done that with a number of clients, and so I actually refuse – even I’m getting hired by an outside agency – I refuse to do the work unless I can talk to the clients and we can have a value discussion before I do pricing. TRAVIS: Yeah, that’s a great point. The long term benefit there is, besides the fact that it’s just the right thing to do, is that when they do need somebody of course they’re going to come to you because they know you’re vet their project to make sure that it’s worth it to spend that money on you, so they’ll probably come back. REUVEN: What does it look like when you start off with a new client or a new potential client? Do you have an initial meeting with them in which you talk about their value proposition? Is this something that you bill for as part of your work? TRAVIS: That’s a good question. We haven’t done that yet – billed for that initial discovery phase. I’m pretty interested in that, and some people do that but it doesn’t seem to have been implemented. Right now, we start asking questions. We ask about what’s the motivation behind this project, because we do largely WordPress based projects, and so a lot of people come to us with just a very brief outline of what they want to do and so we start asking “Okay, why are you doing this? What’s the business motivation behind it? What is this going to do for you and for your business, besides just ‘it’s a pretty website?’ What is this going to do for you?” So we just start with those questions to gain a better understanding of really the business motivations for the technical project, and then go from there, start to talk about okay, what values that can provide and make sure that we can provide that return that we really want to. REUVEN: Did you find that most of your clients are technical or non-technical people, and does that make a difference? TRAVIS: I find that most of our clients are non-technical people. Does it make a difference? I don’t know, probably, because we don’t have a very good mix because so many of them are non-technical. They’re the small business owner or the marketing person at a larger business, stuff like that. That’s an interesting question. I do wonder what that would be like, if your clients are technical. CHUCK: I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit more about how your business is run. You do WordPress based stuff. What kind of work do you actually do? TRAVIS: For a long time our bread and butter has been Custom Site Design and Development. If somebody comes to us, they need a site redesign or they need a website for a new business, we design it. I have a partner and he has more of a design background and I have more of a development background. So we design and build their website; that’s what we’ve done for a long time. But we’ve also started to do a little bit more Custom Plug-in Development, especially for membership sites, and then we’ve also, earlier this year, launched a – the buzzword right now is, Productized Consulting Service, so helping people with Conversion Optimization on a monthly retainer basis. We haven’t focused on that too much and so that hasn’t really taken off yet but that’s something we definitely want to grow, in that area. REUVEN: Are the people to whom you’re offering the Productized Consulting, the same clients as you have for other things or is this a way to find or get new clients whom you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach? TRAVIS: A little bit of both. The clients we’ve had in the past who are mostly smaller businesses don’t really work for that service. For one thing, with that service, you need a minimum amount of traffic to website. A lot of our clients, especially when we first started out, were local – just small businesses that need a website but they’re not doing any kind of ecommerce or anything on their site. Their site isn’t high traffic and so it just doesn’t work with that kind of service. But, there is now some overlap as we started to do more membership sites. For one thing, that’s a clear, something very quantitative, so you increase conversions on a site like that and you can put a dollar value to it really easily. So there’s a little bit of overlap there, but also part of it is you have to expose to have something to offer to a larger and different audience at the same time. CHUCK: Do you find that with the productized offerings, are those easier or harder to sell than the open-ended project or the custom estimated project? TRAVIS: Come back and ask me in a year, maybe? [Chuckling] Yeah, we haven’t done enough of it yet that I could really say. Maybe for now the answer is that they’re harder to sell because we’re not selling very many of them. CURTIS: Now, have you targeted your marketing towards that outside? How are you pushing people to that to see if it’s really selling or not? TRAVIS: Yeah, you’re right. We’ve definitely done a poor job of marketing that, and a lot of that is just build a ‘cobbler’s children have no shoes’ kind of thing. It’s focusing on the things that provide the cash flow and pay the bills, which are the “normal projects” versus that which is building a longer term asset, and so we’re slowly chipping away at that, but we need to chip a little harder I guess. REUVEN: Where do you get new clients from? How do they find you or how do you find them? TRAVIS: Almost all are referrals at this point, and that’s either referrals from past clients or referrals from peers, from other people who do what we do, if they have a lead that’s not a good fit or they’re too busy for. And then a little bit of referrals from – for instance we’ve done some work with a particular membership plug-in for WordPress and we get some referrals from them as well. When people come to them looking for customizations, then they’ll send them our way sometimes. So, almost all are referral-based, some just random search traffic, but most are referrals. CHUCK: You think that the referral traffic is more willing to accept your estimates of what it’s going to take or your value proposition, as opposed to people who are coming to you cold? TRAVIS: Not necessarily. I think a large part of that probably depends on the referral source. I mentioned that plug-in, that we get some referrals from them, but a lot of the people coming to them, in our experience so far, have been people who want something really cheap. We have had a few great clients from there, so I think it really just depends. But no, there hasn’t been a real strong indicator one way or the other there, to be honest. REUVEN: You mentioned that you’ve started dipping your toes into the Productized Consulting direction for your business. Aside from ongoing client work in the Productized Consulting, are you trying some new directions as well to try to branch out? TRAVIS: You mean aside from those two things? REUVEN: Yeah, aside from those two things. Or it could be a lot, so no pressure. TRAVIS: Yeah, no, not really. It’s more than enough to keep us, the two of us busy for right now, yeah. REUVEN: How do you deal with – do you ever encounter the problem with someone saying “Well, it’s only two guys. Do I really want to work with such a small agency?” TRAVIS: We haven’t really encountered that but at the same time most of our clients have been fairly small – obviously that’s a relative term – but yeah, we haven’t really encountered that. We do have one client right now who’s pretty large. They have hundreds and hundreds of employees spread out all over the country, huge revenue numbers, and they came to us because of the relationship we had with one of their employees from a past business that they were involved in. If I remember, there may have been a little bit of hesitation on their part, because we were so small, but they were also in dire straits. They had a really bad situation that they needed help with, then we just got it done, delivered what we said we would on time, so they’ve been with us ever since, and that’s been a year and a half ago. I think that’s maybe one thing that, especially solo people might be hesitant about, talking to a larger client, but as long as you’re realistic about what you can deliver, I don’t think there’s any reason not to go after those larger clients. REUVEN: Oh yeah and Travis you mentioned on the chat here, we should talk about Masterminds. I still remember seeing a tweet or a blog post from you saying basically “One of the things you absolutely have to do is join a Mastermind.” TRAVIS: I created that ad a few days ago. I said, I think my top two tips for freelancers, and I said “Don’t call yourself a freelancer, raise your prices and join a Mastermind group.” I think that’s probably what you had in mind? REUVEN: Yeah, yeah! TRAVIS: Yeah, so that actually got quite a bit of feedback on that. I’m actually working on a blog post; I was writing earlier today. Earlier this year, about four months ago, my partner Michael and myself joined a Mastermind group, and that’s been tremendously helpful in our business. It was focused on people who are doing the Productized Consulting thing, but that’s not really the sole focus. A lot of the people in there also do general consulting or development work, and it’s been great. A lot of it has been – we have a Slack chat room that most of us idle in and so it’s really helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of other people, get input on how to communicate with the client, how to handle situations that come up, get feedback on “Hey, is this client crazy, should I fire them?” stuff like that. It’s been tremendously helpful. Actually, even for us, Michael and I share an office, so we see each other every day, but if you’re solo even more so, I think that would be tremendously valuable to be a part of a group like that. CHUCK: How did you find your Mastermind group? TRAVIS: They found me, actually. It was a couple of people that I knew, that I talked to on Twitter before, and so for somebody who isn’t in one already, that would be my first suggestion, is just be out there talking to people. That doesn’t mean be on Twitter all day, do your work, but be intentional about building relationships with your peers and either ask about joining somebody else’s group or hey, just go ahead and start one. Identify a few people that you think would be a good fit and try it out. REUVEN: Yeah, I definitely found that the Mastermind group that I’m in every week has been great. Yes, we try to help each other solve problems and get advice, but more than that just the feeling that I’m talking to other people who are in the same boat as I am, they get me and what my issues are, and we’re all trying to help each other, sort of mutually reinforcing. I find that to be a great relief, because it’s not easy to find other people who are in the same boat as I am. TRAVIS: Yeah, totally. Especially if the people who are in your life, in “real life” in the physical world or whatever, if they aren’t business owners, if they’re not freelancers, whatever, then they may not understand where you’re coming from with a lot of your questions or problems or whatever. Yeah, it’s hugely valuable and that can lift a big burden to be able to share that stuff with other people for sure. CURTIS: Now, is your Mastermind group free or paid, Travis? TRAVIS: It is a free group, yeah. We sort of have somebody who runs things, but not really. It’s pretty loose. We do two monthly calls. Most of our interaction actually happens in our chat room, the Slack, which is really great because there’s usually at least a couple of people in there, and so you can get pretty quick feedback on something that you need help with and vice versa. You can help other people in close to real times so that’s been really valuable for us. CURTIS: You said it was bi-monthly calls, right? TRAVIS: Yeah, two calls a month and then a Slack room. We have a discussion forum thing, but we don’t really use it. We found that the combination of the phone calls and using the chat room is a pretty good combo. REUVEN: Curtis, are there Masterminds that are paid? I actually have no idea. CURTIS: Are you in The Freelancers Guild for free, Reuven? REUVEN: Well, The Freelancers Guild I pay for, but that helped to set up the Mastermind, but the truth be told – okay, okay that’s an interesting point, but if I wanted to leave that and keep doing the Mastermind with these people I met or if I met some other people. I guess in that case, I joined the Guild for a bunch of things; I discovered the Mastermind through that, but if I were to find some other people, random people who are independent consultants, who I might bump into in a podcast, that would be perfectly legitimate. I wouldn’t see necessarily a reason to charge for that. [Crosstalk] CURTIS: There are paid Masterminds though, too. I will be opening up some in the New Year, where I will be leading them and coaching through them and opening up Mastermind spots. REUVEN: Got it. ERIC: The ones I’ve seen where you pay, when you’re paying to be in a group you’re paying to have a dedicated moderator, so someone who runs the group, does all the administration, all that stuff. I’ve heard of some that are thousands of dollars a year to get into. TRAVIS: Was that also because they have someone, who’s that main person, is also providing some coaching aspect as well? ERIC: Yeah, probably it’s a little bit of that but also there’s an application process and so they only let in certain people. If you get in you know you’re with other top dogs or whatever, in the industry, so the information is supposed to be a lot more valuable than if it was just a group of people that came together. TRAVIS: Yeah, so it’s just the exclusivity so you know those people are taking it seriously. ERIC: Right. CHUCK: Yeah, I was part of a paid Mastermind. One of the only things that – we all had something in common; we all belonged to the group when we got in, and that was another thing that was important. But yeah, we did get some coaching and some help from the person running it. Overall, it was a positive experience. I think it was better run than the one I’m in now, which I just pulled together with other people that I wanted advice from and was willing to give advice to. There is something to be said for it. The other thing is, is that the group that I was a part of, there were 30-ish people involved I think. We were all in different groups within the overarching group, and so there was a forum with more discussion, with more people, that would happen on a regular basis and then we would have a call twice a month. So, there was a lot to go on with all of that and we were getting value out of it in several different ways. CURTIS: Why did you leave it, Chuck? CHUCK: The person who was running it shut it down. He had other projects he wanted to pursue. He quit billing our credit cards and shut it down. REUVEN: Wow. I can see though how for people who are new to Masterminds, or even if you’re not, I can see how –. When we started off my group, it probably would have not been a bad idea for us to get some coaching or advice from someone who knew a little more what they were doing, and that can be potentially valuable. TRAVIS: Yeah, definitely. There are people who provide that – obviously business coaches – that’s definitely another avenue to build that confidence, for sure. CHUCK: I’m kind of curious, when you were starting out Travis, were there instances where you weren’t confident in the value you were offering, and what was your hang-up there? TRAVIS: Yeah, totally, and not just in the value that I’m offering – we’ve talked a lot about that, about value and pricing – but just confidence in what you’re doing. People don’t talk about it a lot, but I think a lot of people, I hope they’re not the only one – I don’t know – who sometimes wonder “Can I do this? Am I cut out for this?” that kind of thing. So yeah definitely, especially starting out. Again it’s just a process of gaining that experience and having successful client relationships one after the other and start building on those and then just building that confidence over the long haul. I think that’s another thing; it’s easy for people who are just starting out and don’t have as much experience to see other people who have tons of experience and are experts, and just think “Gosh, I could never get to that level” or “They’re way smarter than me. They know way more than me” whatever, but I think it’s important to remember that what you see publically is, people show their best stuff on the internet. So when you read some expert’s blog, that’s all the best stuff because they’ve curated it and they’re publishing all the stuff they actually know, but they’re probably not publishing those blog posts when they’re awake in the middle of the night thinking “Am I going to screw up this client relationship?” or “Am I going to be able to keep my business running?” whatever the case may be. I think that’s an important perspective to keep in mind that everybody looks like they have it all figured out but probably those people don’t actually have it all figured out. ERIC: No one does. TRAVIS: Yeah, at least I’m just making it up as I go along. REUVEN: It’s like [inaudible 29:19]. ERIC: Yeah, there’s a saying where things on the internet is, you’re basically looking at other people’s highlight reels; you don’t know all the stuff that’s been cut and all that. I found being in Mastermind groups is useful because I was in a few where some of the other members were highly successful and very public, and you could look at what they’re projecting publically, their highlights, but then talking to them and figuring out what they’re struggling with and you realize that they start with the exact same things everyone else does; they’re just getting through it or working around it or trying to ignore those problems and still being public about it and growing their business or whatever it is, that way. So seeing both sides of it is very useful. TRAVIS: Yeah, totally. That’s a great point, a great extra benefit of the Mastermind group that I hadn’t really thought of, but now that you mention it, yeah I see the same thing in our group. Being in a group with these people who are super successful, almost an internet celebrity, but then being able to talk to them as real people is great. CHUCK: Wait, celebrities are real people too? CURTIS: No. TRAVIS: Only internet celebrities. CHUCK: Oh okay. TRAVIS: Not Hollywood celebrities. CHUCK: They’re evil robots. TRAVIS: Yes. REUVEN: They’re not all evil. TRAVIS: Yes, some of them are benign robots, right? [Chuckling] CURTIS: Wall-E. REUVEN: If you were talking to someone, if someone came to you – and my impression is this actually does happen to you a fair amount – someone came to you and said “I’m interested in going to Independent Consulting.”  What would be the first things that you suggest that they worry about or deal with? TRAVIS: That doesn’t happen that much, but it’s a great question. The first things they should deal with, I would just say start doing. Find the first client and just start gaining experience by doing. It’s easy to sit around and read lots of books and talk to lots of people and think about what you should be doing, but there’s no replacement for actually getting out there and having a paying relationship with a client and delivering on a project and collecting the money. I think you’ll learn way more from doing that than from anything else. Now again, and I mentioned this earlier I think, intentionally educating yourself over time is a huge confidence booster, but especially starting out, there’s no replacement for having that first interaction, that first client relationship. REUVEN: Yeah, that’s true. CURTIS: I think getting out with a client gives you opportunity to fail too, right? That’s often where we learn the most, whereas just thinking about it, all you think about is how awesome you are and how you’re going to kill it, then it’s likely you’re going to have a failure at some point. TRAVIS: Yup, totally got to fall off the horse and get back up again. REUVEN: My daughter actually does horseback riding, so when someone in her play center stable falls off, they not only have to get back on the horse, but they have to bring everyone a cake, and they bring a cake to the next meeting. The idea is, this is part of it, we’re all going to celebrate together that you’re making progress, not cry over the fact that you had a failure. So, she fell off and she’s like “Well, got to bring a cake” and it was a very positive message that they brought. TRAVIS: Yeah. That’s an awesome way to make it not seem like such a terrible thing, for sure. CHUCK: The cake is a lie. [Laughs] CURTIS: It’s funny that we do that. I know at my house we do that even with our kids, right? The baby tumbles over and bonks her head on something out there, you cheer all happy and smile, and she’s just like “Oh okay” and keeps on going and doing whatever she’s doing. As we get to be adults, we stop that type of stuff because we don’t necessarily cry ourselves, well often cry ourselves, and aren’t making all that noise that we want to shut down. TRAVIS: That’s an interesting way of thinking about it. REUVEN: You’ve already mentioned some of this, but how do you feel you’ve changed over the years as a consultant? What are the things that you’ve changed about yourself or changed about the way you do business, that you think has benefited you? TRAVIS: I think one thing is, just with that several years of experience, being more confident in my interactions with clients. Whereas before, I might throw something out there really hesitantly; now I’m much more confident in being able to be direct and honest with them about whatever the specific situation might be. That’s something we talked about in our Mastermind group, I think last week – learning to be direct with your clients and not be scared that they’re going to think you’re a jerk or something like that. Not being mean, but it’s easy to, especially starting out, to be really hesitant and not want to offend someone or step on their toes, but you can provide way more value to somebody if you’re honest with them about their situation and what they should do about it. I think that’s a big thing, is learning to be more direct and confident in the advice I’m giving to people. CURTIS: Was there a resource that helped you with getting that or was it just experience, like you said earlier? TRAVIS: Not a specific resource that has helped me with that, but probably just mainly experience, yeah, and that experience of seeing a positive outcome of doing those things and then seeing the good results in that. CHUCK: Alrighty. Well, should we go on to picks? TRAVIS: Sure. CHUCK: Alright. Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: I’m going to pick two podcasts that I happened along recently. Art of Value just launched last week, and that was with Kirk Bowman, who was episode 109. And then he actually got me on another podcast called The Soul of Enterprise, which is nothing short of amazing. The problem with both of those is that I usually listen to podcasts while I’m running or riding my bike, and I have to keep stopping to take notes about all the stuff they’re saying or listen to it a second time, because they’re excellent. CHUCK: [Chuckles] I love those. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: Okay, so I’ve got a few picks. First of all, three shameless self-promotion picks: I’m doing a free webinar, I think I will probably be – oh we don’t come out until after that – never mind, you’ve missed the free webinar already, which will be on the 22nd, unless you get an early cut of this. CURTIS: Where can I sign up for the next one, Reuven, or find out information about the next one? REUVEN: It will be on my website, lerner.co.il. I think I’m going to do these about once a month. I had so much fun doing the one last month that I decided I’m just going to keep doing them, and separately and after the podcast comes out, I’m going to be giving two full-day online classes, one on October 27th and one on October 29th; the first on Functional Programming in Python, and the second in Object Oriented Programming in Python, so both should be lots of fun, small, online, lots of interactions and lots of exercises. Separately from my promotional stuff, I mentioned I think it was Curtis last week, I can’t remember if it was a pick or you just mentioned it, The Lemony Snicket Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events. He has a new series out called All the Wrong Questions, which is not quite as funny, but really, really close and still incredibly fun to read either to yourself, or if you need an excuse with a child in your house. So I definitely encourage you to read these three books of the four that are on in that series so far. Anyway, that’s it for this week. CHUCK: You have a course too, don’t you Curtis? CURTIS: Yes I do. I have a course that launched to the email list as we record this and publicly tomorrow, called Hope is Not a Strategy, and that will be up on my site as of tomorrow, which is the 15th of October, and it is only on sale till the end of the month. It will run from November through December. It includes six webinars and a bunch of other stuff depending on which package you'd like. My site is curtismchale.ca. CHUCK: Awesome. Speaking of webinars, we’re also going to be doing our Q&A Webinar on the 25th of November, so if you have questions about freelancing, that’s a good place to check it out. Eric, do you have some picks for us? ERIC: One is from the Freshbooks Blog. It’s Freelancing 101, the title is Watch for Commitment Flags Early On, and it’s a good post to read if you are getting started or you have problems getting clients to follow through with stuff. It’s nice and short, it’s a nice little story. The second is, after talking with Peter who was here a couple of weeks ago now, he basically pushed me enough to start my own weekly newsletter. It’s called Freelance Chi. It’s going to be coming out every Friday. It’s going to be news, resources, links, that kind of thing, for freelancers and consultants. It’s a 100% free. The first one is coming out this week, but it would’ve been last week when you get this, so you can sign up. I’ll have the archives online somewhere, I just have to figure all this stuff out, but you can go to freelancechi.com, so it’s C-H-I (dot) com. CHUCK: But you’re already missing out. ERIC: Yeah, just like with the webinar, it’s already passed. It’s in the past. You can’t go, but it’s going to be online so you can just read it. It’s not live. CHUCK: Alright. Speaking of webinars, I too am doing a webinar or three. The one that is most interesting to this audience is the Podcasting Webinar I’m going to be doing. If you go to pickuppodcasting.com, you can sign up. It’s going to be on October 24th and you’ll get all the details in the mailing list along with my guide to podcasting tools, and I’m now working on the follow up series which gives you a whole bunch of other great stuff related to tools and podcasting setup and all of that stuff. So, just to put that out there, I’m going to have that out there. If you’re interested in Rails, I’m working on putting together something on Rails 4.2, and if you’re interested in JavaScript and mobile development, I have one coming up on that as well, but I don’t have the websites up for those yet, so stay posted or shoot me an email or tweet at me and I’ll tell you where to get them. But those will be in the following two weeks. Anyway, those are my picks. Travis, what are your picks? TRAVIS: I’ve got a few picks. One is a blog post by Eric Barker, it’s called How to Make Your Life Better by Sending Five Simple Emails, and the next one is Justin Jackson’s newsletter, it’s called The Newsletter for Product People, but I find that it’s pretty apparently applicable. He’s a pretty great guy and pretty funny as well. He just puts out a pretty consistently good newsletter. And then I got a video on YouTube, it’s a talk given by Merlin Mann at Webstock in 2011, and it’s called Scared Shitless. I’ve watched that a few times and now I come back to it every now and then, and I think that goes along really well with our self-confidence theme for today. CHUCK: Very nice. Alright well, I think that’s the show, so thanks for coming Travis. It was fun to chat, and we’ll all catch everyone next week. TRAVIS: Awesome. Thanks for having me on![This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]**

Sign up for the Newsletter

Join our newsletter and get updates in your inbox. We won’t spam you and we respect your privacy.