153 FS Workshop with Robert Williams

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02:07 - Robert Williams Introduction

02:28 - How Does Workshop Work?

04:07 - Getting Picked (Competing For Leads?)

05:24 - How is it Different From a Job Board?

  • All Freelance Jobs
  • All Project-Based
  • All Remote

07:35 - Other Curating Services Compared

09:47 - Finding Leads to Offer

11:54 - Success Stories > Statistics

15:27 - Pricing and Value

20:14 - Email Content

22:10 - Expanding / Contracting / Refocusing Based on Feedback?

23:56 - Writing Emails: Emails That Win You Clients by Robert Williams

  • Top Tips:
    • Short
    • Deliver Something of Value
    • Thumbs Up/Yes for More Info (Kai Davis)
    • Optimize Subject Lines

35:56 - Referrals

37:06 - Upsale Opportunities and Maintenance Agreements

Simplecast (Jonathan)Amazon Dash Button (Jonathan)Welcome to Night Vale (Reuven)Steelheart (The Reckoners) by Brandon Sanderson (Chuck)Paparazzi (Robert)Just Tell Julie (Robert)The Magic Email (Robert)


CHUCK: We have done shows where somebody was, “Oh, they just pulled out the wood chipper,” [chuckles] and then we hear this, “Wreerng!”[This episode is sponsored by Elixir Sips. Elixir Sips is a screencast series that will take you from Elixir newbie to experienced practitioner. If you’re interested in learning Elixir but don’t know where to start, then Elixir Sips is perfect for you. In two short screencasts each week between five and fifteen minutes, Elixir Sips currently consists of over 16 hours of densely packed videos and more than a hundred episodes, and there are more every week. Elixir Sips is brought to you by Josh Adams, expert Rubyist and CTO of a software development consultancy, Isotope Eleven. Elixir Sips, learn Elixir with a pro. Find out more at elixirsips.com]**[This episode is sponsored by the App Quality Bundle, the ultimate toolset for providing better software. It includes six leading tools for one incredibly low price. It’s a full stack set of tools that covers continuous integration, testing and monitoring for your mobile apps, web apps, and APIs. It’s great for new projects and companies. The offer is $999 for one year of service for all six services. It is available for new paying subscribers only. Go check out the website at buildbetter.software for complete terms and conditions. The offer ends April 15, so don’t wait.]****[This episode is sponsored by DevMountain. DevMountain is a coding school with the best, world-class learning experience you can find. DevMountain is a 12-week full-time development course. With only 25 spots available, each cohort fills quickly. As a student, you’ll be assigned an individual mentor to help answer questions when you get stuck and make sure you are getting most out of the class. Tuition includes 24-hour access to campus and free housing for our out-of-state applicants. In only 12 weeks, you’ll have your own app in the App store. Learn to code, it’s time! Go to devmountain.com/freelancers. Listeners to the Freelancers Show will get a special $250 off when they use the coupon code FREELANCERS at checkout.]****CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 153 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi Everyone. CHUCK: Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week we have a special guest, Robert Williams. ROBERT: Hey. CHUCK: Do you want to introduce yourself really quickly? ROBERT: Sure, I’m Robert Williams. I run a site called Workshop. I basically send freelancers potential work opportunities, so Freelance leads to them to their emails. That’s what we’re going to be talking about I guess. CHUCK: Cool. How exactly does it work? Are you a recruiter? Is that more or less how it goes down or are we putting you in a box? ROBERT: I wouldn’t call myself a recruiter. It’s basically the private newsletter that people have to pay to get. Basically, what I wanted when I was freelancing was a way to find leads because I was having to do it all myself. I wanted to clone myself and not have to do this every day – the process of either looking for work on job boards or on Twitter, or however it was that I was having to manually go through a bunch of links or whatever, in order to find the list of people that I could email. So I created this private newsletter where I basically do that every day, but instead I get paid by multiple freelancers. And they – instead of having to do it themselves, they just get to email people. They get to do the fun part which is contacting new work opportunities and try to win work instead of having to search for it. CHUCK:**Nice. Now I have to say that this has got to be a disreputable site. You got testimonials from Kurt Elster and Jason Swett and this guy named Eric Davis [chuckles]. I am not buying in; there’s no way.ROBERT:[Chuckles] Shady people, definitely.**CHUCK: I know. So the idea is that somebody comes along, and they’re looking for a freelancer to help them with something, and they post their project, and then I get it in my inbox that day or the next day. ROBERT: Yeah, exactly. JONATHAN: So it’s like Help A Reporter Out in a way. ROBERT: Yeah, I love that service. CHUCK: The other question I have though with something like this is – and then I have a whole bunch of questions about actually how your business runs. This question is mostly if there are a whole bunch of people in this list that do what I do, then am I going to have to fight with these other folks to prove that I’m the guy? ROBERT: Yeah, you could look at it that way. CHUCK:**Online death match [chuckles].**ROBERT: Some people definitely do look at it that way and they don’t usually last very long on the service and then there are other people who – it is a bit of a numbers game, but that’s just how it is usually with lead type of services. This isn’t the first lead generation newsletter out there I’m sure, but the people who look at it as like a long term game of not just winning work but contacting people and offering to help them, and help their business grow – those are the people that usually come in and say, “Hey Robert. Oh my god, I just landed a $100,000 project.” It depends however you want to look at it. I’m sure Hacker News, the comments on there would be like, “This is totally freaking worthless, all these people are getting my leads,” and everything like that. So I mean – I don’t like defending that too much because yeah, you can look at it that way. CHUCK: So how is it different from a job board? Other than the fact that it’s coming at my inbox instead of me going and looking around. ROBERT: Yeah. I looked at job boards when I was coming up with the idea for it. To me job boards, you have to go to them, and you have to constantly be checking them or you can put them into an RSS Reader and go through them all at once. It still takes some time to filter out like what’s a full-time job, which ones are only looking for people in Los Angeles, and if you’re not in Los Angeles that doesn’t apply to you. So the difference is all of these are freelance jobs – they’re all project based type of work, they’re all remote. Then the other thing too is I try to eliminate any of the ones that look shady or that look like low quality budget type of stuff like Elance, and Odesk type of stuff. JONATHAN: Cool. What’s your background before this? So it sounds like you got some background that would allow you to sniff out people who looks sketchy. ROBERT: I was a freelancer for a while. I was a freelance web designer. I went to art school, I studied graphic design. When I graduated, I wanted to work at an agency. Once I worked at an agency, I realized that wasn’t really my dream job after all. So that’s when I started freelancing. Really, what I did was I built a consultancy using leads I found online. As opposed to –. I didn’t have any referrals, I didn’t have any past clients that could refer me work. So what I ended up having to do was look for work myself and build it from scratch. It’s funny; everywhere I looked online – Hacker News for example – everybody; all they say is, “The only way to land work is to get referrals or to get people giving you work and to have this network of people.” I just didn’t really think that was true. I knew that you had to start somewhere. So that’s what I basically did, which was outreach and kind of cold email people. REUVEN: So the idea is in Workshop, instead of me looking online everywhere and cold emailing people that I’m going to cold email people who have gone through some sort of vetting process so there’s a greater chance of success. ROBERT: Yeah, I think so. JONATHAN: It reminds me of, in another way, of the Peter Cooper emails that I subscribe to a few of those like JavaScript Weekly. A lot of those links that show up in those emails have come up in my feed meter, but when they come in through the email that's when I read them because to me, he does a good job, whoever is curating – they have different people on different ones. Whoever is curating it, I trust them to not waste my time with dumb links. It sounds similar; of course there’s the financial aspect on the other side. ROBERT: The one thing about job boards or these apps where it's referral based – there’s been a couple; there’s Crew or Juicy I’ve seen come up. To me those always seem like they were trying to get in between me and the client. Or at least they’re trying to get me to use their apps. And so that goal that I felt was happening in there was not really aligned with me. I don’t want anything between me and the clients I’m working with. I don’t want there to be this ulterior motive of whether it’s a referral or whatever it is – the percentage of referral fee. That’s why I made it this way where it’s – you have to do it yourself and you can't–. I’m finding work for you, but you’re going to have to land it yourself and compete against whoever it is you’re competing against because I don’t want to be in between you and the client. I don't want – I’m trying to take myself out of it. You don’t use my app to email or to contact them. You’re just emailing them in your own inbox and it’s all on your turf. JONATHAN: Yeah. It makes it easier as someone who’s looking for leads or as the freelancer, it makes it extremely uncomplicated. In terms of a buying decision, you just feel like, “I see on the site, it’s got a two week trial so I just try it out,” and be like, “Oh, these are actually good gigs. I should be applying to these.” It makes it a no brainer – I don’t know how much it costs but it makes it a no brainer if the price is right to just say, “Yeah, I’m going to keep getting this.” CHUCK: So I guess the other question is, is how do you get people to come and sign up for this saying, “I need a freelancer. I need a WordPress guy, or I need a Ruby on Rails guy; or I need a Jonathan Stark guy.” How do you – how are they finding you? ROBERT: We’ve had probably over 60 or 70 of these exclusive or premium type of leads come in. To be honest, they come in organically. I’d say a good percentage of it is actually freelancers and development shops inside of Workshop that they need somebody quickly or they have a client come in that they can’t handle so they refer it. I guess the reason they go to Workshop is because they trust – they know the people who are signed up for workshop. There’s a community aspect we have behind it but besides that they know that the people who are signed up for Workshop have the skin in the game, so to speak. They’re paying for these leads as opposed to, if you post on a job where you see so much spam come into your inbox, at least they know that there’s not going to be that spam element and that these people who signed up to this service are going to be specialized and serious about what they’re doing. So that’s been a key way that we’ve gotten those leads come in. The other thing is too, I have some content marketing I do that pushes people in that direction; to post a lead on to Workshop. There’s a new thing I just made called Wheelhouse. It’s in wheelhouse.com. It’s basically a little directory for productized services, and we’ve gotten a few leads come in through there. Once they looked at all the freelancers who do productized services and if there’s not one that specifically matches their project, then there’s also the optional little form that they can fill out and it'll send it to Workshop. So little things like that have added up. Sometimes I'll even contact the leads I send out and tell them, “Hey, instead of this job or maybe you'd want to post it on Workshop.” I think that’s basically the entire gambit of how people come in, in terms of clients to post exclusively to the list. CHUCK: The other question I have is, how much information do you have about the projects that get landed? You said that you’re not really involved in that process but do you have some idea of which projects get competed over more and what the winning bids actually look like? ROBERT: I'd say – like you said, I don’t have complete access to all of that because I do want to keep it – I don’t necessarily want that. I don’t want to have to track everything but the main way has been people reaching out to me after using the service and telling me – I’ve have multiple people saying, “Hey, I’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars from your leads in the first couple months of signing up.” Actually, I just did a call with a guy named Tyler. He has a really interesting story actually. He started out as a farmer in the Midwest and he loved photography; he was really into photography. That was his side gig. So he taught himself to code in order to build the website where he could sell his photographs. He just dived into stripe and stuff because he figured if he used Shopify, it would cost too much because he had so many photographs. Once he taught himself to code he was like, “Well, I could be a coder; I could be a freelancer.” So he signs up for Workshop, and actually the first month he’s in it, he lands a $60,000 client right off the bat. He’s like this ridiculous guy. Then the next month to top it off – do you guys know Josh Pigford from Baremetrics? JONATHAN: Yeah. ROBERT: He posted into Workshop, looking for a guys and this guy Tyler, he ends up landing that gig, too, and it evolves into a full time job. So he landed this full time remote gig working for himself with Baremetrics. Then to top that off, he still have these freelance clients that was landing. He said out of the six people he emailed, four of them became his clients. So he needed to find a way to service them, so built this little team he outsources all his work to. So now he’s working full time with Baremetrics and he oversees on the side – basically a little agency that he has going. I love doing calls like that with people. They’re usually pretty happy to do it too, I think it’s a win-win. I’ve talked to Eric Davis a couple of times about how he’s using it. So I don’t have exact number all the time, but I think listening to the stories is a little more powerful anyways. I mean, it’s not a huge list; it’s a tiny list anyway. REUVEN:**I got to tell you, I subscribe to Workshop starting about a month ago. I’m still on it. Quite honestly, I started getting it [inaudible 14:36] small part because I really was interested in Robert’s book. I was in his mailing list. I think the content marketing by the way that you do is fantastic.**ROBERT: Thanks. REUVEN: And I think people who are interested in doing any sort of work or emailing people – if you’re just in emailing people, you should really read the content, which applies to a lot of people. I’m not convinced that Workshop is right for me, but I don’t think it has anything to do with you. I think the combination of me being not a front end designer or developer and not being in the US, sort of takes away two strikes from that. But if I were a front end developer in the US, it would be a no brainer. I really do like the fact that you weed through things and present it well and present information. That’s been very nice and very impressive. Definitely better than searching, skimming through online boards and so on and so forth which I think everyone has done at some point. CHUCK: That’s what I did when I got started. One thing that I’m looking at though is, it looks like it’s about $500. I’m assuming that’s for the year? ROBERT: Yeah. CHUCK: So it’s not an impulse buy. ROBERT: Right. I’m testing out that pricing, the yearly only option. I’m still decide whether I’m going to keep that. It’s fluctuated; I started at 39 bucks a month then I went up to 64. Now I’m trying the yearly only option. I might bring it back at a higher price than 64 a month, but the monthly pricing I think might be an option down the road. JONATHAN: Why did you make that decision? ROBERT: I looked at the people who were signing up, and I think the people who used the service the best looked at it as a long term thing. The people who signed up and said, “I’m going to – I just want to see if I can land work in the first month off of it.” Usually would ask me for a refund or would cancel right away. When I made it yearly only, I also added that two week trial. So people who do want to try it out can go ahead and try it out. Once the two weeks are up they can see, “Is this enough value here for me for a full year?” And it that way it – once you’re in it for a year, you can settle down a little bit. Email people more consistently. Not try to do like, “Oh, my first month is running out, I have to email a hundred people this week.” JONATHAN: Oh right, yeah. That makes sense. ROBERT: Yeah, it might not be right for the service – the yearly only option might not be the correct thing, so I might go back. JONATHAN: It occurs to me that – I haven’t done what anybody would call freelancing in a long time. I work for myself on retainer, but it’s not really a – I don’t really do software projects anymore. Thinking back to it, I would think that after – assuming the service is working, it’s almost like you wouldn’t need it after a year; one way or the other. Either it’s not working or it is working. If it is working wouldn’t a lot of those clients turn into a longer term clients? ROBERT: Yeah, definitely. Kurt Elster – he did that. He outgrew the service. He started up the Shopify thing. So while he was on it – I think he was on it for a year – he was landing work and he was using the newsletter to refer work to other people. He would email people and say, “Hey, I saw this lead.” I don’t know if he would say it was from Workshop but he would say, “I saw this lead that looks perfect for you.” Then those people who were his friends would reciprocate and email him back. He was actually one of the smartest people to use workshop. He found a ton of other ways to create value from it. But once he built his productized service and focused in on Shopify, that was it for him for workshop. He moved on to that and focusing really in on that. To me that’s a success story; it’s not really a knock on it so–. CHUCK: I think it brings up and interesting point and that is how do I know if you have my brand of work in there? Am I going to get enough my kind of leads out of it. ROBERT: Sure. Yeah, for freelancers, it’s funny because we look at it as freelancers. We look at other companies and we – just because another business we see needs a hundred or thousands of customers, we think we do too, or at least in our marketing we look at it that way. When in reality individual consultants and freelancers, you only really need a handful of clients. You don’t really need hundreds of people. If you can find ten or twenty high quality clients that love working with you and keep giving you work, that’s all you really need, unless you’re looking to expand and do more. For me, when I was doing freelancing, if I could get one person per day – if I could email one person every day that was a high quality prospect that I wanted to work with, that would result to thousands of dollars’ worth of work if it ended up working out. That to me, added up to twenty, thirty people a month that I wouldn’t have talked to otherwise. The value is I don’t think of in terms of the quantity, I think it’s in terms of contact, having this constant flow of people. That’s what Kurt really loved about the service. He told me, “Now, I have this automated sales funnel that I can just chip away at every day. I open it up in my inbox every morning and just go through it and contact the leads I want to, then delete the email once I’m done. I definitely think the best way to answer that question is to do it yourself. CHUCK:**Alright. So do the two week trial and see if there’s enough there for you to [crosstalk 20:12] continue with it.**ROBERT: Yeah, exactly. JONATHAN: How many jobs are there in a typical email? ROBERT: Usually ten. JONATHAN: How do you find out – since you’re not in the middle of it, which I think is good, how do you find out when the job’s no longer – when it’s no longer available, like somebody landed it? ROBERT: Well, I send out the leads every day and that usually means they’re the leads from the day before. So usually, if somebody posts on a job board, the first few days they’re going to get a bunch of spam and so it’s hard to pick somebody in the first few days just because there are so many people. So you’re only seeing only the last day’s worth of work that’s out there. JONATHAN: So you don’t keep on sending ones that – if I posted a job in there, it would just go out once. ROBERT: Right, yeah if it was from a job board. If it was one from Workshop – people who post to Workshop – those I just change to staying in there for a few days, just to get more people. That’s the interesting thing; I’d have these products come in and I’d follow-up with them and say, “Hey, did you find somebody in Workshop?” and they’re like, “Oh yeah, we didn’t get very many replies.” We have 200 people on the list and I would email the list and be like “Why don’t you guys reply to this lead?” And they’d be like, “We thought it was going to be inundated with emails.” So it’s like, “Oh god.” REUVEN: Yeah, I remember you sent out an email at some point telling people this, “Do not think that there will be a lot of people. Please if you think it’s appropriate, send it out.” So I guess that’s the back-story to that message. JONATHAN:**Yeah, the prettiest girl in school not getting asked to the prom right? [Chuckles].CHUCK: Because she probably already has a date. JONATHAN: Exactly. REUVEN: I think what I find interesting also is you’re not getting paid a percentage, you’re not in the middle – your goal is to find enough leads for people that will satisfy them, that will stick with the product. And when the time comes to renew, they renew. Your incentive is make people happy, give them lots of leads, and give them lots of useful leads. ROBERT: Right. REUVEN: Have you changed direction, have you thought about change of direction, thought about expanding, contracting, refocusing based on feedback? ROBERT: There’s a couple things I want to work on. I definitely – I think the number one thing is always improving the quality of the leads. I want to send out higher budget projects. I want to send out a bunch of projects that’ll be interesting to not just freelancers but to shops that have a full team behind them. That just means finding opportunities where the budgets are, instead of 10-15,000, maybe 50-100,000. I think that’s the long term goal. Whether it’s tapping into RFPs that aren’t shown everywhere, or however I go about doing that. The other thing is like you were saying if you’re a mobile person or you’re a Rails guys, you don’t necessarily want to see leads of other type, so adding some more customizability to the leads so that you can – maybe even sending just one lead that’s really perfect for you every day. If you want to see more leads asking for them. That’s been my focus in the past year since I started Workshop is how can I get – we were just talking about the prettiest girl doesn’t get asked to the prom – how can I get these freelancers to make it easier for them to reply to this work? JONATHAN: You just read my mind. I was thinking it would be cool if I could click on one of the jobs and then that would send the information to you that I wanted to put my hat in the ring and then you just did it. CHUCK: Exactly. ROBERT: Having a list of one person to contact, I think that might be good. The other things which I’ve done which is like I’ve added a checklist for emailing people that’ll really help get a response. You get your list of ten leads, and then underneath the leads is like, “Are you having trouble emailing these people? Here’s five things you should look for once you finished writing your email to make sure you get the maximum response.” JONATHAN: It looks like you wrote a book on that. ROBERT: Yeah, I extracted parts of the book that are still general enough that it will apply to any person sending an email. They are just quick things you look for once you’re writing the email or have it written already. REUVEN: I read the book and I love it. I also tell people that Robert is extremely nice. He says, “If you’re having problems, send me a sample email message and I’ll give you a feedback.” He gave me great feedback, or that is to say withering criticism feedback which was very useful. I’m sort of curious. I understand the point of the book and I understand the benefit, but how and when did it occur to you that people were not getting work because of the email they were sending and that they could improve it? Since you’re not in the middle. ROBERT: Even though I try to remove myself from the exchange, I’m still in it somehow. I’m the one sending these people the leads to contact. So what I basically did was when people would say, “Hey, I’m not landing any work,” I would be like, “Okay, why don’t you attach me to these emails you’re sending out. You can BCC me so the client won’t know, and in that way I can give you tips. I can see what might be the problem here.” So I ended up having hundreds of people doing this for me. It was funny because I was getting inundated by these emails. It turned out that 80, 90% of them were really badly written and really–. From those thousands of emails that I was getting that were just – when you reply to or post to a job where you get the people from India saying, “Dear Sir/Madam.” These are the type of emails people were sending in, expecting to find work. Once you see it over and over again, it’s easy to extract the common threads there. People - they would start out their email and say, “Hi, I have this agency. We do this sort of work,” like on a resume, “Here are my skills, here’s a list of bullet points, I do PHP, I do WordPress.” And their emails would be like, “Let me know if this works for you.” That was the most common thing in the email was, “Let me know if there’s a fit here.” And so I would be like, “Oh my god” – as a client you get this email, you have no idea what to do. How am I supposed to know what any of this even means? And how am I supposed – it’s like a brain dump that gets thrown at you. Then you have to do the work of sorting through all of it, deciding what – if there’s a fit and how to get back to them. That’s basically where the book came from, which was looking at these emails and saying, “Okay, stop that. Now start doing this instead.” JONATHAN: That’s really cool. It gives you such a unique view into the industry of freelancing. It’s a bizarre fly in the wall position to be in. ROBERT: Totally. JONATHAN: I actually paid for a service that’s similar to HARO – Help a Reporter Out – but it’s a paid version. It’s a same thing where the person who runs it – it’s called PR leads and the guy that runs it is named Dan Janal. You can BCC him and he will review your pitch back to the reporter and give you tips. You do it once or twice and you’re like, “Alright, I got this down.” It’s super helpful. ROBERT: Totally. REUVEN:[Inaudible 27:37] For years I’ve been sending email to people on a variety of levels, for a variety of perspectives and I would always be very chatty – here’s where I am and here’s what I’m doing. I assume they want to know what I’m interested in. Quite frankly, the moment that I read Robert’s book, I said, “Oh my god, it’s so obvious now.” His point is basically these people are busy, these people are inundated by email, they’re not interested in hearing your biography and they’re not interested in hearing how amazing you are. They’re interested in finding out, “Can you solve my problem?” It comes back to that. This is what we've talked about all the time in the podcast and in freelancing in general, and work in general. People could not care less about the technology; they care – can you solve their problems?**ROBERT: Sure. I sent that email, too. The email I was talking about where it’s like, “Let me know.” I sent that when I was freelancing all the time and so. It’s not something you learn in school or how to write a good email. REUVEN: The thing is it works. It works enough for a percentage of the time that you figure out, “Oh, this is good.” ROBERT: Exactly. REUVEN: It’s that cranking up your almost conversion optimization of the email that you can get out of being much more specific and direct. ROBERT: Yeah, definitely. That was the other part of that story that I didn’t get into was that once I had thousands of people or thousands of emails coming at me and I started working with them individually and helping them send better ones, it was like night and day, they started seeing the results immediately. People would send off an email and thirty minutes later, they get a reply saying, “Hey, yeah. Send me some ideas,” from a client. Once that started happening, I realized I'm just started repeating myself to hundreds of freelancers and it’s helping them; why don’t I extract what I wrote in all these different emails and compile it in one place and sell that. So that’s the book. JONATHAN: When did this all happen? When did you start doing all of this? ROBERT: That’s been the past year and a half. JONATHAN: Cool. How long did it take you to put the book together? ROBERT: The book took me – I worked on it a couple of weekends to get the initial rough draft out, and then a couple more weekends to type it up. Altogether probably on and off about a month. JONATHAN: Cool. Nice. ROBERT: It’s really short. So that’s one thing. JONATHAN: Yeah, these days I’m liking that in my books. I want them to get right to the point. ROBERT:**And in my emails, that’s what I like to see, too [chuckles].**REUVEN: What are some of the top tips you can give people regarding sending emails to potential clients. ROBERT: Like we said, a short email is always going to get read more often than the long email. That will save you time also. I think delivering something of value in the email is good because you want to show the client you’re on their side and you're not – it’s not all about just landing the work. When I say deliver something of value, it could be something as simple as if the client is a – they have a WordPress, a podcasting site on a WordPress, emailing them and telling them to check out this cool plug-in that might help them with whatever, that you notice they’re not using because they have their older sheet formatted a certain way. Stuff like that will – it will make somebody reply to you because they’re thankful for that or at least they know that it’s not those scripted emails that you get and you’re like, “This is full of shit; I’m just going to delete this right off the bat, because obviously he sent this to 50,000 people.” Delivering something like that is always good because it’s clear, it’s not spam. Another thing is ending your email. Instead of back to the “let me know” thing, instead of doing that, ending your email with a next step. So for example, instead of saying, “Let me know if there’s a fit,” you can say, “If you think something like this might work out, I can send over some ideas.” That way people can reply to your email in a few seconds instead of having to conjure up their big reply, they can just say, “Yes, send those over.” JONATHAN: I learned a great tip from Kai Davis. At that point in the email where he’s like – he’ll say, “Just reply with a thumbs up or yes if you want me to send more information.” So it gives the person the permission to type what otherwise would come across as a rude email by just hitting reply and typing the word “Yes” and hitting send. I’ve been on the receiving end of some of those from him and it’s amazing, the feeling you get. You’re like, “Yeah, I totally want to do that.” You just reply yes, send. It takes one second, it’s awesome. ROBERT: Totally. The other thing too is getting a reply should be your only goal in the email. You’re not – Chuck was saying he used to like, “Oh, yeah. People are going to be interested in what I’m interested in in my agency.” All of the little details of stuff – that stuff, you’re trying to win over a client in that situation. That shouldn’t be the goal; the goal should be getting the person to reply. So focusing in on that I think is interesting. I think if you don’t talk about subject lines, I think this is a good one to stop at maybe because I think it doesn’t matter what you write in an email if it doesn’t get opened. So the first thing you should optimize is the subject line. The way I've developed it is that the subject line should be so specific that it could only be sent to one person in the world. If you get an email that says “Freelancer” as the subject ,you’re like, “Oh shit. Who’s – what’s this spam-y guy emailing me?” That could be sent to anybody in the world. So if I got an email that instead saying, “Hey Robert, Can I help you find leads for Workshop?” That is something – nine out of ten times I’m going to open. Because as a busy person we look to remove spam and get that shit out of the way as quickly as possible so establishing that you’re not spam is always, in a cold email, going to be important. REUVEN: I assume you’ve heard from people in Workshop who have applied your techniques and they’re having greater success? ROBERT: Yeah, totally. There’s one girl in particular – Stephanie Guidotti. I like her story because she was having trouble, she wasn’t hearing back from anybody she would contact. We worked on her emails a little bit. I gave her the same tips, basically sharing with you. The next email she wrote, she ended up – she found the lead on Workshop that she liked, she did a little bit of background recon, figured out that this person had actually written a book. So she didn’t stop there; she didn’t email the guy and said, “Hey, you wrote a book.” Instead, she actually bought the book, and then read it, decided, “Okay, I like this certain part.” I think the book was about design so she was like, “This part really resonates with my design skills.” He’s looking for a designer, so in her email, instead of writing, “I’m a freelance designer. Hit me up.” She wrote “Hey, I was reading your book. This certain passage really resonated with me.” Then she quoted that passage and you’re looking from branding designer, starting from there, instead of starting from, “Hey, I’m a branding designer. You’re looking for a branding designer.” She ended up hearing back 30 minutes later, then ended up working with this client. It ties back to what we were saying about freelancers not needing hundreds of clients. You can afford to spend ten minutes or, in her case, I think she spent thirty minutes reading through this book quickly and taking notes, if it’s going to mean a $50,000 project at the end. So I think that’s one of my favorite examples of it. REUVEN: Yeah, I think the point about “you only need a limited number of clients” is an important one that’s lost on people a lot. Because if you’re freelancing or if you’re doing any job – time is finite. So basically, if you’re going to have a client a week of you’re doing weekly billing or there’s always so many projects you could do a month. I think it's lost on a lot of people though. JONATHAN: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I second that. It's like if you – once you, Rob, started off saying – it’s a chicken or egg project at first because you don’t have any referrals, but once you start getting gigs, you should be asking for referrals especially from your most happy customers. And also, I think everybody knows that it's way easier to sell to existing customers than it is to constantly be looking for new ones. As easy as Workshop makes it, once you have those customers, you should be – I coach people on this all the time. People are super uncomfortable asking for referrals and asking for more work, but it’s really not hard. I’ve never had a client react badly to the question. It’s just something people get really – I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing; I think it is, actually – just like, “Jeez, aren’t they going to be afraid that I’m going to go work for this other client instead of them?” But clients are – if they’re happy with your work, they’re going to want to help out their friends by putting them in touch with you. That makes people feel good. You might as well ask. ROBERT: Yeah, I think they want to make you happy too, since you’re doing this service for them that’s providing them value. They want to help you out. JONATHAN: Yeah, absolutely. REUVEN:**Right, I think most clients, it's rare – I think there’s one company I talked to where they understood I was a consultant – freelancer and everything. I was going to do some software development for them. I said, “How about we do this two days a week, three days a week, so I can work with other people?” The guy said, “Listen, I’m totally okay with you working here only two or three days a week if you’re spending other time finishing your PhD, but I’m not okay if you’re here two or three days a week and the other days you’re with another client.” [Chuckles] I was like, “Okay, that’s not exactly going to work. You don’t get to dictate that.” But I think most clients realized that you are going to be working with other people, and that doesn’t take away from your value. On the contrary, it means you’ll be around in business and your skills will be sharpened even more and have more ideas for when they come back to and need more work.**CHUCK:**Yeah, I only have an exclusivity deal with my wife [chuckles].**ROBERT:**Yeah, there was a question I saw the other day on Reddit that I answered. It was basically saying, “My contract mentioned six pictures–,” whatever that means, “–what if down the road, I want to add more pictures to that? What would be the cost of doing something like that?” This is the client speaking to the freelancer, “And what would be the cost for exchanging a picture or two?” For me, that ties into them needing you down the road and them wanting access to you. To me that – these situations create up sale opportunities. You were saying, Jonathan, of either retainer situations or situation [crosstalk 38:45]. Yeah, where you can say, “Well, in that case I’d suggest, past clients have done small retainers in this situation if you want four hours of my time every month reserved just for you, we should set something up where you’re paying maybe half my hourly rate in order to lock those in.” I’d still be able to do any small updates you need if you don’t want to do this, go this route. Since I am working with other companies and I do – I can sometimes, I can’t, I’m sometimes booked weeks in advance. Updates wouldn’t get done as quickly in that situation, so that’s why I’m recommending you do a small retainer. I’m sure like you were saying, Chuck, some clients might want to have you locked down. They would have to pay for that, right?**CHUCK: Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at. JONATHAN: That’s the way I do it, too. For really big clients, I will sign a non-compete if it’s going to be – I had a few annual retainers or retainers that were quarterly that have gone on for years. I’m happy to sign a non-compete for a client like that because I can only do two of them at a time anyway. So, and that was actually part of my selling point when I would – in the sales process for a big gig like that, I would say, “You basically get me a 100% of the time, or you’re either going to be my one big client or one of the two big clients, so you’re going to get tons of attention from me. I’m not going to have more than two clients and I’m not going to have two clients in the same industry. So you don’t have to worry about crosstalk, basically.” If I was working on for two different cruise lines or something like that. If they then, almost always going to turn and say, “Okay, that’s great, that’s cool. We still want you to sign a non-compete and I’m generally happy to do that for a big client like that. As long as there’s going to be a commitment – not sure that came up, “Oh we’re charging for it.” Like Chuck said, if you’re going to do something like that, make sure you’re getting paid a premium because it severely limits your sale-ability. REUVEN: I assume Jonathan when you give them such exclusivity, it’s limited in time or limited by domain. It might be cruise ships but not all things in the transportation industry. JONATHAN: Yeah, so a specific example would be like professional photography client on a cruise ship. That’s one that actually came up which is why it’s on my mind because I got a lead form another huge cruise ship doing a photography project. I was like, “No, I can’t do it.” REUVEN: Wow, that many people doing photography on cruise ships. I had no idea. JONATHAN: It’s a big industry. I could have – I think it would have been okay. I wouldn’t have done it but I think that would have been within my legal rights, not that I would ever bring that up with a client. I think that would have been within the terms of the contract for me to go work with the photo team at Disney in a park because that’s not on the cruise ship and there are a bunch of very specific constraints on a cruise ship that exists nowhere else. Like there’s no internet for example. There are all sorts of things that are specific to that. Although I could probably have gone to work at Disney and do a very similar type of thing for their photo team, I wouldn’t have done it because they appear – the appearance of impropriety I know would have annoyed them like crazy. So I just steer clear of that. It’s not hard especially when you only need two clients. REUVEN: I’m curious Robert, are you now full time or almost full time working on Workshop, or you still freelancing yourself? And I’m wondering if you’re still doing it yourself, that gives you some perspective still into how this world works? ROBERT: No, I’m not freelancing. Basically since I started Workshop, I haven’t been freelancing. I think that wouldn't have been possible really for me to solely focus on this thing if it wasn’t providing value to people to allow me to do that. REUVEN:**That’s fair. I think I came off sounding far accusatory in my question [chuckles].**CHUCK: Alright, well let's go ahead and do some picks then. Jonathan, do you want to start us off? JONATHAN: Sure, I’ve got two this week. The first one is simplecast.fm which is, as it says on the tin, an extremely simple website for setting up and hosting a podcast. As people may know I co-host another podcast called the Niche Podcast which until recently was about building apps that run everywhere. We’re rebooting the theme now that people will beat the horse until it was dead or we’re switching over to how technology is changing the way we interact with the world. In that shift, I was like, “You know, I would really like to not have to grip through S3 logs to find out how many downloads we got.” So this simplecast.fm was recommended to me and I had the podcast set up. I don’t want to exaggerate so let’s just say it took me less than 15 minutes to have an almost identical site to the existing site set up rockin' and rollin' feeds, all perfect, analytics ready to go. It was like – and it’s extremely affordable. I was just like – it almost made me sick to think of all the time I spent hand coding stuff on the other site. So simplecast.fm, if people are looking to host a podcast, I would definitely recommend checking that out. The other thing is – and I don’t think it’s not an April fool’s joke, tomorrow is April fool’s as we record this – but Amazon announce the dash button; anybody else see this? REUVEN: Yeah, I thought it was actually very clever. JONATHAN: It’s a button that you configure. It’s a physical button that you put in your house that you configure with your smart phone to one click purchase one item. So you get a bunch of them and one of them is like for Tide dish detergent, another one for Bounty paper towels, and other one for coffee pods that go in your Keurig. ROBERT: Mac and Cheese. JONATHAN: Yeah. So when you’re about to run out, you just press the button and it’s in your shopping cart, ordered and getting packed probably within 15 minutes. REUVEN: If you’re doing laundry and you run out of laundry detergent, you don’t have to remember to go – of course this is just another technology that’s just forcing us to have no memories. But I thought it was very insightful about how people work and very clever. JONATHAN:**I prefer to look at it as enabling us to focus on more important things [chuckles].**CHUCK:**More important that you’re out of toilet paper [chuckles].JONATHAN: So yeah, you just press the button and boom. CHUCK: That was easy. Oh sorry, wrong company. JONATHAN: The internet of buying things. CHUCK:[Chuckles] Nice. Reuven, do you have some picks for us?**REUVEN: Yeah, I just got one pick for this week. I think I’ve mentioned in the past I listened to the Ask Me Another podcast, which is a game show on NPR. I think on the last week or two, they had a guest and they said, “It’s the people from Welcome to Night Vale,” Night Vale being this podcast. I was like, “Huh, I’ve never heard of this before. It must be this really niched thing.” Yes, niche in terms of apparently the most popular downloaded podcast each week. Sorry Chuck, it’s not ours. CHUCK: It’s not? Oh. REUVEN:We’re close; we’re the first few thousand I’m sure. Anyway, I actually downloaded this Night Vale podcast. I’ve really been enjoying it a lot. The way they describe it is that it's a cross between a Prairie Home Companion and Stephen King [chuckles]. It’s like a community radio broadcast where all sorts of monsters aliens – all sorts of things happen. But he says it in this very slow low voice as if it’s the most normal thing in the world for the football star to have two heads and so on and so forth. It’s kind of slow to take off but I’m now on number eight or nine. You can hear the self-references; it’s definitely amusing. I’d say worth trying if you have some time to listen to podcasts, other than ours, of course. Anyway, so that’s it for this week.CHUCK: Alright, very cool. I’ve got a couple of picks – the first one is a book by Brandon Sanderson, it’s called Steelheart, been enjoying that. I also want to throw out, we’ve been putting together t-shirt campaigns on Teespring for the other shows – Ruby Rogues, JavaScript Jabber and Adventures in Angular. I’m not sure how many people want a Freelancer Show Shirt, so if you want one, let me know. Also I’m going to be at MicroConf at next week. So if you are going to be there, then by all means let me know so that we can meet up. ROBERT: Yeah, I’ll be there. We should talk. CHUCK: Awesome. Do you have some picks for us Rob? ROBERT:Yeah, have you guys heard of this tiny little app? It’s called Paparazzi. It’s for website screenshots. Have you ever seen [inaudible 47:34] or Brennan Dunn, they have these extremely long sales pages.JONATHAN: Yeah, you can’t take screenshots. ROBERT: Yeah, you can’t take screenshots. I’m always like, “Goddamn, I want to–,” I have to paste screenshots together. Well this thing, you just put in the URL and it’s take a big ol’ screenshot of it. Super long one and it’s a little tiny app; I think it’s free. It’s really cool. The second thing, I think this one is probably more related to freelancing. Do you guys know Julie, Kurt Elster’s wife? JONATHAN: Yep. CHUCK: I don’t know her. REUVEN: I’ve heard of this, yeah. ROBERT: She has a service. The other day I was looking at Reddit r/Freelance, and I was noticing all these threads by freelancers like, “Oh my god, I haven’t gotten paid. What should I do next?” I was like, “Oh my god.” It was so super common. These freelancers are having trouble getting paid. I guess they charge – they send an invoice out after they’ve done the work and so they have to recoup the money. Anyways, Julie, she started this service called, it's JustTellJulie.com. What she basically does is she will get clients to pay you. I think she started it off with Kurt Elster. She basically, if you have an overdue invoice, tell her. She’ll talk to the client and get her – get him to pay you. And then the last one is themagicemail.com. So a lot of what we talk about – emailing people, sending out a cold email. I think that stuff is really key, but you’ll see maybe ten or twenty times the results if you not only send that cold email first, but then also send the follow-up email or if you send that first email then a client responds but they don’t get back to you for a while, having an email you can follow-up with that will–. It’s super simple. If you go to themagicemail.com, it’s just like a one line email that you can just send out to anybody, and 90% of the time – I've tried it myself – and 90% of the time you get a response almost immediately. So those are mine. CHUCK: Very cool. Alright, no other announcements or news, so we’ll wrap up the show and catch on next week. [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]

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