Last week we talked about how to identify and avoid clients who don’t understand value. You want to avoid those guys because, to put it simply, they won’t be willing to pay you what you’re worth — because they don’t understand the value you provide.
So how do you attract clients who DO understand the value you provide? And are therefore willing to pay you handsomely for your services?
There are a few things you can do:
Get Ultra Specific About What You Do
You’ve heard that whole ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ phrase, right? Now consider this: who would you hire if you wanted a job doing extremely well? The guy who can do the job you need and, while he’s at it, hey, maybe he can write some copy and design a new logo for you too?
Or the guy who ONLY does that one thing you need. I mean, it’s the only thing he does…he’s going to be good at it, right? Of course he is.
People who offer multiple services unwittingly diminish their perceived value. These guys are scrambling to make money by whatever means possible, and they believe that having more services available means they’ll have more people hiring them. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
If you specialise in one thing, people are going to expect that you’re excellent at it. And so more people are going to ask you to do it for them, and they’re going to be willing to pay you more to do it, because they want somebody who’s going to do a fucking spectacular job.
If you offer several services, people will think you’re average at all of them. (And they’re probably right.)
I used to offer SEO article writing, blogging, copywriting, and pretty much any type of writing someone asked me for. Press releases? Video scripts? Editing? I’ve done it all. I didn’t want to turn anybody away, because I wanted to make as much money as possible.
But now that I ONLY do copywriting?
People come to me. I don’t have to go looking for clients any more. And because copywriting is the only thing I do, I do it more often. I learn more about it. I practise a lot. I get better.
And it shows.
Get Specific About WHO You Work With
A strange thing happened when I changed my services page recently. The page now includes this:
I write exclusively for businesses that give a shit. If you started your business just because you wanted to stack up the cash, and you’re selling something you don’t really care about (nothing wrong with that — but working on copy for sites that sell cat furniture doesn’t exactly get my knickers twitching), we’re probably not a good fit.
But if you started your biz because you love everything it entails — especially the part where you witness the actual, tangible difference you’re making to people’s lives — come over here and give me a smooch. And then keep reading, because the fun is about to begin (no, not foreplay. See my other website for that).
The strange thing that happened? Now, whenever I receive enquiries about my services, they almost always contain something like, ‘I hope you want to work with me’, or ‘I hope my project interests you’. Somebody actually said to me ‘We (my site and me) may be way too boring for you, but I think you should take on the challenge’.
This way, the right people will want to work with you. If you cast out the people you don’t want to work with — outright say you will not work with a certain kind of person — the people who you do want to work with will bring a sledgehammer to your door just in case you don’t open it fast enough.
These people — the ones you do want to work with — will feel like you get them. And if people feel like you understand them, they will want to work with you, because they believe you will do their project justice.
List Your Rates — and Make ’em HIGH
In the beginning, you may want to attract lots of clients and not care that they don’t pay that much. You just want to prove to yourself that you can earn money doing this. But once you’ve gotten over that phase (and you will) it’s time to aim bigger.
You won’t want to list high rates. You’ll feel like nobody will be willing to pay them. And some people won’t be willing to pay them. But, as we’ve already established, those guys are the dingbats you don’t want to work with.
But listing high rates? Will attract the right people.
By seeing that you charge high rates, people will feel that you provide more value, too. ‘Her rates are high! She must be good!’
I once saw somebody who had a fantastic sales page. And the service he offered was writing fantastic sales pages. ‘Awesome! This guy is onto something.’ But then I got to his rates. He only charged $100 per sales page. What the fuck? thought I. Why are they so cheap? He must actually be pretty crap.
By listing a low rate, he actually diminished the perceived value of his offer. ‘If they’re only $100, they’re probably not that good.’
I wrote an entire post about whether you should list your rates on your website or not. Check it out if you want more guidance on this.
Speak with Authority
It’s not good enough to get specific about who you work with and what you do, and to list high rates. Because you need to actually show that you’re able to do what you promise, too.
People need to believe you’re capable.
Talking with authority — or confidence — is one way to do this. Explain how and why things work. Point out things that people are doing wrong, and how they could do it better. Ask questions.
If you um and ah, shuffle your feet around and look the floor, or whatever the online equivalent of that is, people aren’t going to have faith in you. Because you clearly don’t have faith in yourself.
Even if you don’t believe in yourself, if you’re really not sure you know what you’re doing, you have to act like you do.
I wrote a guest post on how to boost your confidence on the phone to clients, which covers some good bases if you struggle with confidence.
Blog Regularly and Helpfully
You should start a blog if you haven’t already. Writing about your area of expertise regularly in your blog is another way to assert your authority. If people can look over your archives and see you’ve consistently written intelligently on a subject, they’re going to believe you know what you’re talking about, because you’ve proved it time and again.
If you’ve tried to start blogs before and have failed quietly and unimpressively, check out my post on how to blog every week without fail. Because you need to keep doing it, week in, week out. That’s what professionals do. And if you want to attract value-seeking clients, you need to be a god damn professional.
And that brings me to my next point.
This is my favourite tip of all. And I think it’s the hardest, too. It’s easy to do something once. You had no problem writing your first blog post or two, did you? But to do something over and over again, even when you’re not seeing the results you want (which, let’s face it, you probably won’t in the beginning)? That’s hard.
So here’s the thing: being consistent in the value you provide shows that you’re trustworthy. People now trust that I will provide them with valuable information about freelance writing or running an online business or how to write persuasively, because I do so every week without fail. And because they trust me to do that, they’ll trust me with other, bigger things, such as a thousand pound copywriting project, or a £300, 4-week investment in a freelance writing course.
Another way of looking at it is that you need to be persistent. Even when things aren’t shaping up quite how you’d like, you have to keep going. Probably the first year, at least, of your business will feel like a slog that nobody’s paying attention to.
But keep going. Because you’re a professional.
A professional who is worth more than $25 an hour, god damn it.