Let’s talk about the mindset, Seth Godin talks about this a lot, one of the reasons that people don’t jump into acting like legitimate business is because they lacked confidence and they are hiding. You need to examine your behaviors and habits and see where you are holding yourself back, where are you hiding.
00:24 Nanci: Today’s episode is going to be about How not to wait too long, to legitimize your business and we are going to put some meat on the bone. But we were talking and we both have some experience, both personal experiences in terms of actions we took or didn’t take as we were building our businesses. Also, experiences that we have with existing freelancers or clients and steps that we think we could have taken or they could have taken to be more of a credible, legitimate forward facing business and to not treat your business as a hobby and more like a real business.
01:03 Julian: Yeah so getting serious about what you are trying to do. We want to start with the mindset the Guillebeau phrases a side hustle which means you are doing it on the side and maybe you’re working a full-time job or you building up to a launch. I don’t think that you need to consider it as a hobby just because it’s a side hustle you want to take it more professional attitude towards your work and to be considered a professional you have to have a professional approach.
01:32 Nanci: And that starts with mindset. What I was thinking are a few steps that you could take just in terms of tools and a few that you don’t have to take right away because in the previous episode we talked about how to start a side hustle or a freelance online business. You don’t have to spend a thousand dollars from day one especially if you’re going to be charging for services and facing clients and putting yourself out there. Julian was just saying you have to respect your own time if you want your clients to respect your time. What are the few things that you could start with, to do that and we were thinking of business cards. I am in the business for years, but ninety-nine percent of my business is online. My clients are not in Montreal, and I don’t have a business card. I went to a networking event the other day, and someone asks me for my business card, and I have a splash of feeling small. I just have been talking to this woman about my business, and she asks me for card, and I had to say I don’t have a card and I just had this moment, and probably a part of that is why I want to do this episode, you teach what you need to learn.
02:46 Julian: I have a funny story about business cards. I mean I do think it’s an ironic thing that even though we’re talking about digital businesses, the business card which is this actual little tangible piece of paper you hand over to somebody is still an important part of doing business. I had my business card aha moment last year, to the point of being too cheap what is “penny-wise pound-foolish.” I often did my business cards because it’s easy enough to do, you go to Vistaprint, and you can create your logo in a matter of three of four days have a set of business cards, three thousand cards delivered to your house, but I’m not a designer. I was cheap and toast, decent stock but not the best stock but I was always covering all these conferences, as you know for iMedia, digital marketing conferences. All the people I was meeting throughout the years of covering this conferences were professional marketers, sellers, and buyers but in a marketing space. And as a photographer, I meet tons of people, and everybody gives me their card because they want photos of themselves and I was getting card after card of this high quality beautifully designed cards. Obviously, they have in-house designers, they spent tons of money on them, and then I hand over my embarrassing little card with different fonts on it and marriages, weddings and events and just like a disaster. I finally decided I am going to spend 400 dollars. I am going to go to Moo cards, and I’m going to design. We hired Meredith our designer to design a logo for me and to pick out the nice template for me to use. Then I went through my photos, chose fifty of my best photos to put on the back of these cards, and invested in the highest quality stock with a pink edge, and these things are like tiny little Nobel prizes. I feel like I’m handing over something of value to somebody who you want to give your card.
04:55 Nanci: A plug to Meredith at MediaMercantile.com who also designs our slash website at slashpodcast.com. I remember she did ask you for those fifty photos, and you give it to her quickly, each card has a different photo on the back, which is awesome, right?
05:12 Julian: It was great. A great idea that she came up with, which allows me to express what I do by showing my actual pictures visually. The best part about it was like ever since I’ve had those, I think it came with two fifty hundred or three hundred cards way more expensive than the other services, and you get way fewer cards. But because these cards feel so valuable to me I’m very careful about who I hand them over to. Everybody I give it to without fail stops looks at these cards comments on the quality plays around with it, remarks upon how nice it looks and how nice it feels. I can’t do direct ROI, but I’m convinced that at least in terms of the boost of my confidence and lack of shame of handing over a cheesy business card, it was worth the money like I’ll never go back.
06:00 Nanci: I was going to ask you at the beginning of this conversation if I could have one but since you told me the value, maybe I can just hold one. I don’t know if you heard, but I am in the market for a business card. I’ll be going to see Meredith at mediamercantile.com, and I will be going to Moo cards. So business cards, maybe when Julian started 8-10 years ago. He didn’t need to start from day one with Moo. For the first year or two the vista card, but he had a moment where the quality of the events that he was going to was getting higher and higher, like the quality of his client was getting bigger and super became aware to him when he was receiving their cards and compared it to his. So whether you did that a little bit earlier or that was the perfect time for you. The important point is you did it, you notice it, you stepped it up, and I super love what you said about the confidence. Like I have a business card that was embarrassing for me, but this you be able to go yes, here’s my card and just like it almost like the firm handshake, I belong in this conversation and here is my card.
07:08 Julian: Yes, I mean it speaks to the larger point of how you present yourself to your clients even if you’re still just working at your house, in your bathrobe which I don’t recommend. The way you are perceived by your clients is much your responsibility as there’s. You need to make an effort to present yourself professionally on all aspect. So as in your business card, in your attire, on how you speak and on how you look online in terms of your professional website, your social media presence, everything is fair game, and everything speaks to your story, and your clients are looking at that. They are judging you based on that even your profile picture. As a photographer, I can speak for that. How many times I’ve been approach by people for whatever reason about have to update their profile picture, and I go check them out online and there using a cropped photo from their vacation or their selfie with their phone. I mean that can work maybe on some forms of media but in your LinkedIn profile as a picture of you in your bikini. You are not doing yourself any favors regardless of how well indulge you maybe. It is going to send the wrong message.
08:18 Nanci: The other thing in the same vein as business cards is your invoices. Do you invoice on time, on the schedule like the first and the fifteenth? Do you invoice at the end of the project? Do you communicate with your clients at the beginning of the project when you will be invoicing, which would mean that you would be giving sort of proposal in having a contract? And again there are a number of online software programs, Bidsketch is one, in terms of giving proposals. We have talked about Freshbooks. We both love Freshbooks, we have talked about Freshbooks so much. We started talking about it now, and it will hijack the whole episode but if you go our resources page slashpodcast.com/resources we have a blurb about Freshbooks and a link to go looked at it, but Freshbooks also includes a proposal, software, time tracking.
09:09 Julian: One nice feature about Freshbooks for your clients is that every time you create an event, every time you create a client, you’re effectively creating an online account for that client. So when you send your invoice to the client, when they click on the link that has your invoice they can see their entire accounts. When you repeat business, which is what you want with the client over time, they can go back and look at all their invoices. They can see if it is paid, they can download their account statement, they can manage it all themselves, so it just gives them an extra plus when comes to organizing their finances. It’s fantastic.
09:42 Nanci: When I get email notifications from Freshbooks, not just good morning either, and they say XYZ client has viewed their account, and I didn’t figure out what that meant. So they are going in, they have their portal. That is amazing. I knew that they could go in and pay their bill, but I didn’t know that they can go in and do that. I would like my vendors to have that because I would like to go in and look at tax time that would certainly make a difference in doing my expense report.
10:10 Julian: Just to that point, I think what we were talking about here is the willingness that kind of cross that little cast between the premium versions of whatever you’re using and the premium versions. A lot of people when they start out, there is a lot of free services, and it’s a whole business model, you know start people on free and then convert to paid. Every service that we have recommended, we use to have a free option, but at some point, the work rounds you have created to not buy the book and pay the extra. Whatever it is, the monthly fee for the paid version is costing you more money ultimately, in your time, in lost face or the perception or the message that you are sending by not using the pro version and it is not worth it.
10:55 Nanci: No, it’s not worth it. You know in the whole vein of we wish we started earlier, sometimes when you will eventually go to the premium version whether it’s the Moo cards or Freshbooks after a few days or weeks you are like I wish I have done this six months earlier. I am saving so much time and effort, time that I could have been spending doing more services, creating more content, actually making money.
11:22 Julian: Maybe let’s talk about the mindset, Seth Godin talks about this a lot, but one of the reasons that people don’t jump into acting like legitimate business is because they lacked confidence and they are hiding. You need to examine your behaviors and habits and see where you are holding yourself back, where are you hiding. What is it that prevents you from saying to yourself “I am x or fill in the blank after that slash.” Personal anecdote, I have been working as a professional photographer for fifteen years, but in the beginning, it was a side job. I wasn’t making a full-time salary by any means and wasn’t able to live off of it, so I was doing other jobs. I had a full-time job, and then I was doing other types of consulting contracts, and I always felt awkward about saying I’m a photographer. It didn’t come out of my mouth, and I didn’t have that confidence to say “that’s what I am” as if it wasn’t a legitimate profession because I couldn’t back it up with a huge portfolio of work or whatever. When I finally make that mental transition, I started referring to myself as a photographer. I’m a professional photographer, and I’m putting it out there, I started acting more like one. I took my business more seriously. I got up in the morning, and if I didn’t have a gig, I was looking for gigs. I was working on my blog. I was at my desk, I showed up, like running a shop, even though I’m four feet away from where I sleep, I get up in the morning every day, and I still do it. I get up and go to work. Whether I’m paid for it or not is irrelevant because it is all contributing to my business and just that attitude shift made a huge difference from me both, in terms of my confidence and my business. I grew my business as a result of taking my business more seriously.
13:14 Nanci: And I just thought when you said that maybe there is a reason you didn’t start with the Moo cards, maybe, in the beginning, I’ll go back to my example. Maybe I never have Moo cards from day one because it’s scary to hand over the super high quality best card ever and wonder if you have the capacity to back it up with your services.
13:37 Julian: There you go that’s hiding, hiding in your fear, hiding in your insecurity.
13:41 Nanci: So for my example, I just feel like I have skipped the Vista, but there were years where I wouldn’t have been comfortable handing over the super nice Moo card because I wasn’t sure if my web skills were up to par for the class of that card. I didn’t need them up till recently, but now I know for sure especially after I hold your card.
14:06 Julian: Not to hack too much of Vistaprint there, I’m sure they have great calling cards as well, and I’ve used them, it’s just that I happened to be referred to Moo cards by my wonderful designer.
14:15 Nanci: The thing about Vistaprint, as Julian said, in the beginning, they give you several options, so it is up to you if you decide that you want to go for the nine dollar option, instead of the twenty-nine dollar options. If you are going to go to Vistaprint, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but buy the best that you can afford because it’s an investment in you, your mindset and when you hand it over its going to reflect on the services that you provide. The last thing I want to talk about is the website. I see so many people that either don’t have websites for various reasons and sometimes that is okay, or they have a website that is not good. There is a lot of free services out there, I don’t want to name them all, but you want to have a basic website preferably on something like Squarespace or WordPress, I recommend WordPress but Squarespace is good too, and you want that website to have a homepage. That right on the front of the page bang bang bang tells a blurb about who you are, and what you offer and more importantly how you can help the client. You want an about page which is more of an about your company or you. If you’re a professional photographer and then you want a Services page, like for instance for Julian it would be like events, weddings, portraits and then you want – some people skip this step it’s crazy, you want a contact page. You want them in that order because for users experience and web design, if the clients are looking or prospects looking at four- five different websites. They want to see Home, About, Services, and Contact that is how normal websites are. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and be super creative about where you put your navigation bar, just put it at the top, okay?
16:08 Julian: One thing about the about page, I think it’s very interesting what you said although it’s important of course to express who you are in your Bio. It is way more important to be thinking about who your client is and when they are looking at your website they don’t care about you, they want to see what you can do for them. So you want to address that right away, you want to put yourself in the mindset of your clients and speak to the value that you are creating for them or their problems that you were able to solve, I think that is going to be part of your story.
16:40 Nanci: Yes, absolutely and if you have degrees or something put that at the end, don’t leave with that. You want to lead both on the Homepage how the services transform people’s businesses and then on the about page how your experiences or your history can contribute to helping them with their business or what they need.
17:04 Julian: It’s a bit like the summary section you have on your LinkedIn profile. I’m not speaking as a LinkedIn expert; this is from the sales perspective, you see this a lot, you see a lot of sales people who has a 1980’s mentality. They use that section to describe their achievements and their accomplishment, and how much they have solved for X or how much percentage increase, they have given to their company based on their superb salesmanship. But what matters to people who wanted to buy from you is not like how much you have done but what you can do for them. How you place the client first, what your focus is and I think that if you look at a sales summary where somebody talks about the clients, the client’s relationship, and the value their creating for the client. They are not listing off, it is not “look at me, how great I am” It’s “This is how great you are, how I can make you greater.”
18:02 Nanci: It’s easy for us to say, just get a website app. I know that it’s not always that easy so what we did was we put together a three part video series on “How to host a website,” “How to install WordPress,” and “How to create that Homepage, About page, Services page, and Contact page.” Once you have walked through that three-part video series, it will be easy for you to figure out how to put up a Portfolio page if you are a photographer or an artist, how to create a blog, it’s all going to be there. So that link is going to be in show notes, but also you can go to slashpodcast.com/web-series. So definitely if you are interested that is totally free, it’s just a bonus for slashpodcast listeners, it is under an hour exactly how to host, set-up a WordPress website and get you pages, including installing a logo and changing the colors to your brand.
19:02 Julian: As a special bonus we are going to do a living laboratory experiment with julianhaber.com. Nanci knows this has been a bugaboo in my head for years, and I want to redo my website, I constantly talking about it and never doing it. The barber who has a terrible haircut, so I’m going to be taking Nanci’s course, and I’m going to be applying what I learned in real time-ish to the redesign of my blog. Take a look at it now, so you can see how it’s going to change, julianhaber.com.
19:39 Nanci: On that same note, we were just talking this morning and yes, I don’t think its ad nauseum. But I do know that it’s been bothering you that you wanted to redesign your website, but your website is converting. You told me that people are going to your website and you have not been this busy in a long time.
19:56 Julian: That is true Nanci, but my frail ego wants a better-looking website because I’m embarrassed by the way it looks. So what should I do?
20:03 Nanci: My point is you have a website that’s working, which is better than having no website. You can always do a redesign. If you have been saying to yourself I’m getting more clients, they are asking me if I have a website, but I don’t want to put the website up until it’s perfect or until I can afford five-six-seven thousand dollar website. I’m saying, JulianHaber.com is not bad at all, but if Julian wants to redesign, we are going to give it to him. All right to recap, I feel like there were two important parts to this episode, which was the mindset.
20:43 Julian: Be a professional – show yourself in a professional way, and you will be taken seriously as a professional. Show up for the work that you have assigned for yourself to do and do it and trust that it’s going to pay off.
20:55 Nanci: Once you have taken that step or in the process of taking that step, take action and making sure you have decent business cards, decent invoicing system, and invoices, nice website. We hope that this episode was helpful for you and the next episode coming right up next week is going to be a walk thru on the website the “what you want to put, almost step by step on that About page, Contact page and the Services page.” We will see you next week.