Find out why raising your freelancing rate could mean not just more money, but also, better clients.
Freelancing has always been a common “hobby” for creative professionals like designers and writers, but in the last decade or so, creative pros have started leaving the nine-to-five life in droves.
Now, this post isn’t meant to lure you to the “dark side” of freelancing, but to explain why it’s become the fastest growing professional group of our time (and will continue to be).
But if you’ve even thought about taking the leap, now may be the best time in history to do so.
Managing projects in your startup is a major component in running your new company successfully. Yet, there are many project management styles. How do you know which one to choose? The answer is to understand the differences between the waterfall and agile methods to select the right one.
The Waterfall Method
Image via Flickr by menegue
The traditional method of project management, also known as the waterfall method, has its origins in software engineering. In this system a project is broken down into stages, and the project only moves to the next stage upon completion of the previous stage.
Typically the stages focus on planning, design, development, testing, production, and deployment. This method evolved out of production processes in which it would be too costly to re-do a stage once the project had moved on to the next stage.
Pros and Cons
The waterfall method forces you and your team to plan projects with great detail, which means you’ll discover a lot of issues before you ever start building and testing, and can modify the project’s design accordingly. You also end up with a lot of documentation in the waterfall method, which is especially valuable in the hectic beginnings of a startup company.
A major con of the waterfall method is the lack of testing through the process. Whether you’re designing software or working on a new marketing campaign for your startup, testing happens near the end of the waterfall of stages. If you’e missed any huge bugs, you basically have to start over. Similarly, if any stage wasn’t completed well you can’t go back and fix it in the waterfall method.
The Agile Method
The agile method was a response to the waterfall method’s inflexibility in certain areas of planning and development. Instead of creating a detailed plan and tackling each stage at once, the agile method starts with a simpler ideas and runs it through iterations called sprints. Each of these sprints is run from planning to testing, and then progress is evaluated at the end before moving to the next sprint.
Pros and Cons
The agile method is probably more comfortable for most startups because it allows transparency, constant testing and evaluating. Everyone knows exactly where the project is and how it’s faring, and it opens up considerable communication amongst your employees.
However, the agile method may not provide enough direction in a startup with limited resources. Since the ideas don’t start off with the severe planning that happens in the waterfall method, you may feel that the team is worrying too much about ideas and not about results, or that a project is stuck in sprints that aren’t working out all its issues.
Where Do You Fall?
When both methods have such clear pros and cons it can be hard to figure out which will work best for your startup. If you aren’t sure what will work, look into hiring a consulting firm like Routa Consulting; they’ll give you insight into the processes and into what your company needs to grow. Making these decisions early and developing workable techniques for managing projects at your startup is invaluable for its success.
Welcome back to our journey towards overcoming the plight of the creative entrepreneur. Up to this point we have been working hard to understand why, how and what we really do. We’ve also been working to understand our worth and figuring out how to charge for it. In this, our final installment, we are ready to jump into the abyss of finding the right clients with whom to partner to raise their value while charging our worth.
Out with the Old
One of the questions I get the most from other or aspiring creative entrepreneurs is “how do you find clients?”. My answer is always the same, “I don’t… they find me”. Sounds like a dream, right? Sounds like something you can only do after mastering your craft (which I haven’t), and working for tons of people on tons of really cool, high profile, projects.
They say a business partnership is like a marriage. And a bad one can have repercussions that lasts for years. So, just like a marriage, you ought to make sure the qualities and characteristics of your business partner are compatible with your values.
You’ll probably leaving a ton of money on the table by not getting out and attending seminars and conferences. We all know the expenses involved but the payoff can be huge and often in ways that we cannot predict. Read on.
I decided to attended a subscription site seminar in Boston, hosted by Tim Kerber and MemberGate. I really was not sure if I was going to attend as I have my hands full of “way too many” projects now but I am making it a priority to actually go to events to learn and network (in that order). Now that it’s over I am super glad I attended. It would take another 50 emails to share what I learned and further got to meet some “super successful” entrepreneurs who were more than happy to share some of their “secrets.”
We both know these things are not cheap. You have to pay for room, meals, flights etc. etc so it adds up. However, you have to look at the long term payback. From the what I learned and the contacts I made I would say the conference will easily pay for itself in just a month or two.
Of course, all that knowledge has to be implemented not just shoved in binder to “reference” someday. I heard this time and again at the seminar – “just get it done and out the door” I mean (me included) how many times do you labor over something and it grows into this 3 armed and 4 legged monster.
Funny, was just speaking to a coaching client and we talked about this very issue and how I recommended he go down a path of much less resistance on this particular project. I insisted he just “get it done” and not be distracted with “frosting”.
So, 2 things:
1. Save, scrimp, beg, borrow (within reason) but get yourself out and about and attend some of these conferences. I guarantee you’ll thank yourself many times over.
2: Get in the mode of getting things done fast. You’ll increase your productivity 10x and the result will be many more dollars coming your way.
One speaker very succinctly summed this point up with this mantra, “Fail fast, fail often and success is assured”
– by Doug Farrick
The thought of getting on the phone to land an appointment with a corporate decision maker can make you sick to your stomach. The beauty of design work is that you can tuck yourself away for hours in your corner of the world, behind your computer and with limited interaction with people. But think of all the work you’re missing out on if you don’t pick up the phone and get proactive about appointment setting. Your competitors are doing it, and it’s what you need to get higher paying gigs. Here are some tips to help you overcome your fears and land more appointments:
Tip #1 – Do It Every Day
Try to make at least two calls every day. The routine will help you hone your skills and chip away at any fears you have about talking on the phone. The truth is, you’ll need to do a lot more calling to increase your chances of getting past the gatekeepers, following up after you leave voicemails and getting through to someone who has the authority to hire you. When you incorporate it into your daily schedule, you’ll get more comfortable and make more calls.
Tip #2 – Use a Calling Script
Write a short script that you’ll use for every call. This includes a script for leaving voicemail. The script should include:
- A one-line hook: “I can increase your web traffic by 500 unique visitors immediately.’
- One question to get them thinking: “Are you losing customers just because the website is hard to navigate?”
- Ask for an appointment: “I’d like to schedule an appointment with you to show you exactly how I can help you.”
You can share the script with employees or anyone you hire to set appointments for you.
Tip #3 – Research Leads Beforehand
The last thing you want to do is try to research contact information and prospective corporate managers to call while you sit down to make your calls. It’s too distracting and you waste more time that way. Set aside time beforehand to input all of your contact information in an Excel spread sheet or customer relationship management software.
Tip #4 – Keep Detailed Notes
Take brief notes when you hang up the phone on your conversations. Include the date, whether you left a voicemail or spoke with someone, who you spoke with and the outcome. You’d be amazed at how valuable those notes will become when you go to do a follow up call. Your memory will fail you in the middle of a conversation or when you go to call a lead again. Rely on your notes instead.
Tip #5 – Follow Up
Few people get sold the first time on anything, and you’ll find the same thing to be true when it comes to appointment setting. You should follow up with everyone at least four times until you get an appointment. This includes calling them, leaving messages and sending emails. Calling and sending follow-up emails counts as one time. There’s no getting around it, making phone calls and speaking to people is crucial to setting appointments.
The purpose of the call is to get a decision maker in the corporation to say yes to an appointment. It’s not to sell them on your services. At the same time, you may get one shot on the phone to do so. For instance, if you get a vice president on the phone who insists that you make a pitch, go for it.