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Clients From Hell Podcast

The Clients From Hell podcast is equal parts humorous and helpful as it explores the modern life and times of creative professionals.
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Now displaying: June, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

A recent survey of freelance workers done by AND CO showed that the pay gap exists even for the self-employed. On average, self-employed women make less than self-employed men. That's troubling information, given that freelancers are able to set their own wages. So what's happening here? What baggage are we bringing in to setting our own rates? 

Joining Bryce to discuss this important and delicate topic is Lauren Loria, a Michigan based commercial photographer that helps clients build their brands through visual imagery that reflects their business' personality.  

Today's links: 

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This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

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Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Also: do you love the podcast? Is there anything you'd like to see us change about it? Let us know by filling out this short survey!

Jun 20, 2017

Who do you think you are?

Everyone who works for themselves has wrestled some point over what title to use. Many start by using the title "freelance _______"—designer, writer, software developer, or whatever the case may be.

The words you use influence others’ perception of you.'

Today's links: 

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According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words can literally change your brain. They argue that a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning. In other words, “angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes."

Meanwhile, a positive word can strengthen areas in frontal lobes and promote cognitive function. They write "as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality."

So what does that mean for us?

What’s your first thought when you hear the word "freelancer"? Do you picture a college kid working out of her parent’s basement? Most people perceive freelancers as in the lurch, between unemployment and their next ‘real’ job.

Many people who call themselves freelancers don’t exactly think of what they do as a business. But they should.

Clients too often see freelance arrangements as low-cost line items rather than strategic partnerships.

And that creates a power imbalance, with the client in charge—hardly an ideal situation for independent workers, especially those trying to start a business with the express purpose of gaining more freedom over their work.

When he first started out, Tim Dietrich described himself as a "freelance database consultant." But he soon realized that the "freelance" tag said more to clients about the structure of his business (process) than what he could actually do for them (results). Tim now introduces himself with this simple line, "I develop custom apps for businesses." Who would you want to work with more: Someone who tells you how they file their taxes or explains what they can do for your balance sheet?

Your livelihood doesn't depend on your own self-perception, but on how potential clients see you and your work.

Freelancers don't always see themselves as business owners because businesses have quarterly targets, revenue streams, and brand images to preserve. And clients expect that other businesses have systems and processes leading to consistent results. Don’t worry if you’re still working on systems and processes. It’s still okay to call yourself a business—which can in turn push you to build a workflow for yourself, set firmer goals, and increase your margins—just like an actual business.

 

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This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

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Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Also: do you love the podcast? Is there anything you'd like to see us change about it? Let us know by filling out this short survey!

Jun 13, 2017

If 'creativity' is a factor in your work, these ten rules will help you find success in your career. 

When we say success, we don't exclusively mean more clients, more work, or more freedom. We mean all of the above and more: success as a creative means personal and professional development because you are your business and your craft. 

This episode was heavily inspired by articles from:

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This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

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10 Rules for Succeeding as a Creative Professional

  1. You’re on your own.
  • Blogs, teachers, webinars, courses, and classes can help you, but they’re not going to get things done for you. They’re there to refine your skills, give you ideas, or teach you the rules.
  • In almost every instance, they’re positioned in such a way that they’re giving you permission to get started by offering inspiration and addressing your concerns or fears.
  • In terms of creativity, it’s about you: what’s going on inside you, what’s going on around you, and how you manage the two.
  • Though you don’t necessarily have to follow their advice, you should listen to experts. You should follow them. You should consume content that excites you – but you shouldn’t be afraid to strike out on your own.

 

  1. Clients rarely know what they need.
  • Clients hire you because they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Some clients may think they do, but that’s not exactly the same thing.
  • Listen to what a client says and take to heart what they recommend. They know their product or vision. It can even be worth attempting their version of things to see how it turns out. But then it’s up to you to add value.
  • “Adding value” is why clients will hire you. Show them something new or unexpected (in a good way) – this is how you communicate that your expertise requires more than a few clever mouse clicks.
  • The best client interaction is where you take a client’s vision and add colour.

 

  1. Different is more important than “better.”
  • Better and different are often treated like synonyms in creative fields.
  • Better means you’re following someone else’s path. This isn’t an inherently bad thing, but it’s how derivative and repetitive trends occur. You’re unlikely to outpace that trailblazer, and as a result, you end up looking like a cheap imitation.
  • However, taking someone else’s path and tweaking it to your style, tastes, or needs – making it “better” in a way that matters to you, either as the audience or the artist – is how you start to succeed. And it’s also how you and your work gets better.
  • Competing on outright skill is like competing on price. It’s a global economy. Someone out there is going to better or cheaper than you.
    • If you do something in a way that’s distinctly yours, you have no competition.
  • Being different is more important than being better.

 

  1. Compete on value, not price.
  • Competing on price in a creative field is a bad idea unless you live somewhere with an exceptionally low cost of living. Instead, focus on delivering value.
  • Value can come in many forms, like better than the competition, a standout style, an offering more tailored to the client’s unique needs – whatever. Clients tend to care most about avoiding risk and saving time and money; your value should speak to these points in some capacity, but don’t stress a perfect one-to-one translation.
  • If you deliver value and you can communicate this to prospects, you should charge more.

 

  1. You need to be challenged.
  • If you’re not pushing your skills or expertise, you’re not improving. You’re probably stagnating.
  • An easy job isn’t a bad job, but it’s the jobs where I had to meet tough deadlines and big challenges that have pushed my career forward in terms of skills, impact, and clients.

 

  1. You are what (and who) you surround yourself with.
  • If you want to be better at what you do, seek out those you think are better than you. From colleagues to clients, always shoot high.
  • Follow your inspirations and consume everything they do.
  • Chase your ‘mentors’ and critically examine what they put out. If you can, reach out.
  • Find your community and create a place within it.

 

  1. Always know why you make your decisions.
  • Whether you’re a writer, a photographer, a designer, or a developer, you need to be able to communicate your work beyond “I like the way it looks.”
  • Being able to explain why you made a creative decision is how you communicate your expertise to a client. Explaining why this design is better than that one is how you establish yourself as an authority.
  • Explaining yourself in terms that matter to your client is huge. Whether it’s a visual vocabulary or a grasp of grammar, explaining the worth of your work is how you get hired, rehired, and referred.

 

  1. Embrace failure.
  • Trying to avoid mistakes is paralyzing. Don’t let the possibility of a mistake prevent you from acting.
  • Don’t try to avoid failure. Aim to recover and learn from it.
  • Whether it’s in creative or business terms, you need to be willing to act, fail, and try again. Looking at your failure, assessing what went wrong, and trying again (and again, and again) is everything.
  • Getting out there to do stuff is everything. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, change it. Quickly.

 

  1. Less is more.
  • Trying to be everything to everyone is a great way to be nothing to no one.
  • Whatever your creative pursuit, simple is good. Remove clutter and distraction.
  • Whatever your business, a niche is good. Add specificity and purpose. Tell one story and tell it well.

 

  1. You need to do the work.
  • Daydreaming about what you can do is fun, but don’t confuse it with doing the actual work.
  • If you feel crummy about what you’re making, that’s fine. Try a new approach. Fail at something new and exciting. Throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.
  • If you’re not producing, you’re not a professional – you’re a poser.
  • Likewise, if you spend every day writing, taking photos, or working on your designs, you’re not an aspiring anything. You are what you’re doing.

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Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jun 6, 2017

How you position yourself is crucial to your career. Philip Morgan joins Bryce to discuss how freelancers – particular freelance developers – can find success by specializing.

Links from today's show:

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This episode is sponsored by AND.CO, the freelancer's resource! They offer great tools for freelancers, including curated job lists, time tracking and invoicing software, contracts, free guides and more! 

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Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

Jun 2, 2017

Bryce reflects on data from the gig economy, sharing insights into how freelancers are succeeding (and what issues they're struggling to overcome). 

Here are the links he talks about during this episode:

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We want to hear from you!

Give us your feedback on how we can improve the Clients From Hell podcast by using this link: https://cfh.typeform.com/to/gEABz7

Want to support the show?

Leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or recommend us to a friend. It helps immensely.

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Shownotes

Survey makeup:

As vast majority of freelancers AND CO interviewed—95% of them—are what are being call "Slash Workers," or independent workers whose services or skills vary by client and project. About 70% of respondents were from the States

Respondent makeup:

  • Creative/design: 33%
  • Consulting - Professional Services: 21%
  • Writing/Journalism/Content: 17%
  • Tech/Web Design: 15%
  • Other 14%
  • Median income for respondents who reported is in the $25,000 to $49,999 range, which aligns with the average income for single taxpayers in the U.S. per the IRS (2014): $34,940.

General takeaways:

  • Freelancing is a growing choice
  • Freelancers enjoy higher quality of life at the expense of financial security
  • This quality of life manifests in the form of freedom, be it personal autonomy or flexibility
  • The traditional concept of the office is on the way out. Working from home is a substitute, but more and more people are interested in a “digital nomad” lifestyle – or the ability to work from anywhere.

Interesting insights:

  • 40% of U.S. workers will be freelance by 2020 (Freelancers Union)
  • Two-thirds of freelancers have 0-3 years of freelancing experience.
  • Going independent is a conscious choice for 94% of freelancers (it’s not a fallback)
  • 41% want to freelance “forever”
  • 95% of freelancers offer two or more services
    • Only 5% offer a single skill or work function
  • Most freelancers chose freelancing for personal growth (only 7% did it for the financial upside)
  • A quarter of freelancers self-describe as nomads (and they’re 11% happier than other freelancers)
    • 60% of freelancers said they’d be interested in pursuing a nomadic lifestyle in the future.
  • Nearly half of freelancers want companies to offer more remote work opportunities
  • About 3/4 of freelancers feel less financially stable since going freelance
    • But 68% say their general quality of life has increased
  • Only 6% of respondents are freelancing until they find their next full-time gig.

Money and jobs:

  • 91% of respondents said they typically get work from word of mouth and referrals
    • Just under half said organic website or portfolio traffic
    • 37% find work through outreach or pitching
    • One-third find work via freelance-specific job boards
    • 23% find work via general job boards
  • 43% earn less than $25K a year
    • 1/6th earn between that and 50k
    • 1/6th earn between 50k and 75k
    • 7% earn between 75k and 100k
    • 10% earn 100k or more
      • Interestingly, there’s a correlation between the experience levels of respondents and their income bracket. Do keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation though

Bonsai found that for all skills and locations, the most significant jump in compensation per experience level comes between the 1-3 and 3-5 year categories. This can be most often attributed to them developing essential business skills (project management, negotiation...), developing their knowledge about their market and their clients, building a strong portfolio and leveraging their network.

Developers earn about 30% more than designers across experience levels and geographies. This happens to be true even for highest charging designers (ie Product Designers) when compared to lowest charging developers (Front-end / Android)

Design rates (in particular graphic design) hardly reach $60 per hour for all locations and experience levels. While developers can see their rates increase quickly with their gaining experience (typically after 3 years), most experienced designers grow rates at a slower pace. The most common explanation we’ve heard for this is local or international competition at lower rates, including from part time designers. The lower barrier to entry for design types, plus the smaller project sizes, leads to lower rates.

The issues for freelancers:

  • 61% say they miss the feeling of community a traditional workplace offered
  • 60% of respondents say there’s a lack of respect for freelancers
  • 44% have been stiffed by a client
  • Men are 4.5x more likely to earn $150k+/year than women
    • And 48% of women fall into the lowest tax bracket
  • 41% of respondents want more protections for freelancer rights
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