Chris Ducker, founder of Youpreneur and serial entrepreneur, joins the show to help freelancers understand how to build, market and make money in your freelance business.
Chris solves problems for people. He built his business such that his personal brand will bring his customers along with him in whatever venture he pursues.
When he saw that people were buying him, not his company, he realized that the personal brand business model was a real money maker and genuinely profitable. He realized that was the key to becoming the go-to leader in your industry.
[clickToTweet tweet="“People will hire you way before they will hire your company. They hire you, your personality, your experience, what you stand for, and the quality of your work. That’s why you need to inject a bit of you into everything you do.” via @chrisducker" quote="“People will hire you way before they will hire your company. They hire you, your personality, your experience, what you stand for, and the quality of your work. That’s why you need to inject a bit of you into everything you do.”" theme="style3"]
In this episode, we deep dive into the conversation about personal brand and building a future-proof business. His new book, Rise of the Youpreneur, is the How-To guide to do just that.
Chris shares his expertise on:
- Why clients hire you, not your business
- How being an introvert isn’t a bad thing
- How to build, market, and monetize your expertise
- Some real talk for freelancers and what they must be doing today!
Episode Take Away
Go check out and purchase Rise of the Youpreneur - The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business
Jason Resnick: Welcome to Live In The Feast. I’m Jason Resnick and for the past decade I’ve been helping businesses translate their goals into online success as a freelance web developer. In order for me to accomplish my why as a freelancer I needed to live in the feast. Now I’m turning the tables around so you as the freelancer can do the same and build a sustainable business to achieve success so that [00:00:30] you can ultimately live the kind of life you want.
Your goal as a freelancer is to become future-proof. When you control your own destiny, your finances, your own opportunities, that makes you as future-proof as you can be. Look, change is something you can rely on, and if there’s any part of your life that you can control all out, it’s what you do for a living. Chris Ducker, founder of the Youpreneur community and author of [00:01:00] Rise Of The Youpreneur, says that he solves problems for people.
He built his business such that his personal brand will bring his customers along with him in whatever venture he pursues. When he saw that people were being from him, not his company, he realized that the personal brand business model was a real money maker and generally profitable. He realized that this was the key to becoming the go-to leader in your industry.
At the time we recorded this [00:01:30] episode, Chris’ book, Rise Of The Youpreneur, hadn’t come out yet. For full disclosure, I’ve known Chris for quite a number of years and consider him a mentor and a friend. But regardless of all that, this book is the freelancer’s guide to future-proofing yourself and staying out of the famine for good. So do yourself a favor, go get this book today. You want to start future-proofing yourself today and not wait like I did. But Chris dives deep into how to use this book in [00:02:00] this episode to suit your business, so let me shut up and let’s dive in.
Howdy folks. This is the season all about marketing as a freelancer. Most freelancers are solo businesses, where we do all the things. That comes with us being the face of the company as well, which can be difficult for a lot of us. Today, I’m ultra-excited to bring onto the show someone who is synonymous [00:02:30] with the phrase, “personal brand.” He’s built a very successful brick and mortar business, a soon-to-be, and we’ll get into this, two time best selling author, multiple podcast creator, and built a number of successful online businesses.
In fact, he’s the one that gave me the kick in the butt I needed so many years ago. He’s the one who coined the phrase, “Your vibe will attract your tribe,” and I believe that to this day every single minute. Chris Ducker, welcome Chris.
Chris Ducker: Hey, thanks for having me man. [00:03:00] I love that phrase. Can we just say that again? Your vibe will attract your tribe. What a great phrase that is. I love it.
Jason Resnick: Totally. Yeah, I mean I say that to anybody and anyone that will listen. So, for those that don’t know who you are, I gave a brief rundown but who are you? What are you all about?
Chris Ducker: Yeah. Look, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I love building, starting, building, buying, selling businesses. I love [00:03:30] working with entrepreneurs. My career has been a little varied, as it is with a lot of entrepreneurs. We pivot as our interests vary and change. That’s one of the reasons why I love the fact that I’ve built my business based around a personal brand because it allows me to do that. My audience, my following, my community, my customers, they’ll come with me as I got in different directions.
Ultimately, at the very core what I do, I’m [00:04:00] a sales and marketing guy. That’s it. That’s what I always say. I was put on this planet to solve problems for people. That’s what I do. I’m a big believer that if you solve problems in the right way and the solutions to those problems are packaged in a professional well branded manner, as you will no doubt attest to, people are happy to pay for it and you get the pleasure of being able to put a price tag on it.
That’s what I do, but at the very core like I said, [00:04:30] I’m a sales and marketing guy. But nowadays I tend to focus more on working with people that are in your audience, you know, authors and freelancers and speakers and coaches and consultants and all that sort of stuff.
Jason Resnick: We’ll get into all the good stuff about personal brand, because I think that’s something that a lot of freelancers get hung up on. I would say at least one out of every two freelancers that I think to say, “I don’t want to be the face of the business.” But we’ll get into [00:05:00] that here in a minute, but first I’d love to hear about what your why is.
I’m a big believer in knowing what the why is. Why did you start a business? We don’t start a business to do all the work, right? I feel like, you start a business, you get multiple bosses, you spend more hours and all that stuff, but there’s always this one guiding compass in why you started a business, and I’m curious what yours is.
Chris Ducker: For me there was two [00:05:30] actually. The first one was kind of the catalyst, in terms of why I decided to start my first business, which was about 14 or so ago. I was working for a very, very successful business owner/entrepreneur in Miami, Florida. I was fundamentally running the majority of his international sales for him. He was in the DRTV/infomercial game. I’d been with him for about two years or so, I was making a lot of money. [00:06:00] I was doing very well for myself, but away from work he was great, super nice guy. Like, really cool. We’re talking floor seats at the Heat games, pre-Super Bowl shows for Prince and all that kind of stuff.
He was a really, really nice guy. But once the work started he turned into one of the biggest micromanaging nightmares you can imagine. The catalyst for me in terms of living, [00:06:30] quote-unquote, the corporate life, was I was in Miami for a month. We were shooting a couple of new shows for products that he was launching. I was doing everything from helping with scripts to finding talent, to recording voiceovers, I mean, you name it. I was just done, by the time the trip was done I said, “You know what, I’m so over this. I’m so over making this guy money. I want to make money for myself now.”
I was actually on a flight back home, at 37,000, [00:07:00] I wrote my resignation letter and I sent it when I landed and connected to WiFi, and I’ve never looked back since. Within months I’d started my first consulting company, which was actually a sales training business, and then that morphed into a call center. We now have a coworking space, we have a recruitment company, and obviously we have the Youpreneur brand as well. That was my initial catalyst.
The real [00:07:30] why behind it more than anything else, and I talk about this in my new book, was to become future-proof ultimately. I believe when you control your own destiny, your own finances, your own opportunities, that makes you about as future-proof as you can be.
Jason Resnick: True.
Chris Ducker: Obviously I’m a Brit, which I sound strange probably to some of your audience.
Jason Resnick: They’re used to the New York accent. [crosstalk 00:07:54]
Chris Ducker: There you go. Yeah, I’m not going to butcher that. I sometimes do but I won’t, I won’t turn into Tony Soprano [00:08:00] or whatever. He’s a Jersey guy, right? He’s not even a New Yorker.
Jason Resnick: Yeah, he’s from Jersey.
Chris Ducker: There you go. But yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on in the UK with Brexit. I think everybody internationally who reads the papers, watches the news from time to time, has probably seen it. That got me … obviously I launched Youpreneur before the whole Brexit thing, but you look at Brexit, change of referendums, change of laws. You look at the US presidential situation and the country being so darn divided. [00:08:30] This is change, right? And change is something you can rely on.
My father used to say, “You can always rely on three things. Death, taxes and change.” They’re coming for you one way or the other. How you handle them is up to you. But I mean change, for me, is not a negative thing. Change for me is a very positive thing. It’s an opportunity thing. But sometimes the changes can affect us in ways that we would rather not [00:09:00] be affected.
I feel like if there’s any part of your life, particularly as a provider, as a husband, as a father, if there’s any part of my life that I can control a lot, it’s what I do for a living. It’s the incubus of a Youpreneur is, having that control and making sure that you’re future-proof. That’s the real why behind everything I do now, it’s to help people to become [00:09:30] future-proof.
Jason Resnick: That’s great. I love that, that change is inevitable. I mean, definitely with the US the way it is now politically and all the changes that are happening. I’m inquiring about what the tax laws mean now. It’s a matter of, like you, I’ve learned a long time ago that if I could work for myself and control my own time, then I would be able to have the flexibility [00:10:00] to do the things that I wanted to do.
To spend time with the people that I want to spend time with. To go outside on a random Tuesday because it’s nice out and not have to sit in a cube. It’s great once you get there, and I think what a lot of people, especially a lot of listeners, is that they feel like they’re never going to get there, like they’ll break out on their own, they’ll build their own business, maybe work … you know, a virtual agency of sorts. [00:10:30] And then they feel like they’re just chasing their tail a few years later, three, four, five years later.
They’re, “Why am I still doing the stuff that I tried to get away from?” Like, “Wait, what happened?” I have my own business, and when I hear that I always ask, I say, “Yeah, it’s your business, so why aren’t you driving it where you want it to go? Why are you essentially not look at from your clients like a vendor [00:11:00] provider, or service provider? Instead of just a pair of hands on a keyboard or a mouse or something like that.” I often get in conversations where they say, “Well, I’m introverted. I’m not really sure how to sell myself,” or, “I don’t want to be a face to the company,” or something of that nature. And I say, “Look, you’re running your own business. You’re by yourself, or you have a small team that’s behind you, but the clients are hiring you. That’s you, right?
Chris Ducker: Absolutely, yeah.
Jason Resnick: And that’s usually [00:11:30] when I say, “Well, your vibe attracts your tribe.” They can go out and get another developer, a designer or an SEO person, or whatever it is that you do, but they chose you. Why did they choose you? What was it about your personality that connected them to you? When I spoke to you so many years ago about this, you were like, “Dude, you’ve got the personal brand, just be yourself.”
Chris Ducker: Yeah, that’s it.
Jason Resnick: Go out there, do your thing, be yourself. I want to know why you [00:12:00] feel it’s so important to put yourself out there in a very genuine and transparent way, so that your business can thrive off of that.
Chris Ducker: Well, the reason why is because people do business with people. They don’t do business with logos or with brands even for that matter. Particularly in your game, in your freelance game, people will hire you way before they hire your company, [00:12:30] way before. In fact, actually they’ll hire you even before the completion in their mind of the work that they’re doing with you. They’re hiring you, they’re hiring your experience, your personality, what you stand for, the quality of your work, et cetera, et cetera. That’s the reason why you’ve got to inject a little bit of you into what you do from a marketing perspective.
I mean quite frankly, I totally get it, the whole, “I don’t want to be front and center. I’m not comfortable [00:13:00] being on camera,” et cetera, et cetera. But the fact of the matter is, if you’re a freelancer of any variety in any industry, if you’re not comfortable with that to a certain level, then you’re in the wrong game, let me be real. If you are a freelancer selling any type of service to any kind of niche, you are going to have to put your picture on the internet. You are going to have to from a marketing perspective be seen to sell, to build the influence [00:13:30] that you want to build to be able to bring in the business you want to build.
So again, if it’s not something you’re comfortable with, then you probably just want to go and work in a cube somewhere. But if you are someone who wants to build a future-proof business, that genuinely wants to create opportunity for yourself and your loved ones, to have the freedom that you want to have to be able to go for a walk on a Tuesday afternoon. Or like me, I haven’t worked a Friday for almost five years.
Jason Resnick: [00:14:00] That’s great.
Chris Ducker: I mean, bar maybe one or two around special occasions or whatever, but I mean I haven’t worked a Friday for literally almost five years. It will be five years in March. When I look at that, and some people call BS on that by the way. They think I’m lying, and I’m like, “I’m not. I can give you movie stubs literally for years,” you know what I mean?
It doesn’t matter, here’s another thing, I’m done by four PM Monday to Thursday [00:14:30] I work at home. I’m done, I’m out of my office. When my son walks through the door after school I want him to see me in the living room. I don’t want him to have to come find me in my office. Those are the little things. Within five minutes of him being through the door, light-saber battles, let’s get it on.
So if you’re not comfortable being front and center, the chances are putting yourself out there as an expert in your field and somebody to work with is probably not for you. But if you are, you must do it. You don’t have to go crazy. [00:15:00] You don’t have to start a daily YouTube show or anything like that, but you certain have to been seen to sell. I’m a big believer of that. I really am.
Jason Resnick: So what would you suggest to somebody that may think that they’re an introvert but you can obviously … I classify myself as an introvert but I’ve had two, this is my second podcast. I’ve gone to speak at events and things like that. I’ve gotten over that hurdle. Is there anything that you could suggest to somebody that maybe [00:15:30] they can try or practice in order to get themselves out there?
Chris Ducker: I think everybody is an introvert. I genuinely … I think even the most extroverted people have little introvert moments. I mean, I know I do. AT the end of last year we held the inaugural Youpreneur Summit in London, where there was almost 400 people in attendance. I remember about halfway through the first day, it was a two day event. Halfway through the first day we had a little kind of staff team [00:16:00] room above the main conference hall area, and halfway through the first day I went up there and I laid down on a little sofa and kind of got into the fetal position and rocked myself back and worth. I had my little introvert moment, because when you’ve got 400 people vying for your attention all day, it’s bloody knackering. I was absolutely shattered. I’m think to myself, “Holy crap, it’s only the middle of the first day. I’ve got another day and a half of this, I’m going to have to … “ You know what I mean?
Jason Resnick: [00:16:30] Yeah.
Chris Ducker: And so I think we’re all introverted, to a certain degree. Some of us allow that extrovert monster to come out more than others, but I think being an introvert is not a bad thing. Not wanting to be Gary Vaynerchuk, for those of you who don’t who Gary is, he’s in your face. You can’t go anywhere on social media without seeing Gary and seeing what he’s talking about.
It’s like, you don’t need to be Gary. You don’t need to be [00:17:00] Jason. You don’t need to be Chris. You just need to be you. Do you. It’s the business of you. I talk about that in the new book, it’s the business of you. I think that as long as you are open to the opportunities that will come your way, as long as you are open to the fact that sometimes you will have to become the man or the girl and have people look at you and listen to you and understand where you’re [00:17:30] coming from. As long as you’re open to that, the doors of opportunity will swing open for you a lot more than if you weren’t open to it, put it that way.
Jason Resnick: Sure. Yeah, no. I totally agree. And like you said, “the business of you.” When I joined Youpreneur, it was like day zero. It was like-
Chris Ducker: First day, yeah.
Jason Resnick: Yeah. It was like this text email that you sent to your list. I was like, “This is good timing. I’ll sign up for this.” But that was the phrase that [00:18:00] got me, “The business of you.” Because I was at a point at which I had started getting myself out there. I was already on the podcast but I knew I wanted to do speaking. I knew I really needed a brand for myself and my business. Can you explain a little bit what Youpreneur means? And I guess lead into your book, Rise Of The Youpreneur. How does one lead into the other?
Chris Ducker: Yeah, well look, a Youpreneur is somebody who builds a business based around their personality and the people that they want to serve. [00:18:30] Boom, that’s it. That’s your sound bite right there. That’s exactly what it is, based on your personality, your experience, I should probably add that in there, and the people that you want to serve.
Rise Of The Youpreneur, as a title for the book, is really about this is something that’s been happening for a long time, but people didn’t see it. They didn’t acknowledge it. Late 2014, after years of understanding the fact that, “Holy crap, people [00:19:00] are buying me before my companies. They’re signing up with me. They’re buying my products, not my company’s products.” Once I realized that and I realized that that personal brand entrepreneur business model was a real money making business, was a genuinely profitable business model, I coined that phrase. I coined the phrase Youpreneur, because it is the business of you as an entrepreneur.
Rise Of The Youpreneur, yes it’s ultimately [00:19:30] a how-to manual. We call it the definitive guide, but it’s a how-to manual on how to build, market and monetize your expertise, and ultimately become the go-to leader in your industry and build a future-proof business. But it’s more than that, I also see it as, just purely for the title alone, as a call to action for freelancers and authors and speakers and coaches and everybody building the business of you already. [00:20:00] It’s a call to action. It’s time to rise up my fellow Youpreneur, you know what I mean? And come out of the shadows and be a little bit more front and center and put your message out there into the world a little bit more. Like, podcasting and maybe YouTube and social media videos and all of that sort of type of thing.
But really, it’s a call to action. Like, “It’s time to rise up.” Now is the time to do this. If you want to future-proof the next 10 years, [00:20:30] 15 years, 20 years of your career, you do it now. You start today. You don’t start 10 years from now. That’s the incubus of the book, is ultimately to show people how to do it, but also I guess it’s a little bit of a kick up the butt as well, quite frankly.
Jason Resnick: Yeah. I can’t wait to read it. For me, being a part of Youpreneur the past couple years, it’s been a game changer for me. So before we close this down here, you said you left [00:21:00] the grind, so to speak. The guy was great as a person but not so much as a business person, working with him rather. You left and you started building your own consulting firm and brick and mortar business and all that. What switch flipped that said, “Hey look, I could shift my entire business towards helping other business build brands?”
Chris Ducker: That’s a question. I had, in a roundabout of way I’d been [00:21:30] doing that for years with my other businesses. You know, with the call center we focus on helping people with customer care, customer support, lead generation, appointment setting. So I’m helping people build or grow or run their businesses with that kind of company. With the recruitment firm, it’s about finding great remote workers and virtual assistants. Again, I’m helping someone clear their desk a little bit, learn how to delegate properly, hire the right [00:22:00] people to grow your business that way.
So as I look at the three or four companies that I own, I’ve been doing it in a roundabout way for a while. Now with Youpreneur, I’m doing it in a very direct manner. I think that’s the difference. It’s me saying, “Hey, I’ve done this and I’ve actually helped thousands and thousands and thousand of people do it already. Come to the party because now is the time.”
[00:22:30] I think in terms of what made me switch, it was actually a coffee in America on the fourth of July after having a water balloon fight with my best friend and his family. It wasn’t just me and him throwing balloons at each other, I just want to … I was with my-
Jason Resnick: This was Pat, wasn’t it?
Chris Ducker: Yeah, my buddy Pat Flynn. So, I’m at his house, it’s the fourth of July. It’s the first fourth of July I’ve ever spend in the United States, and I’ve been there a lot. [00:23:00] I said to him, “It’s the fourth of July, what do you guys do on the fourth of July?” He said, “Well, we eat animals and drink beer.” I’m like, “Brilliant. I’m in.”
Jason Resnick: And light off explosions.
Chris Ducker: Right, right. So we had a lot of fun, with the grill and the yard, and we were drinking beer and doing all that fun stuff. The kids are running around and the kids start having a water balloon fight. I’m like, “I’m getting involved with this. This is too much fun.” So I pick up the water balloons [00:23:30] and he does the same because the two of us are very competitive, we compete over the most ridiculous things.
Before [inaudible 00:23:37] was happening, the water balloon fights finish. I actually talk about this by the way in the intro of the book, so I won’t spoil it for anyone but it got a little bit ridiculous. But we wrapped that up, and then we went to his office and we were just having a coffee, just the two of us. That was where I was like, “Holy crap, these are the people that [00:24:00] I actually want to work with for the rest of my career. Youpreneurs, these are the people. These are the people that I want to impact the most, I want to effect the most change for. These are the people that I want to the most.”
It wasn’t hard, Jason. It wasn’t hard for me to pivot my focus on this. I was blessed to a certain degree because I already had the following. I’d already been blogging and podcasting. I’d already [00:24:30] been active building my email list on social and that kind of stuff. So it wasn’t a tough pivot to make, but that being said even if I hadn’t have already been doing all of that, I would have started. I would have started to do exactly the type of things that I talk about in the book.
So it was an easy pivot for me man. It was a bit of a no-brainer. Once the fingers had clicked and the light had switched to green, I was all out on it, and [00:25:00] I have been ever since.
Jason Resnick: That’s great. It’s funny, what a little water balloon fight will do.
Chris Ducker: Yeah. Yeah, it is. It’s ridiculous, grown men throwing … It got well out of hand. It really did.
Jason Resnick: That’s great though. That’s great. So final question, what would be your number one piece of advice for any freelancer looking to build their brand?
Chris Ducker: Yeah, I mean I think it goes back to what I mentioned a little earlier on, in regards to … Well actually there’s two bits [00:25:30] of advice that I feel kind of fit perfectly with each other. The first one would be, as a freelancer you’ve got to build influence. You have to, to be seen as someone that’s trustworthy, that can get the job done. That’s influence right there. In order to build influence you’ve got to be seen to sell.
And then rolling on from that … so actually getting out there and marketing your wares. You’ve got talk about what you do, what people can get out of working with you, and [00:26:00] really focusing in on the value that you can deliver your customers, and talking about it all the time. You’ve got to be seen to sell in order to build influence.
And then moving on from that directly, is to charge what your worth. I know you love this quote, “You’ve got charge what you’re worth and don’t apologize.” Even more so in the freelancer game I find as well, because it can be a competitive space and sometimes charging what you’re worth and actually [00:26:30] going into the higher price is all you need to do to be taken a lot more seriously, and to land the right kind of clients for you. Because you can sell $500 products and services all day long, but if they collect a ton of pain-in-the-butt clients for you to deal with on a daily basis, you don’t need that. Go in at 750, go in at 1,000. Work with less people, make the same amount of money and not be pulling your hair out at the end of the day.
Jason Resnick: That’s perfect. [00:27:00] Yeah, that’s exactly what I tell people, all the time.
Chris Ducker: Good. Good, good, good. It’s good advice.
Jason Resnick: I love that quote too, “Charge what you’re worth and don’t apologize.” That’s gold. Awesome, well this has been absolutely fantastic Chris. Thank you so much for your time and generosity today. Where can people reach out and say thanks?
Chris Ducker: I’m a big Twitter fan, so if anybody is on Twitter @ChrisDucker. If anybody is interesting in picking up the book, you can just search for Rise Of The [00:27:30] Youpreneur on Amazon, or you can go to riseoftheyoupreneur.com.
Jason Resnick: Awesome. We’ll put all the links in the show notes as well. Thanks again Chris.
Chris Ducker: Thank you for having me man, it was a pleasure.
Season 2: Marketing
More episodes in this season:
S02 E00 - Marketing For Freelacers
S02 E02 - Rise of the Youpreneur with Chris Ducker
S02 E01 - The Future of Sales and Marketing with Chris Marr
S02 E03 - How to work with agencies as a freelancer with Lee Jackson
S02 E04 - How to build a service from the ground up with Ruben Gamez
S02 E05 - How to increase the number of leads and clients with Brennan Dunn
S02 E06 - How to specialize your business with Sara Dunn
S02 E07 - How to close a deal as a freelancer
S02 E08 - Step by Step Guide to Specialization