S01 E07 – Laura Elizabeth creates experiences for her clients you can use

 

Laura Elizabeth a freelance graphic designer and her passion is helping businesses and individuals tell their stories online.

If you’ve followed Laura at all, you’ll know she’s passionate about client experience and creating it memorable for them. She does this because not only will it help her and her client projects be just that more successful, it also helps in creating a lasting memory in her clients’ head that when they hear a friend, colleague or anyone looking for design services, Laura’s name is front and center.

In our conversation, she talks about a few things to make this happen pretty easily. Especially if you need to get content, assets, or feedback from your clients, you’ll want to listen carefully.

How could you make their experience working with you better and more memorable? It’s important to think as if you were the client working with you.Click To Tweet

Your takeaway from this episode is to be able to put yourself in your client’s shoes. How could you make their experience working with you better and more memorable? It’s important to think as if you were the client working with you.

If you want to make yourself look even more professional and create a level of experience that most don’t definitely check out Laura’s Design Academy and Client Portal.

Episode Take Away

How could you make your clients’ experience working with you better and more memorable?
Are you finding that you are constantly getting hung up getting things you need from clients? Maybe send them a gift card to a coffee shop and tell them to use it to “work on their business”.

Important Mentions in the Episode

Client Portal

Expensive Problem by Jonathan Stark

Design Academy

Laura on Twitter

lauraelizabeth.co

Transcript

Jason: 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. This episode is sponsored by Feast. Feast is an online course and coaching platform built for freelancers like you who are looking to take their freelance business to the next level. Want to get higher quality clients? Command higher prices? Build recurring revenue so that you can stay out of the famine for good? Feast will help you focus and remain accountable through coaching calls [00:01:00], community, an exclusive mastermind group, and tons of resources. Join the VIP list now by going to res.com/feast and get first crack at some exclusive bonuses when the next enrollment opens.
If you are looking to boost even more referrals into your freelance business, then in this podcast, Laura Elizabeth will share with you how to create a memorable experience for your [00:01:30] clients. I recently met Laura at a conference she spoke at, and she shared some insights into how she creates a memorable experience for all her freelance clients. Some as simple as just sending them a gift card to their local coffee shop, just so that she can get the assets that she needs to build the websites. She does this not just so that the projects will be that much more successful, but so that it creates a lasting memory in her client’s head. [00:02:00] This way, Laura is far and away ahead of the pack for her clients to refer her more work.
Your take away for this episode is to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. How could you make their experience working with you better and more memorable? And, if you want to make yourself even more professional and create a level of experience that most freelancers don’t, Laura has graciously given you an exclusive discount [00:02:30] just by being a listener of the show to her client portal. Check out the show notes for the link to that.
Okay, so today, I’m excited to be bringing on the show Laura Elizabeth, a freelance designer from “across the pond” as they say, who helps businesses grow through strategy and design. So, for those of you that [00:03:00] love accents, I’ve got my New York accent, she has her British accent, so hopefully you’ll get a good taste of everything here.
I had the pleasure of meeting Laura at a conference where she was a speaker. She spoke about how current client relationships can foster getting better clients just by making them feel special. Seeing as this season is all about getting clients, I wanted to see if Laura would like to come on the show and share some thoughts, insights, and her expertise [00:03:30] with you. I know she’s got some awesome take aways that you’ll certainly want to hear. So, without further ado, welcome, Laura.
Laura: Awesome, thank you very much.
Jason: Great! So, why don’t you just give a brief intro to who you are and what you do?
Laura: Yeah, sure! So, as you said, I’m a designer. I’ve been a designer for maybe 7 years or so. I started out working in an agency, then went freelance after about 6 or so months after that. [00:04:00] I’ve recently taken a little bit of a side step and I’m kind of delving into products as well. I haven’t given up the freelancing. I haven’t given up the client work, just sort of taking on less, but really fun, awesome projects while I do the product stuffs in interim.
Jason: Awesome! So, you said you started at an agency, and then 6 months in, you went freelance, right?
Laura: Yeah, yeah.
Jason: So, that seems like a quick turnaround. What was the story behind that?
Laura: [00:04:30] Yeah, well I actually started at the agency … I think it was a bit longer than 6 months, actually, because I started as an intern, and I went there straight from university. So, I graduated, and then worked as an intern in an agency. Then after a few months, I got a full time position there.
But after a while, I think it was about 6 months of working there full time, I just … It’s kind of hard to say why I stopped doing the agency work because essentially [00:05:00] it was sort of the same work that I was doing. I just really didn’t like doing the 9 to 5, so I preferred … I didn’t really like commuting. I didn’t like having to work in the same office space every day, so I decided to just try it out on my own. Initially, I started freelancing along the side of working at agency, and it was mainly just to improve my skills a little bit because I didn’t really feel like university sort of equipped me well enough to actually work for [00:05:30] real clients yet.
So, I started freelancing on the side and it was little jobs, like from Upwork and stuff like that. But, it kind of took off unexpectedly and because I wasn’t really enjoying the whole commuting, the whole 9 to 5 thing, and I started earning about the same kind of income as I was in the agency with freelancing, I decided to just kind of take the plunge and just go for it. Freelance full time, and I’ve been there ever since, for the past 6 or so [00:06:00] years.
Jason: Nice. That’s very cool. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s funny. Sometimes, you hear stories where people do what you did, and I had a very similar path where I did freelance alongside the full time job. But then there are other people that are just like, “I’m just going to give this a go, and hopefully it works”. You know, sometimes, there’s a soft plan in place, but it’s more or less just, “Hey, I’m going to do this or not”. So, I always [00:06:30] enjoy hearing why people decided to go down that route.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. Well, to be honest, I had a very easy time with it because I was actually living with my parents at the time. I was just fresh out of uni, so I didn’t really have too much in terms of expenses or anything to really worry about in that sense, so I do feel very fortunate that I made the leap when I did. I know that if I had waited a bit longer, I think I’d have still done it, but it would have been a bit harder to just kind of say, “Okay, I’m just going to make the jump and go for [00:07:00] it”.
Jason: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, when I did that jump, obviously I did it a lot later, you know. Right out of school, I worked for several companies and stuff, and there was like, “Okay. I have rent to pay, I have an electric bill to pay”. It’s like certain bills, so I had to do a little bit of a calculation to make sure that … Hey, I need this much work every single month in order for me to make this work.
One thing that I want to get into a little bit more is the product side, [00:07:30] but before we do that, as far as freelancing goes, you said that you didn’t like the commute. You didn’t like working kind of in the same space. What I’m kind of hearing there is, like, that constant, for lack of a better term, that beat up, right? There’s lack of inspiration, mundane tasks every single day, a mundane place, it just kind of drones on. I’m curious if you have, like, a greater “why”. Like, did you want to travel more? Is that [00:08:00] why you wanted to go into freelancing?
Laura: Actually, yeah. So, I did actually try the whole digital nomad thing for a while when I first left the agency. I thought, you know, “This is going to be great! I’m going to travel, work from my laptop, work from anywhere in the world!”, and I did it, but that didn’t last too long because I realized very quickly that it’s very hard to do both. I found it really hard to travel and work on my business, especially because [00:08:30] it was a new business, you know? I had just started out. I think if I could go back, I would have got my business on track first before just going traveling, so at least I had some automation stuff in place and processes, but I just kind of went for it.
I found it really hard, and I felt like I wasn’t traveling like I wanted to. I wasn’t seeing all the amazing things that I thought I was going to be seeing because I had deadlines and I had all this client work to do, and I felt like I was letting down my clients because I was unavailable. [00:09:00] In different time zones and stuff like that. It just didn’t work out for me. I think if I was to go back and do it now I could do it, I just did it wrong, basically. But, that was an epic “why”, was I still love to travel. I still do it very frequently, but I have a home base now. But yeah, that’s one of the main reasons.
Jason: Yeah, I mean, any time I go away, the last thing I want to do is work. I kind of unplug, almost. Like, if I’m in a hotel [00:09:30] or whatever, I throw the cell phone into the safe and I try not to even look at it. I know my wife, she’s always like, “Listen, no work. We’re on vacation”, you know? So, yeah, I get that. That’s what always intrigued me about the digital nomad. I know several people like that, and I’m like, “How do you do that? How do you travel and go to new places? Like, I would always want to see and experience that new place. I don’t want to be in front of my screen, [00:10:00] you know?
Laura: Yeah, exactly. I think … Like I say, if I could go back and do it again, I think what I would do is I would … I’d barely be traveling, so what I’d do is I’d maybe stay in one place for 6 months or so, because I was in no rush. I had nothing to get back to, you know? It was … That’s not meant to sound depressing. It was actually really good. But, I’d … yeah, I’d have stayed in one place about 6 months and maybe set aside maybe, I don’t know. Maybe 6 weeks [00:10:30] of working, 2 weeks off, or just something like that just so I made sure I got my fill of the travel and got my fill of the work. The other thing is, as well, is if I travel for too long without working, I really miss working, which I think is a great sign of doing something that you love, so, yeah. That’s another reason.
Jason: Yeah, definitely. I think all of us, especially in the freelance base, whether you call yourself a freelancer, consultant, small business owner, whatever the term [00:11:00] you use, your passionate about what you do. A lot of people talk about that work/life balance, and like, I think for us, it’s one and the same. Even though, like, I’m spending time with my family, there’s, like, a part of me that’s always kind of thinking like, “Oh, what can I do to improve my business?”, or you know, something about a client project, or something like that.
Laura: A side project, or …
Jason: Yup.
Laura: Yeah, I get that.
Jason: So, one of the things that I really liked in your talk, and it was [00:11:30] really talking about taking care of your clients. Your existing clients, not necessarily a new client. The leads. And one thing you said was … You kind of threw up a “formula” there, and you said, “Trust equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy”. Could you unpack that a little bit more, because I love it. Because I think not everybody takes all of those factors into trust.
Laura: Yeah. Well, I think [00:12:00] probably the best way to describe it is if I start by saying why trust is important, and what I’ve realized was … When I first started, I was working on Upwork, and I was getting jobs for, you know, 50 pounds, or dollars, you know, whatever. And I was getting those jobs pretty easily, but that’s not really a sustainable way to really build a business when you live in a country like England, or you’re traveling or something. You need a bit more money than that.
And I realized [00:12:30] to get the higher value projects that I really wanted, and especially if I wanted to do it remotely which was a very key factor in how I wanted to work, I really didn’t want to be going to meetings all the time. I didn’t really want to be working at someone else’s office. In order for someone to get over that mental hurdle of giving someone they’ve never met, over the internet, lots of money, they’re going to have to really trust you. And I found out that trust is much harder to gain from other [00:13:00] people when you don’t get to meet them face to face because you don’t get those conversations, and you just don’t get “there”, you know? You’re not with them. You don’t get the body language and stuff like that.
So then I did a little bit of research and found this trust equation, which is, as you say, trust equals credibility, and the credibility aspect is things like what you’ve done. So your portfolio and stuff like that, or your past work, and then … That’s stuff that most freelancers have already. It’s their website. [00:13:30] It’s … most of them have got credibility. It’s things like testimonials, you know, and stuff like that. But that’s usually where people stop. So they’ll say, you know, “I’ve got this. They should hire me because they can see that I’ve done the work in the past”.
But there’s also a few other elements, which is reliability, so showing that you are not just going to go off the grid at any point. Showing that you are going to be there. I’m not saying be there 24/7, but just be there if they have a question or if they have a concern. They can rely on [00:14:00] you.
Then you’ve got the intimacy factor, which is being close to them. Obviously, professionally close to them. So, just getting on good terms with them, and maybe just treating them like a normal person. You don’t have to be too stuffy. You don’t have to be too professional. You want them to feel relaxed around you. You want them to feel comfortable. You don’t want to make them feel like you’re, you know, really high and mighty and they are scared to tell you an idea they have because you might shoot it down [00:14:30] or say they’re stupid or something. So, you really want them to be able to open up to you.
And then, there was actually another part to the equation, which is you sort of add all those up and then divide it by self-orientation. And that’s … the self-orientation is how inward focused you are. So, if you’re just focused on yourself and what “I do” … So, I do this, I make beautiful designs. I make amazing web press, websites, or whatever, as opposed to, “This is what you need. I help you with this problem”. [00:15:00] So, you want to be less self-orientated, so you want to be talking less about yourself and more about the client.
And that’s kind of … If you factor in all those different parts of the equation and you do all those right, then the client will trust you and you’re far more likely to get the project and get the higher value projects, so …
Jason: Yeah, that’s fantastic, because you’re right. The credibility part is like those branding badges that people put on their website and stuff like that. And, “Ooh! I did work for so-and-so,” and all [00:15:30] that kind of stuff, which is fantastic to get, but the fact is: Are you reliable? Intimacy, I call it just personality mesh, right? Like, you kind of have to get along with your clients. Like, if you don’t really get along with them, and you’re really just on business, then the project can have only so much success.
And I do like the other point about self-orientation as well, because when you first start out freelancing, you talk a lot about what you can do, right? Like, your skill [00:16:00] set. “As a developer, I did this,” you know? “I work on these kind of sites. I do … I build custom development pieces. I do this. I do that,” until I realized that they don’t really care what I do. They just want to know that I can solve their problems.
Laura: Yeah.
Jason: Or answer their questions, right? And that was a huge mindset shift for me. Like, “Oh, let me talk about my benefits instead of my features.”
Laura: Yeah, exactly. And how [00:16:30] can what I do … How can my craft help you in your business?
Jason: Right. Right. I love hearing that. I don’t know. I just … Reliability, like, to get away from being a flaky freelancer, like that reliability thing is a huge, huge factor. When you posted up that slide, I was like, “Hey! This is what I talk about all the time!” I was like, “That’s awesome! At least I’m not crazy, you know?”, so …
Laura: Yeah, cool!
Jason: Awesome! [00:17:00] All right, so, the other part of what you really spoke about was, like, the experience of working with you. So like, you know, you talked about how you interact with the client. Like how you get assets from them, how you give them assets, like documents and things like that, as well as even, like, some of the other small little nuances, you know? Like, you talked about some gifts and stuff, too. You’re basically creating a full on experience with [00:17:30] them rather than just, like, a brand talking to another brand.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. So, I’m really big on kind of experience and sort of surprising them with little things, just to make working with me really fun. The reason behind that is really because I find for me the best way to get either more clients or more repeat work is by referrals. So if I can give them an experience that they’ll remember, they’re more likely to, when someone asks them, you know, “Do you know a good designer?”, they’ll be like, “Oh! I remember [00:18:00] Laura! She was great to work with. She gave me a little gift,” and something like that, so I try to do little things like that whenever I can.
What I typically do is … So, I work on a lot of website projects, and I find one of the biggest struggles that I have is getting copy over to me for the website if the client’s providing it. So what I do is, at the start of a project, I’ll give them … I have, like, a sort of onboard process that I use, and as a part of that, I’ll give them [00:18:30] some worksheets and stuff to fill in and I’ll, you’ll know, ask them to write their content to me. And a couple of weeks later, I’ll email them again and I’ll say, “Hey! I’ve got you a little gift! It’s a gift card for a coffee shop. Costa or Starbucks or something that’s near to where they live. Go spend some time on your business. Go get some coffee and don’t forget to write your content!” It’s just sort of a little way to mooch them into getting me their content without seeming too much like a nag, you know?
I [00:19:00] try to do that at very specific intervals before the project starts, so if there’s maybe 6 weeks or so before a project is starting, 3 weeks out I’ll send them a little coffee card and say, you know … Give them a gift to get their content going because a lot of them will leave it until the very last minute.
Jason: Right.
Laura: Or, just not do it at all, so …
Jason: Yeah.
Laura: That’s always been tricky.
Jason: That’s great, too, because now they get a feel like, “If I spend this, like, 10, 15, 20 dollars, or whatever it is on the card, and I don’t do [00:19:30] that content, (laughs) I’ll feel terrible!”
Laura: (Laughing) Yeah.
Jason: “She gave me this just to go spend some time on this, and if I don’t do it, you know … “. I love that. So, I know that you touched a little bit on it as far as products go. Part of one product, in particular, is this client portal, right? And I assume that you use this with your existing clients and kind of the popular term is “dog fruiting” it, right? [00:20:00] Where you kind of used it yourself, and then said, “Hey, you know what? I could probably bottle this up and sell it.” And this client portal, could you kind of explain a little bit about what that is and then why you decided to make a product out of that?
Laura: Yeah, sure! So, this is basically how I’ve been starting delving into products and it actually came from the conference that you were at as well. So basically, the client portal is, it’s a really simple web page that I put on my website, and I put all [00:20:30] the assets and all the information that a client needs at the start of every project. Basically what they do is, I give them some market information, and they’ll go to my website dot com forward slash client name. And then they log in, find the login form there, and they just see a really simple webpage that’s got information about my availability, how to contact me anytime during the project that I might be away, just any important information they need to know.
Then I’ve split the rest into different sections, so they [00:21:00] can collate all of the assets throughout the project in this one place. So things like, you send them a contract at the start of a project. That’s usually sent via email or via some software like Hellosign or something. That usually gets lost in the email thread, you know, way, way down. But I usually put stuff like this in the client portal so they have this one area on my website where they can access everything. So it’s got the contract in, the proposal in. It’s got any of the worksheets that I do before [00:21:30] they start, so that if they need to find the worksheet they just go to the portal, click on their relevant section and find their worksheet.
Then as we’re going through the project, it’ll have all the assets for the project in, so they can really go on this anytime, whether I’m working or whether I’m not, and see where we are in the project. It links directly to my Dropbox, so basically as I’m working, the client portal is being updated. They don’t need to come to me and say, “Have you got this thing ready yet?”, because they can go on and they can see [00:22:00] if I’ve got it ready or not. That’s been really good just to stop the kind of micromanagers that I’m sure everyone’s had before.
Jason: Yup.
Laura: But, I’ve just found it, so I used it for myself, and then I spoke about it at the DYF conference, and loads of people came up to me afterwards saying, “I want one of these. How do I get one?”, and so I decided to make it into a product. It was surprising, because to me, I thought it was really simple, and a lot of people said, [00:22:30] “The idea was really simple, but I just haven’t thought of it, and actually that’s what I’ve been needing and I didn’t necessarily know I’ve been needing it.” It was just quite interesting, the fact that I was solving a pain for myself, and I didn’t make the correlation that other people might be having the same problem and they could use this to help them as well.
Jason: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, sometimes we’re scratching itches for ourselves, and we don’t realize, so … I’ve found that myself with some of the content that I do [00:23:00] and what I built Feast out with is just basically how I built my business, and people were asking me, “Hey, how do you do this kind of stuff?”, and, “Do you have resources for this?”, and those kind of things. A lot of times when we go into freelancing, we only think services.
Laura: Yeah.
Jason: And we don’t necessarily think that, “Hey, we could also do these other things,” but it goes back to the topic of sustainability, too, because if you have a product that you can sell, it might not bring you [00:23:30] thousands and thousands of dollars, but it’s another revenue stream that comes into your business that you might have not thought about before, but could help you be more sustainable. Be more selective with projects that you want to work on, and even travel. Take time away from the business because you know that the lights are going to stay on.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. It’s sort of instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, you know, if something happened tomorrow and your freelancing or [00:24:00] your service based business just started, you know … You’ve gone into the famine cycle. You still have a bit of a backup. It also … It’s something different as well. Doing products is very different from doing services, and it’s actually really rewarding because you often, well, I often find because I’m a designer, I’m doing things for the people thinking, “Oh God, I wish I had this for myself. I wish I was doing this for myself,” and it’s kind of a way to do a project for yourself. It’s really nice to be working on something that’s just [00:24:30] yours, you know?
Jason: Yeah, totally. So, aside from the client portal product, you have other products in the queue as well?
Laura: Yeah, so my main thing is Design Academy, which it’s not launched yet. It’s … I’m sort of working very hard behind the scenes trying to create a full course, and it’s basically teaching design to developers in a really non-pretentious way like design is normally taught. The reason [00:25:00] that came about is partly because when I went through design school and at university, I didn’t really find that the way design was taught to be very useful, and I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t really pick it up as quickly as everybody else. I found that it was really kind of subjective and it was quite, sort of touchy-feely, you know? You just have to know. You have to see this and know that it works, but I was like, “How do I know? I can … I know when I see something [00:25:30] that looks good, but I’m not quite sure what the ingredients are that actually has made it look like that. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
And the other reason that it started was I was working with a lot of developers who said the exact same things to me. They were like, “I really love good design, that’s why I’m hiring you. That’s why I’m hiring a designer. I wish I could do it myself because I’ve got this side project that I want to work on and I don’t want to hire a designer for it until I’ve made some money, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to make money for it if it looks really bad.”
So I decided [00:26:00] to try to teach these developers how to make their designs not look bad. So, the developers are going to stay developers. That’s what they’re really into, but they just want to learn how to make something look half decent, and I’m sort of coming up with some systems and processes that makes the design process kind of a no-brainer. You’re not going to win any awards, but you’re going to have something that just looks … it just looks designed, you know? Hopefully, people look [00:26:30] at it and say, “Oh, that looks like it’s been done by a designer.” That’s kind of the goal for it. It’s not actually launched yet. It’s what I’m working on in the background, but yeah.
Jason: Awesome, yeah! So, I mean, this sounds perfect for me, because I’m the same way. I’m a developer. I’ve given up design a long time ago, and I always say that to my clients, too. I’m a developer. If you want design, I have design resources that I can reach out to, to see if they can handle this stuff, but similarly, I was the same way. I [00:27:00] used to design my own website, or have a friend do it kind of thing. Or, buy a premium theme, but when I took that leap and had an actual designer, a real expert, design my brand, my site, the whole … the logo, the whole, everything from top to bottom, it makes a world of difference.
Laura: Yeah. It really does. It makes a difference in terms of … well, a lot of things, really. Both in terms of conversion rates, but also, [00:27:30] you go to a conference or you go to an event, or someone asks you what you do, or they want a link to your website or your business card. Sometimes you can be like, “Oh, I don’t want to give them this business card because I’m so embarrassed of my website.” It can even be stuff like that. It just makes you feel better about your brand and your product. It makes it look like a real professional.
Jason: Yeah, and it’s interesting that you do say that because … I don’t know if you know Jonathon Stark?
Laura: Yeah.
Jason: I have his newsletter, and he actually [00:28:00] said something about … I think it was this week, where he talked about a redesign of his consultant site. He said, “What’s my ROI on that?”. You know, my ROI on that is that I have the confidence to go out and sell my services better because I know that I have the site behind me that looks good, it conveys what I do, it conveys the benefits of my services, so I have that confidence. By me going out there and [00:28:30] having that confidence in my own services because the site is there to support me, I know I can sell.
Laura: Yeah.
Jason: I know that once you get that conversation going, I can close that deal. But, if you have a … like you said, “I don’t want to hand off my business card because I don’t want them to go look at my site because it’s just, like, Times New Roman, blue links … ”
Laura: Yeah, exactly.
Jason: [inaudible 00:28:52] yawn, so just to be able to have that asset, you know? It does a world of difference, so that’s fantastic. [00:29:00] I’ll definitely be checking that out. Is there, like, a waiting list, then, that people can get on to?
Laura: Yeah, so if you go to designacademy.io, there’s sort of a little sign up form there where you can sign up to find out when it launches, and I also send some design articles now and again that are, hopefully, very helpful.
Jason: Yeah, yeah. Awesome! So, you talked a little bit about automation and defining systems and things like that. When you started freelancing, [00:29:30] what was the first system that you put into place?
Laura: I’d say, well, my first system that I put into place actually didn’t stay for very long, but it was … I tried to come up with a really solid design process, so as I say, I’m a web designer, so I try to do things like, “I’m going to do: Day one, I’m going to do a mood board. Then I’m going to do some sketches, and I’m going to do some wireframes, and I’m going to do a low fidelity mock up, a high fidelity mock up, et cetera.” That didn’t really work [00:30:00] for me because a lot of my projects were kind of different, and their needs were different, you know? Some projects didn’t need wireframes and stuff like that. So, that was kind of my first process, but it didn’t stick.
In terms of the first process that’s actually stuck to this day, it would have to be the onboarding process. When I get a new client, I have a … I’m starting to create sort of a folder of standard operating procedures (I think that’s SOPs) where I just put down everything [00:30:30] that I do, but the onboarding one was the first, and it’s the one I still use now.
I have things like, if a client accepts a proposal, the first thing I’ll do is I’ll update the contract. I’ve got a standard contract that I use, which I just edit out some of the bits and make it relevant to the client. I’ll upload it to Hellosign for them to sign and send. I’ll get their deposit. I’ll set them up a sort of link to a mood board website, and I’ll send them the worksheets for their relative project, and then I’ll put [00:31:00] all this information, so all their worksheets, their mood board link, their proposal, deposit invoice, and everything into the client portal and I’ll sort of bundle it up there. Give them their login and just send them sort of an onboarding.
I’ve got a kind of series of onboarding emails which I’ll send them, which just tells them how the project’s going to work, what they can expect from me, what I need from them. That’s worked really well for me in terms of both making me seem really professional even when I’m really busy [00:31:30] because a lot of these emails are sort of pre written. I just take out the [inaudible 00:31:34] and change them, but yeah. That’s basically the main process that I have that still sort of being used today.
Jason: Very cool. Yeah, I think that was probably my biggest impactful process as well, is onboarding. Just to be able to know that everything is covered in a sequence of emails: what I need from them, what they can expect from me, when they can expect it. [00:32:00] Not to bombard them with, “Hey, I need everything from you right now.” Just to be able to know that that’s there is that kind of like security blanket. So if I don’t even necessarily need the login information to Google Onalytics right away, I know at least they sent it to me, so that when I do need it, it’s there. Onboarding, I think, is a huge asset to any service business.
Laura: Yeah, and it’s really good when you, if you get to the stage when you’re hiring a VA or something, if you start to finding these processes [00:32:30] now and this automation now, it makes when you get to the stage where it gets a little bit overwhelming, you can hire someone and you can just hand that off to them and they can get the information they need pretty easily. I’d always recommend, you know … That’s one thing I wish I did, is I wish I did more processes and automation earlier.
Jason: Yeah, I mean, that’s the big thing that I’m into is defining those processes and stuff. I’m still solo, and I don’t plan on hiring, but the processes, [00:33:00] being able to build the system around those processes goes a long way in allowing me to still be solo.
Laura: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Jason: What is your number one piece of advice for any freelancer looking to “live in the feast”?
Laura: I’d say, sort of tacking on to the thing about processes, you know, putting all of that into place, specifically for … If you’re going between the feast and famine cycle, put some processes in specifically for referrals. What I usually [00:33:30] do is at the end of a project, you know, I’m signing off for them, and I’ll put in my calendar a week later to check in and see how they’re going. Then a month later to check in and see how they’re going, and then 6 months later to check in and see how it’s going.
In those emails, you can have some of it pre written to say, “Do you know anyone who would benefit from my services?” or something like that, and see if they’ve got any referrals for you, but obviously just make the email really casual and personal. You’re not really selling [00:34:00] to them, you’re just checking in and kind of catching up in a way. That’s probably one of the best things you can do, and it’s … the good thing is, is it’s really easy to do, even if you’re in the feast cycle. It can be hard when you’re in the feast, when you’re really busy to keep up with stuff like that, but it’s really easy that you could just write a couple of emails and put a couple of calendar schedules in 10 minutes or so. So, yeah, that would probably be the main thing I would recommend.
Jason: Awesome. That’s awesome advice. Before I [00:34:30] let you go, who’s an amazing freelancer that I should have on the show, and why?
Laura: Can I give you 3? I can’t choose between 3.
Jason: Sure!
Laura: So, I’d say the first one, obviously you know Brennan Dunn, but I don’t know … Have you had him on yet? I’m not sure.
Jason: No, I haven’t.
Laura: I would say, if possible, get him on, because he’s basically who I learned everything I know from about freelancing from. [00:35:00] Also, Shai Schechter. I really struggle with the pronunciation of that.
Jason: Yup.
Laura: He’s doing some really cool stuff with personalization that I’m really interested in at the minute, and I think he’s got a lot to share for freelancers and how they can use their website as more of a tool for marketing.
Jason: Sure.
Laura: Then the last one would be Austin Church. He’s just … He’s kind of a copywriter, but he also teaches people about freelancing business, and he’s got loads of useful insights about, like, writing [00:35:30] for freelancers, which is something that I think every freelancer should be doing, even though it’s really, really hard. And he’s also just really good at giving general freelance business advice.
Jason: Awesome! Yeah, I’ll definitely reach out to all 3 of them. I have talked to all 3 of them at some length.
Laura: I think they were all at the conference, were they? I can’t remember.
Jason: Yes.
Laura: Okay, cool!
Jason: Yeah, I met Austin there. Brennen and Shai I’ve known on and off through Twitter or [00:36:00] through the interwebs, so to speak, for a number of years.
Laura: Awesome!
Jason: Cool! So, this has been amazing, Laura. Thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for all the generosity that you’ve shared with us, too, and being able to help us cater to our clients in a better way. Where can folks reach out to you and say thanks?
Laura: You can find me on Twitter. My handle is @laurium, so it’s L-A-U-R-I-U-M. You can check out my website, which is lauraelizabeth.co, [00:36:30] and yeah, that’s basically got links to everything that I do, so Design Academy, client portal, stuff like that. Yeah, just reach out and say hi! I’d love to hear from anyone.
Jason: Great! Yup, and I’ll put all the links as well in the show notes here, so a link to Laura’s website, all Design Academy too. I think a lot of developers out there would appreciate that one. So definitely go to the website. You’ll see all the links there. Thank you, Laura.
Laura: Thank you!
Jason: And [00:37:00] until next time, it’s your time to Live in the Feast!