Today’s guest is Brendan Hufford. Brendan is a dad, husband, and entrepreneur, and has spent many years trying different things. With a background in education, he spent a decade as a teacher. On the side, he did product reviews for his website and blogs. Somewhere in there he also started a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu company, called OK! Kimonos, which he later sold.
Brendan eventually realized he wasn't headed in a direction he wanted to go. So he quit his job, sold his businesses, and began devoting more time to his newfound passion: SEO.
He started doing freelance work and landed a day job as an SEO Director at Clique Studios. Through his websites, podcasts, YouTube channels, and social media, Brendan has chronicled much of his journey, including his path into the world of SEO.
One thing is certain, Brendan has done it all (multiple times!), and has a lot of insight about entrepreneurship, content creation, and how to create a life worth living.
In this episode, Brendan talks specifically about pricing, SEO, client relationships, and what he's learned along the way that has had the biggest impact.
You can learn more about Brendan, his services, projects, and courses, at his website BrendanHufford.com.
[Tweet "'How do I price so I can get the work done, have enough margin for me, but also bring it back? I don't want the most money out of them — I want as little money as possible so that the ROI is much bigger.' @BrendanHufford"]
In this episode Brendan talked about:
- How to price your services
- How to find information with the highest impact
- How to see red flags and avoid stressful client relationships
- When using value-based pricing, it's important to look for techniques that require less time but produce more results overall. Getting rich isn't the goal, but rather, increasing ROI through word of mouth, spread by happy clients.
- Joining communities is a great way to find mentors and helpful information from industry professionals and newcomers alike. But make sure to interact and engage with what you're learning.
- Finding clients that are a good fit can't be overstated. Use a system to qualify new potential clients. No amount of money can make up for the constant stress that comes from incompatible client relationships.
Important Mentions in this Episode
Brendan Hufford 0:00
I don’t want the most money out of them. I want as little money as possible so that the ROI is much bigger. Like that matters to me because let’s use our pricing to build a career versus just like let’s try and make some quick cash.
Jason Resnick 0:22
Hey, Feasters, welcome to Episode One of Season Six of Live in the Feast. I’m Jason aka Rezzz helping you grow your business by having a conversation with someone who’s been there, had success, and built a business designed around the life they want to live that’s live in the feast. This season is going to be all about pricing. For me, pricing is fun, so I asked some of the smartest people I know to come on and share their strategies, tips, stories and experiences on the topic of pricing. Today’s co host is Brendan Hufford. I know Brandon through a mutual friend of ours and a friend of the show Kim Doyle. Kim had Brendan on her show talking all about SEO. Brendan has built several businesses over the years was a teacher and an assistant principal and now is Seo director at click studios in Chicago. He also has his own clients where he provides SEO services and has a program called SEO for the rest of us and a stellar YouTube channel. Definitely go check that out. I am a founding student member of SEO for the rest of us. It’s an amazing course. If SEO has always boggled your mind like it does for me. Check that out. SEO, like I said has been a black box for me. And maybe it is for you. The reason why I wanted to have Brendan on the very first episode of the season is that if you are like most people I talked with, you’re providing services and want to get away from hourly billing, but you have a hard time doing so because you can’t directly correlate your price to the clients bottom line. Brandon lays all of this out for you. In this episode, we dive into what services to provide that you can make the most impact for your clients business. The type of mindset you as a business owner must be in when it comes down to working out your pricing, how to surround yourself with genuine colleagues who will hold you accountable and be real with you why value based pricing may not be for you as well. It’s not for everyone. And then he shares a story of a high value client turned nightmare that resulted in him giving money back and some great questions to ask up front in the future. So without further ado, Brendan and myself on the premiere episode of season six of live in the feast.
Jason Resnick 3:05
Hey, Feasters. Welcome to an episode of live in the feast with Brendan Hufford. Welcome, Brendan.
Brendan Hufford 3:12
Thanks for having me, man. I’m psyched.
Jason Resnick 3:14
Yeah, I’m super excited for you to be here, especially on this first episode of season six, which is all about pricing, you express through email, a story that you wanted to share, come on and share. And so I thought that this would be the perfect way to kick off this season. You know, pricing is difficult, it’s hard, it obviously involves money. And that’s why we’re in business. But we’re in business to also help people and improve our own lives. And I’m really excited to dig into this story a little bit more. But before we do that, I always like to ask, What is your defining moment in life? so far?
Brendan Hufford 3:54
Such a good question. So I think there’s a couple, I think when it comes to changing the trajectory of my life, I was really very much the birth of my first son, I have three kids, and the birth of my first son all of a sudden change a lot of things, the best way I can explain it is it was genuinely like, I was living with my heart outside of my body. He was born with a new more thorax, which means he had a little tear in his long. And we spent the first couple days of his life and the Nick you at the University of Chicago. So while he was fine, it was scary, but he was fine. We were surrounded by dozens of other babies and families who had like very serious life threatening conditions. And all of a sudden, I was given a very strong sense of gratitude and reality check. But also just deciding that I didn’t want to continue living life, lean on my life on the terms that I had been living it doing what everybody else thought I should do, being a teacher becoming an assistant principal, it was time to be very serious about what I wanted out of my life. And what I wanted for my family. Now, he just turned 16. For those of us keeping track, he turned six a couple weeks ago, which means that was about six years ago. So it’s taken a while to get there to get where I am today, from being a teacher with a weird little side hustle to where I am now, which is quite different. It definitely has taken some time. And I guess the other part of that was, you know, really, when I about two years ago, almost to the day that we’re chatting that I left teaching, and I left on a Friday. And I joined click Studios here in Chicago as the CO director on a Monday and they were like, Don’t you want to take some time off for summer break? And I was like, Man, I’m ready to go. I’ve been waiting 10 years to do this. Let’s go. So after 10 years of teaching, I did that. And those are pretty big moments.
Jason Resnick 5:39
Yeah, awesome. Well, I’m glad to hear that your son’s okay and doing well. And I’m sure he’s running around playing in dirt and chasing bugs and torment than the other kids in your family too. So
Brendan Hufford 5:51
we’ll be blessed will will give kudos to your audio skills, if we can’t hear him yelling in the background.
Jason Resnick 5:57
Right? That’s all right. I got to and a half year old in the other room too. So we might have a chorus of kids go. Mini. But Awesome. Awesome. So let’s just dive right into it. Right. Tell us a little bit about the story that you wanted to share and a little bit backstory as well.
Brendan Hufford 6:18
Yeah, so I guess like the simple backstory, like I kind of alluded to was I went to school to be a teacher. Because for some reason, we think it’s a good idea to let 18 year olds decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives and take out a bunch of debt for college and just make bad decisions with majors. Like why do why are people allowed to be like fine arts majors anymore? That’s Tara. That’s what a terrible idea. As I’m sure that’s a weird take. But uh, you know, I’m sure they add value. But my point is that, like, I went to school for something that I didn’t really know that I wanted to do. And a couple years into teaching, I was kind of disenfranchised. I started some websites and blogs, eventually people sent me free stuff. So I could write about it on my blog. I was like, all right, that’s the thing. This is before like Instagram, and before influencer marketing was even a phrase, they would just send me stuff. And I was like one of them. I made a blog where people would just send me stuff and I’ll review it. And then people will, you know, click affiliate links or whatever, built that belt that eventually started my own Brazilian jujitsu company based on those like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu review blogs. And you know, that was going really, really well. Until I was in my second year of being an assistant principal, my career was a mess, I hated my job. My son, my oldest son was one year old, my business was not in shambles was just really hard to run, I was running an e commerce business and fulfilling everything myself doing literally the whole business myself, because I didn’t have the capital to hire anybody or outsource anything or drop ship anything. No fulfillment. And like, you know, I was just kind of looked in the mirror and developed a really bad relationship with alcohol I developed, you know, gained 25 pounds, I locked myself in my office at work all day and didn’t want to deal with my life. And it was just like, you know, I didn’t know what to do. So I did a couple smart things. One of my buddies, Jason silk recommended I take a step back. So I did I instead of trying to keep pushing with my career, in my business, I took a step back and my career, became a teacher again, at a new school that was healthier, and then just sold my jujitsu company, and then started taking on SEO clients, because it was something that I knew. And it was something some of my friends, like very close friends had expressed like, Oh, hey, you know how to do this, can you help me put together a couple of case studies, did some good work, put the results out into the world and started taking on clients. And then within a few a little bit, I had the opportunity to apply it a couple places. And like I said, I became the director of clicks studios. And I’ve now live a life where I’m pretty much focused on SEO all day, every day, but also super obsessed with everything else you do, whether you’re a consultant or freelancer, however you define it, you know, I call him a consultant. But it’s pretty much the same thing. if we’re honest. We’re all all business coaches, and what you know, we help our clients with all sorts of stuff. So yeah, I mean, that’s been the journey to today, and I really couldn’t be happier. It’s definitely been an interesting path, huh?
Jason Resnick 9:10
Yeah. I mean, full disclosure. I mean, I know, Brendan, from SEO for the rest of us, and I followed your blog. For me, SEO has always sort of been this had this Mystique to it, right. And like, I’ve never, as a developer, I understand the technical like switches the pole, right? Like I understand that aspect of it. But the human aspect of it, the algorithm changes and why things happen in the way that they happen when you throw up a piece of content for me has always been like, sure, right. I get it, I guess I get it, right. Like I don’t I don’t know what’s going to work and what’s not, you know, what’s working and what doesn’t work. And so a lot of people that I’ve talked to, at least in my, you know, circles, and some audience members, and some people that are help coaching, and clients of mine, SEO always seems to be like this holy grail that, you know, hey, we could rank number one or on page one of Google. And like, I don’t know how this is going to work. But I read this article, and they say, if you do the 17, different things, you’re going to rank one, right? Yeah, I’ve read those articles, those kind of things. But for me, how you explain it, how you, you know, I mean, on your YouTube channel, 100 days of SEO, that, first of all, kudos to producing that much content in such a short period of time, but I don’t forget it. But how you sum it up and how you wrap it up, like the framework that you use, and really just like, it makes sense to me, like I’ve, you know, I, I’ve taken some of these other SEO courses out there. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, this is like, I mean, it is a full time job. And I don’t have the time for that. So I’m just going to throw the content up there, do what I can while I’m editing. And if it happens, it happens, but how you teach it and how you talk about it for me, you know, just from my personal opinion, is probably the best that’s out there. And I’ve done a lot of it. And so I wanted to express that to you. And thank you for sharing that. And if those in the audience haven’t seen his videos, his coat, check it out hundred days of SEO get on his newsletter. If you love animated gifs, he’s your man.
Brendan Hufford 11:27
I over I over index on those. I will I can guarantee you might learn something about SEO. But I guarantee I can make you do that internet laugh where you don’t really laugh. You just kind of like breathe out of your nose a little bit. I guarantee I can get one of those out of you every Absolutely,
Jason Resnick 11:42
absolutely. So that’s awesome. I just
Brendan Hufford 11:44
think that honestly, the the way most people teach SEO, there’s this beautiful meme of an owl like it says how to draw an owl. And you start with two circles. It’s like step one, draw the two circles step to finish the owl. And it’s like, that’s what that’s what most SEO advice is. It’s like, Hey, here’s 100, there’s 200 ranking factors. And like most ways people teach SEO is like, Hey, here’s a bunch of different ingredients, draw the rest of the owl, like they don’t give you any sort of context or any sort of framework. It would just be like, if you gave a developer like, Hey, here’s how to do 20 different things, build a website. It’s like I don’t what do you mean, I don’t know how to make all these go together and make them talk to each other? And where do I put this? Does this go before that? You know, you can’t just like spot check SEO and be like, well, I’m going to only learn like, it’s a holistic kind of thing. And really what it comes down to like you mentioned the framework and the teaching. It just is like I always think whenever I’m trying to create something that I actually want people to implement and learn from, it’s like begin with the end in mind, I want to leverage the 10 years I have of being a teacher of like, what do I want their outcome to be at the end of this? And then like, how do I actually get them to do something with this. So instead, my two latest videos that I put out, I’m like, comment below, I’m going to walk you through this, like the first 10 people who comment with their URL, you can go to my YouTube channel right now and check it out. If you type in Brendan Hufford into YouTube, it’ll come up and you can even misspell that you don’t have to get the spelling, right, I’ll pretend that it’s because I’m good at SEO.
Jason Resnick 13:18
in the show notes, they can click on the link.
Brendan Hufford 13:20
I’m always that’s my number one thing for people to my go, yeah, Google my name, you can even spell it wrong, I’ll still come up. And I’ll pretend like that. Because I’m good at SEO. It’s just because I have a really unique name. But like, my point is that I really want people to implement it. So my latest videos, I’ve said, like come up with your URL below. So people not only can get the video, but then they’ll jump down to the comments. And even if they’re not one of the first tend to comment, they’ll see me walk through it with other people in the comments. They’ll be like, Oh, that’s how I apply this. That’s our it these are that, like you mentioned, the levers to pull in the thing to do here. That’s how the Oh, their websites like mine, maybe I can do that, too. It gives them more contacts. I’m always thinking about that, from an educator standpoint, not just like, how do I put out a piece of content and get the links like I can do that I’m good at that. I do it for clients and stuff like that. But for my own stuff, it’s a lot about like, I want to give so much value. And by value. I mean, I want you to get results from what I do. Right?
Jason Resnick 14:13
So one of the big things that I feel so I I’m a developer, I work specifically in the e commerce space. And people always say, well, that’s great. You can price your value, you can price your services on essentially against the bottom line of what you do, right? If somebody sells 100 bucks and you charge 10, obviously, that’s easy math, right? So how do you start to think about pricing services where you can’t necessarily guarantee the results, right? Because you’re at the mercy of Google or Bing or or whatever, search engine, right? How do you come up with the price for that?
Brendan Hufford 14:51
Yeah. So I think a couple things. Number one, I think there’s a big red flag for me around like value based pricing of all right, I know that I can get them like this. And know what I’ll do that. And I know we can increase revenue this much. So I’ll price based on the value I’m providing their business. The problem is that then that encourages people sometimes to take on work that they’re not equipped for, like they’re not ready to certain this happens a lot with so and that’s what I can speak to specifically, people end up taking on way bigger clients, they just can’t move the needle, it’s cool if you want to build them 10 grand a month, but like, you’re not going to move the needle and you’re going to get freaking sued like, this is bad when you tank their website, or when you get them no noticeable improvement. And then you try to like it’d be like, well, in the contract, I can’t guarantee results. It’s like that’s it. That’s a great, that’s a career Ender. Right? The thing you have to consider with clients, especially when it comes to pricing is not like how much money can I make today off of this client, especially if you’re early? Don’t look at it as like I want to make I want to get the most money out of this client. It’s what if I make this client super happy? What if I give them a 10 x return like 10 x ROI and what they pay me? Right? So if they might be doing my math wrong, so I’m not a math doctor. But if they paid me $500 a month, like, how do I make them five grand a month, so that they’ll get me 10 more clients by word of mouth for free. That’s always how I think about pricing is like how do I price it so that I can get the work done, have enough margin for me. But also bring it back, I don’t want the most money out of them, I want as little money as possible, so that the ROI is much bigger. Like that matters to me, because that’s what we when we look at, like, let’s use our pricing to build a career versus just like, let’s try and make some quick cash. It’s a very different like way of thinking, I think when you get into value based pricing, you’re trying to go through all the there’s a lot of different methods for extracting, like what the value would be, um, But to your point, like when it comes to e commerce and stuff, like I love working with those kind of clients, like having raw with my e commerce rain myself, like that’s great to be able to see like, especially for me a marketer to be able to look in Google Analytics and save from SEO from organic search traffic. Here’s how much you made year over year compared to before, and it’s like up 50% it’s up 400% whatever. Like I did that I contributed to that. That’s really valuable. But I think I mean, to be honest, I started with pricing the way most people did, I would guess, where I made up a number. And then I just slowly increased it as much as I was comfortable. And it is the most amateur way. But I think like everybody is nodding along with this local thoughts what I did to like you just keep increasing it until somebody like no. And then you’re like, well, I guess that’s as much as I can charge forever. And it’s like that is the most ridiculous way to price your services. So I think the thing is like, rather than just making it up and rather or versus like having this weird, like value based pricing, which works for a lot of people, I don’t want to discredit value based pricing, I just think you have to be careful with it. I think there’s a happy medium in the middle of like, what is what is my time worth to me? And then what can I do I actually have the skill set to have, using this analogy, the levers to pull that allow me to scale my time a lot better. Like we can all continue charging hourly, forever. And like everybody like, hey, I need to make more money, everybody’s first answer, raise your prices, you should raise your prices. That’s it. I mean, it’s probably right. It’s probably the right advice. But it’s also just like, there’s so much nuance around raise your prices, you also have to level up your skills quite a bit and start figuring out all right, what are the things so for me in SEO, what is the thing I can do that takes 10 minutes, and gives them the biggest results. And then I’m going to figure out more of those versus just like I want more clients or I want to raise my prices. Something I’ve been really interested in recently is I don’t know if you’ve seen like the featured snippets in search, the little boxes for everybody kind of listening. Those are those boxes little like kind of seeming like answer boxes that pop up is like a first result, I’ve been looking into a lot about like how to steal those and how to rank for those. There’s no like clear away, I think I figured out a way. I’ve talked to some really smart people that had about SEO at HubSpot and a bunch of other super smart people in this community. I’m a part of cold traffic Think Tank. And we’ve all kind of talked and we think we’ve figured out a way to rank for those that’s both helpful for ranking, but also helpful when people get on the page for content. But that’s something that doesn’t take a ton of time and gets people a huge win across the board when we can implement it. So that’s like, one of those levers that like, you know, do I want to Bill hourly? And you paid me for 10 minutes of my time? Or do I want to Bill based on value where you’re not paying me to pull levers, you’re paying me to pull the right ones? You know what I mean? Right, right.
Jason Resnick 19:35
Yeah, yeah, and I think that’s important. That’s important that you said that because it is a matter of making the biggest impact that you can for your clients. But like you said, pulled right lever, that’s going to give them the most impact. But it’s not going to bog you down month after month after month, right? Because a lot of times and I do have retainer clients, but I also have one office clients as well. And a lot of times the retainer clients the first month or two is a lot of low hanging fruit that I can make impactful changes. But I also do that one off, too, because I can make those things optimizing checkout pages, optimizing product pages, doing simple cart abandonment that people don’t even have right like, and so all of these kind of quick wins are huge, huge big game changers at and it didn’t take a lot of time didn’t take a lot of time on the clients and they got the deliverable quicker. And you could keep churning that you could turn that around, like you said, get referrals from other people from, you know, from those clients, I think it’s super smart to look at it in that way. And that’s I talked a lot about recurring revenue, but it’s really Predictable Revenue. I always like to say predictable, because that’s predictable. I could do those sort of things, time and time again, because a lot of people need that stuff. So how do you go about finding those kind of impactful things? Is it just working with clients and hearing what they say? Or is it more like you said, like, hey, these Fitch featured snippets are kind of interesting to me. And there’s nothing out there about that, that these things are some somewhat important. Is it more? Or is it a blend of the two?
Brendan Hufford 21:23
Yeah, that’s really good question. So the way I find not what they are, but the way I find them on client sites is that I always start out with a paid audit. In the past, I always did audit for free as like a as like a sales call where I would do an SEO audit, they would be so impressed that when I pitched them on working together in the future, they would be like, yes, that worked for a little bit. When I went to click, we used to do that for every web design client we had, we would just do an SEO audit and hop on a call and see if they wanted an SEO services. And after doing 10 or 15 of those and it not panning out, I was like we’re going to stop this. We’re going to do these maybe internally if we need to, if it’s a client that has a good organic traffic, or we see opportunity or whatever. But we’re not going to just do these for free anymore, because there’s so much value in it. But when somebody hops on a call, like people just didn’t want to be on the call, they don’t care, they don’t really understand it. Those aren’t good leads for us. And they’re also we’re not helping them any because they’re not going to implement any of the stuff we said. We’re also building them a new website, but they’re not paying for they’re paying for the design not for me to do all of the you know what I mean to help them rank better? That’s very different. I’ll oversee things I’ll make sure it does well, and it’s, you know, really genuinely optimize. But yeah, so I always start out with a paid audit. It’s something I learned the idea just from listening to people like Paul Jarvis and Brennan done talk about like road mapping and stuff. And yeah, so that’s how I find it on their website as far as like discovering what the things are, man, I and this is why I love like communities like feast. I like them because like I said, I’ve learned so much in traffic Think Tank. So many SEO communities in the past have been like really bizarre and like weird black hat he kind of sketchy stuff and then like traffic Think Tank, somehow they it’s totally different. I think it has to do with like the people who started it. But there’s a lot of doers in there. It’s pretty much a slack group. But there’s also like a kind of an educational component to it as well. They do a lot of teaching, and they share. And it’s a lot of like, Hey guys, I found out this like one weird kind of press is when you embed a Google map and then link it to their directions, you don’t even link it to their website, you just link it to their Google business listing. It just boosts map rankings, though ranked number one in the local map. And it’s like people don’t share that stuff in Facebook groups. And that was that example as I just gave you is not made up. Like that’s a real thing. So if you have a local SEO clients, like you can do that if you do like, but those things like dangers aren’t discussed. But when all of us sudden you have a group that has a barrier to entry of like a high price point. But there’s also enough people in there and it has enough momentum that like people are in there sharing real stuff and real tips. Like that changed a lot. So joining traffic think tank was a big difference maker for me. And also just surrounding myself with people that are willing to share. If anybody out there is like wondering how do I get a mentor? How do I like get influential people or not even influential just like the doers, because I don’t like the I’m not like super pumped about like the SEO speaker circuit or the people talking, you know, mas con or any of these SEO conferences. They don’t, I’m not that impressed. Because a lot of them talk a lot about it. They don’t really do a lot of SEO, they’ve just been doing it for a long time and talking about it for a long time. What I like about traffic, think tank and other communities is like it’s doers. It’s the people with like 150 Twitter followers that you’ve never heard of. But they’re running like credit cards calm. Right, right. Okay, you know what you’re doing? Like, that’s insane. You know, they work for like red ventures and stuff, which is a cool portfolio company. So, yeah, I think that’s honestly, it’s just like following, or finding people. And then to kind of finish my thought, like, how do I find people to learn from it’s look at what they say to do, go do it, and then just tell them just be like, Hey, I read this article, here’s what I did. Here’s the results I got, I just want to share it with you. Because I really appreciate that you put that free information out there, like almost nobody takes action on free information. So if you want to get on anybody’s radar or be or just have the privilege to continue asking them questions, because you think they know what they’re talking about. Just do what they say to do. Show them the results. And they’ll keep it they’ll answer your questions forever. You get $100,000 in free consulting, just because you’re you’re the only person that’s willing to do what they say to do. Absolutely.
Jason Resnick 25:51
Yeah, I mean, as somebody that puts out a lot of free content, a very small percentage of people actually come back and tell you what they what they’ve implemented.
This idea of carving out services into products is the best way to get yourself out from under hourly billing, and into a more predictable income. More importantly, it’s predictable wins for your clients and past clients. This then creates that amazing referral process for your business. Pricing is a difficult part of business. Because it’s connected in so many ways that developers and designers like yourself, who are selling services, wind up just then looking to an hourly rate of someone else, and then adjusting accordingly to how your skills compared to those other people. It may not come as a surprise to you though, that it doesn’t matter what your I think about our prices, it’s the clients, they matter. their thoughts, how they put a value on what you do, it’s been their perspective on our price that matters. Inside feast, there are lessons, resources and worksheets as well as myself, who can help you build your service for your clients and discover the low hanging fruit, if you will, for your clients businesses, then how to figure out exactly what that is worth to them so that you have the privilege of putting a price on it. By doing that you are making it a complete no brainer to the client to pay what you’re asking for. The side effect here is is that as you position your service to align with their business, you immediately stop being a commodity, and stop being compared to everyone else out there. feast is the community and resource hub for developers and designers ready to get off the project searching hamster wheel and actually run the business you set out to build feast helps position you in the market with what you do, who you help, and helps you build the processes and systems for client management, sales, marketing and delivery. Your business isn’t the same as everyone else. what you get when you’re a feast member is personalized guidance for myself. You don’t get this from any other freelancing course out there is essential for me to meet you where you are, and make sure that you are getting the exact tools you need so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle. The moment you sign up to feast, you’ll get a link to chat with me. So I can create a custom syllabus to meet you where you are. Think of me as your guidance counselor, or your administrator when you went to college or university with over 70 videos, lessons resources, monthly community calls and a slack community. I can get you what you need right away. If you’re serious about not competing on price, and having clients respect you and your expertise, and I would love to see you on the inside a feast, head on over to feast course.com today. And if you use the code impact at checkout, you’ll receive the first month of feast for just $20.
So we talked a lot about pricing and how to find exactly what services and things of that nature. Now, you shared a couple of sentences with me where you said you sent back some cash just because it wasn’t the right fit or you send some red flags there. Could you share a little bit about what that story is?
Brendan Hufford 29:44
Yeah, so a buddy of mine was he wanted me to kind of help him out. He was working as a consultant with a company that I can say like their cannabis startup. So he’s working with this cannabis startup and really cool company, from like, really cool technology, really cool business model has taken on a bunch of like venture capital, like really interesting business. It was like, Hey, we’re building out local pages for all their locations. But there’s a lot of like technicalities around this. And we want to see what we can do to get it to rank what based on like, a lot of very specific parameters. I said, All right, cool. He was like, Well, can you give me like, Can I pay for an hour of your time just like really get you? Because I’ll give I’ll answer people’s questions. If they asked me like, I love talking about this up. But if you want me to, like really focus, like I’ll answer your question, like ad hoc, as I’m watching a YouTube video, or, you know, as I’m like, whatever, I’m eating a sandwich for lunch or something, you know, like, I’ll answer people’s questions, but you’re getting 80% of my attention versus like, 120% of my time. Like, that’s the difference when you pay for somebody. I mean, that’s like, I don’t take it, I think that’s I think I probably get more attention to my, like, free answers than a lot of other people do. But like, it’s still yours. When you pay somebody for their time, all of a sudden, it’s like, all right now I’m really, like you’re getting my best stuff. And I’m going to spend, if we have an hour call and you paid me for an hour of consulting, I’m probably going to spend two or three hours to prep and like you’re really getting like four or five hours of my time, because I care. And this person was a friend. So I took my time, gave him some like really good thoughts. And he’s like, cool, I want you to come on board and help me like come into the project with me. And I was like, great, excited. Really cool, especially with where that industry is in the United States right now. You know, the legalization of cannabis is something that I’m like, fascinated by I think we’re in a really interesting part of history. So anyways, we get involved, start talking to his contact there. It’s going great if a couple calls. Alright, cool. Well, what are we going to do for a proposal? Great, I send over the proposal. They’re like, you’re gonna have to talk to the boss now. I said, Alright, cool. So I talked to my contacts supervisor, they were, it was probably the most rude and aggressive call I’ve ever been on. Like, as soon as I got on the call, do you even know how this business operates? You clearly don’t have any idea what it is we actually do. Is this just boilerplate? And it’s like I haven’t said, I said, All right, look. So we’re going to pause here, because I feel like this is going down a really unhealthy road. Take a step back, I gave like the boss context of like, here’s why we’re talking about this. Here’s the counter I you know, the conversation that happened, like, I’m sorry, if this context wasn’t given to you just trying to be like, professional, like, overly professional, God through the call. Immediately, my brain was like, that’s not a good fit. Not worth it. And I was like, but it’s a big proposal. This is a lot of money. I think the original proposal was for it was something like $23,000. I mean, that’s spread out over a long time. But it’s still in a very significant amount of money. Yeah, right. And like, I mean, to be honest, like when I was teaching, that was like half of my yearly salary. And I’m now sending that out in one proposal. So like, we’re weighing the, this is where that pricing comes in. So I see this huge red flag, but I’ve priced my services accordingly. And it’s like, who, that’s a good proposal, like I hope this goes through, they come back and forth, back and forth. They reduce scope, no less than three times they want to all right, we need less, we want less, we don’t want to do this. Can you break this up? can you justify these things? Can like trying to get me to separate the ingredients on the pizza so they can price out why the pizza is priced that way? And it’s like, what if we did it with no oregano? How much is it that like, that type of like that’s what it was getting into. So this is now red flag number two, but what is Brendan still see, I’m the prize. He sees that money. And he’s like, Alright, cool. And I put in the date. Then I sent over my agreement. I was like, hey, alright, cool. Here’s my contract. They’re like, no, we’re using our contract. A red flag number three, this is where it gets worse before it gets a
red flag number three, all right, they don’t want to use my contract. So go through their contract, and I add something to the end where I just say, it’s all hundred percent upfront payment, hundred percent. No other way we’re doing this. And I’m thinking to myself, a combination of a, there’s no way they’re going to do that. And be if they do then great. I get all the money up front. And I don’t have to, like, haggle with them. Because they it’s just a mess. And this has been going on for weeks at this point. So we finally they signed the agreement, I get a little note my inbox. It’s like, hey, they signed it. And I was like, That’s crazy. Okay, guess we’re doing this great. We scheduled a call to kick things off, and they haven’t paid me. I said, You know what, Let’s reschedule Two weeks later. Do you think you can get me paid beforehand? Yeah, yeah, no problem. No problem. Another week goes by I’m emailing them, like on the week, and then by the day, and now we’re, we’re literally 24 hours before the reschedule the second meeting, still haven’t paid me won’t reply to emails. And unlike I just emailed them the day before and said look like I think we should reschedule again, I haven’t gotten any communication with you. I you know, the contract says 100% upfront payment, I get the most horrendous email back from the like, head supervisor, the one who just like went at my throat on the first call, of how unprofessional I am and all this other stuff. And it’s like, Hey, man, I’ve already waited a month to get paid. I’ve already put a bunch of work into this and waited a month to get paid. They emailed me back, and they’re like, Well, you know, some sort of nonsense. And then as I’m like, replying, I see another email from them pop in, and they’re like, well, we’re not going to pay you at all. And then here, I’ll show you Well, I can’t really show you. But I’m will describe it. Oh, yeah, that’s right. I can show you because audio podcast, I get, I get not they send me to have the same check. So they said like, All right, we’re not sending you any money. We’re not working together. And I was like, good, great. I should have this is now the fifth red flag. I should have canceled A long time ago. I’ve done called my buddy Ken from Astro mind jam. He was like, dude, you dodged a bullet just run. They let you free. They let you out of the agreement. Great. A day later, one of the checks shows up. And I’m like, all right, there’s my check. But they first made it out to the wrong name. Not only did they make it out to the wrong name, the invoice is literally beneath this. So they made it up. My company is called huff media, because of Brendan Hufford. They made it out to Harold media. h AR, h er a LD. I don’t know how you literally one inch apart on the image. She wrote it wrong. So then, so I’m like, all right, I gotta send that check back to them. Right. And I, you know, whatever. A couple days later, or like a week later, I get another check for the same amount from from the same company, but from a totally different bank. And I’m like, this is too much. This is too much. And my wife was like, yo, just cash it just totally cash. I’m like, I don’t look like that’s their first of all, cannabis is a we’re in a weird place in our country, because they have all this money. But they can’t be under any federally insured banks, because it’s legal. federally. So they get that’s why that’s why I got checks from two different banks. And they’re so disorganized and they can’t move money quickly. That’s not a personal thing. But that is again, not like what are we on red flag number seven now of why working with cannabis startups can be difficult because their money is probably under their mattress somewhere like it’s, it’s weird. Oh, anyways, I took like these two checks. And I was just like, I’m in my fear is that their accountant is going to be like, Oh, we don’t we send them two checks. But we just we should 1099 and for that, and like, send him like, file tax information? And it’s like, No, No, I didn’t. So I had to like certified mail took a bunch of photo documentation. I’m not accepting these, I’m writing void on these, I’m sending them back to you certified mail certifying you receive them back, you know, all of this communication with their team. And it was kind of a break of like, I don’t want your money. But it’s not. I just needed to document it. Because I don’t want to pay taxes on that. But so anyways, I ended up sending all of that stuff back. And it was like, we I nailed pricing. I did everything right. But the problem when you nail pricing and you feel like you’re getting paid what you’re worth is all of a sudden, it’s harder to say no. And that’s a weird situation to be in because we are not a we’re not a wealthy household. I’m not going to like come on here and cool guy, anybody and make it seem like we’re just raking it in. Like, that’s a tremendous amount of money to me. So to have to send all of that back was like, especially for they sent it to me twice. Ah, it was really hard. Wow, it was really hard. But I mean, how many how many red flags was I gonna need? Before I was just like, I should say no.
Jason Resnick 38:47
Yeah, no. Wow. That mean? How, how is it with your relationship with your friend with all of that going on? Like, because your friend brought me into that brought you into that? All that right?
Brendan Hufford 38:57
Yeah. Well, my initial reply to the first email from that when they were like, you know, should we even work together and like you’re under contract, there’s nothing you can do about it now. Like, I don’t know what who you’re trying to, like, you know, play hardball with but we’re under contract. So you can break it if you want, but then you it’s like, you’re gonna pay me 50%. And yeah, and I he just looked at me. He’s like, Hey, man, how do we make this end while and I was like, I just like had this moment of like, like, just peace came over me. I’m not trying to be too Woo. But I just felt like real peaceful. And I was like, You know what, dude? What do you need? What do you need? He’s like, maybe just send them an email that says Like, these couple things, blah, blah. So I did I just send them an email, send them the almost exact email he wanted me to, and like just said, like, hey, it doesn’t look like this is gonna work out. I’m really sorry about that. Blah, blah, blah, and just let them know, like, hey, just so we’re all clear. We’re officially done. We’ll meet an awkward is when I started getting checks in the mail. Right, right. But yeah, you know, I think it worked out well for him. I told him about like that, too. And was just like, Hey, man, you know, I’m really sorry. And I just told him, I just want index with him on like, how do I make your relationship look better? I’m cool. Being the bad guy here. I want you to actually look better, by, you know, like, how do I make him look even better in this? Because there was no way and I didn’t I mean, even if I tried to force them to work with me because of a contract, like nobody wants that, that’s, that’s like nine all of a sudden, like, you have like, 90% of your headspace is taken up by that. And that’s not a good look.
Jason Resnick 40:26
Yeah, no. Wow, that definitely agree, dodged a bullet there. Because I mean, it’s, it’s hard sometimes, especially when you give a proposal that nature like, like you said, like, yes, that’s a lot. And sometimes, and I fault of this to like, those red flags, like, they’re kinda yellow flags, they’re like, they’re not. Like, we can go through those a little bit and try to figure out how we get out the other end. But, uh, yeah, I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve been in business for myself now for nine years, almost a decade. I’ve learned over the years, and I even did this, I guess was like eight months ago, where I took on a bad client, but like, I’ve learned to trust my gut. Like, if I see two red flags, I don’t even go to the third strike. It’s like if I feel there’s two red flags in my gut, like I have to matter what it is like, I’m a die hard. New York Mets fan. If the Mets showed up at my door knocking on my door. That’s red flag number one. I don’t care, right.
Brendan Hufford 41:31
Yeah. That’s so funny. I grew up in Binghamton, in Syracuse with the Binghamton Mets when I was growing up.
Jason Resnick 41:37
Yeah, double a team.
Brendan Hufford 41:39
Super cool. Sorry. But yeah, I understand what the red flags. It’s funny. Everybody says red flags. And it’s like, was it really at the time? No, it’s like only in fact, I’ve learned some like good questions to ask people that’s been like really helpful for me and like, figuring out what those red flags are and trying to get them like to come out soon, if that makes sense. Sure. I think like the, the biggest thing for me that I’ve asked people that has gotten this out is like, have you worked with anybody who does what I do before? And how did that go? Right? All of a sudden, like, that changes the whole discussion, all of a sudden, I get like information from them that like, maybe I didn’t have and like it also gave me a lot more context around like, Alright, cool. Here’s what what could possibly go wrong. Here’s what like, you know, who else like ask him? Like, have you worked with anybody else that does SEO before? Who else has skin in the game? with this? Like, what do ideal scenarios look like? All of these kinds of questions are super helpful and like figuring it out. And I didn’t used to ask those. And I would just get like, really rough clients, I’d get clients that were like, Hey, I noticed you had one month delivered. I don’t do like I do monthly deliverables now in terms of like what I’m working on, but the guy was like, Hey, I know. You said you could do this in one month. Could you do it in two weeks? And then two days later, he’s like, how’s it going? I’m like, wait, what, like, supposed to do a month worth of work in two days now. But like things like that happen quite a bit. When before I just learned how to do better discoveries and better. You know, really, just like, even before the audit, I now have a thing set up that helps to just like a type form, that the first like that they fill out to even work together and the first five or six things are just like qualifying statements. Here’s how I work. Is that okay? Yes. All right. Here’s something I don’t haggle in prices. Is that okay? Yes. Okay. I’m gonna make you tell me Okay, again, I don’t haggle on prices. Are you sure? Like I don’t give 20% discounts? And just because, like, are you sure you’re okay with that? And I, nobody’s asked me for a discount since then. And like, that’s been super helpful as well.
Jason Resnick 43:44
Yeah, that’s what that’s that’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, I think I’ve learned to ask that same similar question. Have you worked with other contract developers before? Mm hmm. And sometimes I get a know sometimes I get Yeah, I’ve worked with eight of them. Like, oh, okay to them. Let’s, that’s going to be putting me on guard a little bit. But yeah, I mean, those qualifying questions are super helpful in trying to vet a client, that’s a good fit for you. But no price is too much to risk your mindset, your headspace stress levels. I mean, it’s just too much, right. So
Brendan Hufford 44:21
yeah, but like, imagine if you’re in one of those things. And it’s like one of those conversations and somebody’s like, yeah, we worked with our last developer we worked with. They did good work, but like our CTO said that all of their work was trash, and they could do it way better. And then then you ask the question, why doesn’t the CTO build this? Exactly. Wow, they’re too busy mobile. Ah, alright, cool. Now I see that I’m not reporting to you, I’m actually going to be reporting to your CTO. And now I see that they already feel like they can do better than anybody, like all of a sudden, now you have all of this insight that you wouldn’t otherwise in, like, I’ve been jokingly told by people, like, add the jerk tax, like if they seem like they’re total jerks, but you need money. Like, I’m not trying to be high. Like I said, I’m not trying to cool a guy, anybody and be like, you should turn down anybody who has red flags. It’s like, Look, man, if you’re going to put food on the table for your kids and your family, take all the jerk clients, there’s tons of them out there, you can just just do it, do what you gotta do, and you’ll be better for it. But just make sure that when you get to the point that you don’t have to, and you can start saying no, that you have that because that was my problem that when I got to the point where I could say no, I didn’t have that muscle built up. And I’m really bad at saying no, to good work, or to like, dangerous work.
Jason Resnick 45:36
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think we’re all at fault for that. I mean, I, you know, I could go through the laundry list of bad clients that I’ve had. And it’s tough sometimes. Because sometimes you do, like you have those ebbs and flows in business and like, Okay, well, you know, especially when you’re starting out to like, it’s like, I’ve just finished a project. Now I need to ramp up another project. And it’s like, okay, yeah, this might not be the best project for me, your best client to work with or any of that sort of thing. But, uh, yeah, I mean, I get it. I mean, thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s obviously, you know, especially when a friend loops you in, and it’s a referral like that, like, yeah, I mean, you had the wherewithal to say to your friend, like, hey, look, I’ll take on the bad guy aspect of this, I mean, that shows the type of person that you are and how you think about things at a professional level, too, because you don’t want it to end bad for your friend either. Like, because your friend brought you in. And so kudos to you on that, for sure.
Brendan Hufford 46:31
Well, I think that’s where something like, you know, a community like feasts is really helpful, where if soon as you get that feeling of like, this feels weird or bad, but I’m not sure. You can just hop into a community and be like, Hey, what do you all think of this? And people will be like, Well, here’s some other smart questions to ask or like, Oh, you might want to vet this or talk to that person. Or they might the community might just be like, you know, run, run. I’ve been there, I heard those same words. And here’s how it ended. And that’s so valuable. Especially, you’re a freelancer, because it’s very, like you don’t have an office full of people to like, consult with, right. So having some sort of community is so so valuable to just vet all of that. And also then to ask, like, especially like this, like pricing questions, and real price, like stuff you’d never going to post in a public Facebook group, like I charge this much, what do you think and all you get all these unqualified ridiculous opinions about that? And you know, like, all of a sudden, you have like a better guideline, and I would definitely highly encourage people to do that.
Jason Resnick 47:28
Yeah, yeah. So before I let you go, what’s next for the next 612 months?
Brendan Hufford 47:34
I look, man, we got a lot going on. Because that’s my Mo. Obviously, I’m going to keep I mean, it is I just do too many things. Again, like this, you see this problem, I feel like this is like making up my therapist right now. I have a problem saying no to things, right. Like I’ve been so rewarded my whole life by saying yes to every opportunity that now I’m kind of getting to this cool point where I should probably say no to things to pursue other stuff. I’m just bad at it. So I say yes to everything. I’m still doing like freelance and consulting work. I’m taking on like really cool projects, and my day job, just really trying to blow up and do different things. We’re redesigning our website, we have this whole new growth strategy that I had, like a really strong hand in developing which is, makes me so happy have been there two years, and we’ve been doing good work, but a lot of SEO work of like trying to put square pegs in round holes. And now everything is built around growth and leads. And I love that stuff. So not just like page views, there’s going to john Henry shirt, super smart as an SEO guy, like b2b marketer, and he has this line about talking about, like, I build a pipeline and not page views. And like, I love that, like, I want to build a revenue pipeline, and not just page views. So doing that stuff there. And then obviously just can do a lot more videos still to make if people want to check out my YouTube channel or the podcast, if you look up hundred days of SEO, in whatever podcast app, you listen to you, you can catch it there. The videos are way more entertaining. But doing that, and then in a couple months, we’re going to be relaunching SEO for the rest of us the course or workshop and community and about 80 founding members in there right now, which is amazing, you know, right? waving, just for people listening, right, like, hop in there, like hop on the email list and check out there’s a really cool thing. 100 days of SEO, we already talked about called the one ranking away challenge, just it’s all of my best stuff, it’s not going to be up forever. But it’s just all of my best stuff. And all of my ability as a teacher to within 30 days teach you everything I know about SEO and have you come out with a product with an article or a homepage that will actually rank in search. That’s what I want for people not just more learning, but actually doing and implementing. So yeah, and the next six months, it’s going to be a lot more of that. And it’s just going to be continuing to put out a lot of content that I’m mostly proud of, and then eventually relaunching the course and seeing kind of where that goes. Awesome.
Jason Resnick 49:59
Yeah, definitely have a lot on your plate. I thought I had a lot on my plate too. And people always ask me, how do you do two podcasts services work? Two kids life work from home? Like, where’s all this time? Right? I think I finally met my match for sure. But,
Brendan Hufford 50:15
man, there’s no, there’s no, like, it’s not gonna I don’t want my tombstone to be like, he hustled the hard. Like, that’s not, that’s not what I want. I just have, I feel so strongly about being a steward of what I’ve been given. And I’ve been given all of these advantages. I was born into a family with a reasonable amount of money, not complete poverty, even though it’s just like a single mom that raised me, but like, I’ve had advantages, like, in reality, like I am a straight white, Christian college educated dude living in America in 2019. Like, I’m playing this game on the easiest mode possible. And I’m very aware of that. And like, I just feel like I need to be I’ve been given all these advantages and all these options, communities by everybody who came before me. And it’s like, I need to do something with that. And I need to go hard. And I need to do the most that I can. Right now. I just it’s probably just a very weird, like, fear based thing about not wanting to go back to being a teacher. There’s nothing wrong with being a teacher, but I did it for 10 years, and I’d prefer not to do that anymore. So yeah, I just try and do as much as I can every single day.
Jason Resnick 51:21
That’s awesome. Yeah. Well said for sure. Where can people reach out and say, Thanks?
Brendan Hufford 51:27
Yeah, for sure. Um, I’m doing some really interesting stuff. I’m very excited about Instagram. Now. I sound like an old I’m very excited about answering them cool. Brandon, people have been excited about Instagram for like how many years I’m just doing something different on their stuff around like the books that I read in the city that I live in. So a lot more Chicago stuff, and some cool like art, you should check it out. It’s the Brandon Hufford on Instagram. And then I honestly I would say the place I would love to engage with people the most is really in the YouTube comments section. If you type in Brendan Hufford, or 100 days of SEO into YouTube, and you check out that playlist, I would love for you to check out a video and then leave me a comment, especially the latest ones where I’m actually helping people with their websites. If you want help with whatever if there’s you want help with site architecture, I got a video I just put out about that. And a bunch of other ones. So drop in there, leave your site in there. I’d love to give me some feedback and be helpful. Awesome. Yeah,
Jason Resnick 52:24
I’ll definitely check out. I’m poor Instagram as well. It’s just like, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we’re 35. And above that, that’s just the what happens. But
Brendan Hufford 52:34
I love it. I love storytelling. I just want a really cool I’m forever wanted to just post pictures. I if you go on my Instagram, you’ll see. And you scroll down to the feed, you’ll see a lot of it for a long time was really just words. It was me writing and then uploading the images as like words. And I thought it was I don’t know, it’s interesting. I like using I like words. I’m an SEO guy, and a writer. So I was obsessed with that. But now I found some cool apps to do cool stuff with photos of like sections of books. Um, so I don’t know, at the very least you the very least you’ll do that little internet laugh where you breathe out your nose. And that’s all
Jason Resnick 53:09
awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you again for your time and your wisdom today. I really appreciate it. I know the listeners got a ton out of it. Because I know I got a ton out of it. So thanks again, Brendan for share today.
Brendan Hufford 53:20
Yeah, thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it.
Jason Resnick 53:22
For everyone listening. Until next time, it’s your time to live in the feast.
Wow, such an amazing, amazing first episode of the season. Thank you, Brendan for coming on and sharing your expertise with us. Next week. We’ll be back with Tom Morkes, who wrote the book on pay what you want pricing, and we’ll unpack how you can use it for your clients and I’ll ask him what his results were. Until then it’s your time. Live in the feast.
Season 6: Pricing
More episodes in this season:
S06 E01 – Value-based Pricing, Impactful SEO Techniques, and Creating Great Client Relationships with Brendan Hufford
S06 E02 – Generosity, Pay What You Want Pricing, and Lowering the Barrier to Entry with Tom Morkes
S06 E03 – Developing Client Relationships, Leveling Up Your Pricing, and Getting Better at Business with Chris Do
S06 E04 - LinkedIn, Pricing Strategies, and Why Video is the Medium of the Future with David Kilkelly
S06 E05 - Mindset and How Goals Inform Your Pricing with Vito Peleg
S06 E06 - Consulting, Pricing, and Understanding your Clients with Hillary Weiss
S06 E07 - Case Studies, Client Research, and How To Create Killer Conversion Copywriting with Joel Klettke
S06 E08 - Story Lines, Positioning, and How To Differentiate Your Business with April Dunford
S06 E09 - Pricing Your Productized Services and Working with Intention with Brian Casel
S06 E10 - Knowing Your Audience, Making Mistakes, and Pricing Products vs Services with Jack McDade
S06 E11 - Creating Results and Building Relationships Through Your Pricing with Mor Cohen
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty