The most successful freelancers out there have 3 qualities in common:
- They charge more than what their competitors charge
- They close a higher percentage of leads than their competitors close
- They have more creative freedom, and they aren’t micromanaged by their clients
You’re probably thinking it’s because they’re well known. They’ve worked with the biggest brands, speak at all the right conferences, and have an incredible portfolio.
You’d think that someone who charges 10x what you do is 10x better than you — right?
Not so fast.
What’s different is that they know how to sell.
I don’t mean that they’re flashy, alpha-types who know how to wine and dine their clients into submission.
Instead, I mean that they’re acutely aware of what their clients want, what (and why) their clients value their projects, and they know how to put together a pitch that their clients can’t resist.
Their clients actually want them to charge them more. And it’s because they give their clients a better product and better results.
“HA! I told you. They’re 10x better than me, that’s why they can do that!”
That’s probably what you’re thinking now, right? I used to think that too.
What took me 3 years and $1,000,000+ in lost revenue to figure out:
Most freelancers don’t have any formal sales training.
If you’re like me, you studied how to be amazing at a craft — you learned how to be a great designer, coder, writer, marketer, or photographer.
But when you decided to go out on your own and work with clients, it hit you like a ton of bricks that success requires more than just mastering a craft.
I’m Brennan Dunn, and I’m a freelancer turned agency owner. I’ve been on my own for a little over a decade.
A few years into my solo freelancing business I decided to grow a team. I knew that if I wanted to do this, I had to take control over how I sold. There was no other alternative. If I was going to add tens of thousands of dollars a month to my payroll I had to bring in more money and bring it in more reliably.
I had to learn how to sell myself and my team.
But as a nerdy introvert, this wasn’t really my thing. I wanted people to work with me because I was good, not because I knew how to schmooze.
And that’s when I started to focus on value.
Because if I could prove to somebody that I was an investment in their business, I’d have no problem selling — and no qualms in charging more.
I started trying to see how I could learn why my clients wanted to spend money. Why did they spend tons of cash on code and design that they could be spending elsewhere? What made them tick?
Starting down this path required me to learn as much as I could about business, sales, and the psychology around why people buy as possible. I joined a number of business courses, hired a business coach, and started talking to anyone who I felt could help me really learn this stuff.
I ended up screwing up a lot of things along the way.
Running the numbers, I calculated that undercharging and having a haphazard sales process resulted in my agency losing out on well over $1 million in revenue.
But once I had everything in order — how to qualify leads, how to systematically learn about the pain behind their project, how to quantify the value of projects, and how to write proposals — everything changed for me and my business:
My team grew to 11 employees.
Annual revenue topped over $2 million a year.
Our rate went up to $10,000 a week (I only consult on a few projects a year now, and my current rate is $20,000 a week.)