Why Every Freelancer Should Charge a Flat Rate.

Last night I hosted an hour-long live session with Rachel Rodgers, and it completely changed the way I think about packaging services. Rachel is one of the only lawyers I know that bills their clients at a flat monthly rate vs charging an insane hourly rate and charging down to the minute. 

It can seem counter intuitive to sell your services at a flat fee, so I asked Rachel why she chose to do her business this way.  It now makes complete sense to me.

Here is what she has to say:

1. It makes the client relationships better

When clients know you are billing them for every minute they spend with you, they become uninterested in making small talk or really connecting with you. They know that they are billed for every minute they are talking to you, so they are always rushing to get off the phone. 

When you are self-employed, it is essential that you build strong relationships with your existing clients. How can you do that if they are always running off the phone with you?

A flat monthly fee allows you to build stronger relationships with your clients.

2. Your cash flow becomes more manageable

Do you know the amount of time it takes to track all of your billable hours, invoice everyone on a monthly basis and then deal with any clients who might have questions about where your hours were spent.

Creating a flat fee structure saves you so much time, and your cash flow becomes much more manageable. Its easier to know how much money will be coming into your business on a regular basis.

3. It shows your expertise

The biggest legal expenses small business owners face are caused when they try to do the legal work themselves and then need to hire a lawyer to fix it. Hiring a lawyer is scary especially for startups and small businesses (the type of cmoapnies Rachel works with)

She understands what steps startups need to take to build a business that is legally sound. Rather than try to sell the client on all of her recommendations, she packages it all into the monthly fee structure.

This shows her new clients that she has a deep understanding of their business, and she knows exactly what they need. It builds a sense of trust that most lawayers struggle to maintain with their clients. 

I learned so much from hearing how Rachel organized her business. If you are interested in watching the recorded session of rachels interview you can get access here. (use discount code “SUCCESS” and get access for $25)

What I Learned About Making a Big Career Leap.

How to Make a Big  a Big Career Move

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about what professionals need to make a big jump in their career.

Colleges (sort of) give us the skills we need to land our first job, but who shows us the path up to and through middle management?

I remember walking into my first performance review absolutely positive I deserved a raise, and absolutely no idea what to expect in the review. Should I ask for a raise before the meeting? Do I negotiate in the meeting? What if they don’t give me a raise? Does everyone get a raise at their performance review? 

These were things I never learned in the college. (you can find the answers here) 

Lately I have been obsessed with the strategies people use to make a big leap in your career. It has become clear to me that having a huge career requires a series of big leaps, but what do those leaps need to look like? And how do you make them? 

How do you know what skills you need to develop to get to the next level in your career? 

I think I came up with an answers. It appears (to me) that in order to make a big career jump you have to learn an entirely new industry.  

Here are a couple of examples:  

-If you work in a PR or Advertising agency, you have spend the first few years of your career learning to do your job. But once you get to middle management, the only way to make is a big leap is if you learn how to land new clients for your agency. This means you have to master the art of selling before you can propel yourself upward.

-If you are a teacher or daycare provider, the only way to grow your career is to open your own business. This means propelling your career upwards requires learning the art of caring for children AND the art of business.

If you are thinking about making a big leap in your career, start by looking at the other skills that you will need to acquire. What industries align well with yours? What gaps are in the marketplace? 

Create a plan for the skills you would like to develop and then find resources that take you there.

Good luck!

 

5 steps to building a career that doesnt ruin your life.

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The biggest struggle women face is figuring out how to build a family without totally ruining your career. How can you build a successful career that doesnt totally ruin your life?

I got pregnant my freshman year of college, so I have spent my entire career trying to figure out how to balance my work and my life.

I signed up for an entire load of independent study courses the semester I had Aiden.  I will never forget calling my professors from the hospital bed to explain why my assignments would be late.

Being a college student allowed me to work part time, and have a ton of time home with Aiden. Aiden didn’t go to daycare for the first two years of his life, because I figured out a schedule that allowed me ot be home with him the majority of the time.

The downside? We were so incredibly poor. 

The year that Aiden started kindergarten was the year I joined Corporate America. Him being in school full-time, gave me the freedom to focus on my career (almost) full-time.

I spent most of his early elementary years working at big jobs that required me to travel around the country.Our life was busy, but making that choice allowed me to build the foundation that got me to where I am today. 

Today I am fully self-employed and get to do the work I love from the comfort of my home.

Here are five steps I learned along the way: 

1. Be realistic about your priorities 

Most women don’t have kids in the beginning of college. I have spent many nights discussing how to have kids and a career with colleagues. Studies show that having kids totally decreases your earning power, and it is becoming increasingly clear that corporate America is not making the radical changes it needs to better support women. 

We all have to make choices.

Sometimes we choose to be poor and other times we choose to cut time with our families to focus on our careers. Be honest about the choices you are going to face in then next few years, and figure out a plan that is going to work for your life. 

What is most important to you right now? What kind of life do you want to be living? What is non-negotiable? What are you willing to give up?

2. Explore your options

Once you understand your priorities, you can start exploring your career options and narrowing down the path that will work best for your life. It is really important to be realistic during this exercise.

Where are you working today? What paths are open to you? Where do you want to be in One year? Five years? Ten years? What paths can you take to reach your goal? 

The best way to explore your options is to look at other professionals who took that path. What did they do to get there? What did they have to give up? Is that something I am willing to give up? 

The social web has created tons of career opportunities that you can pursue from the comfort of your own home, or while you are traveling around the world. Choosing a big career does not mean you have to give up your life. Explore all of the paths that are now available to you. 

3. Hone your skills

Making a big career leap requires you to learn new skills. Compare the goals you have set for yourself, and where you are today. What skills do you need to learn to achieve your goal? What do you need to improve?

Make a list of skills you need to focus on, and make a plan for doing so. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can learn any skills from a mix of books, online research and courses. Get creative! 

4. Make a plan for landing your dream job

The hardest part of landing your dream job is finding the perfect position for you. It is easy to land a job that is the perfect right fit for you. The hard part is finding that absolutely perfect position. 

Start exploring the companies and types of positions that will work best for your life. Keep an eye on when they do their hiring, what kind of skills they are constantly looking for and what gaps you can fill in.

Start building relationships with executives you would like to work for. Having a network of established relationships will set you up for success when it comes time to start applying to positions. 

5. Plan for the future
You priorities and dreams will shift during different seasons of life. Create a plan for where you would like to be in the next ten years, and identity the types of flexibility you need in your life. 

I am launching a course this week focused around the idea of building a career that works for your life. (details here) We have lined up five amazing instructors who have all built fascinating careers that worked with their lives.

  • Alexis Neely quit her full-time reporter job, and built a career that has allowed her to travel around the world. 
  • Jenny Foss built a successful recruiting company, and then expanded into a career coaching service that helps professionals land their dream job. 
  • Anne Omland quit her senior executive position to launch a coaching business that helps women in corporate america create careers that work for their lives. 
  • Rachel Rodgers built a fully-online law practice that gave her the opportunity to choose her clients and work with inspiring entrepreneurs. 
  • Nikki Groom left her corporate job and built a booming online copywriting business that gave her the freedom she was craving.

And of course, I will be there talking about my path and what I learned along the way. I really hope you will join us. You can get the full details here: http://www.quistic.com/seminar/build-a-career-that-works-for-your-life

Don’t forget to use discount code “SUCCESS” to get access for only $25. 

 

 

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The Best Networking Tool You Never Use

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I have spent the past five years working in the blogger/brand space, which means I am subscribed to more than three-hundred blogs.

It is my job to stay “in the know.”

I spend a good amount of time each week sifting through content, and finding the pieces that are most relevant to my network. This is the most powerful tool I have for growing my business: information. 

Sharing interesting content is one of the best way to show potential clients what interests you, and how you are thinking about the space. 

Find a connection you want to work with, and start sending them relevant links you come across, with a couple of lines shows why it might be interesting to them. 

It turns out I am on to something. 

60% of executives say their primarily source of news is email newsletters, so your link might be one of the only news source they read that day. You are bringing incredible value by keeping these connections up-to-date and are able to build a deep connection with someone who is typically very hard to reach. 

I have been using this networking tool for years, and would say 70% of my business comes from relationships I built using this method. Of course, reading hundreds of blogs and new sources can be totally time consuming, so I broke down the tools and system I use below. 

1. Scan the news 

I don’t have hours each day to spend thumbing through blogs, so most of my reading happens on my phone when I am moving between meetings.

I normally start with the blogs I subscribe to on Feedly, and then move over to Zite

Zite is amazing because you can subscribe to categories based on keywords. This means you can pick hyper-niches to follow, and gather news about a very specific industry. When I get bored with those sites, I have a bunch of other apps that I use depending on my mood. Some of my favorites are Flipbard, Nuzzel, Medium and of course Buzzfeed

2. Bookmark the best links

I spend the entire time I am flipping through blogs thinking about who would find the content interesting. The goal of scanning these apps is not to read every single blog post, but to sift through headlines and find the pieces of content that are going to be most useful to you. 

Keep this question in the back of your head–Who would find this information useful? 

I add all of the interesting links to “Get Pocket” so I can dig into them later. 

3. Review and send around 

Once a day I log-in to Get Pocket and read through the links I saved.

I send the most interesting links to the people in my network who might find it useful with a little info on why I thought they might like it. 

The goal of this exercise is not to be their source of news, but to give them a new idea or business perspective they can apply to their work. 

Try it out yourself. Send five links to people you love to work with, and let me know what happens. 

 

How to Build a Career That Works for Your Life.

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I had an intervention last week.

Actually a couple of them.

The best part of having mentors who are further along in their career is that they can see your obstacles much more clearly than you can see them yourself.

Last week, I got into a debate over one of my blog posts with a mentor-friend of mine. She texted me late that night, “I have been reading your blog, and I can tell you are stressed the f**k out.” 

 

She was right.

Here is the thing. Self employment is hard y’all.

I want to tell everyone to quit their job, stick it to the man and build a career that makes their life great. We are living amidst the gig economy where freelancing has never been more possible. 

But I know why you don’t make the leap.

Steady paychecks are nice. A luxury, even. 

Living in an “eat what you kill” mindset is HARD.

At any given time I’m thinking about…

  • Drumming up new business
  • Keeping up with current projects 
  • Drafting invoices to send out 
  • Connecting with new people on social media 
  • Paying this week’s bills
  • Paying last week’s bills
  • How are those going to get paid?
  • Remembering the boys start soccer camp next month.
  • Thinking that it’s time to put new tires on the car, isn’t it? 
  • Trying to put aside enough money to pay rent on the first 

The idea of “balance” is nice. But the fear of failing, going bankrupt and living on the side of the road is REAL. 

So I took the weekend off, and started thinking about how I could manage my career in a way that didn’t push me over the edge. 

Here is what I learned: 

1.  Assess your income from  the past few months. 

I took a step back and looked at my earnings from the past few months. 

I consistently hit all of my sales goals for the past three months. But then I got bored and changed my focus and my sales reflected that.

Instead of realizing what was happening, I freaked out and spent a week totally stressed and completely unfocused. I did all of this without even realizing it was happening.

Once I recognized the changes in my income, I pinpointed where I needed to focus more of my time and put the plan in action. 

Look at your earning. Identify the trends and learn from your mistakes.

2. Optimize your side projects 

After assessing my income, I realized I have been focusing a ton of effort into building a portfolio of courses, writing consistently and building relationships online.

The problem is that all of these things take a ton of time and make me very little money. They mostly just make me happy. Instead of giving them up, I found ways to optimize these projects so they took me less time and made me more money. 

I killed all of my existing courses, and started focusing on creating larger more effective programs that include experts that span way beyond just me. 

My first course is all about building a career that works for your life, and includes some of my favorite career experts online.  (you can get all of the details here

This new format makes the courses more interesting for participants, and gives me more time to line up amazing presenters.  

Win win for everyone.

3. Give yourself a break. 

It’s really hard to take time off when you are self-employed. 

You spend all day measuring your time in relation to money, which easily translates to your personal life. Suddenly, you find yourself coming up with sneaky plans to do work while you are supposed to be doing family/life stuff. 

Just stop.

You are going to burn out.

Assessing your income and killing the project that aren’t working is best way to increase your earnings. Giving up your life for work is not. 

Take a step back. Asses where you are and refocus your efforts.

5 Must Have Apps for Monetizing Your Blog

Over the past few years, we have seen a number of platforms and apps pop up that allows bloggers to monetize their influence. If you are an active blogger, you have most likely been pitched by two-dozen startups wanting to help you make more money. 

It can feel impossible to sift through all of the pitches, so I have pulled together five of the best apps for monetizing your blog. 

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1. Course Craft
Course craft is a simple platform that allows you to create and sell courses from any site. I use this platform for some of my own courses, and love the simple interface they have created. Course Craft allows you to launch new courses and sell them instantly in exchange for a small percentage of revenue. You can get more details here.

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2. Rafflecopter

Rafflecopter is an amazing tool for bloggers that host regular giveaways. They allow you to create a simple widget that manages all of the details involved in hosting giveaways. Test it out the next time you are hosting a giveaway, and let us know your thoughts! 

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3. Soldsie 

Soldsie allows you to sell products directly on Facebook and instagram. I have noticed a huge trend in bloggers hosting “closet sales” online, and it seems they have had some amazing results. Soldsie allows you to create a closet sale and start making money in seconds. 

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4. Sellfy 

There are a billion articles across the web giving you tricks for formatting and selling your ebooks. Sellfy has made the process simple by allowing you to instantly publish and being selling PDF ebooks. Sellfy is a great solution for publishing that brilliant ebook you have been working on, or want to create a downloadble workbook for your readers. 

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5. Guides.co 

Writing an ebook can feel like a never ending project. How are you supposed to find time to write a book when you spend your days writing content online? Guides.co allows you to sell digital guides that take less time to create and are more interactive than traditional ebooks. 

4 Things No One Tells You About Working From Home.

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1. Nobody wants to hire a remote worker 

A couple of month ago I had an interview with a recruiter at a huge email marketing company. I have so many connections in the business and career blogging space that I KNEW I could bring more value to the position than any of their local candidates. 

The only catch? I work remotely.

The recruiter asked me why they would hire me when they have candidates that actually want to come to work everyday. No company in the world would choose to hire a remote worker if they had the talent available locally.

Which brings me to my next point…

2. Negotiating a raise will be significantly harder   Working at home is viewed as the ultimate perk. In theory, everyone in the world wishes they could sit home everyday.  In reality, working from home can mean twelve-hour workdays, and bribing your kids with fruit snack to be quiet during a conference call.

This doesn’t matter.

Landing a job that allows you to work from home is really hard. And everyone at a company that allows you to work from home will think you are getting the best deal in the world. This will make it harder to convince them you need a raise or promotion or more perks regardless of how hard you work.

3. Your will have absolutely no career stability It is almost always cheaper and more efficient to have someone locally do your job. The only way to compete with local talent is to become the master of a very specific specialty that is in high-demand.  

Still, this will only land you the gig. It will not guarantee that the company will keep you on-board long-term.

If you work remotely, you have to constantly be thinking about your next step. There is absolutely no stability in your career, but acknowledging that allows you to build a plan around it.  

4. Your manager will have absolutely no idea how to manage you 

Managers are trained to lead a staff of people who work side-by-side to them every single day. Very few managers have experience with remote workers, which creates a huge learning curve for every new gig you take on.

The key to success is learning the art of managing up, and mastering your ability to keep yourself on track.

Next week, I am hosting a three day live-video course about how to build a career working from home.

 I will be sharing the detailed story of how I built a career working remotely, and what I learned along the way.

You can get all of the details here. 

How to Use Customer Criteria to Increase Sponsorship Sales

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The first things do when I start pitching a new program is create a list of criteria I can use to identify potential leads.

For example, I am getting ready to launch a huge new project featuring leading home design influencers. I have been pitching relevant brands to try and find sponsors for the event.

Here is the list of criteria I created for identifying prospects:

  1. They had to be home design related and/or interested in reaching an audience of home design enthusiasts
  2. They had to have access to at least a $3K marketing budget to pay for the sponsorship
  3. They should already be actively advertising online

How did I come up with this list?   

I started with the one thing I knew about the people I needed to pitch. They needed to have some interest in reaching the consumers who will attending the program. (home design enthusiasts) 

Next, I thought through what those contacts would need to make a sponsorship happen. In this case, they would need at least $3K in their marketing budget to pay for the sponsorship. 

Lastly, I thought about the obstacle most likely to stop me from closing the sale. It is incredibly hard to convince someone to spend money on digital advertising if they are not already actively doing so. I didn’t want to find myself investing a ton of time into a sale that would never happen. 

Once I had a list of criteria, I began identifying companies and startups that fit criteria #1. Then I started looking for contacts at those companies that fit criteria #2 and #3.

Creating a list of criteria takes fifteen minutes, and saves you from investing time talking to someone who has no ability to buy a sponsorship from you. 

 

Why No one Should Be Paying Their Student Loans.

Lets talk about student loans, shall we?

I have spent a billion hours researching the student loan market, and have decided that there is absolutely no reason for a college graduate to pay their loans.

I have resisted writing this post because everyone is going to say it’s your obligation to pay your student loans and tell me I am a horrible person.

The biggest reason you will tell me to pay my student loan debt is the trillion-dollar deficit currently hanging over the US economy, but hear me out. 

1. The reality is that the system is broken.

Student loans are forcing young adults to move back in with their parents. We are officially calling it, “The boomerang generation.” Of course, this trend is going to totally deplete Gen X’s retirement funds, which means nobody is going to have money for a very long time. 

 2. Your loans will be forgiven in 25 years.  

The government has created absolutely no incentive for paying your student loan debt off.

When you graduate from college, you can choose to have your student loan payments based on income.

If you make twenty thousand or less a year, you are not required to make a monthly payment. (The average new grad makes less than $20K a year)

Don’t forget that your student loans are forgiven after 25 years. This means a portion of all of this debt will be added to the deficit at the end of 25 years.

In fact, Professors are investing the majority of their retirement funds into Sallie Mae loans. Professors are making money off of the students who cant pay their loans back. And it is backed by the government!

3.Paying your loans will ruin your career

In the past, “young adults with student debt made more money, had better credit scores and had more car loans than young adults who had not attended college.

Now the opposite is true, students will student loan debt have worse credit scores, do not take out car loans and are most likely living with their parents.

This could be the reason that student loans are more likely to default than any other type of loan.

Now young adults are getting creative in how they pay their loans back.

 One dentist stopped paying his student loans off, so he could start his own practice. Student loans are the last bill you should pay.

Think of creative ways you could use that money to increase your income.  (Like the girl who used $17K of her student loans on plastic surgery)

4. You don’t need credit

The only reason left that you would pay your student loans is that you need credit. But the reality is that the whole “credit score” industry is falling to pieces, and startups are finding new ways to measure whom will pay them back.

5. The industry is broken

The student loan industry is broken. The next generation will be left with an insane amount of debt, and an economy that is falling to pieces.  You submitting your three-hundred dollar payment each month wont change that.

Instead, focus on finding the career path that is going to work for your life. Learn how to earn money in the gig economy, and make a plan that is sustainable. Student loans are not sustainable. 

How to Build a Career Working From Home

I have spent the past seven years working remotely. My first position was a freelance gig I landed on eLance. Some shady couple paid me $10 an hour to collect email addresses they could market to.

I had no idea I was simply a low-paid spam bot. I wouldn’t have cared. The only thing that mattered was that I could earn money from my own home.

Since that day I have held positions at major PR firms, traveled around the country, and learned the hard facts about what it means to be a remote worker in todays economy. My last position was working remotely for Disney Interactive.

Today, I run a freelance consultancy where I build online marketing programs for leading consumer brands.

Next week, I am launching a brand-new course that will show you how to build a career working from home. (details here

This course wont show you how to get paid to take surveys or make a billion dollars from your coach. Instead, it will give you a wide lense view of the career opportunities for remote workers, and help you find the path that is right for you.

The reality is that most remote working opportunities are not meant to build sustainable careers. We wont show you any “get rich quick” schemes.  We will explore sustainable remote career opportunities, and help you create a career path that works for you.

I will show you the exact tactics I used to land full-time remote working positions, and everything I learned along the way.

Here are some of the topics we will cover:

  • The future of remote workers and the career paths available to them 
  • How to identify legitimate remote job opportunities 
  • The secret to landing a job working remotely and tips for managing your workload
  • Real-life examples of sustainable careers you can build from home 
  • A break-down of how much income you can make working remotely 
  • How to land insurance, retirement and other benefits you get with traditional jobs 

We will have three live-streamed video sessions, and daily emails packed with resources. The course begins next Monday June 30th, but don’t worry if you cant make the live sessions. Everything is recorded so you can watch on your own time.

The cost of the course is $25, but you can get access for $10 if you use the code “BLOGVIP.”

Register here! 

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