FT054: How to Transition from One-Off Projects to Recurring Clients with Tommy Joiner
Recurring clients give your business greater stability and sustainability. They are gold. Tommy Joiner explains how he and his partner built up a content marketing business, Gingerbread Marketing, based on recurrent clients, selling monthly packages.
Tommy tried converting his last business, based on email marketing, into using a recurrent strategy by offering retainers rather than one-off projects, but it didn't stick. His clients didn't get value from the monthly packages. When he set up his current company, he and his partner decided that recurring revenue was important to them so they chose to specialize in something that is inherently recurrent, blog posts. Check out what decisions he made to create a successful business.
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Tommy shares with us:
- How to find and win clients:
- Tommy started out with the Elance-oDesk/Upwork strategy, searching for high quality clients and qualifying the job postings based on the client's history on Upwork, whether they include project details, and by researching the client on the company's website. Then he distinguished himself by sending a video explaining who he is and what he could do for the client and inviting the client to chat on Skype. He never talks about money in these initial meetings. Instead, he focuses on building a relationship with the client and helping them work through the problems that the client is experiencing. After a few of these projects, referrals started coming in and he was more sustainable.
- Current clients are the best future clients since you have already sold yourself to them and have a good relationship, if everything went well that is. So stay in touch with the clients you enjoyed working with to get future work and referrals. Send regular emails to update them on what you are up to and asking how they are doing, offering to help where you can.
- Tommy also practices what he preaches and uses content marketing to find and retain customers. He has a well researched blog that pulls in the traffic, a lead magnet with a 10 part autoresponder series explaining how to build a sales funnel and a blog yourself while also pitching his services, and then how to get in touch to start your own content marketing campaign.
- Surprisingly, Tommy found out that outbound, “colder” email blasts actually worked for him when he targeted very specific contacts that met his criteria for people he thinks could benefit form his services.
- Ethical considerations when choosing customers: At the end of the day, as a freelancer, you are providing a product or service for a client in exchange for money. The client expects that the product or service will provide value to their company, which is why they chose to go with you. But you are the expert in the field, not the client, so you know when your work can truly provide value and when it won't really change much for their business. It should be your responsibility to turn down clients who you can't really help rather than taking their money. It feels crappy to take the money without providing value. So choose your clients carefully!
- Closing advice: Take on the stuff that you don't think you are ready for, the stuff that you don't think you can quite do yet. It is lack of self-confidence that will hold you back. But once the client signs the contract, you will find a way to get it done, so go for it!
- MakeMoneyOnUpwork.com: Tommy's personal experiences boiled down to a practical course for freelancers who want to try making money using Upwork
- The Millionare Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley
- Upwork (previously Elance-oDesk)
- Active Campaign
- PersistIQ (Warning: Currently illegal in Canada and New Zealand)
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