The Tools Don’t Matter

I used to blog a lot about tools and tricks.

I was so clever. I knew everything about various CRMS. I talked about sales techniques.  Till I bored myself.

Oh, I was smart.

Here’s the thing: the tools don’t matter.  As a salesperson you need about 3 things:

  • A place to find people to connect with them.  Could be the Rotary Club, Twitter, a forum, or conferences.  Could be your blog.  Could be some combination of these things.
  • A pitch to get in front of them.
  • A system for checking in and adding value.  This could be index cards, 43 Folders, a CRM.

That’s it. Everything else can more or less take care of itself.  You don’t need to spend time optimizing this stuff, you need to spend time executing.    People want to spend time optimizing nothing.

The art of the hustle is the important thing.  Focus on timing. Focus on adding value – in a real way.  It’s hard to do.  I want to talk to people daily but I have nothing to give.

Products, Not Projects

genuinechrisprojectmanagementI still do projects.  Really I do.  I dig ‘em, and I dig getting stuff done for people.  But, I’m more selective right now than I was.  I don’t take anything because I can’t, and (B) I have to make sure there’s a path to money.  I’m making a living delivering insanely great value.

So, I’ve come up with 3 things to sell, and plan on having 5 over at my business.

All sell & compliment each other.  All have nutso value.

The other candidates that I think I can sell are:  some type of writing service (as yet undetermined).   And some type of freelancer sales training.   That’s it, nothing else is needed really.  I can do projects or refer them, but that’s enough things to sling that will (A) add value and (B) keep me able to sell stuff.

The problem with projects is this: if you don’t get the spec perfect, it can be a huge pain in the neck to get paid and get finished.  There is often more work and tension.  But with a “product” I sell something.  You either buy or you don’t.  And…I don’t have to be an employee.

People buy from me, and I create the experience.  I have minimal friction.

Recently, I took a $400 job.  It was tedious.  There was friction.  And it took a day and a half of bloody work.  And neither me nor the client was particularly pleased with the outcome.  It is over, and the client is a good guy and we’ll again work together.

Instead?  I should have passed or passed it along.  Live and learn.  More on this in a bit.

I will Out Sell Your Marketing.

Someone asked me to sign an NDA.  Thought I was crazy for sharing my ideas (http://guerrilla.me).   Thought I was on crack for not ‘keeping it under my hat.’

Thing is: I could tell you EXACTLY what I’m gonna do.

HOW I’m gonna do it.

And still be fine.  Still win the war.  Because most people (you) aren’t gonna take any action.  And most of my ideas are not revolutionary.  An account creation and social media training site.  Big Whoop.  Oh, it’s a kickass idea.  One form propagates to 30 sites.

But doing it–getting it done, finishing it, making it happen is what matters.  So I can share it here, and not feel threatened.

Grinding out the damn work.  Nobody wants to.

So with that said, I’m going to make a MINT off of Brian Clark and Chris Person..

All while I send them $40,000 and more.   (Think about this: have you ever deployed a product that can cause people to have goals of sending you $40,000 and get rich doing it?)

And I’m going to tell YOU how–the cliffs notes–that I’m gonna do it. Because you won’t.  Nobody will outhustle me.  Nobody on the corner has swagga like me.

They made the Thesis framework.  It powers my blogs.  And my clients blogs.  And it’s a worldbeating gamechanger.  I reviewed it here. I wasn’t generous enough with it…because I was pissy about only being able to order one deployment license at a time.  There are annoyances that are working themselves out.  I’m pissed because EVERYONE bought it.

Here’s how that thing is gonna make me a mint:

I’ve gotten a good start on collecting overlays for Thesis.  Thesis is made to be tweaked and customized.  It’s made to do different and cool things…and it does a decent job.  Kasey Kelly was instrumental in getting me started on this stuff.  I’ll have 20ish looks, deliberately putting buttons elsewhere and resizing them.

The second thing: by collecting this work I commoditize the design process.  By having 10 aboslutely and freakishly good overlays (I’m at 4), I can sell those themes, do a better job for less money than anyone.

The third thing:  $750?  For a kick ass website?  AND training in the basics (SEO, Running WordPress)  AND customization?  AND your plugins installed?  HOLYCRAP.  AND an affiliate program (20%)…?

The forth thing:  More stuff to sell.  “Insanely Great” products that deliver training and value, and help people sell their own stuff.  Social media account creation, ping services, blog writing.  If I get my 700-1000 clients (225 work days * 4 a day), I can help them all.

There are details to work out: which CRM, what other stuff, but this is an awesome way to live.  My guerrilla.me product will be every bit as strong as this product and they will sell each other forever.

I can spend $2,000 bucks on initial thesis designs, and then $100-150 to designers…for one off customizations that utterly kick ass.

I can make $460…net…20 times a week.  And more.  ($750 – 40 for thesis = 710 -25 for merch. services = 685 services – 125 for design = 560 – 100 for affiliates (average) = 460)  * 20 = 9,200.

Direct sales can drive this.  Each client should also retun another $800 gross/500 net/ year.

I believe that thesis is gonna keep getting better at the same rate, and so I’ll hitch my star to theirs for this gig.  I can get this stuff done rapidly, and knock this out of the park.

The difference between me is that I’m a sales guy.  A hustler.  I’m wired that way.  I don’t tire of selling people.  I’m more @garyvee.  I love it.  I want to help people plugin to the matrx and help them sell.

I just told you what I will do, and it doesn’t matter.  You’re free to fight me or join me.   Point is, execution matters.  I will outsell your marketing.

Freelancers: Have some F#@%ing Manners.

Seriously.  I have hired a couple dozen freelancers this year to do odd jobs.  Anything from doing a WP install, to doing a block of SEO-riffic blog posts, to site scrapes…and more.

And I pay on time, I pay early a lot.  I find jobs, and find people that can do them and I charge for that service.  And the one thing that happens a lot…and the one way I spot low caliber people I don’t want to be working with is the ‘thank you’ portion of the experience.   A ton of people don’t bother with basic manners.

And you can tell a problems going to come because entitlement kills every business.  Having the entitlementality is a good part of the reason I wrote my book.  The situation goes like this:  A job gets done on time, I get invoiced and pay on the agreed date.  Often, the freelancers that want payment fastest are the least likely to say thank you.

And, I’m guessing it rubs everyone the wrong way.  I don’t need you to genuflect, I don’t need you to fellate me for paying on time, but seriously, a simple thanks is all it takes to get good will.  And more business.

The ones I called out on it said, “I don’t have time to acknowledge payment, too busy.”   I’m insulted, and I don’t work with people that don’t acknowledge payment (esp. first time around) with a thank you. I view them as scuzzy and I probably ascribe characteristics that they don’t truly have.  And I’m sure other people do as well.  Even if a job was less than smooth, even if you don’t care to work together again, say thanks.  Super simple.

But then they are the same ones that signal that they are highly broke by invoicing multiple times, asking for advances and even soliciting my clients directly.  Stopping a moment to be in gratitude is so powerful, it changes the dynamic.   And not doing it sends signals that you’re not a real good guy.   You shouldn’t be doing work you’re not grateful to be doing.  You should pass.  If you view it as shitty, simple moneywork, then you should find work you’ll run through walls to do.

How To Get Started as a Freelancer: Plan your first job

Every single week, someone asks me “how did you get started as a freelancer.  More to the point, the question is really, “How can I get started a s a freelancer.”  So what I’m going to do is demonstrate what I do to make a kickass living, and grow a business, mostly for a twitter friend of mine.

Getting started as a freelancer is sales focused first.  You have to sell yourself, build up your personal brand, in order to be where you want to be.  You have to have a real simple widget to sell and deliver…all while not over-analyzing or over thinking things.   I’ve talked about the “daily number” before, which is to say the number that you gotta make to stay in business each day.   You gotta know that number COLD.

Then, specifically, you need to have something to sell.  Offer insane value for what you’re selling.  Make it a product that doesn’t have flexibility, and make it cheaper than anyone else’s.  (Think: Blue Ocean Strategy).   Don’t overthink the deails of your product–I’m going to give you an EASY one now.  Keep all the points of friction to a minimum.

Make it something that you can grind out quickly–in a day or two.  Don’t take big long projects.  Make it prepaid, always.  Pass on clients that want freebies–find more by using Twitter, your blog, the phone book.

What I’m offering, How I’ll make $7,000 next week.

Brian Clark and Chris Pearson created and marketed a WordPress theme called Thesis.  It powers my blog.  It powers my e-book sales site. I was charging clients $1500-2,000 for setting up and going with a thesis blog.  I don’t need to charge that much anymore, I can do it in my sleep, and I can make the training outsourced.

#1:  I will sell the Thesis Theme blogs.

I have used the Thesis theme in about 60% of the blogs I’ve delivered. I’m going to do so in 100% for the moment.  One of the things that I’ve built is a bunch of thesis designs. I can reuse those pretty much at will now.

#2: I will make it cheap. I was charging people up to $2,000 for WordPress blogs one on one training and thesis blogs.  That’s too much, even though they felt like they got vlaue.  It’s too much because when someone pays you $2,000 they think they own you.  And to a point, they do.  We need to make it way cheaper.  $750 for the basic blog, $250 more for a year’s hosting on my hostgator server.  That’s it.

#3: I will add value. I have a good list of things I do with every blog.  I have a lot of things that I do and so I can make this work by making screenflow screencasts. I can do 3-4 screencasts a day this week and have ‘em organized properly to teach people what to do.  (Camtasia has a 30 day trial, screencast-o-matic works, so does snapz and screenflow)

#4: I will deliver fast. I have 3 capable designers that have done Thesis blogs with roughly equivalent quality.  I’ll be able to do this in 48 hours, 100% of the time, with instructions to get into the training site immediately with videos delivered.  (use google docs to orcistrate all that you want to do)

Fast wins.  So here’s what I’ll be able to do:  $750 per blog…I’ll pay out $40 to the Thesis designers (they have an affiliate program).  I’ll pay roughly $150 for design (probably average lower).  That’s $560 left for me.  Lose $25 for merch. services, and I’m making $535, and I can do this 3x a day and more.  This creates immense value for people.

…and it gets clients in the door and used to paying me.  A secret I’ve learned is that in my practice, I can count on all of my clients paying me about $375 in profit per quarter, if I maintain them properly.  So if I get 20 clients in 2 weeks…ah, that’s another $30,000 a year in revenue.

It’s a modest way to begin, but it works for me, and it works for others.  I’ll show it off next week…and you’ll have a blast.

Thesis Theme: A Comprehensive Review of What Brian Clark, & Chris Pearson Created for WordPress

There are no affiliate links here.   Thesis Ain’t Perfect, but if you ain’t making $1,000 a day, you can use it to do so.

I was an early adopter to the Thesisphere last year.  I bought the developer’s license thing in May or June of 2008, and deployed it on my sites. (Here, http://guerrilla.me, http://ftherapybook.com,   And–right now–it’s the easiest way to make money for yourself on the Internet.  I’ll get to that in just a second.  The design framework comes from Chris Pearson, who is responsible for some of the very best themes in the WPress-o-sphere.  (Cutline, PressRow).  He partnered up with Copyblogger’s Brian Clark to shill this thing, and it’s ubiquitous.  If you read blogs, you have come across Thesis.

The Thesis Theme For WordPress Is For The lazy sales guy.

I’m not yet perfect, but look, if you can’t sell thesis sites, then give up on selling anything.   I can make sites that look like mine, or that look like Bakingasametaphor.com I can put stuff anywhere I want it, and with 1.5, I can make any width I think looks good….without limitations that are preset.  Thesis creates css code for me.

My workflow is simple.  I follow keywords on twitter.  (Blog redesign, fix my blog, many others that I ain’t sayin’).  I call ‘em up (if they have anything in their profile) and tell them my team can whip out a blog in a day, and it costs, $1,000 bucks.  You’ll have a little work in it, you make videos on http://screencast-o-matic.com to tell ‘em how to work it, and you’ll be coming in chepaer than anyone else, delivering a better experience, and you’ll pocket 800-1k per.

I send out a paypal link, I do a brief, recorded design interview.  I have someone cool like Kasey Kelly bang out a design for them.  I install WP on their server or mine with whatever plugins it needs, and give ‘em access  to it.  The whole thing can be in and out in a day, and clients are happy with the results.   It’s cheaper for them. It’s FAST, and it’s GOOD.  And since I’ve made a ton of WordPress how tos, it’s easy to support.  Brian and Chris get $40 per deplpoyment.  I pay $100-200 in design, and that cost is trending down because I’m building a library of cool friggin’ looks.

A client can have a killer blog in a day and a half that doesn’t HAVE to look like other blogs.  And then we retain the desing shells, the custom.css theme to deploy in other colors elsewhere.   At the end of the day, I’m the one that delivered a killer, custom blog in a day for just a grand…not some jackass that sold them a crappy website that is fixed.

The Thesis Theme For WordPress Is Flexible & The Support Kicks Ass.

Look at all these thesis blogs.  Couple hundo per deployment because it’s one custom.css file.  They don’t have to look very much alike at all.

The support?  I generally haven’t needed much, and what I’ve needed is in the forums on their website, or I can, since I’m lazy, @pearsonified on twitter.  The forums have stuff–and another semiscocial community space to waste time with random bragging (my random bragging goes here on  the blog).

The Bad Stuff

Keith Baker had gotten me used to using Headspace2, and headspace2 doesn’t seem to work with Thesis, not right, at least.  I also have to, from time to time, edit and modify code a little bit for this plugin or that thing.  And, there seem to be upgrades about 3 times a week, so you may have to upgrade more than you like (although, in fairness, You also need to, once you buy a developers license, pay $40/pop to put it on someone else’s site.)   Also, when you do want to legalize your licenses, their cart doesn’t let you edit quantities, so you can’t buy 10 at a time.  It’s not clear to me when All-In-One SEO works and when Thesis’s stuff (SEO details and additional Style) work.  It also needs to have some more clear instructions to get custom pages, and a better/saner uploader.

There are also minor peculiarities on install, and times you need to save, and the normal stuff where widgets can pass code to the whole theme if you dont close an <iframe> tag or whatever.  Nothing that’s not learnable by a sane person in 3-4 times and fixable easily.

If you’re SUPER lazy, you run the risk of all your blogs looking  alike. That’s happening on the net and we’re a couple beats away from Thesis being a brand that people avoid (I don’t-want-a-thesis-blog).  Hopefully Chris will whip out something new.  Clients won’t notice, but when you lower your standards, it’s  F#@%ing slippery slope.

Finally: I’d sell blogs and make cash with or without thesis.  Seriously.  But it’s a framework for a sales guy like me to be able to rapidly deliver a quality experience.