Smarter Freelancing: Freelance Work | Getting Clients | Freelance Writing | Freelance Design | Ed Gandia (general)






April 2024
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#033: How to Adapt Your Freelance Business to a Rapidly Shifting Marketplace

The freelance marketplace has become more competitive. 

But just because there are more freelancers than ever before doesn't mean you have to succumb to competitive pressure. Not if you make key adjustments in how you position yourself ... and what services (and value) you deliver. 

In this week's show you'll hear from someone who's done this successfully. His name is Tristan Kneschke and his company is Exit Editorial, a post-production company that does video editing and color grading services. 

Tristan specializes fashion and beauty and has worked with brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Google, Pepsi, Nike, Amazon and Colgate.


In this interview, you'll hear why Tristan made critical changes to his business with the economic downturn. And you'll discover how he made these shifts and why they've paid off.

Direct download: EP033.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

For many of us, the initial conversation with a prospect can be stressful.

Maybe you need the work. Or you really want to land this client. And you don't want to screw up the opportunity by saying the wrong thing. 

In this episode, you'll hear from RC Peck, a seasoned pro at having productive and highly effective prospect conversations. 

RC is not a freelancer. But I've brought him into the show because we can all learn from the mindset and techniques he's developed about these initial prospect conversations. 


You'll discover how to better manage these conversations. How to ask for (and get) quality referrals. How to frame your pricing so that you land the client at higher fee levels. And how to vet prospects faster so you waste little time with poor-fit prospects and set yourself up for success with high-quality opportunities.

Direct download: EP032.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Michael Port's Book Yourself Solid was one of the most important books I read when I was freelancing part time while working my day job.


It was a big reason why I was able to grow my business so quickly.


I loved how Michael broke down the process of filling up your pipeline with high-quality clients. He described the process in a very methodical way that I could understand. But he also addressed the critical "softer" side of building a solo business. 

In this interview, I get to chat with Michael for the first time. It was fun to finally have a conversation with someone who shaped my thinking at this critical juncture of my business. 

But I was also a bit nervous — especially early in the conversation — until I finally got my footing. 

I guess I was a bit star-struck! :)

This episode is NOT a step-by-step training class on how to book yourself solid. But I hope it gives you a handful of ideas for making positive changes in your business.


Direct download: EP031.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

#030: How to Get a 10X Return on Your Next Conference

I've always been a big proponent of investing in targeted conferences and events. 

It's not just about what you learn, it's about the people you meet, the conversations you have and the insights you gain. 

In other words, the intangible things no one can really put a price on.

However, I'm the first to admit that I don't always get the most value from the conferences I attend. 

Why? Mainly because of poor planning on my part. And many times I just don't know what I'm supposed to do! (Sound familiar?)

In this interview, my good friend Coach Jenn Lee shares some super-practical tips and ideas we can all use to get a 10X (or better!) return on the conferences and events we attend.


Direct download: EP030.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Delivering talks to very targeted groups can be a great way to generate new freelance business. Especially if used in conjunction with other smart marketing strategies.

But to captivate your audience and keep them engaged, you have to be an effective speaker.

Fortunately, this is a learnable skill. Just ask David Nihill, who until recently was petrified of speaking in public. Then he took a deep dive into the subject and studied some of the most skilled communicators in any field — stand-up comics.

In this episode, David explains what you need to do to become a more effective and engaging speaker. And he shares some interesting ideas on product creation and developing a platform, for those of you who are thinking about creating an online course or writing a book some day.

Direct download: EP029.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Music has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. But for years I had the hardest time finding music that enabled me to focus on my work.

I spent hours carefully curating playlists on iTunes. I tried dozens of Pandora stations. And, of course, I tried the old standby — classical music.

Nothing ever worked consistently.

And then in 2013 I discovered Focus@Will, an online service that plays music that's scientifically designed to improve and sustain your focus.

After an hour of sampling their free trial, I was hooked. And I've been a loyal customer since then.

I don't normally do shows about paid products or services. But I'm such a believer in this service that I felt compelled to share it with you.

And to explain what its, why it works and what's behind the technology, I've brought on Will Henshall, Focus@Will's Founder and CEO, to the show.

Direct download: EP028.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

You don't hear much about value pricing (often called "value-based pricing") in the freelance community—at least not in the creative side of freelancing.

But it's catching on with freelancers who are trying to shift to a more consultative approach to their services.

I've been meaning to bring up this topic...

But I wanted to bring in a guest who could speak to this from real-world experience—not from theory.

I finally found the guy. His name is Kirk Bowman. 

Kirk has worked as an entrepreneur since graduating from college. One of his businesses is Mighty Data—a software development company serving small and medium size businesses.

He also recently started Art of Value, a start up consulting firm that helps businesses switch to value pricing. 

In this episode, Kirk explains what value pricing is all about, whom it's for, how you can use it to grow your business, and how you can deploy it, even if you start small.

Direct download: EP027.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

We spend a lot of time on this show talking about how find and land better-paying clients, how to work smarter and how to develop the mindset you need to succeed in this business.

You've heard from me and from fellow freelancers. You've heard from industry experts, well-known speakers and authors.

But I've yet to bring on someone who hires freelancers. Someone who can speak to what it's like evaluating freelance talent and working with us.

That's what this episode is about. In today's show, you'll hear from Craig Chappelow from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a non-profit leadership and training organization headquartered in the U.S.

Craig has hired—and continually works with—dozens of freelancers in multiple disciplines. And in this candid interview, you'll get his perspective as a client on what it's like to find, hire and fire solo professionals.

Direct download: EP026.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Made to order.

That's what most of us do. We deliver customized services to our clients.

It's simple and straightforward — at least on paper. The client describes what they need, and you turn around and deliver a customized, made-to-order product.

This model works. It's what most clients want. And when done right, it can be very profitable.

But is that the only way to deliver professional services?

No. There are other models that can be just as profitable ... and even more scalable.

And in today's interview, you'll hear from Brian Casel—a web designer who has transformed his freelance business from a service-based firm to one that offers "productized" services.

You'll learn how he's done this, why it works ... and how it could work for you, too!

Direct download: EP025.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

I remember when one of my female colleagues first told me about the struggles many self-employed women face. It was about 10 years ago.

"Yes, there's discrimination," she said. "But much of it is self-sabotage. We just weren't brought up like men. We're not supposed to be driven and assertive."

I was shocked.

Yet the more I talked with other women freelancers and entrepreneurs, the more I realized that this is a huge issue.

We've addressed this issue before here at the Academy. In fact, Dianna Huff's detailed post a few years ago is one of the most shared articles on our website.

But in this week's episode my pal Coach Jenn Lee shares a few more insights on the issue — along with a few great ideas for breaking out of this cycle.


Direct download: EP024.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Is freelancing a growing trend or a fad?

And if it's growing, who's really profiting from this massive shift in the labor force?

If you've followed me for a while, you probably know that I'm a big "trend junkie." I even put together two comprehensive reports on the state of freelancing, back in 2011 and 2012.

But I've never come close to the information and insights that MBO Partners has produced over the past few years, mainly through their State of Independence reports.

Ever since having MBO Partner's Gene Zaino on the show to discuss the new emerging models of freelance/client engagement, I've been meaning to have a separate discussion with him about the freelance economy — and specifically what his firm has uncovered via these comprehensive studies.

In this interview, Gene and I discuss the biggest findings from the 2014 report, including who's doing well, what they're doing to thrive, how freelancers impact the economy, and what's ahead in the world of independent work.


Direct download: EP023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

To explain how you can use Facebook to generate highly targeted leads for your freelance business, I've brought in one of the world's most recognized experts on the topic ... the one and only Amy Porterfield.

In this week's podcast, Amy explains why Facebook is such a powerful tool to generate potential clients cost effectively. And she walks you through a simple campaign you can set up and deploy immediately.

Direct download: EP022.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:07am EDT

In the previous episode, I shared my recent experiments with habit development techniques ... and why I'm getting away from traditional goal setting.

Today's show is the second part of this important discussion. I've brought in my colleague James Clear to delve deeper into the topic.

James has done extensive research in the area of habits. He's also transformed his business and his life as a result of implementing cutting-edge yet simple habit-building techniques.

In this interview, we discuss James' 5-step habit building system, including:

Why it works
How to implement these steps
What to do when you slip
And how to develop and maintain long-term momentum

This is fascinating information you can put into practice immediately. And if you're participating in my 30-day "mini habit" challenge, I bet it will help you stay on track and keep you motivated.

Direct download: EP021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

I'm pretty much done with traditional goal setting.

I'm talking about your standard "I'm going to get X result by this specific date" approach to setting goals.

It's not that this approach doesn't work. It certainly does (sometimes).

I'm doing away with it because it's missing a core element of making the goal a reality—the daily and weekly action that needs to happen in order for the goal to manifest.

Without that key element, you're just shooting in the dark.

In this episode, I explain how I've shifted my approach to goal setting. And how focusing on habit development is changing my life and my business.

Direct download: EP020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Freelancing can be a very lonely business.

Not just in terms of physical isolation, but also in the way of getting help to run your day-to-day operations.

Most of us don't have staff to take care of business operations and administration. Or a CFO and legal team to deal with finances, payroll and regulatory hassles. Or an IT director to manage our tech infrastructure.

We're expected to do it all. And that can be exhausting!

That's where a company like MBO Partners can help. MBO Partners combines a proprietary system to handle tax, expense, benefit, and payment and contract management for freelancers and independent professionals.

This is a new breed of business that's supporting the rapidly growing freelance economy. And in this interview, I talk with MBO Partners' president and CEO Gene Zaino about this missing piece in the freelance community—and how MBO Partners is filling this critical gap and giving many independent workers a true competitive edge.

Direct download: EP019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The biggest breakthroughs I've experienced in my business and personal life have come from taking what seemed to be big risks.

Not the crazy, jumping-off-a-cliff-with-a-wingsuit kind of risk.

I'm talking about stepping far enough outside of my comfort zone that I changed for the better.

Even if the desired outcome never materialized.

If you want to take your freelance business to the next level, you HAVE to start thinking differently about risk.

Risk is a natural part of growth. And they key to getting comfortable with taking more (and smarter) risks is knowing how to do it well.

In today's show, I talk with solopreneur and risk-taking aficionado Tyler Tervooren from

Tyler shares some fascinating information on the art and science of risk taking ... and how we can strategically improve our risk-taking "muscle" as solo professionals.

Direct download: EP018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49am EDT

There comes a point when most freelancers wonder if (and when) they should find a good accountant.

It's an important decision. And there's much more to it than finding someone to do your taxes.

But when is the right time to look? Where do you start your search? What should you look for when evaluating potential accountants?

My guest for this episode is Jason Blumer of Blummer CPAs — a firm that works with creative professionals and agencies. In this talk, Jason answers all these questions (and more!). And he gives you a framework and a set of criteria for making smarter decisions about your finances AND searching for the right accountant.

Direct download: EP017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Who said you had to limit yourself to your core services as a freelancer?

And who said you couldn't launch a separate side business that allows you to practice a hobby or passion?

That's one of the beauties of self-employment. You can chart your own course and make your own rules.

In today's episode, I interview my VP of operations, Crystal Coleman. Crystal has been instrumental in helping me grow my coaching and training business over the past 4-1/2 years.

One of the many things I admire about her is how she's recently taken a passion of hers and turned it into a rapidly growing side business.

Not only that, she's involved both her kids in virtually every aspect of this venture. And that alone has made the whole concept hugely successful.

In this interview, she explains what she's doing ... what she's learned ... and what you need to know to make a sideline work for you.

Direct download: EP016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Do you typically quote prospects exactly what they ask for?

Most freelancers do.

But what if you gave your prospect more options?

What if you proposed two or three variations on the original scope of work? Would that just create confusion? Or could it present an opportunity to serve the prospect better while potentially increasing your income on that project?

In today's show, Ilise Benun talks in detail about a 3-tier pricing strategy that's working like gangbusters for freelancers who are using it strategically.

Direct download: EP015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

I'm really excited about today's show because I get to address what I believe is one of the most important topics in the freelance community—boosting self-confidence.

This is a topic I've addressed before in my High-Income Business Writing Podcast (Episode #22: "7 Tips for Developing Stronger Self-Confidence."

But for this episode, I wanted to bring in someone who talks about this subject every single week.

His name is Jared Easley, and he's the host of the Starve the Doubts podcast.

In a very short period of time, Jared has created one of the most popular business podcasts in iTunes. He's interviewed business leaders such as Seth Godin, Pat Flynn, Gary Vaynerchuk and others.

And in this interview, he explains how we can develop and nurture greater self-confidence in ourselves and in our work.

He discusses some of the biggest fears he's had to overcome to succeed in business. And he tells us how he used Kickstarter to validate a dream of his: creating and hosting the biggest podcasting conference in North America, The Podcast Movemement, which will be held next week in Dallas, TX.

It's a great talk that includes both inspiration and practical information.

Direct download: EP014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Suzanne Wesley was in a tight spot five years ago.

She had just lost her job and had to find a way to drum up freelance business fast.

But rather than trying the same methods other freelancers typically use (put up a website and do some cold calling, networking and email prospecting) she decided to try something different.

She designed, printed and mailed a square-shaped brochure to more than 100 prospects.

And it worked!

In this interview, Suzanne explains why she believes this strategy worked so well ... and why she's still getting leads from that printed piece she mailed out five years ago.

Direct download: EP013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Many of my traditionally employed friends are surprised when I tell them that it's challenging to stay productive as a work-at-home freelancer.

They automatically assume that being in control over your schedule is a solution to the productivity dilemma they face in the cubicle world.

Not so. In fact, I'd argue that having more freedom and flexibility can be a curse. Especially when your work is deadline-driven.

In this episode, I talk with Erik Fisher, a productivity junkie and host of Beyond the To Do List, a podcast that focuses on productivity. Erik shares some very practical tools and ideas for getting good work done in our deadline-driven world.

Direct download: EP012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Not all clients are created equal.

Some are a true joy to work with. They value your expertise and experience. They never complain. And they happily pay you top dollar for your work.

Then there are those who are just plain difficult. :(

They complain. They beat you down on price. And they always want it yesterday.

As a solo professional, your long-term happiness depends on what types of clients you work with.

And the better you become at spotting bad clients BEFORE bringing them on board, the better off you'll be.

For this discussion, I brought in two of the industry’s top pros on the topic of identifying good (and bad) clients and projects: Anastacia Brice and David Ackert.

Anastacia Brice formalized the Virtual Assistance profession in 1997 by founding She’s trained, coached, and certified more than 1,000 talented VAs who now have heart-centric businesses doing work that lights them up for clients they’re passionate about supporting. Anastacia’s also a business coach, writer, community builder, italophile, and a happy girlie girl who finds biz foundations and biz standards two of the sexiest things in the world!

David Ackert has served in the corporate, education, and non-profit sectors as a trainer, marketer and strategic planner since the mid ’90s. Through his company, The Ackert Advisory, he has developed and implemented business development programs for numerous national legal, accounting, and financial service firms. He is the founder of Practice Boomers, a distance learning program that teaches business development skills to service professionals internationally. You can read his work at and watch some of his business development videos at

Direct download: EP011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Every new freelancer I meet wants to reach a comfortable income level as quickly as possible.

Most of them will set one-, two- or three-year time horizons for getting there.

But what if you HAD to ramp up quickly? What if a life event forced you to replace your full-time income within two months?

And what if failure was not an option?

That's what happened to Christine Parizo four years ago. In this interview, she shares her story of why she made the decision to leave her day job. And how she drummed up enough business in two months to replace her income.

It's an inspirational story of belief and inner drive.

Direct download: EP010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Ten years ago, when LinkedIn was new, the "newness" of the medium made it stand out.

I remember how easy it was to connect with prospects and start productive dialogue.

But as hundreds of millions of professionals have joined this social network, it's become harder to stand out and drum up great leads.

That doesn't mean you should ignore LinkedIn. It just means you have to be more strategic and deliberate about HOW you use it.

In this episode, LinkedIn expert and author of the new book The LinkedIn Code, Melonie Dodaro, shares simple and very specific steps you can take to find great prospects (and land freelance work) through LinkedIn.

Direct download: EP009.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Uma Thurman paid $5 for a milkshake in the movie "Pulp Fiction."

John Travolta was appalled.

After all, you can get a milkshake at McDonald's for $1.50, right?

But then he tasted that cold, creamy treat. And he was sold!

Cheap milkshakes may work in the fast food industry. And everyday low prices might work for Walmart.

But low fees will only lead to disappointment and burnout when you're a freelancer.

In this show, I discuss 7 important reasons why you should NOT compete on price. And why you should raise your fees starting today.

Direct download: EP008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Welcome to the Smarter Freelancing podcast! My name is Ed Gandia. And this show is all about turning your freelance business into a fun, profitable and rewarding experience.

It doesn't matter if you're just now thinking about going out on your own ... if you've been freelancing for a long while ... or if you're somewhere in the middle. This podcast is for you if you want your freelance business to give you the time and financial freedom to live your purpose.

I'm excited about today's show, because we're going to discuss a very important topic—how to close more and better-quality leads.

But we're going to cover this topic from more of a philosophical / mindset angle.

If you've been following me for a while you already know that even though I'm big into giving out specific, practical and tactical advice, I also think it's critical to implement tactics on top of accurate, strategic thinking.

In other words, you need to truly understand WHY you're doing what you're doing—why you're making changes, why you're implementing a new strategy or a new approach.

Direct download: EP007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Partnering with high-paying clients who respect your work — that's every freelancer's dream.

And while I truly believe it's entirely possible to build that kind of business, it's not always easy.

Especially for designers.

But even with all the pricing pressure in the design industry, there is still plenty of opportunity to make a great living as a graphic designer.

It's not just me saying this. Boston-based designer Jon Pietz believes this is a very real possibility. And in this interview, he explains why.

He also discusses the strategic shift designers (and ALL creatives) need to start making today if they ever want to escape the never-ending pricing battle. And he offers some very practical suggestions for getting more respect from your clients.

Direct download: EP006.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EDT

I've been intrigued with the idea of virtual assistants and virtual support since reading Tim Ferriss' Four-Hour Workweek.

But I could never figure out how to make it work as a freelancer. It felt like one of those things that sounds great on paper ... but doesn't quite work in practice.

Well, over the past year I've seen other freelancers use virtual staff successfully. So I decided to look further into this and learn how it can work, even you're not yet making the big bucks.

In this week's podcast, I interview Chris Ducker, author of the new book Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business.

Chris is regarded as the number one authority on the subject of virtual staffing and personal outsourcing. And in this interview he shares some very practical ideas on how freelancers can leverage virtual staff to save time and boost their earnings.

Direct download: EP005_REVISED.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Freelancing is a great way to earn a living. But sooner or later, every successful freelancer starts to ask himself ...  

"Gee, will I ALWAYS have to trade time for money?"

Even if you price your work by the project, you're still selling your time. When you go away on vacation or when you're sick in bed ... you're not earning an income.

One of the best ways to break out of this time-for-money cycle is to create, package and sell B2B information products to clients and to other businesses.

And in this interview, software developer and entrepreneur Brennan Dunn shares some very practical advice for doing just that.

Direct download: EP004.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Are you having trouble getting clients to pay you what you're worth?

Sick of all the low-cost providers who are bringing down prices in the creative arena?

I have a different take on all this. And that's exactly what I'm discussing in this week's show. Once you understand what's really going on, you'll have a key piece to solving the "getting higher fees" puzzle.

Direct download: EP003.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

I'm really excited about today's episode, because even though it's short, you're going to walk away with five simple ideas you can implement TODAY to generate new business.

Specifically, we're going to be talking about how to approach old leads and dormant clients effectively and authentically — and how these simple ideas can often lead to paying work almost immediately.

My guest is no stranger to International Freelancers Academy: Coach Jenn Lee. Jenn works with entrepreneurs and solo professionals to turn their passion in to profit through smart marketing and selling strategies. She appears regularly on TV and radio, and she's a sought-after speaker around the country.

Direct download: EP002.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

Welcome to the Smarter Freelancing podcast!

In this first episode, I discuss why I've decided to take International Freelancers Academy in a new direction. I explain our new purpose and how I think we can serve you best this year and beyond.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of this podcast. There's a lot more detail in the audio version.

Direct download: EP001.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:22pm EDT