Off Topic

A Look Back: This Year’s Top Blog Posts

Although I have been terrible at keeping to my blogging schedule (the cobbler’s children have no shoes), when I write, it is sparked by something I’ve observed, heard from a business owner, or a common struggle.

My goal is to help entrepreneurs reach their own goals – both personally and professionally.

I believe there is amazing talent and expertise in each one of you, and I’m here to help remove the roadblocks that may be holding you back.

As I look back at this year, there are some commonalities in the types of blog posts that resonated with my readers. There is a real painpoint when it comes to generating, cultivating, and converting leads. If this is you, you’re not alone!

Hundreds of other business owners and operators are struggling to connect with the right customers (because we know not all customers are the right fit, right?).

Here are the most visited posts for 2019. Thank you for making it a record year for my website, my business, and my happiness. I look forward to sharing more insights in 2020, helping more operators, and sharing more success stories!

Most Popular Blog Posts in 2019

1. How to Respond When Someone Asks You Out for Coffee

When I look at the statistics, it is pretty clear that about 20-30% of the visitors landing at this page are looking for dating advice to avoid a potentially awkward situation. The numbers are so high, in fact, I considered launching a dating advice site using this topic as the launching point. Let’s be honest, I don’t need another project. And the market is already so crowded.

For the other 70-80%, it is obvious there is a painpoint when it comes to responding to “pick your brain” sessions. Most of my readers are those struggling to value their time, get paid for their expertise, and establish healthy boundaries for their commitments. It is no surprise that you may find it challenging to say “no” to timesucks and folks who want to value your time at the price of a cup of coffee.

2. Three Scripts: Asking Clients for Referrals

Umm – hello. How many of us are terrible about asking for referrals? For some reason, this is one of the more daunting tasks for entreprenuers to tackle, yet one with the greatest possibility of success.

Assuming you leave your clients happy, they would be ecstatic to help you grow your business AND help a friend or associate. It is a win-win, but we opt to overlook it and find other tasks to spend our time on.

I hope even half of the readers of this mega-popular post apply the practical tips and scripts listed.

3. How to Deal With Client Change Requests During a Project

I have a love-hate relationship with change orders.

And my third-most visited post this year shows that many of you are battling client-initiated changes, as well.

Here’s the thing: change orders will always be a thing when working with client work. This is because 1) they often don’t know what they want, 2) they don’t/won’t/refuse to spec it out (usually because they don’t want to be the one accountable for what you build), 3) because it is really, really hard.

Knowing all this, you – as the expert – can embrace this reality and structure yourself for success. Expect the unexpected!

My favorite approach to this is to create a “strategy session” before any project. This is a paid-consultation to discuss what the client actually wants. Then put it to paper. Then base your bid on what they agreed to. Part of that agreement must include stipulations for divations – i.e. change orders or change requests.

This method not only values your time and experience, but puts the responsibility on the client to articulate what they actually want you to do.

4. Best Practices: Podcasting Dos and Don’ts

This one really caught me by surprise! While podcasting is on the rise, as a whole, I have not consulted with many folks this year about launching or promoting their own podcast.

I think that is because it still appears to be intimidating and inaccessible.

I’ll tell you – it’s not. It is quite simple.

Your prospective audience is probably a lot like you – timestraped and in a rush. This is the perfect opportunity to launch a podcast. I listen to them while traveling and driving. I think of it like reading a book …. while driving …. safely.

Is a podcast in your future for 2020?

5. Proposals? Statement of Work? Quote? Agreement?

The placement of this post cracks me up. It was written as an experiment to see which keyword search generated the most visitors (BTW, “Proposals” by a landslide). I quoted some research done by a company helping entrepreneurs and freelancers create contracts … proposals … statements of work … for their own businesses. Seventy-three percent of respondents agreed they should be called proposals. What do you think?

6. Social Media Marketing for Coffee Shops

There was a time when a majority of my client inquiries stemmed from independent coffee shops and cafes. I certainly didn’t mind because I love a good coffeehouse and most of the owners are community-based, genuinely good people who love (LOVE) their customers. What could be better than helping them succeed?

This post was written to get them started. It did not make financial sense for them to hire me to cover the basics. I would share this post with them to get them on the right path, then we could spend our valuable time together dialing in the specifics – as it related to them.

The advice contained in the post is pretty applicable to any locally-based business. Social media marketing has shifted pretty dramatically in the last couple of years, but there are fundamental tactics that many business owners are simply overlooking.

7. How to Fire a Client (3 Scripts)

YES! One of my favorite topics! Mainly because it is a dramatically underused strategy, a bit taboo, and a LOT effective.

Raise your hand if you have a small number of clients that consume a disproportionate amount of your time and energy? Likely, you want to throw your phone when you see their number popup on Caller ID.

Oh, also, they don’t make much of a dent in the bottom line.

If they pay on time.

Firing a client can be very rewarding for both your sanity and your business.

Don’t think I approach this carelessly, even as I joke (a bit) about it, it is a serious subject that can backfire and cause more drama or damage to your business.

This post dives into some ways to tactically navigate the client whose time has come while maintaining a level of professionalism for you.

8. Five Elements to a Winning Sales Pitch

I dislike the term “sales pitch”, but it is pretty popular and the data to my site shows people are using it to describe what they do.

Instead, I’d offer we shift our thinking from a “sales pitch” (which to me sounds more manipulative than amicable) to conversation.

Your client is expecting to be sold to.

You are expecting to be resisted.

You both go in defensively.

This post dissects some elements of a proposal (see Item 5 above) to frame your services in a more friendly way by stating their goals and how you plan to help the client achieve them.

Far less adversarial.

9. How to Tell Your Clients You’re Raising Your Prices

I am a little surprised this post isn’t more popular. It is one of the more common topics within my consulting calls.

If you feel that you are undercharging for your services, you owe it to yourself to fix it.

Let me say that again: YOU. OWE. IT. TO. YOURSELF.

(I used to say that no one will pay you more than you charge, but I plan on challenging that in 2020)

Once you invoice someone, or quote them for your retainer, they will pay that. Not more. (Perhaps less, but that is another story)

Once you decide to charge what you’re worth, a delicate conversation must be had with your clients. This post shares a few suggested scripts to discuss this with your clients.

Conclusion

What did you think? Did any of these jump out to you? Have you read them all?

Let me know what you’d like to see more of in 2020. I am hopeful I can keep to a more regular writing schedule and share what I’m experiencing within the industry, new trends, and better ways to make your business meet your goals.

-S.