Charge More: “Minimum Billing Units”

How do you bill your clients?

  • Hourly? $X/hr for each hour you’ve worked?
  • Daily? $X/day.
  • Weekly? $X/week.
  • Per-project?

One question that freelancers often ask is “How can I attract better clients with bigger projects.”

What I’ve discovered is that by increasing your minimum billing unit (the smallest unit you bill in), you’re able to better pre-qualify prospects and projects and work on better, higher paying projects.

What does this look like in practice?

Go from billing hourly to billing in half-days or full-days or weeks.

Let’s talk about making the jump from billing hourly to billing half-days.

If you’re billing hourly, you can start quoting a half-day rate to your prospects. Just take your hourly rate and multiply it by 4!

That’s now your minimum project size and minimum billing unit.

When someone asks what your rate is for a project, you can say that the minimum project size you accept is a half-day project and you bill in half-day increments.

This small adjustment to the minimum project size that you’ll accept has a range of positive effects:

First, you’re pricing yourself for the larger projects that you want.

By positioning yourself as accepting half-day (or day, week, etc.) projects, you’re positioning yourself for larger projects.

If someone needs, say, a logo uploaded on their site, great! You can help with that. You have a new rate for this work and the client gets to decide if they want to work together.

Which brings us to the second point….

Second, you’re leaving the value decision in the hands of a client.

Let’s say that someone approaches you with a small task. In all honesty, it will take you 30 minutes to do.

If you’re billing hourly, you’d quote this as an hour project, do it, bill it, and be done with it.

But if you’ve followed Kai’s advice, you’ve raised your minimum project size (your minimum billing unit) to, say, a half-day or day.

Now when this prospect comes, if you’re interested in the project, you can say that you’d love to work on the project.

Your minimum project size is a half-day and this will be a half-day project. A half-day is $X.

Now the client is able to make a value based decision.

The client has two factors known to them:

  • The price, which you’ve quoted
  • The value (quantifiable and qualitative) to them in having this project completed

If Value exceeds Price, then it makes sense for them to work with you.

“But,” you might be thinking, “Isn’t this just a 30-minute project?”


And your minimum project size is a half-day.

So if the client thinks “Excellent, we need this taken care of, we can afford this price, and the value in getting this completed is very high.” then they have determined that value > price and should move ahead with the project.

Where it can feel confusing for us, as freelancers and consultants, is balancing the fact that this is a 30-minute project with charging a half-day rate.

And that, dear friend, is because you have confused the cost, price, and value.

The cost of a project is the cost, to us, in doing the work.

The price of the project is what we quote the client to do the work (price > cost).

The value of a project is the value to the client in having the project completed (value > price > cost).

As a freelancer, it is very easy for us to understand the costs and prices associated with the project. 30-minutes of work. A half-day of our time.

But what we lack is an understanding of the value of the project to the client.

This small 30-minute project? While it may look small and tiny to us, perhaps it’s something the client has struggled to do themselves.

Maybe they have a high amount of quantifiable or qualitative value attached to this project being completed.

Perhaps they’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars already working with other providers and they’re struggling to get it finished.

Who knows?

The client knows.

Which is way the decision on working together is in the client’s hands. They’re the party best equipped to compare value and price and make the decision:

“Is there enough value in this project for us to invest in it?”

When you raise your minimum billing unit and project size, you’re optimizing for larger projects. You’re charging more by optimizing your pricing and billing for larger projects.

If someone comes with a small project and you say “Great, it’ll be a half-day, that’s $X.” Now they can decide if the value exceeds the price. If it does, great! You just sold a half-day project.

If the client decides that the value is less than the price, then they will pass. Great! You just avoided a smaller project!

And that’s what you want.

You want to be optimizing for better, larger projects.

And one of the easiest ways to do that is to increase your minimum billing unit / minimum project size.

So, what should you do now?

If you want to work on larger projects, better projects, or higher paying projects, raise your minimum billing unit.

If you’ve been charging hourly, start charging by the day or half-day. When a prospect comes to work with you, say “Great! My minimum project size is a half-day and I bill in half-day increments.”

If you bill in half-days already, try moving your minimum billing unit to a full day.

If you bill daily, try switching your minimum billing unit to a week.

What will be the effect be?

When a prospect comes to you with a project, you can — early in the conversation — let them know that you don’t bill hourly, your minimum project size is half-days/days/weeks. That’s the smallest amount you bill by.

If the project doesn’t have enough value for the prospect, then the prospect will be able to recognize — early on — that this isn’t the right fit, and go with another freelancer.

And if the prospect sees the value in the project, they’ll be saying ‘Sure, we need this done, let’s get started!’

Raising your minimum billing unit makes it easier for you to attract larger, better paying projects.

So, go and do it today. If you bill hourly, quote a half-day rate on your next project.

Packaged Services

When I say “Productized Service” to you, what do you think of?

  • A product, like a book or video course, based off of a consulting service
  • A service with a pre-defined scope of work

It could very well be either, honestly. Let’s, instead, talk about ‘Packaged Services.’

Packaged Services

Packaged services are service offerings that you create that have a predefined scope of work attached to them. Essentially, it’s a service offering you sell where you’ve decided on and published:

  • The scope of work
  • The deliverables
  • The timeframe
  • The price (optionally)

With a packaged service, you’re eliminating the proposal from the equation. You are defining a packaged offering that you are making available to prospects at a predetermined price.

Ever take your car in for an oil change? That’s a great example of a packaged service. You know:

  • The scope of work (change my oil)
  • The deliverables (new oil, report on car
  • The timeframe (Pick the car up in 2 hours)
  • The price ($30)

Hourly rate doesn’t factor into it. The price is set ahead of time.

How is this different from a productized service?

So, the term Productized Consulting is used to refer to two different things:

  • Turning your knowledge from consulting into a book, course, or other type of product
  • Standardizing your offerings and selling them as a prepackaged service similar to an educational product (Draft ReviseWebsite Rescues, etc.)

Packaged services as defined service offerings

When you package up your service offering, you’re defining what the client will receive in terms of deliverables. You’re defining what you’ll do, what the price will be, and what the scope of work will be.

You’re selling a package. Like buying a Disney Vacation or a cruise, the client doesn’t need to negotiate every detail, they can just say “That one sounds like what we need.” and purchase it. No proposal needed.

Why the distinction?

Multiple times, freelancers and consultants have asked me about ‘productizing their consulting’ and it wasn’t clear if we were going to talk about:

  • Turning their consulting knowledge into a product that they sell and deliver
  • Defining and selling a standardized package for a new consulting service

Which is it? There’s a need for two different terms to refer to these two different concepts.

Packaged Services

I think the concept of productizing a service makes excellent sense for taking your service offering and turning it into a ‘do it yourself’ product for prospects and clients to buy.

But when we talk about selling a no-proposal service where we’ve defined:

  • The scope of work
  • The deliverables
  • The timeframe
  • The price (optionally)

I think it’s better to talk about packaged services.

You’ve defined a package and you’re making it available for sale. Separately, you may have a productized service, where you’ve turned the service into a ‘Do It Yourself’ product.

With a productized service, you’re creating a product – book, training, software, etc. – based off of the service.

With a packaged service, you’re defining a white-glove, done-for-you, no-proposal service for your clients.

Should I start from a clear positioning or start wider and see what works?

When it comes to getting more clients as a freelancer or consultant, the most important question to ask yourself about your marketing is The Positioning Question.

Let’s say you’re starting a new consulting business. You’re wondering if you should:

  • Start with a specific positioning (target market) and problem that you’re solving (“Shopify” and “Search Engine Optimization,” for example)
  • Start with a wide positioning (“Search Engine Optimization”) and see what markets end up working with you and then niche down

You should start with a specific positioning.

Okay, I’m cheating here. These are actually two questions, but they’re equally important and come together as The Positioning Question.

Let’s Talk About “The Positioning Question”

What target market do you serve?

This should, ideally, be an industry (e.g., “Dentists”) or technology (e.g., “Shopify” or “Redmine”) vertical. It can be a horizontal (e.g., “eCommerce”), but that’s Playing On Hard Mode™ for most folks.

Better to focus on a vertical and expand from there.

What expensive problem do you solve for your target market?

This should be an outcome which represent the client’s desired and improved conditions.

The outcome of working on an Expensive Problem are never inputs (e.g., reports, focus groups, manuals) but rather always outputs (e.g., increased sales, reduced attrition, improved teamwork).


Everything I know about positioning for freelancers and consultants comes from my good friend and the “Dean of Positioning” Philip Morgan, creator of the free Positioning Crash Course and author of The Positioning Manual.

Sign up and/or buy those as soon as you can.

Positioning is important because it defines every single other aspect of your marketing as a freelancer or consultant.

If you do not know the target market you’re trying to reach, your marketing will be ineffective.

If you do not know the expensive problem you are solving or the outcome that represents the client’s desired and improved conditions, your marketing will be ineffective.

I’m serious. If you cannot answer The Positioning Question for your business, all of your marketing and lead acquisition will be less effective.

Sure, you can build a business, but you’re going to be pushing that boulder uphill.

Let’s look at the major marketing areas for a freelancer or consultant and see what happens if you don’t know the answer to The Positioning Question:

    • Positioning: “Who am I trying to reach with my marketing?” → If you can’t answer The Positioning Question, you, by definition, do not know.
    • Market Research: “What outcome is my target market looking to experience?” → If you can’t answer The Positioning Question, all you can do is guess at the problems they’re experiencing, not research the outcomes they’re looking to achieve.
    • Service Offerings: “What offerings do I make available to my target market?” → If you can’t answer who you’re serving or what expensive problems they’re looking to solve, you won’t know what service offerings to market in your business.
    • Marketing Messaging: “How do I communicate with my target market?” → If you don’t know who your target market is, you won’t know what messaging to use to effectively communicate with them. This is the difference between the headline on your homepage saying “Dynamic, innovative web solutions” and “We’ll turn your Shopify store into a Revenue-Generating Powerhouse of Persuasion” (n.b.,
    • Client Intake Automation: “How do I minimize the time that I spend educating, nurturing, and qualifying prospects and converting them from prospects into leads into clients?” → If you don’t know who your target market is and what problems they’re experiencing, you won’t be able to effectively educate, nurture, and qualify prospects.
    • Content Marketing: “What content should I create to educate prospects and demonstrate my authority?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to speak to or what questions they’re asking, you won’t be able to effectively create educational, informative, and entertaining content.
    • Outreach Marketing: “How do I reach my ideal prospect where they already are before they’ve heard of me?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, you won’t be able to identify where they spend time online or offline or the most effective way (podcasts, guest articles, interviews, webinars, conferences, presentations, meetups, etc.) to reach them and inform them that you’re around and available to help them achieve their outcomes or solve their problems.
    • Referral Marketing: “How do I turn one connection into referrals to multiple prospective clients?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach or what outcomes you’re helping them generate, you won’t be able to ask for referrals or create referrable moments in your business. (“Hey Jane, it was wonderful to help you achieve XYZ on our recent project. Do you know anyone else in INDUSTRY who is looking for help achieving OUTCOME?”)

You can build an effective 6-figure business without answering The Positioning Question but it’s heckin‘ hard.

Once you’ve identified your target market, the outcomes they’re looking to achieve, and the expensive problem they’re experiencing, it becomes much easier to market your business and get more clients.

When you have clear positioning, people start to seek you out.

Positioning. It’s very important.

I have two questions for you. Even if you don’t know the specific answer yet or your answers are aspirational (“I’m working on niching down to ____”), send me back your best guess answers to these questions:

    1. What is your target market? Who do you serve?
    2. What outcome do you help clients in your target market achieve? What expensive problem do you help them solve?

Is it easier to market to your best buyers or all buyers?

It is easier to find a list of “shopify stores” and then see if they need help with search engine optimization than it is to start with a wide positioning like “I do search engine optimization” and then niche down to a particular industry/market.

You want to focus on marketing to your ‘best’ buyers only. They will buy more from you.

Positioning is a marketing strategy. Positioning lets you know specifically who to target with your marketing.

With positioning, you’ll know who your ‘best’ buyers will be and can focus on acquiring them as subscribers. Appearing on podcasts like The Unofficial Shopify Podcast ( or writing in places where your customers spend their time (like contributing to /r/shopify or guest posting on Shopify’s blog).

Lots of people will want to work with you

Some people are worried that with positioning they’re turning potential clients away.

Let me set the record straight on this one: with positioning, you’re creating a client attractor. You are making it easier for your dream clients — your best buyers — to find you.

Other people will find you too.

For any business I’ve run that is heavily niched down to a specific market, I have had prospects contact me who are very outside of that market and ask to work together.

Why? Because clients see your positioning as a specialist in your market as a sign of experience, authority, and expertise. And clients and prospects both want to work with people who have experience, authority, and expertise.

So, by positioning yourself in one industry, you will still attract prospects, leads, and clients from other industries.

And if you’re niched down to a specific industry and take a client from a different industry, that doesn’t mean you need to completely change your business; rather, you can take on clients who are outside of your core positioning.

Those clients might be the sign that there are other markets you can work with or might just be a good client project and testimonial and not the best case study (because they’re outside of your core positioning).

But! Dear friend, you need not worry if you have a specific positioning and someone outside of that positioning wants to work with you.

Talk with that prospect. See if you can help them. If you can and you have capacity for a client, consider taking them on.

Taking on a prospect outside of your core positioning doesn’t diminish your positioning.

But you will be better off with a specific positioning for your business. Knowing who your best customers are. And marketing to them.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the best book you can (and should!) read on positioning. It’s The Positioning Manual ( by Philip Morgan and his advice and mentoring on positioning has helped thousands of freelancers and consultants.

Budgeting For Your Professional Development

Do you have an account set up for your continuing education as a business owner?

I do. I deposit $250 into it every month as part of my monthly budgeting. I use this money exclusively for investing in my own education:

  • Books
  • Courses
  • Training Programs
  • Conferences

The best part? Qualifying work-related education like maintaining or improving a skill (this could include refresher courses, courses on current development, and academic or vocational courses) is tax deductible in the US on your Schedule C (

Those eBooks to improve your design skills? That course on getting more clients for your business? Consult your local accountant to confirm, but they very well may be completely tax deductible. I am not an accountant.

What I am is a business owner. And every month, I give myself a budget to spend on education and professional development.

Every month, I give myself $250 to spend. And it’s mine to spend. If I want to learn more about referrals, I can buy 5 books on Amazon and charge my professional development account.

You should start paying yourself a professional development allowance. Why?

When you see a book, course, training, etc., that you want to buy, you know you’ve already budgeted for it.
You can save up for larger purchases (like a conference ticket) over a few months
Right now, I set aside $250/month into this account. There have been times where I set aside $50/month and times when I set aside $500/month.

What matters is this: intentionally investing in your education. And budgeting for that investment every single month, like you’d budget for your electricity or 401k or rent.

Your professional development is essential and important.

If you set aside $50/month, over the year you’ve made available $600 to invest in your education and professional development: books, courses, training, or even coaching.

Is it likely that this investment will pay for itself — and potentially many times over? Yes.

As a student of professional development, I can tell you first hand that every dollar you put into your professional development consistently has an exceedingly high return.

I can trace a business I ran for two years and that generated close to $350,000/yr in revenue to a single article I read in a journal I subscribed to for $50/month.

When you budget for your professional development, you make it easy to invest in your professional development.

You see an book on Amazon that will help you improve your skills or understanding of your target market? Boom, you buy it.

Because you’ve already budgeted for it, you don’t have to worry about where the money will come from.

So, within your business budget, dedicate a line-item — $25, $50, $150, or something else every month — to investing in your professional development.



What’s the number one way to get more amazing clients?

Yesterday we answered a reader question:

“What’s the best way to go from my first client to getting more?”


Today, let’s discuss another, similar question:

What’s the number one way to get more amazing clients?

Now, first off, what’s interesting to me about this question is how we can contrast and compare them.

For the second question we’re looking to get more of a specific type of clients: in this case, our best buyers. Amazing clients.

For the first question, we were looking to go from the first client to multiple clients. We talked about using referrals to get introduced to other companies who need a similar service done for them.

For the second question, well, this is where it gets interesting and we start to answer the question.

So, we want to get more amazing clients, which means that on a chart some clients are ‘amazing’ and some are ‘not amazing’ and we want to add more to the ‘amazing’ column.

First off, you want to define who these amazing clients. This is Specialization or Positioning, see Philip Morgan (

You define the criteria for your amazing clients (industry, size, location, etc.) to help you understand the market that you want to reach.

Second, you want to define what outcome these businesses are looking for. “Amazing clients are clients who are looking to [INSERT OUTCOME HERE].

Your job is to help your clients from where they currently are to where they want to be.

So, now you understand your target market and the expensive problem that they need your help to solve.

That’s your definition of an amazing client. Woohoo!

Now, second part: we want more of these clients. So how do we reach them?

First, ask yourself ‘where do these clients spend their time?’ Then, go there.

If that’s conferences, start speaking at and attending those conferences. If it’s another channel — magazines, trade organizations, trade shows, content sites, etc. — you want to get acce through that channel.

The three strategies that I, personally, like?


Out of your existing client list, identify 3-5 clients that (mostly) match your criteria for your amazing clients.

Reach out to them to stimulate conversations and see if they know of other businesses that would benefit from your help solving a problem.

Podcast Outreach

Podcasts can be an amazing channel to reach your target market — if they actively listen to podcasts and there is a niche of podcasts specifically for your target market.

Podcasts are a great marketing channel to reach the clients you’ve identified as amazing clients because a podcast appearance gives you 20, 30, or 50+ minutes to educated the listeners — your best clients — on how you can help them solve the problem they’re experiencing.

Direct Outreach

If you have a clear idea of:

  1. Who you’re trying to reach
  2. What problem they’re experiencing
  3. How you can help

Then direct outreach can work very very well.

What’s direct outreach? It’s identifying and then qualifying companies, finding the appropriate contact information for an individual at each qualified company, and then stimulating a conversation with them focused on understanding if they’re experiencing the problem that you solve, if they’re already investing in solving the problem, and if they’re the right person to speak with about this problem.


What’s the number one way to get more amazing clients?

First, define who those amazing clients are. Describe them with such clarity that when people hear you talk about them, they think ‘I know exactly who you’re talking about!’

Next, identify where these clients, spend their time. Conferences? Reading a trade magazine? Listening to a podcast? Following a writer? Something else?

Then, be active there.

Additionally, three systems that work to connect with these clients — once you’ve defined who your amazing clients are so that you know who to reach — are referrals (, podcast outreach (, and direct outreach (



What’s the best way to go from my first client to getting more?

A reader writes in with this excellent question:

What’s the best way to go from my first client (ghost-written content) to getting more?

An excellent question. Let’s think through how we’d get more clients.

First off, don’t overlook repeat projects with this existing client. Simply saying “It was wonderful to work on PROJECT with you. Do you need more help with PROBLEM or OUTCOME?” can get you a second project.

Simply showing up and saying “I’m available for another project. Would you like some more help?” can result in more work.

But the reader is asking how to get more clients so that they can build a business. Good. I like that.

So, let’s talk about how to get more clients.

The first strategy I’d reach for would be referrals.

Referrals can get you direct introductions to other potential customers in your market.

  • You can ask your first client who they’d like to see you work with next.
  • You can ask your first client if they have any colleagues who could also use ghost-written content

(Those are two of the referral systems described in the video training program “Referral Systems” available here for $77:

You can also use referrals with your network.

Let’s say that you identify 20 people you know (LinkedIn Connections, friends, colleagues, etc.) at companies that use content in some capacity (articles, case studies, emails, etc.).

You reach out to these 20 people and

  1. You let them know that you’re looking for new clients who need ghost-written content
  2. You let them know you’re looking for referrals to other businesses that they may know of

You aren’t pitching yourself (though this type of referral outreach could very well generate an immediate client or two for you) you’re asking for a referral to a company or colleague in their network who could use your services.

Why is this important?

They get to look like a hero. If they know someone who needs ghost-written content and they show up with a referral, they look great.

Heck, I’ll do you one better. You could ask for referrals to companies that your colleagues know of who have had content ghost-written for them in the past. That way, you’re identifying companies who are potential candidates for your services in the future.

Someone who has purchased ghost-writing services in the past is likely to purchase ghost-writing services again in the future. Why not from you?

Whatever you do, I recommend following “The Rule of Twenty” in your referrals.

Start by identifying twenty people for your referral outreach. These could be friends, colleagues, industry associates, past clients, current clients, or companies you’ve identified.

Then, start your outreach to them.

Once you’ve finished your outreach, identify another twenty prospects to contact.

By keeping your outreach efforts small, you make it easier to sustain your outreach and avoid getting burnt out.

So, dear reader, in answer to your question:

What’s the best way to go from my first client (ghost-written content) to getting more?

  1. Let your first client know that you’re available for another project
  2. Ask your first client for referrals to other companies (or colleagues) they know of who need ghost-written content
  3. Identify twenty prospects who might be in need of ghost-written content, have purchased ghost-written content in the past, or know of companies who have purchased ghost-written content in the past. Contact them and ask for referrals.


So, in my mastermind we often talk about the power of positioning and use the example of a ‘dog lawyer’ as someone with crispy, laser focused positioning.

Imagine the cocktail party conversation

Me: So, what do you do?

Them: Oh, I’m a dog lawyer?

Me: A dog lawyer?! Tell me more!

The power of a crisp, summary statement of what you do (“Shopify Revenue Expert,” “Get in front of your dream customer on podcasts”) is an easy way to know if your positioning is crispy or lukewarm.



Look At This Website. I think it is executed incredibly well.

Let’s take a look at the first paragraph:

Zandra Anderson is a Houston trial attorney who now devotes her practice to animal law.

We have social proof (trial attorney), specificity (animal law), and geographic location (Houston).

She has handled numerous dog law cases, but has also worked with owners of cats, horses, ferrets, birds, monkeys, lemurs and has even consulted on an elephant matter.

And we see a graceful expansion from the core focus of dog law to a wider range of animals.

When we look at the service offerings, we can see a similar range of offerings that make sense for someone looking for a dog lawyer

  • Breed Specific Legislation
  • Ownership/Custody Disputes
  • Dangerous Dog Declarations
  • Injury to & Loss of Pet
  • Rescue Organization Issues
  • Civil Cruelty Seizures
  • Criminal Cruelty
  • Dog Bite Issues
  • Veterinary Liability
  • Animal Professional Liability (kennel operators, pet sitters, dog trainers, etc.)
  • Home Owner Association issues regarding dog ownership
  • Contract Issues (Adoption & Breeder)
  • Kennel Name Infringement
  • Consultant to Local Governments regarding Animal Laws
  • Consultant to Rescue Organizations
  • Advocate at State and Local levels for fair dog laws

Did I realize you could have this many service offerings related to dogs and/or animal law?

Not. In. The. Least.

But it makes sense. The deeper you go on a niche, the more specific you can get in your service offerings and when someone has an issue with a dog bit and is looking for a lawyer to handle the case, this narrow, specific positioning puts Zandra at the top of the pack (pun intended).

Zandra is doing a ton right here. I wanted to share this narrow, niche positioning with you as an example of the depth you can go to when you focus on a specific, narrow, niche.

Thank you Zandra! (And thank you Bruce for sending this my way!)



The History of Kai’s Positioning

Can I ask you how positioning worked for for you? Was it when you were just starting out? A few months in?

A reader writes in with this excellent question about positioning. Thank you Chris!

I talk about my personal positioning journey in an episode of Make Money Online ( “What’s your favorite positioning?”).

In this episode, Nick and I discuss positioning and our approaches to it. (MMO Archive Listeners / MMO True Fans: hit reply and let me know if there’s another episode or two that talks about my history or nick’s history with positioning).

My story? I started out as a completely undifferentiated generalist.

I was working a day job that I didn’t enjoy and I took what had been a hobby/skill – building WordPress websites – and started charging money for it.

Positioning was in essence “Got money? I can build a WordPress website!” I was focused on providing a service to people that already knew what solution they needed.

I focused on that for awhile and landed some okay clients, but more often than not my clients were prescriptive ‘do this, not that’ and the work was at a lower-than-ideal hourly rate. But it was higher than The Old Day Job, so I was happy.

I connected with a startup that bought up all of my hours each month for a few months — an almost employee situation, in retrospect — but I had other clients and businesses on the side, so they remained a ‘whale client’ while we worked together.

But then, ✨positioning ✨.

When I approached positioning for my business, I approached it with the mindset that I was willing to learn a new skill in order to deliver on solutions that would solve the problem that my target market was experiencing.

I didn’t care if I hadn’t done something before, I was willing to learn.

I asked myself “Kai, what services do people seem to be spending money on?”

“People always want more traffic: SEO, Paid, Referral…”

And then I asked “Alright, who has money and is paying for these services?”

“eCommerce stores. Shopify stores.”

And I asked “Can I see this market paying for SEO?”

And I googled and found dozens of products and services and knew that this was a market that spent money on this type of problem.

So, I combined the problem, the solution, and the target market into a positioning statement:

I help Shopify stores get more traffic through Search Engine Optimization. Unlike my competitors, I’m focused on white-hat, sustainable, long-term strategies for increasing your traffic.

I arrived at (1) a combination that represented an actual, viable market and (2) was a skill I was willing to learn.

You see, at this point, I didn’t do SEO.

Not at all.

So I invested 20 hours into researching eCommerce SEO.

  • Who bought it?
  • What did it look like?
  • What should the pricing be?
  • What was included in the service?
  • How can I Shopify store owners?
  • What does a Standard Operating Procedure look like for an SEO Audit?

Then, I defined the first draft of the service offering.

I contacted a few Shopify stores in my network and a Shopify agency that I knew might refer me work. I landed my first clients through the combination of specific positioning and outreach. Creating a Referrable Moment (™.

Why did this work? Because my positioning was:

  • A target market that was spending money (people pay a monthly fee to use Shopify and successful Commerce stores have a number of customers and a steady revenue stream) 
  • A pain that was VERY top of mind (everyone wants more traffic because traffic turns into sales) 

This positioning made it easy to communicate what I did

You? Shopify store. Me? More traffic.

I eventually re-niched on a different problem to focus on (same market) and then a new market with the same problem.

I’ve changed positioning a number of times, each time in pursuit of answering the question “What are people spending money on?” or “Who is spending money on this?”

Does changing your positioning hurt your business? No. It’s a strategic decision to focus on a new problem or a new market, and what I discovered is that 75% of the content, intellectual property, marketing, and authority I had invested my time in ended up carrying over to the new positioning

(Just this morning I received an inbound lead from the FIRST podcast I ever appeared on)

Your Turn: Hit reply to this email and (1) let me know your #1 question about positioning and (2) let me know what your positioning statement is

(I’m help TARGET MARKET achieve OUTCOME through SKILL/SERVICE. Unlike my competitors, I…)



How do you get your name known as a freelancer?

Let’s say you’re a freelancer — Dana the Developer — and you want to get your name known:

  • As a go-to developer or
  • As an expert at solving a particular problem or
  • As a specialist in working with a particular target market

You want to increase the number of people who know of you, your work, and your reputation.

But how do you do this? How do you tackle getting your name known in your target market?

A lot of it seems like luck and happenstance. Someone releases a plugin or an open source project. Or their book comes out. Or they’re on a burst of podcasts. And suddenly everyone is talking about them. But you know of people with a half-a-dozen open source projects or a book and no one knows their name.

From the outside, it looks so cryptic. What are you supposed to do? And how do you know if it’s working?

But from the inside, let me tell you that getting your name known in your industry is actually the application of a simple framework.

If you want to get your name known as a freelancer, you need to do two things:

  1. Pick a thing you want to be known for
  2. Get good at talking with people about the thing

Pick a thing you want to be known for

The common theme between anyone known for a thing is that they’ve picked a thing they want to become known for. This connects to one of my directives, a list of statements to help guide me in my business and life.

Directive #7: You will become known for doing what you do.

Pick a thing you want to be known for.

For my public relations clients, my coaching students who are working with me to promote their work, and the readers of my book Podcast Outreach (, I break this down with a series of exercises and worksheets that help them identify what they want to become known for.

It breaks down to becoming known for:

  • Your area of expertise or
  • Solving a common problem or
  • An opinion contrary to your industry

Then, you do the thing. Often. And you let people know about it.


Jonathan Stark → Hourly Billing Is Nuts (Controversial Opinion)

Philip Morgan → Positioning is fundamental to getting more leads (Solution to a common problem)

And then you get good at telling people about what you do

Become comfortable about telling people what you do.

Pick a way to promote your knowledge and expertise and get your name known.

An incomplete and growing list of ways to get your name known as a freelancer

(If I’ve left something obvious or esoteric off the list, hit reply and let me know)

  • Guest on podcasts ( ← the definitive guide on how to get on podcasts as a guest expert)
  • Host a podcast
  • Write a book ( Distill your best recommendations as a consultant into something that lives online or in print)
  • Attend conferences
  • Liveblog conferences
  • Speak at conferences
  • Host conferences or meet ups
  • Guest on webinars
  • Host webinars
  • Write regularly (email list, blog, etc.)

About the thing you want to be known for.

Just because I know some people reading this will go “I need to do all of that?!” let me be clear: you need to do a few of these.

  • 1: You will slowly become known
  • 2-3: You will become known at a moderate pace
  • 4+: You will rapidly become known

If Dana the Developer writes a monthly blog post answering common questions about hiring a developer or questions that her prospects are asking, Dana will slowly become known as a go-to person.

Now if Dana implements a marketing plan like:

  • Guest on podcasts 2x/month, talking about solutions to common problems
  • Host a podcast 4x/month, talking about his/her area of expertise
  • Write a book every year, sharing his/her views
  • Write a weekly article, publishing it to an email list

Dana will rapidly become known.

If Dana has a specific target market (Ecommerce companies running WooCommerce) and expensive problem (Sell more by developing custom solutions) then Dana can easily target her efforts.

But even if Dana is in a generalist position as, say, an iOS Developer with no particular target market or expensive problem picked out, then Dana can use these same strategies to become known as a freelancer.

When I wanted to become known as the go-to person for Outreach Marketing, I guested on podcasts — over 50 of them — to talk about Outreach Marketing. I write two books on Outreach marketing. I spoke at four conferences on topics about Outreach Marketing.

And I become known as the go-to person for my target market — software companies — who were looking to invest in outreach marketing. I built a very successful agency on the back of this two step process to get your nam known as a freelancer:

  1. Pick a thing you want to be known for
  2. Get good at talking with people about the thing

Write Great Emails

When you’re writing an email, do find yourself struggling to write a great email?

Even if you have a swipe file (for common emails and situations) it can still be a challenge to write something that:

  1. Is clear
  2. Gets a reply
  3. Doesn’t take a lot of time to write

Let’s talk about 5 key elements when it comes to writing great emails

Make Them ‘You’ Focused

What is a ‘you’ focused email? A you focused email is an email written with a focus on the recipient.

Avoid words like ‘I’ or ‘Me.’ Focus on words like ‘you.’

(You can read more about this at

By writing your email you the recipient and talking about them instead of talking about your company or yourself, you make your email more interesting to the recipient.

Have a Clear ‘Call to Action’

What is a ‘call to action’? A call to action (or CTA) is the instructions that tell the reader what to do next (‘call to action’) and what to expect after they do that thing.

We can compare and contrast two separate CTAs to see the benefit of a clear call to action that explains what happens next

Just hit reply and let me know your thoughts

As a next step, let’s schedule a time for a 20-minute conversation to discuss this. You can pick the time that works best for you on my calendar here (LINK). Once you pick a time, I’ll send over a short agenda before our call.

By having a clear call to action that explains what the recipient should do next and what will happen once they do that thing, you remove uncertainty.

“This is the next step. We have a meeting and we discuss it.” is a lot clearer than ‘Let me know your thoughts…’

Informative Subject Line

Your subject line has a singularly job: get your email opened.

To achieve that, an informative subject line that helps educate the reader on what to do next is your best option (

I, personally, fall back to


Very often in my outreach as it’s an easy to use informative subject line. Could it be improve on? Heck yeah. Does it get the job done? Heck yeah.

Write in an Informal Style

How do you write an email to a friend or colleague? How do you write an email to a potential business prospect?

Review your emails and contrast the styles of the two. For me, my business-focused emails get a bit…


And lose the casual, conversational style that I enjoy.

The best way to learn how to write your business emails in a casual, informal style is to read and review your casual, informal emails and see how you write them

  • Do you include a greeting?
  • Do you jump into the content immediately?
  • How do you phrase the calls-to-action?
  • How long are the emails?

And then start to mimic the positive traits you see in your casual, informal emails.

Write Short Emails

Aim for 300 words in your emails. Short with a single call to action. If there is additional information you need to share, then include the executive (tl;dr) summary and:

  • Link to the additional information
  • Attach the additional information as as report
  • Let the recipient know you’ll share the full report for them to review before your call/meeting