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A question comes in:

A pitch question – I’ve been doing SEO and digital marketing for a local heating and air conditioning business. A couple weeks in, things seem to be going well; however, their website is really holding them back.

How would you go about pitching a new website to someone that doesn’t see that a bad website = fewer conversions? The last person kind of burned them with a “you need a new website because you do” attitude, and totally made a mess of things.

The first step is reaching an agreement with the client on what they see as the objective for their website.

Is it

  • Promotion?
  • Awareness?
  • Lead generation?
  • Something else?

You’re looking for an answer that aligns with the money: leads, conversions, phone calls, etc.

If your client doesn’t view their website as a business investment that exists to help them make money, then you’re going to have a hard time convincing them of the value in a new website.

Let’s assume that your client has The Number One Business Desire of any service business:

They want more leads.

How do you help your client move in that direction? Especially when the client is resistant to the idea of a new website?

Explain to your client that their website is a salesperson. Like any salesperson, it is important to review performance regularly and see if there is room for improvement. (https://kaidavis.com/work-with-me/website-review/)

Track down answers to these questions (or ask your client):

Over the last 60 days:

  • How much traffic did their website receive?
  • How many conversions did their website generate? (leads)
  • How many clients did their website generate? (leads who paid)
  • What is the value of a client for their business?

Then, analyze their information.

How do their metrics compare to industry best practices? Is their website underperforming in any areas? (low conversion rate, low traffic)? What stands out to you?

If nothing stands out — reasonable traffic, conversion rates, and value — then they might not need a new website.

If something stands out, then you want to build a case for why a new website is a valuable investment for them.

Let’s say that…

  • Their website’s conversion rate is 1% (1 out of 100 visitors become a lead)
  • Their website gets 1,000 visitors/month (10 leads/month)
  • 50% of leads turn into paying clients (5 clients/month)
  • A client is worth $1,000 ($5,000 in revenue/month)

Industry best practices show that a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 3% is reasonable and achievable.

What would be the potential upside for the client if they invest in a new website?

  • Their website converts at 3% (3 out of 100 visitors become a lead)
  • Their website gets 1,000 visitors/month (30 leads/month)
  • 50% of leads turn into paying clients (15 clients/month)
  • A client is worth $1,000 ($15,000 in revenue/month)

In this scenario, we can see that investing in a new website can make sense for the business.

If their conversion rate increases, their number of leads and paying clients will increase. They will make more money.

For your client, you want to follow a similar process to build your case:

  • Reach agreement on the objective for the website
  • Collect facts about how the site has been performing
  • Review the facts and see if there are opportunities for improvement
  • Build a case for why this would be a valuable investment

Outline the potential upside for your client. Then, have a conversation with them.

“Time for lunch!”

Here’s your challenge:

  1. Pick a colleague or business owner you know in your city or town
  2. Send them a text or an email and invite them out to lunch
  3. Use the lunch conversation as an opportunity to practice focusing the conversation on learning about their industry and answering their questions about what you do

(Pro Tip: Bring a notepad with you and take notes. It’s always a good idea to write down the questions that people ask you.)

You are the sum of your network. So spend time with your network, actively nurturing those connections.

When you see them, ask them about how they’re doing:

  • What are they up to in life?
  • What book have they read recently that stuck with them? Why does it stand out?
  • What’s new in business?
  • What projects are they working on?
  • What’s the ‘hot topic’ or ‘new goodness’ in their industry?

And, in turn, answer their questions for you about what you’re up to and what’s new with you.

(Pro Tip: These conversations are a great way to practice saying out loud with type of clients you work with, what outcomes you help with, and what problems you solve)

Alright, now it’s time for you to take action.

First, pick someone. Look on LinkedIn, in your phone, on Twitter, or at your past clients. Who do you want to learn more about today?

Second, send just one person a text and invite them out to lunch this week.




A friend asked me a riff in jazz of:

I’m planning on quitting my job in a month. I want to start freelancing. What should I do to get my first client?

I told them that the most valuable thing they could do would be to go out and get rejected by 10 business owners in their target market.

If they did that in a month, they’d be miles ahead of the game by the time they quit their job.

The most valuable thing you can do as a freelancer or consultant is to learn more about your target market. As you learn more about your target market, you’ll understand the pains and problems they’re experiencing, where they spend money, and what industry shibboleths you’ll need to know to blend in.

It doesn’t matter how much industry knowledge you already have1, you will learn about your target market by having conversations with people who are in your target market.

You want to get out there and work on starting conversations with people. If they respond, that’s a success! If they don’t respond, that’s also a success.

When you make an intentional effort at talking with people in your target market, you’re also spending time on things that will help you better understand your target market:

  • You’re making a decision on what market to target
  • You’re researching where you can find them, online and offline
  • You’re reading articles about them, for them, and by them
  • You’re watching videos and consuming information written about them
  • You’re learning how to write emails to them
  • You’re learning how to follow-up and what to say in your follow-up emails

These are all incredibly valuable outputs while you’re working on an outcome like “have conversations with people in your target market.” That’s one of the topics covered in The Independent Consulting Manual (https://kaidavis.com/independent-consulting-manual/).

And those are your outputs if you do not succeed in starting conversations with people in your target market. That’s what happens if you get rejected.

If you set a goal of:

Have 10 conversations with people in your target market

and send 20 emails and get 0 replies, the rejection implicit in those ‘empty’ replies can make the experience feel like a failure.

You set out to do the thing. You did the thing.

You did the correct things in the right order.

It didn’t work.

That sucks.

Well, it depends on how you look at it.

Having conversations is a bit of a leap of faith. It takes two to tango and all that jazz.

Let’s reframe a goal like

Have 10 conversations with…

Around what you actually have control over: the number of people you try and get in touch with.

What’s the most likely result of you trying to get in touch with someone?

Most likely, it will be “They Did Not Reply “.


Count your rejections. Aim to be rejected.

Take joy in being rejected.

If you are rejected by 10, 20, or 100 people in your target market, that means that you’ve taken the time, invested the energy, and done the work to start conversations with those 10, 20, or 100 people.

Along the way, you’ll have learned a surprising amount about your target market.

You might even land a client or two.



  1. It’s binary. You have “some” or “none.”

“Discover How The World Sees You”

A little bit ago, I sent out an email about the 16Personalities Personality Test.

Since then, I’ve taken and enjoyed another personality test — The Fascination Advantage https://www.howtofascinate.com/.

Where 16Personalities was great at helping me better understand me, The Fascination Advantage has helped me better understand how to market me.

Over to TFA:

How do clients and coworkers see you at your best?

The Fascinate® Personality Test is the first way to measure your personal brand’s most impressive qualities.

Find out:

  • How you are most likely to make a brilliant first impression
  • How your personality adds value to teams
  • Potential “watch-outs” for your communication


The Fascination Advantage: branding, not psychology

The Fascinate® Personality Test is based on a commissioned study by Kelton Global. It measured how people interact with brands, and the different communication styles humans respond to. We found seven different advantages: Innovation, Passion, Power, Prestige, Trust, Mystique and Alert.

While not as good as a 1-on-1 brand workshop for freelancers (If you need one of those, email me. I know someone who is accepting referrals), The Fascination Advantage can give you a look into how clients see you at your best.

Take the free Fascination Advantage here: https://www.howtofascinate.com/

And hit reply and let me know what the test told you and if you think it’s accurate or not.



Freelancers: how to spend less time in crappy meetings

Do you feel frustrated at crappy, time-wasting meetings?

Here are three rules you can follow to make your meetings more actionable and less sucky:

Rule #1: Every meeting must have an agenda

If it doesn’t have an agenda, it isn’t a meeting.

Rule #2: Every meeting must have a meeting owner

If it doesn’t have a defined meeting owner, it isn’t a meeting.

Rule #3: The meeting owner should create the agenda

The meeting owner should spend at least as much time writing the agenda for the meeting as is scheduled for the meeting.

45-minute meeting? Spend 45-minutes working on the agenda.

If you follow these three rules, you’ll notice your meetings will be less sucky and more productive.



Today? You start building your email list

The only sustainable way to build an audience is through your own email list.

You shouldn’t build an audience on Twitter or Instagram.

You shouldn’t rely on your LinkedIn connections.

Don’t even think about relying on Facebook to build an audience of your fans.

Companies and applications change hands all the time. Features are added and removed from apps every day. Facebook and their family of apps went down today.

That’s an alarming experience. What if you’ve spent a year or three building up your audience on Facebook — and now you can’t reach them?

When you build your audience on someone else’s platform — like Instagram, Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Youtube… — you’re taking an unnecessary risk because you don’t control your connections on that platform.

The platform controls those connections.

What happens when the platform goes down? Gets acquired? Shut down? (hello, vine!)


You’ve lost your audience.

With email, it’s a completely different experience.

With email, you are the owner of the list of your fans, followers, audience: your subscribers. These are the people who have said: “I want to hear from you!”

If you decide to switch email platforms, all you need to do is mash the big ol’ EXPORT MY SUBSCRIBERS button, and you’ll get a nice and tidy export of your subscribers.

After that, it’s as easy as importing your list to your new platform of choice.

Then, continue to send your emails.

You can’t do that with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

You can with email marketing.

With email marketing, you own your audience and connections.

How should you get started with building your email list?


Buttondown is:

The easiest way to run your newsletter


If you just want a place where you can copy and paste some Markdown or HTML, send it to a bunch of people, and be on your merry way, confident that it looks good and nothing explodes — this is the solution for you

Buttondown is an excellent product. The founder and I had a call to talk about email and Buttondown. It was terrific to connect with someone who is passionate about a frictionless, pleasant email experience.

I’m recommending Buttondown to you today because I believe it is the easiest way for you to get started with email marketing. And I believe that cultivating a skill in email marketing is one of the most impactful and important things you can do for your business and your marketing.

The email marketing skills you start cultivating today will pay off for you and your business 1, 3, and 5+ years down the line.

Your Homework: Sign up for Buttondown!

If you’ve been waiting to get started with email marketing, get started today.

Buttondown is free (and also has a $29/mo professional plan). The free plan is great to get you started.


Step 1: Sign up for Buttondown

Go over to their website https://buttondown.email/ and sign up.

Step 2: Set up your newsletter

Go through Buttondown’s onboarding. Configure the settings for your email newsletter: your name, the newsletter name, and other details.

Step 3: Invite your friends!

Send a personal message to 10 of your friends, colleagues, or connections on social media.

Ask each person if they’d like to be on your new newsletter.

If they say yes, send them a link to a page with your Buttondown Email Form so your subscriber can sign up for your newsletter.

Step 4: Make the clackety clack noise

Focus on writing some text and sending it to people. Forget about complex automation or workflows.

Here’s a template you can copy, customize, and send (I recommend replacing the ‘THING, THING, and THING’ with your topic(s) of choice) to invite your friends along for the journey.

Heya! I’m writing a short, weekly letter about THING, THING, and THING. Would you like to read it when I send it out? Having you as a reader would mean the world to me.

If you don’t want to receive it, that’s fine, just hit reply and let me know.

If you’d like to get my weekly letter, just hit reply and say “Heck yeah! What next?”

Now, go and sign up for Buttondown.email.




Recognize the fact that your leads are human.

When someone buys something from you, they have a Value (V) in mind for the service they’re buying.

They decide to purchase your service because they perceive the Value (V) they’ll receive by purchasing as higher than the Price (P) you’re charging.

V > P

Your Price (P) for your service shouldn’t equal your Cost (C) for the service — your Price should be higher than your Cost.

Your Cost is what it costs you to perform the service.

– X hours to design a logo
– Y hours to take an app from concept to cloud _(internal proof of concept)_
– Z hours to run an outreach marketing campaign

Your Price (P) should be higher than your Cost (C).

P > C

Put that together, and you have

V > P > C


Value (to the buyer) > Price (to the buyer) > Cost (for the seller)

Why is this important?

If you increase the value of your service, you should raise the price of your service. If you add a new deliverable or got better at some aspect of the service, the value has increased. Raise your rates.

If you’re looking to raise the price of your service, an easy way to accomplish that is to increase the value of your service.


A Marketing Professor told my class in college about how when he was starting up his marketing agency he had to pick between two cities:

  • He could set up shop in his hometown in Illinois where there would be no competition
  • He could set up shop in San Diego where there were 87 other marketing agencies

No brainer, right?

  • Pick “Hometown, Illinois”
  • Set up shop
  • Be the #1 marketing agency in town


Not quite.

Whenever you’re evaluating a target market, you want to pause to make sure your target market spends money. Ideally? You’re setting your business up next to a river of cash.

If your target market doesn’t spend money, then you do not want to work with that target market.

This should be part of your Market Research process: pause and confirm that your target market spends money on consultants.

Call this the “Monetarysearch.”

You want to focus on a target market that can afford you, and that spends money on consultants.

If your target market doesn’t spend money, doesn’t spend money on consultants, or can’t afford you, you want to pick a different target market.

In my Professor’s case, he ended up setting up business in San Diego.

The absence of any existing competitors in his hometown made him consider if there was enough demand to keep them in business.

Because he paused and did this Monetarysearch, he realized that the 87 competitors meant there was a tremendous amount of demand for marketing in San Diego.

He set up shop in San Diego and went into business. He didn’t need to be the best marketing agency out there, he just needed to be the 80th best or the 69th best.

How can you apply this to your own business?

Well, it works great as you’re thinking about and deciding between target markets or niches.

First, as part of your market research, do a bit of Monetarysearch. Check to see if your target market spends money. If so, what do they spend money on? Consultants? Like you?

Second, look for competitors that are already serving your target market. If you can find the competitors, that’s a good sign. That means that there is demand for the services you’ll be selling.

Third, reach out to — wait, nope, hold on, that’s a lesson from Get More Leads (https://kaidavis.com/leads/), releasing at the end of March.

Competition can mean you’re setting up business next to a river of cash. And that’s a good thing.



“I want to be an influencer, Kai!”

The easiest way to become an influencer as a consultant is by picking a super small, niche market, becoming a ‘Consulting Niche Celebrity’ (https://kaidavis.com/becoming-a-consulting-niche-celebrity/), and then expanding over time.

First, what the hell is an influencer?

Google’s knowledge box tells me that an Influencer is:

Someone with an audience and who has the power to affect purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience. Someone who has a following in a particular niche.

Think “Instagrammers with a big following” or “People with an email list you read regularly.” Things like that.

Becoming an influencer is an excellent goal for every single freelancer and consultant.

I’m a big fan of this approach. Becoming a ‘Consulting Niche Celebrity’ is the Top Tier™ of Marketing and Personal Branding for consultants.

Let’s say you’ve embraced the idea of Personality Powered Marketing/Influencer Marketing. You want to become an influencer.

The challenge?

The reason why I say do not focus on becoming an influencer in the short- or medium-term?

It’s all (ALL!) an audience/numbers game.

You’re an influencer when you have an audience and a platform.

No audience? You’re not an influencer.

To become an influencer, you need to focus on ‘stacking the bricks’ and building an audience (Ideally? An audience as a mailing list.)

Building a mailing list gives you an audience and a platform. It’s the long game (seriously: it is a long-game play)and it works (seriously: it works very well).

There are shortcuts. I’ve yet to see more than a handful that meets the requirements of the Project Design Tetrahedron:

  • Fast
  • Good
  • Cheap
  • Predictable Results

(Pick Three)

How can you efficiently move from freelancer to influencer? It takes time.

The best path I’ve seen from freelancer to influencer is this:

First, pick a specific target market (even if you’re iterating through different target markets over time) to focus your marketing.

Picking a target market is an exercise to make it easier for you to know what opportunities to focus on.

If you’re trying to reach Shopify Store Owners and you have an opportunity to reach WordPress Plugin Developers, you’ll know to say

> No, that is not a market I am looking to reach, thank you for the opportunity. I must pass at this time.

Then, start building your email list.

Work on growing your email list for the next 2-5+ years. Building your email list is now the central focus of your business.

We just had a great ‘Lunch and Learn’ presentation on going form 0 to 200 email subscribers for Freelance Camp community members. All presentations are saved and shared for new members to watch and dig into with a https://freelance.campmembership.

Then, Write. Write consistently.

Write in service of your current target market. Produce content. More content. Share your views on topics. Curate your thoughts from months of writing and discover where you have strong opinions.

Ship a small, initial, self-published book for your target market.

Essentially, a piece of 10x content (https://moz.com/blog/how-to-create-10x-content-whiteboard-friday) as a PDF book.

The goal is demonstrating that you a lot about this topic and are an authority vis a vis the book you wrote on this topic.

You goal isn’t to make money with this book. (Here’s a personal reference article of mine on how to ‘Write Your Book’ http://kaidavis.com/write-your-book).

Pause to congratulate yourself!

Congratulations! You’ve picked a target market, you’ve started building an email list, you’ve written content for your target market, you’ve discovered your strong opinions, and you’ve shipped your lean self-published book.

You are awesome.

Do a Podcast Tour

Use your email list, existing content, and book as leverage for why you’re relevant to be a guest on podcasts that your target market listens to. Do a podcast tour. Guest on 6-12+ podcasts. Grow your email list.

Rinse and repeat.

Each time you go through this cycle, you get more efficient and see the easy wins within it, and grow your audience. Even if your change target markets/niches, you get to take your content, authority, and email list with you. That’s a huge advantage.

Building an audience and becoming an influencer takes time.

Becoming an influencer as a consultant is very much doable as a medium- or long-term goal.

Picking a Super Narrow Target Market or Niche is a powerful additive when you have a goal of becoming an influencer.


It shrinks the size of the population you want to recognize you as an influencer.

Again, it’s a numbers game. When you pick a specific, narrow target market or niche you’re shrinking the size of the audience you need to grow.

Let’s say you want to be seen as as an authority in the Shopify Ecommerce space. There are 800,000+ Shopify stores.

That’s a ton.

Let’s say you decide you want to pick a narrow target market or niche to focus on.

Shopify Stores selling CBD Dog Treats to help Dog Anxiety.

Boom. Narrow niche. (And look at the Shopify stores in that niche that we can find with a quick Google search: https://www.google.com/searchq=”powered+by+shopify”+”cbd”+”dog+treats”).

If you pick a super narrow niche, you’re choosing a ‘smaller pool’ to become an influencer in. You’re going from 800,000+ potential clients and people you’re looking to reach to a much smaller sub-section of that target market.

Because this is a smaller target market, you can more easily become an influencer.

Then, iterate through similar, related target markets and build up your status as an influencer.

You started with “CBD Dog Treats to help Dog Anxiety.”

From there, maybe you go a little broader and say “I’m working with Shopify stores selling products to calm dog anxiety.”

(Hey, look at the Shopify stores we can find within that niche: https://www.google.com/search?q=”powered+by+shopify”+”dog+anxiety”+%28″medication”+OR+”relief”%29).

What do you do then?

  1. Write content.
  2. Get more traffic.
  3. Grow your email list.
  4. Create relationships with people in your target market
  5. Rinse, repeat.
  6. Chop wood, carry water.
  7. Play the long game.



The Roadmapping Horror Story

They were a dream lead for my business.

We met and I told them the first steps of working together: a paid Roadmapping Session. We’d talk about their goals for their website, how they were dissatisfied with their current site, and what new features they wanted.

Payment awaited me at their office.

I was ecstatic. I’d sold a Roadmapping Session. I was making the move from Contractor to Consultant.

I get an email from them the day of the meeting. They were letting me know:

  • They needed to cancel the meeting
  • They had no cash on hand as a business
  • They would be unable to afford the roadmap and might be going out of business

I was (again!) ecstatic. Why? Because I hadn’t spent time writing a proposal only to then find out they couldn’t afford the project.

I saved hours of work by saying:

The first step in working together is a Roadmapping Session

Roadmapping Sessions protect you from what would otherwise be business horror stories.

I know too many freelancers who tell variations in jazz of the same story:

  • They found a great lead
  • The proposal was approved
  • Payments were set at milestones
  • …and then the client ghosts and the freelancer is left holding the bag

Save your time, energy, and attention for people who are paying you.

Roadmapping Sessions protect you from bad-fit leads, ghosting clients, and all manner of other client horror stories: https://kaidavis.com/roadmapping/