Episode 4 with Jeremy Noronha
How to Get High-Paying Clients No Matter Where You’re Based

Jeremy Noronha is an SEO consultant and head of SEO at Foundr. He also runs a travel blog on his website at JeremyNoronha.com. Jeremy has driven millions of visitors and sales for his client projects while building a successful freelance business as a digital nomad.

How to Get High-Paying Clients No Matter Where You’re Based

Jeremy Noronha is an SEO consultant and head of SEO at Foundr. He also runs a travel blog on his website at JeremyNoronha.com. Jeremy has driven millions of visitors and sales for his client projects while building a successful freelance business as a digital nomad.

In this episode, Jeremy talks about how you can get more profitable as a freelancer.

We learn:

  • How to not let where you start out define where you’re going:

    Just because you start low, doesn’t mean that’s all you’re worth.

  • The importance of focusing on improving your skills:

    You can slowly start to charge more as you develop your skills.

  • How to frame what you do in terms of the value it provides for clients:

    Don’t outreach to people to offer the service you provide; instead explain the value it will provide for their business.

  • How to treat your career as a marathon, not a sprint:

    By investing in your interactions with people in the short-term, you’ll create opportunities for yourself in the long-term.

  • How you can be more selective about working with clients you like:

    Find clients you resonate with and get more work by defining your niche.

  • How to find the right clients in your niche:

    Jeremy gives his strategies for being where your audience is, not where your people are.

Full transcript

Juan

You're listening to the Six-Figure Freelancer audio course, brought to you by And Co from Fiverr. We interview top professionals who share their exact formulas for success in starting, growing, and maintaining a six-figure freelance career. And I'm your host, Juan Felipe Campos. Okay, freelance masterminds, remember: on every episode of the Audio Course, there's a giveaway of digital goods or resources from our partners that other people don't have access to. To get your audio course resources, subscribe to the audio course on iTunes and then visit and.co/resources. Again, that's a n, d dot c o slash resources to access your digital goods.

Juan

Jeremy Noronha is an SEO consultant and head of SEO at Foundr (foundr.com). He also runs a travel blog on his website at JeremyNoronha.com. Jeremy has driven millions of visitors and sales for his client projects while building a successful freelance business as a digital nomad. Let's hear more from him on this episode of the Six Figure Freelancer Audio Course.

Juan

Jeremy Noronha thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jeremy

Thanks Juan.

Juan

So Jeremy, you've been able to crack out of your local ecosystem into having international clients as a freelancer, which is really, really tough to do. It's something that many of us struggle with, like how do I get someone to trust me overseas, especially those of us that don't live in a market like the US, like Europe. It can seem so intimidating, but even those of us that do live in, in these markets, if we live in a smaller city, it's like, how do I break into New York? How do I break into San Francisco? You totally cracked it. You've been able to do it, based out of India and then freelancing all over the world as you traveled. Can you give us a little bit of insight about how you think about freelancing overseas and how you're actually able to get people to trust you enough to where they pay you fair wages on time and help you scale your business?

Jeremy

So one thing I would say is the first thing you've got to start with is focusing on your skills. Putting in that time to get better at what you do should be your first objective.

Jeremy

Certainly, once you get very a good at what you do, um, it's reaching out to people and providing value. Like start just that - reaching out with them and one very important point, which I want to emphasize on that is where you start out doesn't, like, it doesn't dictate where you're going to always be. Like the Director of Moz and the Head of SEO at Moz. He started out as one of their customer successes, like one of their VA's and I was like, very surprised to hear that. And he joined Moz - his name is Cyrus - he joined Moz just as a VA and he actually ended up becoming the Head of SEO for Moz, which is like the biggest SEO company. And I started making... My first dollar I ever made freelancing was building websites for cafes, and it was like, I was paid less than $100 to build a super simple website for cafe, but I used that as a stepping stone to then get to where I ended up, which now is being the Head of SEO at Foundr magazine. So where you start, doesn't necessarily have to be where you end up. You can use it as a stepping stone. I wasn't that fascinated, but by building websites, which is why I'm not doing that, but you should always just give it a shot, because you never know about the network you make and about the people you'll meet.

Juan

Right. It's about not letting those first stepping stone, entry projects, those test projects define who you are, like in your own head, because that happens a lot. It's like, okay, I was only able to earn $100 so I guess I'm only worth $100. What you're able to do is like, I was only able to earn $100, which is fine because I'm worth so much more than that. I'm going to keep getting better at my craft, keep increasing my prices, keep finding the best clients and little by little make your way up as opposed to getting stuck in that cycle of kind of like self medication almost with your attitude. It's like, oh, you know, like it's kinda victimizing yourself a little bit. Like, that kind of sounds weird because I'm sure people are like, no, no, no, it's my reality, but really this can happen to us as freelancers. It's like, oh, I guess I'm only worth this much, and then you stop improving, you stop getting better, you stop prospecting because it really gets to like your self-identity if you only get paid a little bit in those early projects.

Jeremy

It goes back to like how you look at excuses. Like many of the times, a lot of excuses people give are valid, and I don't believe in dismissing them. I just believe in, like, even if I have an excuse, I always asked myself 'so what?' And I keep on asking myself 'so what?' And if I say, 'okay, this client is paying myself only $100, the next time I will be like 'so what?'. Then be like, 'it's not like all of my clients in the future are just going to be paying $100'. So it's about not letting your excuses stop you from doing the things you, like, like your excuses may be true, but you have to push past them in many situations.

Juan

Okay. Totally. Okay, so let's, let's break down those steps again. Number one is get better at what you do and that's actually just improving in your craft, because if you're bad you're not going to be able to command higher prices, like plain and simple. And then number two, you said start providing value, right? Can you break that down for us?

Jeremy

Yeah, so actually I want to go back to like, I'm very keen to get better at what you do. I would recommend the book 'Be So Good They Can't Ignore You'. There's a book which is like if I had to recommend one book to freelancers, it would be this book: 'Be So Good They Can't Ignore You.' I think it's by Cal Newport. Um, but um, and then once like, that's just a very good book, but on the question you asked me about, um, how to provide value. When you reach out to any client, always look at it from their perspective. They don't care about improving their rankings on Google, what they care about is getting more sales, getting more money. That's what they actually care about. So look at what they actually want. I'll give a super simple example of when I was building websites. When I was building websites, I went to cafes and I told them that I like, I would help them build a website, but I didn't tell them that they needed a website, I'd tell them that they need to be online because their customers are online.

Jeremy

So I showed, I told them the benefit that would have instead of about the, like the, I just told them about the benefit that will have and I started there. And it's also about tiny things in your daily life with Twitter and Facebook. It's like going in the forums, answering questions. It's if somebody, if you notice a bug on some website, just message or contact form. I actually ended up getting on the conversation with a CEO of a pretty big online business company cause I found a massive like SEO mistake with a blog and I just had a chat with that guy. Nothing has ever come of that. But that's just a way of how you can network by actually providing value. Like I've got a massive career in front of me, so I never know when that relationship may come in handy, but I, but my basic thing is about helping without expecting all of those things to return to me in a monetary value. I'm just happy to help and that's been one of my best strategies.

Juan

Right. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. And this goes back to one of the principles that we really struggled with as freelancers. Sometimes we're wondering what the difference is between sales and marketing. Because marketing is very much inbound. You know, I'm going to post on Instagram, I'm going to post on Facebook and then people come to me and that's fine. And that's very, very scalable. It's just that it won't bring you leads for three months, six months, eight months. This is actually more of an outbound strategy. Sales, it's you not just making the posts on Facebook, but you opening up your browser, finding 15 pages that you can, you are outreaching to them. Figuring out some sort of value that you can provide to them and deploying empathy behind the goals that they're trying to meet, so what they... They don't need their blog to show up, you know, to get 15 backlinks, what they need as an increase in sales and if backlinks is the vehicle that will get them, they're great, but they're not thinking, the CEO of that company is not waking up every day thinking like, how do I get backlinks? He's thinking, how do I increase my sales? How do I increase my signups? And so what you're doing actually positioning yourself as the you're, you're kind of jumping the gun here. You're not waiting for them to come to you as an SEO expert. You actually going out to them being like, hey, did you know that you have this broken? Did you know that this could be better? Did you know that you are not deploying these best practices on your website? And then that's getting the conversation started where at the very least, that's good Karma. I like. Even if they don't start working with you, they'll remember you. They might recommend you, they might ask if you're available for work eight months from then and if you're just doing this every single day, then that starts being kind of your outbound sales strategy. Right?

Jeremy

Exactly. Like you don't need it to work overnight because like the over, like it's kind of the difference in running a sprint and a marathon. Your, your work very differently if you're looking at your career as a sprint versus a marathon. If you're just looking at your brand in terms of a sprint probably use a lot of spammy, like spam emails and stuff like that that might have a tiny return in the short term, but nobody's going to remember that in the longer term. Right. So it's kind of the difference between that.

Juan

Okay, amazing. So that makes sense. That's start providing value. Okay. So once you've done that, Jeremy, can you tell us a little bit about what tactics you've used to actually stick out from your competitors? You are providing value, maybe some other people providing value to. How do you get someone to actually want to do business with you instead of the next guy?

Jeremy

I would say for me also, I looked to work with the kind of people that I like and I guess this is not like I couldn't do this when I got started, but over the longer term it became easier and like, I got to be more selective, that I decided to find clients that I resonated with that I could actually have a chat with the CEO and like, it was a good conversation for like a long time. Um, but when I got started, um, can you ask me the question again?

Juan

So how do you actually get to that? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What tactics do you use to actually stick out from your competitors? How do you get someone to want to do business with you as opposed to someone else?

Jeremy

Okay. Yep. So one thing I would say is focus on the niches, like definitely focus on your niches. Like let's say your, you want to be a Wordpress developer... Don't be a Wordpress developer. Be a Wordpress developer that builds but Wordpress themes for blogger moms. Now you know who your audience is. So if you're the person, if you're the guy who's a Wordpress developer who's building themes for blogger moms, that's your, your target audience and if you contain yourself in that niche, then it's much easier for people to pick you over the generic Wordpress blog, Wordpress developer, so like niche, like niche as much as you can.

Juan

And so here's the question that everyone's wondering right now. They're saying I barely have any money. I have to shoot anything that moves in terms of money. How do I go from I just have to take jobs because I need the money to now I have a niche and I'm specializing. What does that transition look like? Because at the beginning you have to take on like pretty much anything that gives you money. At what point and how do you start transitioning into having a niche?

Jeremy

I would say like I started out by just trying a lot of things. And then overtime as you freelance more, you kind of figure out the things that you like doing more, versus the things that... Like certain aspects of your work you might like more. For me, I was building websites, I was doing the marketing, all of that, but then I didn't really like the building part. I like the marketing part. Then I got into marketing and then I was doing Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, blah blah blah, but then realized I didn't really like the Instagram and Facebook. Then I got into SEO. And then I got more into the niches of SEO, but that's kind of how like my view, that's my view on life, is just like try a lot of things, see what you like doing the most, because that niche is probably going to be the one where you'll actually be genuinely interested in educating yourself more. Like if I wasn't interested in SEO, I wouldn't put in the time to actually get better at it. So this goes back to the topic of like, 'be so good they can't ignore'. You know, if, if it's a topic that you're actually interested in, you're going to put in a lot more work on that, versus just a generic topic which gets you a lot of money.

Juan

Totally. And you know, it's funny how much of the public perception of entrepreneurship and business is shaped by the companies that are at the top, that fortune 500, that fortune 1000. But the thing is most of the economy, most small businesses are never going to be anything like those companies like the Walmart, like the Fords. And whenever we see these really big companies and they have a big diverse portfolio of products or services that they offer, it makes us want to replicate that. But actually in small businesses, especially as a freelancer, especially in the early stages, even if you have ambitions for it to be an agency, over time you should be getting more niche, not more broad. So even if you start with like five services over time, it should come down to two then just to one and then only to one for one niche.

Juan

And then what you essentially want to create for yourself is put yourself in a position where you're a big fish in a small pond. Where anybody who's a mommy blogger in the United States, da da da da da, that meets all of these qualifications. They know you. You're like a household name to those people. That's a better position to be in and you can command higher prices because you're the specialized agency, whereas someone else that offers 19 different services, they're not the specialized agency and so all things being equal, if your price is the same, if your results are the same, a mommy blogger would rather work with you because you specialize in that niche and you understand the players and everything than someone that just offers a bunch of different services. So over time you should be getting more focused and it's more about refining your services than it is about adding more and more and more and more and I actually love your story, Jeremy, in like, the longer you did it actually the more refined you got. That's a perfect situation to be in and you definitely see that in your income.

Jeremy

Yup, definitely.

Juan

By the way Jeremy, you've talked about some different platforms where you're finding some different strategies of where your finding leads. You're reaching out to them directly when you see their website, you're reaching out to them on Facebook. What other places are you finding clients that other freelancers are not currently looking?

Jeremy

When I got started, Quora was a very good place. So Quora, Reddit, so I really like the forums, and again in the forums, getting down into the niches. But, in the niches, their audiences are not where you, the freelancer spend time in. I'll explain that. If you're a website developer, you should be in the group of instagram influencers or um, travel bloggers or mommy bloggers or whatever. You should be in those groups versus being in the freelance groups if you want to get clients. Like you should be providing value more in the groups where your audience is and not in the, like in the SEO, freelance forums. Yeah, because your audience is living in another place and that's where you can actually find them. I've found Quora, Reddit, Facebook, all of these things work, but you need to find something that suits you. Like some people are better at long-form content on Quora, while other people might be better at just short comments on a Facebook group, while other people might be fine with the material on Reddit. So it kind of, you, I would just say try all of them and see what works well with you as a person. See what content is most popular on these platforms, see what works on these platforms and see if that goes well with you. Because everyone is unique and there's no one fits all situation. You just got to try them all and see which one fits you the best.

Juan

So you're basically saying instead of me like if I'm an SEO expert, instead of joining 45 different SEO Facebook groups and just talking shop with all of my other buddies, it's like fine, do that. But if you're looking to get leads, that's not where you're going to get it. Because the last thing an SEO person is gonna want to do is refer business to you as another SEO person. So you're like a competitor basically. So what you're saying that I should do instead is like join the 45 Mommy Blogger Facebook groups that are out there. Reddit groups, like subreddits, Quora groups, whatever it is, and becoming the king of providing value in that SEO topic. So anytime there's a question about increasing traffic, anytime there's a question about increasing sales, about positioning, about anything like that, I can jump in and provide value as well as be doing my own posts where it's like demystifying how you get to 10,000 monthly website visitors within three months and things like that and over time that really starts compounding.

Juan

You start building relationships with everyone there and guess what? One hundred percent of the ladies in there are going to be great sources of referral for you because they all actually need your services as opposed to the SEO groups where everybody has that covered. And actually I think that's really good advice here because it's everyone's tendency to want to be around other people like them. So probably the last thing you want to do is jump into a Mommy blogger group and start posting value in there. I think by default we all want to hang out with the other SEO experts and just talk about the new Google update.

Jeremy

Yeah, it's funny, but it's like it's so true like be where your audience is and not where your people are. That's basically it. Like if you're looking to get business, be where your audience is, not where your people are. You can come back to your people once you've got your leads and your business is working to like improve on yourself. But if your thing is on getting leads, be where your audience is.

Juan

Perfect. Okay. Jeremy, thank you so much for sharing this. So basically Jeremy walked us through a few things that have been very helpful: the be so good they can't ignore you sentence which was coined by Steve Martin is now a book by Cal Newport. So Good They can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. He really recommends starting there so you can become obsessed with actually improving at your craft before you start worrying about how to get more sales. That's no way to do it. So get better at what you do. Number one. Number two, start providing value in the groups that your audience actually frequents. So whether that's Facebook groups, Quora on subreddit, on Linkedin, wherever that is, you need to become the king of your, um, of your expertise in those groups and provide so much value that people start identifying you and making your name synonymous with the services that you offer.

Juan

And then lastly, you want to make sure that you don't self-identify with the price or the scope of projects that you start out with. So even if it's just a small $100 gig, $500 gig, Jeremy mentioned the head of SEO for Moz, just this monster, monster company who actually started as a VA and worked his way to the top. And Jeremy as well that started freelancing $100 websites and is now head of SEO for Foundr magazine. Great examples of people that anchor themselves to greatness and excellence and didn't just get hung up on those first projects, but rather leapfrogged from them and saw them as stepping stones.

Juan

Okay, freelance masterminds. Do not forget to pick up your digital resources from this episode. It's very simple. You just subscribe to the show on iTunes and then once you've done that, visit and.co/resources. Subscribe on iTunes and then visit a n, d dot c dot o slash resources to get your digital goods. See on the next one.

Juan

Jeremy, as you continue to grow and take your career forward, where's the best place for people to stay in touch with you and learn more about what you're doing?

Jeremy

I really like using Twitter, so Twitter @JeremyNoronha, and I'm on Instagram, @thinktravelliftgrow. And on Facebook I'm Jeremy Noronha.

Juan

Perfect, and all these things will be in the show notes. Jeremy, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing this with us.

Jeremy

Thanks for having me.

Juan Felipe Campos
About your host

Juan Felipe Campos

Juan Felipe Campos serves as VP of Technology at Manos Accelerator in partnership with Google Launchpad. As a freelancer, Juan has worked on growth and customer acquisition for VC-funded startups including Ease, Admix, Timeular, and AND CO from Fiverr. He hosts the Six Figure Freelancer audio course/YouTube channel, leads the Freelance Masterminds Facebook Group, and is passionate about helping remote workers make more money and live life on their own terms. His companies have been featured in major publications including Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, and Forbes.

next episode:
Becoming A Pro at Sales Even if You Hate Selling