Episode 8 with Ryan Robinson
How to Get Big Clients to Trust You Enough to Pay You

Ryan Robinson or "Ryrob" is the master of the side hustle. He's built multiple businesses, consulted companies like LinkedIn, Google for Entrepreneurs, Adobe, Forbes, and many more--- and recently scaled his side hustle to over $160,000 USD in 1 year while working a full-time job. Ryan now teaches over 120,000 bloggers, freelancers, and side hustlers how to do the same for their careers via his website, Ryrob.com

How to Get Big Clients to Trust You Enough to Pay You

Ryan Robinson or "Ryrob" is the master of the side hustle. He's built multiple businesses, consulted companies like LinkedIn, Google for Entrepreneurs, Adobe, Forbes, and many more--- and recently scaled his side hustle to over $160,000 USD in 1 year while working a full-time job. Ryan now teaches over 120,000 bloggers, freelancers, and side hustlers how to do the same for their careers via his website, Ryrob.com

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How having your own platform can streamline your sales process:

    A blog or online portfolio can quickly answer prospect’s frequently asked questions.

  • Finding the right contacts at companies you want to work with:

    And how to get their attention.

  • How building relationships based on value will allow you to warrant asking for more:

    The long-game can help you land bigger clients.

  • Why you’re probably undercharging for your services:

    Plus the strategy Ryan suggests for increasing your prices.

  • How you can land clients by providing value first:

    Some of the ways you can outreach to prospects with something of value to them.

Full transcript

Juan

You're listening to the Six-Figure Freelancer audio course, brought to you by And Co from Fiverr. We interviewed 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

Ryan Robinson or "Ryrob" is the master of the side hustle. He's built multiple businesses, consulted companies like LinkedIn, Google for Entrepreneurs, Adobe, Forbes, and many more--- and recently scaled his side hustle to over $160,000 USD in 1 year while working a full-time job. Ryan now teaches over 120,000 bloggers, freelancers, and side hustlers how to do the same for their careers. Let's hear more from him on this episode of the Six Figure Freelancer Audio Course. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Ryan

Hey, thank you for having me. I'm pumped to be here.

Juan

Ryan, you certainly know something about starting a six figure freelance career that most of us don't. Can you walk us a little bit through how you think about it?

Ryan

Hell yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost, I want to kind of a breakdown some of my own barriers because it's easy to, to check out someone's highlight reel, you know, myself as this example and say, oh, this guy works with, you know, x company. He's done projects with LinkedIn, Zen Desk, Intuit. These, that's kind of my highlight reel. And, I want to share with people that, you know, when I first started freelancing I really was charging $100 a blog post. Right? So this for me has been something where I've grown from charging $100 a blog post as a brand new freelance writer up to now doing $2,500 per post is kind of like my, my average going rate now with the clients that I get to work with today. So to give you kind of sort of context of where I was right when I first started freelancing, I had just launched my blog.

Ryan

This is going back to 2014. Um, and with my blog I was kind of just using it as a destination to document my own personal experiments with side projects. Write about topics that I found interesting. Cover other people that I also was kind of inspired to follow in the steps of. Right. And I found a lot of people that I still admire still get to talk to today. Paul Jarvis is a great example of a freelancer who's killing it with his freelance business and he's moved onto such other different projects nowadays. But anyway, kind of just mirroring my own trajectory off of the other freelancers that I've seen out there doing really well was how I kind of planted the seeds for my own growth. And, and I've continued to use my blog and this is, this is really sort of tied to the best advice that I would give to someone just starting freelancing today, is create your own platform.

Ryan

Whether you have paid examples of work you've done for freelance clients or for your day job, create a place where you can share your best possible examples of what you can create for clients. And this applies to designers, writers, developers, marketers. It doesn't really matter what your craft is, but if you go out and you create your own blog or a portfolio site somewhere where you can just highlight the actual work you can do, then you're going to be able to immediately answer questions for people when they ask about, you know, okay, how do you justify this rate of $50 an hour? Um, and you can say, here is exactly why because this is the quality of my work and this is what I can do for you. And so my blog from day one kind of became this destination where, you know, I hadn't worked with freelance clients in 2014, but what I did do was go out and I would create on my blog the exact examples of what I wanted to provide for clients when I was ready to start reaching out and asking for people to pay me for my work. So that's kind of a, in a nutshell, my best advice if you're just getting started from zero today, if you want to take your business eventually off of some of the platform sites, you have to create your own home base where you can showcase your examples.

Juan

And these examples. Would you recommend like maybe even finding some clients that you service for free at the beginning to just get some portfolio pieces? Or are you suggesting more that we do kind of like how you did, which is service yourself at the very least so that you have some portfolio pieces. Like what, which one would you recommend for someone getting started?

Ryan

Definitely the latter. Um, uh, I would prefer to recommend people that they don't ever do work for free if they can avoid it. Now, if you have a great opportunity to work with someone super cool or a company that you definitely want to do paid work for in the future. Like if you're truly inspired to do some free work in the short-term, then I think it's okay. But I don't think you should go around, you know, kind of dragging your knapsack from camp to camp hoping to do free work for someone. Um, my advice would be to instead serve yourself. So that's when you should go out, create those long form blog posts if that's what you want to do. Create some design mockups if that's kind of your angle, build a test site if you want to be a developer. Like take the control into your own hands, is essentially what I would say.

Juan

Okay. So someone listening is like, I believe it. I'm about to get started. I'm going to start servicing myself so that I have some portfolio pieces. I'm going to put them on a centralized location so that I can point to it as I start prospecting and getting into sales cycle later on. What does the face of that look like? Do you start shopping around the portfolio? Is one piece maybe cold messaging people? Like what's your advice there?

Ryan

Yeah, I mean, once you have your own sort of platform up. And, and going back to my own example - because this is just what I know best - with my blog, I pretty much right from the very early days of my blog started to highlight other freelancers and other entrepreneurs that I really liked. So when I was brand new, I was writing posts about... one example that comes to mind is 'the 60 top entrepreneurs share their best business advice'. And basically what I did was I went out and I found, you know, everyone like Tim Ferriss, Daymond John, um, you know, Richard Branson, the biggest of the big as far as 'business advice' people go. And I synthesized pieces of their advice that they either gave through books, their blogs, their podcasts and TV shows. Um, I would grab little snippets and tidbits and I would highlight them on my blog.

Ryan

And eventually over time I would start reaching out to some of these people. Obviously not starting with Richard Branson going with kind of the more attainable people, you know, going back to an example I mentioned earlier, Paul Jarvis, right? Someone who has this brand as a really big personality in the freelance space as a freelance designer. And so I was able to build a relationship with Paul by featuring him on my blog. And this was a tactic that I used to build relationships with other 'influencers', you could say, ah, but people who are basically, a few steps ahead of where I wanted to be. That way I can kind of model myself after their business. And then from there, the way that I spun this strategy into kind of a business tactic for landing clients was to mention brands. So you know, if you go to my blog, a shiny example of this is I have a post about online business tools and I've just broken down, 101 different tools that I've either used or want to use in my business, in my blogging business.

Ryan

And from here I was able to say, you know, I mentioned a Zen Desk as a tool for companies to use. I mentioned LinkedIn obviously as a social network that you should use if you're serious about business. And so from here I was able to mention some of these companies. Some of these tools are naturally starting with smaller ones, right? So startups first instead of huge enterprise fortune 500 companies. But I started to reach out to these, these companies, people in marketing at these companies. Because I do freelance writing. I know that the marketing, the content marketing team is in charge of hiring freelance writers. So I would reach out to people who are Director of Content Marketing, Content Marketing Manager at a company like Zen Desk. Um, and then from there I would start conversations with them. I would say, hey, check out this mentioned on my blog.

Ryan

That's kind of my first email, just wanting to get them over to my site to check out my content and get them involved and who I am, see what I'm about, check out my style. And then from there, just getting them to reply to that email as, as kind of like a, Hey, you know, I acknowledged the value that you just provided us is step one. And then from there I would kind of gear them towards, 'Hey, would you actually be interested in taking some work from me? I would love to work with you guys. I've got a really good strong sense of your voice. I was thinking that, you know, testing out a couple of blog posts around boom, boom, topic idea one, two'. And then kind of just take it from there. Then it sort of turns into more of a sales process, but I really have seen a lot of these kinds of deals materialize over the years, and it doesn't always, it's important to say it doesn't always immediately convert into a closed sale. And so freelancing, when we're talking about building a big freelance business, it's very relationship oriented.

Ryan

So I've built relationships with dozens of people at, at the blogs, behind some massive brands where I've done nothing but provide free value to them for years in the form of typically, you know, linking to them from my blog or these days I can provide more value by mentioning some of my prospect companies on, on the different publication columns I write for as well. But this is kind of a, it's a one-way value exchange until you cross this threshold where they say, 'oh my gosh, we have to work with this person because of all this cool stuff they keep doing for this.' And this is, this is something that is a little bit of a numbers game. You can't just do it once and then expect, okay. And, you know, a couple of years I'll reach out and see if they'll pay me to write for them. So I, I continue providing value to as many people as I can over time. And eventually that's when the real deal starts to materialize out of the relationships.

Juan

Before we continue with this episode, I wanted to quickly tell you a bit about AND CO from Fiverr. It's software to run your business with everything from invoicing, payments, time tracking, task management, and even freelance contracts and proposals. And the best part? It's completely free. Sometimes people ask what's the catch? And the truth is there is none. Fiverr is a healthy business that simply wants to give back to the community, no matter if you're a Fiverr user yet or not. Without entrepreneurs like yourself, Fiverr wouldn't exist. AND CO is a way to give back and help you do more of what you do best. To get started, claim your free account today by visiting and.co. Now onto the episode.

Juan

No, that makes perfect sense, Ryan. And actually, it sounds like it's a patience game, in putting yourself in these relationships and trusting the process. If you were to give advice to someone that's getting started very, you know, at the beginning of their freelance career, how much would you recommend that they budget towards this sort of relationship building? Um, you know, no short term payback, versus actual short term payback. So we make sure that we're paying the bills and not just a working on cashing out two, three, four years from now.

Ryan

Oh man. Uh, the, the short answer is it's impossible to give a ratio that's going to be directly applicable to everyone. I think personally you have to figure out what works best for you as far as like, okay, how many deals do I need to close per month in order to keep my lights on? And, and what do those price points need to be in order for me to get to that? So I would say start with your goal first of all, as far as like what you need to earn. And then back into that. And then I would really challenge you, especially in the early days to consider your pricing. So almost everyone that I get to work with through my blog, who's a freelancer, is undercharging for their services. It's all you see is like people promoting, you know, on, on, on a lot of the marketplace sites, you see very low priced service offerings and, and you're attempted to immediately, you know, race to the bottom on pricing just to get people's attention.

Ryan

But especially when we're talking about if you're going off the platforms, you're prospecting, you're relationship building. Like that alone is going to differentiate you from the people that are just sitting and waiting on platforms for people to come to them. And so by actively going out, building relationships, showcasing your portfolio examples, mentioning these people, right, providing value first, before you ask for anything in return, you're going to warrant more value for the services you offer. So I would say by far, really take a hard look at your pricing, see how much you can possibly charge. And, the way that I often tell people who are new to freelancing to kind of instruct them on increasing their prices is to take the prices that you're charging today and, and you know, if you have enough clients to keep the lights on, start pitching people at twice as much as you're charging your existing clients, treat it as an experiment, right?

Ryan

It's not something that, you know, you absolutely need that new deal in order to survive in order to get your bills paid. But experiment with your pricing by doubling it every single time. And if people aren't telling you no, then you're not charging enough and you have to really get kind of a statistically significant number of 'nos' too. Don't just take one no and then retreat back into your cave. Keep trying, keep, keep trying new verticals. I'm tweak your pitch based on feedback. If you can get them to tell you feedback why it's not a good fit. So that's really my advice and I would treat the longer term relationship building stuff as, as more of just a really kind of like slow, steady, longterm play. Don't expect to, you know, go out and publish blog posts, do a bunch of outreach to everyone you mentioned it and then close a ton of deals based on that. That can work. Um, I've had some experiences where that has worked well for me, but it's not something that I would rely upon repeatedly. Unless you have kind of a brand for yourself or an established blog already.

Juan

I love that. I love that. That makes sense. I've heard before that you should be optimizing for at least 20 percent of the no's that you get to be a no just because of price, because once you adjust for the amount of people that tell you yes, and you've increased your prices, you're actually able to earn that money back from, from the nos. So, uh, at least 20 percent of the people that say no, it should be saying no just for the price. So I, I love that you're talking to that point and also it just makes so much sense with, yes, you have to be practical. Yes, you have to be taking care of your business, keeping the lights on, but if you ever hope to leap frog from 30K, 40K, 50K a year to like, how do I get to like 150K? You have to start, it sounds like, planning those relationships years in advance and you just need to budget as much of the time that you can afford into those things. If you ever hope to, you know, three, four years from now, be making a lot more money than you're making today. So these are awesome, awesome points. Ryan, do you have any closing thoughts on now actually starting to prospect and sell. So someone that's increasing their prices, they created the portfolio, how do we then take the leap into prospecting?

Ryan

Yeah, I always do a very warm outreach. So, um, you can call it cold outreach, uh, if you want. But whenever I'm reaching out to someone it's because I've provided value to them in some way, shape or form within the first email I send them. So I'm not reaching out asking for someone to pay me for my service. I'm always reaching out saying, hey, I mentioned you on my blog, hey, I, you know, I wrote about such and such topic. Would you like to weigh in? That way it can add a quote from you into this article. That's always been my approach. And so that's my advice.

Juan

Do you have maybe like four or five different things that you would see as giving value? In the case of maybe those of us that don't have a blog because you know, there's like developers listening to this or there's designers listening to this, what are kind of like four or five things that you would categorize as giving value?

Ryan

Oh man, you could do a sample design mockup based on an idea that you have for a new campaign, for a company that you really want to work for. Um, if, if you've done, if you're, say a developer, you can just share your Github repository of like a custom project you made. Like we had, you know, going, going through kind of an unrelated example, but in my hiring of someone earlier this year, they actually took the time to go out and build on their own and, and hosted within Github and example of what a mobile app could be for my site. And so someone who like goes super freaking far and way above and beyond is like, that's going to impress me so much. Right? And so that's, that's the real difference between someone who's today earning 30, 40, 50K versus the kind of level of value you need to put into your pitch in order to make that leap to two, three, four, five X your business.

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 and.co/resouces to get your digital goods. See you on the next one.

Juan

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

Ryan

Right. RyRob.com is my home base. That's where I write about all my crazy experience. Share the highlights and the failures, so it's spelled ryrob.com. And I do also have kind of a free bundle that I give to all of my freelancers that come to my site. I have this epic post, it's about how to write cold emails for freelancers. It's just ryrob.com/cold.

Juan

Amazing. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the audio course and sharing all this with us.

Ryan

Thank you 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:
The Processes, Tools, and Network You’ll Need to Reach Six Figures