Category: Resources

4 Things You Need to Know About Networking

A lot of freelancers I’ve met are terrified of networking. Probably because they’re introverts and the idea of 1) attending an event filled with strangers, and 2) being expected to talk to these people and sell themselves is completely beyond their comfort zone.

Before you freak out any further, keep these four things in mind about networking:

1) Attend as many events as are relevant to you

The more you put yourself out there, the more you get back in return. No one can hire you if they don’t know you exist. Below is a list of organizations and groups that put on events, offer excellent member resources and provide regular networking opportunities. Some of these organizations are (inter)national, but most of those listed are located in the Portland-Metro area. More than likely you’ll find similar organizations all over the place once you start looking for them:

2) Your friends are your friends

In order to find the highest quality events in your area, I would recommend asking everyone in your local network for networking event recommendations. Where do they go? What events and strategies have they found to be useful? Explore everything and see what works for you.

3) Networking isn’t limited to networking events

Networking opportunities don’t have to be called “networking events” in order for you to network. Going to a wedding is an opportunity to meet new people and share what it is you do with others. So is talking to the person in front of you in the checkout line, or striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the plane. Every time you’re around people is a potential networking opportunity. You don’t have to network at every opportunity…but you could!

4) Stay in touch with your new connections

Similar to the prospective clients you’ve cold-called, stay in contact with relevant contacts you meet at these events. Always get a card from them and follow-up with a LinkedIn invitation the day after the event, or a “It was nice meeting you” email.

For those contacts that I want to work with, in this email I’ll also ask them if they’d like to get together for coffee in the next week or two. That way I get to know them, they get to know me, and the next time they need a copywriter, I’ll be top-of-mind. And vice versa when I meet someone who needs what that new connection does.


I understand that getting out there can be hard, but your business depends on you doing it. And you don’t have to do it alone! Ask a friend or colleague to go to an event with you so you have at least that person to stick close to.

What networking events do you go to in Portland? How have you overcome your discomfort with networking?

5 Co-Working Spaces in Portland

(Update!  Please also check out this updated blog post for a more complete list of co-working spaces in Portland.)

Working from home saves you money, but for the sake of creativity, productivity, and sanity, many freelancers choose to rent office space, or at least a desk. By renting a desk in an office or co-working space, you can reap all the benefits of having an office without paying a ransom in rent.

The average cost to rent a desk in Portland is about $300 per month. Costs for a permanent, private desk are higher, and costs for an actual office with a door are higher still. If you’ve thought about renting a desk or office in a co-working space, visit each one and see how they feel. Many of them have various amenities and perks for their members.

Here are 5 co-working spaces in Portland to consider:

  1. Collective Agency and Collective Agency Division
  2. The Hive
  3. NedSpace
  4. TENpod
  5. Forge Portland

Renting a desk/office is definitely not a requirement for success as a freelancer. I know quite a few freelancers who are perfectly happy with their home office setups, or nomadic working conditions. So, if you’re happy working at the kitchen table, couch, or coffee shops, keep doin’ what you’re doin’.

Are there other co-working spaces in Portland that I’ve missed? Share them in the comments.

11 TED Talks to Help You Live, Work, and Think Better

I’m a huge fan of TED Talks. Seriously, who isn’t?

I stumbled across this inspirational series about how to organize your life, work, and way of thinking to make all those things better. The series has great talks like “The power of time off”, “How to make work-life balance work”, and my very favorite, “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek.

The whole series totals 2 hours and 38 minutes. Can you spare that amount of time (not necessarily all at once) to improve the way you live, work, and think? Your answer should be, “Yes”.

TED Talks Work Smarter Series

“Breaking the Time Barrier” Rocked My Freelance Business: A Book Review

breakingI was cruising along in my freelance business until I read the book Breaking the Time Barrier. It rocked me. I wondered: have I been leaving money on the table all along?

Breaking the Time Barrier discusses how freelancers price services. I had always heard a lot about the two primary ways to get paid as a freelancer: hourly or flat rate (and had already declared project rates to be the clear winner). But Breaking the Time Barrier presented a third, previously unknown option: value-based pricing. I was shocked by what I learned.

This concept is explored in Breaking the Time Barrier using an interesting fictional story with many valuable lessons.

A freelancing parable

Breaking the Time Barrier tells the story of a fictional freelance designer named “Steve.” Steve is a semi-successful freelance designer who has plenty of clients and has worked with a few big clients. But Steve is overworked. He’s also watched a company he’s freelanced for go on to great financial success while being stuck working for them at his meager hourly rate.

Steve has gone through the struggle I and many other freelancers have: our time and available hours we can bill is finite. And competing on price means we’re stuck. Like many of us, Steve wonders if there’s more.

Then Steve meets Karen, who doesn’t work for hourly rates or even the flat project rates (or at least not flat rates as most of us know them). Karen charges clients based on value–typically a percentage of the overall revenue increase her clients can expect to receive from her work. Karen explains:

They don’t hire me to design a website for the sake of designing a website. They hire me to design a website that’s going to help them grow their business. I find when I look at it like that— from their perspective—it’s clear I’m not selling time. Instead, I’m selling a solution that is going to make an impact for my client and achieve some business objective.

Karen’s tactic isn’t a money grab, but a carefully constructed strategy she uses when she meets with potential clients and writes project proposals for them. The result: Karen gets paid multiples of what Steve earns for similar projects. At the same time, Karen’s clients benefit from her expertise beyond the role of just a freelancer.

Talking with clients

A lot of Karen’s strategy has to do with how she approaches clients. She doesn’t merely jack up her rates just because. She uses a strategy to understand their needs and the potential benefits she provides, and then prices her services accordingly. A few keys parts include:

    • She doesn’t start with price. Karen knows potential clients shopping on price alone aren’t her ideal targets. Instead, she asks questions and explores her clients’ needs first.

 

    • She asks clients what their desires are. Clients may say they want a new website, but what they really want is more sales. Karen makes sure to get to the bottom of this.

 

  • She explores work outside the clients’ proposed scope. Once Karen knows her potential clients’ desires, she offers a solution to meet these needs rather than simply submitting a proposal based on the limited work they originally asked for.

The key here is to think about what you can do differently to stand out, find out what clients really want, and offer them a solution that helps them meet their goals, while proposing a fee that’s in-line with each of these items.

It’s about ideas, not just the work

One trap freelancers fall into: believing clients are just hiring you for your time. There’s actually much more to it. As Karen puts it:

I’m the accumulation of all my skills and talents. I’m wisdom and creativity. I’ve stopped seeing myself as a punch card. My clients don’t see me that way either. Yes, sometimes, I’ve had to change my client’s mind-set. But it starts with me first, just as it starts with you.

Don’t forget: clients are hiring you for your skills, experience, and expertise. These things take years to develop, and they don’t simply translate into the few hours you put into client work.

Value-based pricing really isn’t revolutionary

Even though this idea of pricing on value hit me hard, the book points out it’s nothing new, nor unique to creative freelancers.

Karen mentions a story of how a plumber she hired to make an emergency call to her home charged her $300 for about 10 minutes worth of work. And she didn’t complain or think he should charge less. The plumber offers a valued service and charges a premium fee for his work, and that work is valued by homeowners who need a fast solution to their plumbing problem.

This is where the key for freelancers lies: Don’t charge based on value just because you simply want to make more money from your clients. Offer more value to clients in the form of specialized service that makes you stand out above your competition. This way, you’re certainly not competing on price alone and can justify higher fees when clients see the value you bring.

Getting started with value pricing

Breaking the Time Barrier is honest: you can’t 100% make the leap to value-based pricing tomorrow. The book ends with Steve gradually making the transition until, months later, he finally lands a huge client at a lucrative rate and pushes his salary into six-figures.

But you can get started tomorrow. The book invites you to think about how you can offer more to your clients and in turn command higher fees by providing greater value.

I highly suggest checking out Breaking the Time Barrier, which is available as a free download.

Have you tried a value-based pricing model for your freelance services? Why or why not?

4 Resources Every Portland Freelance Copywriter Should Know About

I meet with a lot of existing and aspiring freelance copywriters in Portland. Sometimes they’re referred to me by members of the Conclave, sometimes I meet them at events, and other times we’re introduced by my creative staffing agency friends.

However we find each other in this town, I end up giving them all similar information as far as where they can go to find good resources for networking and industry exploration. A few of my recommendations work for creative freelancers of all kinds, but I’m speaking specifically to freelance copywriters with this list.

Here are four resources I’ve recommended to every Portland freelance copywriter I’ve met:

  1. PDXnex: A networking nexus for Portland creative professionals. (I would add 24Seven and Vitamin T to the “Local Staffing Agencies for Creatives” section.)
  2. Freelancers Union: Promotes the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. (Now with a Portland presence!)
  3. Copywriter Conclave of Portland (CC: PDX): A freelance copywriter support group that provides referrals and professional development for Portland Metro members.
  4. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman: An award-winning book about how to become a successful freelance copywriter by a successful freelance copywriter. He also has coaching options, a blog, and a monthly e-newsletter that I highly recommend you sign-up for.


  5. I’m also interested to know about other great resources I might be missing out on. What resources have you found to be useful in your development as a freelance copywriter? Books, events, websites? Do share!