Double Your Freelance Conf Review and Action Plan

Here for just the Action Plan? Download it here.

I hope your week is treating you well.

Have you ever heard this piece of advice?

“Freelancing is a business, treat it like one.”

But what does that tell you exactly? You want to work on your business but it always seems like you have a hundred things to take on.

This happened to me two weeks ago. I thought I was “done”. I had finally re-launched my book but then another hundred things popped up:

  • should I create a course?
  • should I offer one on one coaching?
  • should I include a new recipe I just learned about?

Meanwhile, taxes were due and client work wasn’t going anywhere.

How did I react? I sat on the couch and binge watched the first season of Community. That wasn’t very “business like”.

I couldn’t stay a couch potato for too long though. I was scheduled to attend first ever Double Your Freelance Conference in a week.

The goal for Brennan, the conference organizer and crazy cool human, was to give its attendees a “handful of actionable to-do items that you can incorporate immediately into your business.”

The conference absolutely crushed that goal.

Before the conference started Brennan gave me the thumbs up on live blogging the event.

You can find my notes below as well as links to some other awesome speaker/attendee recaps.

Most importantly, you can download the Double Your Freelance Conf Action Plan. I’ve compiled it based on actionable advice from all the speakers.

Download you your copy!

It got quite long as I was working on it so I’ve divided it into three parts. Subscribe in the form below to get the other two parts when they’re ready.

Otherwise, you can follow me on twitter and see when I release the updates to this post.

Once you give it a look and come up with five things to work on for your business, leave a comment here. I’ve already left mine :).

The more you set your intention, the more likely you are to get it.

If you want to state it privately feel free to send me an email and I’ll follow up.

Notes from Speaker Talks

If you want to dig into each topic the notes also include additional reading as well as twitter accounts and websites of each speaker.

Live Notes From Other Attendees

Speaker and Attendee Recaps


Moving forward this is a conference I plan on attending every year. It’s officially part of my big 3 with the other two being BaconBiz and MicroConf.

If you don’t live in the US make sure to leave a comment here and let Brennan know you want to see a similar conference in Europe. Also be sure to support the conference by buying the videos while they’re still offered at a discounted price.

DYFConf Notes: Brennan Dunn – The End of Consulting

Build a business that fits the life you want to live

With agencies you end up becoming manager.

Wanted to emulate another agency. Didn’t have any direction. Had built a business that had to build a life around.

  • Commuting
  • 9-6
  • Kids about to be asleep when got home
  • Only saw family on the weekends

3 Options

  1. You want to become a premium consultant. No exit plan
  2. You want to scale, and ultimately build an asset. You can build a company. You can build one that doesn’t require you as an input.
  3. You want to use client work to finance building _other _assets. Client work subsidizes other work. Shout out to

The little red hen.

Indecision kills productivity

You have a finite bank of decision making points. Rank by effectiveness

Think of the things that actually produce results effectively.

Your task isn’t write a book. It’s something you can actually define. Write a table of contents. Write a first chapter.

Journal like Thomas Jeffereson – kept journals. 1. tracked every seed he ever planted 2. tracked every for correspondence 3. Tracked weather

  1. What did I do?
  2. What worked?
  3. What didn’t?
  4. What (financial) impact?

Reflect daily

You’re going to have bad weeks/months

If you can see a trend showing forward movement, that’s the best way to overcome doubt.

Start or join a mastermind.

  • Even if you’re the sole owner of an agency.
  • Or higher level strategies.

“you don’t know if we’re going to be around in a month”.

Don’t be afraid to turn around.

There is a reluctance to admit to ourselves that we’ve made a mistake.

Abstract ideas are going to remain abstract until you map out a way to accomplish them.

Further Reading:



DYFConf Notes: Kai Davis – How to Build an Audience

First mindshift “I’m not an expert”

“What would I talk about?”

  1. teach them how to solve a simple problem
  2. Share a controversial opinion
  3. Teach your expertise

Second mindshift “stop thinking leads, start thinking audience”

Builds a relationship with people. These aren’t leads. These are people in your audience.

Gives an example of Nick D and his weekly newsletter.

Playing the two year game. Long game.

Nick didn’t have to maintain much time in investing on individual relationships.

“The Garden principle” – we want to teach as much as we know. Water your audience with content to grow them as people and as businesses.

“Bigger checks take longer to grow.”

3rd Mindshift “Reaching your Audience”

“Looking sideways” – who is already reaching this audience. We want to use someone else’s audience as leverage. How can I work with the owner of this audience? How would it be valuable to them?

Make a list of your dream placements and partners. How can you be helpful to these partners?

Colleagues aren’t competitors

Schedule time to meet other professionals. How can we work together to share useful information to your audience?

There’s no “one right way” to build an audience

4th Mindshift “Pitching, Following Up and Presenting”

The most impactful marketing tool? Direct personal contact.

One email every day to our dream list.

What makes a great pitch email?

  • well-researched
  • relevant to the recipient
  • clear call to action

Be persistent. Follow up until they hate you.

What separates those who succeed versus those who fail? Their ego. No response doesn’t mean failure. Keep following up.

Don’t take a lack of response as a “no”.

It can take 7-10 emails until someone is ready to collaborate with you.

Plan each and every email in a follow up sequence. take a couple hours to predict different scenarios.

This is moving from reacting to acting first.

Once you move forward and build your relationship, have a clear call to action and a next step for their audience.

For podcast interviews include specific call to actions rather than just “you can follow me on twitter”. Have a CTA to a lead magnet that warms them up.

“If you want to learn more, visit URL and enter your email.” This is a clear next step.

It can be a static page on your site based on where the audience is coming from (use the audience or collaborator name in the url). Create added bonuses for that specific audience.

Action list:

  • Accept the fact that you’re an expert
  • Pick three topics to write about
  • Choose 20 dream placements of your content
  • Send out one email per day
  • Set up a landing page and have a clear call to action for that audience

Further Reading:



DYFConf Notes: Brian Casel – Productize to $10k/month

How to use a productized service to accelerate your transition to software.

  • Built software in WP
  • project to project, but frustrating

times when would land $20k project and the thought would be “this sucks, now I’ve got to do work for this client”

Productized service as a business

Transition to product business is tough. Making a product and getting a client to pay for it isn’t all there is to it.

Client work takes you away from your new thing, day job, bills, kids, family & friends.

Don’t want to compromise on your lifestyle.

Talking to friends and family

Freelancers who are used to getting paid for one hour of work are not used to the risk of losing one hour of billable work to products.

The path of least resistance – Productized Services

Building systems and processes

When first tried Restaurant engine he built software first. For Audience ops they started with the service first.

Software with a Service (SWaS) Software + Service

Combine software with a done for you service component.

The software provides the tool

The service delivers the results

Easier for clients to buy a SWaS than it is to just buy software (maybe the software won’t work for you)

It’s easier than just hiring freelancers.

no more discovery meetings. no more requirement gathering. negotiations. no scope.

Productized service allows you to skip past all of that. You’re working with your ideal customer and skipping all the traditional freelance steps.

Better than selling software by itself because you’re taking a very hands on approach to deliver what your clients actually want.

Owning the Tool is Optional

What if you don’t own the tool for the service? You could build your service on top of an existing tool.

What do your customers really want?

Do they want a tool or a result?

Leveraging paycheck to invest in the business. Streamline the service. Delegating the work to employees.

Launch Service, get revenue/results from day one.

Reinvest the revenue into developing the service with software

But can it scale?

I removed myself to the point that I spent < 3 hours/month managing the business.

Remove yourself

First, get the solution right. Then remove yourself from the delivery


focus on one problem, one solution, for one customer

Whatever you can do to take action and get something out the door. The faster you can do that that faster you can get things right.

Price on Value. Scale the Costs.

Leverage Everything. Focus on taking the path of least resistance.

Further Reading/Listening:


DYFConf Notes: Amy Hoy – Consulting-ized Products

Brainwashing and why you should do it to your clients.

“Don’t write a book for the money” – Publishing companies

Write it for the exposure!

eBook as onboarding for clients AKA brainwashing

Done right, an ebook, online course, workshop – can lead to lead gen, respect, trust, money

#1 Cause of Client Failure – you expect us to actually do what we paid you to tell us to do?

The second law of consulting

No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem – “Secrets of consulting”, Weinberg

New clients. you gonna waste my time? no? let’s work together? What are you doing? Why is the secretary here? Liar!

You can brainwash your clients before you work with them.

“Don’t build a better X, Build a better user of X” – Kathy Sierra

Don’t build a better project management app, build a better project manager

Don’t build a better consultant, build a better user of consultants AKA clients

Number one cause of failure is inaction.

a better class? build a better student.

Brainwashing to create a positive life change.

Marketing funnel that leads to an actual big buy. Making them better.

  • help learn
  • help think
  • help act
  • help win/result
  • they will trust you more

How many of us have gotten jobs when someone just tired/failed themselves and wanted to hire you?

  • What do your clients suck at?
  • Help them achieve what they want to achieve
  • Help them how you already help them
  • Create a consulting-ized product
  • Give them a manual for your process. so they can know exactly what they are buying
  • Provide an emergency exit an escape hatch for an escape plan. You can do the work for them!

Focus on your client’s business, not your tools

  • you’re a consultant, not someone who runs photoshop
  • Help your clients understand what they’re struggling with

Your best clients

What do they need, want, and buy?

look for the intersection between need, want, buy

People who love Excel will never let go of Excel even with their cold, dead fingers

Build a better client

If they’re not ready to hire you yet, how can you help them become ready?

“I never have to write a proposal again” – Nick D, dues to the success of Cadence and Slang

Idea of multiple “yes”. Persuasion is a gradient

  • yes, I’ll read this [blog post] $0
  • yes, I’ll give my email $0
  • yes, I’ll attend this webinar $0
  • yes, I’ll buy this book $49
  • yes, I’ll take this workshop $449
  • yes, I’ll hire this person $10,000+

even with the $0 they are still paying you in time and effort.

Consulting-ized product

  1. What do your *clients suck at? *Help them achieve what they want to achieve
  2. Help them *how you already help them. *Create a consulting-ized product
  3. Give them a manual for your process **so they can know exactly what they are buying
  4. Provide an emergency exit. *an escape hatch for an escape plan. *You can do the work for them!

Q&A – creating a consulting-ized product

Problem: Startups – clients come to you after they’ve tried the cheaper solution.

Amy: How can you educate startups from trying out the cheaper solution. That could be a $30 info product

“You don’t want to put info products out for people who are so broken that they can’t be saved.” You can’t polish shit.

Pick your best clients and optimize for educating them

“Focus on the people actually taking your advice” Double down on the people who are actually doing it.

GTD gets most of their money from executive training. GTD wasn’t designed for creatives. It was designed for executives.

How do you sell something that is boring?

Who in the value chain are the ones that care for time tracking software? Managers of internal departments. Mainly because they’ll enter the information incorrectly.

Further Reading:



DYFConf Notes: Julie Elster – Getting Paid

Worked for 10 yrs in Customer service, finance claims, AR credits

Helped Kurt with collecting payments <3

  • qualifying clients
  • communication
  • marketing yourself
  • know your value
  • pick up the phone
  • embracing the awkward
  • firing toxic clients

Learned it’s ok to be picky with guys. You can be just as picky about clients!!!

Get to know what you’re getting into with your clients before you work with them. Qualify clients.

It’s ok to ask questions about potential customers before you work with them.

You don’t need to have the mentality that you should bend over backwards just to close a client deal.

You need to be looking at whether a client is a good fit for your business or not

How do we qualify clients? Communication

  • be upfront
  • talk to your client
  • honesty: best policy
  • **get it in writing. **Even if it is an acquaintance of a friend. lol :)
  • make expectations clear

What can we do to prevent invoices from being paid late or not being paid?

Business owner versus Freelancer. Know Your Value. Don’t call yourself a freelancer. “Freelancer is our word”

You’re charging too low. If you have bargain rates you’ll attract clients looking for bargains.

Start charging upfront. Do you really want to be working with someone who cares about leverage?

Attitude should be that you don’t care if they don’t agree to your terms. It’s ok to say goodbye.

Let clients know a week before a payment is due.

Scope creep – by collecting money upfront you can avoid any problems with this.

Don’t go anymore than 15 day payment terms. Anymore and you’re potentially getting forgotten

Avoid Holding Payments Hostage. worked on a project, sent the invoice. “Oh, we need you to fix something”. Waited on the payment.

Firing Toxic Clients

You shouldn’t have to deal with toxic clients. If you’re thinking about firing a client you should do it. If you’re thinking about it, it’s too late.

3 ways to fire a client

  1. The slow fade
    • finish up
    • deliver it
    • offer referral. Do this if they try to give you more work
  2. The Cmd+Z
    • Only works if you’re just getting involved with the client
    • “Not a good fit”
    • Full Refund
    • Offer referral. Again do this if they continue to persist the relationship.
  3. Keeping the cash
    • Consult your contract
    • open & honest
    • Offer referral

My client paid late: Now what do I do?

  • don’t get emotional
  • Use your phone.
  • Get comfortable talking to clients on the phone.

Further Reading/Listening:



DYFConf Notes: Ed Gandia – Effortless Productivity

It’s not about time management. It’s about managing yourself.

It’s all about improving your Focus!

It’s not a productivity problem, it’s a focus problem

How many people check their emails at a traffic light?

Develop more periods of FLOW in your day. <- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (research on FLOW)

How do you get into the FLOW state on demand?

Hacking your way to periods of flow

  1. Practice your true genius
  2. Stop multitasking
  3. Use 50/20/50
  4. Flush the system
  5. Take Fridays off

Practice your true genius

There are at least one or two things that you do better than most people. These things are your gifts

Why would you want to spend more time on energy draining activities?

1. Find your gifts

Hi Jack,

I just went through a workshop on productivity, and one of my assignments is to get feedback on the following question from a handful of people who know me well:

What do you see as my unique capability? In other words, what do I naturally do better than most other people you know?

Not looking for a ton of detail here. Just a few sentences. I need it by next ________, if possible. give them 3 – 5 days

Thanks in advance!


2. Stop Multitasking

The avg desk-bound professional gets interrupted every 10.5 minutes…

But it takes an avg of 23 minutes to get back into a flow state

Be your own boss! From

Consider scheduling your day hour by hour.

This is what I need to do today to be happy at the end of the day.

3. Practice 50/20/50

2 hr block. Longer version of the Pomodoro technique

  • 50 min focused work
  • 20 min break
  • 50 min focused work

Make sure those breaks are away from work.

  • Limit of two 50/20/50 blocks per day
  • Save it for project work
  • Do blocks back to back
  • It’s OK to go over if you’re on a roll or in the FLOW. But wrap it up.
  • Take a 30 minute break after the two hour block.
  • Listen to focus@will music and timing of the blocks

4. Flush the system

The negative talk in my head is always there. Mental trash.

Morning routine (max 15 min)

  • Gratitude list
    • I’m thankful for…
    • fill up the whole page
    • it’s OK to repeat the same thin
    • Can be grateful for things that haven’t happened yet
  • journal with the morning pages
    • 3 pages
    • freeflowing
    • OK to write I can’t think of what to write
  • read. Force reading
  • meditate.

Also add comedy to the day. Can be thrown into the breaks. Just laughing.

Take a daily walk.

5. Take Fridays Off

Weekend was family time. Rest of the week was for work. Noticed a resentful feeling towards family time.

Needed to find time for me

Started with a couple hours and eventually went to a full day of just “me” time.

Creates a constraint that FORCES you to become more productive

  • Doesn’t have to be Fridays
  • Doesn’t have to be all day
  • doesn’t have to be done all in one day
  • notice your fears don’t materialize
  • extend that time “off” time gradually
  • pay attention to how it makes you feel

Further Reading/Watching:



DYFConf Notes: Nathan Barry – How to Become an Authority

Becoming an Authority took Nathan from being an introvert at a conference with no one to talk to -> people approaching him now at conferences.

Becoming an Authority. Initially thought it was a really hard thing.

Nathan thought paid advertising was the only way to get in front of people.

Initially thought he was better or at least the same level as Chris Coyier at design. When people would ask Nathan questions he would reference Chris’s articles.

He couldn’t understand what was different between him and Chris.

While Chris was teaching, I was just QUIETLY working.

They don’t teach because they are experts, they are experts because they teach

Not all topics are created equal.

Venn diagram intersection of the following:

  1. Have something you can teach
  2. You are a member of the audience
  3. solving a painful problem

Teach a skill that makes money to people who have money

For your first 10 subscribers

Find 10 people you know in real life. Write down 10 names.

Ask: “I’m starting a new site teaching people __________. Is that something you’re interested in learning more about?”

If you can’t find 10 people who are friends and are genuinely interested in the project you should give up on the topic.

Next ask:

  1. Where do you go online now to learn about [this topic]? This is where you’ll promote what you write.
  2. What is your biggest frustration with [the topic]? This is what you’ll write about.

Getting 1,000 Subscribers

Creating an email course. Doesn’t have to be all done when you launch it.

Tag your sources!! Product Hunt, FaceBook, Twitter, Asking friends, reddit, use all your different places to promote it.

How to produce that much content?

write 1,000 words a day. Kept it up for 650 days. Just write everyday.

Doesn’t have to be 1,000 words.

Doesn’t have to be “writing” some days of the streak can be editing/rewriting.

If producing content is important to you. Put in the time and effort every day.

Start before your feel ready. You just have to get started.

Show up every day for 2 years. Just show up and do the work. Then tell me whether it works or not.

Further Reading:



DYFConf Notes: Allan Branch – When/How to Hire Employees and Subcontractors

Situations are different, companies are different.

When do you hire?

  • don’t grow for growth’s sake
  • hire if that person can push closer to whatever is success

The business is built to be what you want it to be

Why do we hire?

  • to do a job better than you can
  • free up time to do things that create users/customers
  • to do jobs you don’t like
  • hire IF you can afford it. Will it directly or indirectly make us money?

The natural tendency is to hire people that are not as smart as you. To make you feel important. Fight this feeling.

Hiring will change your job for better or worse

Who to hire?

“If you don’t get your shit done, you’re gone”

“We pay you enough to keep you alive… barely” lol

Hires come from people who follow your blog or twitter, friends of friends, open source projects who love their craft

How we hire

hiring is expensive, hiring a toxic person hurts the team.

“Hire people not on who they are today but who they can become” – Allan’s Dad

Gone are the days where people work for a company for 20 years and get a gold watch

You have to learn to spot people and be willing to teach them.

Hiring Developers

Anyone who is any good at their craft must have opinions on how it should be done.

Give them a project to work on. Getting them to ask the right questions. Out of 10 people taking a test they’ll hire one.

Hiring Customer Support

“What is your favorite thing online and tell me how to buy it.”

Don’t care about past employers. Can they survive our culture?

Are they detailed oriented and give instructions?

Are they obsessive about emails? Just delete emails and see how they follow up. They’re going to have to follow up with customers the same way.

Further Reading: