WordPress expert and agency owner, Emily Journey takes the mystery out of building and scaling your website business into a successful Agency. Learn how to attract great clients, price your services for maximum profit, and craft the work life you've always wanted.
Meta conversations with clients
Communication can make or break your relationship with clients, and meta conservations are one of the most important types of conversations that you can have with clients.
A meta conversation is about how you work and your working relationship with a client. It often involves setting boundaries and expectations. You are not talking about the project that you’re working on. These kinds of conversations involve setting boundaries, expectations, and addressing any problems in your business relationship with a client.
Have meta conversations and determine your boundaries. And then you can decide what a healthy work environment looks like for you. Meta conversations are valuable, not just with clients, but also with employers, colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends.
A meta conversation is usually not initiated by the client. Clients want to talk about the project, when it’s going to be done, and what it’s going to look like. If you allow the client to drive your conversations, you won’t be having meta conversations. It’s your responsibility to initiate these discussions- and the sooner the better. Download a free copy of my template for meta conversations, called “How I Work,” to guide you if you’re having trouble initiating and structuring these conversations.
So why have meta conversations?
Meta conversations are rewarding and they make future work with that client so much easier. In addition to helping you to set healthy boundaries and expectations with clients, these discussions can reveal if a prospect is a bully before they become a client. There are certain people that you don’t want to be your clients, such as overly demanding and abusive individuals. You don’t want clients who don’t respect your boundaries and having meta conversations can show you who to avoid early.
You have to be okay with not having lousy clients and letting go of prospects who do not respect your boundaries. Then you can open up your schedule for the clients who are a good match for you and who will respect your boundaries. It’s hard to work with those great clients if your schedule is taken up by a different client who doesn’t respect your boundaries.
Leave a comment and any questions or any situations that you would like to add to the discussion of meta conversations. So if there are situations that I’m not taking into account, I’d love to hear what they are.
Let’s brainstorm. Tell us what happened and how it went. Did it go south? Did it do well? Did good things happen?
Table of Contents
01:15 What is a meta conversation?
02:10 Why are meta conversations important?
02:47 Why do I have meta conversations?
03:53 The Sooner the better
06:54 Setting boundaries and saving projects from failure
07:49 The reward of meta conversations
08:25 Creating your own “How I Work” document
11:50 Download the meta conversation template, “How I Work,” that I created for my clients
12:21 How to know when you need to have a meta conversation?
14:26 Why you should avoid meta conversations through email or text
15:31 “Broken Record” Treatment
19:25 Building trust with clients
20:23 The types of clients you will have meta conversations with
31:47 Letting go of lousy clients and accepting loss
Be the highest price option in your industry
Let’s talk about pricing.
I’ve been in business for just about 10 years. I started as a freelancer and I’ve built an agency. I have six employees and I’m at multi-six figures and have been for several years.
But there’s a mythology around the multi-six figure web consulting, training, and website management business– a kind of mystery. People often wonder: How do I get there and what does it take? Does this mean I’m rich?
I would like to share the process of how I achieved a six figure business.
In order to grow your business to multi-six figures you need to get comfortable with raising your prices. Perhaps you find yourself asking: “Am I charging enough for my services?” The answer is that you need to raise your prices. That should not be a question.
You may be worried that some of your clients won’t be able to afford higher prices. And that’s normal. Some of your customers won’t be able to afford your new pricing. And that’s okay because raising your prices can attract a different set of clients who can afford your pricing.
You will have to get comfortable with hearing “No” or “I can’t afford your pricing right now” if you want to grow into a multi-six figure business. For example, sometimes people call my office and ask to work with us but they cannot afford our services when we state our prices. My team and I think of this as a “Not right now” instead of “Never.” In time, these prospects may be able to afford our services.
I encourage you to become the highest prices in your industry. Customers who can afford your higher prices are often used to paying a premium price for services.
When I started out offering training services, I offered a period of five-week in-person session format with a group of people. I charged 20 dollars per session and the first session was free. About 18 people showed up to the first session. Nine people showed up for the next class. At the end of the program, only about six people were consistently showing up.
So a bunch of people said, “No.” They didn’t see the value. Maybe they didn’t have the time or money to afford my services.
Based on that experience, I made changes.
I tweaked my service offering and I started charging $450 for a comprehensive training. This new format lasted eight hours over two days. Surprisingly, almost everyone said “Yes”. I made more money. I was happy about that. I started thinking about hiring an employee to help conduct training sessions.
Then, I decided to raise my price to over a thousand dollars. I thought my prospects might completely dry. I feared that no one would agree to that price point.
But we actually had more people sign up for training. I didn’t see any decrease at all even though I had more than doubled my price.
This time was also successful. I was booked out until weeks in advance. I begin to wonder, “Why haven’t I been charging this price all along?”
I encourage you to take this leap too.
How I shifted to a "raise prices" mindset
I want to talk to you about changing your mindset on pricing.
I’ve been in business for a decade and I have learned many lessons. But there is one thing that I have never, ever regretted. That one thing is: raising my prices.
At my agency, we do web consulting and training, website management, and SEO training. I built my company to multi six-figure revenue and I employ several employees. But I started as a freelancer.
Recently, I have been thinking about the mythology around the multi six-figure business. It’s kind of a mystery.
If you are not there, you may wonder, “How do I get there?”. If you have already achieved multi six-figure status, you may be wondering “What next?” or find yourself confused about how to managing your growing business’ finances.
So what does it look like for me to have a multi six-figure agency?
Responding to RFPs. What is an RFP?
Let’s talk about Request for Proposals (RFPs).
RFP stands for request for proposal. The term refers to the hiring process used by government institutions or larger corporations wherein small business or companies are required to participate in a bidding process to be selected for contracted work.
The RFP process is meant to make the hiring process equitable and prevent government institutions and corporations.
Instead of just hiring someone to do work, they put out what’s called RFP requests for proposals, and it’s basically a bidding process to win contracts for work.
In my web development work, I have been invited to submit many proposals. Over the years, I have decided to no longer participate in the RFP process. But why?
I’ve been on the winning side of an RFP, and also walked away from the process feeling kind of used.
The RFP process is designed to make the bidding and award process as fair as possible, but it does not always work.
In some instances, I’ve been told by those in charge of the RFP process: “We really want to work with you. You’re the person– you’re the company– that we want to work with. But we have to go through the RFP process because we’re a government agency. It’s our policy.” They already knew that they wanted to work with my company but they still had to go through the RFP process.
Think about that. What does that mean for the other companies participating in the RFP process?
My competitors were submitting proposals and they didn’t even have a chance. Their time and energy was being wasted. And this has happened more than once.
I have also been on the other side of this situation where it became clear to me that I was just being used to meet the RFP quota for an agency or company looking to hire.
At some point in the process, it became really obvious to me that I was never being taken seriously. At any point, during this process, I never had a chance.
Whether you win or lose the proposal, sometimes hiring agencies and companies have already made up their mind before the RFP process even begins.
This experience created hesitancy on my part to say yes, when I was invited to complete an RFP.
You could end up putting a lot of time into trying to win a bid when you never had a chance.
Whenever you’re asked to submit an RFP, consider whether or not it is worth your time.
Become the highest price option in your industry
Let’s talk about pricing.
Ten years ago, I started as a freelancer in web development. Today, I have six employees and I’m at multi-six figures and have been for several years.
But how did I get here?
First and foremost, I had to get comfortable with raising my prices to grow my business. You will have to do the same.
If you have to ask yourself:
“Am I charging enough for my services?” or “Should I raise my prices?”
Then, the answer is you need to raise your prices.
You may also worry that you will lose clients if the prices for your services increase. The truth is that many of the clients you serve now won’t be able to afford your new pricing.
And that’s okay.
When you raise your prices, you get a different set of customers and clients who can afford your pricing. However, you may get fewer clients depending on how much you raise your prices so you will have to become comfortable hearing “No” or “I can’t afford you.”
Many people call my office and ask to work with us but they can’t afford us and that’s okay.
In time, you will find clients who can afford a premium price.
They’re often accustomed to paying a premium price for services.
Becoming the highest price option in your industry will lead you to clients who are accustomed to paying a premium price.
My goal is for you to become the most expensive option in your industry too.
When I first started offering WordPress training services, I charged $100 for my services. I led a five-week in person training course to a group of people. A class of 18 people showed up for the first session, which was free. The next week, nine people showed up. And then, there were only about six people that consistently attended the rest of the program.
A bunch of people said “No.” Maybe they didn’t want to pay $100 for the services– they did not see the value.
I started to think about how I could change and improve my services based upon this experience.
The next time around, I tweaked my service offering and I started charging $450 for a comprehensive training. This new service consisted of only eight hours over the course of two days instead of five-weeks.
Surprisingly, many people said “Yes” and began showing up. Some people refused my new, higher priced service but they were few and far between.
I was making more money. I hired an employee, so I had someone else to help lead training sessions.
And I decided to raise my price to about $1,200.
It was scary. I thought that people might just completely dry up and leave if I charged over a thousand dollars.
But then we actually had more people sign up for training.
I didn’t see any decrease in interest after more than doubling my price.
I thought to myself “Why haven’t I been charging this price all along?”
I remained at that price point for about a year. We eventually had enough clients booked out in advance that I felt comfortable raising my prices again.
This time, I decided to raise my prices to $1,500.
I also made another change. And this is important. I stopped talking about my service in terms of hours. And instead I started talking about my service in terms of a package, a service package.
My clients were now getting more one-on-one attention. My new service package included 90 days of follow-up support after our initial eight hour training session, a recording of our training sessions, and an optional certificate of completion with my signature.
So what happened when I raised my prices to $1,500?
A lot more people started saying “No”. And that’s okay.
My team and I know that the service we provide is worth that much and not everyone can afford it.
I want to encourage you to go through this process too. It does feel scary.
It can feel like a risk, but in my ten years of ex
Should you give discounts to nonprofit organizations?
As my company grows, so do the requests for nonprofit discounts. If you are in the business of digital content creation, then you probably get a lot of requests for free and discounted services.
At my agency, requests for discounts based upon nonprofit status are always met with “no”. We even get ahead of this question by answering it in advance on our FAQ page.
I’m confident about that decision, but I didn’t always feel confident saying “no.”
The first time I heard the words, “Do you provide a discount for nonprofits?” I thought, “Why on earth would I do that?” Then, I wondered, “Am I supposed to be giving nonprofits discount pricing?” (more…)