I get a variation of this question all the time:
“How do I get started on my business?”
It’s a big question, and for freelancers and solopreneurs, it can be a daunting one. But honestly, it can be super simple.
I was reminded about how I began with my business in 2015: with just one email.
I sent one email to the people I knew and connected with. That’s it.
The response I got in return helped me get started on what services to offer, how to price them, and who to offer it to.
First, I made a short list of topics I had some expertise in, that I knew were valuable and that could really help people. I wasn’t sure on which one, but I decided to stay in the general realm of internet-y, marketing-y type skills, because I know that would be an easier sell than, say, underwater basketweaving.
Then, I went into my Gmail outbox, and I looked at everyone I had a conversation with over the past 6 months that could possibly be interested in my services. I ended up with a list of about 200–250 people of friends, family and acquaintances. I made sure to curate this list to individuals who I actually knew, had a relationship with and were interested in developments of my life. I did not want to spam.
Then, I sent them this email:
Subject: could use your help
Hey there, quick question.
As you might already know, I’m starting a digital marketing consultancy called yadaCreative. I offer strategy sessions, training and planning on:
- Social media
- Project management
- Content marketing
- Web and graphic design
- Online ad campaigns
Here’s the question:
How much would you pay to rent my brain for an hour, given my experience?
Yes, you personally.
If you need some guidance with any of the above stuff in your life, how much would my help be worth to you, and why?
Let me know by this Friday. I have a gift for your valuable feedback.
For the subject line, I used all lowercase because it sounded a little more casual and fit my style. I also wrote the body of the email to feel like an actual email from a human being — which it was— and I formatted it with no decorations, no pictures, no nothing. Then I had an easy call to action which in this case was simply for them to hit reply with an hourly rate they would pay. I also gave them a deadline and a promise of a reward, because nothing moves people into action like deadlines and rewards. (Pro tip.)
Then, after breathing into a paper bag and calming my nerves, I hit send.
People actually responded back.
I was so surprised that this little email actually worked. I got response after response, about 60 responses out of the 200–250 I emailed. It was to people that I hand picked that I knew would be interested in not only what I have to offer, but who like me in general who wanted to support me and whatever I was up to.
I collected all the responses and averaged how much they would consider to pay for renting my brain. It came out to $100 per hour.
I responded to everybody who said a number above $100 that “I’m in business and here’s my price!”
For those who responded below $100, I told them that my rates were now $100 an hour, but because they gave me such valuable feedback, I’d give them their first hour for whatever amount they mentioned. This meant that if they told me they would pay $25, they get the first hour for $25. Bam.
That’s how I got my first clients, testimonials, referrals and my momentum. If I were to do it again, I’d do exactly that.
That’s how I got my start back in 2015. I’ve increased my rates since then because I’ve specialized in online advertising, specifically Facebook and Instagram ads.
Maybe that will help give you an idea of how to start your next venture. Now go Do That Thing!
Watch the original Facebook Live video here.