Ditching hourly billing rates will allow you to move away from being a commodity and an expense and into a value-based, results oriented, sought after expert. It’s easy to find someone cheaper on hourly rates, but it’s hard to justify getting someone cheaper who is getting you your monies worth and then some!

Why You Should (Mostly) Ditch Hourly Rate Billing

Pretty much everyone starts out using hourly billing rates. Why? Because that’s what everyone else does and it’s the easiest billing strategy to use. Time for money. Whether you’re freelancing, working a job or even have your own consulting firm: hourly billing is still in the rat race since you’re still trading dollars for hours.

As you can see, I’m biased against hourly billing rates. It’s not that I think it’s bad, it certainly has it’s purpose, though to move business forward there are better and more efficient ways to charge clients.

First, let’s look at why and where hourly billing is good:

  • It’s a quick and easy way to bill some itty bitty low value things.
  • It’s a good way to start when you have little experience.
  • It’s the standard way in most industries.
  • Good for short term relationships.
  • Easy to understand and comprehend.

  • Very small projects where it’s near impossible to attach a value ($).

  • Small add-on work to a larger project.
  • You’re just starting out in the industry and need some projects, these beginner project work well with hourly rates.
  • When you really want a project but you cannot pin down a value based goal.
  • Projects / industries where clients only accept hourly rates and nothing else.

But there’s the rub, for me at least. I’m not interested in small, low value, and quick projects. I’m interested in the larger, value packed (ROI inducing) and longer-term projects where we really can make a difference and do some good.

Why you should ditch hourly rate billing

While hourly rates have their purpose, when you’re trying to really grow your business and not be a commodity there are four better options: project based billing, flat fee, value based and retainer contracts.

Hourly rates put you in a commodity position as well as make it difficult to make any significant changes to your pricing. A freelancer friend had a good contract with a large firm for some web work, though he was serious under charging. Once he had enough experience and connections he tried to raise his hourly rates by about 15%. That large firm cut his contract quickly since it was their policy to never allow freelancers/contractors to increase their rates by 1-2% per year.

When you bill hourly, it’s very easy for the client to a) be looking at the clock wanting you to finish faster so they pay you less and b) be looking at their wallet and P&L statement wondering how to decrease costs. This means they’ll be on the look out for someone to do your job for cheaper.

You might have also noticed, that I did not include on-going projects in that list. You might think that if you’re doing something like web administrator work that isn’t consistent it’s best to do an hourly rate.

If you work 10 hours you get paid for 10 hours. But what if your client has no work for you? You’re SOL with no income. Remember, we’re a business here. And as a business we need steady cash flow. Instead of hourly rates why not offer a monthly retainer contract where you do up to X amount of work and services (while not being 100% strict on the timing)? That way you’re guaranteed money and the client still gets the work they’d need.

Hourly billing is a conflict of interest!

Your responsibility to the client is to get the job done as quickly and properly as possible. Your responsibility to you and your business is to make as much money as possible. Those two needs are in conflict. The longer you work, the more money you get! YEY! But the longer and longer you work the more money the client has to spend the less likely they are to keep you around if you keep taking so much time.

That’s where flat rates and value based pricing is for. You set a price you’re comfortable with and that your client sees is worth their money, and you get to work. Then it’s your responsibility, as it should be, to complete the work within the agreed upon terms.

But what if something changes? you ask … then you can amend the contract or setup a bigger contract. If something changes where the project needs to go on for much longer and it’s something you sort of can predict: you can setup the contract in a retainer form. You’ll work with them for 3 months for X amount total. If after 3 months they wish to continue you’ll both revisit the project, the needs, scope and the value given and renew the contract if appropriate.

If you’re still using hourly rates, I highly recommend you revisit your business model and see how you can change it to include flat rates, retainers or value based fees. It’ll give you more money, have your clients liking the results more and be less stressful.

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There is an old saying that I never really understood until I was old enough to understand it’s real meaning. They saying goes like this:

It’s better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all.

In other words: better to have started and tried, than to have never tried at all.

ninja edit: I don’t know the origin of this image. I tried to find it, but it’s been posted so many times everywhere that I couldn’t find the source. I did though see it initially up on reddit.

No more Facebook likes for freebies starting November 5th! Likes for freebies was a great promotional strategy that gave customers nice free stuff and got companies like on their pages. Facebook is changing that now as they feel that those kinds of strategies aren’t good for their marketing tactics anymore.

No More Facebook Likes For Freebies: Repercussions & Ideas

Facebook likes for freebies was a simple idea: you give us a like on your FB page and we’ll give you something cool in return. Simple right? Some people abused that idea, though in general it was a great thing for everyone involved … except for Facebook.

Companies (Page owners) got new followers, more likes and some great PR. Users on the other hand got something cool in return for very little effort on their part. For example, I entered a contest by Black Lapel where all I had to do was like the FB page. For that, I won their grand prize of a free fully custom suit. It was great for all of us.

Facebook disagrees. Now that Facebook has shareholders to report to it needs to do everything, in it’s eyes, to improve the quality of it’s data. “What is Facebook’s data” you ask? Simple: You are Facebook’s data. The more accurate data Facebook has about you, your interest, your friends, your friend’s friends and so on, the more marketable it’s advertising platform is and the more valuable it’s data is to the market. This their new marketing tactic: “no more facebook likes for freebies”.

But the freemium model skews those numbers as many of will just like a FB page just for that content and then either ignore it going forward or remove that like later on.

Starting on November 5th, 2014 you’ll no longer be able to run ‘like for freebies’ like promotions, contents nor marketing strategies.

What this means for marketing strategies:

Removing the like for freebies sucks, though it just means we marketers have to shift our marketing model a bit. Instead of asking for likes, we’ll have to ask for:

  • an e-mail address
  • a tweet follow (or retweet)
  • user content submission
  • re-sharing / re-publishing content from the page to their own timeline
  • participate in more involved contests (possibly based on content submission)

Is “no more facebook likes for freebies” a good thing or bad?

Depends. For Facebook’s profit area (it’s ability to sell quality data) it’s good. For businesses and page owners, it depends on how you run your business. It’s certainly not good that they are taking away a great way to get more market awareness so easily, though at the same time it’ll force us to get a bit more creative and offer up more quality content, promotions, contests and stuff to get people to interact more.

Overall, I think it’s a ‘so-so’ move. It’ll annoy some marketers of course, though by using a bit of your creative marketing mind you’ll be able to get some great campaigns out.

When you are creating a brand, you’ll want to lock down all the user accounts for it on as many websites as possible. There are two resources to help you do that.

How To Check Username/Brand Availability Across Hundreds Of Websites

When you have a growing brand you’ll want to protect it. One way to do that is to register your brand name on every possible (popular) website. Though checking to see what’s available and what’s not can be a rather tedious process. Below are two websites you can use to help speed this up:

  1. http://knowem.com
  2. http://namechk.com/

Both sites work the same way:

  1. Enter your brand name (or username) that you want to search for.
  2. Click the search button.
  3. Get the list of sites that your username is already taken on and where it’s available.

Wherever it’s still available: register it … or outsource that. How To Check Username/Brand Availability Across Hundreds Of Websites We’ll be doing that soon!

Do you have any tools that can help automate this process or tools to help you find places to register your brand? Let us know in the comments.

The Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia

The Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia

The Not Wedding Backstage With ChykalophiaThe Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia The Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia The Not Wedding Backstage With ChykalophiaThe Not Wedding Backstage With ChykalophiaThe Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia
The Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia

Ari Chykalophia @ The Not Wedding

The Not Wedding Backstage With ChykalophiaThe Not Wedding Backstage With ChykalophiaThe Not Wedding Backstage With Chykalophia

Webinars are a great way to reach your target audience, but if they can barely get to your webinar it makes it rather worthless. The harder you make it for people to learn about, sign-up and view your webinar the lower your viewer count will be and it’ll also drop your conversion rates. TLDR: Make your webinars easy to access.

Increase Webinar Subscribers By Improving Usability

From a business perspective it might seem like the more information for (for a webinar sign-up) the and the more they fill in the more likely they are to be committed to listening to your message. Though that is an incorrect way of thinking. People might be willing to divulge a lot of information to you only if they really trust you, already have bought from you and if the webinar you’re offering is going to give them extremely high value. It also helps if you’re already very famous. But even then there is only so much information the average person from your target market will give you.

Asking for too much information will turn away potential people on your list and discourage them from ever signing up. Why?

  • You haven’t offered them enough value.
  • You haven’t build enough trust with them.
  • You haven’t made your offer enticing enough to be given a high priority.
  • You’ve made it too difficult or annoying to sign-up.

This is the same no matter if you’re a big fish like Tony Robbins or just starting-up.

How to improve usability

Usability is the ease of use and learnability of a human-made object
(source: wikipedia)

Improving usability means making it easier and more user friendly. While offering a webinar without any sign-up restrictions might be the most user friendly, it’s not a practical business application. We’re here to do business and build a brand so we have to strike a balance between business needs and usability. For myself and many others such as Frank Kern, Jay Abraham and Michael Hyatt the balance is very simple. We only ask the bare minimum needed to run a (successful high quality) campaign:

  • Name
  • Email address

We only ask for the name and e-mail because asking for more starts to significantly reduce sign-up rates.

Once they are signed up these need to know three things:

  1. The webinar URL.
  2. The webinar start-up.
  3. How to get to, view and interact with the webinar.

Most people get #1 correct. It’s easy, just stick the webinar URL in the e-mail and make sure it’s clickable. Easy.

It’s #2 and #3 that most people get wrong. Just the other day I received an e-mail newsletter informing me of the webinar start time. The time was listed in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). GMT is a good standard to use, though the average person isn’t very familiar with it and adds another layer of effort to try to figure out the start time in my local area. The fix is very simple:

  • Include start times in several time zones for your target market (if it’s spread across many areas and not a very local event).
  • Include a link to an easy to use time-zone calculator tool.

For example, if my target market is only in the USA I can say something such as:

The webinar starts at 6pm CDT (7pm EDT, 4pm PDT). You can find out when this webinar starts by using this handy world time calculator: http://www.worldtimebuddy.com/?qm=1&lid=6,5,8&h=6&date=2014-8-11&sln=18-19.

Now that they know when they should be on the webinar, it’s time to teach them how to get there and what to do once they are there. We can say something such as:

To join the webinar at the appropriate time click on the webinar URL provided below. On the webinar page you’ll be asked for your name and e-mail address, so please enter those in so that we know you made it to the webinar as this is a private invitation only event. After you enter your information click on “Enter Webinar”. If you arrived early you’ll see a “Please wait for the webinar to start screen.” Once the webinar starts the video will automatically start playing and you’ll be able to chat with your fellow webinar viewers through the chat box on the right side.

To ask a question click on the green hand button and enter your question into the pop-up box, then click Submit.

And so forth.

This takes all the guesswork out and lets the viewer know exactly what’s going on, when and what they can expect.

These types of experiences are what build your brand and help you grow. Once you’re webinar is started all that’s left is for you to put on a great show and give them all you got!

If you have other suggestions on how to improve webinar conversion rates, sign-ups and usability write it up in the comments. I’m curious to know how you guys do it.

By offering both high end and low end services you open your business up to more potential streams of income, a greater audience and a larger market share. You don’t have to compromise on quality in-order to appeal to price conscious clients, though you will have to alter your strategy.

Why You Should Offer Both High & Low End Services

Most clients (and projects) fall into two categories: high value, low value. High value projects give you the greatest profit margins and gives your clients an extremely good value for their money (in other words: a good ROI). Low value clients and projects won’t bring you in nearly as much money though they are small enough so you can offer them in a higher quantity. Another way to think of this can be: high end / high value services are your big, fat consulting contracts while low end / low value services are very low maintenance (for you) and have recurring income.

Why you need recurring income alongside big contracts

Big contracts are great though most of the time they are one shot deals. For example: a 100K contract to help fix a company’s hiring practices, a 18K brand design package, or even a $4M 2-year long marketing project. The big projects are your portfolio builders, your game changers and the way you move forward significantly in your career.

Though in-between your big projects what are you going to go for income and stability? What if you only get that first 100K sale and then nothing more for the next several months? Or what if the project is delayed? Or if the client pulls out, cancels the project or refuses payment? What then? Those are unlikely to happen, though it’s best to have stability and a safety net. One of the best ways to build a safety net is through easy services and give you a stabilized income.

These lower end services, if they are recurring and passive, will give you money every single month whether you find new clients or not. Big projects are great and we should all be pursuing them: though we need stability in-order to chase those big projects.

Barely any company survives on big projects alone. Big name consultants, coaches, actors, and companies all do both big paying projects and smaller things that pay less, but quickly and easily.

Bill Clinton was well paid for being the president of the USA, though most of his current income is split between two categories: bigger things such as speaking engagements, joint ventures and consulting and smaller things which are low maintance such as publishing and licensing media. Accenture, the big consulting firm, makes a lot of their money on big big projects though a good portion is made on recurring maintenance projects, retainers and providing lower level simple support.

You have your bread and butter services, and then you have the services which can also get you some meat on the table as well. You need both.

Examples of low end services / recurring income / passive income

Passive income is my personal favorite as it’s “set and forget”. This includes things like:

  • Novelette self publishing
  • Stock photography/images/audio/video
  • Media licensing
  • Royalties / franchise fees
  • Interest on investments
  • Simple online (info) products
  • Designs you can sell online (such as t-shirt designs)
  • Ads on things you have online (such as videos on Youtube, or ads on your blog)

Recurring income might require a bit more work from you, though it’s also generally rather easy money:

  • Hosting fees
  • Website retainer contracts
  • Rental income
  • Landscaping / yard care
  • Insurance
  • Online community memberships
  • Small business book keeping

What ideas do you have for recurring income?

If you’re having trouble getting HTML5 video to work on your website in Firefox it might be because of a server issue. If when you check the FireBug console (in Firefox) you see something like one of the following lines:

HTTP “Content-Type” of “text/plain” is not supported. Load of media resource http://www.example.com/path/to/your/videofile.webm failed.
HTTP “Content-Type” of “text/plain” is not supported. Load of media resource http://www.example.com/path/to/your/videofile.ogg failed.
HTTP “Content-Type” of “text/plain” is not supported. Load of media resource http://www.example.com/path/to/your/videofile.ogv failed.

If you instead see something like this:

Specified “type” attribute of “video/mp4″ is not supported. Load of media resource http://www.example.com/path/to/your/videofile.m4v failed.

That’s just telling you the MP4 (and thus M4V) video file formats are not supported in Firefox. You’ll have to convert the video file into another format and use that as a fallback in browsers that don’t support MP4.

To fix the ‘text/plain’ issue, all you have to do is edit the .htaccess file in your website root directory (usually something like ~/public_html/.htaccess) and add the following 3 lines to the very end of the file:

The issue is that Firefox doesn’t understand the file format all by itself and the server isn’t sending out any information to correct that mistake (or it might even be sending the wrong info). By adding those three lines to .htaccess we tell your server (assuming it’s Apache) exactly the types of files you’re using and their file extension(s).