In this episode of the the HomeWorkingClub podcast, Ben and Alex introduce Freelance Kickstarter, a brand new course for aspiring freelancers.
We discuss how the course came about, why we created it, and what students can learn from it.
(If you listen to the end you may also find a temporary discount code!)
Included in this podcast:
- All about the course (2:21)
- Creating your personal brand (5:15)
- Why the course is not suitable for everybody (7:18)
- Some practicalities around setting rates and finding clients (9:32)
- Imposter syndrome and auditing your skills (15:09)
- Learning experiences (18:25)
- Details on course availability and the exclusive discount (19:09)
Supplementary Links and Information
We have edited some repeat words and unclear sections to enhance readability.
ALEX: Welcome to the HomeWorkingClub podcast. I’m Alex and with me as ever is Ben.
BEN: Hello Alex. How are you today?
ALEX: I’m not too bad. How are you?
BEN: Yeah, doing well, thank you. Very busy, but I’m doing work I enjoy which is what it’s all about. So I’m not complaining.
ALEX: Excellent stuff. We have a slightly different podcast today because Ben has launched a course called Freelance Kickstarter, which provides you with everything you need to know if you’re starting out on the journey of freelancing or even home working.
Tell us a little bit about it, Ben. Why have you done it?
BEN: Well, I’ve done it really, because I get an awful lot of emails from readers with a very common theme… which is that they know they’ve got skills, they know they’ve got stuff that they could do freelance, but they just feel sort of overwhelmed and frustrated with how to take the next steps. And sort of how to really get started with it.
Obviously, as I’ve done that journey myself, and I’ve felt that overwhelmed feeling of sitting in front of 30-40 different browser tabs thinking “Which one of these articles is the one that I should be acting on?”
I just wanted to remove that overwhelm and frustration and lay out very methodically how people should get started with a freelance career.
ALEX: Absolutely. I mean, I’ve had a little preview of the course and had a look at it, and it’s definitely… looking at it in hindsight, it would have been brilliant for when I first started out as a freelancer.
Although, perhaps, I might not have realised at the time that this was something I needed, because a lot of this is the benefit of your experience, isn’t it? And perhaps at the time, you think, “Well, I know what I’m good at. I don’t need all of this.” But I think absolutely, in hindsight, something like this would have saved me hours and hours.
BEN: Well, yeah, that’s what I’ve kind of aimed for. To create the course that I wish I had had back then because… I’ve mentioned it a few times throughout the course… it’s about being able to teach people the mistakes I’ve made, and I’m very candid about the many mistakes I have made.
Hopefully, the people who do take the course will be able to avoid some of the mistakes that I did make.
ALEX: So, yes, this is the benefit of your experience, both good and bad. And also the experience, of course, of HomeWorkingClub readers.
ALEX: So, in terms of the actual meat of the course, but just roughly to give people an idea… How long will it take me to do the course? And what sort of format is it in?
BEN: Okay, well, it’s entirely self-paced. So, if you’re going to take… I haven’t counted the lessons, but there’s plenty of them… So, I think, if you really wanted to go for it, you could probably get yourself through the whole thing in a weekend. But you could also do it in a spare half an hour here and there if you prefer to.
It’s a mixture of video lessons, presentations, quite a lot of text to read as well. I did actually speak to the course beta testers about this because quite a lot of the lessons are text-based. I’ve always found when I’ve been taking courses myself that I like to have text because when you want to go back and look up something that’s really difficult to do in a video.
In fact, there was something that you and I were working on once and I’d seen an idea in a video. It was just a piece of software that I needed to use and I thought, “Well, it’s in that video somewhere.” And I found it enormously frustrating that I had to actually watch the whole thing again. Just keep flicking through it to try and find that one piece of software that was mentioned.
So, yeah. There are text lessons, there are video lessons… whichever format I thought was best to present each part of it.
ALEX: Excellent stuff.
The general idea, you say, is to give people some tools. Is it something that is specifically just for those who have never freelanced or worked from home before? Or is it useful for those who perhaps are a little bit more experienced?
BEN: I think it would probably be most useful for people at the start of their journey. But I think also very useful for people in the early stages of that journey as well.
Also for people who wanted to start freelancing and have kind of started dipping their toes in the water but not found any success yet. I think it might be very useful for those kinds of people as well.
ALEX: As you say, Kickstarter… a kick start could actually be if you’ve stalled slightly halfway through. I mean, I’m not big on motorbikes, but I assume that’s what happens.
Looking at some of the modules in there… there is a big thing, and we’ve talked about this before… what caught my eye was goal setting. Which is something I’m really bad at.
BEN: Yeah. That’s actually a module that I particularly enjoyed doing because what I share in the course is the exact method that I use to set my own goals. Both the big long-term plans and also what I’m going to make sure I do every single week, every single month.
The method that I’ve shared in the course is actually a method I’ve been using myself for probably about 10 years now, and it’s always served me very well. Obviously, I’m not going to spoil it, but there’s a worksheet around that as well.
The goal-setting I think and hope people will find really, really useful.
ALEX: There’s an element on setting your own personal brand, as well, which is an area I’ve worked in a little bit. Tell us about that.
BEN: Yeah. I think people don’t know… it’s like, “Well, do I need to be active on social media?”, “What do I need to do with my resume?”, “What do I do about LinkedIn?”, “Do I need a website?
So it deconstructs all of that, looks at all of those different things and talks about which ones actually really matter. Which are most important when you’re first starting out freelancing.
ALEX: Yes. And then, of course, the practical stuff is once you’ve got a few of those tips and a few things, and sort of organising your workload.
You talk about how you find work… going through clients and that kind of thing. I think we’ve touched on a few areas of online platforms and various other things, but there are some elements in there, aren’t there?
BEN: Yeah, there’s a big module about freelance job boards, where I have used UpWork as the primary example. But obviously, it would be just as valid for Freelancer.com or PeoplePerHour.
The one part of that module that I particularly like is that I’ve done a big video lesson on how to search the boards effectively. I’ve picked out a whole load of different jobs on UpWork and said, “Right, that one’s a good one. That one is a bad one.” Just so that people could actually learn what things to look for.
That was one of the things that took me a long, long time.
Thousands of new jobs appear on UpWork every week. Being able to filter through quickly is really, really important because you want to make sure you’re applying for the right ones and the ones that you stand a chance of getting… also avoid the scams and the clients who are probably going to waste your time.
It was quite fun to actually delve into UpWork and… being able to be completely honest and say, “I wouldn’t apply for this one. And this is why. And I would apply for this one. And this is why.”
There’s lots more on Upwork than that, but that’s one particular video lesson I think people will find really, really useful.
ALEX: I suppose getting back to the core of it, my outsider’s view is… you see so many of these things out here: “This is the way that you’re going to make millions working from home.”
It’s not one of these, “I’ve got the absolute secret to making millions from your home office.” It really is just distilling your years and years of experience… at least 10,000 hours, as they say, to become an expert at anything… it’s years and years of your experience and… obviously, you know, latterly working with HomeWorkingClub and working sort of more generically in the industry… that just helps give people that little head start that you had to find by yourself.
BEN: Yes. I mean, I think anyone who’s been following HomeWorkingClub for any length of time will know that I don’t tend to mince my words and I’m quite opinionated and honest about these things.
All of these courses that do sort of promise to teach you a secret formula… it’s nonsense! There isn’t a secret formula and there is a lot of hard work involved.
I think when you were talking earlier about sort of how long will it take you to complete the course… I think it’s an interesting question. Because how long would it take you to read all the material is one question. How long will it actually take you to absorb it all and act on it is another question altogether.
Obviously, the course is very upfront about this. It’s not going to do the work for you. It’s going to tell you what work you need to do. It is not going to guarantee you success. You’ve obviously got to put the work in.
We’ve talked about when you’re working from home and getting a physical working space sorted… some people like to have a separate space and some people don’t. But I get the feeling from the course… it’s almost that point of, you know, mentally getting your space ready to go out and attack work.
It’s that point of… you wouldn’t start work at a desk with your computer half turned on, sitting on the arm of the chair and not quite ready. It’s that point of actually making sure everything’s lined up before you go forward.
BEN: Exactly. I think that takes me back to what I said at the start… it’s that initial sort of being overwhelmed with options and, “Well, where do I actually start?”
The aim and the objective of the course are that by the end of it you are clear on what you’re going to do next. You know exactly how you’re going to start your own personal journey.
ALEX: So I think you’ve talked about how long it takes. The phrase that has rung in my ears many times on this podcast is ‘paying your dues’… and there’s an element on that in there.
BEN: Yes, there is a lesson called Paying Your Dues. I don’t think anyone who’s been following me for any length of time would be remotely surprised that there is a lesson on that!
ALEX: So tell us a bit about that one. Go on! Without ruining it. You know, don’t give away the farm.
BEN: I think… it kind of feeds into what jobs you should apply for and what jobs you shouldn’t…
There are many different reasons that you might take on a freelance gig. Obviously, how much money you earn from it is a big one. But sometimes it might be, “Well, is it actually worthwhile to do?” For example, “Is it worth doing a lower-paying job to start building up good feedback on a new freelance platform?” Things like that.
I have obviously shared a few anecdotes about terrible gigs that I’ve done in the past that were part of that process of paying my dues.
ALEX: So, in terms of what people will get out of this course… I mean, obviously, it’s designed for people across any industry where they can freelance. But you do cover some of the practicalities around sort of IT and accounting and that kind of thing as well.
BEN: I do, yeah. Another big practicality, you know… something that everyone asks me about… is negotiating rates. How much to charge is such a difficult question to answer.
There’s a big lesson on how to determine your rates because sooner or later, with every client negotiation, you’ve got to mention a number. I think especially aspiring and beginner freelancers really struggle with how much to actually make that number.
Obviously, you don’t want to charge too much and you don’t want to charge too little. I’ve gone into a lot of detail about all the different factors that play into that to hopefully make it a lot easier for people to work it out.
ALEX: I recall that very well from the exorbitant fee that I got from you for doing these podcasts… somewhere in the high five figures. I don’t want to give that away.
BEN: Well, you’re obviously good at negotiating then!
ALEX: So, I was thinking about this as I was chatting to somebody the other day who is very much just about to… and I think a lot of people at the moment are in this situation… where they’re about to leave full-time employment. Unfortunately, the way of the world at the moment is there’s a lot of redundancy about and people are looking at their options.
It got me thinking about being in a similar situation myself. And again, as I’ve said, this course would have been absolutely fantastic. What I did was I kind of blundered in, set up a website, set up a company, had a bank account… kind of the things I thought I knew that I needed to do. And it is exactly that point of… what I didn’t do was do them in the right order at the right time.
By the time I’d done all that, I hadn’t actually worked out where I was going to get any clients from or entirely what it was I was going to do.
I think there’s that point of… you know, it’s taking that little bit of time just to actually set yourself up before you actually start doing stuff.
BEN: Absolutely. I think things like setting websites up and doing… even other things that I think are a real kind of time drain… stuff like creating logos and branding. Back in the day when everything was, well, paper-based, it would be the equivalent of spending time at the printer’s getting business cards printed.
None of that makes anybody any money! Sooner or later a freelancer has to get themselves out there and actually start making contact with potential clients.
I think quite a lot of people do all those bits because those bits aren’t scary. I think that’s the thing. Actually having to reach out and put yourself out there and start to send proposals in and pitches for work… those bits ARE scary. So, it’s understandable that people focus on the more kind of set-upy bits.
There’s a lot in the course about which of those bits you actually do need to do, and which of those bits are more a kind of busywork that isn’t actually going to give you any success at all.
ALEX: I’ve just been chuckling away in the background, probably putting Ben off there, because that’s just EXACTLY what I did with my first business. I spent ages designing, getting the business cards… and oh these business cards were a thing of beauty. I mean, they were triple thickness, they were full colour. This was for writing wedding speeches.
I have still got a box of those and I think that business folded about four years ago, and probably should have folded three years before that.
Yeah. It is that point… you desperately want to get out and do stuff. I think you do want that business card. You do want that something to say, “Here I am. This is what I do.” But actually… and logos and branding, I think is another one which, you know, people obsess about their brand colours, they obsess about their logo.
I think as you say, the most important thing probably is to make sure you’ve actually got some clients.
BEN: Yeah. Unsurprisingly, there is an enormous amount in the course about how to get the clients. Not just about finding them on freelance job boards. There’s actually a module on all the different places to find clients, which is a video module: 20 Ways to Find Clients. There’s a 14-minute video on that.
There are lots of different ways to do it, but you’ve got to actually do some of them because there is no business with no clients.
BEN: Maybe that sounds ridiculously obvious but as I think we’ve just proven, a lot of people seem to get stuck before they get to that bit.
ALEX: Yeah, my first business was running for quite some time before my first client.
It’s absolutely right. And I think that this is something that we’ve talked about in terms of when you’re selling your skills. When you’re selling your own expertise, as it were. I think people moving into the world of freelancing… we all get a bit of impostor syndrome and go “Well, actually, is this obvious? I mean, it seems obvious to me.”, “Is the client going to think, “Oh my God, this guy’s an idiot. He’s just charging me money and I know this stuff already.”
But actually, more often than not, if you know your stuff and you’re working in an area where you’ve been paid to do that… quite often your clients will not know the things that seem basic to you… that it is really useful.
And actually, things like making sure you have clients before you spend money on your business is something that a lot of people starting out don’t know, you know?
BEN: Yeah. Obvious though it may seem.
Funnily enough, sort of early on in the course there is stuff about auditing your skills. So that you can really lay your cards on the table to yourself and be like, “Okay. What do I know? What can I do? What am I good at?” And also be honest with yourself about, “All right. Maybe there are some shortcomings there.”
I used a couple of examples of two completely different freelancers with completely different backgrounds and how certain elements of their background may make different parts of freelancing easy.
Like… if you’ve already worked from home, in an employed role, for example, you might find the adjustment to working by yourself… of not having other people to motivate you and stuff like that… you might find that part really, really easy. But you might find other elements of it, like reaching out for clients really, really difficult. But if you’d been working in a sales role, you might not be quite so frightened about reaching out and trying to pull the work in.
So it’s good to sort of get a good idea… and that’s why there’s a module on that… to get a really, really good idea of, “Okay. Where do I stand? What chance do I really have? What can I do? What can I not do?”
That’s quite early on in the course, and I think that should really help people be honest with themselves about what they’re capable of. And hopefully, take them further into the course with a lot more confidence, so that when they do come to the bit where they’ve finally got to start sending out pitches, it doesn’t feel as scary… there’s less of that inevitable impulse to see your own failure.
ALEX: Yeah. There is that point… going back to the paying your dues point…that your first client isn’t necessarily going to be a Fortune 500 company that pays you enough for a boat and a holiday home somewhere by a lake, you know.
Your first client might be a $20 bit of SEO work for a double glazing company. Or something along those lines, you know?
I’m just getting all the HomeWorkingClub buzzwords… we talk about the famine and feast of freelancing. It is the ability to be able to do those smaller pieces of work and build up that reputation… it is the stuff that really gets you through when those big clients aren’t necessarily coming in.
BEN: Yeah. You know, you learn just as much from every new job, even the $20-50 first few little jobs that you might get. Every one of them is a learning experience.
I still look back on stuff I did over 15 years ago. I’ve still learned really valuable lessons from them and I think a lot of those lessons have probably made it into the course.
ALEX: Well, I think that’s essentially what the course is about, isn’t it? As you say, it’s the stuff that you’ve learned over your years of experience that you can pour into that… help people stop making the mistakes that they’re going to make, but also give them a few things… It’s a kick start, but it’s also a bit of a head start as well.
BEN: Yeah, I think so. I hope so!
ALEX: So, down to the nuts and bolts. When is the course available?
BEN: So the course is already out by the time you hear this, it is not out at the time we’re recording it.
It is released now so it is available now, and I’m also doing a launch discount exclusively to listeners of the podcast and people on my email list. So if you’re on my email list, you will no doubt hear about this as well. But I’m offering 33% off. I will share a voucher code with you in a moment and you will also see that by email.
ALEX: Excellent stuff. The next question is, “Where is the course?” and “How do people find it?”
BEN: So, you can get to it… I’ve set up a short-cut link… so if you just go to homeworkingclub.com/course. And if you use a coupon code of “PODCAST33” you will be given a 33% discount.
The normal price is $147, but with that 33% off you arrive at the rather clumsy number of $98.49.
ALEX: I love that number. It’s an honest number, I think.
BEN: I think the idea is just for the initial launch phase. I like the idea of keeping it under $100. It is very feasible that you will easily recoup that with your first couple of freelance jobs. It’s not a big investment to make in a career, really.
ALEX: That’s exactly what I was going to say. As a marketer by trade… this is the point… you invest in the tools, you invest in the materials, you invest in whatever you need to make sure that you can make that money. And actually something like this… paying under $100 for, you know, the best part of 20 years experience in the industry… I think is absolutely brilliant.
And again, I can say this without actually… I earn nothing from the sales of this course personally. I’ve had a good look at it and it definitely would have been something that would have been incredibly useful for me when I was first starting out.
BEN: Yeah. I am also including, I should mention, live support from me. Almost every lesson has an area underneath it where you can ask questions. There’s already some questions and answers in there from where people have already taken it… from a pre-launch and from the beta tests as well.
So, if you read a lesson and you think, “But what about this?” or “How does that affect me?” it is not a purely sort of passive thing… you can ask me, and I will be answering those questions personally.
So you’ve got access to me as a result of buying it as well.
ALEX: Well, there you go. What a bargain that is. What a bonus.
So, just to recap. Freelance Kickstarter is available as this podcast goes live. The details, if you have a look on HomeWorkingClub, will be available. Also check your emails. There is a 33% discount available.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell people about the course, Ben?
BEN: I don’t think so. I mean, all I would just say is that when I started HomeWorkingClub, I didn’t have this intention of selling a course. It’s more a culmination of thousands of reader emails. I’ve just got to the point of thinking, “What do people really need?”
There are over 350 articles on the HomeWorkingClub website. It is an enormous amount of free advice already there. But a website doesn’t lend itself to really taking someone step by step through what is essentially a complicated process with quite a lot of different things involved.
I think, just the fact that it’s laid out step by step and takes you in a logical fashion through what you actually need to do… I really hope that some people are going to get to the end of this and come back to me, a few months later, with several clients under their belts. Hopefully, nice regular clients.
It is going to make you feel clear on what to do next. And I think, if it does that, it’s certainly succeeded in what I wanted it to do.
ALEX: Well, excellent stuff. What a great moment to end on.
Thank you, Ben, for your time today and thank you for listening at home or in the car. Or wherever you happen to be listening.
The final thing is, do please like the podcast, subscribe to it, and share it with your friends. And the same goes for the course as well.
If you know somebody that’s thinking about working from home or freelancing and they’re about to start on that journey, send them a link to the course and I’m sure they’ll thank you for it in the long run.
Thank you, Ben.
BEN: Thank you.
ALEX: And goodbye at home. Bye-bye.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.