I have to say that this is the first podcast interview that I’ve done where we talked about poop.
But that’s what happens when you talk to a parent of young children (Curtis has young kids)… you just never know where the conversation is going to go.
I was pretty excited when Curtis got in touch to be on the podcast. I had subscribed to him sometime in the last year and really loved his writing. Curtis shares his personal journey, lessons learned and doesn’t hold back from giving an opinion. That being said, he’s also pretty relaxed. Which I’m sure comes from having clear boundaries in his business.
We talked about a lot of things (which is why I’ve included the transcripts below. I’ll probably be adding these moving forward, it just depends on time. I’m also thinking of adding time stamps), but one of my most favorite take-aways was the need to set firm boundaries in my business. Curtis does something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS… he batches his calls on Tuesday.
Meaning, Tuesday is the ONLY day he takes and schedules calls.
The thought of that makes me feel like I won the time lottery (because somewhere I think that exists… and the beauty of the time lottery is that we’re the ones picking the winning numbers. hmm… think there’s a blog post in there somewhere).
Questions I Asked Curtis
- Before we get into vetting clients, fill the listeners in on you & your backstory
- You have an agency & your personal site where you do coaching & work with clients. When did you start doing coaching?
- When did you realize you needed to get better at vetting clients?
- Was there a shift or something that occurred in your business that made you put better time & energy into client vetting?
- When you started your business how were you getting clients?
- How did the questions that you asked potential clients differentiate you from competitors?
What You’re Going to Learn
- How Curtis left a job by telling the owner he’d fire himself
- Why you don’t want to get on the phone too fast
- How asking better questions up front is key in vetting clients
- Why telling a client that their idea is bad will gain their trust
- Why Curtis started batching his calls (hint: it’s not rocket science)
- What his new is about
Where to Connect with Curtis
You can click the link below for the full transcript:
Kim: [00:00:25] Hey what's up. Everybody welcome to another episode of the Wordpress podcast. I am your hostess with the most list. This is Kim to other word Prestwick. This is episode 126 and I have Curtis McHale on the show today. Holy moly. Talk about a ton of fun. You know one of the coolest things for me about this episode was that I have been subscribing to Curtis and we connected recently because I love his writing and it's that little spin on freelancing and running a business and working for yourself that just you know when someone's writing and you can just tell they've been through similar frustrations and challenges and have gotten in their side. It's without a doubt inspiring. But Curtis is also super chill and super fun. I really need to find another adjective besides super but you're really going to enjoy this. He's got a great new book coming out called marketing your niche and it's I just I really you're going to want to take notes this is another one of those episodes and I can guarantee you're probably going to really have a strong desire to batch process things specifically calls. But I'm going to zip it and enjoy the show. Stay tuned for the very end because I've got a couple links for you based on some of the stuff that Curtis and I talked about. Enjoy.
Kim: [00:01:54] Curtis doesn't know this but like not that I've been stalking means but I have been a subscriber. And you know it's funny I sort of think back I think I found you through Carey deals but my guest today is Curtis McHale and I should tell you guys that since I'm just rambling at him right now but I subscribed to Curtis. I love your writing. I love your writing. And so I was super geek out when we connected them like I would love to have you on the show so thank you so much for being here today.
Curtis: [00:02:23] You're welcome. Dill's is a terrible influence.
Kim: [00:02:28] Yes she is. But you know I'm like she carries just Kerry is awesome. She is. I've yet to meet anybody who knows Kerry and is that a negative thing about her.
Curtis: [00:02:37] But she writes little songs for my daughter even and puts them on YouTube.
Kim: [00:02:42] Oh my God that's friggin awesome. That is awesome. I got to we got to connect in person that the last word camp San Francisco a few years ago and I was like you're just as awesome in person. Anyways before this becomes a Carrie fan show. So for my listeners who are not familiar with you which I'm super pumped they will be after today but let's do a quick little.
Kim: [00:03:03] You know Curtis bio backstory.
Curtis: [00:03:06] So I was born at a young age and I I I spent a lot of my 20s looking for the right job and I started off in counseling. That's where my training degree is and I end up figuring that that sucked because most people whined a lot and I taught myself development and just happened to stumble into WordPress stuff really. There's no plan. Just happen to stumble into. Good God cast. They were teaching me web standards from the beginning like bowlegged world and wordpress. And I suppose the rest is history. I spent the last 10 years doing WordPress stuff and then really moving back to coaching and helping business owners run awesome businesses is what I am doing more and more of now. Which ties in very nicely to my counseling degree. After 10 years of not doing it yeah some others don't whine that's the best thing. Like we talk about something we think we help work through fixing it and we keep working at it. Like that's the thing that's awesome.
Kim: [00:04:05] Now that is that's a great kind of segueway to come back to what you study I was about to say that I'm like I'm sure that in many ways you can use your counseling degree for your coaching but also even in marketing and writing and copy it's super applicable isn't it.
Curtis: [00:04:18] It absolutely is not absolutely is for sure. I think marketing copy and stuff like that I probably struggled to write because it does not feel natural to me. So I have to push myself and have a mastermind group that helps push me a little bit on that. And they're a little more in the marketing side but the one on one conversation where I can see someone transform change their business or take it from like a business that's failing to actually you know landing and landing their first $10000 month contract was something I hope was recently. That's the part that really energized me. The other stuff I was bring people in in this like and really start to interact with them and help them. So that's the part I put myself on marketing is not what I love to do.
Curtis: [00:04:56] You know it's funny. I love the marketing piece of it but yet I find that the copying all same. I hated writing copy and I hired a Facebook ad agency at the beginning of this 2016 and it was it was so impressive to see the study he had done of the industry like going back to like you know the 50s and 60s and direct response marketing. And I kind of shifted my perception of it. And so it's it's just been this this practice for a year. I'm not saying I'm good at it but I enjoy doing it now. So it's been kind of fascinating to see the simple things that work but let's so let's talk.
Kim: [00:05:30] First of all you have an agency also correct. I do. Forever be listening to your tagline is awesome. Stop freelancing and start running a business on Curtis McHale dot ca. But for the agency piece of it so you see you started coding. How many of there are you. Do you have a team. How does that work.
Curtis: [00:05:48] Just me. I have one or two contractors that I or I may go into if I need some help. And but it's really just me. OK. And the dogs in the office and that's about it. I have I have. So like I write all my content but then my my assistant blocks and put it in my like MailChimp or champêtre for me like so I don't do that part. It's not super useful to me I don't do my taxes. I don't enter my receipts I take photos of them and my bookkeeper gets those. So there are things I don't do.
Curtis: [00:06:17] But ultimately it all originates with me on anything code or on writing.
Kim: [00:06:22] So how much of your business is is with the freelancing. I mean your agency piece versus the coaching and the client work that you do with the one on one time wise.
Curtis: [00:06:34] I am more development focused but income wise I'm actually just in the last few months 40 percent monthly income from coaching.
Kim: [00:06:43] That is fantastic. Have you found. You know it's funny I say this often but I often see a lot of people that do. Which is probably where the client vetting that we're going to get into comes in them and when they're doing freelancers or they're doing client work they get to a point where it's not cost effective anymore and it's the time for money feels really squeezed or inevitably want another stream. That allows the flexibility to at least have more choice with clients. Do you find that with people you work with.
Curtis: [00:07:12] Absolutely. I think that's where I started. Right like I am not a cheap consultant. One of the things I often do and we talk client vetting is like "hey you can probably find someone cheaper or why aren't you finding" them like that's a question I'll ask people straight up and partially can to convince them that I'm worth it because they told me why and then they just convince themselves why.
Kim: [00:07:31] That's a really smart piece of advice right there.
[00:07:34] I know I was actually talking with a client today and she was like I love those questions. Yes and I explained to her why I asked them and she's like that's so brilliant. So is that client we've got along really well got a couple of projects together. She's been awesome and my wife actually uses uses her site as she's a custom My wife is a customer to which I didn't know at first but.
Kim: [00:07:50] That's pretty awesome.
Curtis: [00:07:51] I know.
Kim: [00:07:52] So but I mean in doing that you know so you're working with a lot of freelancers. Is it primarily web devs in the freelancing space or just any freelancer.
Curtis: [00:08:02] It is primarily by web developers or web constructor's a few of them wouldn't call themselves developers they and not even necessarily in wordpress. I have one client who's firmly in the Hubspot realm and so they do a lot of marketing automation in copywriting and stuff like that. But they found out because they were doing more WordPress work. And then I have a one client who I have no idea how she found me she works sort of like a big company like the sides of Microsoft. And that's like process auditing and does like amazing things like this. I looked at the numbers that just didn't add up. You know what I found $30 million guys she does like amazing stuff like that. Wow. So you know I've help but again helping her come out of that big job which I'll say Microsoft does not where she works actually to maintain her anonymity. But a company of that size for sure and helping her like navigate like how does she about clients how to get a good proposal. How do you negotiate when they say hey we'd like to bring you on not as a contractor but we'd like to bring you on as a job like as your job and here is your salary. She says no that's not how it works and gets like a little bit more money than they actually offered monthly as her contractor rate now and she's not even there full time.
Kim: [00:09:10] OK. So clearly. And like now I'm really piqued.
Kim: [00:09:16] But first of all I'm guessing that you learned everything you're working with clients through trial and experience and getting there yourself. So was there a shift or something that occurred for you when you were stepping into this space. You know that you really realize there's got to be a smarter way to do this.
Curtis: [00:09:32] Probably three years into my business. I was hating it. I was making Ok money but I was probably average I don't know I think that's probably making $40000 a year Canadian was OK. And my wife was working at the time we had no kids so we could make that work. And so then I grabbed a job with a an agency in the Wordpress space and because I was the client stuff I just hated the client stuff. It was a pain that people were paying on time and it just sucked. And so then I took that job and after three months I said I hate working for somebody that I'm a terrible play and when I actually reached out to the audience that I'm a terrible employee I can't imagine you like me as an employee. I can't imagine even worthwhile. And he said hey great work in part because I was thinking the same thing. We compare it with respect because you brought up for you like I hate it. I can't imagine you love me. I'm serious that's what I said. I can't imagine I'm going to play I like I would totally find myself. Am I right message is like probably And like so let's just decide we don't work together.
Curtis: [00:10:28] And and then I really dove into reading really I spent... I reads at least 60 books a year. Some of them are fiction but like 40 are business oriented.
Kim: [00:10:41] And I have right there with you I have to interject because I worked in the book industry for like 10 years and people think I'm a nut. I'm like I buy books like no one's business. But yeah huge difference in your business.
Curtis: [00:10:54] And I started implementing it. So I think I had read Michael Port book yourself saw it and read it a few times that I'm totally doing this.
Curtis: [00:11:00] I'd never actually done the work I did the work and doing the work and getting intensional around my goals and starting to put in more processes as opposed to winging it meant my income jumped from like the $40000 mark to in you know into the low six figure mark within a year.
Curtis: [00:11:16] So like when I left the other I left the other job I think for my birthday. From the beginning of February the end of February. But somewhere around then my birthdays at the beginning of February and I had more work than you know what to do with my two days. And I started getting clients better and started getting better clients and like started tripling my rates. Right. And then shortly after that I spent my first $15000 proposal which was accepted in like two minutes and I was like seriously like I would've charged five grand for this a couple weeks ago but I decided that I want to you just charge more and this was a good way to test it on.
Curtis: [00:11:46] And that was a really that was a lead off the WordPress.com forums. for like the work or forums it was not like some highly vetted someone on the forums that you should talk to Curtis because he does this type of work and the person came to me and I was like was not some high quality lead that saw you know after years of experience and knowing the industry they just were off the poor and $50000 easy for them.
Kim: [00:12:07] OK. So let's back up there with that because you were saying you know were you said earlier that you're not really into marketing and stuff. How how were you getting clients to begin with.
Curtis: [00:12:18] When I first started it was total like boatloads of activity. I sent out 10 contacts a day to something. Craigslist ads or Detroit of commerce or job boards off authentic jobs as well that I remember I went on a bunch and that was probably the better one. I just sent I just kept sending. So I think I just did the math on that like five contacts a day assuming I actually did. Properly for or 10 come a day for 40 weeks of the year like that's hundreds of contacts I sent out.
Curtis: [00:12:47] Right. Yeah. More than thousands of contacts I sent out. And now I like that just got me to the $40000 mark really. That's how it floated the boat at first just massive action and not not efficient effective or efficient action at all. There are definitely better things I could have done to land work and land better paying work right at the beginning. You know it all started well and then there was one agency that decided they weren't doing client work anymore and they were going to do product work. And I had talked to them a little bit and while they knew I was just mostly starting they felt I always asked the right questions. And so they started sending me good clients with well let me ask you this.
Kim: [00:13:27] And asking the right questions with them it was. Do you think just sort of your innate curiosity or was it through some of the reading you had done you know because a lot of people are probably wondering what did you ask how did that how did that differentiate you.
Curtis: [00:13:41] I've always been one to ask why so I mean we're getting in trouble and I used to landscape struction. They were like movies boards reading the boards they're like I was always that dude who I like I want to understand why we're doing this and what's the purpose behind it.
Kim: [00:13:54] There was that toddler that every parent does now. All right.
Curtis: [00:13:58] Yeah I don't know. I wasn't very mysterious. Well at least compared to my brothers so I don't know maybe at the time they didn't like it but my brothers were an easy act to follow that law I'm the oldest so they followed me and so like they got the second one I'm like well it's a lot of work on the third one was the kid who like you know ran away from home a bunch of years old and like you better call him my mom because if I'm not home to the babysitter by night and by the time she gets there you'll be in trouble.
Kim: [00:14:23] That's too funny. So what the why then.
Curtis: [00:14:27] I mean it was just a curiosity that in terms of wanting to understand I do that with lots blocks of stuff figure out why and I want to go deep into things right.
Curtis: [00:14:36] So even I'm a big outdoor person I guided my mountains and canoeing and kayaking for 10 years. And so even like as I'm looking at a new piece of gear in that realm I want to go deep and I will like analyze and analyze and analyze it and when I can I can tell you like what's the difference between this you know some sport watch and the other sport watch and why would you choose one or the over the other. And so I went deep into a lot of different things as I was learning Wordpress and just taught myself PHP and taught myself where to dig in and manage to in some ways luck into a few knowing a few smart people like Pippen and just an Santon and you know Justin Sternbergh now a number of other people that I really got to know well that felt I knew what I was doing and I wrote a lot about my technical stuff at the beginning and so my colleagues got to know me like Pippin and you know later on that turns into good leads especially with someone like Pippin where I am on the list and his support team will recommend me for a good leads now right outside of bear in some cases outside of the regular you know recommended developers like this is a good one for Curtis and I'm sure they do that to other developers on their list as well. But that's only because he got to know me.
Kim: [00:15:41] Yeah the relationship piece of this it's interesting the timing of having this interview with you I just surveyed my audience and it one of the biggest things that people were interested in was growing their audience and you know for a long time when I was starting I am not a developer. I just fell in love with Wordpress and I like marketing and engaging and I love the web and. And so but it was really the growing the audience piece for me. It was a huge differentiating factor. You know it's like I was plugging along with client sites and doing my thing and I'd write content here and there it was not strategic. I'm a huge Dan Norris fan so like content strategy is key for me now but it was really the podcast them in the relationships that that did everything for me. So it's like you're saying you know your colleagues and your peers and it's making those connections and that's where the time. That's the marathon strategy. It will pay off long term and you just invest in it right till you get it.
Curtis: [00:16:33] Yeah and that's probably with the coaching side of the business that's where I'm at again which in some ways feels tiring to me because I find I'm an introvert by nature so it goes. I'm totally like I do not recharge when I'm with people. I actually left I think was my 18th birthday party when I showed up and they're like 50 people.
Curtis: [00:16:51] Here's a surprise birthday party it's like have fun & walked away sites like this I have sites that ask why would I call this thing. I would never chose this party.
Curtis: [00:17:00] And so getting back into the relationship and I even looked at it with my podcast or things. That's why I think so. With developers I tell people like if you need a job now they need jobs now. Shake hands. You need to go meet the people. If you're like you know everything is going along. I've got lots of clients I just want to keep you know rolling that marketing forward you know and your blog will probably be OK. Get on some podcasts here and there but you need to meet people. And so I spoke up my local word camp a lot and I went to some other local events and I went toe to beach press when it was there go for you know six days by the ocean with 20 people in the house. That was big.
Curtis: [00:17:41] But you know when people see a lot of people were maybe 30 maybe 30 people originally 20 and they just kept saying yes it was like 30 there was like all the couch at night or all the coaches were awful. They were all people are sleeping on every couch and the whole place on top of all the beds it's like like a 10000 square foot and it's meant to sleep like 20 something great bunk beds in double beds and everything and every like a little bird press for a house.
Curtis: [00:18:02] I was it was great and everyone was working and going out for beer when you know when people were going in it was good. But even through that solidifying some of those relationships could interact with people a lot more and all these other people but actually getting to sit down and you know we went out on a beer tour I think Kippen was there with me on that or going for a walk on the beach with someone else. Right that's when I got to I got to me Carrie there was excellent just getting to know and actually shake hands and even at the time like I was in the master mind Carrie for one and a few other people but getting to actually meet all but one of them and there was just a good solidifying relationship.
Kim: [00:18:34] Yeah. That's fantastic. So let's let's switch gears a little bit and talk about vetting client so my guess again is is in three or an experience of this. You know you really figured out how to get clients what was. So how did you start shifting that for you before you started coaching and teaching it.
Curtis: [00:18:53] The first thing I did is I realized I hated doing client calls like initial klank all those didn't like it. They were typically low value because I got them because I got on the phone too fast. So we'll come back to that in a second. And I look at a day when I had a couple of calls I like the socks. And so I started batching all my calls my camera I think you sent me the invite to this link and it happened to line up with my call they like or had the time line up with my call time and so I put this book in as a call so that I don't do anything on other days except write code or write. That's him right there with you. And so I decided like that and I started working back like well how do I take less calls. Well I need to start saying no to more people. And then I started thinking well I mean I need to ask better questions upfront. And so I start asking better questions I got some help I think Chris lemons give me some ideas on questions to ask are you and sent me an email one like with an email template of some ideas for questions and so then I started asking more questions and I started saying like what's the project about why are we doing this.
Curtis: [00:19:51] Who's asking for it is that internal or external. Who are the decision makers. Like right. Is you. You just like the person tasked to talk about the Web site with somebody or do you actually get to say yes on it. Who came up with the original idea. Because sometimes even in a business partnership partner comes with a partner B is the one finding the right person and partner has totally different values around it than partner beat. And so can to talk to partner aid again and making sure I talk to them at least once even if I don't deal with them. And then I was the big thing. And then even requiring that I like I only take calls on Tuesdays and my call my time is booked.
Curtis: [00:20:25] Then you have to wait. The client I to talked to this morning she said like everyone else was like Absolutely I can do this tomorrow. Here is your estimate. I'll send it in ten minutes and I was like yeah I get asked like two weeks and I can't work three or for like two months. And you're the only person who was like that. Now when I when I set the calling and she was like I had a baby in the middle there was why was so long that time or my wife had a baby.
Curtis: [00:20:47] Clearly I don't think I figured that out yet. I'm like What is it that Arnold Schwarzenegger can even look at the babies. That's the altitude to my knowledge anyway so.
Curtis: [00:20:56] But like what I sent her my call link. The first time she was like you know you're booked for three weeks and I wrote back and said Yes I am and I was like Oh well I guess I have to get right. And she was she was telling me this morning I said this is what were we. My wife uses the site as well. So we you know we banter about kids and stuff like my my daughter pooping in the tub last night.
Kim: [00:21:15] Mine that once she's caught she's like 20 though now so.
Curtis: [00:21:21] she did that when she was 20 that's really gross.
Kim: [00:21:25] She's going to hate me for that.
Curtis: [00:21:28] OK. My mine's two little poop in the tub. Most in the toilet. That's a win when you're two.
Kim: [00:21:34] She was about to 18 months.
Curtis: [00:21:35] This 6yr old was disgusted by it that was a win when you're two.
Curtis: [00:21:38] But anyway like getting to talk to her and she said you were the one who was like I can do the project. Now we are starting like yeah I could probably do the project. Let's talk more about it let's see if it's really something that we're going to fit. And let's see. This is going to be a good project for me or is better and I suggested other people to talk to you like I talked to them but you were the one who is saying you know this person is a good person to talk to that developer and recommending my competition in many ways right. I'm saying I talk to them too they're really good at this. They might be a better fit for you. And so I was continually you've been pushing the last version right or I'm saying well there might be some better for you. You should maybe can talk to other people and I might take the project I might not. So she was saying like that was really good. You were the only person who really seemed competent and when I said I want to do this you'd say that's a dumb idea. Yeah. Yeah. Is a terrible idea. Why would you want to do this and I explained my thought process and she'd be like oh ok. Like one or two times she's like well this is why I want to do it not you don't think it's a good idea. So that makes sense OK. And I would like I'd roll with it.
Curtis: [00:22:40] And because we we have good like we talked for an hour this morning we talked like 15 minutes about the site and we laughed about our kids mostly and talked a little bit about even business coaching and how to write a business and like how she runs their business and other things like that what she's lock's about as well she's on my email list. So she'll probably find out about this and hear it then she'll know who you're talking to.
Kim: [00:23:00] She actually I do get paid. Besides having a friend there's a whole bunch of questions in that for me made a backup. First of all clearly there was a mindset shift for you to do that because as I was sitting there and I could hear myself in different situations that at that and first kudos to the batch calling because I'm one of those people that when I look at my week and I think OK I've got only X amount of calls if it gets squeezed I get bitter. I feel like I need a decent amount of time to myself. And majority of the time to myself. So was there a mindset shift in there like a conscious choice like this isn't working. How did that happen.
Curtis: [00:23:38] Well for a conscious choice I decided I didn't like it sort of modifying the thing that I didn't like. All right looking at what did i hate this week.
Curtis: [00:23:44] I hated having a call every single day on something that make it sound like it's just funny.
Curtis: [00:23:52] But then that's how it feels to me like people. How did you do this night. Give them like six six or even anything like why did you choose to step to the left right there is like. Well because I up to the left because you do see that a lot of that was going behind us and the waterfalls is not going to hit me now. Oh we're talking about like dogs or something. So I that's just how I think regularly and people are like I'm surprised you have a reason for this right.
Curtis: [00:24:12] When I meet with friends of I have notes that I want to take because we're talking I do not pull out my phone I pull out my paper notebook and write it down because when you pull your phone instantly conversation changes and there's a whole bunch of research on this but the conversation changes and it's less deep. And so I pull up my paper notebook I write down and I could put the pen in it and put it back and the conversation does not change then. And in fact in that case most people would get a little adrenaline high because you're writing something they said was important. So I did that with you know the few clients that are in my small rural village my small not village town I did the same thing and I often get the are surprise you aren't using your computer.
Curtis: [00:24:50] This is why I'm not I don't tell them straight up why I'm not.
Kim: [00:24:53] My god I'm sitting I'm like I hope you're writing a book right.
Curtis: [00:24:58] Yes I'm writing another book on marketing. OK. I don't book thing but I'm writing another book on marketing which if you're on my list my e-mail list actually releases this Thursday so it's December 6th now December 8. You get the preview of it. So if you're on my list you'll get it.
Kim: [00:25:12] Did you do a chapter that earlier. I am on your list. You do a check. I don't know. Are you talking about the book earlier.
Curtis: [00:25:18] I originally wrote kind of the initial thoughts on it in March or think and then I pulled them all together and put a book together. So you get the first shot at it early first draft presale and then it actually goes done on sale in January.
Kim: [00:25:32] So exciting. My point in saying that Curtis is that I love that you have pulled in and I think oftentimes people think about you know their business and it's well you know they don't pull in their human side they don't pull in this human element of well I don't like doing that or that doesn't work for me so I don't want to. You know and it's like if we're not doing it if we don't run our own business for any reason other than that's what we want to do then why are we doing it right. And so I think it's just gold that you pull that in when you come home and you say man I hated my job today.
Curtis: [00:26:05] Well if you're your boss that's your own stupid fault.
Curtis: [00:26:07] Change something.
Kim: [00:26:09] Totally. Yeah. Yeah.
Curtis: [00:26:10] So like I tell clients can I can you call me on the weekend. Absolutely. But I dont answer my phone. Have it's emergency I don't know. I don't answer my phone I'm like on the mountains in the weekend with my kids or hiking or trying to find snow in August which is possible in the mountains here right. That's what I'm doing. I don't want to I'm not going to go. So you do whenever you want. If I do answer the phone by chance I have a computer on a mountain so I can help you.
Kim: [00:26:38] So don't have any emergencies and take care of your business and support all that before I set up a good line for development wise.
Curtis: [00:26:45] We set up a good process so deployment goes well we've got to code early and then I'll set them up with a site like W.P. tonic or the site care someone who can handle those emergency things.
Kim: [00:26:55] That's awesome. So with the client betting then. And where do you you know without giving away what people pay you for. How do you approach that with with your coaching clients and how do you guide them through vetting clients.
Curtis: [00:27:08] Know I said no my standard email template which I did list in my book Effective client e-mail I got a blog post that I wrote for a while Nye's the template I could look it up. So under my client embeddings series or my e-mail series on my site I should link to it just McKale client vetting or email series. There's one in there where it says like here's here's the six questions. Now I actually have something about that in my new book as well because it isn't just talk marketing it talks marketing and actually getting into paying clients right leads. And here's here's a short bit on paying claims. Pick out the question now see us.
Kim: [00:27:40] So you know that's OK. I was like I wasn't sure if you were pondering is. So you're working with your coaching clients so. So you get them started with going through your emails you get them your e-mails. But you know again and not to be ambiguous but it seems like there's sort of this mindset. It was very black and white for you right to say I don't like doing this don't do this. Do you have clients that might struggle through that a little bit later.
Curtis: [00:28:06] And the way I see it today and the way I remember it is called vastly different than it was because I got some points I was like to get paid on Friday so I can pay rent on Friday and I don't want my wife to think I am bailing at the business rate which is a lot or oftentimes men go with stuff right when you're not financially there you're feel like you're feeling some you know historical manly duty. But there's absolutely times like that. And there are still occasionally times like that like even this week this week has been a bit of a bummer week all around even though like I'm lauching a book and I had a great time with my daughter yesterday and yada yada yada it's still a bit a bit of a bummer week. So that still happens.
Curtis: [00:28:44] And I do have people that think that or don't want to charge more and they struggle with like what I tell them to charge even sometimes and they at some point you just got to try it. Right. So with the new book we meet with the new book pricing wise and I'm just trusting some people that have done this far more than I. And I'm pricing it based on what they say. You look at them like it's super scary right in the first $15000 estimate I sent out I was like I was walking down the stairs telling wife how terrified I was that they'd just say no and how it was like imposter syndrome all over. And I didn't even get down the stairs before my phone went bing you just got paid. I go well OK.
Kim: [00:29:21] That'll do. What do I say now.
Curtis: [00:29:23] My first thought after that was like I should charged more actually the first I should charge more for the task that's too fast.
Kim: [00:29:28] Well you know what.
Kim: [00:29:29] When I was listening to you talk about the questioning that you go through with clients and why are we doing this and that's on a good idea. There's a huge time investment in all of that as well. And so as you were saying that I was like wow taking that to that next level where I think a lot of web developers might come across or people that do you know I probably have more people that think I do WordPress sites but I'm not a developer right so but a lot of those people think I'm just going to deliver what the client wants instead of really creating this relationship and and understand it's not my job.
Curtis: [00:29:58] Your job isn't to deliver what the client wants. The theory is not the well-paying job. Your job is to solve problems that make them more money or give them more freedom right. So time freedom money freedom. Was a couple there's that I figure out there another time freedom and money freedom was on to deal with most. So you know they you could automate some process through even Zappier right. Not print any color but you're figuring out how to automate a process and if you can save them like 10 hours a week. Well it's not only taking a 30 minutes to do it. It's not worth you know even if you charge really high was not worth $100 an hour. You 10 hours a week you it's worth significantly more than murder be worth a thousand dollars. It took you half an hour. Doesn't matter.
Kim: [00:30:39] So you're kind of pulling in an equation right. So some of this stuff comes stick can can come down to a simple math equation of what is your time worth.
Curtis: [00:30:47] And that's why I like you so my initial questions. There's nine of them one of them is budget and if you don't answer the budget question or even tell me what's expensive I don't even get on the phone with you. If you can't do that then I'm not willing to get on the phone and you could say five hundred dollars and I'm like well you can do the work for that and for some people that's where the equation is and that's fine. I just can't do it.
Kim: [00:31:09] All right this might sound really esoteric so bear with me Curtis But let me ask you this. When you started saying no and got really strict, did better clients start showing up for you.
Curtis: [00:31:18] Absolutely.
Kim: [00:31:20] I every time I say no to somebody that you just feel and your.
Kim: [00:31:23] I'm like the right person will show up.
Curtis: [00:31:27] And it's still occasionally hard to say that. All right. So I have one. I have one call today and I looked at it in a way they wanted to book it. It just happened to fall into my time. He e-mailed me yesterday and happened to volunteer my time. You normally take calls but usually you can't book anything 36 hours in advance. And I looked at I was like I should probably just push them off another week. But I said you know I've got the call and as I look at it and I'm like maybe I should have said no public schedule. Here it is and I'm already there you wanted me to go into Vancouver and I said Absolutely you're going... it's $1200 Right. I'm driving. It's for me it's 60 miles 100 kilometers and a whole day. It's you can pay me for the day then. Yeah that was fun to do their developer interviews. And they said everyone else will just you know show up and that's great. I don't do that. Those are not good. I don't do that. This is what I do. Here's the three things I do best. If you need me to do that awesome. If you don't need that then you should hire someone else.
Kim: [00:32:20] I had somebody ask me what do you want to meet for coffee in San Francisco and I was like No I live like an hour east like. There goes my day.
Kim: [00:32:28] Was entire day I'm also will do a Google hangout or Skype but now you know.
Curtis: [00:32:33] I meet with friends I got a couple of friends I've done some work off and on for the have a sighting you know like we all go to his next town over it's about a 20 minute drive. We have breakfast we'll talk about you know or by for sense what he does climbing and outdoor stuff like mountains because that's what I do and there's lots lot of intersection in these places we've been in that. And then we talk a little bit about business. We go on our way but that's like I'd go have dinner with my buddy Peter just because it's mine or my friend Byron. I just got dinner with like I we our kids hang out too and then I work on their side of bit too.
Kim: [00:33:01] That's awesome.
Curtis: [00:33:02] So you know general clients don't get that.
Kim: [00:33:04] Well then this was even a connection and I was just like that's for me. So let me ask you. In working with clients are there any cause you you're sharing the story about.
Kim: [00:33:14] You know the client you talked to this morning. You know can you share maybe a story or an experience you've had with somebody who was completely undercharging because again having just done this survey it's fascinating a lot of the frustration that my audience. And there's a lot more WordPress developers. Again I don't know that they're intensely coding but they do WordPress sites for clients and they're really frustrated with finding clients and getting better leads. And what I see. And now I'm asking you like 12 questions at once. I promise I'll circle back. One thing I see a lot of times happening is that people are are doing client work and they're never building their own business or not creating content they're not doing marketing they're not doing outreach on them because you know like I don't even have a portfolio on my site and I just because of the content and when I do I'll get people connecting with me that way. So starting with maybe a story could you share that you've worked with somebody. So
Curtis: [00:34:11] I have one coaching client and he was just not getting leads and we I helped him encouraged him strongly and gave him a good template to do it to get on the recommend developers list for a bunch of tools he uses. And so he did and quite quickly he got a bunch of leads which is awesome and to start he just need to leads cause he had some bills to pay and everybody has that sometimes so go for it. I don't state that every time I write about saying no but I understand sometimes you have bills to pay pay the bills. That's
Curtis: [00:34:37] your first priority is pay the bills.
Kim: [00:34:39] That's going to relieve the stress in your life so that you can get better clients anyways.
Curtis: [00:34:43] Right. And
Curtis: [00:34:44] so and then he looked at some and I said well you need to start charging more because he charges way too low. He's told us he's turning better than he was but he church is way too low. And he when he was working on he's surging more but I think he's still he's worth more because I got to work on my projects. I don't work for my clients where he's telling me he's doing everything and I'm simply insurance for the client on the other end and I double his rates and pass everything along like I don't that's all I do with the whole project is pass that all along. And he talked directly to the client after and I see color double the rate for nothing. That's it. I know and I've told him not like one client. They said hey it's too expensive. Like you know you can get half as much. You can try to pay half if you go work with him. And I told him what I said what I told. And he's like that's like double what a chart what I'm paying because I was charging that client way more who had been before and it's like still charging double for it.
Kim: [00:35:37] It's cheaper for them it's more for you it's kind of our way. That's right.
Curtis: [00:35:40] Yes. And so I think that you need to put some time in. Right so most people they come in and you so you hear me talking you think oh I want that. And I said at the beginning if you remember how long I've been at this 10 years. So the first two to three years I was in the similar spot the first year like I did not it was. It was a tough year. I worked super hard. I did tons of activities. Are you sending over 10 contacts a day and your first year. Well then of course you are getting lots of leads right. And that was not the most efficient way to do it. And I was talking to people who I ended up finding out were like the Olympics are in Vancouver at that time and they're like hey you know we're have like a female escort service and I was like Wow. Wow. So like I was like on the way to go meet them when I found that out and I was like I'm not cool with that. Like I'm like there's these girls you can get from Asia and I was like This is not what I do.
Curtis: [00:36:32] So I had the leads of those calibur at times right. And it's like I'm not I don't do this. And he's like why not because it's totally legal. I'm not doing this at all.
Kim: [00:36:40] I'm thinking I don't to jail for you.
Curtis: [00:36:43] I was going to call the police. I was like I haven't decided yet. How much is it worth for you to get my wish.
Curtis: [00:36:49] So like I was anyways and the leads of that caliber that's certainly the most crazy one. But but lots of them of that caliber and then I started writing because I have to write clearly because I read a lot.
Kim: [00:37:03] I love your writing. Curtis I love your blog posts.
Curtis: [00:37:06] Thank you I almost failed English mainly because I didn't do any of the work but well.
Kim: [00:37:10] That's a whole other conversation.
Kim: [00:37:12] Yeah. On the education system. Yeah.
Curtis: [00:37:14] And then I so I kept writing and I kept writing more technical stuff and every time I feel like I'd have to search for a problem and I be like no one else talking about this I will google it all over and there's nothing I have to dig deeper and deeper and deeper I'd write about it. So I used to run a site called WPTheme tutorial and I wrote a lot of technical stuff on that. And I've since abandoned it because that's not the type side of the business I want to push and there are a lot of that knock on me know one of my colleagues and I got on with a few clients. I had one post in there where we solved the W.P. e-commerce problem and the client said hey we have that problem. And it worked. We have problems other problems too. Would you like to talk to us. Absolutely and I was like a $20000 contract so a blog post was worth $20000 in the first year the second year I still like I would still work with that client off and on for a few years now. So it is well worth that single blog post. So you need to you need to get out and do that. But like I said most important you need to start meeting people. So go to a word camp. Go to a meet up talk to people go speak slightly right. I know ours occasionally will do like hey recommend your favorite plug in NY and so all right go in and I'll recommend the plugging in why I speak at the Commerce One.
Curtis: [00:38:20] I still I still speak at development focus stuff when I get asked. I just don't go see about it as much anymore.
Kim: [00:38:25] Well let me ask you one of the steps you had with your coaching clients and doing the client vetting is defining the ideal client profile and so you know there's a lot of I I can't see that actually ever done that with with clients only in the sense that I want them to I kind of keep it simple because I'm kind of shifting from that but I've done it plenty of times with an audience so do you find that there is a difference you know. Is there a difference between the you know the audience avatar. I mean the process and the client vetting.
Curtis: [00:38:56] So for client vetting my big thing as one I'm talking to them could I could like we go hang out. Could I be like bring the kids by the park and we talk and the kids would go play. Right. If I say yes like I had fun I'd hang out I'd choose to hang out with you then we're probably a good fit. The clients said my client I talked to this morning it was mostly talking about the silly things our kids did and we both home school and stuff like that. So I'm a little bit about the project and every call has been like that so it's been awesome with my audience.
Curtis: [00:39:24] I have three profiles one is more of the beginning a freelancer and I think I have someone I think of so they may just be coming out of school and. Are they going to do it. What do they need to know. The second one is more the middle a freelancer. So they are doing OK. Business is good but it's not like you know it's not a six figure business it's you know maybe a mid five figure business and they want to charge more and they want better clients and they rate to that person. And the next one is you know they're doing well. They maybe have a really low six figure business but they still feel like they're running around a lot because what I want to do is I want to help you run a business you want to run so you can live the life you want to live.
Curtis: [00:40:01] So like being able to say I guess I did do home school with my children yesterday and we did patterns for an hour and then we had lunch and then I took my daughter for art. And I read a little bit and then we like hung out and I colored I'm the only 36 year old on the coffee shop wall with like the Christmas ornament called the six year old my six old like six pictures and a 36 year old sort of thing.
Kim: [00:40:23] You got to love it. But I mean you've worked hard to get to that point. I mean it's funny and like I do you know John Perez.
Curtis: [00:40:32] no.
Kim: [00:40:33] He's been in the Genesis space we're really good friends it's got Surefire web services but we're.
Curtis: [00:40:38] That sounds familiar. OK.
Kim: [00:40:39] OK so far. Yeah he's awesome. I should have you on this show. But we have the show. It's hustle free because I'm so over it we have the F the hustle movement because you know I just this constant you know Cona and I love Gary V but this drive to do nonstop like you're you've created a business that works with your life. And I think mind you. You've worked hard to get there but I think a lot of people you know struggle with that because like there's always so much more you could be doing.
Curtis: [00:41:08] But there always is going to be like the first question my wife used to ask me. So did you get everything done today.
Curtis: [00:41:13] No I did not.
Kim: [00:41:14] Don't ask me that.
Curtis: [00:41:16] It's a terrible question. It's like right now we got to give it a five month old I'm saying also the night went so well right. No it didn't go so well. Curtis you sleep like a rock. You snored all night which is fine because you can sleep through that. But the baby is up like five times. It's a terrible question for me to ask. Yeah. The only I get up for the bigger kids somehow we wake up for that now for the baby and then he was like he was like crying beside you. Like I put the pillow beside and you on the other side to like stop. I did go to the bathroom when the baby cried.
Kim: [00:41:40] When you move it like the other kids up and I'm like down the hallway just wait to wait till you start waking up before your kids. That was quite a game changer for me like Christmas morning I'm like Can you guys get up now.
Curtis: [00:41:53] I get up at 4:30 I get it for the kids all the time so.
Kim: [00:41:56] Holy moly. So what with your clients though. You know in terms of do you do you have a different process for them at the defining their client profile because I love that idea of what I want to hang out with you in person you know is that the kind of the process you walk through for them or do you gauge it based on them.
Curtis: [00:42:15] Yeah from my coaching clients it's very similar. And some of them I have hung out with I one coaching client that's down the road. And like when I'm down that way when I go out they have a similar similar interests than at least and getting outside with their kids I probably do it more because I have a background in guiding and doing stupid things outside on mountains. But the people that I would hang out with might want to know what my coaching clients as a cyclist. I am a cyclist as well.
Curtis: [00:42:40] So it's a good like me.
Kim: [00:42:41] Ok Curtis what aren't you.
Curtis: [00:42:44] I don't know I have a had a lot of jobs.
Curtis: [00:42:46] Also have done every job in the house except plumbing and I was live performance theater for a while. I have friends that work with like Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I used to do. I'd never worked at that level but I worked with them.
Kim: [00:42:58] Im going to have some good tweets.
Curtis: [00:43:03] Yeah I had I have I used my pyrotechnics license to for performance theater.
Curtis: [00:43:10] I've done a few things that my life never dull with you.
Kim: [00:43:13] So like if someone's listening to this they're thinking OK this is great but. And I mean it just paint a little scenario hypothetical situation.
Kim: [00:43:23] So maybe they want to hire you. But is there something that they should be doing prior to or you know like getting organized or getting really clear. You know I have found personally that clarity comes just through the doing so I have to go through things to do it. But what is it is obviously you've got your six figure mindset shift your e-book but what could somebody do. Maybe in preparation for working with you or somebody like you or getting to that next step or they're clear on. All right. I got to get better about the client's Hibernian.
Curtis: [00:43:56] Yeah. I mean probably the best single resource you could grab right away and do and say hey I did this and now I would like to talk to you to do is go through a book yourself a little bit make a port and do the freek'n work. It's a lot of work but do it take the time and do it. And you say I don't read books well that's stupid number one Sobrino and number two do the work right. Yeah. For a for a very nominal fee right. Think of an expense of course for say ninety seven dollars for some chorussed right. Or for some book that someone's offering and Brennan down has a bunch of stuff around your freelance rate because it's DIY as far as what I always think of in s w freelance right. But like I've talked to the bunch and I'm actually in one of his courses is like a success story because I. Another thing I read at the time and he like for that for the very mentally of $97 you get access to his like best thinking around that in a book for you can not get hyper $97 lost. I talked to him he was like for really doing consulting work and more on the development side of the market going to something like $30000 a week.
Kim: [00:44:55] I've had him on the show.
Curtis: [00:44:58] $97 is crazy like of course you can look at a horse you can get him. Right. So even lots of other. Yeah. So you know get into those things and just pick like pick the ones. What's the hardest thing you have trouble with right now if it's client getting or like defining our ideal client. Song.
Curtis: [00:45:15] Get it do the work. And if it's you know what do I do I even have an idea in an industry that works. Will it fly is really a good book for that. It helps you define your industry and see kind of where the players are. And that's all in the first chunk of the book. And then the rest of it's a little more it's my Papillons it's more product marketing oriented stuff like that that he specializes in but the beginning of that is awesome for what life I want to live to find more. I know I call the four quadrants because it's for chunks of the piece of paper for things that are important where I could be in five years to build the business you want to have and then you do it I think it's causes. Preflight check is when he calls all airplane down and he goes through and says like you know who's in this looks little performs a super blog. Look for this on the field I want to do and I'm like Is this good. Is there a hole I see. What are people asking about. Can I feel that. Can I answer those questions.
Kim: [00:46:06] Well he has I actually had him on the show for that book and fervor it listening. He's got a free course that goes along with it. And you know when you're talking about doing the work it's funny because I recently it was like All right I'm going to test some live streaming and stuff as I start shifting out and I like doing the content and all this. And so I thought I have this YouTube channel. I've got a decent amount of use for it you know Wordpress and stuff and subscribers and I thought OK well you need to do this correctly. And so I have a friend that's really good with YouTube and session one.
Kim: [00:46:36] Curtis It was like the homework and the keyword research and then drilling down and then taking this key word I'm like this is why people don't do it it's going to take time it's going to take and I'm not new to this space but I have to do the work in order to even create that video strategy that's going to drive and I want some like well OK week one do a brain dump of a hundred video ideas then do your keyword research then you're going to go to Google then you're going to go to YouTube then you're going to like it. You have to do the work.
Kim: [00:47:02] And I saw some of that with YouTube and I thought I'm not going to be there at all. So I'm just going to do what I would like to do with it and we'll see if it hits. And that's what I decided. So sometimes saying I'm not going to do that is totally fine but just expect the commiserates like results from it. Same results.
Kim: [00:47:18] Well yeah but I mean the same time there's only so many places you can put your energy right like. But I'm on a rant against snapchat and it's nothing in snapchat and I'm like I don't have the bandwidth for yet one more.
Curtis: [00:47:28] I've never even used it. Someone you should use it like now. But it's free. I don't care. The only time I was getting what I know myself I did it. I never like even some of them like the blog posts I've been reading a bunch of. Like writing good content stuff like great content like this is like I've never read that joke now. Never when I read this like there was a listicle of this and I would never do that. I was going to write a post that is remembering that we're farther ahead and so people earlier Me need this information so I am right. I will read a little bit of that stuff. But saying like all the other stuff in it should only be this like I hate that I like when I write about books like you know 2000 to 5000 words because that's what I think it needs. And you know lots of stuff say you can't write that long. I'm like well whatever I'm going to do anyway.
Kim: [00:48:10] Yeah. You got it. We need to get your feet on the ground and find what works for you. I was going to do a list post it was like seven ways to create five things that give you three hacks to do that like because it gets a little bit crazy. Right. And I'm like and I like listicle tickles and stuff too but only if it's come in from a space that I'm in alignment with. And so. But yeah you know I think that's doing the work piece again. I love it because you just have to put in the time you simply have to put in the time the only time I've used snap chat was to send stupid photos of myself back and forth to my sister. That was it. When I uninstalled that we were just doing those stupid photos. So I get your point. As we wind down Curtis I feel like I could talk to you all day. This is too fun.
Curtis: [00:48:52] I'm happy to talk again and if you aren't we will.
Kim: [00:48:54] I think we need to have you back on when the book comes out because I'd love to hear you now. Are you doing a book launch for that. Are you. How was I will be doing a book launch for that.
Kim: [00:49:02] OK so and obviously is this your first big book launch.
Curtis: [00:49:07] I have written two other books one is effective kind of e-mail and one is writing proposals that won't work and I did the best launch I was capable of at the time. I'm hoping this one goes better but it's something that I am continuing to experiment with. So what's the title of the new book. It's a finding and marketing to your knees.
Kim: [00:49:24] OK. So are you doing. Excuse me for for your book launch. Do you have like. And I'm totally doing this on air for you so I'm sorry but I just hope this will this will go live before the book comes out. But are you looking for like a you know like a street team or people to support you or a thunderclap or any of that kind of stuff because it's them.
Curtis: [00:49:43] Absolutely. I'm working to build those better. So.
Kim: [00:49:46] OK. So I will just link to where the best place to link to is your site.
Curtis: [00:49:51] Yes. No I absolutely have a link for you in a bit.
Kim: [00:49:55] No well no worries you've got you got a couple of weeks before this goes live so we're good.
Curtis: [00:49:58] I have I just don't have a shortlist to make it so easy right now.
Kim: [00:50:02] Well you know what I will do a little post outro So everybody stay tuned to the very end. So I will do that before this goes live. Any last words of advice CURTIS You've got a ton I'm sure. But you know it just. I love your philosophies. From what I've picked up how you sort of move through the world and show up for your client so any last bit of advice.
Curtis: [00:50:23] All right. You said it mostly where you do the work right. That's what you should do. Do the work and build the business that you'd actually want to run. I know lots people who you talk to after you know after five years they say I hate the business it's your fault. So start again.
Curtis: [00:50:39] It's OK to just do what it is absolutely it's OK to show if I'm in the process of shifting right now I will probably shift again before I'm you know I'm 36 but for I'm 50 it's like we have another slight shift again.
Kim: [00:50:51] Yeah. I've done it multiple times. And while it's scary it's there's like massive freedom to to say I'm not doing that work.
Kim: [00:50:59] Curtis thank you so much for being here. I have just had a blast talking with them as have I. Gloves come on again.
Kim: [00:51:17] So how about that. We even talked about poop. My daughter's going to shoot me for that snippet. Oh that was so funny. But if you are interested in finding out about Curtis's new book go to the WP Chicano forward slash Curtis and there is a landing page for the book and I am currently reading the pdf version preview before the book is officially launched you will be hearing more about that from me when the book is launched I am super happy to support again with the super. We need to find new adjective. But I am excited to support House Curtis's book. I love what he's doing just a great guy. I had a ton of fun and I will definitely have him back on the show maybe to talk in more depth about this book. As always guys thanks so much for listening. Again go to the WP chick dot com forward slash Curtis check out the show notes for any of the links we discussed. And if you have not left to review I would love it. It would truly make my day. So that's it guys have an awesome day and I will catch you next week.