When a potential client lands on your freelance writer website, what’s the one thing you want them to do?
Contact you, right? Get in touch and let you know what they’re looking for. After all, you need to negotiate the project scope, the timescales… there’s a lot to do before you can finalise that sale, and you need the client to give you a ton of information before you can even guesstimate your fee.
Or, you could make the sale faster and simpler. Let your clients buy your services there and then, if you want.
All you have to do is package them appropriately and set up an automated sales process to handle the transactions for you. Once that’s done, a visitor can land on your website and buy your blogging services even while you’re asleep. 🙂
If that sounds like it’s easier said than done, well, it takes a little time —mostly thinking time— but it isn’t difficult to set up.
I’ll walk you through the whole process in this post, so you can get going with this idea immediately.
OK, here’s what you’ll need to do if you want to let your clients buy your services live on your website even while you sleep:
- Create popular packages
- Put a price on each package
- Enable online payments
- Show off your packages
- Draw attention to your best
- Create paths to your packages
- Take a nap
Let’s work through this process one step at a time.
Step 1: Create Popular Packages
To decide how to package your services for instant sale, look at three things:
- Which service frequencies, types or combinations do your clients buy the most?
- Which services earn you the most money per hour of your time (even if you don’t charge by the hour)?
- Which services do you most enjoy providing?
Find the sweet spots: the service frequencies, categories or combinations your clients often buy and that earn you a good rate for your time.
Those are the foundations of your most lucrative packages. Now all you need to do is work out the finer details. For a start, if you particularly dislike a certain task, don’t include it in your packages!
If you want clients who’ll hire you for frequent, regular work, make that more likely to happen by offering a straightforward choice of packages like “1 post per week”, “2 posts per week” and “3 posts per week”.
If your clients often ask you to work on their social media as well as their blog [and you *want* to work on social media] then it makes sense to offer packages like “1 blog post and 2 hours of social media management per week”.
Or if you’re happy to take on rush work, could you make extra money by offering a package of “1 blog post delivered within 5 days” and another of “1 blog post delivered within 48 hours” at a higher price?
A lot of my clients start out wanting a weekly blog post plus help with their monthly email newsletter, so I could offer a package that gives them precisely that combination. [I could also offer a package that includes a 1-hour consultation each month, and use that time to teach the client more about how email supports their blog and business.]
Before you move on to the next step, we need to define precisely what is and isn’t included in each of your packages. For example,
- Will you upload blog posts to the client’s CMS (Content Management System) or send them as email attachments?
- Will the posts you deliver be 300 to 500 words long? 500 to 1000 words? More than 1000 words?
- Will you come up with blog post ideas and pitch them to the client, or wait for them to assign ideas to you?
- Will you interview experts or conduct other in-depth research?
- Will you deliver posts within 3 days? 5 days? 7 days? Does that include weekend days?
- Will you respond to reader comments after your posts are published? For how long a period?
- How many times —and within what time frame— will you revise a post if the client wants you to make changes?
To sell a service package without talking to the client first, you’ll need to make all the details clear at the point of sale. And those details should also determine the amount you charge for each package.
Step 2: Put a Price on Each Package
The objective of setting up ready-made service packages is to appeal to clients who already know what they want, and give it to them as swiftly and painlessly as possible. That means making your prices clear and the price structure easy to understand.
If your packages are in a logical progression of value, such as a choice of 1, 2 or 3 posts per week, then it’s fairly easy to price them accordingly. So your “1 post per week” package might be priced at $600 per month, your “2 posts per week” at $1200 per month and your “3 posts per week” at $1800 per month. Or you could price a package of short posts at $500 per month, mid-length posts at $1000 per month and longer posts at $1500 per month.
You can also make the larger packages better value for money than the smaller packages if you want to encourage people to think big when they buy. To use the example above, you’d make your “1 post per week” package $600 per month, your “2 posts per week” $1000 per month, and your “3 posts per week” $1300 per month. Yes, you’re taking slightly less money per post on the bigger packages, but if it means you get your $1300 up front every month then it’s worth it!
You don’t have to price your packages by the month, but there are two good reasons to take a monthly-budget view instead of a post-by-post view.
- By offering packages for immediate sale, you’ll be taking payment in advance of delivery. So you may as well take a whole month in advance — that way, you know you’re set for the month and you don’t have to keep track of so many payments.
- With these packages, you’re appealing to businesses that have a budget set aside for marketing (which includes content marketing such as blogging). They already know they want regular blog posts rather than a one-off, so let them reserve your time for their project by buying it in monthly chunks.
Still want to offer individual services outside of your new packages? No problem: include a line near the end of your packages page that says something like, “If you don’t see what you need here, contact me to discuss your requirements.” Give your email address or phone number so potential clients can get in touch for a quote just like they do now.
Want to promote even more lucrative custom packages to big-budget clients? Create a package that gives minimum specifications rather than fixed ones —for example, “More than 5 posts per week” or “In-depth posts of 1500+ words”, and write “Contact me for pricing” instead of a fixed monthly fee.
Step 3: Enable Online Payments
To use this instant-sale tactic, you’ll need an online payments system like PayPal, Selz or E-junkie to create payment buttons you can put on your website. When a visitor clicks the payment button [yep, even if you’re asleep!] the payments system will process the transaction and send your new client’s money to you.
**Full disclosure: The people at Selz liked my earlier post about online payment systems so much, they asked if they could pay me for the work I put into writing this second post. I told them they’re welcome to pay me as long as (1) they don’t mind me telling everyone about the offer of payment and (2) they don’t interfere with what I choose to write.**
To use Selz, you’ll still need a PayPal account where Selz can send your payments (unless you live in Australia, where they can pay you direct to your bank). To create payment buttons with E-junkie, you’ll need an account with either PayPal, ClickBank, 2CheckOut, or Authorize.Net.
Selz, Paypal and E-junkie aren’t the only 3 online payment systems in existence; they’re just the ones I use myself. I use these 3 systems for different purposes:
- Selz is the fastest for getting a nice-looking sales button or widget onto my site, and it lets people buy without leaving the site at all, but Selz only sends payments to its users once per week.
- PayPal gives me the ability to withdraw money instantly, but the PayPal payment button creation process is less intuitive so it takes longer to complete each button.
- My E-junkie payment buttons let me know when graduates and supporters of The Freelance Blogger’s Client Hunting Masterclass have referred a new student to the training program. I don’t use E-junkie to receive payments from my freelance writing clients, so I can’t give an opinion on that specific process, but the E-junkie features I have used were kinda fiddly to set up.
Another reason you might want to use an online payments service other than PayPal is that PayPal doesn’t let you give your clients a discount. In general, giving out discounts is a Very Bad Idea, but there are some situations where it can benefit you.
For example, if you’re keen to get new clients signed up to your packages, you could offer a 10% discount on their first month. Or if you want to encourage new and continuing clients to buy bigger packages, you could set up an ongoing $100 discount on your “3 posts per week” package.
Now, I’m not recommending that you offer a huge discount on your blogging services! A 10% discount is enough to make a difference.
You don’t want to devalue your services, so only offer a discount when you have a specific objective in mind and you’ve planned the discount to help you achieve that objective. You can also phrase your discounts as bonuses instead, which may make them more compelling: so you might present a $100 discount on the $1200 cost of your “3 posts per week” package as “1 post free when you buy 12”.
Selz and E-junkie both let you create discounts. You don’t have to make it a public offer — there are ways to make a discount private if you want, for example via its own URL that you can share where you see fit.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a bit and talk about how you display your packages and payment buttons on your site.
Step 4: Show Off Your Packages
Add your package titles, descriptions and prices to your website, either on the homepage or on a separate page titled something like “Services” or “Hire Me”.
Arrange them neatly on the page and insert the HTML code that adds your payment button to each package. [This isn’t as complex as it sounds to non-techies, I promise! You just copy the code and paste it into your website’s text editor. You must use the text editor and not the “visual editor” when you edit your packages page, though, otherwise the HTML code won’t work.]
If you’re using Selz, you can get detailed widgets via the Selz dashboard for individual packages, or embed your whole selection of packages by copying and pasting just one piece of HTML code for a neat layout as shown in this video:
Step 5: Draw Attention to Your Best
Your website visitors’ decisions are guided by you. That means you have the opportunity to direct them toward the package you most want to sell. All you have to do is give them their cue:
- Add a note like “Featured”, “Recommended” or “Best Value” to the title or description of the package you’d like to sell the most. [If you say “Best Value” or “Most Popular”, make sure it’s true!]
- Display your favourite package first under a separate heading, then follow it with your other available packages grouped together further down the page.
- Make your favourite package stand out with a colour title, a graphic [even if it’s only a generic image such as a star or rosette] or any other visual clue that this is the one to focus on.
- Display a small number of your favourite packages in the sidebar or footer of your website, with links to the full descriptions.
If you’d much rather work with daily posts than weekly ones, draw attention to your “5 posts per week” package. If you prefer writing longer posts, draw attention to your “in-depth articles” package.
It’s up to you to show the client the packages you’d like them to buy, and to make sure you’ve created packages they’ll want to buy.
Step 6: Create Paths to Your Packages
Stating the obvious first to get it out of the way:
If you’ve chosen not to display any packages on your website’s homepage, sidebar or footer, make sure your website’s navigation menu includes a clearly labelled link to your packages page. Otherwise nobody will be able to find it from the other pages of your site!
To bring new clients to buy your packages, you’ll have to leave links around the Internet to your website and your packages page.
Give your packages page URL in your LinkedIn profile, mention it in your author bio on blog posts, print it on your business cards, email it to your friends and ask them to pass it on to anyone they meet who might hire freelance bloggers. I’m sure you can think of a few other ways to share that link in a non-spammy way.
The paths you create to bring clients to your packages won’t all be of equal use; some will be used often, some rarely or not at all.
But the more ways a new client can discover those payment buttons, the more you can sell while you sleep. 😉