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Proposals Are a Waste of Time (Here’s What Works Better)

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If you’ve been listening to Freelance to Founder for long you’ve probably heard us harp on proposals. We think they are usually a waste of time.

But if you’re not sending proposals, then… what? How do you pitch your services to new clients?

Well, there’s a way more efficient way to do it. And we unpack it with today’s guest, Tim, on this episode.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • Clearly define your niche and the services you enjoy providing the most. While it’s ok to take on different clients when starting out, stay true to what you’re passionate about.
  • Create a tiered offering of services at different price points. This appeals to clients at any stage and allows room for custom services.
  • Build a proposal-style landing page to showcase your core offering instead of sending custom proposals. This saves time while showcasing what has worked.
  • Focus messaging on solutions and growth plans rather than audits. Terms like “game plan” and “roadmap” better convey strategic value.
  • When initially pitching former prospects, frame any discount around additional value instead of reduced pricing to maintain perceived worth. Transparency around startup status is also helpful.

Freelance to Founder Cover Art 2023

Proposals: a necessary evil?

As a freelancer or agency owner, sending custom proposals can feel like a necessary evil to land new clients. But the truth is, proposals are often a huge time suck yielding little results.

In this episode, SEO consultant Tim shares how he’s trying to build recurring revenue through highly customized audits and strategy plans for clients. But creating detailed proposals for each prospective client takes tons of unpaid time.

If not proposals…what?

So what’s the alternative? We offer two pieces of advice:

Create a standardized offer, not a proposal

Instead of sending prospective clients a unique proposal each time, have one solid offer that sells itself.

As Preston suggests, build an auto-selling landing page with a buy button, outlining exactly what clients get from you. As you standardize your offering to build more recurring revenue, you’ll find proposals become obsolete anyway.

This takes the proposal you’d normally create and productizes it, saving you tons of back and forth emails. Share this page with all prospective clients instead of trying to tailor something new every time.

Sell first, proposals second

Clay’s recommendation is to pitch clients on a call before sending any proposal. This lets you sell the value upfront, gauge interest, and ensure it’s a good fit before doing more work. Use the landing page as a supplement after the call to reinforce what you talked about.

With this approach, you only “propose” to serious, qualified leads on calls. You don’t waste time finding the right prospects when many end up ghosting you anyway.

The Takeaway

Proposals often feel needed to lock down clients. But constantly creating and sending them sucks up time for little return.

Instead, have a single standardized offer that sells itself, cutting the back and forth. Only propose to promising prospects after they express interest first. This filters out poor fits upfront without wasted effort.

What do you think? Could removing proposals from your process help you close more clients with less work?

Episode Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated and may have grammatical errors.

Preston (00:01.09)
Hello and welcome back to another episode of Freelance 2 Founder. My name is Preston Lee with and joining me on the air as always today is my good friend, Clay Mosley from Hey, Clay.

Clay (00:14.08)
What’s up, Preston?

Preston (00:15.998)
What is up, man? You’re in another new office. You were telling me. So that’s good.

Clay (00:20.666)
Yeah, better one, bigger one. Yeah, less, quieter one, quieter one. More importantly.

Preston (00:24.43)
quieter one.

Preston (00:30.526)
You know, that’s, I mean, that’s a big deal even when you’re not a podcaster, but when you’re a podcaster, it’s like, I need a quiet space that I can just have a conversation with someone, but you liking it so far then?

Clay (00:39.612)
Yeah, a control, a controllable space, right? I can control all the acoustics and the audio. Yeah, I love it.

Preston (00:42.942)
Yes, yeah.

Preston (00:47.922)
Yeah, good. Good, good. And also joining us on the air is our new friend, Tim. Hey, Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim (00:54.806)
How’s it going, gentlemen? Thanks for having me.

Preston (00:57.186)
Well, thank you so much for being here. As many of you know, this show is all about you guys, our listeners. Tim is a listener of the show. You told us you’ve been listening over the summer and time of recording, it’s late November. Just thank you for listening, Tim, and listeners. If you want to join us on the show, we’d love to have you as well. You just visit and you scroll to the bottom of the page, fill out a couple of questions, pick a day and time, and we can chat about your business. Hopefully help you solve some problems as well.

But Tim, why don’t you start us off, tell us a little bit about your business, who your clients are, how long you’ve been in business, just kind of paint a picture for us and for the listeners.

Tim (01:34.058)
Yeah. I guess I’ll just take you back to the beginning of this year, 2023. So I wrote a book that I’ve been working on for many years, just a little novel that I had fun writing. And I knew that I was going to have a little bit of income coming in from that. So my plan was to set up an LLC for myself. So I had to separate the business revenue from my regular W2 job. And so in doing that, I also have a hockey podcast that generates a little bit of revenue as well. So I was kind of thinking, okay.

I’ll have a separate like formal LLC to have my business income that’s separate from my regular job. And in doing that, I kind of realized I had some aspirations to pick up some freelance work for the year. And so fast forward through the summer months and everything, I just through word of mouth and just letting some former friends and clients know that I was available, picked up a little bit of business and it just picked up some steam and not enough quite yet to like, you know, match the salary, but enough that I was ready to take the leap.

And so just about six weeks ago, I quit my job to pursue this full time, both focusing on the podcast and my freelancing business. And the business itself is kind of a marketing generalist, but a focus on SEO.

Preston (02:39.502)
I don’t know.

Preston (02:44.49)
I love it, man. I love it. Congratulations, six weeks in. It’s a big deal. Also, I have to pause here and say, Clay, did you hear a little bit of Boston come out there? He like got down to business and we were teasing, we were teasing Tim because he was telling us he was from Boston and I was like, I don’t hear the accent, you know? Tim, when you got down to business, man, Boston started coming out.

Tim (02:49.287)
Yeah, I know.

Clay (02:59.116)
Yeah, I did, yeah. You know, you know what’s so funny is…

Clay (03:07.548)
When, you know, when, when people, this is for all accents, when people get like get emotional or like, or passionate about something, accents always come out. They do.

Preston (03:20.494)
Yeah. Hehehehe.

Tim (03:23.85)
Oh, that’s too funny. Yeah.

Preston (03:26.238)
Yeah, yeah, I totally, I was like, whoa, did not hear it before. And then all of a sudden, like, yeah, something about your, your passion or your excitement, it just, it came right out and there it was. So, but that’s fun, man. So exciting. Six weeks in, that’s a big deal. So do an SEO work? Is there a particular kind of client you mostly work with? Like, do you work with local clients, online clients? Do you mostly work with mom and pop shops or maybe bigger places? Do you kind of have that dialed in or is, I mean, it’s still super early.

Tim (03:56.71)
Yeah, it’s still super early. All my clients have been virtual, so nothing local. I’m not that tapped into the market where I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve only been here about two years, not even. So I’m not super tapped into that yet. But I most of my clients have just been through referrals of former clients or people I used to work with. And I’m trying to shy away from those little mom and pop shots only because the local SEO is just such a different game than like what I know, which is more focusing on like, you know, the wider keywords and

Preston (04:06.935)

Preston (04:21.89)

Tim (04:26.57)
website health and that sort of thing. And those companies that I’ve talked to want help with like their Google business page and that sort of thing, which isn’t something that I really know or do.

Preston (04:36.378)
Yeah. Yeah, that’s an interesting, an interesting difference that I’ve heard a lot of SEOs talk about. It’s like if you’re a local SEO guy, meaning when someone searches your business, Google shows it, you know, shows your business first and like on the map and everything. That’s local SEO, right? For people listening who are not familiar with it. And that’s a whole different ballgame than the SEO that I also am familiar with and Clay’s familiar with, which is like way more content driven, problem solution type stuff. So.

Tim (04:50.259)

Preston (05:04.114)
Okay, super interesting, cool. So, you know, as listeners know, when you come on the show, we have you fill out this questionnaire you put on a scale of one to 10, one being a complete freelancer, 10 being a founder of a company. You put where you’re at and where you’d like to be. And Tim, you put that you’re currently at a two. I think that matches perfect with what I’ve heard so far. You’d like to be at a four. So you’d like to move a little closer to being a founder, maybe building in some processes. But why don’t you paint a picture for me and Clay of where you hope your business is maybe six or 12 months from now.

Tim (05:33.778)
Yeah, and I put that and a lot of listeners have done like, you know, higher numbers, eight or 10 or whatever, but I don’t really have aspirations of building a company. And that’s what I think of when I think of the word founder. My my, you know, my, what I’m thinking right now is just to be a freelancer. And so the two to four just represents a larger book of business, and more predictable revenue. And just having a better understanding of like, like I said, I’m still on the proof of concept stage. So having a better understanding of

Preston (05:49.876)

Tim (06:02.07)
what the clients need, how I can help, what my niche is, and how I’m generating new business. But I don’t really feel like I need to go and think about hiring people or bringing in writers or anything like that because I’m trying to keep it more contained. Yeah, I would say contained, yeah.

Preston (06:13.358)

Preston (06:18.418)
Yeah, yeah, nothing wrong with that. Absolutely. We’ve had actually a few guests recently where they’re like, you know what? I’m not sure I want to build, you know, a 20, 30, 40, 50 person agency. I might just want to just have it be me or maybe me and a couple other people, some subcontractors or something. So absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Clay (06:32.966)

Clay (06:37.332)
There’s definitely there’s definitely I’ve been on both sides. So there are pros to cons to both. But I can certainly I’m on right now. I’m on the side of. I like working by myself. So.

Tim (06:43.767)

Tim (06:53.942)
Yeah, part of why I did this too-

Preston (06:54.41)
It kind of does fluctuate, doesn’t it? Yeah. Sorry. Go ahead, Tim.

Clay (06:56.948)

Tim (06:58.974)
Well, part of why I did this is like so the podcast takes up a lot of time and I love doing it. I love hockey. It’s just a lot of fun interacting with listeners and seeing the show grow as I’m sure you guys know too. And so getting, you know, diving deeper into that while also creating more time for writing and just doing the work that I love doing. Like the agency I left behind is great company, great clients, great people to work with. But I just wasn’t that interested in the industry and some of the work I was assigned to do.

My passion wasn’t there and I really love the SEO side of it. And I really love the teaching element that comes with it. Because as you guys know, it can be a black box for a lot of business owners and even a lot of experienced marketers where they know like you got to find the keywords, they know you got to write content, but they don’t really have a clear picture of like what it takes to rank for those keywords or what kind needs to happen like on the technical side of your website to make sure that it’s healthy and organized in a way that search engines look for.

Preston (07:37.485)

Tim (07:53.642)
And so like when I’m a lot of my clients so far have been, you know, working directly with like the president of a small company or a marketer and or maybe an older marketer who doesn’t know like some of the newer trends and seeing the light bulb moments when I’m teaching some of this stuff has been really rewarding. So that’s what I really kind of leaned into so far.

Preston (08:13.474)
Hmm. Yeah. Super cool. I love that. So tell us what are, what are some hurdles you’re facing then Tim? How can Clay and I help you today? Do you have any questions you’d like to bounce off of us?

Tim (08:23.154)
Yeah, I’ve got a couple and it’s weird to say because it is so new. And even though I’ve been doing this, you know, my first freelance project probably went back to March this year. So six, seven months ago. But so much of it is still new. I’ve only been full time for a month and a half. So I almost don’t have questions. I kind of want to just get advice from you guys on how I should think about getting new clients, organize my business, all that sort of thing. But one of the specific ones that I like to run by you is most of my work so far has been contract based.

little projects where it’s just sort of a lot of SEO audits, which is kind of a loaded term because it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But the way I do it usually takes three to four weeks to develop and I kind of pitch it or I present it to the client at the end and then they take it and share it internally. Sometimes there’s a follow-up meeting if they have questions, but I really like those because I like the idea of like I said, of teaching and showing them like, okay,

on your site, you’ve got all these broken links, you’ve got duplicate title tags, your site map isn’t set up correctly, that’s hurting your ability to rank. And then if you want to be found by people who aren’t already looking for you, because so many of them are ranking for like branded keywords, you know, and they are at least ranking in the high keywords for branded terms. And so like teaching them like content strategy and all that stuff. And I just love that. I kind of want to be like, I don’t know, just come in, teach.

give them the plan and then step out and let them do the work to fix the site, you know, bringing their developers to improve it, bringing their writers to write according to the content strategy that I’ve delivered. And I, because I’m not really particularly interested, even though I have a background in writing, I don’t really want to build a business being a freelance writer as much as I can avoid it, just because it’s so time consuming. It takes a lot of work and it’s just hard to…

It’s a lot easier, I think, to find a writer for a company than it is to find someone who knows SEO. And so I’d like to do as many of those types of projects as possible. But the challenge of that is, and I’ve heard in your show many times, that the name of the game when freelancing or running a small agency is MRR. And how do you think about like recurring revenue if my ideal client is a four week project? You know what I mean?

Preston (10:22.71)

Tim (10:42.946)
How do I turn some of that into recurring revenue without taking on just a whole bunch of blog writing and things like that?

Preston (10:49.458)
Hmm, yeah, that’s a good question. And all that clients are here, but I have just one thing before he starts in and that is always like no matter what someone comes to us, they say, how do I figure out what a good MRR monthly, monthly recurring revenue model would be for my business, right? That the, and it sounds so simple when you say it, but sometimes we forget to take this step. And that is you have to put yourselves in the shoes of your clients and say to yourself, what value do I need on an ongoing basis?

Instead, what we do sometimes is we go backwards and we say, like, what service can I provide on an ongoing basis? Instead, what value does your client need on an ongoing basis? And again, it feels really simple. But if you shift your paradigm a little bit that way, then you can say, like, oh, the reality is they do need four blog posts a month or something. And if that’s not a service I want to provide, then that particular MRR is not available to me. I can’t force something.

that’s not a need or a value that they appreciate. Now, I would say with your strategy and your action plan, well, that was one small thing I was gonna bring up is I wouldn’t use the word audit, just because so many SEOs use audits as a lead magnet. So I would say an action plan or a strategy plan or something like that sounds a little more actionable, a little more high level. Anyway, but with that,

with those strategy plans, like you could have a big one in the beginning, but then it could be like every month, I’m gonna check back in on your progress and make more recommendations or let you know if this thing that I recommend before that you did is working. It seems like you could do like a monthly health check where it’s maybe not as robust as that first time, but it’s checking back in and saying like, yeah, because you changed this thing and this thing that I asked you to change, now you’re ranking for this in this term.

And not only is that providing value on a monthly basis, but it’s like securing for yourself more business each month because they’re like, oh, well, what he said to do actually worked. I can’t wait to see what he says to do next month. So that would be, if it were me, if you really wanna stick to the strategy side of it, to me it would be like a monthly check-in slash update slash more tasks to be done to continue to grow. Clay, do you have any thoughts on that? I know you’ve worked in the SEO space and yeah. What do you think?

Tim (12:43.828)

Clay (13:10.856)
Mm hmm. Yeah. So just to clarify, you don’t want to do done for you stuff like you don’t want to focus on that.

Tim (13:19.274)
Well, I’m trying to get out of trading my time for money in this. And part of what I said is I love the podcast. I love writing. I love this teaching element of SEO. So I don’t want to get back into a game where I’m just another freelance writer because there’s so many out there. And I feel like there’s other ways that I can provide value.

Clay (13:40.116)
Okay, so let’s clarify. You don’t want to be a freelance writer or you don’t want to trade time for money or both.

Tim (13:48.423)
Um, I guess both is how I’m thinking about it right now.

Clay (13:52.672)
Okay. Because I actually agree with Preston. If you don’t want to do if you if your answer was just you don’t want to be a freelance writer. I would agree with Preston and say you need to provide some sort of tracking monthly service right like a progress report of sort something and my only tidbit here is don’t

Tim (14:14.86)

Clay (14:22.016)
don’t do an auto generated thing. Because to me, they anybody can just go sign up for some software that does that shit. What the value you would be providing is you would actually manually look at it and get manually come up with your own recommendations on things to change that super personal and custom to them. It’s not just an auto generated Oh, here’s your rankings for the

Preston (14:27.955)

Clay (14:51.736)
Now the issue with that is that is trading time for money. Right? Because you still got to do something. And it is one on one. So the my only recommendation if you don’t want to just trade time for money, and you want it to be super scalable, but at the same time, you don’t want to do done for you work is you have to do some sort of group coaching. In my opinion.

Tim (14:59.267)

Clay (15:22.048)
keyword group. Yeah. So that’s where like, if you’re going to do coaching or consulting doing one on one again is trading time for money. It’s not scalable, you only have a finite amount of hours every week, right? Which means it’s a finite number of one on one clients you can take on. But if you do group to where you have a weekly group coaching call where people

Preston (15:22.59)
or some kind of group something, right?

Clay (15:51.252)
hop on a group zoom, and you go over, you can do a couple of things. I actually think you ought to do both, where you can go over the latest, like, SEO trends, right industry, the newest stuff. And you can try to help workshop. I think that’s where a good value is you can help people workshop some things right on the call. This is what I do.

Clay (16:21.852)
you know, there might be like 20, 30, 40 people on the call. And as people are stuck on their SEO, they’re like, man, I’ve been like, I’ve been stuck on the same. I can’t figure out how to rank higher than what I am. I’ve been stuck in the same ranking for six months. How do I do it? You can have them share their screen and like, let’s workshop it through while everybody else is watching. And then people can take their turn. Now, obviously, you know, you can’t take everybody’s call.

You know, so it’s kind of a, it would have to be like a queued system. So first come first serve, I have 60 to 90 minutes every Tuesday, you know? And if you can start off with a one weekly call, but as more people get questions, and if you find the trend of, yeah, I’m running out of time, but people still have questions, you can add a second call. You know what I mean? Or a third call. But the fact is, is that if it’s group coaching,

Like you have so much time to do group calls during a week. Does that make sense?

Tim (17:28.154)
It does. And I like that idea. And I think I maybe need to rethink that concept of trading time for money because maybe what I’m meaning by it isn’t the same way that maybe it’s not the right, I don’t know, the term for it. But I guess what I’m trying to do is get out of ongoing work that’s just time consuming. I think that’s a better way of putting it, like writing. I guess so, yeah. Yeah, like writing. And so, like the one retainer client I have now, I started off with an audit back in like

Preston (17:34.414)

Clay (17:46.676)
Getting out of done for you work. Project work.

Tim (17:58.242)
They really liked it and they brought me on for some ongoing SEO work where you’re just kind of optimizing some of their core pages every month. And then it kind of turned into a regular like we’re building a marketing program for them now. And I’m running that account and I really like it. And it’s a little bit more time consuming than I would have thought. But I’m hoping to get a higher revenue or higher retainer in the new year.

But basically, it’s nice to be able to put some of those skills, because I’m kind of a generalist, because I’ve worked at marketing agencies over the last five or six years or something like that. So I kind of know a little bit of everything. And I’m doing a lot of stuff that’s not SEO related, like email newsletters and building a new WordPress site and that sort of thing. And so I’m totally open to that. I’m totally open to… I just don’t want to get stuck into a…

really writing, even though as much as I love it, it’s just not what I want to do with this business.

Clay (18:54.62)
Okay, so you’re open to done-for-you work, you just don’t wanna do the writing.

Tim (18:58.57)
I think that’s probably it, yeah.

Clay (18:59.94)
Okay, well that to me that’s an easy solution. You just go find somebody to outsource that to.

Tim (19:06.484)

Clay (19:06.502)
or make an introduction.

Preston (19:08.586)
Yeah, and that’s how you overcome the trading time for money thing, right? Because, you know, as far as it’s really hard when you say, I don’t want to, and again, I know you’ve clarified this a little bit more, but this idea of like, I don’t want to trade time for money, but I also just want my business to just be me. There are, in my mind, there are only a few ways you can do that. You know what I mean? Because you either build like a SaaS that…

Tim (19:08.895)
Yeah, the re-

Clay (19:12.699)

Tim (19:34.666)

Preston (19:38.39)
the time you work on the SaaS product is not a direct, does not have a direct correlation to the number of subscribers or users that you have, or you develop some sort of model like that, like what Clay’s saying, where you could technically have, you know, an infinite amount of clients that are getting on a call and you’re still spending the same amount of time no matter what, but that, you know, that’s only a sort of a pseudo solution because…

Like he said, you’re going to have to add more calls at some point. Like if you had a thousand clients on a call, that’s just not going to work. Right. So I think, yeah, I think just getting some clarity on, on what you mean by, I don’t want to trade my time for money. That is important. And so I appreciate you, you bringing that up. Cause I think a lot of us say that, right? Like, I just don’t want to trade. And, and I think there’s, I think there’s maybe middle ground between completely removing the time factor from your payment. And. And to me.

And again, we know you don’t want to hire, but to me, that’s one way to do it is to say, like, I’m just going to outsource all of these tasks that I don’t like doing. I’m going to hire a writer or two, and I’m going to get paid whether I spend time writing or not.

I don’t know, but if you’re completely against hiring writers…

Clay (20:53.116)
Yeah, the only others.

Clay (20:57.504)
The only other solution is you create a course.

Tim (21:02.722)

Preston (21:02.859)
Or an asset, right? An asset that you sell over and over again.

Clay (21:05.904)
Yeah, some sort of digital asset where you’ve once you’ve created it, it’s done and you can sell it to 10,000 people and won’t take up more of your time.

Tim (21:14.782)
Yeah, I thought about that. I kind of have like, so most of my business so far is coming through referrals, like I said, and I’ve thought a little bit about, you know, long term growth and finding people that don’t already know me. And I think it’s going to be content driven to start. I’ll probably do some ads at some point too, but like trying to own a couple areas like pillar pages and things like that, where I can really just drive a lot of organic traffic through, you know, the SEO terms that I feel like I can win on. And so

That’s going to be part of it too. But yeah, I like the idea of having something that I can sell, maybe run ads to and something that like teaches and helps them help themselves where I’m not trading time, like I said. Yeah, I’m open to that idea too.

Clay (21:55.7)
That’s a lot harder than people think though.

Tim (21:58.79)
No, I know it’s so saturated now.

Clay (22:01.068)
It’s it’s uh well yeah plus like I’m gonna tell you like just selling a course too is not it’s not monthly recurring it’s you know you’re starting over every month if you’re selling a course for a one-time fee you know so like if you need to sell let’s say for example if you need to sell 30 courses in a month to be able to pay all your bills and pay yourself well guess what you gotta sell 30 courses next month

Preston (22:02.53)
Yeah, I’m just getting it off the ground.

Clay (22:31.324)
You know what I mean?

Tim (22:32.674)
Yeah, as I think about that and as I think about the group coaching, I think it’s getting away from really what I enjoy most and where I think I provide the most value. And that goes back to, and I know this kind of goes counter against what I said in the beginning, but like the one-on-one coaching teaching moments where like I’m going deep, I’m like, hey, you know what? Did you know that? Yeah, you’ve got 400 pages on your site, but 98% of traffic doesn’t get past your homepage. Like their minds are blown. And I can show them the data that shows that, you know?

And like, okay, what we need to do is lift these other pages and get the right things happening there so that they’re coming in on different, different pages on your site and different entry points and things like that. Conversion rate optimization, making sure the pages are optimized in a certain way. That’s going to get the right clicks, the right conversions, all that. Like, and this is the stuff that most people don’t know. Even some experienced marketers struggle with this sometimes, or at least they understand it, but they don’t have the time to do it. And so that’s the stuff that I really enjoy helping clients through.

And so maybe I’m thinking instead of a project based thing, like, hey, instead of here’s what will happen over the next six weeks and here’s what it costs, like turning that into a lower six month retainer where we knock off these things one at a time is maybe a better way to think about it.

Preston (23:44.938)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, like I could picture a 12 month program where, and maybe there’s an option after that to continue, but maybe it’s a 12 month program where it’s like, look, month one, we’re gonna tackle this together and we’re gonna repair all the title tag issues on your site and all of the whatever, right? You have a bunch of low hanging fruit, you’re gonna do month one, see some quick results.

Tim (24:08.366)

Preston (24:15.21)
to really get them fired up. And every month you’re sitting down with them quickly and going over the results of what you’ve done together. Like you said, they’ve maybe done the bulk of the work, but you’re sort of monitoring results. And so it’s kind of like you give them homework, right? Or you teach them, you give them homework, they come back in a month and you review your results together. Then you teach them something new and then they go do it. And then you come back and review the results and they pay for this 12 month. It’s kind of like a course, but it’s really more like

Tim (24:26.702)
I love that.

Clay (24:29.797)

Preston (24:44.234)
It’s really more like consulting. Yeah, that’s true. It is kind of like fractional, which is. Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. It very similar to that model.

Clay (24:44.424)
I think it’s like a fractional, it’s almost like a fractional CMO.

Tim (24:50.743)

Clay (24:52.536)
Or maybe more specifically like a fractional search officer. You know what I mean? Like.

Preston (24:57.23)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, just a fractional SEO guy

Tim (24:57.541)

Clay (24:59.452)
Something like that. Yeah.

Preston (25:03.398)
Yeah. And then, and then, you know, they could either pay someone, you know, 80 grand a year to, to be an SEO marketing guy at their company full time, or they can pay you a fraction of that. And, and they can execute the things that you as a strategist bring in and teach them and tell them. And then every month you’re checking in, you could even like get to the point where, and I know I’m, I’m still pushing back against this hire, or you’re going to push back against this hiring thing, but you could even hire.

or somehow automate those reports so that you’re really just reviewing and strategizing and meeting with the client. And then a lot of that tedious work, um, happens in the background. So it’s like every month you’re a person or your software or whoever generates the reports that you need, then you look over them and then you give that very personalized, have that very personalized meeting with the client. To me, hearing, hearing the passion in your voice about, about what you’re super passionate about because.

Trading time for money only sucks when you’re not passionate about it, right? Um, and so the things you’re passionate about to me, that sounds like, and as a client, I would love that. I would love for you to say, here’s what you got to do because for example, I’m as a client, I’m tech savvy enough. I can go fix broken things on my website. I can delete pages. I can add new pages. I can update content, whatever. I can do all that. Right. But what I would love is someone to come say.

Clay (26:06.709)

Tim (26:06.902)
Yeah, that’s true.

Preston (26:29.002)
January 2024, you need to do this, and this. And we’re gonna check back in February and we’re gonna see how it went. So then I’m accountable to someone, so I actually do it. And then I also know what’s a priority, what I should be working on first. And just someone to like walk me through that process, but me be able to execute. I would love that actually.

Tim (26:48.914)
Yeah, and I really like examples like, hey, showing them the history of their traffic over the last couple of years, because they don’t look at it. And I’m like, hey, you had a major drop off in June 2022. What happened that month? And they’re like, oh, that’s when we launched our new little microsite. It’s like, OK, well, you broke something. You know, like, and they’re like, oh, and then we kind of look back through those pages and like connecting the dots and getting them back on the right track is just like so valuable, especially when you can put it in the context of like their business and their history and what they’re done.

Preston (26:56.075)

Preston (27:05.451)
Yeah, it’s nice.

Tim (27:17.418)
I just found that very rewarding. But one of the things is that I know you guys, I’ve listened to the show enough to know how you guys feel about proposals and custom proposals. So far it’s been pretty small. I’ve done like, I’ve probably done like seven, six proposals this year. I’ve landed four of them. I think I’ve done four projects in one retainer and the retainer didn’t need a proposal. It just turned into some ongoing work. So how do you guys think about like,

Preston (27:19.778)

Preston (27:25.867)

Tim (27:45.478)
When the numbers are this small, how custom do you get versus trying to come up with a productization of an entry-level SEO project or retainer? How important is that, do you think?

Clay (27:59.72)
Uh, Preston, do you want to go or do you want me?

Preston (28:02.734)
Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead. I have some thoughts, but I’ll follow up.

Clay (28:05.908)
I think this is my philosophy. It’s debatable. Okay. I think you ought to have different level product offerings. And I think I mentioned this on a couple of episodes, like older episodes, um, that will fit, that will fit your, your audience, no matter what, where they are in the journey. Right. So you can go and create like what I call level one or low tier offer where it’s like, and this kind of fits the passive

quote unquote passive income kind of thing. Like you can productize it, but this you can come up with like a full on SEO framework that’s maybe just a PDF checklist, right? Maybe that’s what I call level zero or a lead magnet. And you can just give that for free, right? They have the full checklist. They can go do whatever they want with it. And then the next level up is you can create a low tier, which is a course.

and productize that. Obviously, of course, is not going to be custom. It’s just like, hey, here’s the main framework. It’s everything in the checklist, but I’m going to show you in video format, how to do it. Right? And you sell that for a low tier, your mid tier, or maybe your upper tier can be it can be, you know, this is just an option. But maybe the next level up is a mid tier. Maybe that’s a group coaching program.

where it’s like, Hey, I’m going to show you how to do the things, but it’s a little bit more accountability. It’s a little bit more access to me to where I’m going to show you how to do some things. But obviously it’s not as custom as the highest tier where it where it’s one on one, super custom, super personalized, way more access to you and way more work for you. But it’s also the highest offer that you

the most expensive offer you have. So no matter what, like if you’re, if you are on a sales call with somebody, no matter where they are, you got something to pitch them. You know what I mean? And some of it’s productized and some of it’s super custom. It just depends on where they are in their business. Does that make sense?

Tim (30:17.463)

Tim (30:25.183)
It does. I really like that framework.

Clay (30:28.773)
makes sense to me, right?

Preston (30:29.69)
that, I love the idea of like a tiered thing. I think that can take a lot of time to set up. And a lot of like sort of funnels to manage and emails to manage and a lot of like lead magnets to manage and just a lot of things to manage. I actually, for sure, and I’m not saying it’s not a good path. I know lots of people who have found a lot of success building that up. I actually, I prefer to simplify and I would say like,

Clay (30:44.196)
Mm-hmm. Once it’s done, it’s done.

Preston (31:00.162)
Take your proposals that have won, right? You said you’ve had like four out of seven that have been successful or something like that. Take the ones that have been successful, figure out what they have in common, and then build a landing page that basically mimics those proposals for one thing that you wanna sell. And the one, you know, like let’s just say, for example, and of course you don’t have to go with this, but let’s just say, for example, the thing you’re gonna sell is that monthly strategy, accountability check-in thing. You gotta figure out what to call it, right? But…

then you build a landing page that is basically a proposal with a buy button. And so then a client comes to you and they say, hey, I want some SEO work done. You say, great, here’s what we do for our clients. We do this thing every month. We meet with you. We review your results. We give you some homework. And you go and execute. And then we meet again in another month. And it’s all laid out on that landing page. And you really sell them. And you have. You have.

Clay (31:41.8)
Yep, I like this.

Clay (31:58.056)
That way you don’t have to do proposals.

Preston (31:58.506)
not only what you would put in a- What’s that?

Clay (32:01.576)
That way you don’t have to do proposals, you just send them to a link.

Preston (32:03.254)
That’s right. You do one proposal. It’s one. It’s really one proposal in the form of a landing page. And then also in your in your landing page proposal, you add your social proof testimonials from clients, all of the other stuff that you would normally add in and like a sales pitch. You just put it all in there. Um, and that’s where you direct clients to. And then from there, if you want to branch out, then you can start building out lead magnets.

or lower tier stuff to get them into that big product. But I would actually go a little bit reverse and start with the big product, the big offering, and then use the other stuff as a way to get people to that main offering.

Tim (32:40.002)
I like that a lot. Do you guys see that landing page idea being something that would you hide it in the navs that’s shared only? Would you let them discover it? And then would you focus, would you try to get that to rank organically? Is that just more of a selling page for an audience that’s already finding the page?

Preston (32:57.686)
Yeah, I think that depends a lot on your own marketing strategy. For me, that would be like your… If it were me, it would be my homepage.

Clay (33:03.057)

Clay (33:07.834)

Tim (33:08.268)

Preston (33:09.418)
Like I don’t need to tell people about my company and who I am and where I started from. I just need to give them what I’m offering. Here’s what I’m offering. I’m not, I’m not a brand, right? That people need to have an affinity for, and they need to fall in love with me first. I offer a service and that service is a monthly SEO strategy meeting, check in, whatever again, whatever it’s going to be called. And here’s what I offer. Um, you know, and, and take it or leave it kind of situation. And of course you’re going to have.

Clay (33:17.588)

Preston (33:39.594)
You’re going to have social conversations on social media. You’re going to have conversations in person with people, but then you’re just going to give them your website or it’s going to be in your bio or whatever. And people are going to click through and boom, there’s your offer and your, your proposal and your landing page is how I would do it.

Tim (33:54.638)
Okay, yeah, I’m gonna start building that this week.

Clay (33:55.092)

Preston (33:59.818)
Because you already know what works, right? That’s what I love about this. You’ve done some proposals, so there’s maybe one good reason to do proposals that we’ve identified. And that is you know now what clients react well to. And so you put that in a landing page, which you already have the chops to do because you’re a writer and a marketer. And then it’s about how do you get that out to people?

Tim (34:23.478)
Then how do you guys think about like this change of the subject just a little bit, but circling back on some sales conversation that I didn’t close that went positively. It’s not like a lot of it was just not the right time. And I know people say that when they’re saying no, but if I’m falling back say in January after the new year, would you lower your price and say, hey, we can do XYZ instead of 5K, it’s going to be 3K or 250 or whatever like or do you I mean, does that come across as sort of a weak like, hey, I really need the money. What can you do for me?

Preston (34:27.263)

Preston (34:34.989)

Preston (34:53.738)
Well, do you need the money?

Tim (34:55.955)

Preston (34:58.206)
then I think it’s okay. I think early on in your business, you take what you can get. Clay might feel differently, but for me, if you’re like trying to get your feet under you, you take what you can get. So, I, you know, I…

I hesitate to say like, you know, let’s go cheaper because you didn’t like the price. You could add, there’s other options to discounting too, right, you could add more value to your offering. You could say like, hey, I know five grand wasn’t gonna work for that thing, but what if we did 12 months of strategy instead of six? Right, and so now you’re making the same amount of money, but you’re offering more value.

Tim (35:26.765)

Preston (35:40.17)
I think there’s maybe other ways around it, but, but when you’re starting out, man, just for me, it’s like, get the money in the door, however you can get it. And then you can get a little more picky down the road. That’s, that’s at least where I stand on it. I don’t know what, does that resonate with you, Tim, or what are you thinking?

Tim (35:40.33)
Yeah, I like that.

Tim (35:48.863)

Tim (35:57.534)
It does. Yeah, I probably had like, you know, three or four great conversation that just didn’t land. I think a lot of it was timing or someone else was working with an agency that they didn’t like, but they were still under contract with through the end of the year. So I’m going to follow up with a handful of them in mid-January. And I feel good about closing at least one or two of them. And I’m going to be willing to be flexible on price to just because I still like I still don’t know. It’s still, like I said, proof of concept. It’s been so it’s been so new.

Preston (36:13.33)
Mm, yeah.

Tim (36:26.466)
that I don’t know yet what it is or where I can find the most value for my clients.

Preston (36:29.108)

Clay (36:33.5)
What was the, sorry, I had to step away for a second. What was the question? Like in 10 seconds?

Tim (36:41.835)
dropping the price to go back to someone that I wasn’t able to close.

Clay (36:47.604)
What did Preston say?

Preston (36:49.826)
I want to know what you say. I don’t want to bias your answer. I want to see if we agree. Would you discount a price?

Clay (36:54.136)
Uh, the only reason I would. The only way in this context of somebody you didn’t close, the only way I would, I would lower the price is if something was taken away.

Tim (37:03.179)

Tim (37:10.036)

Preston (37:10.606)
Hmm. And I said that kind of, I said, or add something to it. So keep the price the same, but instead of six months of strategy, you’re doing eight or 12 months of strategy.

Clay (37:10.952)
That’s it. Like it.

Clay (37:21.472)
Yeah, I wouldn’t. Yeah, I yeah, go one way or the other. I wouldn’t just discount it just to see if they’ll bite. You know what I mean? Like they more

Tim (37:31.458)

Preston (37:33.122)
But then I also said, Clay, he’s so young in this. It’s so new that I’m sort of like a get the money in the door however you can at this stage. Like first year, it’s like, if it’s like this or you gotta get a job, yeah, maybe. Maybe you do offer some discounts and see if people will buy because you need the money in the door. And you’ll get to the point where you won’t need it. But for me, I mean, six weeks in, this is brand new.

Clay (37:42.553)

Clay (37:55.101)

Even then, like I totally get that. And we’ve said that multiple times on the show, like when you gotta pay the bills, you just, you gotta pay the bills. You know what I mean? And you do whatever you can to pay the bills when you’re first starting out. With that said, with that said, with you being in startup mode, I would price it to sell. I don’t know, like if you’re gonna like discount it and it be priced low enough to where it’s like,

Preston (38:05.302)
Right. Yeah.

Tim (38:09.506)

Clay (38:27.78)
a no brainer like oh duh just pitch it that way. I you know.

Preston (38:33.39)
So you’re saying instead of discounting it, just make it cheaper to begin with.

Clay (38:37.488)
Yeah, and I would be transparent about it too. I would be like, hey, look, I’m just now starting out. I just started my business. This is a price to sell situation. I’m not gonna be offering this. Yeah, it’s not gonna always be this low. And this is what I’m pricing it at. And I would be transparent about that. And so, but like once you pitch them that price, I would just stick with that.

Preston (38:49.698)
It’s not always gonna be this low.

Clay (39:05.488)
That’s just my thing. I wouldn’t go back and say, Hey, I know you didn’t bite because of this. But what if I offered like, you know, 25% off, I wouldn’t do that. That’s just me.

Tim (39:17.566)
Yeah, I like that and I…

Preston (39:19.15)
because then they might just say like, no, hoping that you’ll go even lower.

Clay (39:25.136)
Yeah, it just makes it, it’s much different. It’s much different. And so like, let’s just say you’re, how much do you sell a retainer right now?

Preston (39:25.159)
Yeah, it’s not, not a great notion.

Tim (39:25.395)
Yeah, there’s a couple…

Tim (39:35.114)
Uh, so the one I have now, I’m making like 1600 a month on. I’m part of a little team of freelancers, but I’m, that’s my cut of it.

Clay (39:42.844)
Okay, 1600. That’s your normal, that’s how much you would pitch somebody right now today?

Tim (39:54.178)
No, because I haven’t really even thought about pitching retainers yet, and especially in the context that we’ve talked about. Most of mine have been project based. I haven’t really pitched any retainers.

Clay (40:01.264)
Okay, so if you’re talking to me, I’m a business owner, and you want to pitch me a retainer, how much would you pitch me right now?

Tim (40:10.222)
Well, it depends on what’s in it, but I would try to, yeah, I would try to shoot for like 2K.

Clay (40:17.229)
2K, okay, $2,000 and that’s your normal price, right? That’s what you want. So if you, there’s a difference between pitching it at $2,000, your normal fee, and like you pitch it to me, I don’t bite. So you come back at me and say, you know what? I’ll do it for 1,500. Versus, if you were to just pitch it to me in the first place and say, look, I’m just,

Tim (40:20.846)

Clay (40:45.04)
I’m just getting started, but this is my price. I’ll pitch it to you for 1500. There’s a difference between those two, even though they’re the same price. One has confidence and one has desperation.

Preston (40:58.902)
Hmm, yep.

Tim (41:00.014)
Yeah, you’re right.

Clay (41:02.841)
even though you’re getting the same amount.

Clay (41:07.293)
You know what I mean?

Tim (41:09.326)
Yeah, I really like that. And there’s a couple I have in mind that I’m going to try to, I’ll probably just go smaller and like you said, offer a little bit less and say, hey, I really think I can help you. Because this is the client I worked with years ago. I helped build their SEO and marketing program, I don’t know, four years ago, and it’s completely dropped off. They’ve cut a lot of their marketing team and I just, I hate to see that all that work go to waste. So I feel like there’s things I can do to help them and I can just maybe just make it a little bit more narrow and at a cheaper price point.

Preston (41:38.538)
Yeah, I think, you know, if you, more affordable.

Clay (41:38.792)
less expensive price point.

Tim (41:41.71)
Right. Yes, exactly.

Clay (41:42.472)
Don’t ever say cheaper. Cheaper. Don’t ever say cheaper. Also, don’t ever say, I really think I can help you. I know I can help.

Tim (41:46.126)
more affordable.

Tim (41:54.798)
Love that. Okay.

Clay (41:55.56)
Just a couple sales tidbits there.

Preston (41:58.706)
Yep, I had the same thought when he said, I think, um, or you just say that it’s fact, right? I can help you fix this. Um, also, let’s see, what else was I going to say? Oh, if, so if you’re going to develop maybe like a package, like we’re talking about with a landing page and it’s really very productized, that would also be a good excuse to just go back to these clients and say, Hey, I know we had talked about this, whatever in the past, it maybe wasn’t a fit for you. This new thing I’ve got might be a fit for you.

Clay (42:05.21)

Tim (42:16.43)

Preston (42:27.698)
and it’s here’s what it is and here’s the landing page for it and take a look and let me know what you think. Right. And that’s a good excuse to just and that can be priced at whatever price point you think but that’s a good excuse to just go back to them. Not in a way where you’re saying please pretty please it didn’t work the first time can I take can I offer you know the same thing for less money but it’s like no there’s this other thing it’s completely different thing. Some of the same value points but like it’s a different thing that you’d be buying and so you know kind of like releasing a new product.

going back to your same customer base with a new product.

Tim (43:00.462)
I love that. Yeah, my wheels are spinning now between rethinking that audit as more of like a game plan or strategy or something like you said at the beginning. Because that’s been a great foot in the door for a lot of companies and the projects that have closed so far and then rethinking how I turn that into a recurring revenue. Yeah, I’m excited. I want to start working on this tonight.

Preston (43:08.893)

Clay (43:21.768)
You… do you do this audit for free? How much you charge?

Tim (43:24.846)
No, no. The ones I’ve done so far have charged $3,004.

Clay (43:31.006)

Preston (43:31.606)
Whew, that’s awesome.

Tim (43:33.422)
They’re robust. They end up being like 30 page documents.

Clay (43:36.84)

Preston (43:37.11)
I mean, that’s so much better than what other SEOs are doing.

Clay (43:39.961)
Yeah. I-

Tim (43:40.814)
Yeah, it’s not that one sheet with your broken links. It’s a lot more sophisticated than that.

Preston (43:43.59)
Yeah. Like SEM rush auto generated thing.

Clay (43:44.388)
Or an auto generated bullshit that they put in some software and say, hey, here’s your audit. Um, yeah. He, I would remove the word audit from your vocabulary.

Tim (43:49.486)

Preston (43:57.162)
I agree. It’s just, it’s used way too.

Clay (43:58.732)
Audit is such a negative. Yeah. I mean,

Tim (43:58.894)

Preston (44:03.314)
Oh, that’s such a good point too, right? It’s like, here’s everything that’s wrong with what you’re doing.

Clay (44:07.84)
Mm-hmm. I mean, think of it, when people say audit, they think tax audit. No, get away from that.

Preston (44:09.612)

Preston (44:15.542)
I actually love the word game plan that you used, Tim, where you say, I’ll develop a game plan for you. I’ll develop a strategy for you. That’s something, a growth plan like blueprint. Yeah. Something like that.

Clay (44:18.132)
Game plan, yeah, like roadmap, blueprint, something. Something that shows them the solution, not just what Preston said, here’s everything that’s wrong with what you’re doing.

Tim (44:20.046)
Roadmap. Yeah.

Preston (44:40.969)

Tim (44:42.446)
So I know we’re kind of almost out of time. I have one more question if you guys, that’s okay. So much of like, like I said, I love the SEO, I love the teaching element, but I am a generalist. I can do just about anything when it comes to marketing besides design. And so I guess how much, how much should I be willing to compromise and taking on those types of clients like the one I have now, the retainer, where I’m doing a little bit of everything in order to get my foot in the door, in order to hit my revenue numbers versus really leaning into my

Preston (44:47.114)
Yeah, lay it on us, man.

Tim (45:12.558)
my unique proposition, my unique angle leaning into SEO. I like doing them. It’s just I don’t want to just become like basically a one-man marketing agency though.

Preston (45:15.223)

Clay (45:16.404)
Do you want to do those things?

Clay (45:25.044)
Do you love doing them?

Preston (45:29.61)
Yeah, you don’t really want to do them, it sounds like. And to me, this is the same as the charging, like the billing issue. Your business is super young. If you need it to make ends meet and to stay in business, then do it with an exit strategy, right? Do it for six months and be done with it. Or if you think this other thing can take off, or if it starts to show signs that it’s taking off, then just skip all that other stuff altogether. This is like classic, very young.

Tim (45:43.758)

Clay (45:45.594)

Preston (45:58.77)
young freelance business though, right? It’s like, should I charge less? Should I just take whatever? What kind of clients should I take? And it’s like, look, if you need to do it to stay in business, Clay and I are not here to tell you don’t take a job just because it doesn’t fit your perfect ideal niche, right? If you need the money, you need the money to stay in business. So, but if you don’t enjoy doing it, yeah, I’d say get away from it as quickly as you can, replacing it with other stuff you do enjoy.

Tim (46:01.358)

Tim (46:10.51)

Clay (46:11.837)

Clay (46:26.216)
Yeah, assuming that assuming you, you are making enough money to pay the bills and pay yourself, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. That’s a statement that every entrepreneur should repeat to themselves, even seasoned entrepreneurs. Because there’s always gonna be money opportunities, even past startup.

Tim (46:26.926)

Tim (46:55.15)

Clay (46:55.172)
you know, and just because you can do it doesn’t mean you ought to.

Tim (47:00.782)
And I should say too, I’m in pretty good shape. I’m not anywhere close to desperate or anything. And luckily I’ve got that podcast revenue that gets me basically halfway to where I need to be each month. So the rest is just building, which is a very fortunate place to be.

Clay (47:13.774)
Uh huh.

If you’re fine financially, I wouldn’t do it because we just had somebody on the podcast who I forgot her name, Preston. It was last week, I think. Yeah, who again, startup mode, you know, she just kind of like took on whatever she could to pay the bills, which is totally okay. Here’s what happened though. A year later, so this is our second time to come on.

Preston (47:17.182)
Yeah, so.

Preston (47:27.414)
I’ll look it up.

Preston (47:43.582)
Oh, you’re talking about Morgan. Morgan Messick. Yeah.

Clay (47:44.996)
Yeah, yeah, Morgan, that’s it. This was her second time to come on. Guess what happened? Her reputation, so she started taking on social media clients, managing social media. Her passion is writing, which is funny, because that’s what you don’t want to do, ironically. Her passion is writing. And when we had her on the call last week, she was like, how do I get back to writing? I don’t want to be.

Tim (47:54.734)

Clay (48:12.884)
doing social media, but guess what happened? Her reputation is now all about social media. That’s what she’s known for. And so now she’s like, it’s cool. She’s got employees, she’s grown, you know, like she’s got retainer clients. People are coming to her like inbound for social media, not her passion. So now she’s like trying to…

figure out how to divert and bring her passion back in. It’s a good problem to have, right? But what I’m saying is, is like, if you can financially do it, like if you’re financially comfortable, then stick to what you’re passionate about and what you actually love doing.

Preston (48:59.262)
Yeah, because then you don’t have to unwind it later.

Clay (49:02.139)

Tim (49:04.046)
Yeah, I like that. That’s a good point.

Preston (49:07.242)
Well, Tim, this has been a lot of fun, man. I love talking to people at this stage in their business. There’s just so much, like the world is your oyster right now. It’s an exciting time to be in business. Glad things are going well. Why don’t you let everyone know where they can connect with you really quickly and then we’ll sign off.

Tim (49:24.558)
Yeah, my name is Tim Wurzberger. You can find me on Instagram at T. Wurzberger or listen to my podcast, Dropping the Gloves. It’s a hockey related podcast. And I just want to say guys, thank you for putting on the show. It’s just been so great. And since I discovered it earlier this summer, I think I stopped listening to music for like two weeks because I was just binging every episode of this. And I don’t know that I would have taken the leap without just the excitement I got from listening to you guys. So I really appreciate it.

Clay (49:43.217)

Clay (49:50.872)
Love it. Thanks for listening. Yeah.

Preston (49:52.346)
Wow, man. You have no idea how much that means to us. We have a blast doing this podcast and it’s so fun when people like you, Tim, come on and say things like that, that we’re just helping in our own small way for you to do something really awesome. So keep up the good work, man. Hopefully we can check back in another six or 12 months and hear how it’s gone for you. For now, I have been Preston with and of course, Clay from Thank you so much, you guys. We’ll talk to you next time.

Clay (50:22.612)
See ya.


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Hosted by Preston & Clay

'Freelance to Founder' Podcast

Freelance to Founder is a unique call-in show helping real-life freelancers grow their businesses and escape the feast-famine lifestyle. The podcast is co-hosted by Clay and Preston, two former freelancers who have started, built, and even sold six- and seven-figure businesses of their own. Catch the Tuesday Q&A episodes, dive deeper with Thursday's call-in episodes, or join us on the air and take the next step on your journey from ... freelance to founder.

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