Learn How Doing Good Pays Off for Freelancer Kristi Porter
Kristi Porter started freelancing on the side in 2003. In 2016, she formally launched her own Atlanta-based business, Signify, "helping cause-focused organizations move from stressed to strategic in their marketing and communications," she says. She also teaches easy philanthropy strategies to solopreneurs and small business owners.
"Essentially, I help people do more good." Discover Kristi's secrets to thriving in the gig economy.
giggs: How did you get started?
Kristi: When I worked at a PR agency years ago, a local magazine was covering one of our clients. The journalist fell through at the last minute because she had a death in the family, so they asked if anyone at the agency could write the story. I did, and they liked it so much that I wrote regularly for them for over a year!
From there, I wrote for companies, individuals, and magazines by referral for over a decade. It’s a skill that has always served me well!
giggs: Please share 5 tips for freelancers who are just starting out.
Kristi: 1. Find a mentor! This isn’t typically a quick and easy process, so start looking ASAP. Ask around to see who will help you learn from their experience.
2. Find an accountability partner. Even if you are a highly-motivated person, it can be extremely useful to have someone to bounce questions with, get feedback, and relate to you on a day-to-day basis.
3. Keep learning. Learn from anyone and everyone. Soak it all up, and then determine who you should keep learning from long-term.
4. Get out and network. Find new and regular groups of people.You never know who could become a client or referral.
5. Keep pitching. Even if you’re busy now, it may not always be that way. Keep working on new leads, even during the busy seasons.
giggs: How did you come up with your pricing structure?
Kristi: Trial and error, ha! My pricing is usually based on some competitive analysis, as well as asking my close peers their thoughts. I also ask my mentors to take a look and give feedback. Even after doing this for so long, it’s still hard to find pricing that feels right sometimes, but I feel like I’m in a pretty good place at the moment.
giggs: How do you market your services?
Kristi: The vast majority of my clients are friends and referrals, which is
wonderful. That’s always how I’ve worked. Over the past year, though, I’ve really been increasing my networking to expand my circles. I find this hands-on approach is better for me than social media or online marketing, for example. It’s all about your personality and what feels good for you.
giggs: How do you deal with unhappy clients?
Kristi: From the beginning of the project, I strive to go above and beyond, so I don’t have to deal with unhappy clients on the backend. Do everything you can do to manage and surpass expectations. When you’re on the same page and good at communicating, it’s harder for something to go wrong.
In all my years, I’ve really only had to let go of two clients. Neither was unhappy with me, I don’t think, but it was not going to be a good situation moving forward. With the first, she thought I was charging her more than I initially stated, but I had the documentation to prove otherwise. It was best to finish that project and move on. With the second, he was a low-paying client, but very needy. So, I wrapped up the initial contract and told him I
wasn’t the best fit, and also gave him options for how he could continue without me.
If you feel like a client is going to be high-maintenance, or you get a bad feeling, then get out of it as soon as possible. Go with your gut.
It’s not worth the money in the long-run.
giggs: What does a typical work day look like?
Kristi: I prefer time blocking in large chunks, so for me, that means Marketing Mondays and Follow-Up Fridays. Tuesday through Thursday is client work and meetings. This works best for me to accomplish in-house business and marketing for Signify, and keep clients compartmentalized as well. And I often try to keep meetings one or two days as well. I need this “deep work” time to do my best work.
giggs: What does your dream project look like?
Kristi: Hmmm, great question! And it probably changes on a weekly basis, ha! Right now, I love website copywriting and consulting, and I mostly work with nonprofits. I’d love to work with more for-profit social enterprises, though. So, having the ability to work with a large social impact company like TOMS, Warby Parker, Patagonia, Whole Foods, or LISTN on their websites or large marketing assets would be amazing.
giggs: What are the keys to success when working remotely with clients?
Kristi: Whether the client is two feet away or two thousand miles from you, you
have to master communication and follow-up. Don’t rely on the client to
keep the project moving or get edits. Your payment depends on
completing a project (even if it’s only the final portion), so you want to
make sure it’s a smooth process from beginning to end.
They’ll also likely appreciate you more if you’re consistently communicating with them,
because people are busy and get easily distracted. And keep in touch with
them between projects so you stay top-of-mind.
Thank you for your insights, Kristi! Make sure you connect with Kristi on LinkedIn.