Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Should Be In Your Client Contract?


Some resume writers don't use a client contract (or client agreement). But if you already have one -- or you're thinking you should have one -- check out these pointers for what should be included in your client contract.

Here's the things you should consider including in your client agreement:

Detailed Description of the Services You Will Provide
It's essential to very clearly describe the services that will be provided. The more detail you can put in this part of the contract, the fewer misunderstandings will occur. This is very important for resume writers in particular, since the majority of us charge by the project instead of hourly. Having a very clear definition of what is included in the services you're providing (including providing timeframes for client consultations, number of revisions, etc.) is critical. You don't want "scope creep" ruining your profit potential. ("I thought that customized cover letter was included." "Let's look at the agreement. No, a template cover letter is included. We can certainly customize it for specific positions; however, there will be a $40 charge per letter for that service. Would you like to order that?"


Responsibilities of the Service Provider
Spell out in great detail which dates youĂ­ll have the work completed by, and what your responsibilities are to the client in regard to getting the work done. How will it be submitted to the client? What constitutes finished work? Be very specific in this area. It will help protect you as well as help you feel done each day when you know what constitutes "finished."



Responsibilities of the Client
Spell out what the client must do so that you can do your job. For example, state that the client must get you the information you need by a certain date, and say how the client should contact you when they have questions. Be very specific and exact in this section so there is no mistake about what the client needs to do to ensure that you can do your work in a timely manner.

Important Due Dates
Restate the important due dates for both sides of the client/service provider equation. The reason you want to state this again is that it's an essential component in being able to work together cohesively without issues. These dates will ensure that it all happens without a lot of back and forth or problems. If the client returns the questionnaire to you after the due date, that will most likely cause a delay in the delivery of the resume draft. Make sure your agreement states that!

How Payment Will Be Processed
State how and when you will bill the client and how and when you expect the client to pay you. If you want to be paid via PayPal then you should say so, otherwise they may not be prepared to pay you this way -- which can cause delays. Spell out all the terms, the amount and how and when it all happens. Most resume writers charge full payment up front, so make sure your agreement outlines your refund policy. Also be sure to clarify how charges for additional services will be handled. (For example, those customized cover letters!)

Terms for Termination
Tell the client how they can terminate your agreement, and state how you can terminate the agreement. If there is an end date to this contract, state that here too. (For example: All resume projects not finalized within 45 days after the delivery of the draft document will be considered "closed" and any changes or corrections requested after that date will incur additional charges.)




Legalities
It's super important to include any legalities that are required by your state or country. It also is good for the service provider to include a line that states any court proceedings and all laws will be determined by your state, city and county. That way if a problem happens you won't have to travel for court. (This is especially important if you work with clients outside your immediate geographical area.)

Optional:
Complete Description of the Relationship between Both Parties
This is the area where you mention the nature of the business relationship, in terms of whether or not you are an independent contractor or an employee. Spelling it out here will protect both parties from IRS issues later. This isn't likely to be a big issue unless your agreement is with an outplacement service firm, for example, instead of a single client.

Non-Disclosure Agreement
This is something that is good for both parties -- you agree not to tell people you work for the client and the client agrees not to share your proprietary documents, processes, and materials with anyone else. Whatever you both want in this agreement to protect both parties in terms of non-disclosure goes here.

Ownership of the Deliverables
State in this section who owns the deliverables. Usually you will put words to the effect that deliverables are owned by the client once payment has been processed. This will help prevent non-payment or claims of ownership of the work when payment has not yet been submitted. This is the best way to protect your hard work and their intellectual property.

Having a client contract or agreement can't always protect you from PITA clients, but it can help you untangle the mess if a client does have an issue.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Q&A: Starting an Email List

I like to answer questions from my tribe! In today's blog post, I respond to a reader who has a question about starting an email list.

Question:

I've been doing some Internet research regarding email marketing. MailChimp says I have to ask permission before I send email marketing. How do I do that? (I'm not using them - I'm going to do it myself) Do I send a first email saying in the subject line: "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter - NO email marketing service used"?

Another question: It has been suggested that I put a privacy policy right up front. Is the following enough? 

Privacy policy: I am not using an email marketing service - I am distributing the monthly email newsletter myself. There will be complete confidentiality. Your email will not be given to anyone. Please let me know if you're interested in receiving it. Below is what you will see.


Answer:
I'm thrilled you want to start using email to market/communicate! It's one of the most valuable tools you can use to generate repeat business, referrals and even new clients!

You want to get people to opt-in to your email. I believe you actually SHOULD be using an email marketing service -- doing it yourself (i.e., copy-and-pasting email addresses into a BCC list) has two major disadvantages: 

  1. lower deliverability of email messages (some email systems associate the BCC method with spam and will block messages from you -- not just the bulk ones, but they'll "blacklist" your email address and when you try to individually email these clients later, the message may not get through. 
  2. You won't know who opened your email messages. All email marketing systems track "open rates" -- and while they're not infallible (people have to either click a link in the email or click "load images" to be registered as an "open,"), knowing which of your messages are enticing people to read them is valuable information. (Imagine if our clients could send their resumes this way, and they'd know if their resumes were actually being "opened" and read! I'm sure that day is coming! *smile*)

Okay, back to opting in. The best way to do this is to invite people to JOIN your email list. But it's not like the old days (5-10 years ago), when you could say, "Sign up to get my email newsletter!" and people would join it. No, people want valuable information in exchange for giving up their email address, and a "monthly newsletter" isn't enough of a draw. The easiest way to get them to sign up is by giving them a valuable special report. A lot of my BeAResumeWriter.com Bronze members adapt their Pass-Along Materials for this purpose. Another advantage of using an email service is that it automates the opt-in and delivery of the freebie. 

YES, you can send an email to each of your current clients, but I wouldn't use the subject line "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter." Instead, I'd tailor it to your bonus. For example: "Follow-up to resume services: Making more in your next job." This one-to-one email can be sent to each of your clients you've worked with (and, on an ongoing basis, to each client you work with in the future, after you send their resume documents). The email would have a link to opt-in to the email list AND when they sign up, it AUTOMATICALLY sends them the link to download the special report. (And they're added to your email list.) That's the basis of permission-based marketing.

If you want to use your email list to generate prospects (not just communicate with existing clients), you can also add the opt-in box to your website and social media profiles. You use it the same way -- you offer a valuable opt-in incentive (it can even be a DIFFERENT one for prospective clients vs. existing clients!) and you put an opt-in box on your website, blog, Facebook business page, etc. to get people to opt-in to receive it (and thus be on your email list). Most of the email marketing services will also include tools that allow you to spread the word about getting on your list (including "forward this email" buttons and links to your social media profile tools).

Many of the services also allow you to upload lists but ONLY do this if you have the permission of the people to add them! For example, if you have a booth at a job fair, you can offer to send them your salary negotiation guide if they put their name/email on your sign-up sheet. Then, you can enter those names into your email service database manually and it will both send them the guide AND add them to your email list.

As for WHAT to send to folks once they're on your list, make sure you follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should be valuable career-related information (without sales tactics) and 20% can be promotions/advertising -- whether that's for your own services or affiliate products/services. You want people to STAY on your list, so make sure you're communicating with them REGULARLY (at least once a month) and giving them valuable information.

But that brings me to reason #3 to use an email marketing service: automatic unsubscribes. The #1 rule you need to follow in email marketing is actually a LAW -- the CAN-SPAM Act defines email marketing. If someone asks to be taken off your list, you need to do that. And it's easier to allow them to unsubscribe themselves (ALL email marketing programs have this option built-in to each message you send) than to manage getting the replies to you one by one by one. Here's the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines:

The #4 reason to use an email marketing service is they offer you pretty templates you can customize when sending the information. Instead of a plain email message, you can incorporate a "theme" template -- customizing the colors and fonts to match your business logo/colors. Once you set up this template, you can use it over and over again, making it easy to send your monthly messages. 

All in all, email marketing services offer some major advantages over sending messages yourself. And frankly, most people don't actually MIND that you're using an email marketing service to manage your list. The messages look more professional, getting on and off the list are easy, and they still can be personalized (you can set up your messages so they drop in the recipient's first name in the subject line or in the body of the message itself).

And they're not too expensive. (EVERY resume writer I've worked with on this has said their list pays for itself in terms of repeat business, referrals, affiliate products/services sold, and new business generated, if they follow the guidelines I've outlined here). The cost can be as little as $5/month, but the average is $20/month. I personally pay about $50/month for mine, and it's TOTALLY worth it.

I use (and recommend) these three email marketing services -- I've included pluses and minuses, and my affiliate links for each:

VerticalResponse. Offers a pay-as-you-go option (you can pay for email "credits" to start out, instead of a flat monthly rate -- although you can change to a monthly subscription at any time), so it's very affordable to get started. VR offers some basic templates; but does not include free graphics. It can host your sign-up form for you too. Setup difficulty level: Medium
http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-5727729-10683714

Constant Contact. One of the most popular services. A little more pricey than other options, but offers a TON of templates and lots of free graphics (plus access to paid stock photography services). Good sign-up tools for getting people on your list -- integrates with your Facebook page easily to provide a sign-up form. Also offers other services: survey tool, event management/sign-up tool, and a Groupon-like service. Offers a free trial for new customers. Setup difficulty level: Easy

AWeber. This one requires more technical proficiency than the other two, but offers a way for you to provide both single email messages AND email "courses" to prospective clients or current/past clients using autoresponders. I use it to deliver both free AND paid programs -- you can set up a series of email messages that are delivered automatically -- for example, my Leveraging LinkedIn class is 8 email lessons delivered once a day for 8 consecutive days. I set it up once in AWeber and people can subscribe to the "course" and the messages are delivered to them automatically. It also offers great opt-in forms -- giving you the code to put on your own page or AWeber will even "host" the form for you. Setup difficulty level: Harder

Why don't I recommend Mailchimp? Mainly because of email deliverability rates. Because Mailchimp offers a free level of service, their OVERALL email deliverability rates are lower, because some email service providers block ALL Mailchimp messages because some people use the free service irresponsibly. (Because there is no cost, it's used quite a bit by folks selling multilevel marketing products or low-cost services/products). I prefer using a paid service that monitors its members and makes sure they are following the rules (not just adding their entire email list to their account and sending messages without permission).

As for the privacy policy, YES, it's fine to include it, but it does NOT need to be the first thing in the message (nor will that help you entice people to subscribe and/or stay on your list). The #1 way to build trust with your list is to SHOW, not TELL. It's not enough to say that you won't share or use their email without permission -- SHOW that. Do NOT add send "bulk" emails to people unless they've requested to be added to your list (by opting in to receive your freebie). It's fine to send ONE email message to people you currently work with (or have worked with in the past) to ask if they want to receive your freebie, but don't just ADD them to the list. People hate that. :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Preparing for My 11th Resume Writing Conference

I'm speaking (two breakout sessions!) at the 2015 NRWA Conference in Charlotte, and it got me thinking about how many conferences I've attended! (The answer is 10 so far! Charlotte will be #11.)

Here's an updated list of resume writing conferences (dating back as far as I could remember or tell). The ones I've attended I've listed in BOLD.

The National Resume Writers' Association (NRWA):
2015 - Charlotte, North Carolina
2014 - Denver, Colorado
2013 - Chicago, Illinois
2012 - Charleston, South Carolina
2011 - Portland, Maine
2010 - Fort Worth, Texas
2009 - Annapolis, Maryland
2008 - San Diego, California
2007 - Savannah, Georgia
2006 - Phoenix, Arizona
2005 - Stamford, Connecticut
2004 - Nashville, Tennessee
2003 - Seattle, Washington
2002 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2001 - San Antonio, Texas
2000 - Las Vegas, Nevada
1999 - New Orleans, Louisiana
1998 - Chicago, Illinois

Career Directors International:
2015 - Orlando, Florida
2014 - Orlando, Florida
2013 - ??
2012 - ??
2011 - Savannah, Georgia
2010 - San Diego, California
2009 - Orlando, Florida
2008 - Seattle, Washington
2007 - San Antonio, Texas
2006 - Orlando, Florida (PRWRA)
2005 - Las Vegas, Nevada (PRWRA)
2004 - Indianapolis, Indiana (PRWRA)
2003 - New Orleans (PRWRA)
2002 - Atlanta, Georgia (when the organization was still PRWRA)

Career Management Alliance (no longer in business as of August 2011):
2011 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana
2009 - San Antonio, Texas
2008 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
2007 - Louisville, Kentucky
2006 - ??
2005 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (when it was still Career Masters Institute)
2004 - Atlanta, Georgia (CMI)
2003 - Kansas City, Missouri (CMI)
2002 - San Diego, California (CMI)

Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
(discontinued conferences in 2004?)
2004 - St. Pete Beach, Florida
2003 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2002 - Dallas, Texas
2001 - Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
2000 - Toronto, Canada
1999 - Colorado Springs, Colorado




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Help! I'm Having Trouble Converting Prospects Into Clients

In today's blog post, I'll answer a resume writing colleague's question.

Question:

Lately, I've been noticing that prospective clients have been replying with "Thanks for the information. I will take your recommendations into consideration but I cannot afford to pay to have my resume done."
What is your take on this? It has been 3 clients in a row.


My Answer:

What is the normal conversion rate you're getting from clients after receiving the critique? (How many clients -- out of 10 -- normally engage your services after receiving the critique?) For example, my normal conversion rate is 1-out-of-3. For every three clients I talk to (in general), one becomes a client. Instead of looking just at the last 3 clients, then, how many prospects out of the last 10 have become clients? If the overall ratio is slipping, then further analysis is needed whether this is an economic trend or simply a blip.

Second, look at where the clients come from -- each client should be asked how they heard about the service as part of the "intake" -- before providing the critique results. This can also help with the analysis. If they were referred by a current client or another source vs. finding you online, I would expect the conversion ratio for those clients to be different. (Referred clients should have a higher close rate, obviously.)

Is there any education about "value" in the communication process with the client? Perhaps sending some sort of information in between when you receive the critique from the client and when you deliver the critique can be part of the education process. For example, I have a document called "The Jobseeker's Guide to Working With Your Resume Writer: 10 Simple Things To Help Me Help You." (It was the April 2014 Pass-Along Materials content for Bronze members). It helps "warm up" prospects to become clients -- giving them information on how we can work together most effectively.

Do you have a follow-up system for when prospects don't immediately become clients? As we talked about in the Get Clients Now! program, follow up is a critical consideration. Even something as simple as a follow-up email after they get the "I can't afford you" message that thanks them for their time, reiterates the issue that they came to you with ("not getting interviews" for example), and a desire to work with them in the future if something changes. And then maybe a recommendation for a do-it-yourself product, a lower cost service (for example, a resume revamp instead of a full resume re-write, an offer of a referral to a lower-priced service -- for which you would get a 15% referral fee from that writer, or a book recommendation (with affiliate links). 

I find that when clients say they "can't afford to pay," it's really that I haven't established enough value for the service I'm offering. Sometimes it's that I haven't communicated up front my "range" of service fees (i.e., "resumes starting at $250") so that clients know that it's not going to be a $99 service. Do you ask them their budget as part of the critique process? That might be useful... and certainly appropriate -- after all, you are providing a valuable service and have an expectation of receiving valuable information in return. Are you "qualifying" prospects appropriately before the critique is being offered? (That is, are they a good fit for you -- in services needed, pricing, turnaround time, their industry/job title, etc. -- before you take the time to offer the critique? Or are all prospective clients offered a critique?)

From an overall standpoint, the best way to increase closing rates is to generate leads from the "top" of the "Marketing Strategies for Professional Services" diagram on page 15 of the Get Clients Now! book. These prospects, as I mentioned in paragraph 2, are more likely to become clients because you've established more of the "know/like/trust" factor with them than if they found the service through a Google search or an ad.




Want access to the "Jobseeker's Guide to Working With Your Resume Writer" AND a ready-to-go resume critique form you can use with prospective clients? Join BeAResumeWriter.com as a Bronze member and get access to both tools as part of your membership.

Interested in learning more about the Get Clients Now!™ program? Learn more here:
Get Clients Now!


Get Clients Now!™ is a trademark of Wings BusinessCoaching LLC and is used under license. www.getclientsnow.com

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