WordPress Plugin Roundup – October 2017

In this post, we round up the latest cool and useful (oh, and free!) WordPress plugins now available on the WordPress Plugin Directory. This month’s WordPress Plugin Roundup includes everything from an easy way to add icon widgets to a way to keep up with your post/page word counts.

1. iThemes Sales Accelerator New from iThemes!

iThemes Sales Accelerator

The iThemes Sales Accelerator plugin transforms your WordPress dashboard with dynamic reports so you can get detailed data and e-commerce insights about your WooCommerce store.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • The newest iThemes plugin extends default WooCommerce reports by reorganizing the most important sales data for your store with charts, tables and more in your WP dashboard
  • Has a free companion iOS app to connect with your WooCommerce store so you can check reports on the go
  • The Pro version includes more features like custom date filters for reports, additional reports, drag and drop and more.
  • A must-have tool for WooCommerce shops. You may have never seen your sales data quite like this before

2. Icon Widget

Icon Widget Plugin

The Icon Widget plugin creates a new WordPress widget that displays an icon, title and description. Select the size, color and text-alignment with easy to use dropdown options.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • If you’re not using a page builder with something like this build in already, it’s a pretty easy way to add a featured content block in a widgetized area.
  • Uses Fontawesome fonts.
  • You’ll probably want to tweak the styling a bit, but the CSS is simple.

3. CH Word Count

CH Word Count

The CH Word Count plugin will show you the total word count for all your posts and pages in the admin dashboard as well as in the overview tables of the posts and pages lists.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Just install and activate and see a new column in the post list called “Words” that shows the number of words in each post.
  • Also adds a dashboard widget with total wordcounts sitewide. Nice for tracking your writing progress.
  • Very helpful for evaluating article length for SEO purposes.
  • Works for custom post types too.
  • Would be nice if the “Words” column was sortable, but it’s not currently.

4. Show Visitor IP

The Show Visitor IP plugin display Visitor IP Address & visitor location info using by visitor IP on post or page, anywhere with a shortcode. Very simple to install, simple to use, lightweight.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Display current user information based on IP address throughout the site with shortcodes.
  • Can be a little creepy, but also helpful if you want your user to see that you can tell where they’re coming from.
  • Shortcode list:
    • [show_ip]
    • [svip_location type="countryCode"]
    • [svip_location type="region"]
    • [svip_location type="lat"]
    • [svip_location type="long"]
    • [svip_location type="city"]
    • [svip_location type="countryName"]

5. Minimum Featured Image Size

Minimum Featured Image Size

With the Minimum Featured Image Size plugin, you can set the minimum width and height required for featured images. If the user tries to use an image that isn’t large enough they will see a friendly error message, and the post status will be reverted to ‘draft’.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • This could be a really helpful plugin to keep clients and new users aware of the need for larger featured images.
  • The error message could be a little more apparent.

6. Admin Select Box To Select2

Admin Select Box To Select2

The Admin Select Box To Select2 plugin is used to convert all simple select boxes to select2.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Adds a searchable box to the top of all standard select boxes in the WordPress admin.
  • Can be very helpful if you have long lists of taxonomies or dates that you need to quickly filter through.

7. The Paste

The Paste

With the The Paste plugin,  you can speed up your workflow by pasting images to the WordPress text editor. Copy image data from many desktop applications.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Images pasted into the visual editor are uploaded to the media library and named pasted.png, pasted-1.png, pasted-2.png, etc.
  • Better naming conventions are on the developer’s to do list.
  • This is an interesting plugin that could improve workflow for many clients. It may not be quite ready for prime time yet, but it’s definitely one to watch!

8. Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor

Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor

The Full TinyMCE WordPress Editor plugin will let you add/remove the buttons that are shown on the Visual Editor toolbar. Configure buttons including Font Sizes, Font Family, text and background colors, tables, etc. It will also let you enable the editor menu. It includes 15 plugins for TinyMCE that are automatically enabled or disabled depending on the buttons you have chosen.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Brings much of the the control of TinyMCE Advanced to the standard TinyMCE editor.
  • Nice little plugin for turning off editor options that could get your client into trouble (like font color), or adding editor options they might need (like tables).

9. Post Category Image With Grid and Slider

Post Category Image With Grid and Slider

The Post Category Image With Grid and Slider plugin allows users to upload category image and display in grid and slider.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Enabled a “Featured Image” for each post category.
  • Display categories in a slider using shortcode [pci-cat-slider].
  • Lots of shortcode options on the plugin page.

10. Clearfy

Clearfy – disable unused features

The Clearfy – disable unused features plugin allows you to disable the REST API, emojis, RSS, XML-RPC, revisions, Remove Yoast Comments, Reduce HTTP requests, heartbeat and version control.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Gives you quick access to turn on or off many “hidden” features of WordPress.
  • There are likely quite a few things you could disable and incrementally improve the speed and security of your website.
  • There are also some things you might inadvertently break with this plugin, so be sure you know what you’re turning off and why.

11. Bye, Felicia This Month’s Hello Dolly Replacement

Bye Felicia

The Bye Felicia plugin is just a simple plugin to replace Hello Dolly. For funsies. You’re welcome. Today was a good day. Now, bye Felicia.

Nathan’s Notes:

Watch the Webinar: WordPress Plugin Roundup
– October 2017

This post is based on the October 2017 Plugin Roundup webinar by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan demonstrates how to use each of these plugins so you can get a better idea of how they work. Check out the entire series of monthly WordPress Plugin Roundup posts here & register for the next Plugin Roundup webinar here.

The post WordPress Plugin Roundup – October 2017 appeared first on iThemes.


Coleman Flashlights 101

What is the one thing that an outfitter can never leave their house without? A pocket knife? A complete set of tools perhaps? Although a few people might consider the two items that were just mentioned, a good number will have one thing in mind, a flashlight.

How important is a flashlight anyway? Apart from providing an immediate source of light in a campsite, it is a convenient tool that should always be kept handy. Flashlights in all shapes and sizes are available everywhere. We can find them in hardwares, groceries and even in department stores. There is a reason why they are so visible. It is because flashlights are not only for campers, dads, housekeepers and moms, they are also made for kids, just like they are made for executives, workers, nurses and everybody in almost any profession.

Coleman has produced flashlights for camping since time immemorial. In its entire 50 years of existence, the company may have made a flashlight conceivable for every trip, purpose or occasion. Thus brings us to Coleman Flashlights 101.

First of, did you know that a flashlight derived its name because the prototypes of this handy electrical lamp cannot produce a steady light until the late 1800’s to early 1900’s? Today, the more advanced versions of the primitive hand held lamp proved to be a vital addition to every American household.

This brings us back to our main topic, what exactly can a flashlight do? How important is it to us?

Flashlights for camping are specifically designed for immediate illumination of a camping site. Then again, it is wrong to think that they are made for that sole purpose. For example, Coleman flashlights can be a help to somebody whose car just broke down in the middle of the night. It can be a perfect scuba diving companion. It can be a guide for our little boys and girls who loves to explore the nature a jogging companion for those who love to jog at night and a handy tool to help us search for the earring that we may have dropped. It uses are countless!

So how exactly do you find that one Coleman flashlight that is perfect for you? Simple, determine what you are going to use it for. If you are up for night jogging, something small that can be tied around your neck will be practical. Picking one with a radio may also be wise. Although these things are generally cheap, we do not want to end up buying the biggest and the most expensive one in the display. Know exactly what you need and base your decision from there. After all, a Coleman flashlight is not our basic cylinder with two batteries and a small light bulb anymore. It can have a radio, a clock, a thermometer, a Morse code button and at some, a compass for ease of navigation. It’s design and make can also vary. From aluminum to colorful plastic, from LED lights to wide beams, from smaller sized key fobs to the bigger barrels and from battery powered flashlights to dynamos, Coleman has them all. Coleman flashlights can be your “light” amidst the “dark”.

Some Useful Tips For WordPress Developers

In the World Wide Web, uniqueness and simplicity are the main effective weapons to get much-needed attention of respective visitors for better stronghold of online portal. The main purpose of launching a website is to specifically reach out all the potential online visitors by conveying key business message of their common interest. Majority of people are giving more preference to open source CMS WordPress for creating a blog based website by means of PSD-to-WordPress conversion, integration and customization across the globe.

In today’s extremely internet savvy generation, microblogging is constantly gaining momentum among the masses. In fact, weblogs are considered shared on-line journal where different people come up with their new and exciting experiences. These personal internet journals in the form of blogs are the most standard platform to share opinions, experiences, ideas and lots more.

Majority of web professionals are stunningly using open source WordPress to build customized blog based website. WordPress is a popular blog application tool in the large family of open-source content management systems and Web applications. This advanced CMS mainly used for designing highly customized blog based website powered by high-quality WordPress themes/ templates. This type of CMS solution

There are some common mistakes that used to take place by every web expert. Below, some useful tips has been discuss in brief that every WordPress developer should keep in mind while WordPress theme/template integration and customization:

Go for thumbnails to display the related post on the blog.
Say yes to multiple loops to code complex WordPress pages.
Try to add multiple sidebars to display content of related post
Say yes to Drop-Down Menu to provide users easy-to-use tag navigation

People are hiring dedicated WordPress developer for professional coding solutions like PSD-to-WordPress conversion, themes/ templates customization and integration, CMS development and system design, custom modules development, module installation, blog customization, extensions development, existing Modification, maintenance work for WordPress website and so on.

It is advisable to hire dedicated WordPress developer with solid knowledge of open source blog application WordPress to avoid any type of risks in terms of quality factor. An individual can outsource virtual assistance of a web programmer on full-time basis, part-time basis or hourly basis depending upon the web requirement.

Solar Panels 101

Using the energy from the sun has always been used among humans for centuries. With the growing interest of power saving, solar panels have become all the hype to buy.

What are solar panels?

To understand what these are, you need to understand how solar energy works. Solar energy is the use of energy through the sun. The sun is the closest star and this is where we can get our energy. Solar energy has be used for centuries and has been a source of energy for many modern usages today. Some ways we use solar energy is when we do laundry and we dry the clothes by placing them outside in the sun. The sun dries the clothes. In some countries, they also use solar energy to warm up their food and ferment grape juice to make wine. The sun offers a good deal of benefits.

Like solar energy, solar panels generate electricity to preserve energy for the night. These can cut your electricity bill down by half each month. Many argue that they are too expensive. To this argument, you need to see how much you are spending on your electricity bill each month. There is a one time price for solar panels and then your bill is cut in half. If you calculate through that method, you will be able to see the savings of solar panels.

Remember, they are environmentally safe. They pose no harm to your home and actually help your home become a power saver. Most homes today are being built with them pre-installed, saving you the trouble of installing the panels and already saving you the money on your electric bill each month. And they have advanced to not only giving you light in the dark, but also heating your water and running your air conditioner. There are many advances as society changes. The regulator helps balance the refraction from the panels. Now that you know a little bit about solar panels, read up a little more and make the informed decision to switch to solar power. Solar paneling is the next best thing.

More WordPress 101 Articles

From Veteran Techie to Rookie Freelancer: Bianca Welds

We often interview veteran freelancers for the wisdom they can offer, though recently we’ve talked to a few freelancing rookies to see their fire and energy. This time, we’re getting both.

bianca weldsToday we talk with Bianca Welds. A veteran in the tech space, she started using WordPress back in 2005. More recently she started freelancing with L’Attitude Studios, on top of her full-time job. Bianca currently lives in Kingston, Jamaica.

“I’ve been very selective about who I work with, which helps to ensure greater success in the projects I do implement.” -Bianca Welds

We talked about shifting to freelancing, creating the right systems, and making it easy for clients.

How did you get started in freelancing?

I’ve been using WordPress for my personal websites since 2005. As blogging grew in Jamaica, I found myself helping other people with setup and migrations, but I was largely doing it as a “friend service.” In 2014, I decided to properly set up a side business focusing on WordPress and ideally working with creative businesses. I’ve been in and out of the technology field for my whole career so it’s not a shift so much as continuing to remain in a tech space that I find interesting.

What’s been the most important contributor to your early success?

Not sure I’d say early success, given the length of my journey and I’ve not dedicated myself full time to freelancing at this point. But what success I have had has come from the professional approach I have taken, which was largely defined by my participation in Troy Dean’s WP Elevation program two years ago. I continue to use the systems and structures that he outlined in dealing with clients. I’ve also been very selective about who I work with, which helps to ensure greater success in the projects I do implement.

Where do you think you need to improve as a new freelancer?

I need to get much better at marketing my business and attracting new clients. In part, because I’ve been doing it part time, I’ve not put a lot of effort into doing much on that front. The plan was to use content marketing as a pull, but that of course takes time to do it well.

What advice do you have for veteran freelancers? What are veterans overlooking or missing that you notice as a relative newcomer?

Make it easy for your prospective clients. The biggest competition is often DIY website builders because of the ease of getting started. Clients who need more still want the process of working with a freelancer to be easy, so don’t make them have to think too hard to get their project done.

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Finishing Strong in 2017

Did you take a vacation this summer? Did you step away from the screen to spend time with family or friends? Hopefully, you did. While summer can mean a much-needed break from work, freelancers and small business owners know it can also mean months of slower sales or that existing projects come to a sudden halt.

finishing strong

Coming back from the summer can pose a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still finish the year strong. If you’re still feeling the summer hangover, we have a few tips to get you fired up and ready to take on the last three months of 2017.

Finishing Projects Strong

While it may be difficult to predict the ebb and flow of business, we all know it: there’s usually a dip for web design project work during the summer. During the summer, ongoing projects can be delayed because clients are also vacationing, too.

Why do web design projects get stuck? It’s helpful to look at the two main reasons projects can be delayed:

  • Clients have higher priorities – As a small business owner yourself, you know the challenges of managing multiple projects or dealing with all the demands of business at once. It’s the same for clients.
  • You’re still waiting on copy or assets from the client  Projects can come to a standstill as you wait on the client to deliver the necessary information you need to finish a website.

If a project gets stuck, it may be the client’s fault, but it’s our responsibility to get that project moving again. And you probably already have a good incentive to finish a project–to get paid.

Here are a few ways to get projects “unstuck” so you can start making progress again:

Incentivize the completion of stalled projects.

Get back on your client’s radar and gain priority. What can you do to gain your client’s attention? Offer incentives to get the project rolling again.

  • Free month of website maintenance – Offer clients a month of free WordPress website maintenance. This is also a great way to let clients preview the value of this service.
  • Free upgrade to HTTPs – If the client’s website doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate, offer this as a free service in exchange copy or other assets that are holding a project up.
  • Get creative with other offers. What else could you offer as an incentive that costs you little but has value to your client?
Just remember: Never discount the project, but provide an incentive with the purpose of gaining the client’s attention and focus to complete the project.

Clients Stuck on Content?

Many clients freeze up when it comes to writing or creating their own content. They may not be sure where to begin. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Create a content guide for clients. A content guide could simply walk through different portions of a website with examples. The guide can also include questions such as: What is it that you do or provide? Why should clients choose you? What separates you from your competition? These questions should be designed to extract content from clients and get them guided in the right direction.
  • Offer a free 3-hour “content sprint” (or make it paid) – Set up a time to work through the content guide 1-on-1 with the client. During the meeting, jot down their answers as you work to record the conversation and take notes.

Ultimately, getting stuck on content is a process issue. Start building the content production process into your web design project process.

  • “No Code before Content” is a great motto for anyone building websites for clients. Make sure clients know the importance of content upfront and how it can delay a project. Clients need a plan for writing content or producing photographs, and if they need help, have a plan to help them with an upcharge fee that covers content production as an additional service. You can then contract out the work with a freelance writer or photographer, or do the work yourself.
  • Add project delay penalties into your contracts. Does your web design contract currently cover delayed projects? Is there any penalty built into your contract if a client suddenly goes missing or stops answering emails? If not, update your contracts now. Adding language concerning stalled projects can significantly reduce the likelihood of a delay, especially if there’s a penalty involved. For example, if a project is delayed more than 30 days for missing content from a client, for work to resume again, two conditions must be met: 1) Everything to finish the project must be in hand and 2) the remaining project balance must be paid in full.

Finishing Sales Strong

The last quarter of the year is often a time when many businesses are looking to spend money before the end of the year. This makes the final few months of the year a great time to sell a new website project.

You may not be a natural salesperson, and the thought of selling may be terrifying. It helps to simply reframe sales as being helpful. See sales as “consultative”–which means you’re being helpful, providing information, and meeting a need.

  • Cold calling is terrifying. Yep, you’re right! And it’s not terribly effective either (for most of us, anyway).
  • Start with your current clients. If you’ve been freelancing for a while, your existing client base is a potential goldmine of opportunity for both upsells and referrals.

Contact Existing Clients To Check In (And Upsell!)

The easiest client to sell is the client you’ve already sold. So how long has it been since you reached out to your current clients? Talk to former clients at least once a quarter, and for some better clients, at least once a month.

Ask: How’s it going? Are you having struggles or difficulties with your website? How is your website working for you? Are there things we can tweak to make it better? How can I help you?

You probably aren’t going to sell them a new website, but you have services you could offer. What do they need that you offer now?

Additional Website Services You Can Offer Existing Clients:

  • HTTPS – In October of 2017, Google Chrome will begin marking pages with forms on non-HTTPS websites as insecure. That makes this an excellent opportunity to explain to clients the value of having an SSL certificate installed on their website. Offer to move their website to HTTPS as a paid service. Check out our WordPress HTTPS Training so you’ll have all the knowledge you need to provide this service.
  • Site Speed Audit + Improvements – Another service you could offer is a Site Speed Audit. Site speed impacts your client’s search engine rankings, so it should be important to them too. Check out next month’s free Speeding up your WordPress website , a free webinar to help you with tips for speeding up a WordPress website.
  • Mobile-Friendly – If a client’s website still isn’t mobile-friendly, it needs to be. Offer to make it mobile-responsive with a one-time fee.
  • Security Audit + Services – Having an online security strategy is non-negotiable these days. As a paid service, you can do a security audit of their existing website, then install a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security. You could also set up WordPress two-factor authentication and train them to use it, as well as walk them through general online security measures such as using a password manager. Here’s more on why you should be using a password manager.
  • General WordPress Maintenance – Are clients keeping their websites updated? Are themes, plugins and WordPress core up to date? Are your clients tired of managing their own websites? Have a WordPress maintenance plan ready to offer as a way to help. Not sure how that looks? Here are 12 ideas to offer WordPress maintenance services to your clients.

Ask For Referrals

Be intentional about asking for referrals from your existing clients. Simply ask: Do you know any colleagues or friends that are needing a new website? You may be shocked how many referrals you’ll get just by asking.

Incentivize referrals!

The key to building your referral network is by incentivizing referrals. Here are a few ideas you could offer in exchange for a referral:

  • Free website maintenance – Offer 1-3 months of free website maintenance.
  • Gift card (Amazon, local restaurant, etc.) – Who doesn’t love a gift card?
  • Nice gift (Tablet, Apple Watch, etc.) – For bigger referrals that land you a new project, consider an even nicer gift.

Raise Your Rates!

How long has it been since you last raised your rates? Most freelancers should raise rates by 10% or more today. Yep–you read that correctly. 10%.

Raising your rates can be as simple as opening your proposal template, erasing the old rate and putting in the new rate.

  • Raise rates on January 1. Tell clients now. 
  • Sell a block of time at your current rate. Along with the notice, provide an offer to lock in a block of your time at your current rate. For example, you could see a 5-hour block of time. The block of time must be used within the next 12 months.

Finishing Personally Strong

On a personal level, how can you finish strong in 2017? Get yourself motivated TODAY to start strong and finish 2017 well. 

What is your WHY?

Why are you in business? Why are you a freelancer? Why do you do what you do? Spend some time revisiting your ultimate Why question. “Why?” may be a hard question to answer, but if you’ve never done it before, articulate your why.

Do you want more freedom? To be in control of your own destiny? Forge your own future? Have an improved quality of life? Be your own boss? Have no salary cap?

Speaking and writing down your personal Why is powerful. Print it off, and put your answer someplace where you can look at it every day. It can really be a strong motivator when you get stuck or unmotivated.

The 3 Most Important Things

What are the 3 most important things you need to do in your business by year end? Make a list.

Do you need to redesign your personal website? Finish writing that ebook? Book that conference to help you learn, grow or network? Finally invest in new tools such as software or a new computer? Raise your rates?

Set SMART Goals

If you don’t define the target, you’ll miss it every time. That’s where setting SMART goals come into play.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound
SMART goals are another powerful tool to help you get focused and finish the year strong. During the recent Freelance Summit, we cover setting SMART Goals in more detail.

Write your goals down. Make them a declaration.

Here’s a simple goals “declaration” template:

  • I will (specific + measurable)
  • by time (time-bound)
  • because/so that (relevant)

Here’s an example:

I will create a social media management service for my clients using Facebook by December 30 because it is a key to building recurring revenue in my business.

Put your goal declaration on your desk so you’ll see it every day.

The 3-Hour Challenge

Most freelancers spend most of their time working in their business, but not on their business. Commit to spending 3 hours a week working on your business until the end of the year.

Simply set aside three 1-hour sessions or block off an entire Friday afternoon. Think of this as “CEO” time to strategize and review goals.

You’ll find that these are the 3 most important hours of the week. If you aren’t actively growing your business, you’re not going to be able to serve your clients well.

Watch the Webinar: Finishing 2017 Strong

Hopefully, now you have a few ideas and some inspiration to get motivated and finish 2017 strong. Do you have a new set of goals? What will you do next? How will you finish the year strong?

This post is based on Nathan Ingram’s Finishing 2017 Strong webinar for iThemes Training.

More Training to Build Your Freelance Business

Check out the Freelance Summit and get 11 hours of online training videos to watch at your convenience + downloadable resources, all designed to help you move from struggling to success in your business.

Learn more about the Freelance Summit

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Client Consultation: How to Move From Contact to Contract

One of the challenges for freelancers is closing the deal and securing work. It’s a crucial step, but how you do it can also set the tone for the rest of your project. If you’re dealing with unresponsive clients, out of control demands, or off-the-rails projects, you might need to go back and reconsider your initial client consultation.

client consultation

A client consultation is an initial meeting with a client to figure out what they need and to sell your services. At the end of the meeting, you should know if this client is a good fit, exactly what they need, a rough price point and whether or not you’re going to put together a proposal.

Not every freelancer has a specific, organized consultation with a client. Everybody has their own process. But it can be a way to streamline your sales process and waste less time with prospective clients that never pan out.

In this post, we’re going to explore what a client consultation meeting looks like, why you should do them, and how to conduct them.

What Is Your Current Process For Landing Clients & Securing Projects?

Before exploring the ins and outs of a client consultation meeting, it might help to consider your current process first. How exactly do you land a client and secure a project?

Some freelancers don’t have a formal process. They make first contact with a client, maybe from a website form or a referral. They trade emails, answering some questions and asking others. A back and forth dance ensues, and it may stretch out over weeks or even months. Eventually, they get enough clarity about what the client needs to make a proposal and the project moves forward.

That may be the best case scenario. A lot of times those conversations peter out and nothing comes of it. That’s one way to land a project. It can work, but it’s not very efficient. Not having a process wastes time with prospective clients who may never pay you a dime. It’s also prone to missing important details or forgetting to ask questions that can cause problems down the road.

We talked about the importance of creating critical freelance systems, and that starts with how you secure clients and land projects. If you formalize and streamline that process, right from the beginning, you can be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable.

First Client Contact

You should have a formal process for what to do when you connect with a new prospective client. You need to figure out what they need, how serious they are and if you want to work with them. A good process will help you weed out bad clients and avoid nightmare projects.

A helpful part of this first contact is to mention a dollar amount: “Our minimum price for a website is $ X.” You’ll find out quickly how serious they are. You’ll also scare away bargain hunters.

Mentioning a minimum project cost is an initial client screening. You might have a script of a few preliminary questions to ask. Maybe you put together a short online form you ask prospective clients to fill out.

The end goal of this first contact is to schedule a client consultation meeting. If this sounds like a project you’re interested in, with a client that seems reasonable, and the budget is workable, then you need to sit down together and have a serious conversation.

What Is a Client Consultation Meeting?

A client consultation meeting is a focused meeting to move a prospective client from first contact to a proposal and, hopefully, a signed contract.

  • Get the details: It’s a limited, streamlined meeting that should tell you everything you need to know about starting a project with a client.
  • Work toward a proposal: It’s a chance to gather all the important details to make a proposal.
  • Know the client: It’s an opportunity to get to know the client and find out if they’re someone you want to do business with.

Let’s talk about what the consultation is not:

  • It’s not a sales pitch. OK, yes, you’re trying to sell your services. But more than that, this is a first date. You’re testing the waters of a relationship to see if this is something to pursue. Spend more time evaluating the client and less time pitching yourself.
  • It’s not to refine the client’s business plan. If the client doesn’t know what they need or what they’re doing, that’s a red flag. They don’t need a developer to build a website, they need a consultant to refine strategy. You can still do that work, but propose a discovery phase and not a website (or refer them to someone else).
  • It’s not to explain how. This meeting is to discover the client’s goals. Talk about what those are, don’t talk about how to meet them. How to meet those goals is what you get paid for.

Why Have a Client Consultation Meeting?

OK, so why is this meeting so important? A number of reasons:

  • It formalizes your process. If you want to be more efficient, more productive, and more profitable, you must have a specific freelance system. This is how you efficiently move clients from first contact to signed contract.
  • It lays the groundwork for a good project. A client consultation meeting is where you can set all the expectations for how the project is going to go. You’re setting up guidelines for the project that will keep the client on track (see more on the Terrible Client Protection Plan).
  • It can save you from trouble. Keeping the client on track can save you from costly detours, but some clients just can’t help themselves. A client consultation meeting will help you spot those red flags and avoid monster clients.
  • It can save you time. Ever spent hours agonizing over a proposal only to discover your price wasn’t even in the client’s ballpark? A client consultation puts a budget on the table. Ever spent hours in meetings with a client but never landed a project? A client consultation can help you push those vague meetings into a discovery phase where you get paid.
  • It gives you a script. If you’re nervous about meetings or worry about forgetting something, a client consultation meeting gives you a script. You don’t have to think about what to ask next, because it’s all spelled out.
  • It makes it easier to sell ongoing maintenance. While this meeting is primarily about vetting clients, it’s a chance to talk about the need for ongoing maintenance. It’s better to sell ongoing maintenance before a project than to spring it on a client afterward.
  • It shows your professionalism. All of this illustrates that you’re a serious, organized, professional developer. That should put clients at ease and make them more willing to sign a contract and get started.

How to Do a Client Consultation Meeting

So how do actually conduct a successful client consultation meeting? Nathan Ingram shared how he does client consultations during our recent Freelance Summit. Nathan uses the “SCOPE” acronym to define what needs to happen during the consultation meeting:

  • Scope: Learn enough about the project to create a proposal. This is where you ask questions—lots of questions—and it should take up the bulk of the meeting. (See more on 65 questions to ask during your next freelance client meeting.)
  • Chemistry: Determine if this is a client you can work with. This will happen throughout the meeting as you watch for red flags.
  • Ongoing: Explain the importance of your ongoing services. Take the opportunity to stress that a website needs ongoing maintenance and the client should plan for it now, either by hiring you to do it or being prepared to do it themselves.
  • Process: Set expectations by walking through your process. Let the client know what the next steps are and how you work.
  • Estimate: Provide a ballpark estimate and get client buy-in. You need to have a rough budget. If a client isn’t willing to talk about the budget, that’s a red flag.

You should be able to walk through these steps, including all the questions, in about an hour. That should give you enough information to understand what the project entails and create a proposal.

Remember that this is your meeting. You run it. Take charge and run through your agenda to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to. Don’t let the meeting drag on or get sidetracked. If a client is all over the place and doesn’t know what they want, then it might be more appropriate to propose a discovery phase where they pay you by the hour to sort out strategy as opposed to bumbling forward with a rudderless website project.

You want to minimize time spent with a client when you’re not getting paid. Yes, answer their questions, explain how your process works. But don’t get sucked into giving free consulting advice.

More Freelance Training

If you want more help for conducting client consultation meetings, check out the Freelance Summit. Veteran freelancer Nathan Ingram offers 11 hours of video training, including more detail on client consultations. The Freelance Summit videos cover process, profit, and productivity, and include sample files and templates.

Once you’ve finished a client consultation meeting you should know whether or not you want to do business. You’ll know the scope of the project, you’ll know if it’s in your wheelhouse and if you’re in the client’s budget. You’ll have a measure of who they are and if you’re willing to work with them.

If all is well, the next step is to put together a proposal. This is where you put everything in writing and get your client to sign a contract. For help with proposals and contracts, check out the Freelance Summit.

Learn more about the Freelance Summit

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