Tim Brown is a quickly-rising marketer, WordPress developer, and web designer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. My co-host John Locke put Tim on my radar a couple of months ago, and I have been amazed at some posts and other great content that Tim has recently been publishing on web design and online marketing.
You can also listen to Tim’s podcast, It’s a Code World on iTunes.
More About Tim Brown
What Your Favorite Motivation or Business Books?
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Design is a Job by Mike Monterio
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
The E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Can You List 3 to 5 Life Success or Leadership Principles?
1. Delegate, template, and systematize everything to create consistently good service and product.
2. Personally I think of myself as having a handicap that I have to overcome with hard work and hustle constantly. Self awareness is everything
3. Selling is #1 – Cashflow is #1 – if you don’t have selling down, and money coming in at a serious clip you won’t have a business to even be able to service customers 6 months from now. But I personally shy away from selling anything that I can’t implement myself when it comes down to it. I augment my process with outside developers, but I make sure they agree to my dev standards and don’t take on work I can’t back up with my own skills.
Have You Got Any Special Promotions or Offers At the Present Moment That Our Listeners or Viewers Would Be Interested In?
Guessing most of them are more advanced than this but just finished a book they can buy on Amazon called “WordPress Development for Noobs” – or they can read it or download it for free on my website at timbdesign.com/wp
Onto the Episode
Tim began his web design origin story by building sites on Homestead early on. After trying his hand at a career in music, he joined an agency to gain experience. Right now, he sees his big advantage as being able to move nimbly, whereas many agencies move slowly and charge a lot just to get started.
Content is one of the biggest concerns when putting together a website. Tim is constantly iterating on the best way to get site content in a timely manner. He recommends having a detailed technology document or Statement of Work that clearly defines the scope of a project.
One of the things Tim advocates for is to push yourself to add something custom to each website proposal. This helps push you out of your comfort zone to grow, and differentiates you from competitors.
Thoughts on Freelancing vs Working for an Agency
Some of the things that are different when you are a freelancer is you have to do sales. You also get a bigger piece of the pie when you are a freelancer as opposed to being a agency employees. Tim says he has a lot of respect for salespeople at agencies, as it takes effort. He says it is good for everyone to get some experience at an agency before going out on their own.
Tim says he focused a lot on doing self-promotion while at Snap Agency, and practiced the Overlap Technique. In this case, he built a personal brand while working at the agency, in order to build up his worth. This required a lot of blogging and content production, and not everyone is up for this challenge. He used some of this time to build up a cash runway, in case he didn’t get clients when striing out on his own.
Tim believes that dealing with the dirty stuff involved with freelancing, like paying taxes, and doing administrative work, dissuades many people from becoming a freelancer. He says many people turn back when they see the taxes have to pay, and that means less competition for him.
Desire for responsibility is something that you must have to be a successful freelancer. You must have business processes in place. Tim says you should have a desire for increasingly better clients. You must charge accordingly, and deliver better and better quality and results, so you can charge an amount that will allow you to stay in business.
Giving Credit to Others
John asked Tim about the section of his site where he has a directory of other web design freelancers in Minneapolis. He says most people would be afraid to do this.
Tim replied that he knows several people that takes smaller jobs than he does, that can handle the runoff. He has done a ton of work in content marketing and social media to become known in Minnesota, and this is a way to still be useful to people looking for web design.
Even if a prospect is not a good fit, he can direct them to someone who is. In this regard, he becomes the person in Minneapolis who freelance web design flows through. HE helps people looking for web design, even if they don’t work with him.
Design and Selling Go Hand In Hand
One of Tim’s strengths is understanding that design and conversions go together like peanut butter and chocolate. He says many designers get paid 50K a year just to do design, and they may not understand that design still needs to sell stuff. Tim focuses on having long-term relationships with clients, so he can help them with marketing, conversions, and optimizing pages for reaching goals.
Selling the Value
Tim says he prices appropriate to the value to the client. He leans towards value pricing, but when selling a monthly retainer, he prices in accordance with the value returned.
When it comes to selling his services on his website, Tim says he stacks the deck on his About page. He lists testimonials, places he’s spoken, videos, marketing books he’s read, and anything else he can put out there to prove expertise.
He says talking technical will scare clients off, and some might think you are messing with them. If the prospect is intimidated by the jargon, they get scared because they feel dumb.
Tim says it is much better to talk in language that the prospect can understand. Simple and understood is better than fancy and not understood.
He has a lease on a small commercial space so clients will realize that he is there for the long haul, and he isn’t going anywhere. Having a physical space makes things more real for clients rather than meeting at a coffee shop.
Tim says scope creep is not cool when it happens on your end, and ends up driving the price up. Take time to create a good estimate or quote.
He also adds some time padding in a project proposal so that there is room for discussion and adjustments.
Thoughts on SEO
Time says the two main things that go into SEO are content and links. He gives clients a list of things he is working on for the current month and next month. The key is to keep things simple when communicating so they can be understood. When it comes to technical things, other web developers can understand what you are saying, but clients cannot.
Content is a slog. It takes time and effort to create quality, targeted content. Tim recommends taking a look at what your competitors are doing and seeing what the intent is. Highly-targeted content with intent will rank higher than garbage content that you are writing just to hit a quota.
Try to create value with the content that you create. Content is increasingly important. Focus on meta descriptions and page titles. Tim brings up some examples of old-school content marketing and says that content is nothing new.