Articles about Sales for a one person business

Sales for solopreneurs

FAQs from solopreneurs about Sales

I’ve been asked several questions about building a portfolio as a new freelancer, from several different students this week so I’m compiling these into one:

“What tools you would recommend for putting a portfolio together online with no web design skills?”

Don’t make the mistake  I did; Your portfolio doesn’t need to be every project you’ve ever done.
Your portfolio only needs to show what’s possible.
Your portfolio should be only your very best work.

Save your time for prospecting by focusing on a few high-quality case studies, rather than quantity.

Remember your portfolio is a sales tool;
You should have multiple portfolios tailored to the niche, the service or the type of client you’re speaking to.

Your clients don’t care about how good the design is, they care about the result.
So make sure to talk more about the results of your work ie

  • business growth
  • more leads
  • time saved
  • etc.

If you can attach numbers to this, even better. But don’t be afraid to include non-tangibles like less stress, confidence pitching their business etc.

Testimonials are almost more important than portfolios. Often clients won’t even ask to see examples of my work.
So reach out to old clients for a testimonial. You’ll have to ask more than once usually. Folks are busy.

The best time to do this is just after the high point: when you’ve just delivered the results.

“How do I build a design portfolio if I don’t have any clients yet?”

Your freelance portfolio doesn’t have to be real work, it just has to showcase your skills.

You can include passion projects, or you could use something like to create a fake brief for yourself.
I believe the best work happens when you have some real-world constraints set, plus your passion projects will often be even better than your real world work.

“What tools or apps should I use to present my freelance portfolio?”

“What tools or software do you use for your portfolio?”

You could create a Google drive with examples, or create multiple PDFs tailored to each niche you work in.

Personally I’m not a fan of super polished professional promos.

People spend so long on making highly polished videos that they forget to deliver a sales pitch.

A rough-and-ready Loom usually gets the benefit across much better.

I prefer to do a quick, casually recorded Looms for each niche I serve,
a recorded Loom has the added benefit of giving the prospect more face time with me for building rappor and familiarity.

Here’s a structure;

  • introduce myself
  • establish rappor
  • talk about my offer
  • show results
  • end with a CTA

Here’s some examples of stuff I send clients:

Brand design

Lead generation websites



People get stuck a lot on niche.

Another way to think of niche is a problem your ideal customer is having, your package or set of services are the solution.
It doesn’t mean you won’t do anything else, but pick something your going to promote to and aim your messaging and content at.
You’ll need to position yourself as the authority who helps those people,
so the narrower you can make it the easier it’s going to be to sell to them.

Research and find out what those customers struggle with the most,
this will inform the services you focus on.
This will take time and you may need to work with them first before you know this.
Doesn’t hurt to ask them, in person or on social though.
The best way to go about this is gather data on social media. what are your customers struggling with the most.
what do they complain or talk about the most?
These issues are what you’ll want to solve with your offer….


  • Niche is just a focus for your marketing. Think of it as your target customer, you can still help and work with people outside your niche.
  • You don’t have to have just one niche.
  • You have to try stuff to figure out your niche, it takes time and trial and error
  • Niche isn’t forever you can change it later.

Try this to hone your offer and niche

Instead of listing the services you offer,
list the problems your customers have.
Then link those to the results that your customers

Example for brick & mortar stores wanting a logo.
(Shop is empty on weekdays => I want more customers)
(There’s someone doing it cheaper !=> I want less competition / stand out from competition)

Example your high ticket package could be
“everything you need to stand out on the high street and pack your shop full”
free consultation, shooting plan to prep your place in advance, staging, half day photography and video session, branded asset package, social media package PLUS follow up consultation so you know how to use the materials”
👆 Instead of a list of services, this is a result,

What you want to do is package your services and abilities into tiers.

  • Low ticket (cheap or free as a leadmagnet)
    • Info products work best for your free offer, can be something like a PDF guide, an audit or a consultation.
      “How to get more boots in the door – Free marketing workshop “
  • Mid ticket (one to many, scalable or retainer income
    • this will be your courses, DIY guides, group workshops etc.
      (how to plan, storyboard and record and publish a marketing video for your business using NOTHING but your mobile phone!”)
  • High ticket (bespoke, high price)
    • This will combine elements from previous packages. think beyond just doing photo and video to the result.
      Add anything the customer needs for a good result.
      THIS is how you will charge x2 as much
  • Don’t get too tied up with the number 3, this is just a rough guide of best practice.

Every business is different.
There’s also no immediate right answer.
You’ll be tweaking and experimenting with the messaging, the package, the pricing etc for ages to get it right.

As a rule of thumb for packaging your services.

Your “core offer” is the big problem you solve for your ideal audience:
remember to focus on the result, that’s what they are really paying for:
Standing out from competition, charging more etc, increase sales etc.

I always try to operate from a position of surplus in terms of leads, where I only take on four clients per quarter.
That’s one per month.
And the reason for that is…
One, I want to put out good quality work.
Two, it sounds big headed, but I’ve got enough money. What I don’t have is enough time. I don’t want more money. I want more time.
Three It creates scarcity which allows me to put my prices up incrementally every quarter,
because there’s going to be someone that will pay more money, so you can turn away bad fit clients more comfortably.
Introducing scarcity also makes it easier to sell.
People can smell desperation in the sales call.
If you have confidence and operate from a position of surplus,
Then you can pitch to people who are decision makers,
people who will take or leave your offer.
People get results, so long as people get good value from it then you can pitch with confidence.
And that’s when you send them the onboarding link and you say to them:
I’ve got two spots remaining, this is how you sign up.
First payment, that’s what secures your spot in the work queue.
So once you have a surplus of leads,
Scarcity of supply
and urgency in your offer…
Then you can continually increase your prices, without fear of losing clients.
This is why sales calls are so important:
Because you’re gathering data and you’re establishing your authority and you’re selling all on a sales call.
Whereas if you just send people an email list with your hourly price, it achieves almost nothing.
So on the sales call, which you should start doing if you’re not already, don’t give out your prices by email.
Just say,

“I just need to jump into a call, scope out your project and figure out whether they’re a good fit”.

Then on the call, you can ask them questions to feel out how much they make per customer, and get an idea of their budget.
So if you’re selling digital marketing, it’s pretty easy because you can ask them what’s their revenue and what’s their digital marketing budget.
If you can’t do that, and you sell something more abstract like branding, you have to ask things like:

“where do you picture this business in three years?”

“How many customers do you have a month?”

“What are the customers worth to you? “

Questions like that will help you figure out the right pricing strategy.
Start to do what’s called “bracketing”.
So you start to drop numbers into the conversation to gauge the reaction.
So for example, if I had an enquiry, who didn’t want to reveal their budget, I would say something like…
“well, in the past, here’s a project we’ve done…our client for this project invested somewhere in the range of 1500 to 3000 for this project”.
Make it a wide range, as wide as you can.
And then gauge the reaction and if they fall out their chair, then you’re probably too expensive.
Basically just feel them out the sales call is about figuring out if they have the budget to fit your results.

Always tricky!

Pricing formula

As a rule of thumb do a rough calculation of how long you think each stage of the project will take then add 20% for safety and another 15% for admin and communication.

There isn’t a formula sometimes you have to know how much the project will cost you so you aren’t operating at a loss, then throw a price at it

If you have a well defined offer:

1/4 or 1/3rd value of promise

If you haven’t done it before.

My policy is if you have less experience, treat it as being paid to learn and go cheaper.

Don’t try to charge high ticket prices if you aren’t confident of the results.

Long term relationships are more important than a quick buck.

Pricing Risks

The honest answer is if you’re doing a project which involves something you haven’t done before it’s a risk.

You have to make a best guess.

Sometimes you’re going to lose because it took more than you thought to provide a result.

But now you know how to do it next time.

Your estimates will get a lot more accurate to the point where when someone approaches you with a problem you know how to solve it and you know how long it’ll take to solve it. with more and more experience it’ll get easier to provide an accurate calculation.

Here’s all my thoughts on sales at random.

It’s a big topic. I hope you get value from this.


The key to sales is…
Never really sell

Talk about prices early, but not too early.

Throw in some ranges or ballparks
Don’t talk about prices too early.
Have a conversation not a sales pitch.
Give them lots of advice freely.
Even tell them the best way to shop about for a web designer
This allows you to warn them subtly about all the other cheap digital cowboys or horror stories you’ve heard.
Tell them the kind of things they’ll want to look out for in a web designer (do they pick up the phone, do they stay on the phone more than 20 mins, do they know what they’re talking about etc.)
By the end of the call they will start treating you more like an advisor than a web designer selling them a website.
At that point they will be looking to you to tell them how much they should be spending, instead of the other way around.


They must have these to buy

  • Pain
  • Doubt
  • Cost
  • Desire
  • Money
  • Support
  • Trust



  • Flip the dynamic- Make them pitch to you
  • Qualify
  • Get a small commitment
  • Offer
  • little decisions lead to big decisions
  • Pricing
  • Close
  • Feel out their price
  • Finish


Ask good questions

the one who gets the job is not the one who can solve the problem best,

it’s the one who can define the problem the best

when they say they need a logo, they don’t, they actually need to stand out from their competition,

so they can make more money,

or so their ego can be inflated by success.

get to the CORE pain point,

and present your offer as the solution,

that’s how you set yourself apart from your competition,

and stop competing on price


Sales call formula

  • Greetings
  • set the agenda
  • ask about the business
  • ask why they got in touch with you / biggest problem they are having.
  • ie what’s stopped them from doing this in the past, why now, etc
  • take mental note of their pain points
  • you pitch your offer as the solution
  • examples of results you’ve had
  • is that what you’re looking for?
  • feel out the budget to avoid wasting each others time,
    • minimum investment
    • or ask for figures of their current sitatuation
  • preaddress objections
    • we’re not the cheapest,
    • we won’t be a good fit if price is the priority,
    • etc
  • pitch offer and price
  • set follow up date specific date and time



they must believe they have a problem


they must believe they can’t fix this problem on their own or it will be time heavy to do so


doing nothing is more painful than time/ money to fix the problem


must believe solving the problem will allow their business to grow


must have resources and willingness to solve the problem


must believe that we will support them to fix the problem


do they believe our methods will work and see our solution as superior and unique to what they’ve tried in the past


Qualifying questions you can use

“I’m going to ask you a series of questions that I ask all my enquries”

What do you do?

Who is the target customer?

What sets your brand apart?

Who are your competitors?

how much do they make?

to find this out ask how much each customer is worth.

ask how many leads they get a month

how many leads do they convert

What is the customer lifecycle?

*start dropping in figures to get them comfortable with a larger spend


Get a small commitment

I can definitely help you, but I’d need to know what stage your at, are you serious about make this reality?

“So what stage are you at, if we can tick all the boxes for you, are you ready to commit to growing your business today?”

We’re not like other web designers, we work long term with our clients.

I believe firmly in plain speaking and brutal honesty.

Other Web designers and Graphic designers will tell you whatever you want to hear because they are like car salesmen; they only care about selling a single product, like a website etc.

We don’t do that because we’re interested in the results.

We don’t do the hard sell.

IF you want to achieve a certain result like business growth,

we’ll tell you the best way to do it, and how much it’ll cost you to get that result.

we only offer a service if we think you’re going to make money out of it.


little decisions lead to big decisions

Get them to start designing or planning parts of the website or brand.

“From what we’ve talked about…

Based on previous section, you now know all their problems and pain points.

Make up their package, if they don’t understand their own brand we need to address that first.



set date to follow up

“we’ve talked about a lot of stuff on the phone so I’ll drop you a proposal which as all the terms set out in writing, everything you need to know.

we only have a few slots in work calendar left, which could fill at any moment.

would really need a commitment before next week.

If you want to go ahead just reply to let me know you accept the proposal.

I’ll then send a link for you to set up your bank details and make your first payment which will secure your place in the work queue.

Examples of sounding out Qs


  • What do you want to achieve here?
  • Do you have a brand?
  • Target customer and market?
  • x3 Competitors?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Most profitable products or services?
  • What marketing have you tried?
  • Cost per lead?
  • Quality of leads?
  • Customer Value?
  • Repeat business?
  • Will you supply photography / content?
  • Where did you hear about Design Hero?
  • Is there anything else in your business that is causing issues right now?
  • break down the value: if a new customer is worth Y, and costs you X then my services don’t seem so expensive now do they?



Emphasize the Solution

rephrase and summarize all the problems they mentioned back to them.

present your service as the solution

but emphasize the RESULT and BENEFIT not the service


❌ “I’ll build you an amazing looking website”

✅”I’ll build you a website which will reflect the quality of your business online”

❌ “my booking websites are really powerful and good”

✅ “I’ll build you a powerful booking website which automates your admin, saves you hours every day”

❌ “I’m a good web designer”

✅ “A stress free service and we’ll guide you through it one step at a time.”


Show Results

make sure to give examples of projects you’ve done where the client got the results you’ve just sold to the client.

make sure to emphasize the great ROI they got.

don’t make it up, it’s all about real results.

if on a video call, (you should always try get them on video) SHOW them the sites you’ve done. show them the back end, show them analytics or whatever to prove it.


Offer / Pitch

Ask “what level of budget do you have to invest in this project?”

the phrasing of that is key

you’ll often be blown away at what they thought they were going to pay.

adjust your prices on the fly accordingly.

IF they won’t give you their budget give them a range.

say “well the budget can vary depending on your needs and scope, I’ve done projects like this before anywhere between X and Y, where do you fall in that range?”

Gauge their reaction to see how much they are expecting to pay,

adjust your prices on the fly accordingly.


Finally present your service as a product which fills all the needs they already told you about at a price that they will accept and still feel is valuable for the result that they will get. Say something like

“based on what we’ve talked about, If i can build an amazing booking website which reduces your admin time and takes seamless bookings online, would you be happy to proceed based on a budget of £X…”

When you tell them your price then go silent and wait for them to accept


they ramble and hesitate to proceed, ask them openly “what are your concerns at this point?”

answer those concerns, you might need to draw the concerns out of the client at this point.

once answered any concerns you can basically repeat your closing line.

Once closed make it as simple and easy as possible for them to proceed.

If you send an email proposal make sure there is a link or button which lets them make their first payment to commit.

You don’t want any friction at this point.

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