june 2015

How To Master Client Consultations As An Introvert


When I first started freelancing, I totally loathed client consultations. I didn't even offer them unless a client requested one - and even then, the urge to say no was VERY strong.

Why'd I hate them so much? Put simply, it was because I'm an introvert, and the prospect of having to sit and awkwardly talk to someone who was thinking of giving me their hard-earned money was daunting, to say the least.

I was always scared that they'd ask something that would catch me off guard, or scared that I'd get nervous and talk too much.

I even wondered if free consultations would give too much value away - like a potential client could learn EVERYTHING I know in one 15-minute conversation.

I can't express how wrooong I was. 

These days, I don't take on a client unless we've spoken over Skype/Zoom, and here's why:

  • When you have a real discussion with someone and actually hear their voice, you can easily see whether they're a good fit for you or not.

  • I like potential clients to hear my voice and see my face because it helps them put trust in me.

  • I started converting more than DOUBLE the amount of potential clients into booked clients after I started offering free consultations. Let's face it, people want to hire real people! Someone is far more likely to hire you if you feel like a real human to them, not just a distant freelancer they've been emailing.

Client consultations are a MUST. But they can seem overwhelming and scary to introverted freelancers, so here are my top 10 tips to help you master client calls as an introvert!

01. Limit the length of the call

Tell your potential clients that you offer free 20-minute consultations and most clients will respectfully stick to that timeframe.

If clients go over that timeframe, it will usually only be by 5-10 minutes.

As long as there's a boundary in place and you've emphasized that boundary, you'll have a reason to gently bring the conversation to a close if it starts dragging on and you won't feel unreasonable doing so.

To make sure your client understands your free consultations are only 20 minutes long, be sure to state that number in:

• Your step-by-step process on your website. (You have this on your site, right?? ;) )

• The initial email you send them about scheduling a call.

• Your online scheduling app, as you can see below. (I recommend using Acuity Scheduling* or Calendly to schedule client calls! These apps show your potential clients the times and dates you're available and allow them to book an appointment that gets automatically added to your calendar.)

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 4.32.27 PM.png

02. Turn off the camera. (You can actually do that!)

Some people hate talking through computer screens, especially introverted freelancers. It can make you feel really self-conscious and awkward, and that's not the impression you want potential clients to have of you.

If getting on camera with your clients makes you break into a hot sweat, why not turn your camera off? Once you get comfortable conducting client consultations like this, you can then start doing them with the camera on.

Talking without your camera isn't shady - it's like having a conversation on the phone!

Calling with no camera on is better than not calling at all, so don't feel bad if you need to do it this way.

03. Type and talk

Sometimes, you need to discuss important information on your call and you can't afford for your client to mishear you. In these cases, it's OK to use the chat box that comes with video calling tools like Skype or Zoom! Just don't overuse them. You don't need to type out your entire conversation- just the really important bits.

04. Record the conversation

Some freelancers get nervous about client consultations because they worry they'll forget what was discussed. You don't need to worry about that - just record the conversation! If you're using Zoom, this is a built-in feature. If you're using Skype, you'll need to purchase a call recorder. Try Ecamm.

05. Create a script to direct the conversation

If you're really nervous, create a document that lists key information about the client, points you want to discuss, questions you want to ask, and answers to common questions you receive. You may not even use this document when you're on the call, but it's comforting to know it's there if you need it.

fb group.png

Want to get daily design business advice and meet your designer BFF’s? Join my free Facebook community for freelance web and graphic designers!

06. Be friendly, helpful and nice

Now is not the time to put on your telephone voice. Just be yourself. Be kind and friendly and aim to answer all of their questions in a calm and collected manner.

Try to avoid using filler words like 'um' and 'like'.

Instead, keep a glass of water by your side and take a sip before before you answer a complex question. It gives you that little bit of time to think about things and compose yourself. 

07. Look out for red flags

You won't always be able to spot bad clients from Skype conversations, but you usually can. If the client is demanding, picky, confusing or really indecisive, think carefully about whether you'd like to work with them. 

Here are a few more red flags to look out for:

  • If the client is unsure about signing your contract

  • If the client tries to lower your prices

  • If the client talks negatively about the last person they hired for this job

08. Use a scheduling tool

As I mentioned earlier, I use Calendly to schedule Skype consultations and I love it! Instead of emailing your potential clients back and forth deciding on the best time to call, Calendly lets you decide what times you're available, and it displays them to the client in their own timezone.

It gets even better - once the client schedules a consultation, Calendly adds it to your calendar and sends you both notifications on the day of the call!

09. Never ask your client if they'd like to hire you while on the call

Here's the thing: clients get nervous about these calls too! The last thing they want is to be pressured into hiring you while on the free consultation call.

Instead, end your call by explaining what will happen after the call ends. 

Tell them you're going to email them within 30 minutes and your email will contain a contract and a link to their invoice where they can pay a small deposit to book their spot in your schedule.

Send this email within 30 minutes of the call ending!

And here's a secret tip to convert your callers into paying clients FAST: Give your contract an expiration date. This will provide a sense of urgency to the client, not pressure.

10. Be wary of clients who keep rescheduling their call

If the client has missed their session with you without providing an explanation or apology, think carefully about whether you want to work with someone who isn't good at time-keeping. It could mean they'll be one of those clients who never provide feedback or files on time. Picking up on this right at the start can save you from working with a nightmare client!

fb group.png

Want to get daily design business advice and meet your designer BFF’s? Join my free Facebook community for freelance web and graphic designers!


How to switch from Wordpress to Squarespace

A lot of people say that switching from Wordpress to Squarespace is difficult. Well... I'm here to prove that statement wrong by showing you guys a really simple process of switching from Wordpress to Squarespace. Don't believe me? Click on this pin to find out how to make the switch now!

Please Note: I do not offer this as a service. It's simply a tutorial to help you do it yourself, so please don't email me for a quote. Thanks friends!

A lot of people say that switching from Wordpress to Squarespace is difficult. It's something I used to believe too until I made the switch myself. I'm delighted to tell you that I easily switched my website over within a day and I didn't run into any problems!

Squarespace has an amazing library of tutorials that help you figure out how to do all things Squarespace-related, but a lot of people have been asking me for tips of how they can set up their Squarespace website or transfer from Wordpress, so I've decided to make a step-by-step tutorial!

Let's go through a few common questions before we get started...

What will this tutorial include?

  • How to set up your Squarespace website.
  • How to import website content from Wordpress to Squarespace.
  • How to switch your custom domain from Wordpress to your new Squarespace website.
  • URL mapping, so your old blog post URLS still work.
  • And more!

What is imported from Wordpress to Squarespace?

  • Blog posts
  • Page content
  • Users/authors
  • Images
  • Comments
  • Attachments

What isn't imported?

  • Your website theme and layout are not imported. You'll have to choose a Squarespace theme. 
  • Plugins
  • Widgets

Can I easily make the switch myself?

Yes. If you're confident with making changes to your DNS records, this will be a breeze. If you're not very tech-savvy then I advise you hire someone else to switch your website from Wordpress to Squarespace for you. (Please Note: I do not offer this as a service.)

Step 1. Sign up for Squarespace

Head to the Squarespace website and sign up for a trail account. 

Step 2. Choose a template

After you signing up you'll need to choose a template for your website. As I mentioned before, you can't import your Wordpress theme or layout to Squarespace so choose a theme that is similar. I chose the Galapagos theme because it's simple, clean and very similar to my old Wordpress site. However, there are plenty of other themes to choose from. 

  • Adriondack: perfect for online entrepreneurs.
  • Montauk: Great for minimalists. 
  • Avenue: A beautiful portfolio template for designers and photographers.

Step 3. Fill in your basic information

Head to the Settings section and fill in your business name and description, connect your social media accounts, alter your blog settings, add a business email address (eg. hi@yourbusiness.com) and play with the other settings. It's not complicated- you'll be done in 10 minutes!

Step 4. Change your SEO settings.

Squarespace SEO is just as good as Wordpress SEO. In fact, it's even better because you don't have to install SEO plugins or make changes yourself! Your theme has already been optimized for SEO by the creators. Go to Settings > Marketing > SEO and simply enter a description for your website. You don't need to change much else.

Step 5. Import your Wordpress content

Go to Settings > Advanced > Import/Export > Import > Wordpress. You'll have to enter your URL and Wordpress login details and then click import. A progress bar will indicate that your Wordpress content is importing and a 'success' message will appear when it's done. It takes about 5-10 minutes. Simple!

Step 6. Enable your imported content

In the Pages section, scroll down to Not Linked. You'll see all your imported pages here. To enable them, click the settings icon on each page and click enable. Then go through your imported pages and add your main ones to your navigation menu.

Step 7. Upgrade your account

When your site is completely ready, upgrade your account. I use the Business plan which is $26 per month or $18 if you pay annually. I prefer this plan because it offers unlimited pages. If your Wordpress website had lots of pages, this plan will probably suit you too.

Step 8. Transfer your existing domain to Squarespace

It's not exactly transferring, but I call it that. You need to keep your domain where you're currently hosting it (on Godaddy or Dreamhost etc) and map your domain to your Squarespace website. 

You'll need to go to Settings > Domains > Connect a third party domain. Enter your domain name, click on your host provider and click Connect Domain. A new panel will open with the records you need to enter in your hosting account so your domain can connect to Squarespace.

*This above image is from Squarespace themselves.

I'm not going to show you how to add these records to DNS settings because Squarespace has amazing tutorials on how to do that here. If you're not confident in doing this, you can hire someone professional to do it for you.

Step 9. Wait for your domain to work

When you've added those records to your hosting account, your domain will connect to your site within 24 hours. You can keep checking back to see how it's going by visiting Settings > Domains. Your domain will have a red line by it if it hasn't gone through, an amber line if it's almost there, and a green line when it's done. 

*This above image is from Squarespace themselves.

Step 10. URL mapping

After 24 hours, your custom domain will point to your Squarespace website. But it isn't over yet! Wordpress post URLS are different to Squarespace post URLs. In Wordpress, your blog post URL would have looked like this: yourdomain.com/my-first-blog-post whereas in Squarespace it will be yourdomain.com/blog/my-first-blog-post. Spot the difference? This isn't good because anyone who clicks on your blog posts from sites like Pinterest will now be taken to a 404 page.

To fix this, go to Settings > Advanced >URL Mappings. This function allows you to easily redirect broken links to the correct links. 

A URL mapping will look like this:

/old-url -> /new-url 301

For example, check out my URL mapping below (highlighted in yellow). I've pasted the old URL without www.neshadesigns.com in front of it, added an arrow, pasted the new URL, and added 301 at the end to make it a permanent change. 

It may not be practical to fix every blog post link- after all, who has that kind of time? Instead, I fixed the links for my 30 most popular blog posts. You may want to do the same and then fix the other links over time.

For more information on URL mapping, click here.

Please Note

You can't transfer your Wordpress website design to Squarespace. You have to choose a Squarespace template and customize it. 


Why I switched from Wordpress to Squarespace (after being such a Squarespace hater!)

Click on this pin to find out why I made the decision to switch from Wordpress to Squarespace and no it's not because it's better but something much more. Find out what that 'much more' is now! #Business #Design #Sqaurespace #Wordpress, #Web Design

OK, so I didn't hate Squarespace... That's a little dramatic of me. But I didn't understand the hype around it, or why why dozens of my friends were switching from Wordpress to Squarespace.

I tried it for a day and decided that it was OK, but not as good as Wordpress. I even wrote a blog post outlining the pros and cons of both and favoring Wordpress. (That post has since been updated with a fair amount of pros for both.)

However, a conversation with a friend totally changed my opinion of Squarespace. 

As we sat drinking frappucinos one afternoon, we began talking about work. I told her everything was going well and I was still enjoying my business. But I wished things were a little more simple. 

I explained that one of my goals this year is to achieve a simple business. I thrive most when things are simple, easy and clean. I've noticed this spans into my personal life too, not just my business. I like simple interior decor, simple outfits, and I much prefer a simple and quiet life over a busy city life.

I've slowly realized that when my business systems and strategies are simple, I feel happier and more relaxed. And my business blooms a lot more when I feel that way!

I told my friend that I'd simplified a lot of my systems, but things still didn't feel 'easy' enough. I'm a big believer that business should be easy, or else it isn't fun. 

"You wrote a blog post on Wordpress vs. Squarespace, right?"

I nodded. 

"I know Wordpress is awesome and offers everything you could ever need in a website, and I know that you love it. But maybe what you need is a simpler platform, with less updates and plugins and themes. Like Squarespace."

She'd been raving about Squarespace all year and I'd just rolled my eyes. But it was when she said that (or something to that effect, anyway) that I decided to give Squarespace one last try.

I signed up for another trial of Squarespace and set myself a little excercise: see how long it takes to rebuild my website on Squarespace, getting as close as I could to my Wordpress design.

And here's the amazing thing: it took just two days, and that was in between doing client work. 

Here the other amazing thing: I think my Squarespace sites looks better than my Wordpress site. 
It's amazing how much better my second Squarespace trial was. Maybe it's because I actually gave myself an assignment instead of fiddling with a theme I wasn't interested in. Either way, I've found myself jumping on the Squarespace bandwagon. Not because it's better than Wordpress but because it has something Wordpress doesn't: severe simplicity. Anyone could learn Squarespace in a day, and that really appeals to me. 

A few more reasons why I switched from Wordpress to Squarespace (after being such a Squarespace hater):

  • I knew my clients would love it. I design brands and websites for small business owners, and they usually like to maintain and update their website themselves when our project is over. Squarespace is the perfect platform for them to maintain their site easily without getting confused or stressed out.
  • I love the drag and drop feature. I barely have to touch any code!
  • I love that it's limited, which is ironic because that's one of the aspects I disliked to begin with. But I love that my clients and I can only choose from a certain amount of themes. It stops us from overthinking things.

I'm very happy with my decision to switch from Wordpress to Squarespace. In fact, I'm thinking of creating a mini-series on it for you very soon!

In case anyone is wondering, I'm using the Galapagos theme. It's a very popular theme for bloggers because of how simple and clean it is, so I highly recommend you try it if you're a Squarespace user!

I'd love to know- are you thinking about switching to Squarespace? Do you have any questions or concerns?