How To Turn Your Ideas Into Action With Coach And CEO Sarah Duran

Dec 5, 2022 | Gathering Fans, Keeping the Hat Full, Learning from the Best, PodCast, Season 3

Season 3 / Episode #96 : Sarah Duran

by Work @ Home RockStar Podcast

The Back-Story

Sarah Duran started Fruition Initiatives to help people and organizations turn their ideas into action – to bring their goals to fruition. She is an operational expert and has been a project strategist for over a decade. She has designed and led projects for a variety of organizations, helped businesses refine systems and processes, and provided support to educators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. By day she is a freelance project manager for companies and universities and a solopreneur coach and content creator who helps solopreneurs live up to their highest potential. She combines her expertise as a consistent six-figure freelancer with her background in curriculum design, facilitation, and coaching to give you the support you need to get what you need out of solopreneurship EVERY DAY.

Show Notes

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In This Episode:
[0:00] Intro
[0:32] The good note: A story of business success
[2:50] How can someone make the same success happen faster for them?
[9:51] A bad note: What’s something that didn’t go as Sarah planned?
[20:30] What’s her perspective on hiring people?
[24:42] How she gets the fans
[30:07] How does she keep a positive cash flow?
[38:45] How does she raise her rates?
[42:05] Guest Solo: What’s exciting in Sarah’s business right now?
[43:27] How to find out more about Sarah and her programs
[43:14] Outro


Read Transcript

Tim Melanson: hello and welcome to today’s episode of Work at Home Rockstar podcast.

Excited for today’s guest. She is the CEO founder of Fruition Initiatives and she helps people become freelancers. Perfect for this podcast, that’s for sure. Ready to rock out today with Sarah Duran. Hey Sarah, you ready to rock? I’m ready. Perfect. So we always start off at a good note here. So tell me a story of success that we can be inspired.

Sarah Duran: I mean, I think my story of success is just being able to work for myself. Um, it sort of happened to me by accident. I did not, um, ever plan on working for myself. Um, my parents have owned their own business my entire life, and. They’re super successful, they’re really good at it. And I saw firsthand how stressful it is running your own business.

And so, um, it sort of happened to me by accident. I, um, started doing contract work, um, after I quit a job and was just trying to figure out what I wanted to, to do next. And then what ended up happening is I just kept getting. Referrals and my contract work started becoming way more lucrative than I ever imagined it could be.

And at the same time, I was also able to live my life in a way that like I didn’t think was possible. Like I had this like new level of like control and freedom over my life that I just. Didn’t understand that that was even a thing when I worked for other people. And, um, and so yeah, so I’ve basically built my business all through, um, networking and referrals, basically like zero external marketing, um, in terms of like the client side of my business as a freelancer.

Um, and. Yeah, it’s definitely put me in a place where I know exact like this is what I was meant to be doing. And um, now I could never go back. .

Tim Melanson: Yeah, I hear you. I’m exactly in the same vote. And you know, I think that. I mean, if we were to give advice to other people, I mean, it’s, it’s tough to duplicate what you did because it was so organic.

Yeah. But that’s kind of the key, right? I mean, when I started, I, I got laid off from a job and didn’t want to go back to the nine to five. Mm-hmm. I wanted to be able to have some more flexibility. But I had a severance package, so Nice. I was not in a hurry, , I just sort of built it organically and same as you.

I mean, my entire business has really come from referrals. I’ve never purchased an ad for my business. Mm-hmm. . So, uh, but, but I think that, uh, you know, that can be daunting for someone who’s trying to start a business right now from scratch and they actually wanna make it work quickly. Like, so what would you say, like, how would you help them to duplicate that success?

When they wanna make it happen faster, .

Sarah Duran: Yeah. I mean, so I think you’re right. I mean, I, I guess I would agree and slightly disagree with you because I think that, um, it. It seems daunting and I think there’s like two different paths. So if you go out on your own to do pretty much the same thing that you were doing before, then I think that’s like a much easier way.

Like basically what I tell people to do when they’re deciding to become a freelancer or consultant is, um, If you’re going down the road that you’re doing the same thing that you did before, you just need to tap your network. You need to network your ass off all the time. And, um, that’s, and, and basically if you were good at what you did when you worked for other people, then those same people are people they know are gonna hire you to do that same thing as a contractor for a variety of reasons, because, Because A, it can, it, they don’t have the overhead of an employee.

B, they also have a way, I think that freelancers give companies this really interesting, um, value proposition where you can get just like a small piece. Of a person. So maybe you don’t have, which is great for small businesses, maybe you don’t have enough money to like hire a full-time graphic designer or hire a full-time project manager and you don’t need a full-time graphic designer or project manager or an assistant, whatever it is.

And I think freelancers are fitting this, um, need in the economy where you’re able to have these, um, like either long term. Fractional pieces of an employee or just like short spurts, like, I have this project, I need someone to do it, and then it’s done. And then maybe in six months I’ll reach out to you for another project.

And so I think my advice is always, um, tap your network. And I also think that is still my advice, even if you’re doing something new, but you’re sort of having to tap your network and like do some cold outreach to people, um, just to be like, Hey, I always tell people to frame in as just like picking their brain.

So you’re not like having a conversation to sell someone, be like, Hey, I’m doing this. Do you wanna hire me? You’re just like, Hey, I’m going to start doing this new thing like on my own. I would love to just like talk to you about like what that looks like. Like maybe someone that does the same thing or someone that does something adjacent to what you’re about to do.

Um, but yeah, I think that. I’m not gonna say it’s like always super easy and foolproof, but I think that people sometimes approach it in a, like some people sometimes approach marketing in a way that feels a lot more scary when you’re thinking about like ads and funnels and all those kinds of things, when really like you just need to go out and start talking to people.

Tim Melanson: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And you know, I can definitely add to that, that, uh, like I started this podcast, well, both of us started working from our, for ourselves long before the pandemic did , right? Mm-hmm. . And so all these lockdowns have really, I think changed the mindsets of a lot of companies Yeah. To actually be a lot more accepting of this.

So, you know, if you’re thinking, oh, you know, I want, I wanna start work for myself, but you know, who’s gonna hire me type thing. Well, there’s a lot of companies now I know that my, my girlfriend actually has two companies right now that would never have hired somebody to work from home, like as a freelancer before, and now she’s working there.

And I mean, the, the thing is, is that a lot of companies. The reason why they wanna hire is cuz they want that same person who knows their brand. Mm-hmm. , who’s able to kind of like pick up quickly. They don’t wanna keep on hiring new people every time they get a new project. Right. And that’s what they think.

It’s gonna be like , but, but when you hire somebody, like you say as a freelancer, maybe you’re just hiring a little slice of their time. You’re hiring a morning a week, right? Yep. So it’s still the same person, but you’re not having to pay that full-time wage for that person. So it’s kind of a win-win for both.

And I think a lot of companies are starting to wake up to that. So it could be, yeah, I, it could be something that could.

Sarah Duran: Yeah, I think that’s totally right and I think that’s like ultimately those, um, I’m like a big believer in when I coach people who are trying to be freelancers or in the middle of, um, you know, trying to shift their freelance business model.

I am always like, long term client relationships are the best ones. So you, a freelancer also doesn’t want to like relearn everything. And you know, like forming new relationships with people is scary on both, for both the freelancer and the person hiring them. You don’t know. You don’t always know what you’re gonna get, right?

And so I think that, um, find someone that you like and like stick with them. Like you always wanna be able to have that person that you can reach out to when you need. Whatever they have to offer. Um, I also think that, like, to your point, um, I believe it’s, um, Upwork came out with a couple of reports recently that they do these like national surveys of companies and the data also bears that out, that like, um, Employers are shifting their mindsets around both freelance contract and remote work, um, in a way that just was not possible before.

Um, the other thing that, like I forgot to say about the last part that I just wanna tack on real quick too, is that the other, I think that the, like. Tech economy for freelancers is also like progressing super fast right now. So the other thing about like going out on your own that I think is different than it was maybe like 10 years ago, is there’s all kinds of platforms where you can get on and find freelance work like immediately.

So, um, The person that I do my podcast with, um, her name’s Leah Myers, and she works exclusively on Upwork. So she’s a six figure freelancer, but she works exclusively off the Upwork platform and she loves it. She even gets, she gets organic clients that she brings back onto the Upwork platform because it’s just this level of security full.

For both her and the person hiring her around payment, around, um, deliverables, making sure things get done on time. And so there’s tons of avenues out there. I think I always advocate for the, um, networking route, but there’s also like all of these amazing platforms now where you can go and get started in like less than an hour.

Tim Melanson: Wow. Sarah. We’re old. . . I’m the same way. I built my old thing through networking as well, and now we’re like, oh, this new technology’s out there and people are just building full businesses from it. Totally. I never really bought onto it, like the whole, like, I think it was Fiber before it was Upwork or something.

I don’t know.

Sarah Duran: Well, a fiber still exists, so there’s like fiber, Upwork. I think Fiber and Upwork are like the biggest ones. Yeah. Um, but yeah, totally. It’s um, it’s a whole different.

Tim Melanson: I signed on and I was just like, uh, this is not doing it for me. I’ve still got my network. I’m just gonna go over there. But yeah, I mean, nowadays, yeah, if you’re not, because, hey, let’s face it, I mean, I’m, I’m, I like networking.

I like meeting people, so I like doing that kind of stuff. But not everybody does. Some people are very introverted and they would rather be on a computer and, and do it that way. So, you know, there’s something for everybody really. You don’t have absolutely to do one or the other. Right. Okay, so you know it’s not all sunshine roses, so I like to talk about the bad note as well, and you’ve been around for a while, so can you share with us something that just didn’t go as planned and how we can recover from that if it happens to us?

Sarah Duran: Sure. Um, so in 2020 I decided, so basically I’ve been, um, for the seven years that I’ve owned my company, um, I’ve been a freelance project manager, so I work directly with clients. Um, I manage, um, Mostly research projects. It’s like kind of a weird niche. Um, but again, that’s because of my network. Um, so that just sort of organically happened.

Um, but that’s like how I make 99% of my money and spend like 90% of my time. Um, and. In 2020, I sort of just had this epiphany, I guess, where I decided that I wanted to create some different income streams, um, and do some more like direct work with freelancers. And so I, um, developed a series of courses, was the first thing I did.

And, um, I also like decided that I was gonna start, um, coaching, um, freelancers and consultants on, um, business development. , goal setting, productivity, all kinds of things like that. Um, and the courses . So I did, I, it’s not that I. Built them without getting any feedback. So I definitely like reached out to people I know who work for themselves was like, what is helpful, what would be helpful?

And, and I’m a project manager, so I basically built a series of courses around project management for freelancers and literally no one bought them. Like not one person . And I think it’s, I just, um, I realized that. I kept setting deadlines for myself. Like, if no one buys, like I’m gonna stop doing it. I’m just gonna, cuz I was also doing all the things around the courses, like to try and sell them.

Like I’m, I’m, I write blogs very frequently. Um, I was doing like Facebook ads and stuff like that at the time to sell my courses and I kept setting these deadlines for myself. Like, I’m just, if it doesn’t make any money by X day, I’m just gonna stop doing it. And what I realize is that like, I enjoy like the act of creating the courses.

Was so enjoyable for me that, um, even if it never made money, which like spoiler later down the road, it, it, they ended up making money. But, um, even if it never made money, like it was still worth it, like it was still like the right thing to do. And I have gone through various iterations of like restructuring my courses, rethinking the way that, that I market them, um, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

But it was definitely, um, a period where I was. All right. I just like straight up failed at this. Like I just spent a ton of time and money to get this thing off the ground and it totally flopped.

Tim Melanson: Okay, so what happened , how did it not fall anymore? .

Sarah Duran: So basically I, I mean it goes back to this, this, um, networking aspect basically.

So I decided to stop giving Mark Zuckerberg all of my money. Like basically just like lighting money on fire and flow throwing into the air was what was happening with my Facebook ads. And um, actually I’ll take that back. My Facebook ads did get, They helped me build my list. So like my Facebook ads went to like a freebie that like a bunch of people downloaded.

None of those people ever bought anything. Um, and so those weren’t my people. They weren’t my people. And so what I started to do is I started to do, um, outreach and networking in a way where I was going directly to the people that I wanted to serve. And I was talking to them in a super authentic way, not just like, Hey, Not just looking at people as if they’re a dollar sign, but looking at people as if they’re a person that.

Wants to be a freelancer or is a freelancer and needs my help. And so I started doing, um, workshops for a bunch of different, um, freelance, um, organizations and agencies and, um, I also like cross published my blogs with a lot of those folks. And so I started getting people who would, who were engaging with my content, like my blogs and my workshops, and then, Oh, like, I like what I, I like what Sarah does.

I need what Sarah does. Yeah. And that, I think, um, is it, am I getting the same like number of people that join my list every day as I did when I was running Facebook ads? Absolutely not. So it’s definitely like a lot fewer people, um, that the audience building is like way slower that way, but, I’m getting more of the right people and I think I’m doing more of like the right work that I wanted to be able to do from the beginning.

Yeah, and

Tim Melanson: that’s, that’s really important to consider that is that it’s not really about how many people you get on list, and I think a lot of people have. The wrong focus. They’re trying to build this massive list of people that would never buy what they have. Right, right, right. And you’re better off to have a list of one person who buys than a list of a million who don’t.

Sarah Duran: Right. Yeah, exactly. And I can’t remember, there’s, there’s a marketing dude, and I’m not gonna remember who it is, but it’s the guy that’s like, all you need is a thousand true fans. Like you don’t need millions and millions of people. You just need a thou. And for me, I’m like, I don’t even know if I need a thousand.


Tim Melanson: 200 I think is the number I heard. Yeah.

Sarah Duran: Totally. So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s way better and it just, like, it feels better fundamentally. I think.

Tim Melanson: So now, so just to recap what happened there. Um, cuz I, I think that some people also, some people also will take the stance of like going out there and selling the course before they build it.

Which is a way, I think, to kind of like hash out what people are willing to pay for before you actually go out there and spend the time doing it. But I think in your case it probably wasn’t that your content was right, it was just that maybe, uh, maybe they needed to know who you were and they needed to actually trust you and think that you’re authentic before they are ready to actually pay money for it.

Sarah Duran: Right, right. I think that’s absolutely right.

Tim Melanson: And I, I mean you can do that, uh, you can do that through like physical networking, but you can also probably do that through social networking as well too. Just engaging with people, right? Like how did you do it? Yeah,

Sarah Duran: I mean, I have, um, I have like revamped my relationship to social media like many times since I started on this journey.

Um, like I said, I started in the beginning like real, I was like posting all the time and um, doing a lot of like Facebook and Instagram ads and, um, I realize like a, I realized that like, again, the organic like nature of it is, um, so much more authentic and you’re gonna get so many more of the right people.

I also realized that like, I sort of hate social media and like want to engage in it as little as possible. And so I had to find a happy medium there. And so I definitely like show up on, um, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Um, and I do that in a way that also makes it like easier for me to maintain my boundaries.

I, I had like, I’ve had like a bunch of different, like people who have like helped coached me around, like how to get followers, how to engage people on social media, and I just could not ever follow through on their advice because I hated it. So much like always they were like, like do the reels, do the videos, all these things.

And I found myself every time I would like put it on my to-do list for the day. Like make a reel. Yeah. I literally like couldn’t do it. Like I just kept pushing it to the next day and when I could. I don’t know if there’s, cuz I’m a little bit older, but like I could not, it took me so long to make a 32nd video that I was like, this is not a good use of my time.

Um, so what I do now is I basically like batch my social media. I do it once a month. Um, I post mostly the same content across the three platforms. Um, I tailor my messaging a little bit differently for LinkedIn. and I have someone who schedules it out for me. So once a month I take a couple hours, I, I map it all out and then she schedules it for me, and then instead of checking it and engaging on my phone, I have on my, like basically every morning when I open my browser, I have both LinkedIn and Instagram that open up and I look and I see like, okay, did I get messages?

Let’s like engage for a little bit. Let’s check my messages, let’s see if I have new connections, et cetera, et cetera. And then I turn, So I’m not like on my phone. And again, like I may, I’m, it’s a, it’s a trade off. Like I think would I be getting more followers and potentially more customers if I was like constantly engaging all the time and like posting the videos and all that stuff?

Probably. And I just can’t do it. Like I can’t bring myself to do. So I had to find a happy medium for myself there. It’s a

Tim Melanson: lot of work too. And what I noticed too as well is that I got, I get more engagement from. Literally posting pictures of my meals than I do from, from anything that’s, that’s, that’s business related.

And it’s just so funny that it works that way cuz I get so annoyed when it’s like, oh, there’s somebody else’s meal again. But, I’m looking at it. Yeah. Like I’m actually literally the one like doing what I’m annoyed about. But I think that that’s the thing is that people do like to know the person that they’re doing business with.

And so, you know, if you are posting just lifestyle pictures, regular stuff, you’re probably gonna be better off than putting all this time into doing these business reels that maybe people are gonna skip through.

Sarah Duran: Totally. I think people want, um, people want like authentic connection, um, in whatever format it is, like whether it’s on social media or like those one on one conversations.

I would also say about social media, that the thing that surprised me is through both LinkedIn and Instagram, I’ve in a super organic way, like not like. I don’t know if you get these, but like I get all these like cold LinkedIn messages all the time about like, do you need a va? Can I be your marketing team?

Blah, blah, blah. And I’m like always like, no, absolutely not. But I’ve also met and, and been able to like have actual like, Over the phone or over Zoom conversations with like, so many awesome people that I met through LinkedIn or through Instagram. And so it again is just this like quality over quantity thing where like if I can make like one authentic connection every month, um, with an actual human, then like that’s totally worth it.

Tim Melanson: Totally agree. So now, um, you, I mean you’re, you’re a coach, you’re coaching people. I’m wondering what’s. Perspective on hiring? Like do you have a coach or like, do you take courses yourself? Like how does that work for you?

Sarah Duran: Yeah, so I, um, Uh, like yes, up to both of those things. And I think it’s like, for me it’s been a variety of things that I’m always trying to like, um, I’m never doing like all those things at the same time.

So I’ve taken a variety of courses about, um, I mean like learning how to run like a content based business is definitely, was, uh, new for me. So a ton of courses about. How, like copywriting, how to sell things, how to build a sales page, like all those kinds of things. Um, I’ve gotten a ton of coaching about social media, um, and especially like when I, we were both for myself and for my podcast with my other business partner.

Um, Facebook ads and things like that. So tons of coaching around that. And, um, I’m also, um, will engage with like a coach, like a individual coach every now and then around like, Really like whatever, like all that runs the gamut. Like how do I develop this product? How do I like, think differently about the way I’m using my time?

Like whatever it is. And so, yeah, I’m a big believer in, I think that like the online course marketplace right now is just insane. Like you can learn, you can learn anything online. And it’s like sometimes hard to find. I think there’s some like, um, uh, sites that sort of house like a bunch of different courses.

Um, but sometimes folks like me where I just am like, you gotta find my website in order to find my course or find me on Instagram or something like that. Um, but there’s so much cool stuff out there that people are making courses around.

Anik Malenfant: Hi, my name is Al. I’m from Mastering Ascension, and I’ve been working with Tim Melanson and the Creative Crew Agency for a number of years now.

Tim is my go-to guy for all things technology, and his team have helped me to really create the platform that I need, that represents my brand, my message, and connects me directly to my ideal clients. What I particularly love about Tim is before he starts to dive into the technology, he always makes sure that he understands what your global view is, what your ultimate goals are, so then that way you’re not wasting a lot of time back and forth switching around technology or platforms.

He creates something from the get go that is scalable, which is highly, highly, um, beneficial for any business. What I’ve experienced from Tim and his team is they’re highly responsive. They are a wealth of inform. And they’re gonna offer you the tools that you need to really make the mark that you wanna make in the world.

So that’s my recommendation for Tim. He’s awesome. You’re gonna love every minute, you won’t regret it.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, I think it’s overwhelming in a way. And which is, I think, I think that kind of explains why we keep on talking about how you have to be authentic. Cuz I mean, as a consumer, if I’m looking for a course and I’m overwhelmed at all the options, how do I choose?

Right. And so that makes sense that you’d have to actually follow a person and go, okay, this is someone that I’m actually connecting with. Okay. Is that how you approach it? Like how do you choose the courses that you do and the, and the coaches?

Sarah Duran: Yeah. I would say that that’s exactly how I found them. So like, um, like.

A couple of them I found through like Instagram, um, like I saw that like I either got an ad or like I followed them. Um, and then, um, a couple of people we just like Googled, like we Googled and like found like, oh, this person does Facebook ads or this person does this. Um, And then a couple of them have just been, yeah, totally organic people that I, that I met through whatever, like wherever they found me and reached out.

Um, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram or, or something else. But yeah, I think for me it’s been totally, I’m very, I would say like I’m very rarely like Googling, like, I need a course of this. Usually I wait, like, it’s like that course finds me and then I’m like, oh, I need that. Um, so yeah, I think it’s totally.

Tim Melanson: And that’s one way that I like social media and how even YouTube works is that, uh, cuz I’m a musician as well and so like, uh, I actually do a lot of learning of. Music on like YouTube and it finds me every time. Mm-hmm. and I, I do engage a lot with the free content. Like it, I mean, it just, it works Like if you can get something from somebody for free, you’re kind of going like, okay, I’m, I’m actually learning something from their free stuff.

So then in my mind I’m like, okay, well what would I learn if I actually bought that course? , right. Yeah. You know, if you’re getting something from the free stuff. So, you know, I definitely encourage it, you know, for if people are. Looking to get some fans to, you know, put out something that people can learn from that’s free, but obviously, like, do you do that, do you put out free content to gather leads?

Sarah Duran: Yeah. Um, I put out, like, I have a couple of like, you know, like free PDFs about, Various topics. Um, and then I write a ton of blogs and I also have a sub stack and my subst stack has a paid option. But like the content is basically the same. And I think that’s also like such an interesting model is like, like whether you’re like a podcaster that has like a Patreon or something like that, like I think it’s like so interesting that you can also now like monetize quote unquote free content.

So you can still like put it all out there and say like, Hey, all of this is free and if this is valuable, Gimme five bucks a month. Like I think that’s such a cool model because then you’re not like, again, just like looking at people like their dollar signs, you’re able to like really authentically engage with your audience and be like, I’m not trying to sell you like every second of every day.

I’m just gonna give you all this. And if you find it valuable, like. Give me a few bucks, um, which is a model that like we, um, the person I do my podcast with, we’ve adapted, adopted for ours, and, um, also do it for my stuff. Like even if you don’t ever buy my courses, every time I send out a blog, I’m like, if you find this valuable and wanna like, gimme five bucks a month, like the equivalent of a cup of coffee, like click here and you can do that.

Um, but then it just sort of like, um, decouples the relationship between like the content and the

Tim Melanson: money. I think. Yeah. Yeah, that’s actually a really good idea. Cause I was gonna ask you like where, you know, if you’re offering free content, where do you put that line? Where this is free, but this is paid. But that’s a totally different model where it’s all free.

Yes. But if people are getting value, and I mean, let’s face it, people do tip Like it is one of those things where people do feel like, oh man, I did get something from it. I’m actually gonna give some money to this person.

Sarah Duran: Yeah. Yeah. And I think the, um, the line is fuzzy about what’s free and what’s not free.

Like when I started my sub stack in January, it was really hard for me to be like, What’s free, what’s not free? Because also the advice I get, I got about Subec was, your best content should be free because that’s the content people are gonna be sharing. That’s how you’re gonna build your audience. Um, and I’ve like played around with it over time, but like, honestly, like, um, almost all, like, I would say like 99.9% of my subset content is free and my paid subscribers, um, they’re, they’re just.

Value what I do and gimme a few bucks a month. Like basically you’re getting the exact same thing. Um, I think the line is like different, like my courses are not free, but like a lot of the content for my courses, um, you can find in my blogs or in other places. Um, I also do like workshops, which are free, but like, and depending on who I’m doing the workshop for, either they’re completely free, like I’m not getting paid to do it.

I’m just like getting access to their audience or like the organization is paying me to do it, but the people who are going to the workshop are free, are getting it for free. And a lot of that content is like content for my courses. So they’re essentially getting my course content for free in those kind of venue.

Tim Melanson: Wow, that’s so much there, . Love it. Um, and you know, I think, I think the, what you just said, the the beginning part is that people, if they are getting value from it, they will probably wanna pay. Yeah. At least some of them would. And then I think, I think a lot of a good way to separate it is that the paid stuff tends to be more structured and more.

Like, uh, focused, I guess, right? Mm-hmm. , they’re doing a workshop or they’re doing a specific course, rather than going and reading all of your blogs to get right, to get that information. So it’s more or less like all the stuff is free, but you know, if you wanna actually, you know, get some traction on what you’re doing specifically, well then you might want to pay for that.

Sarah Duran: Totally. And I think that’s where like the like one-on-one coaching comes in too. Because I think fundamentally, like if you’re going to be able to go, um, faster, if you have an actual human to engage with and. I mean, and I know this as like someone who’s like paid for coaching myself, like what I’m coaching is not cheap.

And so that’s like a high ticket. Um, like basically you’re like, here’s all this like free stuff and like if you want to go, you know, deeper, there’s also like this option. But like someone really needs to like, trust you, um, to be willing to go down that road with you.

Tim Melanson: Yeah, totally. So let’s talk a little bit about the cash flow aspect of it.

Cause I mean, you’ve been in business for eight years now and that’s rare . Cause uh, a lot of people run outta money. So I’m wondering, you know, especially in the beginning, but, but even at every level up time there, there tends to be some, some weirdness about spending money and not necessarily getting it back or taking a risk and spending money.

Mm-hmm. . So where, like, how do you approach that whole. Topic of making sure you’re making more than you’re spending.

Sarah Duran: Totally. Um, so like, um, I will like sort of separate this a little bit cause I have like my, the client side of my business, so like me as a freelancer and the project management clients that I work with, um, I think in the beginning, like I said, I sort of like chime into this accidentally.

And this has been true in the beginning and throughout my journey, um, as, as being a business owner, is that over and over and over again, I have been incredibly lucky to work for people that actually push me on my value proposition. And so in the beginning, I, like I said, I was work, I started doing contract work for people that I’d already been working before.

So like I had been their employee and then I started working for them as a contractor. Um, I was like, literally like, how much money? Like, I don’t know, how much money should I charge? And I was super lucky to have, you know, mentors and, um, friends and colleagues and coaches along the way who were like, um, I was like, I’m gonna charge this.

And they’re like, no, maybe just like a little bit more. Um, and so that again, I think is the benefit of. . If you have an existing network in the, in whatever you’re going out to do on your own, like start there. Because those people know you, they trust you. They know you’re good at what you do. They’re willing to pay you more.

I think that’s also the thing that I realize is that like I could charge so much more as a contractor then like the hour by hour, dollar amount I was getting paid as an employee. Compared to what I was getting paid out as a contractor was crazy different, like way higher as a contractor for a variety of reasons.

Again, like they’re not paying for my benefits. They’re not giving me ptl, like on their end for dollar. For dollar. Probably looks pretty similar. Um, yeah, on my end, obviously I have to figure out all those things on my own now that I don’t work for an actual company. Um, but I think a along the way I. . Um, like I raise my rates almost every year.

The last couple years I’ve raised them a little bit more than I usually do because of inflation. Um, but on the like client side of my business, I’ve always had, um, I’ve always had clients that are pushing me to, to say like, Hey, this is like actually what someone who does something similar to you is charging.

Maybe you need to up your rates a little bit. That’s not every single person. I also have clients that like I. This is what I charge. And they were like, absolutely not. So you gotta find your, um, I would say like, do, do your research about what you should be charging. Um, this is like one of my biggest pieces of advice for freelancers.

You should be talking to people that do what you do and ask them what they charge. I think it’s like a lot, there’s a lot of stigma around money in our society and people, people don’t wanna talk about it. And what that means is that, um, Income gaps persist. Um, especially for women. I think women in the freelance marketplace, a recent study just came out, are making on average 48%.

Freelance women are making 48% less than freelance men, men male freelancers. And so whether that’s like your income gap or not, I think having an explicit conversation with people who do what you do and people who hire people who do what you do is should be part of your networking. Um, like have those conversations with people so that you can back it up when you’re like, Hey, I charge X dollars an hour, X dollars for this project and someone.

Um, pushes you on it. You can say, Hey, I’ve done my research. You wanna go out and hire someone else? They’re gonna charge you the same or more, um, this is why I’m worth this, et cetera, et cetera. Um, that’s my thought, but yeah, that’s, that’s more about like worth, I think cashflow is like such a tricky, so I, I track my finances super carefully.

Um, like I’ve had basically a business budget since the day I started my business and. I’ve gotten better at that over time because like I understand my taxes better. I understand my overhead better. I have a great accountant. Um, And I also like with the courses and stuff, establish some like passive income streams that I think give you a different, I mean, at least for me at this moment in my business, don’t come anywhere close to giving me the same amount of revenue that my client work does.

But it is just like a different type of revenue. Um, nothing is 100% passive, but, um, it, I do a lot less effort selling people a course that I already made than I do picking up a project management.

Tim Melanson: Wow, there was so much there. , uh, it’s actually messed up that you say that freelancers, especially women, earn less than men cuz they’re choosing their own price.

You know, there’s this idea that it’s the employer’s fault cuz they’re only paying whatever they pay. But, um, I think it’s, it’s more of a mindset issue that we, we think we’re not worth as much as we are. Yeah, it is. Yeah. And, and I think. Um, I think that, well, I, I, I have a feeling, and I, I’m sure this is probably verifiable, that we had this programming to not talk about money because our employers do not want us talking to each other and finding out what each other make.

Mm-hmm. , right? Because if we did, we’d all be making the same thing and there would be no. because we would talk. So I, I think that there’s some real deep programming about that, that we are not supposed to talk about money with other people, but in this world, yeah, we totally need to, we, we need to, because if somebody’s charging less and that actually is gonna drive everybody else’s price down.

Mm-hmm. , there is a lot of problems with that. And I mean, I find, I see that a lot in, in the music world, cuz as a musician, many musicians are willing to play for. Because they love it, right? Mm-hmm. , and, uh, you know, it’s, it’s a, it’s a hobby and that really does mess. With what we can charge. And so, yeah, I think that’s, I think it’s important to, I think, I think I’m right on board with you.

Find out what other people are, are charging and if they’re not willing to say, well move on to somebody else, somebody else will, will be willing to say, I, I don’t mind telling people what I, what I make. Um, you know, and, and, uh, but now I do have a question for you about raising the price. So you say raise the price every, every year.

How does that look? Cause that’s super awkward for people I think.

Sarah Duran: Yeah. I mean, almost every year. Um, and, sorry, let me say one more quick thing about just like this, the pay gap too. I think it’s definitely, it’s. Mindset and it’s like mindset on the part of the employers too. So I think that like both sides have been conditioned in this way where you just, like, we know the gender income gap exists in traditional employment scenarios too.

It’s actually much smaller. Um, but I think that like, and there’s tons of research to back this up, that women are also conditioned to ask for less. Um, it’s just like part of societal programming. And so I think that like, know. Like knowing what other people charging, exactly like you said is the key to breaking that mindset.

And that’s like a huge shift from being an employee to being. A business owner is, when you’re a business owner, you don’t have the luxury of not talking about money. Like you have no choice. Mm-hmm. like you have to. Yeah. Um, and it, a lot of people aren’t able, men and women are not able to make that mindset shift.

Um, but yeah. And I think for women, you’re also gonna run into people that even if you fundamentally know what you worth, they’re not gonna pay you what you’re worth. And that’s when you have to move on. Um, So anyways, just to like, just to like double down on that. Um, and then I forgot your question.

Remind me what you asked

Tim Melanson: me. Hey, well, just on that, I agree with you a hundred percent. If they’re not willing to pay you what they would pay somebody else for the same work, then it means that they don’t value you. And so move on there. Totally. That nothing good is gonna come outta that relationship, that’s for sure.

Absolutely. It’s just gonna keep getting worse. They’re either gonna ask for more or they’re gonna whatever. Um, but yeah, the, the, the question I had though was, uh, oh, I, I can’t even remember what my

Sarah Duran: question was now. It was about raising rates. I remember raising rates. Yes. How do you do that? So my, the type of work that I do with my freelance clients is like, Different than I think a lot of freelancers.

I have like really long term, um, contracts with my clients because most of my work is grant funded. And so my people write me into a grant. When they get that grant, then I get a contract with their university and usually that’s like a two year contract minimum. Um, and so that’s very different I think from other freelancers.

Yeah. For me that means when. Building when I’m writing that contract or when I’m engaging in like a scope of work discussion with someone I’m building in a year over year increase. So like if I’m doing a three year contract, I’m saying that like every year my rates are gonna rise, whatever, 2%, 3%. Um, and then I think when I’m doing short term projects and similar with my coaching prices, like I literally just, um, raised my coaching prices.

Um, I will. Do a combination of things. So like for my coaching prices, anyone who’s already been engaging with me, I’m still raising their rates, but I’m not raising them as much as I am for brand new people. So now I have like a two-tiered thing where I’m like the people I’ve already worked with, I’m raising your rates, but like just a little bit.

And new people. When you come in, you’re at this like new price level. So that’s like how I’m thinking about it for the coaching stuff. , but I also think you just, you should just think about it annually. Like you should think about an annual price increase. There are some years where that may not make sense.

So I’m not saying that you do that every single year no matter what. Um, but like you also get better at what you do over time, which. Then goes into which like maybe is like two, we probably don’t have time to go into like charging hourly versus charging a flat rate. But like all those things are, you know, um, fit together in terms of like how you get paid for what you do.

Um, but yeah, I would say like revisit it annually for yourself and just check in. How much you’re making, what do you do? How is it different? How have you gotten better at what you do? Yeah. Um, cuz a lot of times if you’re charging the same rate, especially if you’re charging hourly and you’re not raising your rates, you are getting better, which means you’re doing more in an hour than you did last year.

Yeah. And you like know your client better, so it’s just like, it makes more sense for that, for you to be raising your rates. Inflation, or No, I.

Tim Melanson: Yep. Oh man. And okay, so we could talk for a full episode about this particular topic cuz it’s a huge one, . It is. Uh, but I’ll, I’ll, I’ll add one more thing to that, to double down on that.

If you don’t look at regular raises, then what will end up happening is that, Four years will pass, five years will pass. You’re still making the same money as you made five years ago. Now it doesn’t make any sense at all. And the difference between what you should be making and what you are making is so huge that you’re.

Your price increase is gonna be unreasonable for your client, right? Yes. Do it gradually, and that’s gonna cause problem, for sure. You’re better off to say, oh, it’s just a 10, five, 10% raise than to say it’s a 50, 60% raise because you waited so long. Right, right. All right, so time for your guest solo. So tell me what’s exciting in your business.


Sarah Duran: Um, so something that, um, I think that this ship will have sailed by the time that this airs, but I, something I’m super excited right now is that, um, for 2023, I’m launching this mastermind program where I’m gonna do small group coaching with people, and that’s gonna be a year long program. So sign up for my mailing list, and when I launch the 2024 version, you’ll be able to.

Um, but that’s actually the thing that I’m most excited about. The other thing that I’m super excited about this year, which, um, is evergreen, people can get it whenever they want it, is I, um, published my first book this year, and so I published a book called Instant Freelancer, how to Start a Business of One, and it’s basically like soup to nuts.

A compilation of how do you get, how do you like, literally go from. Day one, day zero, all the way through like having a, a successful business. And for me, it’s not just about, my whole philosophy is about, especially when you work for yourself, you’re, you’re able to build a business that serves your life.

And so I’m not here. To tell people like how to make a quick book, how to get to six figures tomorrow. Um, I’m here to be, the book basically will walk you through like, what do you need to get out of freelancing, whether it’s money, time, flexibility, freedom, how do you design a business around that? And then how do you do it?

Like how do you write like literally everything? How do you write a proposal? How do you, um, close a client? How do you manage a project once you get a client? How do you wrap up a client? How do you work from home? Like, there’s all kinds of good stuff in there. So that’s the thing that I am, um, most excited about this year.

I think. That’s

Tim Melanson: awesome. So how do we find out more?

Sarah Duran: Um, so it’s on Amazon. Um, you can find it on Amazon Instant Freelancer, how to Start a Business of One. Um, it’s also on my website, um, which all of my stuff is on my website. My courses, my blog, um, links to my sub stack, um, my podcasts, which is um, fruition

And, um, you can also find all those links on my Instagram and Instagram. I’m, uh, hustlers Manifesto. So hustlers underscore manifest. Awesome.

Tim Melanson: Thank you so much for rocking out with me today, Sarah. This has been a lot of fun.

Sarah Duran: It has been. Thanks so much for having me.

Tim Melanson: So the listeners, make sure you subscribe right and comment, and we’ll see you next time on the Work at Home Rockstar podcast.

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