We’re continuing to share a different story every few weeks of how a past student has been able to significantly grow their freelance business by applying the concepts they learned from Double Your Freelancing (check out the last one we did with Lance Miller).
If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why.
Jeff Daigle is a man of many talents, who also enjoys wearing multiple hats at once to help his clients “grow beyond Etsy and other online marketplaces to achieve their dreams of making a living doing what they love.”
Hi Jeff! Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you for fun?
I was born with the mixed fortune of being interested in everything.
This has resulted in a career that makes for an extremely unconventional resume and the opportunity to meet and learn from many amazing people. The thread running through it all has been the drive to help people follow their own winding paths through designing elegant solutions to gnarly problems.
Things I enjoy are:
- Designing overly complicated solutions to simple household problems
- Brewing beer
- Spending time in the woods
- Enjoying life in the great city of Denver with my amazing wife
- And being taught how to be a good dad by my six-month-old daughter
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
I’ve always had an over-active independent streak, which has made me uneasy with the typical boss-employee relationship. For a lot of people, the trade-off of not having to worry about every aspect of the business is worth giving up a little freedom, but for whatever reason it never felt right for me.
Two years ago (after many years of moonlighting), I decided it was time to make the leap to full-time consulting. I spent the next 10 months doing as much research as I could into what building a successful consultancy would take and how I was going to market myself before launching officially. The experience has been what I expected in general, but the audience that has connected with my message the best is totally different from the one I sought out to reach initially.
Tell us about your hardest moment as an entrepreneur to date.
In my pre-launch research and content development, I targeted startups needing help with UX design for their MVPs. I created half a dozen blog posts, a ten page case study and an entire website worth of copy around this market.
I launched the site and an email newsletter, networked extensively—and got absolutely nowhere. Almost two months went by with no leads and very little engagement with what I was publishing on my site and on social media.
Then finally I got my first inquiry. Not from a startup, but from a jeweler who wanted to grow beyond Etsy with an ecommerce website.
Next came a couple with a side business selling home-made petroleum-free lotions. I realized that I’d been talking to the wrong audience all along and began a pivot to converse with artists, makers and (very) small businesses.
Giving up never crossed my mind. I’m deeply invested in remaining an independent consultant. What I consult in and who I consult for might change over time, but the independence, flexibility and ability to work with amazing clients is something I’d never dream of giving up.
I have had so many twists and turns in my career already, that I am confident in my ability to pivot and learn what I need to in order to continue to succeed—as long as I have the support of my family and the desire to keep learning that is!
On the flip side, what’s been your biggest success so far?
My work with the couple selling petroleum-free lotion has led to two bigger jobs so far based on the quality of my work and my dependable, responsive and collaborative working style.
The first was a website for the husband’s civil engineering firm and the second was a website for a non-profit that the engineering firm’s graphic designer recommended me for. Both have given me confidence that the marketing I am working so hard on will be backed up by my talents, skills and the way I approach my work.
What were you struggling the most with when you ran into Brennan’s course?
I signed up for Double Your Freelancing Rate just as I was launching my consulting practice. Up until then most of my jobs had come via word of mouth and relationships, so I had very little experience connecting with potential clients, writing successful proposals and presenting my fees.
DYFR gave me a solid framework for presenting the expected results of what I was offering and successfully framing the work as an investment that my clients can expect a return on. This has allowed me to secure projects at rates that are not driven by commodity pricing, but are based on value.
What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?
Along with the things I learned from DYFR, Double Your Freelancing Clients (now The Academy) was extremely helpful in bringing my positioning into focus.
When I signed up for the course I was discovering that my services, marketing and positioning were not all lining up in the same direction. I.e. I thought my market would be startups, but in reality what I was putting out resonated more with artists, makers and very small businesses.
Reworking your positioning just as you’re starting to get traction is a scary thing, but the work we did in the masterminds and the help I got on Slack and in the Office Hours gave me the confidence to commit, and the feedback I needed to start rewriting my content and shifting my marketing focus. The drip email framework in particular has been something that I’ve been using myself, and something that I’ve used to help my clients.
What are you most excited about for your business in 2017?
I’ve been building connections in the online and local handmade communities and have begun to see the fruits of my efforts from reaching out through forums, blogs and networking events.
I’m also taking a leadership role in forming a local chapter of the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters. Lastly, I’ve established several long-term contracts with clients that will provide some recurring revenue as I seek out new clients.
Most of all, I hope to move into a co-working space soon since our daughter has taken over the home office!
For over 20 years Jeff Daigle has designed, built and tested websites, brands, databases and desktop and web apps, working with companies in higher education, architecture, international software and tech startups. At dbdc, Jeff draws on his skills as a UX designer, online marketer, branding expert and web developer to help artists, makers and small businesses grow beyond Etsy and other online marketplaces to achieve their dreams of making a living doing what they love.