Want more money? Be choosy

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Self-Fulfilling Prophesies

The reason you're not making more money? You.

You remember back in school when you thought maybe that friend of your was giving you the cold shoulder? Remember how you started treating them? And what was the result? In the end, the very relationship you predicted (a poor one) was what you created.

There's a strange dynamic where the very thing you worry about becomes the very situation you find yourself in. It's a strange self-fulfilling prophesy. In economic terms I think it's called partition bias but I'm no economist.

What does that have to do with your ability to earn the income you want? It's actually pretty simple and very applicable.

Does this cycle sound familiar?

  • You want to earn money.
  • Imperfect clients appear and want to hire you.
  • You can't say no, because you want the money.
  • You then spend time trying to collect that money.
  • This limits your profits and wastes your time.
  • But you don't stop taking those clients…
  • Because you want to earn money.

You're creating that dynamic because of your inability to say no to bad clients. You're creating the very situation you don't want.

Want to hear how to make more money?

I'm not a get-rich quick kind of guy. I don't want to sell you a special formula. But the truth is that it's remarkably simple to make more money. Say yes to the right kinds of clients and no to the wrong kind.

At least it's simple to see, say, and encourage you to do. It's the “doing it” that's harder.

How do you know who the right clients are?

I can't predict, for you, what a perfect client is. But I can tell you some of the questions I use to see if they're someone I want to work with.

  1. Do you feel comfortable talking about your budget?
  2. Do you have a clear sense of what you can afford?
  3. Do you understand that you can't match your competitor's site without matching their spend?
  4. What have you tried already?
  5. Are you prepared to help get things done?
  6. Do you work well with timelines and accountability?
  7. Can you articulate what success will look like?
  8. Are you the decision maker?
  9. Are your expectations realistic?
  10. What do you know about me?

Now that last question may surprise you. But I use it to understand what someone knows about me, and what expertise they've attributed to me.

If they trust me in certain areas, then I know they'll likely take my advice in those areas. That always makes things easier.

Stop the Cycle: Be Choosy

Here's the thing. I'm not actually blaming you. I'm not mad at you. I'm just trying to highlight that your desire for better income is being defeated by your willingness to take any job that comes in.

To stop the cycle, you need to be choosy. And the benefit of being choosy is that you can start focusing on a particular kind of project, which means you'll develop better expertise and be better able to charge more.

So stop the cycle. Stop saying yes so easily. I know it's counter-intuitive, but so are self-fulfilling prophesies. They don't make sense until they do.

She should have learned to be choosy.

Let me end with a simple story of someone who should have learned to say no.

Let's call her Sally. She started out by running a crafts boutique. And things were going well. She had differentiated herself by focusing just on scrapbooking supplies and such. But as she got more and more successful, Sally got more enticed to sell more than just her scrapbooking craft materials – even though this was what had separated her from other stores. Growth – that's the ticket! Right? And as she offered more, she really offered less. Because she no longer specialized. And soon Sally closed her shop.

When you take on the wrong clients (for you), you'll be no different than Sally – losing your distinction and ability to specialize/have authority – and Sally's results will be your own. Trust me, you don't want that.

Be Choosy.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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