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The image is a podcast cover for "Profitable Web Designer, Episode 82" titled "Freelance Freedom without the Grind with Tim Noetzel," featuring a smiling person.

Freelance Freedom without the Grind with Tim Noetzel of Freelance GPS

Welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer Podcast! Today I'm talking to Tim Noetzel of Freelance GPS. Tim is a UX designer, web developer, and the founder of FreelanceGPS, where he coaches on how to start and grow successful freelance businesses. My favorite quote from this episode:

“There's no way to guarantee success, but there is one way to guarantee failure – and that's by never doing anything.” – Tim Noetzel

Connect with Tim:

Shannon Mattern (00:01.438)

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Profitable Web Designer podcast. And today I am excited to introduce you to my guest, Tim Noetzel. He is a UX designer, web developer, and the founder of freelancegps.com, where he coaches on how to start and grow successful freelance businesses. And when I was preparing for this interview today, I noticed, Tim, that you said that you're...

freelance GPS voice as part Leslie Knope and Roy Kent and I'm like this is my guy I cannot wait to introduce him to everyone so thank you so much for being here can you share a little bit more with our listeners about you and why you started freelance GPS?

Tim (00:49.246)

Absolutely. Shannon, thank you for having me. So I've been running Freelance GPS for about three years now. I've been a full-time freelance designer and developer for about five. And I really started Freelance GPS just because freelancing has changed my life so fundamentally. I have worked in and around startups pretty much my entire career. And...

One of the things that I found is just that like the pace of business today, you know, the amount that changes really, I don't think is very well tailored to people's needs as people. And so for me, starting Freelance GPS was really about helping other folks achieve sort of the freedom and flexibility that I found through freelancing.

You know, the ability to kind of set your own schedule, the ability to work from anywhere and on projects that interest you and get paid really well to do it. You know, my wife and I spent a year as digital nomads traveling around the country. You know, I never could have done that prior to freelancing. And so having the ability to do those kinds of things has been has been huge. And I really kind of just want to pay it forward and help other people, you know, realize the same types of goals.

Shannon Mattern (02:17.582)

I love that so much. And I mean, I couldn't agree with you more the, the freedom and flexibility, um, from that we get from, um, you know, really taking control of everything and being our own boss and, um, running our own businesses is like nothing else. And I'm super curious about, you know, what you see with the people you coach and the people that your colleagues and maybe your own experience.

for me when I first started freelancing, I transitioned out of corporate and I kind of in the beginning recreated those corporate structures that I came from and almost built a business that trapped me. I wouldn't say almost, I built a business that trapped me because of my beliefs and how I had to operate and a lot of things that I carried over into my business. And so I'm super curious.

Um, what your opinion is on, you know, what it takes to actually create the freedom that freelancers can have, you know, when you're working for yourselves versus maybe just kind of repeating some of the things that we were trying to leave behind.

Tim (03:29.034)

Yeah, no, I think you kind of hit the nail on the head there. That is one of the two major problems that I see new and even experienced freelancers having. You know, the other one being like, how do I find enough of the right clients? But just about every freelancer who's been doing it for, you know, more than a few months, I think is struggling with that problem of like, how do I actually realize this lifestyle that

you know, I was aspiring to when I started freelancing. And I think fundamentally that is really about designing your business in a way that supports your life rather than the other way around. And I think a lot of that is done in the sales process with clients, right? One of the things that I do kind of right from the get-go is like in the statement of work that I signed with any individual client,

there's a bunch of constraints, right? And some of those are very project-based, like, oh, there's only gonna be this many iterations on a design or something like that. But every single one of my statements of work has a limit to the number of calls I'll do during a project or in a given week or that kind of thing. And so I make sure to set some really clear boundaries. And that, I think, has made all the difference. For me, it means like,

you know, I'm a night owl, I'm not a morning person. So my mornings are really slow, you know, like I'm drinking coffee and reading a book at 10 a.m. And I just work later because that's how I wanna do it. And so setting some of those boundaries, I think is key. There's also, I think, some tactics that have been really, really helpful, right? You know, in 2024, obviously, you're gonna get email and you're gonna get Slack messages and you're gonna get, you know, whatever else that like...

all hours of the day or night, but that doesn't mean you have to respond. And so some of it's just like, okay, like I'm not gonna respond, or if I am gonna respond, I'm gonna schedule my email to go out at a different time, right, or I'll schedule my Slack message so that I don't get another response back right away. I think if there's anything I've learned about email and Slack is that the better you are at it, the more you get. And so like,

Tim (05:54.258)

You know, it's kind of, uh, you know, one of those situations where you're like, you know, Atlas holding world up or, um, or that kind of thing. Right. And so just making sure that you, um, Sort of give yourself the time and the space, right. Just because you finished with the project doesn't mean you need to let the client know that you finished with the project if you've got more time, right? Like any of those kinds of things can give you a little bit of breathing room.

Shannon Mattern (06:22.534)

I love that advice and I think of a lot of freelancers, if they were ever an employee before starting, going off on their own, they were probably awesome at their job. They were probably the go-getter, high achiever employees that were used to operating and always being responsive, always making sure that everything got done on time.

like responsive in their communication. And while that's great, and it really works in a corporate environment, if you, I feel like if you carry those things over to your freelance business, it can quickly, quickly become overwhelming and impossible when you have more than just one client, like your, your boss is your client at work, but you have multiple of those that you're handling when you're freelancing. And so that can get like super overwhelming quickly. So it's like,

you have the agency to design your business the way you want. And just having that realization that you get to call the shots is like, so I think it's mind blowing for a lot of people, at least the clients we work with and the people that we talked to on this podcast are like, wait, what? Like I can tell the client how this goes and not like, I don't have to let them tell me how it goes in order to like, get them to say yes to me and get them to pay me. It's like a whole paradigm shift for them.

Tim (07:47.53)

Yeah, I think that's exactly right. And I, you know, I, when I'm coaching folks on this topic, one of the things that I make clear to them is like, you need to know what your own kind of internal order of priorities is, and you need to know what your own kind of internal ranking of your clients is, right? Because there's gonna be situations where, you know, clients want a lot of stuff all at the same time, you can't do everything.

Or in order to do that, you're going to have to give up on something that's really important to you, right? Like spending time with family or pursuing a hobby or whatever else, right? And so you have to be able to make those decisions in real time, with kind of a clear North Star. And I think when you have that, it becomes really easy to say, like, all right, this client is a nice to have client, but they're not a need to have.

Um, and so, you know what, like if I'm a little bit late on something compared to what they wanted, like it's not the end of the world. Um, and I think having that sort of, um, you know, clear kind of paradigm and decision-making framework, um, is, is just really, really helpful because it's sort of frees you up to, um, you know, act and live in the way that you actually want to.

Shannon Mattern (09:05.618)

Yeah, so I want to go, you know, get in your time machine and go back to, you know, how did you get your start in web development and then ultimately freelancing?

Tim (09:18.346)

Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I've been building and designing websites for my entire career, but honestly, it's more like my whole life. I built my first website when I was 10. And I was like, absolutely hooked. You know, it was on a Gateway 2000 computer in 1995. So now I'm definitely dating myself a little bit. But, you know, I was hooked ever since. And, you know, after, after college, I

got a job for one of the big consulting firms. And though I didn't realize it at the time, I was actually doing user experience design. And that kind of really just inspired a lot of like, understanding how to create software that people really wanna use. That's easy to use, that's helpful, that's elegant, that's beautiful. And I have been working kind of in that.

realm ever since. After about two years, I started my own startup doing marketing for the craft beer industry. We actually had the number one rated beer app on the App Store for about three and a half years. Since then, I've been in a whole bunch of startups in and around Boston where I live. And then in 2019, I actually lost my job.

which is pretty common in the startup world. I had been working on a new product at an existing startup. We're starting to see some traction, but one day the CEO called me into my office and basically told me he had decided he wasn't all that excited about that product and wanted to go back to working on the old thing. And I was just like, not thrilled, just to say the least, but...

you know, I found myself in this kind of job search that I didn't really want to be in because I had been pouring my like heart and soul into that product for over a year. Um, and I just wasn't finding anything that I wanted to do. And I had sort of freelanced on the, on the side for a little bit. Um, but it never been like, uh, you know, a consideration as a full-time career. Um, and at the time I said like, all right, like, why don't I, you know, just do this for a little while because like, you know, I got, I was getting a few job offers, but nothing I was excited.

Tim (11:39.466)

Um, and so I started doing it and, um, you know, in about three months, I kind of just fallen in love with it. Um, it was such a different paradigm. Um, like the ability to, you know, like I said, set my own schedule, the ability to pick and choose my projects. Um, and yeah, I've, I've never looked back.

Shannon Mattern (11:59.53)

So how did you decide back then how much to charge? Because that is one of the biggest questions that I get on this podcast or in anything that we do. It's like, how do I figure out what to price my services at? So how did you do it? And what is your best advice for our listeners?

Tim (12:19.006)

Yeah. So, and Shannon, please feel free to interrupt me because I could nerd out on this question like all day long. But, you know, fundamentally, there's three ways to price anything, right? There's what's called cost plus pricing, which is what like the Starbucks and McDonald's of the world do. You know, if you're selling a cup of coffee, how much do the beans cost? How much does the, you know, the paper cup cost? How much does the labor to create?

Shannon Mattern (12:24.643)

Oh yeah, no.

Tim (12:48.402)

um, that cup of coffee cost, right. Um, and you add up all of that. That's your costs, right. Um, and then you add something on top of that, right. Some margin that's usually based on like perception of the brand. Um, the problem with that in a, in a sort of freelancing paradigm, um, is that the perception of your brand is like totally unknown, people don't know what to, um, to make of that, your costs are known to you at least, right? Like you can figure out how much you have to, um, to make, to pay, you know,

rent or your mortgage and save for retirement and buy food and all of that kind of stuff. But the other piece is kind of nebulous. The second way to price things is what's called market-based pricing, right? Where you look at what everybody in the market is charging and you say, all right, I think we're somewhere in the middle here or whatever. That is the most common way to price anything. But again, it's pretty arbitrary, right? Like if you look at Upwork, you'll find designers willing to work for $5 an hour.

Um, you know, in many places around the world. Um, and then if you look at like New York design agencies, right, you'll find, um, really high end agencies charging $2,000 an hour, right? So just taking the middle obviously doesn't work there, right? If you, you know, try to go charge a thousand dollars an hour, you're probably, um, going to get laughed out of a lot of rooms, um, and then, you know, so that's problematic too, right. And the last way to, to sort of charge, um,

is what's called value-based billing. And it's often used by really high-end consulting firms where they literally calculate, all right, this project is saving you exactly this much money or it's making you exactly this much money. We're gonna take a percentage of that. And for freelancers, that's challenging for two reasons. Number one, you just don't have the manpower to do that calculation in a really detailed way and track everything you need to track it.

Um, and number two, there's so much that's beyond your control, um, that like, you could lose out on a bunch of upside, right? Like if you, you're charging that way and a client decides, you know, we're actually not going to pursue this project, right? Um, then you wouldn't make anything. Um, and so what I actually recommend doing is triangulating between those three approaches, right? And basically what you do is say, all right, I know what my costs are. So like, that's the absolute bottom I'm willing.

Tim (15:12.878)

have to at least be paying myself on an effective hourly basis enough to survive. I know what the top of the market is. Right. And so like, I'm not going to suggest any price over that at a bare minimum, but I'm going to use the value that I'm driving for my clients to try to move myself further along that spectrum towards the sort of top tier, right. And.

The way you do that is by quantifying what the upside is for the client. So if you're designing a new e-commerce site for an existing e-commerce client, and their conversion rate right now is 1%, if you think you could drive that to 2%, or there's even a chance of that, you know right there, you're doubling their revenue on an ongoing basis.

Um, and so starting to do that calculation and illustrate like, here's what's in it for them, um, can help move you from, okay, like I'm just going to take like whatever other freelancer is charging 75 bucks now or 150 bucks now, or whatever it is and start to like make a business case that you're an investment, not just a cost, um, and push you kind of along, um, that spectrum towards the top end. Um, so that's the approach that I take. It's the approach that I recommend for folks. Um, it's much more of a like.

consultative sale type of approach. So, you know, you have to be willing to have those conversations and ask your clients questions, but that's how I do.

Shannon Mattern (16:48.57)

I love that so much. I'm totally in alignment with that strategy that we position ourselves as collaborative consultants that are here to help our clients create the results that they want and that those results are valuable and all of those things. So I love that so much. And the biggest obstacle I feel like our listeners have when...

wanting to shift from mostly they're doing like a market based approach where they're like, well, here's what I see other people charging. I couldn't possibly charge more than that or whatever that is, is there's this then thing that there's this piece of like, well, I can't promise that I'll double their revenue. Like I can't control like these pieces. So what is your thought

Shannon Mattern (17:45.254)

you know, here are all the pieces and based on my experience, this is what I think you can reasonably expect. And I'm really wanting to shy away from like not even wanting to say that because they're worried that they like can't deliver.

Tim (17:57.694)

Yeah, I mean, I think ultimately, right, any time a business invests in any initiative, right, they're making a bet. You know, they're saying we think that hiring this person or buying this piece of equipment or, you know, redesigning this website or whatever is going to result in, you know, more revenue or less, you know, fewer expenses or whatever it is. Right. And so I think right, starting to quantify that.

for the client is actually in and of itself just having a conversation, a service, because a lot of them don't do it, and at least not in any kind of level of detail. But I think the bigger thing is, you also start to get on the same page with your client about what you would expect is reasonable. And you start to then have a conversation with them about what are they really trying to achieve.

and how important is it to them? What's really the upside? And are you the right person to help them do that? And I think that's really ultimately kind of the secret to unlocking higher rates, is demonstrating to them that you have the expertise, not just to like implement, not just to like design a pretty website or write functional code or whatever it is.

but that you have the expertise to make it more likely that project is gonna succeed. And if you can make that business case, right, the difference between charging $10,000 for a project and $20,000 for a project, when the goal of that project is to make millions, it's like pretty immaterial, right? And they'd rather go with the person who's gonna make it more likely that the project will succeed.

Shannon Mattern (19:50.106)

I love that. So good. So when you first started, you know, freelancing, how did you get clients? The other question that everybody's like, you know, I want to go off on my own, but how do I find the right clients? How did you approach that?

Tim (20:06.762)

Yeah. So I tried everything under the sun the first couple of months. And you know, you name it. Like if you've read about it, I tried it, right? Like freelancing sites like Upwork, blogging, social media. And what I kind of concluded ultimately is that you have to evaluate any sort of marketing approach based on two things, right? Number one, how crowded is that marketing channel?

Shannon Mattern (20:12.662)

I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

Tim (20:34.378)

Right? Anybody can join Upwork, which means everybody does. Um, you know, which means, you know, really like a race to the bottom effectively, right? Like, um, you know, there's people on there willing to work for $5 an hour because the average project gets 50 plus proposals, right? Um, and that means your close rate goes way down. Um, so like that's, that's one, one thing that you kind of have to evaluate, um, any marketing approach on. The other one is, um,

you know, just how much time, money, and effort does it take to use that marketing channel both upfront and on an ongoing basis, right? Creating good social media content, creating good blog content takes a ton of time, particularly if you don't have an existing audience. You know, it's going to take you six, nine, 12 months to like really get going and get clients using one of those approaches, which for most freelancers is kind of like an on-starter.

Right? I know when I started freelancing, I was saving for my wedding, I was saving for a down payment for a house. So it's like, I have to figure something out really quickly. And so what I found is that the kind of approach that has the best mix of those two things, right? Is inherently sort of uncrowded. You get a lot of your client's time and attention and takes very little time, money and effort to use. It's really just one-on-one conversations.

And for me, that looked like two things, right? Number one, figuring out where are my ideal clients hanging out, both online and in the real world, and going and kind of participating there, and also figuring out who already knows your ideal clients and can introduce you. Oftentimes, that's other freelancers, particularly those in sort of complimentary spaces, right? So if you're a designer, web developer freelancers, marketing freelancers,

should be your best friends, right? They are already working with the types of clients you wanna work with. They don't compete with you. And they tend to be the first people that your clients are gonna ask when they're looking for someone like you. In fact, even this week, I've had three different clients ask me if I can recommend somebody in another field. And so partnering up with those folks and really just building relationships is a huge...

Tim (22:56.659)

Like just a hugely efficient way to meet clients who want to buy and need the types of work that you do.

Shannon Mattern (23:05.174)

I just want to say I hope everybody listening to this podcast heard that and heard it again because every single person who comes on the show who has is running a successful web design business when I asked them that question, that is their answer is relationships, reaching out to people, adding value to other people. You know, just going that way. No one ever says Instagram or.

you know, all of the other strategies. So I'm gonna count up how many times on this podcast that has been the recommendation for how to get clients because that's what we teach too. And we're like, you know, hey, like, you know a lot of people who know a lot of people who know a lot of people. And if you just introduce yourself and let them know what you're doing and who you're looking to work with and add value to and you reciprocate, marketing is so easy and it takes no time at all.

to find your way to some of those clients. So I'm gonna have to add it up and be like, yes, Tim is in the build relationships to get your best clients camp when it comes to, when it comes to marketing, it's so good.

Tim (24:19.326)

Yeah, no, I absolutely love that approach. You know, both for the reason that you just outlined, but also because I found it as just substantially more natural, both for myself and for pretty much everyone I've coached, right? I don't know anybody who feels like amazing about spamming people or, you know, constantly, you know,

shouting everything that's great about themselves, from the rooftops, right? But it's super easy to ask for advice and ask for feedback and just like let people know what you're up to. Those are things that we as humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years, right? And just having those conversations I think comes very naturally, even to people like me who are introverted, right? Like having a one-on-one conversation.

is easy. And I think like the nice thing about this approach too is that you never have to pitch anyone until they kind of raise their hand and say, hey, I actually need what you have to sell. Otherwise, you're just saying like, hey, here's what I'm up to. I'd love for some advice. And if they happen to need what you're offering, they'll raise their hand and say, hey, actually, I'm glad that you reached out. We're actually looking for someone like you. And then you start.

Um, and the nice thing about that is like, you know, no one has a problem being pitched to when they're actually trying to buy the thing that's, you know, big sold, right? Like, um, that's not a big deal. Um, and I think it takes just a lot of the pressure, um, out of sales away because, you know, you're, you're treating people the way you would want to be treated. You're treating people the way they.

Shannon Mattern (26:12.27)

Yeah, and you have something of value to add to them or to people they know. And if you truly believe that marketing isn't about you, it's about your clients and it's about making sure that they don't have to race to the bottom on Upwork and that they can work with someone that's really going to get.

get past the project and understand what their goals are and what they really want and ensure that every dollar that they're spending is the best bet on, the best bet they can make on creating their results. Like, why wouldn't you go out and meet people and learn about them and see how you can add value or say, hey, if your project's really interesting, if you ever wanna talk to someone about it, I'd be happy to. Like around here we call,

we call that like building your own table. So it's like, if you, you know, people are always like, well, where do I find my ideal clients? Where are they hanging out? Is there this room that they're all just sitting in hanging around out around this table and I need to just go find that room and they're searching and searching and searching. It's like, you can build your own table and invite people to sit at your own table by building relationships, creating environments where

you can introduce the people that you've met to each other and just being that connector and adding that value. And especially for people who are introverted and don't wanna be like pointing at things on reels or making TikToks or whatever everybody else is doing, like pass, no thank you. I just think that making friends is fun and then you all get to like help each other, so.

Just like you reached out to me to be on this podcast. I'm always like, yes, like I see that we have something in common, we serve a similar audience. Like it's a win-win. Why would I not do that? You know, and we don't know each other, you know, until today. So yeah.

Tim (28:14.634)

Yeah, yeah, I think that's exactly right. I mean, yeah, the reality is that most people just like enjoy hanging out with other people who do similar things, right? And so just going into those places, building those relationships, and just kind of like talking shop with people, does wonders.

Shannon Mattern (28:36.542)

Yeah. So I was looking at, you know, the typical questions that I asked people on this podcast. And one of them that jumped out at me that I wanted to ask you is, what's a pivotal moment that you can remember on your journey so far? Like what are, what's one of those things that happened that was just like, I'm going in this direction now?

Tim (29:00.614)

Yeah, yeah, I think there's probably a couple of them. The one that really jumps to mind is, you know, when I was kind of searching for a full-time job, getting an offer and, you know, sitting down and kind of like talking about it with my wife and just realizing like, I'm not excited about this at all. And I think just making the bet of like,

All right, like I'm confident enough in myself and my abilities that I'm not gonna take this just because it's safe. And I'm gonna bet on myself, I'm gonna invest in myself. That I think was a really pivotal moment for me. And it was just huge because nothing else that I've been able to do since then would have happened if I hadn't made that decision.

So, you know, that's the one that I think really stands out.

Shannon Mattern (29:59.854)

That's, yeah, I was just thinking back to that moment for me and coming home and telling my husband like, hey, I put my notice in, I'm taking this side hustle thing full time and just being nervous myself to take the leap and leave behind the quote unquote security of the, you know, nice paycheck and the benefits and all of that stuff.

Just recently, it's been six years since I left. And I'm like, oh my gosh, I was, I don't wanna say delusional because I don't think that that's the right word. But what I thought was security was the opposite of freedom. And I just remember because we both grew up, go to school, go to college, get good grades, get a good job.

make sure you can save for retirement, pay your mortgage, like all the things that we're taught to do that like, successful, stable, steady people do. And here I am wanting to walk away. And I was concerned, because I had told him all along, like, this is happening. I'm trying to like prepare him for me walking away from the golden handcuffs, so to speak. And his reaction was like,

I expected him to be like, what are you doing? Can you take it back? And he was like, yeah, let's do it. Let's go for it. And so I just felt, I was just curious. Like, what was your wife's reaction to, you know, I have these two paths in front of me, like the job or betting on myself? Like, was she all in on that too?

Tim (31:47.158)

Yeah, yeah, she was absolutely all in. I think I've had the lucky, you know, a lucky situation as well and getting the same kind of support. And, you know, I've found that like frequently throughout the last five or so years, like there've been situations where I'm like, you know, I'm not sure if I want to take this risk or not.

Shannon Mattern (31:57.863)

Yeah.

Tim (32:14.354)

And she's always been like, you know, if you're excited about it, like, just do it. Like we're going to be fine. Right. We have savings. We, you know, my job stable, all that kind of stuff. And, um, yeah, I can't, I can't, uh, you know, sing, sing the praises enough of having a spouse who's really supportive. Um, yeah, get, get yourself a good spouse. If you're listening to this podcast, it's just huge.

Shannon Mattern (32:39.194)

Yeah, truly because there are a lot of ups and downs in terms of, you know, like building a business and going through challenging times. And, you know, I'm, I'm a coach, you're a coach, we coach other people. So I'm assuming you think people should have mentors as they as they navigate as they navigate that. But also having like your personal network of support.

Tim (33:00.91)

Absolutely.

Shannon Mattern (33:08.222)

to help you through that is huge. And yeah, like without the support of my husband, just the emotional support and the like, and the, you know, really Shannon, you've been doing this for how long? Like it's gonna work out. Every challenge you go through, you get through. So I'll just remind you of that, you know, again and again. And yeah, so it's just, yeah. That's so awesome that you have that same experience.

with your wife. So how did it come about that you decided to start freelance GPS? At what point in your freelancing journey were you like, whoa, there's really a need for this?

Tim (33:51.626)

Yeah, honestly, it started when I had a few friends and friends of friends coming to me for advice. And I realized, and I hadn't really thought about it prior to that, you know, I had a ton of know how and how to make, you know, this kind of thing happen, right? How to build a successful freelance business. And I think it was around the same time as I started kind of like

you know, talk to some other people who were trying to do the same thing that I realized how much I loved it. Um, and those two kinds of things kind of made it really obvious. Um, you know, I started, I started kind of coaching a few people. Um, and it was, you know, very kind of haphazard and whatever else. And I was like, all right, like I'll put together some content, right? Like I'll try to systemize systematize some of this stuff. Um, and really just one thing led to another. And, um,

I started building freelance GPS as a side hustle and it still is, like freelancing is still my main focus, but it's been a ton of fun.

Shannon Mattern (34:59.614)

Yeah, it is, I think it is so, well, one, it's like all of the mistakes you inevitably make along the way, and I say you as in me also, that it's really rewarding to be like, oh, I made this mistake, here's what I learned from it, here's how I changed it, that worked really well, and I'm not gonna just use that information to help myself for the next time. I can actually,

have a lot of impact and help a lot of other people create the freedom and the agency and the fulfillment and the autonomy that I've been able to create as having gone through the mishaps and the mistakes and the wins and the good things. And it is, I feel like as much fun as it is to solve like a difficult tech problem and like come out on the other side of that, like to help someone

like book a client at a higher price than they've ever had possible or even like maybe walk away from a bad client relationship that they need to walk away from is just infinitely more rewarding somehow. I don't know.

Tim (36:11.766)

Absolutely. I mean, I think ultimately, right? Like everything we do is all about people. And I mean, for me at least, like having, you know, coach people and have them come back and been like, you know, this is how you changed my life. Like, I wouldn't trade that for anything, you know? It's just such an amazing feeling. And, you know, if you're, I'd say for anyone who's thinking about getting into coaching, absolutely do it.

Shannon Mattern (36:17.118)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (36:27.783)

Yes.

Tim (36:41.123)

It's such a great way to give back. It's so rewarding. Yeah, absolutely love it.

Shannon Mattern (36:47.578)

And I also kind of think to tie it back to what we were talking about earlier with, um, you know, when we're talking about like our clients and how we help them make decisions that are going to pay off for them in the future, I think investing in coaching with the right mentor is like one of the best investments that you can make in your business because you're just going to the opportunity cost of

messing up and fixing it yourself. I mean, you can, you can absolutely figure it out that way. Everybody listening to this is very smart, but also you can't see what you can't see all the time. And other people just wanna like, other people like Tim just wanna like help you shortcut it and help you avoid that and help you like achieve the potential that maybe you don't even see in yourself. So I just feel like everybody should have coach, not just cause I'm a coach.

Tim (37:40.69)

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I spent 20k on coaching last year and it was worth every penny and then some. I actually feel like I got a really good deal compared to the amount of value it's created for me. I'd say be circumspect about who you choose and make sure that they're kind of the right fit for you. But

Shannon Mattern (37:42.759)

I'm sorry.

Shannon Mattern (37:47.059)

Mm-hmm.

Shannon Mattern (37:53.655)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (38:03.88)

Yeah.

Tim (38:08.678)

It has just moved my career forward so much on so many levels and even just my life forward. So yeah, I would agree. Everybody should have a coach.

Shannon Mattern (38:18.662)

Yeah, and I just think it's important to just be like, okay, this person not necessarily has done what I'm doing, like the exact same thing, but this person really understands where I want to go and cares about it and can help me get there. So I just, I think that that's, I don't know, I totally agree with you. My investments in coaching have been my, I don't know.

life changing as well. So I just have a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who is just starting out on their freelance journey?

Tim (39:02.378)

Yeah, I'd say more than anything, just keep experimenting. I'm a huge fan of the Lean Startup methodology, so much so that it's an approach I take in my personal life too. And I think just the ability to treat your business like it's an experiment and think through anytime there's something that feels risky or daunting, how do I test this and how do I test it quickly?

rather than spending months or years planning before pulling the trigger, right? It's way better to fail fast because you learn something from each experiment that doesn't work out and you adjust your hypothesis and then you just keep doing it, right? And so that's, I think my biggest piece of advice is treat your business like an experiment. Don't be afraid to try something and have it work out. That's the only way we learn.

And the faster you do that, the quicker you'll get where you want to be.

Shannon Mattern (40:05.318)

Oh, that is such good advice. I was just reflecting on my 2023 for a podcast episode. And I was just realizing, like, oh, I spent a lot of time avoiding making difficult decisions in 2023. And what you just said just kind of jumped out at me because I'm like, oh, yeah, I was trying to avoid what I thought would have been failure. But instead, by the way, I was like,

delaying and not acting fast, I made it worse. So I appreciate that advice, because I'm like, yeah, you do just wanna like make, what is my theory of what could happen hypothesis, make a decision, get the data, move forward, instead of like staying stuck in the what ifs or the planning or the preparing or the researching. I'm not a plan prepare research, but I'm definitely like a.

What if, what if, what if it's like, okay, we'll just try something and find out.

Tim (41:05.058)

Yeah.

Tim (41:08.982)

Yeah, I mean, and I honestly, like, I think I'm naturally predisposed to do the same thing. And so like, this has helped me so much, just like the realization that there's no way to guarantee success, but there is one way to guarantee failure, and that's by never doing anything. Right. Um, and so if you get paralyzed, um, yeah, if you get paralyzed by indecision, right, um, that guarantees failure. So you just do something, just take that next step and see what happens.

Shannon Mattern (41:25.738)

That's the quote for this episode.

Shannon Mattern (41:38.27)

So good. Okay, one more question. What is one belief about yourself that you had to change to get to where you are today?

Tim (41:48.478)

Yeah, I love that question. And I think for me, the big one is that I think for the longest time, never believed I would be good at sales or marketing. You know, I mentioned earlier, I'm naturally an introvert. So like talking to large groups of people doesn't necessarily come naturally to me. You know, going out and kind of singing my own praises doesn't necessarily come naturally to me. But I think.

Um, what happened over the past five years is I realized, um, that's not the only approach to sales and marketing, right? And, and the approach of, of having one-on-one conversations of building relationships, of taking an interest in people and their, and their problems and just genuinely trying to help them, um, works just as well, if not better.

Um, and, and means that like, I personally have a whole bunch of skills to bring to the table, um, that helped me sell more and, and serve my clients better.

Shannon Mattern (42:50.478)

Um, so good. I think a lot of people think have a belief that they're not good at sales and marketing and you get to make sales and marketing work with your unique superpowers and what you love. And you don't have to be somebody else that you're not to get clients. I just like, that makes me think about my early days where I'm like taking a picture and like a corporate jacket, like this.

Tim (43:15.07)

Yeah.

Shannon Mattern (43:15.574)

pose and just being like, and then saying things like we on my website when I'm like, it's just me. And you know, you can just be you and you will get more clients that way for sure. Yeah, so tell us more about freelance GPS, where we can connect with you and find all of the cool things that you're up to and learn more about your coaching.

Tim (43:40.766)

Yeah, yeah. So the best place to go is just freelance GPS.com. I've got a free course that really goes through in a lot of detail some of the fundamentals that we've talked about today, right?

pricing, where and how to find clients, how to have those conversations and start building those relationships, all of that kind of stuff. I also do one-on-one coaching. I've got a paid course as well, so there's a lot of opportunities to engage. And one thing I'll say is for anyone who's listening, I do free hour-long strategy sessions. So if you just want...

to chat with someone who's done it before, whether you're just thinking of starting or you've been a freelancer for a while and you've got a specific challenge you're struggling with. I would love to chat with you. That's just kind of my way of paying it forward, because I've had the benefit of getting a lot of help from other folks along the way too.

Shannon Mattern (44:46.49)

Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being here. I'll link all of that up in the show notes. So definitely go connect with Tim. He's got some really cool resources on his website, freelancegps.com. Thank you for everything that you shared. It was super, super valuable and it's been so great to meet you.

Tim (45:04.926)

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me Shannon. Great to meet you as well.

Summary

In this episode, Shannon Mattern interviews Tim Noetzel, the founder of Freelance GPS, a platform that provides coaching and resources for freelancers. Tim shares his journey as a freelance designer and developer and explains how freelancing has brought him freedom and flexibility. He emphasizes the importance of designing your business to support your life and setting clear boundaries with clients. Tim also provides insights on pricing your services, finding clients through building relationships, and the value of coaching and mentorship. He encourages freelancers to treat their business as an experiment and to embrace their unique strengths in sales and marketing.

Takeaways

  • Design your business to support your life and set clear boundaries with clients.
  • There are three approaches to pricing: cost-plus pricing, market-based pricing, and value-based pricing and Tim discusses them in detail.
  • Build relationships and leverage your network to find clients.
  • Invest in coaching and mentorship to accelerate your freelance journey.
  • Treat your business as an experiment and embrace your unique strengths in sales and marketing. 

Chapters

  • 00:00 Introduction to Tim Noetzel and Freelance GPS
  • 03:29 Creating Freedom and Flexibility in Freelancing
  • 06:22 Designing Your Business to Support Your Life
  • 09:18 Tim's Journey in Web Development and Freelancing
  • 11:59 Pricing Your Freelance Services
  • 16:48 Building Relationships to Find Clients
  • 23:05 The Importance of Supportive Relationships
  • 29:00 Starting Freelance GPS and Helping Others
  • 39:02 The Power of Experimentation in Freelancing
  • 41:48 Changing the Belief About Sales and Marketing
  • 43:40 Connecting with Tim and Freelance GPS
A smiling person with a tooth showing on their chin is looking indoors.

Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy

ABOUT YOUR HOST, SHANNON MATTERN

I help ambitious women web designers reclaim their time, book web design projects they love, and make more as a freelance web designer than they ever thought possible.

I created the Web Designer Academy to give you everything I wished I would have had when I started freelancing:  step-by-step processes and fill-in-the-blank templates for your messaging, marketing, packages, consultations, sales and project management combined with next-level support so that you have everything you need to create a consistently profitable web design business doing work you love for clients you love.