Kind words from readers, listeners, students, and colleagues.
Care to add yours to the list? Awesome! Drop me a line here: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hourly Billing Is Nuts” gave me the tools to break free from hourly billing, talk openly with clients about the value I can provide, and build out pricing from there.
The book blew my mind. Freelance writers are often asked about their hourly or per-word rate, but this limits earning potential and creates skewed incentives. If work is priced on inputs, not results, the vendor is punished for efficiency and is incentivized to withhold immediate value.
— Chris Weller, Founder 1-Across
Wanted you to know that your proposal template has been so helpful! I shared it in my newsletter today.
I was already doing well in my business, but since switching to your template:
- I’ve increased my close rate from 50% to 100%
- I’ve increased my average deal size from 30k to 44k
- I’ve doubled the number of clients who pay in full up front
— Erin Balsa
The Pricing Seminar was a great journey for me. A good fit for where I am in my business. It gave me a lot of actionable ideas. Yesterday I published my lead magnet with a 5 day crash course. I have felt so good about the value it will give my community and clients. There are so many nuances in this course that anyone who gets it can see the entire map of their business and run it like a value driven machine. I can’t wait to share the successful transformation I am going to create in my business.
– Vikram Shetty, 73Bit
@jstark Wow, your website teardown in Ditcherville was amazingly helpful. From our COO: “For f#ck’s sake. We have paid our marketing contractors about $200k total over 2 years, and they have never given us something as clear and helpful as this review.”
– Danny Wilson, Cofounder and CEO, Geocene
I have to let you know...
Your emails are the only ones I read regularly.
- They are consistent. I know what I’ll get.
- They are easy to read – they flow like you are talking. (I love the stories too!)
- They sometimes build up each other, so I’m more motivated to read one, knowing that the next day might provide more context.
- You address confusion – quickly! (probably because you have such an attentive audience who is quick to provide feedback)
- And the content is so focused. You’re not solving the worlds problems. You’re constantly motivating us to move to value based pricing.
- You provide a step by step approach to various topics like Podcasts and emails... all with the goal of growing our business and making more money.
It’s awesome. Keep it up!!!!
– Jenn Tankanow
This is killer - printing it out and posting it on my wall. Thank you! 🙏
— John Hemminger, Owner and Creative Director, StudioRd Design
I just wanted to thank you for the daily emails that you have been sending out on regular basis. Your advice has made a huge impact on my business, and I have seen a five-fold increase in my income since I started following your advice.
Your emails have helped me to improve my business in a number of ways, from better managing my time, to more effective contracts and documentation. I’m so grateful for all the help you have given me and I’m sure I will continue to benefit from your emails in the future.
Don’t forget your strong words are changing lives here in Pakistan, a third-world country, far away from States.
You are awesome.
– Aasim Abdullah, SQL Server Consultant, SortByNULL
Jonathan, in a couple weeks I will be airing the 100th episode of my podcast! From humble beginnings a year ago I’m now getting over 2,000 downloads per month and the show has over 16,000 total downloads! Better yet, I hear from people about how I am impacting their lives, and my network and business opportunities are growing. The approach that you teach in your podcasting course is what has allowed me to get started and to sustain the show. The simple - SIMPLE - strategies you teach continue to underpin how I do the show. THANK YOU!
– Frederick Buskey, Strategic Leadership Consulting
Thank you for your FANTASTIC program yesterday for our monthly PRSA Independent Practitioners Alliance Business Building webinar series. Your message resonated with so many of our members, and you have the others thinking about hourly billing in a whole new way. I am still receiving texts, emails and social media comments about how great the program was!
Your content was insightful and thought-provoking. Your delivery was engaging and encouraging. Even some of our “old-school” naysayers were complimentary of the ideas you presented when we were discussing the webinar on the PRSA College of Fellows group Zoom chat later in the day…in fact, the bulk of that latter one-hour conversation focused on the concepts you’d shared and how they might be applied to various audiences (e.g., agencies vs. government, nonprofit vs. corporate, etc.).
Attendance for the program was one of the highest we’ve seen in the 8 years I’ve been hosting the webinars. We typically have 40-50% of registrants attend live (with the rest watching the on-demand replay), but yesterday we had over 70% attend live and they stayed until the very end, proof positive your presentation was captivating, and that there is deep interest in ditching hourly billing!
If there is ever anything I can do to help you in your continued quest to rid the world of hourly billing, don’t hesitate to reach out.
With deep appreciation,
– Wendy Kurtz, President, Elizabeth Charles & Associates, LLC
Stop reading this quote and hire Jonathan. If you’re still not sure, call me and I’ll read this quote to you again.
– Sean Boyce, Founder, NxtStep Consulting
You know, after all these years I still stay subscribed to your list, and low and behold I get a nugget that still applies. One of my goals is to expand my business into a different area, and while I know how to do sell and close business, lead generation is where I’m drawing a blank. Just your simple question "Who do you want to work with?" sort of helped break it down.
Selling voice over service to large enterprises and production companies is a bit different than software, namely one of the most effective way is cold call/email campains. Is it spray and pray? Yes, but it everyone in the industry tells me it work.
Nonetheless, hope all is well in Stark-land. Semi-relevant to you, my daughter (13) took up Karate, and while she hasn’t been in any tournaments, I am looking forward to ridiculously tall trophies.
– Derek Dysart, Voice Actor
It had been my goal for years to start a podcast but it seemed so daunting and always got pushed off as an “important but not urgent” item. Plus, there was so much information online about how to start a podcast that I didn’t know where to start. Your program spelled it out in easy to follow steps. I literally copy + pasted your invite script and booked the very first guest I invited! I have my first podcast interview next week! Thanks for the podcast challenge, I would never have actually pulled the trigger on my podcast without it.
– Chris O’Brien
The Five Day Podcasting challenge course helped me to launch a podcast I’d been thinking about doing for months in five days. I started the course on May 11th, and by June 8th, had the first episode produced and released. That’s 3 weeks from the first day of the course to the first episode being available to the public.
That’s incredible and a testament to your approach in teaching both the mechanics of how to get started and removing the roadblocks to producing a podcast.
I’m hoping there will be an intermediate course that can focus further on good sound mechanics, production, show formats, and specialized advice for people who already have podcasts to help them better serve their audience.
Thanks again for running the 5DPC.
– George Stocker
I just want to thank you for all the knowledge bombs you’re dropping on a daily basis. I’ve truly learned a ton ever since I signed up for your newsletter.
– Robert Smart
J, Out of all the kick ass emails you send out, this one was beyond amazing and resonated. I’m also a little jealous...as a website consultant I wish I had thought about saying it this way...because, well, nothing could be farther from the truth about a website. Rock on! Dinos
– Dinos Papoulias
If you are a freelancer, or if you want to quit your job and become one, then I highly recommend that you consume every piece of content created by Jonathan Stark. There’s a ton of great, free stuff on his website as well as a daily email newsletter, and his podcast, The Business of Authority, together with Rochelle Moulton.
– Neville Mehra
Hi Jonathan I been following your stuff for a little over a month but it really clicks with me. I can’t tell you how many sales/marketing/business books i’ve read and gurus I’ve watched, but your content is so simple and powerful you just get straight to the point and offer practical steps to take right now. I love it man, I already read through your PDF books and you’ve answered almost all the questions that been in the back of my mind keeping me up this last few years. I am really excited and looking forward to putting all of these steps into play, you’ve already given me so much clarity, and really have been a tremendous inspiration. Thank you. -Mike
– Michael Shatravka
I find the information you provide to be freaking amazing.
A little bit about me is that I am a developer for a little over 10 years, which I have focused on web development for the last 5-6 years. I am starting up my own consultant business now and I am in the process of defining what I want to do and what audience I would like to help.
The topics I need the most help with are client acquisition, pricing, and proposals. I look forward to reading your emails in the near future. They have been very helpful thus far and a great resource for me as I get started building my business.
I wanted to send this email to say thank you for sharing your expertise and to keep being awesome!!
Thanks, Karl E.
– Karl Etherly
Jonathan, This is a really profound post, at least for me right now. I’ve been wrestling with this concept but without knowing it. The way you’ve phrased it brings so much clarity. Thank you! Frederick
– Frederick Buskey
Hey Jonathan! I’ll make this quick, I f’ing love your emails, there aren’t many email lists that I actively look forward to reading every day, but I love taking a 5 minute break from my work to digest your daily email, it always inspires and informs me and is part of my daily routine now. This latest one today with the podcast, soooo damn good. I’m a web designer currently trying to build a productized service business for independent music artists and this podcast just had so much value in it for me I’ve already listened to it twice back to back and shared it with about 3 people. That’s all I wanted to say.... THANK YOU! DJ
Hi Jonathan, Just wanted to let you know I really appreciate your insight and newsletters-Your perspectives and examples are great! You really have a talent to digest difficult situations and produce crystal clear outcomes. I’m a Rhode Island based graphic designer and recently discovered you from your appearance with The Futur w/ Chris Do. Thanks for what you do for the design community! -Max VanDexter
– Max Van Dexter
OMG Jonathan this is brilliant and so bag on the money! Just home from a Joomla conference and this was the first email I opened. So grateful for your insights. Have a super day! Alison
– Alison Meeks
Jonathan is probably the best person to follow online if you’re trying to grow your expert business. He is very knowledgable, experienced and his advice is always great. I’ve used Jonathan’s advice on marketing and niching down and I’ve already seen great progress even though it’s only been like 3 months. I’ve built my personal website where I talk about my ideal client persona, their pains, and goals and how I can help them solve them. It has been an amazing tool that has enabled me to position myself higher than other developers, gain more respect from clients and win some projects just because of my positioning and website. So if you’re a developer, designer or a consultant you should definitely listen to Jonathan’s advice, implement it and you will see results soon :)
– Andriy Haydash
i love this email and am working through each fogginess for each business I have. An enormously clear, concise and helpful email - thanks again. if i had a printer id stick it on my wall
– Grant Sparkes-Carroll
Your daily emails are nuggets of wisdom that push your community to think differently. The lesson/story structure helps drive the point home as welll. TLDR: These are incredibly valuable Jonathan. Thank you! Best, Jonathan Acuña
This is probably one of best analogies I’ve ever read.
– Michel Fortin
Honestly, of all the email lists I subscribe to, not only is yours is the daily one I’m still opted into, but your emails are the only ones I typically find myself reading from beginning to end. That’s because they’re never, ever a waste of my time. They’re always thought-provoking and inspirational. They always add value. That’s a truly amazing thing to pull off, and you do it so well. Thank you. :-)
– Kathrin Bussmann
Thanks to coaching with Jonathan, I was able to get clarity and confidence around how to price our services, and where we’ve been leaving money on the table. Pricing is one of those small changes that can have a outsize downstream impact in your business. It’s just too important to leave to not get right. I highly recommend working with Jonathan, especially if you’re looking to move upmarket, charge for value, and move to a more premium positioning. With small adjustments to how you sell and price your offer thanks to Jonathan, you will see ROI in the thousands (or tens of thousands) on your very next sale.
– Sam Shepler
After reading your emails every day + listening to TBOA every week I wasn’t expecting to have my mind blown again to this degree. Although I’m ALWAYS picking up something new.
"Strategies exist because everyone has limited resources. Therefore, you need to focus your energy. Your strategy is the articulation of that focus. Mixing strategies will lead to failure. A vague strategy will lead to failure. Having no strategy will lead to failure."
I jumped up from my computer in joy :)
Thanks for everything!
– Bas Verdonk
Would I recommend Private Coaching with Jonathan? Hell yeah. He stopped me from making dozens of missteps along the way. Hiring him means protection from the downside and a straighter line to the upside potential of what I’m trying to accomplish. He fundamentally changed the direction of my future for the better.
– Kevin Whelan
Pure gold!! Thank you, Jonathan!!
– Jason Hoover
It’s genius, Jonathan!!! Thanks a mil for sharing that!
– Daniel Ivanov
Hi, Mr. Stark.
I just have to thank you so much for giving all the advices you’ve given this last months. You’ve already killed the impostor that used to live deep inside of me.
I’ve followed your YouTube channel and newsletter and those have helped me directly to upstand as a professional, it gave me confidence to speak as a specialist, face to face, sincerely with my clients and potential clients. I’ve lost my fear about value and price talking. They now feel they know more themselves because of the "why’s" I’ve asked.
I know that it may look like just a motivated freelancer speaking. No it’s not. It’s actually someone who’s touching the sincerity of relationships that had no chance to exist few months ago.
That’s just amazing. You’re a great business teacher. You’ll change lives.
Have a great weekend, sir.
– Gabriel Bortolot
Did I have an ah-ha moment reading The Freelancers Roadmap? Yes! When I finished reading the book. "So THIS is how you run a successful business as a freelancer", I thought. Rather than having an "ah ha!" moment at a specific part, I had one at the book as a whole.
– Nicolas Zerpa
Can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your Value Pricing Bootcamp course, the productized service course and your business of authority podcast—they’re literally changing whole mindsets and setting me on the course for better business and growth! You’re doing more for my business through free content than my $120k art school degree. Thank you!
– Uriah Fracassi
You made more impact in my design career than anyone in the last four-years. I’ve had mentors and had joined private groups before but your videos, emails, and podcast with Chris Do made me question everything at a new level. It almost seems like everyone is trying to weasel their way around clarity and direct genuine answers. Thanks Jonathan! Seriously...
– Paulius Podziunas
Hey J, I signed up for a lot of email lists, however when it comes to yours I swear to God I have never seen so much value in my life. For. Free. Like damn. Thank you so much J. You’re amazing.
– Mahmoud Ahmed
Brilliant email J. Loved it. I don’t generally respond to emails but you are the exception. The value you provide is excellent. Thanks
– Samir Patnaik
Jonathan is worse than my old rugby coach. Comfort zone? What comfort zone?!
– Kevin Whelan
I’ve been following Jonathan’s emails and podcasts for a long time but it’s great to have a lot of the info collected in one place with The Freelancer’s Roadmap.
– Brian Ward
Loving The Freelancer’s Roadmap! The one thing that I see as very helpful to me is the succinct presentation of the roadmap, which goes through “productized-ville” first. I like that idea as a starting point, before moving ultimately into value-based proposals. It’s an easier transition for me.
– Brent Giesler
The info in Value Pricing Bootcamp is so good!
I spoke to a potential client on the phone yesterday, that by using these methods, I was able to already establish their budget for the project could be around $100k, way more than I would’ve thought to quote initially. This was just the very first conversation and I still need to qualify them and the project in other ways, but hey, that was a great start!
So thank you again - looking forward to finishing the course and the next steps.
– Rocio Villalobos, VidroMedia
I just finished reading The Freelancer’s Roadmap this morning and of course, I loved it.
Your clear/direct writing style is pitch perfect for my needs.
Keep up the good work, Jonathan :)
– Clint Walkingstick
GOD I LOVE THIS.
What a fabulous email.
– Tom Kerwin
I’ve been reading your material for quite a while now, but The Freelancer’s Roadmap really shifted my thinking. In case you’re interested, I can get a little more specific with how you’ve helped:
- me: career’s been everything from emergency aid worker to policy wonk to futures trader (what I currently do).
- my issue: I’ve been joining small startups in roles that quickly become generalist. First 3 months, I can point to great results - sales, new revenue streams, repositioned products....but 6 months later, I’m burned out, underpaid, and not really that useful.
You’ve helped me with that issue in two ways:
A) Better positioning...specifically around the idea of strategy vs commodity. When I picked up TFR, I was focused on raising my copywriting rates....but soon realized even at $500/article, I wasn’t really going to hit my income goals AND I didn’t have any real creative control over what I was writing.
I’m not "there" yet, but I’ve been working hard to really hammer out a true value I can offer that’s more strategy-based. Since my initial reply to you, I went from booking copywriting jobs from $250-$600 to much more specialized roles. These include onboarding startups to Hubspot and Shopify, writing interview-based case studies for a couple clients I thought were way out of my league, and delivering marketing + growth strategies in either written form or as online workshops with the decision making teams...
B) ...which leads to pricing. I got aggressive both in my outreach and in my pricing. I’m rebuilding my client list much more quickly than I can keep up with, and the result is crazy. If I just land half of the deals I’m negotiating, I’ll have made more money in the last month than I did in all of 2018.
Again, emphasis on the "I’m not ’there’ yet" bit....but making real progress.
So, when I said your book shifted my thinking - yes, it did. And that’s translated into better actions and better business (higher paying, better clients, more interesting work, etc).
Thanks for helping open my eyes. I really mean that. Thank you.
All the best,
– Dan McDermott
I’ve thoroughly been enjoying Jonathan’s Ditching Hourly podcast. It’s changed my life, even though I haven’t fully integrated those practices into my daily routine; that’s a longer story. 😉
– Robert Hall, Co-founder of DataSynq
I’ve generally been skeptical of fixed vs. hourly pricing debates. It seemed like both options required a conversation with the client if and when things started to go over budget. It just seemed like a semantic difference.
It didn’t click until I read The Freelancer’s Roadmap. Jonathan described value pricing as an option during the proposal process, where you charge a premium for taking on the risk of a bad estimate.
This can also start to solve an additional problem in my business which is we are just starting and currently eating a lot of over-estimate time ourselves.
Definitely adding a value-based fixed price to my next large proposal!
– Trevor Carr, Default Value
The Freelancer’s Road Map is the first book I have read cover to cover without falling asleep... just realised! Thank you for that, well worth the money and is now a ’bible’ I am bouncing back to for ideas when work is quiet, thanks for that too.
– Jenny Howes, Jenny Howes Design
Dude you’re a genius! Thanks for this! This is a severity 1 priority 1 problem that’s really made me reconsider building websites for a living. I always knew it wasn’t the clients fault, but couldn’t find the words together to challenge their small budgets, now I have weapons!
– Virgil Shelton
Jonathan, you are good!!
I read every email you send. I love your style and how you use analogies to get readers to understand what you’re teaching.
Thank you for your consistency and wisdom.
– Terri Podlenski, Founder at Smart Creative Labs
Holy sh*t, nuggets like this are why I love your daily mails.
– Jeff Jenkinson
Your emailed pearls of wisdom are quickly adding up to a serious jewelery collection, thank you most graciously for your insight and inspiration.
All the best
– Jacques Naude
Charge MORE for the stuff I find easy and enjoy. I LOVE this idea!!!
I’m going to spend some time with this, because it makes complete sense to me. Now just to figure out where to find those clients who’ll pay for that. 😉
I love to get an email that makes me stop and think. Thanks for consistently writing to us each day. It’s much appreciated!
— Dina Pruitt
This is solid gold! I have been struggling with how to deal with this myself. Thank you so much for sharing this.
– Tommy Carouso
After hearing about Jonathan on Wes Bos’ Syntax podcast, it was honestly a life-changing moment to read what he was teaching. As a self-employed developer, it aligned with my goals for my business growth, and the offering I wanted to provide clients.
I read Jonathan’s books, listened to his podcasts, and then engaged Jonathan to help me with a client proposal. He helped me lock down on a proposal that resulted in my client signing off a proposal for double their communicated budget.
This put me in a position for the project discovery, where once I would be concerned about scope creep, I instead knew that I had enough of a budget to provide outstanding value to my client, do everything they wanted, and give 150% to the project, with a large ROI for the client. Win-Win for the client and me. This is how working with clients should be.
– Alex Murton
Jonathan, The Introduction Game exercise has been SO INCREDIBLY VALUABLE! And has secured your newsletter as the best one I’ve ever read! Thank you!
– Katie Milton
Jonathan Stark’s campaign against hourly billing made sense to me when I first heard it, but I had no idea how to put it into practice. Also, Jonathan seemed to be talking to such big companies, I was wondering if my situation would be really something to trouble him with.
As soon as I asked my first question, my concerns were dissolved. Jonathan’s a master at active listening, no matter how messy you think the problem is, and he comes up with creative but practical solutions to help solopreneurs to punch above their weight.
– Anthony English
Jim Thomure from St Louis here... just a quick note to you... I’m really enjoying your books "Hourly Billing is Nuts" and the supplemental texts.
Looking to put these ideas into action with my upcoming projects, the way you lay out your ideas make it super simple to follow and implement. I can tell right away you’ll be someone I need to pay attention to in order to help grow my software development practice.
— Jim Thomure, TimeSaver Software
OK. Mind officially blown.
You’ve left me speechless with how much you’re helping me.
I’ll start assimilating all of this and work on the mindset shift.
You’re the “Freelancer’s Adam Levine”.
Thank you, Jonathan.
– Brent Giesler
Thank you, Jonathan!
Your emails are so valuable, I just realized that I’ve been marking every single one of them with a star. I’ve never done that to anyone else’s newsletter.
All the best, Chris
— Chris Howard
Jonathan’s book increased my revenue by 1000%! I’m actually winning projects at 10x the hourly rate I used to make. In the past quarter, I banked six months salary. Honestly, the feeling of knowing you have 6mo in the bank is freedom beyond anything I have ever experienced.
— Marcus Blankenship
Jonathan, I landed a $25k monthly contract on account of the advice in your book. Thank you a thousand times over!!
— Sam Selikoff
I used Jonathan’s retainer template to land a support and mentoring contract. The client got peace of mind and the assistance they needed, and I got an effective hourly rate of close to $1,000!
— Ben Clinkinbeard
Jonathan - I used your proposal as a template for a job I pitched yesterday. They LOVED it. Not only did they love it, they picked option 3 (the highest priced option) and want to put me on retainer after the final project payment. And as you suggested, I asked for 50%/50% with a set final payment date and they agreed - it’s freaking brilliant! Because of your instruction this month, I had the balls to ask, and the client didn’t bat an eye. I never thought about fixed date before but will never do it another way. Thanks!
— Lisa Ellington
WIN! just got back a signed proposal for a retainer client using Jonathan’s exact template and won the deal! Client went through my ISO roadmap first and was happy to move forward with the planned proposal. The extra awesome thing is she wants to move up to option 2 of the proposal in 3 months!
— Isha Bell
Amazing talk today, Jonathan! In one fell swoop you have solved a few of my biggest frustrations (niggly scope creep, competing on price, etc.)
— Meredith Eisenberg
Jonathan, I watched the Altitude of Involvement recording last week and now I have your worksheet etched in my mind. It will change how I run my business. Thank you!
The Altitude of Involvement webcast was sooo eye opening! I realized that I have what it takes to be a consultant because when I do implementation work I always get “opinion” questions from my clients.
And the crazy thing is that that’s how it’s been for years, so I couldve BEEN a consultant years ago lol. I also realized that I was trying to charge consulting fees for implementation work. I was convinced that clients didn’t value my consultation without implementation work added in.
This worksheet and webinar is GOLD! Thanks Jonathan!!
— Isha Bell
Jonathan should have a warning label on his head. His advice will shake your world.
— David Trejo
I would never be where I am now–in this short amount of time–without Jonathan’s assistance. So, the return on investment from that perspective is priceless.
— Katherine P
If I could, I would round up every consultant I’ve ever met and pull them into Jonathan’s presentation on Value Pricing and make them watch it with their eyes forced open “Clockwork Orange” style.
– Matt Inglot, Freelance Transformation
I can’t believe how much I got done in the time that we started the coaching sessions. I needed to have someone who could listen to all my ideas, give me unexpected and invaluable feedback, and keep me accountable and on task. I wouldn’t have my new business plan on track without his guidance and resources.
— Geneve Hoffman
Jonathan, I just read your article on asking for 100% payment up-front. It’s not too often you come across something life-changing. Muchas.
– Aaron Wrixon, Content Strategist
Hey Jonathan! Your newsletter is one of the best, if not the best, that I’ve seen. I think you’ll be able to easily compile these lessons into a mini-ebook and sell it. Keep up the good work!
– Greg Navis
Being on Jonathan’s daily emails is the next best thing to having him with you when you’re with the client. Answers just come to your lips, and suddenly you’re no longer a hands-on techie; you’re respected as a consultant.
– Anthony English
Jonathan, Your email list is amazing. I’m on other lists, and some of them have an occasional useful email stuck between sales pitches glued to a billion different unrelated stories. I look forward to each of your emails, and I’ve referred back to them more than once already.
– John Tseng
I love, love, love your e-mails. It’s like a daily shot of B12 for my business. Keep ’em coming.
– Peter Doern
Just noticed something I felt I had to share with you, and it gives me an excuse to thank you for your extremely valuable emails.
I am absolutely obsessed with maintaining Inbox Zero; my email inbox is reserved for messages that require immediate action or content I need to re-read and commit to memory. I’ve attached a screenshot which basically shows that every email you’ve sent over the last week has been stuck in my inbox because I keep re-reading them.
Can’t describe how much I appreciate your content. Thanks!
– Eric Grubaugh
I read all your posts in one sitting, and the proposal. Pure genius.
Thanks for the insights.
– Timothy Solomon
Your daily emails are pure gold for a commoditized .Net contractor like me.
...riveted, waiting for the next one.
BTW, the conversation last week on the FS podcast with the guy that owned an agency, was mind-blowing. I’m that guy, only as a solo dev, not an agency owner.
– Brent Giesler
Your email series is pure gold. Particularly I’ve been stumbling upon the "coming too early with the why" problem you mention here and once I refrained myself from doing it, things made a dramatic change.
If I had to limit myself to just one advice for the new comers it would be this: let them talk first!
Thanks. This is really helpful.
– Mauro Chojrin
Hi Jonathan! I am going to print this email out, laminate it... and read it every morning before I start work :)
– Anna Sabramowicz
Man you don’t stop - these emails are so stinking good. Keep it up and thank you!!
– Sam Selikoff
Re: How to determine the client’s perceived value... This is so smart and right and true -- I want to cry!!! Thanks J-man!
Jonathan gave me a blueprint of exactly how to lay out a proposal, step by step, follow the numbers. Having this blueprint means now when I create a proposal I just have to follow the plan, check the boxes and I’m done. (Ok it takes a little more effort but that’s how easy Jonathan has made it now).
– Casey Stevens, KissAutomation
Jonathan, you finally convinced me to drop the hourly rate. I’m done. I’ve now sent out two quotes without hourly rates. Just wanted to say thank you.
– Greg Colker, founder & owner of In Media Res
Hi Jonathan, Thanks for your retainer example. I recently emailed you about it and did land an agreement. It’s not a purely retainer based format like you mentioned in a previous email, but more of a “I do x work for you per month, you pay me Y.” Baby steps, but I’m totally loving not working hourly and so does the customer. Even in the two short weeks it’s already proving to be an improvement over any kind of hourly work.
– Barry van Someren, founder & owner of CoffeeSprout ICT Services
@jonathanstark Just used your proposal template for the 1st time. Landed our larget client ever. So thankful for your talk at #dyfconf
– Julie Cabezas
Jonathan is a wonderful mentor. He goes out of his way to help you and will ask and and say the things that – though you might not always want to hear them – are crucial to being successful.
– Don Levan, Vanguard CS
I wish I could turn back the clock and I would have hired Jonathan when I first started my business - it would have saved me years of struggling. I always thought I could do everything on my own - but I hit a wall and realized I needed help to get to next level of my own game.
– Geneve Hoffman, 16 Hoops
Damnit, I wish I had the Stark mojo two months ago!
– Chris Ferdinandi, Go Make Things
Jonathan coached me on refining my business’s positioning to better address my dream clients. End result? I’m making more money, working with better clients, and much happier. His insight and business advice is incredibly valuable.
– Kai Davis, author of The Traffic Manual
Hey Jonathan -
Just today I closed a new client, the first one where I borrowed a few pages from your playbook to get the initial engagement. I pitched a short ‘Tech Assessment’ for $3K, due %100 up-front. I actually used your proposal template, including the de-risking guarantee.
They read the proposal and just responded asking how they can wire the funds, as sending a check will take too long. ZERO pushback :) Granted, its a small initial project, BUT these guys are a canonical example of my target ideal client, so I’m very pleased.
Thanks for your continued inspiration and excellent guidance! Keep on, brother!!
– Terry Bissonnette
These tips are just facepalm moments when I think "why didn’t I think of these!
Thanks for all of the value you provide! Especially around value pricing! I’ll never bill by the hour again!
— Steve Palacios, Team Rampage Software
I had a potential client haggling with me about a quote. I took Jonathan’s advice and within 48 hours the client had agreed to my original price and was ready to get started immediately.
– Philip Morgan, author of The Positioning Manual
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jonathan in a mastermind group over the last three months and his advice has consistently helped me to grow my consulting business into a top rated boutique agency.
– Kurt Elster, MBA and co-founder of Ethercycle
Hey Jonathan. Glad to hear from you! Yes, your advice helped greatly and my business doubled my income since we last spoke. Now I have an excess of business. Thank you for your help.
– Jeff K.
I don’t always read your emails. In fact most of the time I don’t...
Yet everytime I see an email from you I feel that it would contain 100% authentic value, with no intention to sell me anything and that proves to be right every time I do choose to open one of your emails.
And funny enough, I feel you are very approachable.
Thank you for inspiring me to do the same in my turn. I learned from you that if you focus on bringing value to others, everything else just comes to you. People are naturally attracted to authentic, honest and generous people.
With love, Bogdan
– Bogdan Albu
Private Coaching Testimonials
Still reading? Check out these long-form testimonials from students who have gone through my private coaching program:
“Working with Jonathan has been truly transformative for my business.” — Lonnie Bowling
The following testimonial was written by Lonnie Bowling, a student in my private coaching program.
Working with Jonathan has been truly transformative for my business. I have gone from “here is my hourly rate as a freelance for hire”, to being an established authority in my industry where people regularly contact me for help. I never give hourly rates and only quote based on value, fixed price.
I have learned so many valuable skills, especially how to position and market myself. My initial goal was to not bill hourly anymore, but really, that is just a single aspect of being a successful, solo, consultant. It goes much deeper, as I learned from Jonathan. I still have more work to do, but I no longer am struggling over how to approach my business and what strategies and tactics to employ.
I cannot say enough good things about JS, his insights, knowledge, and ability to communicate complex ideas in simple, easy to understand ways are his greatest strengths. I’m looking forward to working more with him in the future, as there is always more to learn and put to practice.
“The investment was most definitely worth it (and has already paid for itself more than 5 times over)” — Thomas Tuts
The following testimonial was written by Thomas Tuts, a student in my private coaching program.
There were a few obstacles that almost prevented me from joining Jonathan’s private coaching. The first one was that I wasn’t sure if my business was in the right place to start with this kind of coaching. The initial introductory call we had quickly made me realize that it was, and that this would be a good fit. The second one, in all honesty, was the investment - I skipped a couple of rungs in the product ladder and went from reading his books straight to private coaching.
I want to be clear here: the investment was most definitely worth it (and has already paid for itself more than 5 times over), and I wouldn’t bat an eye at paying the same amount again for more coaching.
As the coaching progressed, I grew more confident both in my business itself as well as my business skills. While I’ve always had the technical chops, my business skills were a little lackluster. As a direct result, I’ve started specializing in a niche that a truly understand and love, so I’m excited to see where this road will take me :)
I wouldn’t really call it a feature, but it was really cool to see how engaged Jonathan was during the coaching, and how interested he was in my niche (even though it was completely new territory for him). Seeing JS getting all excited for the business opportunities we uncovered confirmed even more that we were on to something great! Other benefits? Accountability (big one for me), general ’brain picking/sparring’, his response speed and eagerness to dive deep and help.
Nobody’s taken the plunge yet (shame on them), but I’ve recommended Jonthan’s coaching to at least two other freelancers. The ’why’ is simple: our time together has really changed my career, and it’s headed in a direction that I could only dream of before our coaching. I had a wonderful time during our coaching sessions. Even ’shooting the shit’ was really fun and educational in some cases - it was cool to see that it wasn’t all ’business’.
I want to call Jonathan a private business coach ninja, but as a karateka he might be offended by that notion :-) Jonathan’s private coaching has truly transformed my business - I’m now working in a niche that I truly love and care about. Thanks to our time together, I was able to 5x my investment in less than a year, and I’m on track to have my best financial year yet after our coaching. A+, would be coached again!
“Would I recommend Private Coaching with Jonathan? Hell yeah.” — Kevin Whelan
The following testimonial was written by Kevin Whelan, a student in my private coaching program.
When I was considering signing up for Jonathan’s Private Coaching Program, I had to decide whether to “go for it” myself and take a risk on my new positioning, or work with him to help reduce some of those risks. Ultimately, it was a value decision. If I didn’t feel like I could get full value for my investment, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
After working with Jonathan for about 10 months or so, I had a number of “firsts”. These are important milestones for me and I don’t think I would have accomplished any of them if not for specialization. Also, I would not have jumped with two feet into specialization if not for Jonathan, so I owe a lot of this to his guidance.
The following are all firsts for me:
- Specialization in an industry vertical (marketing for coworking spaces)
- Email list 175+ people (never had a growing email list before as a generalist)
- Wrote over 100 articles
- Guest on two podcasts
- Speaker at an upcoming industry conference
- Presented at an industry seminar that people paid to attend
- Sold my first info product (mini course)
- Started regularly producing webinars
- Started and successfully grew my first membership program (to ~20 people)
- Sold my first single strategy call (usually only sold longterm engagements)
- Started generating incoming leads/inquiries/clients in a market vertical (as opposed to from anywhere)
Getting access to Jonathan’s experience and insights in a highly personalized way was the most helpful. It’s sometimes hard to apply what I “know” to my unique situation, and he helped me in more ways than I expected when it came to the tactics and strategies involved in my transformation to specialization. My website copy got a lot stronger, my positioning became specific and strong, and I made progress on all the goals I had on my wishlist (info products, podcast guest, email list, etc.)
Would I recommend Private Coaching with Jonathan? Hell yeah. Making a transformation of this kind can take many times longer when you go it on your own. He stopped me from making dozens of missteps along the way. Hiring him means protection from the downside and a straighter line to the upside potential of what I’m trying to accomplish. It is great having a sounding board from someone you like AND respect. He fundamentally changed the direction of my future for the better. Thank JS!
“Before working with Jonathan I think the biggest investment I’d made in my business was $60 a month for LinkedIn Premium.” — Emily Omier
The following testimonial was written by Emily Omier, a student in my private coaching program.
Here’s what Emily had to say:
I am a tightwad and I’ve built my business on a shoestring. Before working with Jonathan I think the biggest investment I’d made in my business was $60 a month for LinkedIn Premium. But I also had outgrown my previous coach and knew I needed someone to help me move up the value ladder into more strategic products.
That is exactly what Jonathan has helped me do (in addition to encouraging me to spend some $ on other areas of my business, like my website, so I don’t look like a tightwad to clients).
- I’ve started thinking about my engagements with clients differently and am putting in proposals for larger dollar amounts.
- I’ve gotten two new clients working on more strategic projects since I started working with Jonathan; a third who just gave me the go-ahead today.
- I’m getting so many leads that I’ve had to become increasingly restrictive about how many meetings I take each week, because my max number of consults has been booked every week for the past two months.
I also really enjoy being part of the Slack group. Even though my business is somewhat different from the others in the group, it’s great seeing how other people are solving their business problems (and getting their advice on everything from tools to mindset).
Anyway, if you feel like you need to take your business to the next level but you’re not sure how to go about doing so, I highly recommend Jonathan’s coaching.
“I would recommend private coaching to anyone who wants to jumpstart their business.” — Brandon Savage
The following testimonial was written by Brandon Savage, a student in my private coaching program.
Here’s what Brandon had to say:
Q: What was one obstacle that would have prevented you from enrolling in private coaching?
Pride. I generally feel like I have the skills I need, but Jonathan proved to me that there was plenty to learn and that I don’t lose out on anything simply for using his skills. I am very happy that I went into coaching.
Q: What did you find as a result of enrolling in private coaching?
I found out the right way to build and test a product for market. Jonathan was patient as I bounced from idea to idea, from audience to audience, and helped ground me through methodical approaches that drove me to audiences that would pay the bills and make me money.
Q: What specific feature did you like most about private coaching?
I liked the fact that every week I had a specific set of tasks to accomplish, and that Jonathan was always available to answer questions. In fact sometimes Jonathan would ask to be updated about something mid-week, which helped motivate me to complete the homework.
Q: What would be three other benefits of private coaching?
I enjoyed the specific nature of the coaching, where everything recommended was actionable. I really appreciated Jonathan’s promptness. And his attention to how I felt and what I needed to feel motivated was important.
Q: Would you recommend private coaching? If so, why?
I would recommend private coaching to anyone who wants to jumpstart their business. Even though in the end I determined the product we worked on was not workable for me, the skills I learned are invaluable. I can apply them again and again to other products, and build out those products for my business.
“Jonathan is a great ‘board member’ to have in your life.” — Sam Selikoff
The following testimonial was written by Sam Selikoff, a student in my private coaching program.
Sam (with his partner Ryan) is the founder of EmberMap, the creator of MirageJS, and a sought after consultant in the EmberJS space.
Here’s what Sam had to say:
All sorts of things could have prevented me from applying to Jonathan’s private coaching program... not having some extra cash, not having ongoing consulting work, not being near the beginning of some new potential consulting leads/projects. Fortunately for us, I decided to apply.
As a result, we ended up with:
- Way more stable agreements with clients than before. Confidence to charge more money, to find out where we could push back and know where we could concede ground to end up with good agreements + make both sides happy.
- Reassurance about holding our boundaries with “bad clients” or bad aspects of some client agreements.
- Step by step knowledge of how to talk hourly contracts into monthly contracts (still time-based but way better, avoids hourly details, time tracking, vacation days here or there. Whole team able to focus more on work.)
- Understanding which client agreements were still basically us as “hired hands” vs. which ones were more about our advice (and ultimately wanting to move more in that direction in the future).
- Understanding the difference between high-revenue and high-profit work.
I especially liked the ability to call on Jonathan whenever a new wrinkle developed with our larger consulting clients. It gave me the ability to navigate tougher situations where normally I feel it would have been easy for me and my business partner to be taken advantage of, not stand our ground, or end up in a contract that wasn’t serving our business needs.
Our bi-weekly accountability calls helped curb some of my indecision. It took a while but the regularity honed my focus. I had to justify to Jonathan every week why we were working on what we were working on. Often I would have TODOs and spend the week working on other things. Eventually I had to come to terms with this, to justify why we were spending time on other things, or be honest about what our true priorities were. We are in a really good spot + focus right now.
I would definitely recommend private coaching with JS for people who are open to changing how they work but want to rapidly develop their learning by benefiting from his decades of experience and crystal-clear communication about tricky consulting situations.
Jonathan is a great “board member” to have in your life. I genuinely looked forward to our conversations every time!
“Jonathan should have a warning label on his head. His advice will shake your world.” — David Trejo
The following testimonial was written by David Trejo when he was a few months into my private coaching program.
I did not think I was a good fit to be coached by Jonathan because I was not consulting for myself, and had a full time job. I did however plan to go back out on my own again, and wanted to be well-prepared for that (rather than jumping and praying).
Working with Jonathan has made me see the world in a whole new way: I can see value flowing around, and oozing through the cracks in the sidewalk. What does this really mean? I have a much improved understanding of whether a client’s problem is worth solving, and I also understand my own value 200 times better. It is refreshing and life-changing to be able to look at the world and clearly see how I can be a part of it, business-wise. It feels great to have removed the cloud of business uncertainty that surrounds any feature I might try to code up, or any company I might consider working with.
I knew that Jonathan understood the importance of positioning (LFPS) and value based fees. This is why I chose to work with him. I also knew the basics of the two, but applying them to your own business is another thing. He has helped me untangle the finer points of value based fees, using real clients of mine as an example. We have also taken a first pass at positioning, which has been feeling good, despite the challenge.
It has only been a few months, and his advice has almost paid for itself. And this was with me restarting consulting from scratch, in a new vertical. It feels pretty great to see the decision paying off.
I would unequivocally recommend Jonathan’s coaching program because 1) the advice is amazing 2) the program is not over yet, and it has already almost paid for itself.
If you want to keep working at your job the rest of your life, I don’t recommend you work with Jonathan — he will make you want to quit your job, because you will finally be able to see and understand the value of your work. He should have a warning label on his head. His advice will shake your world.
“I can’t believe how much I got done in the time that we started the coaching sessions.” — Geneve Hoffman
The following testimonial is from Geneve Hoffman, a student in my private coaching program.
Before joining Jonathan’s coaching program, I was nervous about sharing my business ideas with anyone - I’ve always done everything on my own - been my own compass. I didn’t think I needed the help either - I have always been the top of my game and I wondered what someone else could teach me. But I had a new idea in new territory (was a photographer, wanted to build a business helping photographers) - and I knew I needed help.
Plus - to be honest, I didn’t really know what a business coach was - I always just thought “you open up a business and then you do it - case closed.” And some of my friends had hired consultants who talked too much about themselves or were overpowering.
I took the plunge after hearing Jonathan speak on Art of Value podcast - I listened to 30+ podcasts on there and the conversational yet confident way he talked about value pricing struck a nerve with me - I hired him (or rather, he let me hire him - haha - he normally works with software developers) after a quick email exchange.
I can’t believe how much I got done in the time that we started the coaching sessions. I realized after working with Jonathan for a few weeks that my biggest obstacle to growth - was myself. I needed to have someone else to be accountable to - someone who could listen to all my ideas, give me unexpected and invaluable feedback, and keep me accountable and on task. I wouldn’t have my new business plan on track without his guidance and resources.
What I liked most was just the way he thinks - the written report, the extra services and chat room are all great - but it’s the weekly coaching calls - just the way he is able to digest what I am saying, quickly fine tune it, and give me insight toward the solution that I found most enlightening. The biggest result I got out of all this was he pushed me into territory I would have never reached on my own - and I consider myself pretty savvy - but he always had me thinking critical angles I hadn’t considered. I always look forward to my sessions with Jonathan - he’s a very down to earth guy, and has a conversational, inviting way of speaking that always keeps us on task but still enjoyable - he’ll even throw in a few Star Wars parables just to keep it real (those are no extra charge, I believe).
There were other benefits as well...
- Coaching kept me on track and moving forward;
- Jonathan pushed me out of my comfort zone - it’s like I left the small, comfortable pond of my photography world and am having these amazing eye-opening experiences in the wider business world that I would never have had if I had just hired another photographer consultant;
- It was so helpful having someone trustworthy, objective and even outside my industry who now knows my brand and my course exceptionally well inside and out - it’s just not the same as talking to a trusted colleague or friend - it’s very empowering to have someone completely outside my sphere that I pay to think for me - he’s part of my new “think tank” - and when you have a new and exciting idea - you need people around you who aren’t going to tell you what you want to hear. Jonathan does this in a thoughtful way. And - bonus round, on day one he totally got my random Silence of the Lambs joke. :)
I would highly recommend Jonathan’s coaching program to anyone - Jonathan has a very real, human way of taking all your ideas and thoughts and experiments and very step by step transforming it all into a vibrant business plan that you will be proud of.
I wish I could turn back the clock and I would have hired Jonathan when I first started my business - it would have saved me years of struggling. I always thought I could do everything on my own - but I hit a wall and realized I needed help to get to next level of my own game.
“I would never be where I am now–in this short amount of time–without Jonathan’s assistance.” — Katherine P
The following testimonial is from Katherine P, a student in my private coaching program.
Jonathan has an uncanny ability to cut through concepts, see through roadblocks and find the gold in any situation. This creates the space to focus on what is really important without wasting time, effort or brain-space on what isn’t.
Other benefits were:
- Accountability–even though I am a self-motivated person and unafraid to tackle anything, it was incredibly helpful to be able to touch in regularly with Jonathan to discuss challenges faced and progress made.
- Advice from an expert–To speak with someone who has been where you are (whatever level that is) and can offer specific, actionable advice for the unique challenges that you face in your business.
- An objective viewpoint of you and the services you provide. Regardless of how much you know (or think you know) about any field, the benefit of having a coach creates a new perspective in the way you view yourself and your business – it’s wonderfully freeing and humbling.
If you are truly committed to the success of your business, I would recommend that you work with Jonathan. If not, don’t waste your time or money.
When I look back on the coaching engagement, I am incredibly happy with the experience and what I was able to accomplish as a result of Jonathan’s advice. I would never be where I am now–in this short amount of time–without his assistance. So, the return on investment from that perspective is priceless.
If you would like help getting your business to the next level, apply now to my private coaching program.
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