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The "Create a Report & Gather Feedback" Lesson is part of the full, Finding Clients as a Freelancer course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul emphasizes that the deliverable doesn't have to be a report. It could be an app, tool, code library, etc. It should be free and provide value to the potential client. A sample email is also shown in this segment.

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Transcript from the "Create a Report & Gather Feedback" Lesson

[00:00:00]
>> So for example, I'm a UX consultant, I enjoy doing conversion rate optimization work. And yet I'm frustrated that most organizations launch their website and then basically abandon them, right? So, my report therefore might focus on the fact that websites need post launch optimization, okay? So the report is basically doing various roles here, one is giving us a reason to reach out to people.

[00:00:31] Two it's offering them an incentive to sign up to our mailing list, three is demonstrating our expertise. And four, it's focusing them on issues that we can help with, right? So it's a really valuable tool. That said, you don't necessarily need it to be a report, okay? Because I know that not everybody likes writing, and to some extent there's no getting away from that in the kind of thing we do.

[00:01:03] But it could be something else, if you're a developer, it might be an app, a tool, a code library, a Wordpress template. It could be anything like that, that essentially you can give away as an incentive. Yeah go for it, that sounds like this question is in chat room.

[00:01:23]
>> Do you ever do research and community experience to forums, and other communities to come up with these ideas?
>> Absolute.
>> Writing reports.
>> Yeah absolutely, that is going to be a part of what we're gonna cover. So before we do the report, we're gonna reach out to people, to find out what the report should be about, right?

[00:01:47] Or before we create a tool, we're gonna reach out and find out what kinda tool would be useful. And we do that by contacting the people or the list of companies, and the list of influences, right? And some of those influences will be forums, right? Or blogs or places like that, okay?

[00:02:07] So absolutely, yes. The first communication, if you remember I listed the different communications, if I can find that. Yeah, is the introduction which is when we say, hey, we're gonna do something in this area. We're gonna, we wanna help people in this area if you've got any ideas, that's the equivalent of doing that.

[00:02:28] Then we've got the survey where we get into the specifics of it, then we get the output of it, whether it be the report or it be the app or whatever else. The only advantage that report has really over those other options, is because it contains written content.

[00:02:46] We can actually reuse that content in lots of different ways later on, so that's why I tend to lean towards a report. But I fully recognize that writing a report sounds really intimidating, I promise you I'm gonna talk you through how to do it, and it's not as bad as it sounds.

[00:03:06] But it's not insignificant amount of work, right? And that it's worth saying that at this point, that setting this up, right? So going from now to creating your give away, to setting up the initial emails that are gonna be sent out, and landing pages and various other things.

[00:03:31] This is all your upfront work, right? Once you're over that hump of doing that upfront work, it gets really easy after that. So my advice is, if you're a freelancer or agency, find a slow time in your year to do this chunk. Because there's usually certain periods where you know, it's slower than others.

[00:03:52] So do this upfront in that, and then all you've got to do is maintain it over time, which is really, really lightweight. So I'm very conscious that this sounds like quite a lot of work, but it only needs to be done once and then you can live off of it for two, three years, right?

[00:04:09] So yeah, doesn't need to be a report, but ideally I think a report is probably the way to go. So we got to make our initial contact, we're gonna reach out. Now I am really going to handhold you through this, okay? I want it to be as simple for you to do as possible, to the point where I've written the emails for you to send out, right?

[00:04:29] And I'm gonna run through them, now I say emails it could be a LinkedIn message, doesn't really matter, same principle. But I'm gonna go through it in enormous detail, because the devil is in the detail with these things. The later ones I won't go through in as much detail, because you'll have began to get the idea then, but this first one is really important, so there's your email, right?

[00:04:51] I don't expect you to be able to read it on screen, don't worry, you can have it download this slide deck afterwards, you can copy and paste the wording, you're all good to go. But I wanna explain what I'm doing in this email, because it's important. So you've got to do everything you can to prevent it looking like a marketing email.

[00:05:10] So send it from your personal email address or from a personal LinkedIn account, don't send it from a corporate one. Keep it plain text if it's email, avoid using links, anything that gives the impression that it might be a marketing email, all right? Secondly, if it's an email, make sure that the subject matter makes it clear you're not selling something, and it's not some kind of typical spam email.

[00:05:37] So I've written the subject here, can I ask for your advice, because you'd never get that in a spam email. Next we wanna personalize it, so we wanna assure the email is personalized as much as possible. So we want it actually to have the person's full name, that shows that it's not just being sent to a generic mailing list, right?

[00:05:58] And we also want it to use the person's name in the introduction, right? You wanna acknowledge that email is solicited, you wanna make people feel appreciated, by suggesting that they've been recommended. Now they might not have been recommended in which case don't lie, but say what you can to say, we really think that you could offer value here.

[00:06:24] So what I've written is sorry for emailing you out of the blue, but it's been suggested you might be the ideal person to contact, right? So keep it short but relevant to your audience, so in this case, charity fundraising. So I've written, my name is Paul Boag, I'm a user experience consultant, we're running a user experience consultancy called Boagworks, who specialize in charity fundraising, right?

[00:06:48] Because I'm aiming at charity fundraising. Now, that might not be the best line actually, you kinda need to make a judgement in a situation that might immediately come across as salesy. In which case you might wanna just say, my name is Paul Boag, I'm doing some research into charity fundraising.

[00:07:10] You need to make a judgement, this kind of thing is not black and white. Flattery, never hurts in emails like this, and so I've written the reason I'm writing is that alongside experts, such as yourself in the field I'm preparing a report on the state of digital fundraising.

[00:07:29] So I've called them an expert, I've implied that they've associated with other experts, and I've made it clear why I'm emailing. Howard before I undertake such formal research, I wanna ensure that the scope of this report is as relevant to provide maximum value. So make it clear why you're asking them for their advice.

[00:07:51] And then highlight the most important bit, which is I would appreciate any insights you have into what areas of research, would provide particularly useful. For example, I was considering focusing on the level of user research, and testing that's being done within the sector, would that be relevant? There are other areas I should be looking at.

[00:08:11] So highlight what you're specifically asking, then give them an example, so that they've got some kind of sense of what response they should give. I appreciate you're hugely busy and don't know me, however, even a line or to pointing me in the right direction would be hugely beneficial.

[00:08:27] You're only asking for a line or two, not too much, thanks for your time and consideration. So basically it's very, very low key, you're not selling, you're not pushing, you're just looking to learn from them. But as I said, you're not gonna get many replies to that, that's fine, right?

[00:08:51] This stage is not about replies, it's about introducing yourself. However, if somebody does reply, make sure you respond to them and you thank them for their comments. And reference, when you reply to them, make sure you reference the comments they made, so it doesn't read like an auto reply.

[00:09:13] Actually make it say, Dave, thanks so much for taking the time to reply, what you said about was really useful, try and make a connection. Cuz you gotta remember, only one of these, if one of these you kick off a meaningful conversation with, that could be six months worth of work [LAUGH].

[00:09:35] So based on the feedback you get, you'll actually refine the report or the free thing you give away, whether it be an app or whatever it is. So, you will receive feedback, they will get some, but probably won't be a lot, but we'll get some and make sure that you allow that to shape the kind of content and where you go with the report.

[00:09:55] But as you're beginning to think about the scope of the report, because you've got to do that or the scope of what you're gonna produce. Keep it as focus as possible, but still bold enough to be able to write 2500 words don't need to be a huge amount.

[00:10:12] It has to fill a lot more than the blog post, if it's gonna be a report you gonna give it away, right?