🏴‍☠️ Skeleton crew

Happy Monday! Welcome back to The Gig — the daily email helping freelancers go beyond the 9 to 5 and build profitable client businesses.

Mentioned in today’s edition: Twitter, Elon Musk, and TikTok. Plus how to nail your retainer pitch, what to do when your creativity calls in sick, and a counterintuitive ad targeting trick to get higher quality traffic.

Read time: 4 minutes and 58 seconds

Making the Rounds

  • Hundreds of Twitter employees refuse Elon’s “hardcore” ultimatum. When given the choice between committing to an “extremely hardcore” company reset or quitting with 3 months severance, it appears many of Twitter’s employees chose to take their money and go. And with the World Cup kicking off this week, the platform may be sailing into a major stress test with only a skeleton crew to man the decks.
  • 76% of business owners think TikTok will surpass Amazon for ecommerce, study finds. Just how big is TikTok going to be? Yuge, according to 500 business owners surveyed in this new study. Over ¾ said they think TikTok will eventually overtake both Amazon and Google in ecommerce and search. Speaking of which…
  • TikTok goes on hiring spree as the rest of Big Tech lays off thousands of workers. The company has committed to hire 3,000 more engineers worldwide, drawing a stark contrast with Meta, which is laying off 11,000 workers, and Amazon, which may let go up to 10,000 employees.

Working With Clients

When You Nail That Retainer Pitch

No freelancer wants to spend all their time prospecting.

But if you’re stuck doing one-off projects for clients all the time…

You don’t have much choice.

That’s one of the reasons why monthly retainers can be so attractive:

It doesn’t take many to fill up your calendar.

Which means less time spent prospecting and more time spent doing work that pays.

Plus it gives you some predictable income you can use to budget, save, and invest with.

But how do you make the shift from one-off to ongoing?

Well, the playbook is the same pretty much regardless of which service(s) you provide:

STEP 1: Make sure one-off projects are successful

You can’t expect to upsell clients into ongoing arrangements if the initial project isn’t successful.

So make sure you’re doing everything you can to get your client a big win first.

You need a solid foundation to build on if you want them to pay you every month.

STEP 2: Identify ongoing work you can take off their plate

Start by thinking about it from the client’s perspective:

What ongoing work are they doing on a daily or weekly basis that you could take off their plate?

Some examples:

  • Writing emails
  • Running split-tests
  • Managing ad campaigns
  • Creating social media posts
  • Etc

Unless these activities fall within your client’s zone of genius, chances are they’d appreciate you taking it off their plate so they can focus on more important things, like leading the company and being a real CEO.

Often, the question isn’t “do they want to hire someone” — it’s “will this pay for itself?” and “can I trust you?”

STEP 3: Explain why it makes sense

Even if you’ve created some goodwill with your client, you still need to make a strong logical case for this new arrangement:

– How will it make them money?

– How will it save them time?

– Why is it a smart decision?

Don’t be afraid to explain why YOU want it too.

Make it clear how much you enjoy working for them, how much you love their products, why you align with their values, etc.

Then position it as a way for them to lock down a fixed amount of your time every month.

Just keep in mind that not every client will be a good fit for a monthly retainer.

But for the right ones, it’s a win/win.

Working For Yourself

What to Do When Your Creativity Calls in Sick

Ever struggle to get your creative juices flowing in the morning?

Welcome to the club 🙋

And let’s be honest…

Sometimes caffeine just doesn’t cut it.

So if you’re a copywriter, media buyer, graphic designer…

Or someone who does creative work of any kind…

Here’s a morning routine add-on you should experiment with:

Write out three pages of “stream of consciousness” by hand before you start work.

This technique is called “Morning Pages”…

And was originally created by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.

Many of our favorite writers swear by it, including Andre Chaperon, Tim Ferriss, and many others.

Imagine your creativity is like a pipeline. ..

In order for the great ideas to flow out, you need to clear out the “sludge” first.

That’s what Morning Pages are for.

So, what are you supposed to write about?

Anything. Everything. What’s on your mind. How you’re feeling. What you plan to do today.  How much you hate your alarm clock.

(You can also find prompts like these ones from Masterclass all over the internet)

But the point isn’t to bang out polished prose…

It’s simply to clear out the sludge and make room for your creative ideas to come out and play.

To trap the clutter of your thoughts down on paper before you move on to the important stuff.

Make sense?

If you do decide to test it out, we recommend committing to at least 30 days.

Then let us know how it goes 🙂

From The Paid Ads Gig

Try This Counterintuitive Ad Targeting Trick to Get Higher Quality Traffic

Tracking pixels need to be “fed” lots of data to optimize.

It’s what makes them such a powerful marketing tool…

Because they get smarter and smarter over time.

Only problem is…

Since iOS 14, tracking pixels have gotten dumber.

Especially when they’re fresh out of the box and yet to be seasoned with hundreds or thousands of conversions.

And platforms like Meta and Google keep removing targeting options to stay out of trouble.

So here’s an unconventional way to feed your pixel better data:

Tell anyone who is NOT your ideal customer to leave the page immediately.

For example…

If you were a media buyer running ads to get clients… 

You might place this line of copy on your opt-in form:

“If you are NOT a coach, consultant, or course creator spending at least 1k/day on ads, please leave this page immediately.”

Now, will this decrease your conversion rate and increase your cost per lead?

You bet.


Your lead quality will improve dramatically.

And because you’ll only be feeding the pixel conversion data from smack dab in the middle of your target audience…

Your campaigns will be able to optimize much better over time as well.

Gig Alerts

Looking for clients? These freelance jobs were posted on Upwork in the last 24 hours:

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Quote of the Day

“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” 

— Bruce Garrabrandt