We’ve been exploring the book, Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. See our Happy Freelancer overview for the basics, but the short version is that if money can’t buy you happiness, you’re spending it wrong. It offers fascinating insights for freelancers.
One of the biggest lessons from Happy Money is the power of experience. Quite simply, people are happier when they spend money on experiences compared to buying stuff.When you spend money on an experience, such as a vacation, compared to buying something, such as a TV, the experience makes you happier.
- The experience gives you anticipation—you look forward to your vacation. Something like a TV gives you irritation—do you have the right cords? Will it fit in the room? Did you buy the right one? Anxiety and worry, as opposed to looking forward to a vacation.
- It’s easy to compare stuff. Your shiny new TV is very quickly not the shiniest or newest. But it’s hard to compare experiences. They stand alone as unique, and that makes you happier.
- After the fact experiences only get better, while something you buy depreciates. Your memories of your experience just get better in your mind. While your TV starts to get old.
- Experiences are often shared. Even if you go on a solo trip, you’ll talk about it with your friends. But that TV is often time spent alone. You may have bought it to throw a party for the big game, but you usually watch it by yourself.
Even if an experience has negative moments, our minds tend to wash over the bad stuff. You forget the long drive with the whining kids and remember the moment you arrived or the view from the vista.
Give Clients an ExperienceFreelancers need to find ways to offer clients an experience. Don’t just sell them a product, offer an entire experience.
Clients should know that working with you is different. They’re not just going to get a website, they’re going to be heard. From the initial conversation to the questions you ask to the way you deliver a contract, make the experience remarkable.
- Maybe you find a way to really listen in that initial client meeting, asking probing questions—not to show off, but to help the client hone in on what they need, whether they end up working with you or not.
- Maybe your contract is different. Curtis McHale uses a variation of the Contract Killer, which is a legitimate legal contract written so normal people can understand it. It’s actually funny.
- Maybe you make a point of getting on the phone with your client and walking them through the proposal or showing them the final site. Whatever you do, it’s a personal touch that’s a step beyond a simple email.
- Maybe you send weekly update emails that are encouraging and fun. Maybe it’s just a quick photo of the code or your pile of notes, but it shows that you’re elbow-deep in the project and you’re having fun. Your excitement for their project will rub off on them.
Any of these ideas would be serious customer service and would definitely set you apart. It’s all part of creating an experience your clients will remember. You offered them something they couldn’t get anywhere else. Even if you deliver a product they could get anywhere, you’re doing it in a way no one else could. If you really do your job well, you might even be creating a product no one else could because you asked the right questions.