124: Freelancing in Support with Mo McKibbin

124: Freelancing in Support with Mo McKibbin

Mo McKibbin and I talk about the dark side of freelancing, and how hard it is to sell oneself, and hear the ker-ching of the cash register for our expertise.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 124 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about freelancing in customer support. So stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. I’d like to welcome back to the podcast today. Mo McKibbin, Mo. It’s lovely to have you back to talk about freelancing in support. Thank you for joining me.

Mo McKibbin 0:43
You’re welcome. I’m always happy to be here. And I, I have to say that I have dabbled in freelancing. And I can’t say that I’m exactly the same degree of expert as I am on other things that I’ve talked on this podcast.

Charlotte Ward 1:03
Yeah, that’s fine. I think we can all say that about something that we’ve talked about on this podcast. And I wouldn’t like to disparage any of my guests, or indeed, clearly laid claim to any personal failings, but there’s plenty many of us don’t know about, know much about. So we’re all good. I always say all stories are valid. When I do these weeks, like where we do the five foot like the five takes on one topic. And everyone’s take is different. And that’s part of the joy and part of the interest. And all stories are valid, I think, every week. So

Mo McKibbin 1:37
I think that a lot of support individuals have a dream of, you know, coaching, or consulting or freelancing and support, especially those of us who have been doing this for a really, really long time, or have worked for companies that are considered leaders in the space. So I’m happy to share the the dark side of that, which is just some of the struggles and some of the things that are way more challenging about putting things together than you’d think. So I call this maybe the dream of the death and the evolution of what what I am planning on doing next.

Charlotte Ward 2:20
Wow, that’s quite a story. I think you could pitch that as a movie he would play who would play you in the movie of Moe.

Mo McKibbin 2:28
Um, I’ve heard when I had short when I had short brown hair i’d i’d hear when known a writer bossed around sometimes I think it’s my cheekbone. And I think it’s this section right here. I’m

Charlotte Ward 2:40
probably cheap. But ya see that? Yeah, I can see that.

Mo McKibbin 2:44
And then sometimes, I don’t know, I hear a lot of, I hear a lot of people that I don’t really want to look like either. So

Charlotte Ward 2:52
that’s not so bad. Yeah, and I’m sure when owner will jump on the script when it goes through the letterbox, right? When it comes in the mail. So ever so slightly more seriously. Let’s talk about them this because the dark side of freelancing is one that not many people talk about, you know, and I’ve had, I’ve had my own dark side of freelancing.

Mo McKibbin 3:27
I think it is especially challenging freelancing and support. Specifically, I would say that the three challenges I mostly had was packaging and just in terms of what in support do people want to buy? And how can you package that? And for just to elaborate on that, specifically for inner support driven growth, um, you know, I ended up a lot of everything would start with kind of like a free consulting call. And, um, and I ended up giving a lot of like, really great free advice to a lot of people which is generally how my MLM anyway. But it just always, for me came back to support driven growth is something that really requires kind of a huge organisational shift. And so it was also really challenging with me in terms of who my audiences is, obviously other support professionals who want to create the shift in their organisation, but in order to get by in it, it really has to happen at the at the sea level. So it’s like my, my product was something that I like my product was something that would help people get buy in and The C level and make these organisational changes. But in order to do that, like, that’s also who I would be half like would have to be my audience. And I never, I haven’t, I mean, at least I haven’t now quite landed on being able to target. I mean, honestly, if I if I were going to revisit freelancing, which I have, you know, since I have kind of shifted directions, which I can also talk about later. But if I were to go back, I would target instead of support professionals wanting to make these changes on the organisations is sea level directly to create that organisational change. So it’s just my audience that I am established as an expert in and market to and talk to, and like, all of the things that when you’re freelancing, you have to establish yourself as an expert, you have to write a lot of content, you have to, you have to get in front of people that that see you as someone that they want to listen to. That whole audience, for me is others in the support community. But where I think, in order to be successful, what I would have needed what I need to do would be get into the people who can start that organisational change from the top down.

Charlotte Ward 6:21
Yeah, the people with the chequebooks ultimately, yeah, and the people who probably also the least informed about the arena that you’re the expert in as well. Right. So it’s a debate college. And and even if your internal champions, or potential clients are people who know, know, you love you, value your expertise, and like I’ve had a great deal of interactions with you one way or another in the support community, or through content or conferences, actually used to be if you’re relying on them to sell you internally. So

Mo McKibbin 6:58
yeah, very much like having to sell to someone how to sell it. Oh,

Charlotte Ward 7:05
yeah, I’m very meta. And also, let’s face it, support professionals aren’t sales people, by and large anyway. So as much as we love support, relying on someone to sell you to someone else, who’s not a sales person.

Mo McKibbin 7:20
And I believe that Hi, yeah, ended up getting a lot of free advice. Anyway, it’s just because even though I connect, obviously, so much of what I like would like to coach on and write on and talk about and have brought to the organisations that have bought into me, because I work there because they hired me. So much of that value is, you know, tying support to revenue and business impact and being able to tie that direct line from support to revenue. However, when it came to my own products, and my own self, it’s like, my, my nature in support is just to help. So it was just like, I when it’s like my bottom line, or my like, in terms of tying it back to that it was like I couldn’t get that. I couldn’t make that connection. I like the way I could do with other people’s other people’s products.

Charlotte Ward 8:18
Yeah, that makes sense. It’s the Can I just pick your brains for a minute syndrome Misner? Yeah, yeah. How many times? How many times have you heard Oh, my gosh,

Mo McKibbin 8:27
that’s like, my entire life is like, I’m like, Oh, this is so awesome. I’m like talking to a potential client. And I hope they get come out. They come out, I think, with really great takeaways. And then still, like, you know, have, but it’s like, yes, exactly, like email conversations and interactions and like things that, you know, like slack conversations, and of course, I just like, like, my nature is to just give and give and give and give Yes, are to package that and be like, oh, now now I need you to give me money. Um, so I think I do, I think I have evolved though, my next plan of action, which has not come yet to fruition. But there are I think, are a couple of other things that I would like to do that are in the realm of freelancing or side hustles side hustles related to support as because all freelancing really ended up amounting to was like a couple of actually just like almost like one off video, cuz I also have a video background, like a video almost like content related to freelance contracts. So instead, I think I’m going to take the support driven growth, knowledge and content that I you know, create, and while I still am going to have like free content in terms of a blog and offering that information, also turn that into some sort of video course. Or And a book hopefully, so therefore all of the things, I think it’s a lot easier to, like get a CEO to buy a $30 book.

Charlotte Ward 10:10
That’s called a $60 book. I mean, it’s

Mo McKibbin 10:16
like a $99 video course. Yeah.

Charlotte Ward 10:20
199 Yeah, exactly,

Mo McKibbin 10:21
then it would be to get like, a, you know, yeah, for organisational training, change. Um, so I’m focusing my efforts on the content creation elements of that. And then, you know, obviously, for me specifically, this way of thinking of support I have noticed is, it’s such a, it’s so funny, because on one hand, people like holy cow, this totally makes a lot of sense. And it ties in so much with like, customer experience and voice of the customer. And like, on customer centricity, and like a customer driven growth, like aside from sort of support driven growth, so like, there’s like one, half of people completely get it and, and the other half is like, support shouldn’t be involved in revenue, like, what is

Charlotte Ward 11:10
what and, you know, I think what’s really interesting is that those two halves can coexist in the same person actually, should be found this, like you have these conversations. And when you’re having the conversation about whether it’s support driven growth is like a brand or bigger concept, or whether it’s just like, daring to suggest support might have an influence over revenue, like in like, a really subtle level, you can have the conversation and people buy into it while you’re talking about it. But then, as soon as they’re off talking to the CFO or someone

Mo McKibbin 11:45
a sliding scale. And the other thing, is it just the it’s I think there’s like a lot of fear related to it. Like there’s like, there’s all and fear simultaneously happening at once. Because on the one hand, when anyone who knows anything about any business will tell you as much as lip service you can play to the value of customer support. And the only thing people actually care about in terms of business impact is revenue. Like how much revenue does this drive? Like? I mean, that is that’s four feet new features, that’s for, you know, processes and operations, does it save money is this person going to make business impact by driving these things forward? Like this is like, we can talk about all these things like culture, and you know, like happiness, but at the end of the day, a business is a business. And so when I talk to support professionals, there’s like this, we want to be recognised as impactful on the business, and we want a seat at the table, we want to be looped in to larger strategic business decisions, we want a voice in the product, we want a voice and how the product is presented to customers so that we’re not getting this backlash of a misrepresentation, like so we want a voice in like marketing and marketing, messaging, and things like that. All of these things are things that support teams desperately crave, but are. But without having a tie back to revenue, it’s so hard to prove the business impact, it’s like on the one hand, and they want all of these things. And on the other hand, but if if they get tied to revenue, they feel like they have to be a salesperson, and we’re going on a tangent outside of freelancing. But yes, I think that there’s a one of the things that I have is a mixture of fear and awe and the all coming from, you know, being directly connected to business impact, and having that seat of the table, which comes from a line from revenue. And then the other side of that is, are we going to be expected to sell theirs. And this is where it gets kind of confusing to package because it’s like, again, it’s like more of a larger organisational change of bringing support central to business operations. And, like completely changing how they report on support, as opposed to, you know, just tagging upsell, support or packet or sell a consulting package or something like so it’s just there’s there’s different ways to tie support to revenue and business impact. And it’s a big, it’s a big thing, and that was my biggest challenge. And freelancing is it’s just how do I put a little bow on a price tag on that?

Charlotte Ward 14:37
Yeah, and it’s the packaging and you know, that all the things you just mentioned there about, you know, like, bundling, you know, like improved SLA s or like support as a consulting kind of stream or whatever, like these really specific activities. And leadership’s C suite likes them because they’re simple they can understand them. They know that if If we do this thing if we pull this lever and Ching, customer pays, it’s that simple, right? But yeah, I just wanted to kind of round out really super fast on that this thing that you’ve touched on several times which is the packaging like and actually how difficult it is for everything you just said around like how you just put the bow on it and call it a thing. cell with a price tag with a first tag Ching and and your customer pays right? That’s if today go to customersupportleaders.com/124 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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