Rob Bettis specializes in meaningfully & measurably connecting you with your customers online. Since the inception of ‘digital marketing,’ Rob has been helping businesses and nonprofits win online. And he prides himself on providing data-driven, quantifiable results, leaning heavily on empathy and analytics.
Before going solo two years ago, Rob ran Tennessee’s first Google-Certified AdWords agency. There he guided clients through all manners of online advertising, including conversion optimization, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising - where he managed PPC accounts with ad spend budgets in excess of $100,000 per month.
Rob is Google-Certified in both AdWords and Analytics. Additionally, he earned a Bachelor's in Marketing and a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. As an undergrad, he was recognized by the College of Business as a Wright-Bentley Scholar. While pursuing his MBA, he received the Distinguished Graduate Student award.
In addition to his professional pursuits, Rob has co-founded two nonprofits in Chattanooga and hosts a weekly podcast where he explores the intersection of humanity and business.
With its vibrant startup community and the country’s fastest internet, Rob, along with his wife and daughter, are proud to call Chattanooga, Tennessee home. Follow along with Rob on Twitter - @robbettis.
November 13th, 2018 | 54 mins 5 secs
Rob and Sara discuss how they set goals for their business. They discuss the amount of money they make, what they expected, and how they measure their own success. Sara discusses the billable hour requirement at old firms and how she uses the metric of money-billed instead of hours-billed. They discuss banner months, banner years, and whether or not they increase their goals when they do well. They both are working far fewer hours than when they were traditionally employed and both work far fewer hours than when they were traditionally employed. Rob uses a software called Cushion. He's working on scheduling capacity into the future. Each discussed determining their own threshold for what they are comfortable working balanced against what they'd like to make. Rob discusses his redneck childhood spent taking the safety off of lighters at his grandmother's house. Rob discusses obtaining clients, then maximizing the revenue from the billable hours. Constantly re-evaluating the nature of your client base and trimming some smaller client work helps build productivity.
November 6th, 2018 | 53 mins 27 secs
Rob and Sara discuss when Freelancers need contracts in place. Sara, a lawyer, refrains from giving legal advice, but generally provides educational background on mistakes she sees business owners make. Relying too heavily on the title of an agreement is a common mistake, signing things without reading them or understanding them, not having any contract in place, having the wrong terms in place, and other common mistakes. Assume the documents are meant to trick you. Clients who pull documents off the internet sometimes don't realize they're using terms that are unfavorable to them. At bare minimum you want to lay out the payment terms, milestones, statement of work, etc. in writing. Having someone promise not to infringe on other people's copyrights is important. Sticking to workflows and processes is ideal as you navigate your way through contracts. Failing to assign intellectual property can be a sword or shield. Rob discusses the freelancer-protective laws recently enacted by New York City. Rob accidentally refers to the Gutenberg press as the "Glutenberg."
October 23rd, 2018 | 48 mins 27 secs
Rob and Sara discuss how they set their prices, the benefits of subscription models, setting an hourly rate starting off, and how to know when to increase rates. Rob has a provision in his contract where if someone cancels early, they are still on the hook for a certain percentage through the end of the Agreement term. That gives him money he can plan with and rely upon. Defaulting to billing by the hour is common because it is one of the easiest ways to move forward, however it often causes people to leave money on the table. Rob recommends value-based pricing based on a consideration of what the solution he's selling is worth to his clients. Ending your pricing in 5 goes better than ending it in 0.
October 16th, 2018 | 29 mins 26 secs
Sara and Rob discuss the things they miss most from their traditional employers. Sara misses work rooms full of office supplies. Rob talks about a co-worker stealing office toilet paper. While they have chosen their own paths because the pros outweigh the cons, but there are cons. Sara misses support staff, great views, beautiful offices, and stocked snack rooms. Rob notes his offices were not as nice as hers. Rob misses being in a leadership role. Sara misses support staff and also misses having people reviewing all her work and then providing immediate feedback. Rob misses having people to talk about work stuff to. The teamwork aspect of traditional employment is worth missing. Sara misses expense accounts and expense reimbursements and coffee mugs. Rob misses being a part of the downtown working community. Sara misses dressing up. They both admit to wearing the same clothes over and over again since the same people aren't seeing them every day.
October 9th, 2018 | 44 mins 30 secs
Just in time for Halloween, Rob and Sara discuss the ways in which freelancers should prepare their businesses in the event of their death or disability. If not carefully and swiftly managed, a successful small business can quickly become in the red. If you would hate to see this happen to your family, it's important to have a plan. That plan includes at bare minimum including someone in your industry who could take over for you and close things out. It's essential to keep all your logins centralized and recorded through something like 1Password or any other service so someone can step in and put holds on your overhead. Then someone needs to collect on your A/R if any invoices are outstanding and manage your client files and information where necessary. Disability and Life Insurance are a very important consideration. Key man insurance for multiple person companies is a very good idea.
October 2nd, 2018 | 44 mins 33 secs
Rob and Sara discuss hitting the high points of days 2-10 of finding yourself in an unexpected freelancing position. Continuing to sow seeds with your village, avoiding putting yourself out there if you're not in a place of strength, taking time to feel angry, etc. Also, getting a phone number and then business cards from moo.com in a small quantity. They caution against falling into making a website too early and instead focus on a higher level of branding strategy.
September 25th, 2018 | 45 mins 12 secs
Rob and Sara discuss the emergency steps you should take on day one if you're fired or other circumstances result in you suddenly finding yourself needing to freelance. First set up your choice of entity at your state's secretary of state, without letting a name choice slow you down. Then obtain an EIN, open a bank account. They discuss pros and cons of business bank account options and complain about Spark CapitalOne, which sucks now. Then set up a business email address. Do this by creating a Squarespace account which will help you build out a landing page and an email address domain. Squarespace has templates specifically classified as landing pages, that way you only need a couple photos and a few paragraphs of information. Avoiding wasting time on a full-fledge website is essential.
September 18th, 2018 | 46 mins 44 secs
Rob and Sara discuss the pros and cons of having clients who are also your friends. Navigating the waters of doing favors versus setting up a client relationship with a friend is tricky and can negatively affect your personal relationships. They discuss the importance of having a discussion about fees, costs, and boundaries at the outset to set expectations early. They also discuss the best solution which is probably to charge regular prices up front and implement a friends and family discount on the end when invoicing.
Episode 12: Live From Chattanooga Q&A: When to Trade Clients like Pogs, How to Fire a Client, Using Data to Direct Your Business
September 11th, 2018 | 30 mins 20 secs
Rob and Sara conduct a live recording at the Society of Work in Chattanooga. The Unfederated community weighs in with their most pressing questions about firing clients, the ways in which they track data and use it to make decisions and direct their businesses.
September 4th, 2018 | 1 hr 1 min
This Episode is the first part of a three-part mini-series: (1) the hardware we use, (2) the software we use (3) special resources we use when we travel. Rob and Sara discuss exactly what hardware they've chosen to invest in, the importance of using the right hardware for a stream-lined freelancer set up. It's a business expense and write-off, but still should be carefully considered, especially at the beginning. They discuss data privacy and the importance of disposing of old hardware securely and safely.
Episode 10: Q&A: Impractical client requests, the lack of maternity leave as a solo business, partners who don't have an income changes the freelancer equation, mentors
August 28th, 2018 | 40 mins 11 secs
Rob discusses a client request to print and mail invoices when it disrupts his dearly-held streamlined freelancer systems. When freelancing, whether to accommodate a client request that undermines your efficiencies is a question to be debated and mulled over. They then take a listener question about stay-at-home partners and how the considerations about freelancing change in the context of having only one spouse bringing in traditional income. Rob explains how having a wife who is also a freelancer worked financially when they had their daughter. They discuss how having a supportive spouse managing the family's life can be productive and helpful when running a business. They touch on the importance of having your partner's support of your plans to freelance and finding a good mentor. They discuss how they would approach employment differently after their experience running their own businesses.
Episode 9: Staying Inspired As Freelancers: Staying Engaged, Ideal Clients, Treating your brain like a Tesla, and preparing for Artificial Intelligence and an Economic Downturn
August 21st, 2018 | 44 mins 20 secs
Rob and Sara discuss how they manage to stay inspired and engaged during the day-to-day of freelancing. Freelancing is the purest form of business. Sara explains her elaborate systems for staying engaged through the day. Rob discusses his efforts to make his time with his wife and daughter more intentional and the allure of continuously working when you're a freelancer. They discuss the importance of staying aware of bigger picture trends in marketing and in law with technology changing rapidly and with the possibility of a future economic downturn.
Episode 8: Money: The Nitty Gritty of Cash Flow, Billing Software and Retirement Savings for Self-employed
August 14th, 2018 | 57 mins 48 secs
Rob and Sara discuss each of their approaches to managing cash flow as a freelancer. Both discuss the benefits of keeping your finances separate as early as possible, saving all along for taxes, and how to prioritize saving for retirement when you're self-employed. Then the co-hosts give their unbiased reviews of the most popular accounting software options on the market.
August 7th, 2018 | 42 mins 17 secs
Rob and Sara both experienced early failures and mistakes that helped them learn how to be better freelancers. They discuss some of their shared experiences with mistakes when they first started out and what they learned from them. Both have found the importance of pivoting when something isn’t working and remaining open to good opportunities. Many freelancers will find that the initial version of their business may look very different from the one that ultimately finds success. Both have reluctantly decided to stop hiding behind company names and have found the most success in marketing themselves as individuals.
July 31st, 2018 | 46 mins 5 secs
Rob and Sara discuss tips and tricks for managing the panic that can accompany a slow day when you’re freelancing.
July 24th, 2018 | 51 mins 14 secs
It wouldn't be freelancing without the hustle. Even if cold calls and networking sound like your worst nightmare, you can still be a successful solo practitioner by forming deep and meaningful connections with like-minded professionals in your industry. Rob and Sara discuss how they've found a surprising amount of success by just being genuine and being themselves.