My Unsexy 7-Step Framework to Sustainable & High-Value Freelancing Careers


Let’s talk about my not-so-sexy 7-step framework for getting to the heart of what is truly valuable to your client.

If you’ve been looking for the hack, the secret, the trick to earning more money. This is it. This is the honest, boring but effective tactic. 

It isn’t a quick fix. It isn’t an overnight success. It isn’t make 10K in the next 30 days.

Do not read this page until you have a willingness to implement this framework. This framework is absolutely useless if you just read or skim it.

You MUST implement this framework in its entirety to see the results that you want.

Because implementation is so important, I made a free Notion template for you to work through (no opt-in or email necessary so please use it). You can make a copy of it to follow along.

And quick reminder: nobody is going to hand you a promotion when you’re a freelancer – you need to give yourself a promotion. Chances are, you’re overdue for a promotion.

Good news? You can give yourself a promotion by implementing the framework on this page.

There are 2 parts to this framework. There’s the You part and the Your Client part. Both parts are needed in order to create a sustainable & profitable career.

Obviously part 1 is all about you, because this is your lifestyle business aka it needs to account for YOUR ideal lifestyle first. This is the most important foundation.

Then in part 2, we’re going to get strategic about solving the right bottlenecks for clients.

Now let’s dive into part 1 the framework…

// Part 1: You

Step 1: What is success?

You’d be surprise how many people don’t sit down and think on what success really means to them. Where are you trying to arrive? What would make you think, “I’ve made it”? 

We need clarity on this because it steers us and keeps us from being led astray by more dominant images of success that others may throw our way (e.g. “just make 7 figures and you’ll be successful and happy!!!”). 

Find the answer to the following question:

✅ What does success mean to you personally?

What is success? Be specific and try not to refer to anyone else’s image of success when you think on this.

Is it money? How much? Why that much? What does that amount of money mean to you? Or… Is it a house? A car? Is it a feeling? What does success really mean? Make a bulletpoint list.

Step 2: Where is your line?

You’d be even more surprised by how many people never consider what they’re not willing to sacrifice on their way to success.

Clarity on your non-negotiables will save you years of stress and potentially losing sight of what matters to you.


Find the answer to the following question:

✅ What are your non-negotiables?

Where do you draw your line in the sand? What are your boundaries? What are you never willing to sacrifice? 

Is it your weekends? Is it your time with family and friends? Is it your mental well-being and peace? Is it your dignity? Is it all of the above? Make a bulletpoint list.

Step 3: What is enough?

Similarly to step 2, we again want to draw a line. More is great, but what is enough for you to live a happy, thriving, comfortable life? 

Knowing your ‘enough’ is powerful because it prevents you to searching pointlessly and infinitely for ‘more’. There will always be ‘more’, but ‘enough’ is all you really need to aim for.


Find the answer to the following question:

✅ What is enough?

What is enough money? How much do you need on a monthly or yearly basis to live a thriving, happy life? How many clients is enough? How much work is enough?

// Part 2: The Client

Now to run a profitable business, we need to make great money. To make great money, we need to solve our clients’ problems, To solve our clients’ problems, we need to be intimately familiar with our potential clients’ big dreams and biggest bottlenecks.

So let’s figure it out in part 2…

2 Helpful Tips for Part 2:

1. Don’t know the answers to any of the questions below?

Do this exercise WITH your client. They’ll be so excited that someone cares enough about their big dream and problems to help solve them. You’ll get major brownie points.

2. Don’t have clients yet?

Get on a few calls with potential ideal clients and ask them these questions. I know this is annoying advice, but these calls will be fun & be way more impactful than making your logo or website perfect. Incentivize these people to get on these calls by giving them something for free or paying for their time.

Step 1: What is their Big, Intimidating Dream?

In this first step, the goal is to: find out what your clients truly want.

You can’t help if you don’t know what their North Star is. You can’t help if you don’t know which direction you’re rowing towards.

In this step, you may find, surprisingly, that some people haven’t ever carefully thought about what they’re really after in their business. Fame, fortune, immortality? Why do they do what they do?

Find answers to the following 3 questions:

✅ What is their Big, Intimidating Dream for their business?

You need this in as much detail as humanely possible.

What does this Dream look like visually? Who is in the business? What is the business offering? Who does it serve? How much does it make every year?

✅ In this Big, Intimidating Dream for their business, what is their role in that business?

How much do they work? What do they work on? How’s their energy level?

This will give you so much insight into what your client truly wants with their business and help you move them in that direction.

✅ If they could wave a magic wand, what would their business and life be like?

Another great question that helps suspend reality for a moment to help clients really share what (given no limitations and restrictions) they’d want.

Step 2: What Deeply Hurts?

In the next step, the goal is to: find out what is truly painful, truly aching for your clients.

If you’ve been working with a client for a while now, you probably have an idea of roughly what annoys them day-to-day.

They may say things like, “I haaaate having to figure out how all this tech stuff works. It’s so frustrating.” or they may say things like, “Calls are so draining to me. Wish I didn’t have to do so many.”

Those are all great things to make notes of, but we also want to dig deeper in this step.

Find answers to the following 3 questions:

✅ What is my client annoyed and frustrated with in their business right now?

Everyone has frustrations; it’s your job to figure out what they are. You may have to dig deep with your clients on this because there are different layers to frustrations that they may not even realize.

They range from minor annoyances to “this makes me want to burn my business to the ground.”

✅ What does your client spend all day doing? What, of everything they do, do they hate with a passion?

This is a really great way to figure out what to take off your clients’ plate first and second.

What makes them hate their work day?

✅ Beyond the basics, what are they lying awake at 2am nervous about?

Beyond the tech issues, the decision fatigue, the full inbox, what are they truly nervous about when it comes to their business in the big picture?

Deep fear of failing? Fear of inconsistent revenue? Fear of traffic sources drying up? Fear of customers being unhappy? Fear of what this says about them personally?

Running a business (as you know) is no piece of cake. They most likely have very big fears and attachments to their business. Be empathetic.

Step 3: What is Blocking the Dam?

In this third step, the goal is to: find out what the big and small bottlenecks are.

I like to picture a water dam. What is blocking the dam? What is keeping the water (aka $) from gushing through the dam?

You will have to employ some observational skills here or if possible, have a very honest talk with your client about this.

Find answers to the following 3 questions:

✅ What is truly keeping them from reaching that Big, Intimidating Dream on a personal level? Why aren’t they there? What is holding them back?

There is a lot of mindset baggage that comes with running a business. What are some that this client struggles with? What keeps them taking the action that they need to take?

✅ What bottlenecks do you see? What is preventing growth right now? Why aren’t things progressing? Why aren’t projects getting done faster?

If they say it’s money, is it really money? Is it time? Is it energy? Is it lack of skills or expertise aka a skills gap on the team? Is it lack of direction and vision? Lack of motivation? Lack of alignment with the current product offerings?

✅ Why AREN’T they making more money, honestly?

You have a very unique perspective on your clients’ business. So… why, in your opinion, are they not making more money?

Are they getting too distracted via shiny object syndrome? Are they not launching something they really should be launching? Are they too busy with managing projects and the team to actually do profit-generating tasks? Are they procrastinating doing the important & profitable work?

What are the major blockers of the money dam?

Step 4: You’re a Problem Magician.

In this final step, the goal is to: evaluate & make some problems dissapear.

We’re going to grade each of these issues we found in step 2 and 3 on a scale from 1 – 5.

  • 1 being a Small Bottleneck aka a minor inconvenience that can easily be solved and does not hugely impact the business.
  • 5 being a Big Bottleneck aka a major inconvenience and directly costs the business money.

Obviously we want to ideally solve for as many 5’s as possible in your table. Look at the table — do you notice any patterns? Anything calling out to you?

Very important at this stage as well: put on that snazzy thinking cap.

How can you solve some of these problems and frustrations for the client? What can you implement – systems, boundaries, people, tools – that could help? What could you learn to help them fix? What are you interested in helping them fix?

Who would you need to become to be able to fix these problems for your clients?

Below I’ll share how I chose to solve the Bottlenecks for my clients from my own transition, but this is just one path. 

You don’t have to follow the same path. 

This was the one I chose.

My 3 Discoveries

In my analysis, I found that these were the 3 Biggest Bottlenecks for my clients:

1. Clients struggle with moving projects forward and getting things done.

This was because of lack of resources like people, time or money, lack of planning, lack of accountability, lack of monitoring.

2. Clients struggle with hiring & managing a team.

Most of them didn’t start a business to manage a team so they don’t have that much interest in doing this or learning how to do this well.

However, bad hiring and bad team management cost businesses a lot of money as its inefficient when the team is unhappy or unproductive.

3. Clients don’t have systems or processes.

They had no clue what systems or processes were which meant everything lived in their head, which is a dangerous place to store vital business information.

And bibbidi, bobbidi, boo…

I grouped these Big Bottlenecks up into these 3 categories of what clients needed from me:

  1. Project Management
  2. Team Management
  3. Systems Management

The reason I became so valuable and so indispensable to my clients is because my pricing was based on solving these problems for my clients.

I took these 3 Bottlenecks, packaged them up and turned it into my career as a — Digital Business Manager.

And I know at this point, I’m supposed to be telling you how incredible being a Digital Business Manager (DBM) is, how it’s the only option for you to succeed online and then skillfully, smoothly and strategically lead this conversation into a paid product of some kind.

But I’m not going to do that for 2 reasons:

1. I want to protect your trust.

One of my biggest business values is that I protect your trust and attention. So my promise to you right now is that you will never be sold to unless you explicitly ask to be sold to.

Yes, that means there won’t be any sales links tucked anywhere. That means you won’t suddenly find yourself on my course sales page. That means you won’t be surprised with sales emails in your inbox if you choose to opt into my email list.

2. DBM is not the right fit for everyone.

It would be ridiculous and dishonest for me to say that everyone reading this would LOVE being a DBM.

Sure, some of you might. But some of you might not.

The Digital Business Manager role completely changed my life because it was the happy place between what I loved doing and what my clients desperately needed.

But it may not be aligned to what you love doing, what you find in your own implementation of the framework above or who you want to serve.

So my responsibility in this two-way street is to give you the information I have, and your responsibility is figuring out if it’s interesting to you.

If you ARE curious about the Digital Business Manager role, I’ve got a completely free, no-pitch, no-sales behind-the-scenes transparent look into my 6-figure Digital Business Manager career including what I offered, what I charged, where I found clients, and more.

[This behind-the-scenes peek is coming Nov 2022.]

But even if you’re not interested in the DBM role, I do hope this little letter has been helpful one way or another.

And here’s my promise:

If you focus on making yourself more valuable and on personal and professional growth for 2 years… your life will change so thoroughly and so beyond your wildest imagination.

I reached that point near the end of 2018 – and I don’t say this to brag but because I want you to believe that there is a future version of you that is calling to you to make this commitment to yourself.

To bet on yourself.

As a reminder:

Back in 2016, I was insecure, unsure of how to make good money, worried about every paycheck.

In 2022, I am secure, I feel confident in how to make money because the skillsets I’ve developed over the past years are valuable.

It is the ultimate security to know you have your own financial back because you have invested so much into yourself.

And as a final, vital note…

It’s one thing to read and consume this information and then move on with your life.

It’s a complete other thing to read this, brainstorm on it, journal on it, think on it, and then take the required action to implement it in your career.

  1. If you do the first thing, nothing will change.
  2. If you do the second thing, your whole career and life could change, like it did for me.

So I strongly invite you to implement this in your business. I know it may sound too simple to some of you, but the best, most useful information is simple.

And it is only through implementation that you’ll see the results you so intensely crave.


– deya

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The DBM Bootcamp™ is an 8-12 week Bootcamp that trains you to plan & manage digital projects, run remote teams, optimize business systems and scale digital businesses alongside entrepreneurs and business owners