I coach a lot of freelancers, many of them just starting out.
More often than not they are concerned about their level of knowledge, or perceived lack thereof.
In other words, they don’t feel ready to approach prospective prospects, because they feel they need to learn more about their craft first.
“I need to learn more about SEO, and writing emails, and social media, and A/B split testing.”
No, you don’t.
Your value in the eyes of your prospects is not tied to the sum of your knowledge, it is tied to the power of the message you share and the story you tell.
Let me use myself as an example.
In late 1998 I was invited to speak at a conference about marketing online. I gave my speech and it went OK. What the audience didn’t know at the time was that as an online copywriter – and that’s what I told them I was – I didn’t have a website, I didn’t have any past clients, and didn’t have any kind of formal education or certification in writing for the web.
But I did pick up 3 clients from the audience that day.
How did I do this without any proof of my credentials? I did it by sharing a message I was passionate about.
At the time my message went something like this, “Guys, you can’t create a good website simply by cutting and pasting text from your old print materials. Writing for the web is different.”
At the time that message was new and powerful. Members of the audience thought about their own sites and realized they were guilty as charged. Three of them asked me to fix their problem.
It was my message that got me that work, not the sum of my knowledge or any formal training.
The same applies today.
If you list the 10 skills you have as an online writer or copywriter, you will look exactly the same as a thousand other copywriters who are listing the same 10 skills on their own websites.
You can’t differentiate yourself by listing your skills.
But you can differentiate yourself by sharing a message you believe in.
For example, you might find it ridiculous that so many companies in your industry niche fail to engage with their readers through blogs or social media. If that’s the case, your message might go something like this. “Guys, you may not want to get involved in social media, but that is where your prospects are spending most of their time. You have to be where your prospects are.”
You become the professional who shares that message, whenever and wherever you can.
Do that and you separate yourself from all the freelancers who are simply listing their various skills and certifications.
Do that and you are no longer simply a freelancer, you are an industry expert.
By all means list your skills somewhere on your site one or two levels down. But to differentiate yourself and present yourself as an expert – experts earn more than freelancers – make yourself stand out by sharing a powerful message that matters both to you and to your prospects.
This is one of several steps you can take to get off the treadmill of being a low-paid freelancer. In next week’s post I’ll share one or two other changes you can make to drive the growth and success of your business.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…