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The biggest mistake freelancers make

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I’ve been enjoying my time back home in Italy over the Easter weekend.

Between one BBQ rib and the next I found myself sharing some advice to old friends about freelancing.

You might say Italy is a bit behind when it comes to remote working and the online space in general, so if you’re stuck in that reality, you tend to tunnel vision on it.

As some of my friends have jumped ship and started freelancing, they realize that, especially when it comes to the service business, simply showing up and being good at what you do is not enough.

There’s one fundamental skill you need to master.

One that’s so vital, yet so few people actually see it as something to actively work on, day in and day out.

I’m talking about selling.

Problem is, the people who are not good at it see it as being pushy. They see it as overpromising and underdelivering. Black or white.

But you can actually overdeliver if you are a good salesperson.

A good way of doing it and reframe selling, comes from customer experience consultant and author Matt Watkinson.

He says:

“Selling is research where you get paid at the end of it”

What he means is that when you’re selling you have to get curious, and you have to put in the work of figuring out what the other person wants. Then you have to give it to them.

It’s an exchange of value.

So consider the work required to understand your buyer as part of the project, and you’ll have a much easier time “selling” to them.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes too of course…

The way you position yourself and your business matters a lot too.

You can go from a mere vendor, to a partner.

And caring about their business, sometimes more than they do, also works.

But if you offer services and struggle to sell, start with the first step, researching your clients.

And remember that all that work will be rewarded in one way or another down the road.

Are you a freelancer starting out? I want to start coaching some of you in 2023. It’s a great way for me to learn what works and what doesn’t, and it can be a shortcut for your career.

Quote and reflection of the day:

“Mentally we can train ourselves to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, to feel calm in the midst of chaos and stay in the eye of the proverbial hurricane.”

  • George Mumford, The Mindful Athlete

Your ability to take a step back, take action and focus requires deliberate training like any other skill. Cultivate it and practice it daily.

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