How has your workflow been feeling lately? If your answer is "low," don't worry, you're not alone. Economic uncertainty grips the entire world, not to mention the prospect of artificial intelligence and new technologies making many jobs potentially redundant for many clients.
No matter how much of a job crisis there is at present, in the big picture there will always be clients desperate to find good people to hire. The only difference is that you may have to try a little harder to present and sell yourself as what they are looking for.
That doesn't mean being over the top, deceptive or cocky: you don't have to transform yourself into the stereotypical "annoying" salesperson. It simply means leaning into your value and effectively communicating what makes you unique, what sets you apart from the competition and how you can demonstrate to customers in a niche that you are the best option over anyone else.
Sounds easy, but how do you actually put it into practice? In this article we share with you some of the best ways to do it.
1. Be concise and honest
Let's make one thing clear from the start: selling yourself doesn't mean talking endlessly about how great you are. Using a lot of verbiage or business-speak won't make you sound smart, it will make you look like you're trying to fool people. People will be much more impressed if you are able to explain exactly what you offer, quickly and succinctly, in simple language. In other words, improve your elevator pitch to the degree that it comes naturally to you to sell what you do.
One tip we can give you is to give a decisive response in your emails. That first impression is very important; link to articles from websites that may be useful to your customers. This helps to demonstrate that you have knowledge and experience and, above all, that you can communicate quickly and concisely, which is something many clients are looking for.
Honesty is also vital. If you tell clients up front what will work and what won't, this will help them trust you more and decide to hire you.
2. Focus on the customer
Selling yourself, ironically, doesn't always mean talking a lot about yourself. It's really about focusing on the customer, what they need and how you can help them improve their situation, or solve their problem. Think of yourself as a business consultant, show it and you will see that you will receive the client's respect.
One way to present this is for you to take the lead in the meeting with questions so you can listen carefully to your client's answers. Once you have done this, you can connect the dots between their challenges and your solutions; this is also where you can tell stories about past projects to demonstrate your expertise.
3. Show what you've done
It seems like a no-brainer, but this point is one that many freelancers ignore. Few clients will want to hire you unless they can see clear evidence that you do great work. So you have to find a way to put your best in front of them.
If you think your work may vary in the way you present it to your clients, you can create a template that you can customize every time you send it out. This is an addition to your online presence on social media. Think about the fact that most people are going to search for you online once you present yourself to them; therefore there should be evidence of not only your existence, but of your expertise.
That doesn't mean, of course, putting everything online; careful selection is vital. Share only what you're proud of, what communicates your capabilities really well and what you're passionate about doing. And in temporary places, like Instagram stories, you can post what you're least proud of; it's still out there, in case someone else really likes it, but it doesn't exist eternally within everyone's reach.
4. Show your process
Selling yourself is not only about showing the finished product, but also about highlighting how you have achieved it. One way to do this can be through case studies and testimonials. Keep them up to date and spend time interviewing your customers and creating new case studies. Demonstrate the value of what you do. Trust and credibility are very important.
If you don't know how to present them, here are some tips. Apply the STAR method to your portfolio; this means explaining the background of the work, what the key challenge was, the steps you took, or the process, and how it benefited your client. Think of the method artists use when describing their work, you could apply this to each project to give a better understanding of your thinking and work.
Informing clients about your process should also be fundamental in the presentation phase. People want to know the secrets of your business, your dreams, goals and everything that goes into it. Think outside the box and we assure you that creativity will take you far. You will constantly have to convince customers of the value of what you do and you can do this in many more ways; there are no rules in this business.
5. Interpersonal skills
Selling yourself is not just about focusing on the work itself. Often, potential clients look much more closely at what you are like as a person and whether you will be able to get along with them. Many times, interpersonal skills get you further than your portfolio does. Being honest but respectful, communicative, understanding and trustworthy are the reasons people may recommend you.
6. Be different
When you work in a corporate environment, it's often tempting to follow everyone else's lead and keep your head down. However, when you're selling yourself as a freelancer, that's the last thing you want to do. We know there are some classic strategies for approaching clients to offer your services, but our recommendation is that you look for different ways to do it. We know you have the creativity to do it, to make yourself stand out.
Focus on your specialty. Many times communicating what you specialize in, or communicating your purpose, can make all the difference in demonstrating your value and bringing in the right clients. As a freelancer, it can be very tempting to be a generalist and take on any creative work that comes your way. Our advice is not to go down that road. Be very clear about your value and your proposition from day one, build your reputation in that area by being consistent and don't hesitate. That is the path to true value for everyone.
Finally, be yourself. Because it's much easier to sell the real you than a fake version that you think customers will like (they probably won't).