Smart Freelance Promotion
Isn’t About Listing Your Skills.
It’s About Sharing Your Expertise.

As freelancers, we tend to think the best way to market our services is to list the skills we offer.

It makes sense. We’ve worked hard to build our skills, and we want our prospective clients to know what we can do for them.

So we list the various things we are good at — like writing sales pages, creating great content, taking care of SEO, our social media marketing chops … and so on.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a particularly good way to market your services.

How come? For two reasons.

Reason #1. Because a thousand other freelancers are pitching the same list of skills.

Most freelancers pitch their services and value based on the skills they can offer. As a result, when prospects scan the sites of 10 freelancers, they’ll come across more or less the same list time and time again.

From the prospect’s point of view, this isn’t very useful. It doesn’t help them find the freelancer they want to work with. After spending an hour going through those 10 sites, it seems each of the freelancers offer similar lists of skills.

In other words, when you base your marketing on your skill set, you become lost in a crowd of numerous other freelancers who offer the same list.

That’s not a good way to stand out. Not a good way to try to differentiate yourself. Not a good way to grab the attention of prospective clients.

Reason #2. Because you’ll never think you are the best.

If your freelance marketing platform is based on your skills, you’ll always be worrying about other freelancers being better than you are.

“Yes, I can write online sales pages, but I have been doing this for only six months, and I am quite sure there are dozens or hundreds of more experienced online copywriters who can do a better job than I can.”

Well, as soon as you have thoughts like that, you will undermine your own self-confidence and find it increasingly difficult to sell your services.

If you don’t feel sure of yourself, how on earth are you going to pitch yourself effectively?

Put these two reasons together and you’ll see why using your skill set as your primary marketing platform is not such a good idea.

So what is the alternative?

Give away everything you know.

I can perhaps explain this approach best by telling you how I have been marketing my own freelance services over the years.

In short, I publish and share everything I know about my craft.

In fact, if you were to read every article and book I have ever written, watch every speech and presentation I have given, and listen to every teleseminar I have recorded — you would know everything I know.

In other words, I give away everything.

You might then think, “That’s silly. Why would companies hire you if you have already shared all your expertise and secrets?”

The answer is simple. They hire me because even though they may know what I know, they don’t know how to execute. They don’t know how to write well. They don’t have my core skill — which is writing for the Web.

Market yourself effectively by building the perception of value.

If I speak at an event, the audience thinks, “If he has been chosen to speak here, he must be good.”

If I have a book published by a reputable publisher, my readers think, “If he was chosen by this publisher, he must be good.”

If I write a guest post for a well-known marketing website, my readers think, “If these guys invited Nick to write a post for them, he must be good.”

If I write a post for my own site and it attracts 20 comments, my readers think, “If that many people commented, he must be good.”

When I speak or write, I’m never talking about my skill set. I’m sharing my knowledge, and trying to educate and help my audience.

Can you do the same?

Sure you can.

You start off by writing your own posts or articles. Focus on writing content that will help your prospective clients. Give away your best insights. Aim to give your prospects the very best advice possible.

When your prospects read these posts, they’ll think, “If he/she has this amount of great advice to give away, he/she must be good.”

The better your own posts or articles, the sooner you will be welcomed as a guest blogger by other sites.

The better your guest posts, the sooner you’ll be ready to write your first e-book or full-length book.

And so on.

It’s all about giving away great information and growing your authority.

That’s how you get companies to seek you out and pay you decent fees.

Wrapping it up …

When you focus on your skill set, you are simply making yourself look like everyone else. That’s not a good way to differentiate yourself or make companies want to pay you good fees.

When you focus on sharing what you know and educating your prospects, you separate yourself from your competitors and create the perception that you are the one to hire … and that you are worth premium fees.

Share what you know!

[Editor’s Note: Does Nick Usborne know what he’s talking about? Over the course of a writing and consulting career spanning 30 years, offline and then online, he’s worked with dozens of major companies, including:

Citibank, Apple, Disney, Chrysler, Franklin Mint, TV Guide, Diners Club International, J. Paul Getty Trust,, Technogym, Encyclopedia Britannica, The New York Times, Country Financial, Adorama, Reuters, WebEx, and others.

How can you tap into Nick’s expertise and business-building savvy? By clicking here and signing up now for AWAI’s 2012 FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair. Only 2 spots still available.]

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Published: September 10, 2012

2 Responses to “Don't Share Your Skills”

  1. Thank you for contributing this article.

    I really enjoyed reading it.

    Giving something away for free may seem counter-intuitive, but it sure seems to work in the long run.

    Prospective clients or customers like to receive freebies.

    Freebies help them to sample your product or service.

    If they like what you stand for, they will want more of it.

    Thus, they may contact you and see what kind of deal you have on offer.

    Establishing your credibility helps to establish trust in the market too, so you are right on the money.

    Archan Mehta

  2. I agree with this article, but I struggle on how to apply it to my own blog/website. It feels like I am simply talking about my skills.

    I don't know what I know or where to start, I guess.


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