The cake baker’s guide to marketing your freelance business.

freelancer cakeLet’s take part in a simple thought experiment…

Imagine we have a mutual friend, called Jane, who wants to start a home-based business…baking cakes.

First she goes to evening school and learns some professional-grade baking skills. Once she feels she has the level of skill she needs, she builds a beautiful website and opens her doors for business.

How do you think Jane will do?

Although we both want her business to thrive, in all honesty she probably won’t have much success. Perhaps she could sell enough cakes to call what she does a hobby, but she almost certainly won’t make a decent living.

How come?

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Monday Spark: It’s OK not to be the best at what you do.

don't have to be the winnerIn our culture we are under a lot of pressure to be the best. When we sit exams, go to job interviews, have job reviews, come up for promotion…and so on.

We also live in a culture that is obsessed with competition, and seeing who comes out on top.

Who is going to win the Superbowl? Who is the best golfer in the world? Who is the best supermodel? Who has the best garden on your street? Whose kid did best in the school play?

In other words, we are under pressure to be winners. If we are not winners, well, we are losers. And in North American culture, nothing is worse than being a loser.

As a freelancer, you need to distance yourself from this cultural narrative.

If you stress about not being the best, or not being a winner, then you’ll undermine your self-confidence.

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Monday Spark: Fake it until you become it [VIDEO]

powerful postureI often tell the story of a freelancer I know who, before making any kind of cold call – from his freelance work area at home – dresses up in a suit, makes sure his shoes are polished, and strides confidently around the room for a few minutes until he feels ready to make the call.

By making himself look and feel powerful, he finds he had far greatest success with his calls. His prospect can’t see he is wearing a suit, and standing while making the call, but he can.

I also advise my coaching clients, when starting out on their freelance careers, to imagine how successful they could be three years from now. I ask them to imagine their workspace, think of how much money they are making, think about the kinds of clients they have and the projects they are working on, and envision what their websites will look like. And I then tell them to start behaving like that right now, three years in advance of achieving that goal.

In other words, behave as if you are already as successful as you plan to become.

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Monday Spark: 12 Ways for freelancers to lift their spirits and stay positive.

As you probably know, the whole idea of these Monday Spark posts is to add a little positivity to the beginning of our weeks.

Each Monday I post about something I think and hope will give you a little boost or lift in some way.

Why? First, because most of us could do with a small boost on a Monday morning. Second, because I think freelancers are particularly susceptible to mood swings.

I’m not saying we are moody, although some of us probably are. But I do believe we are susceptible to the emotional ups and downs of the freelance life.

If we end a week on a high note, with a check in the mail and a big new project from our favorite client, we will likely start on Monday with a bounce in our step. Absent any disasters, we’ll probably feel good for the rest of the week.

On the other hand, if we end the week on a down note, with payments delayed and a promised project cancelled, we’ll likely start the next week with a cloud over our heads.

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Monday Spark: You don’t have to be suave, super-confident and charismatic to succeed [VIDEO]

confidentYou may have noticed the same trend that I have been watching.

In fact, I have written about this before, a few months ago.

What I’m noticing is that the marketing of freelancers and solopreneurs is becoming more and more about looks, sound bites and high production values.

It used to be that we just took a headshot with our web cams and used those on our sites and as avatars. And when we made videos, we would just set up a camera in our office or dining room (which I still do).

But more and more, I’m seeing high-priced professional photos being used as avatars. I read a post on Google+ the other day about someone flying down to Los Angeles to test a studio setup for his upcoming series of videos. I’m also seeing a lot of work being done on grooming, lighting and makeup, to make good-looking entrepreneurs, male and female, look their best.

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