The Psychology of Business: Talking Yourself Up

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The one overwhelming question that most freelancers and small business owners have is, “how do I get more clients?” It’s especially true of people just starting out, but it is a constant question, because more clients means more work, and more work means more revenue. It’s difficult to see, then, the fact that clients are all around, everywhere. Maybe the kid making you a sandwich at Subway needs a blog made, or maybe your friend Bill needs an app that can help him more efficiently reconcile his accounts receivable with his paper billings.


The first thing I want to note is that nobody is ever going to ignore your email because your grammar and spelling were too good. Even if they weren’t expecting to hear from you, a well thought out, properly worded email will get you a lot further than one of those, “i ned wurk $60 a hour.” Getting the work is about making a good first impression, and a comporting yourself in a professional way will help you get more responses from your marketing efforts.

A fairly common thing I have noticed, and that has been covered by Ramit Sethi, of I Will Teach You to be Rich fame, is that it’s common for people to devalue themselves when communicating orally. By devaluing I mean using phrases that indicate that you aren’t sure about your abilities. Clients that are accustomed to hiring others can pick up on these like a cat can smell tuna fish, so they’re definitely things to avoid.

Phrases like, “I guess…” and “Maybe…” can instantly lower your rate. The key is confidence—being able to say resolutely, “Yes, I do this and this is what it costs.” Having a lot of confidence in your skills and your price tends to impress and makes you more attractive as a worker. I’ve seen it myself in hiring freelancers. Those that indicate that they aren’t taking any more business and are very firm on their price come across as much more capable than those that waffle on about, “my rate is negotiable, blah blah blah.”

So, if you’re in the market for clients then these two things are essential to avoid. Proofread your correspondences, because in most cases a misspelled word can result in a lost job, and avoid being too flexible in terms of price and what you can do. Confidence is key, and it makes you seem much more competent, and thus, that much more desirable.