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Freelancers and Consultants: What do you do better than anyone else?

Often-repeated wisdom is that when you are offering your freelance or consulting services, you tell your prospect what you do better than your competition.

And to reverse the dialogue, sometimes prospects directly ask you how you excel over everyone else.

Have you ever had this happen to you?

As a freelance writer, my first impulse is to say that I write better than the competition.

And my second impulse is to sense that is a ridiculous answer.

I’m proud of my writing, have lots of experience and give 110% to each assignment.

Still, I can’t say with certainty that I’m better than everyone else. I don’t know who my competition is for any given assignment. There are many other writers out there and I’m sure some of them are quite excellent. Comparing myself favorably to the entire field feels outlandish to me.

Also, what does “best” mean? In reality, quality is judged in relation to the demands of the assignment. It certainly isn’t the highest number of big words or the longest article. There is no one specific writing style—conversational, professional, fun, or motivational—that is always the “best” since I try to match the tone of my work with the business’s overall positioning and the expectations of the person making the assignment.

I have confidence in my work but I don’t want to come across as egotistical or out of touch with the marketplace.

Here are some alternatives I prefer.

My favorite approach is to tout my strengths without going for a direct comparison. This may mean claiming a high level of expertise in the industry under discussion or listing my credentials or citing successful examples of my work in the same area. I follow this last type of claim with an offer to email relevant samples to them, and I follow through promptly.

My strength may be that I really want to work with them and my talents are an excellent match with their needs. Enthusiasm is attractive and I surely want the project. (I do! After all, I contacted them rather than waiting for people to choose me!)

I may be superior for the opportunity because I am available to work on it now. You don’t want to give the impression that you have nothing going on, but after you ask for the deadline, it is acceptable to say that you can fit them into your schedule and meet their due date.

I certainly don’t want to boast of working cheaper than anyone else out there. Competing primarily on price contradicts any claim to being the “best,” plus there’s the obvious negative of why would I want an assignment that pays so poorly?

Originally posted 3-25-13

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