Tag Archives: selling yourself

Used-car Salesmen Anonymous

freelance salesWanted to follow up on Diane’s post from yesterday, “8 secret reasons you hate marketing your writing.” More important, I wanted to echo her sentiments: It’s incredibly important for writers to break down the self-imposed barriers that can hold us back.

Sales gets a bad rap. Back in my editorial staff days, there was an extra measure of envy for the BMW-driving, expense-account abusing, exotic-traveling schmoozers.

But here’s the fact: They were the ones who paid the bills. Nowadays, that’s me.

So, to amplify Diane’s thoughts from yesterday, I came across an interesting post, “Reps Drop the Hard Sell and Discover How to be More Effective.” Dr. Robert Cialdini, whose site it appears on, is the author of several books about the power of influence and persuasion, all of which are worth reading. And the link to the Wall Street Journal article is a must as well. (It’s about pharmaceutical sales, but the same lessons apply.)

Bottom line, you don’t have to be a used-car salesman or a hard-charging drug rep. In fact, as the WSJ piece notes, it’s all about building relationships; and as the mp3 interview with Cialdini makes clear, that is a matter of establishing trust and authority. And, while we’re at it, a recent study in Nature concluded that overconfidence—not just confidence—has some counterintuitive benefits.

Indeed, we’ve got it much better than a used-car salesman. They’re selling lemons…We’re selling ourselves.

Contributing blogger Jake Poinier offers answers to your freelancing questions at DoctorFreelance.com. His most recent post was “Write like you’re rich.”

Photo courtesy of Hans Thoursie.

Overselling/Underselling Yourself

By Amanda Connor

I have been caught in this web of imbalance before. It is as easy to oversell yourself as it is to undersell yourself to a prospective client.

On days when I’ve felt terribly confident in my abilities and perhaps caught a really inspirational Lifetime movie that hammered home the idea that “I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to,” I may have taken on a project that was clearly over my head, and later lived to regret doing so.  On other days, when I’ve felt overwhelmed or exhausted, I haven’t taken the time to really sell my abilities and I’ve missed out on some great writing opportunities.

The only answer to finding this perfect balance of appropriately selling your abilities is to take the time to really evaluate your own work and to give yourself room for introspection.

Questions to ask yourself to prevent overselling:

1. If this project sounds challenging, am I genuinely interested in the subject matter?

2. Do I have the energy and drive to put into taking on a project like this?

3. Will taking on a challenging project like this boost my knowledge/skill set for future projects? Will this increase my value as a writer?

4. What’s my motivation: the subject matter or the paycheck?

Questions to ask yourself to prevent underselling:

1. What other projects have I worked on that are most worth mentioning? Highlight these projects. Now is not the time to be modest.

2. If I’m not giving this pitch my all, why not? Fatigue? Burn out? Stress? Lack of interest in the project?

3. Am I being too timid about my abilities? Focus on the most difficult project you have taken on to date and ask yourself: Am I capable of producing even better/more challenging work?

Whether you suspect you are underselling your abilities, or you are coming down from the high of another great project and feel like you can take on the world, save yourself the frustration of a botched opportunity by remaining grounded in where you stand, as well as remaining focused on each new step in your writing career.