Category Archives: Marketing yourself

How to use personality tests

Can knowing your "type" help freelancers gain and retain more clients?
Can knowing your "type" help freelancers gain and retain more clients?

By Jake Poinier

If you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, you’ve probably taken DiSC or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality tests. Ironically enough, taking a Myers-Briggs at my last corporate job hastened my departure: In an “aha” moment, I realized that my type, ENTP (click the link for details on what makes me tick), was diametrically opposed to my boss’s type. I’d been plotting my escape for nearly a year, but the test confirmed what I suspected in my head about how we saw the world so differently. It also indicated that my personality would be good for entrepreneurship and therefore freelancing. I left about a month later.

Personality tests are not a crystal ball by any means, but they can help you understand a bit more about your strengths and weaknesses, and how you react under stress. For a freelancer, that can make them a powerful tool.

More important, if you do a little bit of research on the other types, you can start identifying what types your prospective freelance clients and current clients are. That, of course, enables you to modify how you treat those clients as individuals.

One of the things I learned during my two-year stint as a sales manager for a custom-magazine publishing company was how different each of the clients were that came from the different salespeople:

  • Tim’s were hard-driving, number-crunching folks who wouldn’t believe anything unless they saw it in a spreadsheet. (Conversely, if you were good at spreadsheets, you could make them believe almost anything.) You had to get right to the point, or they’d cut you off. It took a lot to win them over, but were very loyal once you did.
  • Frank’s sales were usually very personable and easygoing. They were the most pleasant to work with, but also had trouble with deadlines and weren’t very detail oriented. You had to shmooze them into compliance.
  • Bill’s sales were best described as aloof. They weren’t as driven as Tim’s, nor as friendly as Frank’s. They were not terribly loyal, because they were never very dedicated in the first place. Anytime Bill made a sale, I knew they weren’t in for the long haul.

The personality tests probably won’t tell you anything that you don’t know (or at least suspected) about yourself. But having an understanding of what motivates or irritates a client is essential to creating a lasting bond.

Have you taken one of these personality tests or something else? Do you use personality-oriented techniques in the sales process? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Contributing blogger Jake Poinier runs Boomvang Creative Group, a Phoenix-based editorial services firm. He also blogs about freelancing at — most recently about freelance ghostwriting rates.

Guest Blogger Wanted: Fiction Writing and Editing

Fiction writers needs a guest blog post or two from an experienced writer and/or editor of fiction. We’ve covered a wide range of topics here, but fiction is one of those areas that doesn’t get the love it deserves, so we’re looking to branch out a bit.

Specifically we’re looking for an experienced fiction writer and/or editor who can write confidently on a variety of a topics related to the business of writing fiction. Wisdom about how to write fiction abounds, so we don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Instead, tell us how you make money doing it and what it takes to get there.

We like our guest bloggers to plug their current projects, link back to their blogs or resume pages, etc. so this is a good opportunity to blow your own horn as well as give sage advice…

If you’re interested, please drop us a line to editor (at) and be sure to let us know a bit of background including where you’ve published and what you’re up to now. We look forward to hearing from you!

A Sure-Fire Confidence Builder

Yes, you *can* cure presentation anxiety
Yes, you *can* cure presentation anxiety

By Jake Poinier

As a parent, your job is never done in correcting your kids’ use of the English language. I was reminded numerous times this morning as my high-school age son began a story with “George and me…” followed by my middle-school daughter injecting “like” into every other sentence. What I try to convey to them is that, while these are the types of things that help you not seem like a dork among peers, it’s not the way to impress teachers and (eventually) bosses.

With that thought, Joe’s post this week about being fearless triggered a memory for me on how we present ourselves as freelancers. As an entrepreneur who works with intellectual property, you are selling your skills — but you’re also selling yourself. And I can point to one single experience that was a sure-fire confidence builder far beyond all of the sales and marketing seminars I’ve ever attended.

I’m talking about Toastmasters.

I was required to attend a local chapter as a newbie salesperson back in the late ’90s. At first it seemed hopelessly contrived. The meetings are very structured, with different roles (timer, Jokemaster, emcee, etc.) assigned to each of the participants, and a very rigid timeline of what has to happen when. But even though my membership long ago lapsed, the lessons have stuck with me:

  • You get honest feedback on your presentation content and style. Having a third-party perspective on your speech patterns and gestures is an eye-opening, “do-I-really-do-that?” experience. With a little guidance and weekly practice, it’s amazing how fast you make progress and cure presentation anxiety. Bonus: If you say “um” and “ah” a lot, you’ll be cured of the habit.
  • You learn how to give honest feedback. Even when someone bombs, your job is to identify what they did well and help build on it. Yes, this is helpful when “guiding” your freelance clients to avoid or change something awful.
  • You learn how to be concise. Whether you’re telling a brief anecdote or giving a 5-minute speech, there’s a light box that signals yellow, green or red to tell you how you’re doing on time. Talking too much can be a deal killer.

Bottom line, if you have any fear about public speaking, your local Toastmasters chapter will help eradicate it in a fun, friendly, supportive environment. More important, you’ll feel far more confident presenting yourself in general, whether it’s making cold calls, pitching a new client, leading a writing seminar, or accepting a Nobel Prize in Literature.

What’s been your biggest confidence builder as you’ve started and grown your freelance business — workshop, club, personal guru? Please share in the comments!

When he’s not hanging around Freelance-Zone, contributing blogger Jake Poinier runs Boomvang Creative Group and offers freelancing advice under the pseudonym Dr. Freelance.

Tasks Every Writer Should Do

Catherine L. Tullyby Catherine L. Tully

If you write for a living you are already aware of the fact that not all of your time is spent writing. Marketing, paperwork and upkeep are all a part of the gig. There are certain tasks you should be spending time on regularly to make sure you keep up. Here’s my own personal short-list:

+ Marketing- marketing these days for me is mostly social media related. I spend time cultivating relationships (and having fun!) on Twitter and Facebook. I also keep my LinkedIn profile up-to-date and periodically ask people for recommendations.

+ Computer stuff- This is crucial. You have to de-fragment your computer, back up your data and make sure your virus scan and updates are all current. If your machine goes down, you’re in big trouble. Set up a maintenance schedule and stick to it!

+ Filing and organizing paper- If you get behind here it can turn into a nightmare of confusion. Keep your contracts on file, make sure your business bank statements are in order and pitch the junk.

+ Deal with your e-mail- Again, this can get messy if you don’t deal. If you use Outlook, create folders for e-mails so you can find them. I do mine by client. Use sub-folders so you can find things quickly. Don’t let too much stack up in your inbox.

+ Check your online presence- Google yourself periodically and see what comes up. Keep an eye out for places that have used your writing without your permission. Save links to articles you have online before they are hard to find. See what’s out there with your name on it. Your reputation is at stake.

These are a few of the things I do on a weekly (or daily)  basis. Do you have any to share? Drop us a comment…

Freelance portfolio theory

ugly dogBy Jake Poinier

“Modern portfolio theory” is a Wall Street expression about maximizing your returns on stocks. A freelance graphic designer friend and I long ago came up with a freelance portfolio theory. It, too, is designed to maximize your returns (in attracting and finding new clients instead of winning stocks), and it runs something like this:

You reserve the right to *not* put crappy samples in your portfolio.

We came up with this concept out of frustration. You’ve written a knockout headline…which gets changed to something mundane. You’ve designed a clever ad layout…that the client thinks is a little too racy for their audience. You edited a whitepaper…and the author STETs their original gobbledegook. You’ve shot original photography…and the client decides they want to use a dopey stock image of two people shaking hands. It’s as bad as the irony Alanis Morissette famously whined about a few years back…don’t ya think?

But you can’t get mad, and you usually aren’t well served by trying to change a client’s mind once it’s set. So this theory allows you to take a step back, refocus, and say to yourself:

  • It’s a bummer that this didn’t come out as cool as I thought it would, but I’m still going to get my check.
  • If I don’t disclose the fact that I was involved in this project, no one will ever know.
  • Aw heck, it just doesn’t matter in the long run. What’s my next project?

Let’s be real: When you’re starting out, you’ll take what you can get. I know this will make me sound ancient, but my first portfolio for job hunting in the magazine industry was a hideous, baby-blue binder with yellowed clips from my hometown newspaper. (Mercifully, the internet has made portfolio presentation a lot slicker.)

Once you have a critical mass of good stuff, however, it’s time to start getting choosy rather than going for sheer volume. Five hundred samples shows that you’ve done a lot of work, but no one wants to slog through everything. If they want more samples in a given industry, they’ll ask.

In the end, prospective clients will judge you on your best work, but an ugly sample might also have them questioning your judgment — in an “Ugh, why is *she* dating *him*?” sort of way. Dump the dogs, and stick with your best in show.

Have you ever had a client that turned a sure-fire portfolio masterpiece into a disaster you’d never admit to? Share your horror stories in the comments!

Contributing writer Jake Poinier also dispenses freelancing advice at a few times a week, and you can follow him on Twitter: @DrFreelance…and he promises he’ll follow you back!