Make your marketing, systems, and processes as unique as your brand, and tweak proven methods, strategies, and tactics to fit your freelance business.
There’s a frustrating scenario that happens in business over and over again. It’s one that drives people crazy and is perpetuated by the inexperienced hawking big promises.
Here’s the scenario:
A freelancer starts a business, finds success, and wants to make more money by creating an additional revenue stream. They decide to leverage their success and teach other people how to achieve the same success they achieved.
They create an infoproduct, online course, training event, or even a masterclass and they hype it up, making all sorts of lofty promises that if you do exactly what they did, you can achieve the same things they did.
So people buy and take action but they don’t enjoy the same results or achieve the same level of success — some don’t even come close.
What’s the deal?
Why is it that you can market your business in the exact same way as another freelancer, using the exact same tools, yet not enjoy the exact same successes?
Marshmallow Sculptures And Trailblazing
When my kids were little, we went camping every summer. And every summer, we looked forward to not only making s’mores around the campfire but marshmallow sculpting.
Marshmallow sculptures began as an activity to keep the kids busy while we cooked dinner activity but it morphed into a beloved family activity that ends in flames.
During the months leading up to a camping trip, we collect all different sizes, shapes, and colors of marshmallows, as well as different sizes, lengths, and styles of toothpicks and wooden skewers, and a few pairs of scissors.
In the evenings, when the sun is setting, we spread all of the construction tools out on the picnic table and everyone creates sculptures out of marshmallows. When we’re done, each sculpture gets put into the campfire one at a time to burn — and we watch them turn into a gooey, bubbling, marshmallow mess.
- We all use the same construction tools
- We all have the same end game — a cool marshmallow sculpture
- We all have a different idea of what to build and how to build it
When the kids were little, often they tried to copy my sculpture and got frustrated when they didn’t think it was as good as mine.
They struggled to understand that even though we were working with the same materials and tools, their creation would never be the same as mine because we’re not the same people. We have different levels of experience and different types of knowledge and we think differently too.
I had to explain that their sculptures would never be as good as mine if they just copied me because they’re not me. I gently encouraged them to use their own ideas or to take my idea and find a way to make it unique, better, or different.
Have you ever tried a recipe that sounded delicious — one a friend highly recommended and raved about — only to have it not come out that great or flop completely?
You’re copying someone else and using their exact recipe with all the same ingredients but something isn’t quite right because you’re not them and you’re not in their kitchen. Maybe it’s the elevation. Maybe your oven runs hot. Maybe your butter was a little too soft. Maybe you stirred the ingredients just a bit too long. Maybe all you needed to create something delicious and amazing was a small tweak to make it your own.
It’s the same scenario.
Once my kids stopped trying to copy my approach, and instead used my ideas as inspiration, they were able to create amazing marshmallow sculptures they were proud of and excited about. And, the more we sculpt with marshmallows, the better we understand the best techniques for building and burning.
We all learned what worked and what didn’t from trial and error. Now we know:
- Which marshmallows work best as foundation pieces
- When to use a whole toothpick and when to break it in half
- How to get the sculptures to stand up without falling down
- When to cut a marshmallow or when to use a giant skewer
- How to get it into the fire without toppling the sculptures over
During each subsequent camping trip, we continued doing what had been proven to work well and tested new ideas to see what would happen.
Marshmallow Sculpting Is Like Marketing
Marketing a freelance business is just like building a marshmallow sculpture.
When marketing your services, you:
- Try something new or test a new idea or tactic
- Assess what worked and didn’t work and why
- Get rid of the tactics that didn’t work
- Keep the tactics that did work and make adjustments to improve the results
- Repeat the process
Marketing isn’t always about reinventing the wheel and doing something that has never been done. It’s about taking proven methods and tactics, customizing them to fit your business, and testing them out. It’s about learning what works best for you, your brand, and your audience over time — whether that’s starting a marshmallow sculpture with a wide base of support or tweaking a recipe to quadruple the amount of garlic used.
Making Proven Methods Your Own
So why is it that you can market your business in the exact same way as another freelancer, using the exact same tools, and following their exact “formula for success” yet not enjoy the exact same successes?
One major difference wasn’t accounted for: You are not them!
The person, the expert, the history, the experience, the story, the brand, the positioning, the relationships — the person at the center of everything is different.
That’s why cookie-cutter approaches to success and big promises made by many online course creators don’t pan out. You can’t just copy what someone else is doing and expect the same results because you’re not them. As with my kids, you have to put your own spin on it.
- No single strategy will work for every freelancer.
- No single tactic will produce the same results for every freelancer.
- No single tool will be used the exact same way by everyone who uses it.
That’s why nothing in my business — not one of my products, programs, courses, or events, or even my email newsletter sign up sells cookie-cutter solutions wrapped in big promises.
From my 10-month business training and mentoring program for web designers and developers to my mini-courses for freelancers to my content workshops for small business owners of all types, each one shares frameworks, formulas, resources, strategies, tactics, tools, scripts, and tips.
And each one includes the what, why, when, where, and how so you can take it, try it, test it, and tweak it to make it your own.
Every one of my courses and programs are based on my 20+ years of experience, my trial by fire lessons learned, and the systems and processes that got me off the feast or famine roller coaster and no longer working nights and weekends. They’re about using everything I know to help you find what works best for you, your brand, and your audience — not making a quick buck by recycling a cookie-cutter solution that worked once or twice.
Yeah, there are a lot of shady folks out there selling you “systems” for something they did one time or maybe twice. And there are a lot of people out there who freelanced for two years and now want to teach you how to grow your business. They’ll take your money, give you a blueprint, and tell you to figure it out — and when it doesn’t work, they’ll struggle to help because they don’t have the experience to understand what went wrong.
Watch out for those folks.
Instead, find one of the highly experienced mentors, coaches, or program and course creators that want to share everything they know with you and support you in adapting and customizing what they share with you into the right systems and processes for your business.
Find the people willing to share not just the tactic they used, but the underlying strategy that drove their actions, the lessons learned from implementing it, and what did and didn’t work.
Then, pay it forward.
As you continue to grow, don’t keep all your “secrets” to yourself because you’re afraid another freelancer will copy you or steal your idea. Share your best stuff because you are the only you there is and even if someone tried to copy you, the results wouldn’t be the same.
My kids learned that lesson the hard way.