Design

The words you use to attract clients on the web

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Virtually every freelancer uses confusing terms to describe their work. Just try explaining one of the terms below to a normal person:

freelance-terms

Chances are you lose their attention in the first 10 seconds.

So with that in mind, why use these words to describe your service to clients? Most of them aren’t even clear to people in the industry.

  • UX design? That’s debatable.
  • Brand design? What’s a brand?
  • .NET development? Whaty-what-now?

Using these terms, you’re disconnecting yourself from what you’re really selling. Instead of selling the benefits of working with you, you’re trying to just sell the thing you do. The problem is no one wants to buy that thing. They want to buy the result that thing will bring for them.

“You don’t have to reduce yourself down to a one-word specialty.”

For example, take another common phrase people use:

I create [desirable skill-specific term] for small businesses.

Typically, it’s used like this:

  • I create beautiful websites for small businesses.
  • I create intuitive user interfaces for small businesses.
  • I create fast web apps for small businesses.
  • I create attention-grabbing copy for small businesses.

These all may seem like reasonable ways to describe a service. But take a closer look. Who’s the real star in all of these? You. You’re talking about what YOU do. What makes YOU good. Why YOU are great at what you do.

What about your clients?

The only place where you (briefly) mention them, you’re calling them small. In business that’s almost derogatory. They don’t want to be small—they want to be big. At least they want their revenue to be big.

“It’s not about the service you’re selling—it’s about the results.”
Read more from Robert Williams: The right way to end an email to a client.

Read more from Robert Williams: The right way to end an email to a client.

So why again are you taking this approach?

If you had to flip one of these positioning statements to instead focus on your clients, you might say:

I create simple interfaces for great iPhone apps that want to reach the next level inside the app store.

or

I create marketing graphics that make great companies stand out even more for their brilliant content.

or

I create tight web apps for amazing software companies that want to deliver the best product to their customers and improve retention.

All of these revised positioning statements take the emphasis away from you and shifts it to the clients. A client wants a better version of themself. It’s not about the skill you have. It’s not about the service you’re selling—it’s about the results. It’s about how you’re valuable to your great clients. That’s all that matters.

People are looking to pay for an outcome. They want results. They want a problem to go away.

So remember: You’re not just a UI designer. You’re not just any one skill. You have clients. You make their life better because of what your UI design does for their business. That’s what matters.

Ryan Singer, Designer at Basecamp, said it best: “There’s no rule that says you need to describe what you’re doing in one word.”

You don’t have to reduce yourself down to a one-word specialty to describe what you do. Not just because it’s hard, but also because it doesn’t work anyway.

A great place to test out this new positioning concept: your email signature. How can you write a short statement that attracts clients? I collected 5 top-notch email signatures by world-class freelance consultants that you can download by going here.

This post was originally published on Medium.

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Author

Robert Williams
I wrote a short book on writing emails that win you more clients in less time called: Emails That Win You Clients. I also run a service for design and development shops called Workshop, where I find you clients to email every day.

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