The income-boosting question freelancers forget to ask

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With the end of the year coming up, we’re all trying to find ways to boost income, hit our 2013 financial goals, and maybe find a little Holiday bonus for ourselves.

But boosting your freelance income could be as simple as one question you may not be asking yourself.

This question is something you can ask at any moment. It will completely change the trajectory of your freelance business.

And, even though you should have asked this question before you ever started freelancing, it’s never too late.

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The question?

What unique benefit do I offer my clients?

It seems so simple, right?

So why do so many of us (myself included) continue to market ourselves just like every other freelancer out there?

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We brag about the fact that we know how to code HTML, that we can design a logo that will resonate with a target audience, and that we can do it all faster, cheaper, or better than our competition.

Your business pitch goes something like this:

“I’m a graphic and web designer. I make beautiful designs in both print and online that connect with people.”

And you should know that at the very moment you’re reading this, fifty other people are reading at the same time also recognizing their elevator pitch.

It’s identical to yours.

We’re all saying the same thing.

Why a BENEFIT counts

So why does it matter if our business pitch includes a benefit?

It’s advertising 101.

To talk about the features of a product or service is good.

To talk about the benefits of a product or service is best.

Let’s step out of a freelancing for a minute and examine what I mean:

What do stinky socks have to do with it?

Imagine you’re in the business of selling air fresheners.

Your product is the most compact, smells the prettiest, has the most stylish casing, and uses the latest in air-freshening technology to kill odors.

Who cares?

No one.

The only thing I want to know is: does your air freshener cover my teenagers’ stinky sock odor better than the competition.

At some point, the customers who don’t care about price (the real quality customers), the customers who are looking for a real solution to their problem (stinky socks) are who you want to talk to.

Your ad pitch, then, instead of something like “Our air fresheners smell pretty” becomes “Our air fresheners cover smelly sock odors better than any other air freshener. Stop being embarrassed by your teenagers’ foot odor, and invite your neighbors over without a worry.”

See the difference?

Feature: Smells pretty.

Benefit: Covers odor and lets you invite your neighbors over for a party.

What a magical air freshener! It let’s me be a better hostess at neighborhood parties. Imagine that!

Why a UNIQUE benefit counts more

Ok, I can’t stand to talk about socks any more, so let’s get back to freelancing.

Let’s say you do identify a benefit.

Instead of something like “my websites look pretty” you choose something like “my web sites convert visitors into customers so you get more sales.”

That’s great.

You’ve identified a great benefit.

But you’re still not unique.

Any web designer worth his spit has already figured out clients care mostly about conversion.


If you want to truly be successful, you must ask yourself what is unique about your service.

That will truly leave you on top of the pack at the end of the day.

How about something like: “My web designs not only convert site visitors into paying customers, but is guaranteed to convert on any device and automatically updates itself with the latest version of Genesis. Which means you never have to worry about your site loading quickly, capturing customers, or looking good on any device. That allows you get back to what you do best: developing new air freshener technologies.” [I couldn’t help myself. :)]

But see the difference?

Here’s how to do it in 3 minutes or less

Want to really find out what unique benefit you offer as a freelancer?

Ask this series of questions. (PS: I stole this from someone smarter than me, but I can’t remember who, so if you know, please leave a comment and let me know.)

Why would someone want to hire me?

To build a web site.


To have a working site on all devices.


To capture more customers.


To spend more time developing products and less time recruiting new customers.


To grow quality business more quickly.


To retire early.


To build orphanages in South America.


To change the world.

Now, I may have taken it a little far.

Then again, maybe not.

See how now you have a whole bunch of awesome content for marketing your freelance business?

Try it out, I think you’ll be really happy with what you find out about your freelancing and your clients.

And let me know how it goes. Leave a comment here.


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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

Leave a Comment



  1. Really cool approach, Preston! I love the “why?” series!

    Thanks for sharing!


  2. Very thought provoking! But it makes me cringe looking back on my own tactics…thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  3. Samantha Goh says:

    I always knew I needed to work on my “elevator pitch”, but this is a fresh approach to really solidifying that “benefit” customers are looking for. Thanks!

  4. Awesome post!! Great not only for someone just getting started, but also for seasoned freelancers stuck in a rut or feeling complacent. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Thanks Preston

    Another great post.

    I will start working on my unique service and start marketing it right now! 🙂

  6. FBR:


    questions are your answers, therefore all your answers are going to be all your questions. isn’t that right?

  7. Excellent advice, Preston! As copywriters we deal with the ‘why’ everyday, it’s absolutely vital when writing copy. One way I explain it to clients is that the features are informative, but the benefits (the ‘why’) are PERSUASIVE. And that’s the key, we want to convert the reader into a buyer by writing persuasive, benefit-driven copy. You’ve shown everyone how to do this – your advice is invaluable. 🙂



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