Are you an order taker or an expert?

An ‘order-taker’ is a business owner who does just that – takes orders. The client says I need an X and I need it by Y and you say “sure, that’ll cost Z, if that works, let’s go.” 

This isn’t the ideal role if you want to run a long term business. It’s not the role I want for you. And…

There’s a time and a place when that’s the right thing to be

When you need to pay the bills and money is tight. You do what you have to. We’ve all been there. It’s a rite of passage – a stepping stone on the way to better things.

If you’re an order-taker and you’re making the money you need? More power to you. I mean it. 

If you don’t want to live in that realm – I hope this email gives you a way to take everything you know about working with clients and delivering great work and doing that in a way that benefits you and your clients.

And I want to emphasize that last point.

Stepping away from order taking is not just about getting paid more. It’s about being of far more value to your client. Because no one wants a surgeon who hands you the markers before the operation and says, “Mark where you want me to go in.”

It happens by default

It’s worth talking about why so many of us default to the order-taker role because it goes to the heart of a whole bunch of early business challenges freelancers encounter like pricing, running sales calls, outreach and your marketing in general.

I’ve seen a clear pattern as a coach and I’ve spotted three reasons people find it hard to break the habit.

Employee Syndrome

Most of us have experienced being an employee or, at the very least, grown up in families where the adults were employees. That teaches you to do what you’re told. 

Our school system is designed to teach us the skills to be obedient employees. Be on time, sit in orderly rows, listen, do as you’re told, and do the assigned work to a high standard and on time. 

Then there’s the: you don’t have to, because your time is your time and we sooo respect it, but you really should participate in school activities. If you want to go to a good college. School spirit! Go Penguins! 

No wonder we hit freelancer life with an order-taker mindset. And no wonder clients think that’s the way it should be. 

Your Fear

But what if they don’t hire me?

Starting out can be scary. Every new lead can feel like a flip of a coin that decides if you pay the bills or dip into your savings. That’s the reality for a lot of freelancers until they get their business systems in place.

So, let’s switch positions for a moment. Which of these two business coaches would you hire…

Coach A: I’ll work with you on whatever part of your business you want to focus on.

Coach B: I’ll work with you to understand where you are, where you want to get to and we’ll come up with a plan to get you there. Then I’ll show you exactly how to work that plan till you succeed. 

If they were both charging the same fee, it would be a no-brainer, right?

You are far more likely to get hired if you offer more value. Taking that expert position is an instant way to add that value.

Deliverables vs Results

A lot of freelancers start out with a simple business model…

I’m good at writing X or designing Y. I could make a good living selling that as a freelancer. 

Then you find out clients don’t actually want X or Y. They want the results X and Y deliver. Suddenly, your confidence starts to retreat back into The Sea of Anxiety, so, when the client says, we need X and Y, you say, Yes!, because you know you can do deliverables.  

The solution?

Belief. You need to believe what you offer is a solution, and the proof is already out there. UX/UI works. Copywriting works. Content Creation works. Design works. 

What you do is a profession that makes billions of dollars every year. It. works. 

But because you’ve been an employee, your focus has been on the deliverable. Start making the connection with the results those deliverables bring. Read case studies by freelancers with similar services to yours. They’ll connect all the dots for you. 

Think of it like this…

if you knew teaching people how to jump rope added an extra five years to their life expectancy and significantly reduced fall risk in later life, would you be confident offering jump-rope lessons to people who wanted all of those specific results?

Start building your confidence by developing a rock-solid confidence in how your craft helps create value. How you develop the same confidence in your personal ability to do that is next.

The Shift

We’ve looked at some of the mental shifts we need to make to move from being an order-taker, but what about the practical shifts?

I’m going to talk about how that works for freelancers taking on projects that are new to them. This will show us two things. How to ethically do that work and how to grow your confidence.

I’m not a fan of fake it till you make it. 

I’m even less of a fan of charging full price while you fake it. 

And aside from the ethical issues, it’ll be easier to get work if you let them know you lack experience plus you’ll be so much more relaxed. The way you do that is through positioning. Like this…

“I think there’s a great opportunity to reach the market you’re looking at with ads on TikTok. Now, I haven’t done that work before, but I have taken two trainings and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to take on a project like this. This is work I’d really be excited to do for you and the price I’d charge would be significantly reduced to reflect that this is my first TikTok project.”

If they say, yes, they fully understand you’re doing this for the first time and you are under a lot less pressure. And when the work is done, your confidence going forward will be a lot stronger. 

Bring it all together (the summary)

Being an order-taker is an honorable way to make a living. But shifting your position to advisor and expert will make you more money.

If you lack that confidence, earn it with low stress projects that give you the opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do the work. 

Booking a project isn’t just about money. There are other ways you can benefit. Growing your confidence is one.

This was originally sent as an issue of my weekly newsletter, Breakthrough Beat.
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And so you know I can walk the walk…

Are you ready for clients who bring you interesting projects and higher fees? A bank balance that means you don’t have to worry about what happens in the next 12 months?  

Then know this…

Getting there isn’t luck. It’s the result of deliberate steps that follow well-proven paths to success.  

I know those steps and I know those paths, and I’m going to show you both, starting today.

As long as your business is client-based, your success – and the size of your bank account – is tied directly to the quality of clients you attract.

Hi, I’m Amy Posner…

  • I’ve coached hundreds of creative freelancers to success
  • I’ve built six businesses, all highly profitable
  • I’ve owned and run a micro and a full creative agency
  • As a freelancer, I’ve had multiple $200k+ years
  • My businesses have sailed through the worst economic shocks the last 30 years could throw at them

And now I’m going to share everything I know with you about building a resilient and rewarding business that delivers on the full promise of your talent.

LEarn more about working together  →

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