Freelance copywriter: Have Magic Carpet, Will Travel

By: Sam Roberts

Selling yourself without overdoing it.

There is nothing wrong with being noticed. In fact, that's what writers do. We ooze confidence, we know what to say and how to say it and we get noticed because of it. But sometimes we over-sell, and that can be embarrassing, not to mention ineffective.

I just read a sales-pitch on that made me cringe. The writer seemed experienced, she had completed a lot of projects in the area a client was advertising, but she over-did it.

Elance is a contractor website that allows buyers to post their projects and sellers to bid on those projects.

I was browsing through the projects when I came across a little beauty. The project was a fairly standard proof-reading and copyediting job, but one particular bidder decided that an overly aggressive approach would be best. I cannot repeat verbatim (I wouldn't want an angry e-mail, for one), so let me paraphrase her sales pitch. Judge for yourself:

"Hello. I would like to point out that you spelt 'corroborate' wrong in your project description. I don't mean to be rude; I just want to show you JUST HOW GOOD I AM and what I can DO FOR YOU! I am the proof-reader you need. I have over 20 years experience as a proof-reader and copy-editor..."

If I was a customer posting a project, I am certain that I would be more than a little annoyed if my potential employee told me that I couldn't spell - even if it were true. I would not choose them for the project and I would most definitely avoid them in the future. The customer was not looking to be criticised in such a public manner. It was an embarrassing way to sell and I was astounded that anyone could think it was a good idea!

Confidence is better than arrogance!
Needless to say, she did not get the job. I'm sure that her confidence in her own ability as a copyeditor was justified, the problem was that her confidence tipped over and became arrogance. Over-sell is over-kill.

A sales-pitch can be very difficult to judge; what can work well for one customer may baffle another. It's quite an art to sell yourself without looking like you just forced you way into someone's home with a vacuum cleaner, a box of bleach and a knife sharpening kit. People don't like being forced into buying from you. Your words should be informative. If they like you they are far more likely to buy your expertise.

If you are too weak in your pitch they may smell fear. It's no use being trampled by the opposition, so you have to be the best, know that you are the best and show that you can do it without upsetting the buyer!

It's old, but it's good - the customer is always right. And it never, ever pays to point out their mistakes!

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