Freelance In 40 Days [Day 3]: Define Your USP

Posted: August 26th, 2009

Photo by Txmx 2 (Flickr)

Photo by Txmx 2 (Flickr)

This is Day 3 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today’s tutorial will explain the importance of  the USP and why you should have one.

The Real Reason You Are Freelancing

Its easy when you have the itch to get started in freelance to want to dive in right away and look for work. Its also easy to develop second thoughts later down the road and think “why am I doing this?” when you encounter a hiccup or two early in your career. Ask any freelancer and they are sure to tell you this has happened at some point in their own career.

Whether you continue on or ultimately decide to wuss out and quit is usually dependant on one single teeny weeny factor:  your purpose.

Why is such a small thing so important you might ask? Well, if you hit a lean period where there isn’t much work or went through a day where a client decides to tell you what an idiot you are, then its easy to lose track of the big picture. Go through enough days like these and you can lose it entirely.

That’s why it is important for the freelancer to have a purpose, or in a term related to our careers, the USP, or unique selling position.

The USP Explained

The USP is common knowledge among the sales and advertising community. It is a sentence or phrase which summarizes your business. Sometimes it includes a mission statement and other times it includes a catchy slogan. The main point of it, though, defines your freelance business and purpose for the services you provide.

I’ll give you an example. At the top of the page, you’ll see my USP for this blog, “Hell… anything goes here.” When I created this blog on freelancing, I knew there were other really good, popular blogs that I would be joining company with. I wanted to be different, however, by injecting a little more humor and edginess by writing in a casual, unbusiness-like voice, even swearing here or there once in a while.

One hundred plus posts later and I’m still happily writing this fucking thing. This is despite the fact that I was ready to ditch this into the graveyard of failed blogs several times over the past year. I owe it all to that USP that I keep in the back of my head too. Therefore, I wouldn’t be writing this particular tutorial if  I didn’t think it would help you in freelancing either.

You Homework For Today

Create your own USP. Come up with a phrase or sentence which captures the true purpose of your freelance business and takes into account the following:

  • What makes you unique from other freelancers?
  • What do you offer that other freelancers may not?

It is best to make it something memorable, humorous or catchy rather than generic. For instance, “I am a freelance graphic designer with low rates” is pretty generic and not something that could be considered a purpose.

“Super cool graphics, awesome service or your money back,” on the other hand, contains your purpose (creating super cool graphics) and sets you apart from other designers (offering awesome service or your money back).

You may want to also consider using your USP as a slogan in your business. The more of exposure it has, the more you will stay true to every word of it.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

3 Comments. Join In!

  • Dan Ronken

    August 27th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Hey Johnny,

    I didn’t realize you started this great 40 day project of helping your fellow freelancers. Your writing style is unique and refreshing (minimal filters). I like it a lot. I’ll certainly be following along now in this awesome 40 day journey you’ve created.

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    August 28th, 2009 at 12:31 am

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  • Johnny

    August 28th, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Thankya very much Dan…

    This series is more or less to get me to buckle down and write and write and write and dedicate myself more to this blog. Five days a week, eight weeks and no excuses.

    I’ll definitely get something out of it in the end and hopefully new freelancers will too.

    Thanks for paying a visit and spread the word!