How long does it take to describe your freelance service?

If you started out with an “uh” or an “um”, or if it’s more than a sentence, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice.

When you’re finding words to describe what you do (and how, exactly, it benefits your client), you want to use active, concise language – language that engages a potential client quickly and sticks in the mind.

You want a quick description of your freelance skills to act like a headline on a longer news article, drawing readers in. You can always deepen any description; but before you add context and complexity, you need a quick tagline – a way to quickly encapsulate exactly what benefits you bring to a client, and how.

The key to finding this dynamic language for your freelance business is Recapping, Reducing, and Refining.

To find your dynamic tagline, indulge in a short exercise: Recap.

Write down every benefit you bring to a client as a freelancer – really focused on how you help and enable their work. Write a big, long, boring list; don’t be afraid even to get into minutiae.

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When you have your big, boring, wordy list of benefits, start Reducing.

From your list, pick out what makes your freelancing business really unique. Maybe it’s a repeated benefit: do you notice that you’ve written one kind of task over and over again? Do you have particular expertise in any given area? Sometimes even the seemingly very minor tasks are what set your freelancing business apart ((“I hold their hands when they’re freaking out about their websites” = “personalized tech consulting”).

Look for any benefit that seems particularly unusual or helpful for clients. Try to focus on 3-4 special benefits that you bring to the client, at most.

Then, take your 3-4 special benefits and Refine.

Bust out a thesaurus and find synonyms – is there a more interesting, energetic way for you to describe your work? Explore your options, but don’t sacrifice clarity for wordiness or fanciness. Think about how you would explain your freelance business to a really bright 10 year-old. That will encourage you to pick simple, interesting language.

Once you have your short, engaging description, you’re infinitely more prepared to pitch potential clients wherever you may encounter them – whether you’re describing yourself in a formal interview, or making a first impression at a dinner party.

You can always delve into more detail, but that first description is what pulls a client in… have a sentence at the ready, and never be stuck saying “uh” or “um” ever again!

Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.


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