Branding and positioning


By Brennan Dunn

On Monday, I did something I’ve never done before. I (virtually) spoke in front of 390 people.

Had you known me just a few years ago, you’d know just how big of a deal this was for me. I would have been terrified.

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence.

As a kid, my lack of confidence came across as insecurity. I was the quiet one at school, and the immature goofball at home. In high school, I became the “loner” who had a hard time making eye contact with girls. And as an adult, this insecurity spilled over into my professional life.

When I finally gained the willpower to quit the safety and routine of my job, I thought I was working for myself.

But little did I know, much of the baggage of my past and what I like to call my “employee mentality” carried over into my company.

As a new freelancer, I was always doubting myself. Publicly I let everyone know I was running my own business; I knew, however, that I was really just an employee-without-benefits for a handful of clients.

  • Would it be OK for me to work next week from someplace else?
  • Can I send a deposit invoice before I start work?
  • Do they mind signing my contract?
  • And are they fine with paying me every two weeks?
  • Is it acceptable that I’m billing for these meetings?
  • Would they mind me raising my rates in the new year?

My lack of confidence in both myself and in my business kept me from growing.

Confidence seems to be the #1 obstacle we all face

I usually write you with tactical advice that’s meant to accomplish one end. This could be getting your first lead at a networking event, setting up an email course, or methods on how to track client feedback.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing a bunch of people who read my work and have since raised their rates.

The reason I interviewed them wasn’t to solicit a testimonial. Quite the opposite, really.

At the heart of each of these discussions was the question, “What obstacles and challenges kept you from changing your business after reading my book?”

What sorta surprised me was how about half of everyone I spoke to didn’t say something like, “Well… you didn’t cover X, Y or Z.”

The biggest roadblock for most of the people I talked with was themselves.

They doubted their worth. I heard “impostor syndrome” thrown about a few times. Fear.Self-doubt. No confidence.

Shanna, whose interview I’ll be sending you next week, said it best: “The first change I had to make was inward; your book guided me afterward.”

One thing I love about these interviews is that I’m learning about how 14 totally different people — agency owners, copywriters, designers, iOS developers, … — have overcome self-doubt and thinking, “Am I really worth this?”

We often underestimate just how valuable we our to our clients. It took me a very, very long time to realize that I produce value — and this happens via an exchange. Warren Buffett said it best: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

I was so singularly focused on the price, the working arrangements, the contract model, how and when I got paid, etc. that I totally disregarded the value I was producing.

And this held me back. For years.

But now I’m pushing forward. I’ve recently crossed 10,000 people who receive my weekly emails. I’m speaking at conferences in front of hundreds of people. And I’m able to look a client in the eye and tell them, “My rate is $20,000 a week, paid upfront.”

Once I started focusing on the other half of the equation — the value I produce — my struggles with confidence became a thing of the past.

I was able to quantify exactly what effect I was having on my clients and their businesses. I knew my writing was having an effect on lots and lots of people like me. Identifying the results of my work helped me overcome the fear of stepping into the spotlight.

If you struggle with self-worth, confidence, impostor syndrome or whatever else, let me make one thing clear:

There’s ZERO difference between you and me.

You can build the business of your dreams once you begin to see the bigger picture with greater clarity. It took a lot of stabbing in the dark for me to figure out. But it’s something that every genuinely successful person I know has done.

…And it’s not just about money. It’s much more than just “doubling your rate” — that’s just the measurable side effect.

What’s important is you working with clients who respect and trust you. And even more important is what a better business, with better clients, and more freedom and income can mean for you.

(For me, this means more time to spend with my family, less stress, and less worrying. All of which I have now, despite a brutal start to 2014.)

What I’ve been working on lately…

The big project I’m working on is a second edition of my book, Double Your Freelancing Rate. It’s almost two years old, and is by far my most successful product with over 5,200 copies sold.

When I first wrote the book, I didn’t see myself as an authority in anything. I was so encumbered with doubt that when I launched it I was almost certain that everyone would ask for a refund.

Well, the launch didn’t blow up in my face. Each week, people write me with stories about how it literally changed their life (I’m still floored that I — yes, me! — have been able to do such a thing.)

But for every success story, there’s an awful lot of silence.

I’ve reached out to a lot of “silent customers” to learn more — Was something wrong with the book? Did it not apply to them?

For most people, it was anything but.

A lot of people bought the book, but didn’t read it. Or they read it, but didn’t change anything about their business.

So they spent money on something they didn’t use (I’m guilty of this — my business book shelf is littered with half-read books.) The purchase was an expense, not an investment, which is totally counter to everything I teach.

Something had to change.

On May 13th, I’m releasing the second edition of Double Your Freelancing Rate.

It’s not going to be just an ebook, it’s going to be a radically different product. It’s a direct response to the silence: the information and the accountability to ensure you don’t slip through the cracks and fall prey to self-doubt.

(And if it’s been on your wishlist — don’t buy yet! I’ve intentionally not linked to the website for it in this email. When I launch the new edition, I’ll be sending you a discount code… so wait until then to pick it up.)

So stay tuned, I think you’re really going to love a lot of the new content and videos I’ll sharing with you over the next few weeks.

P.S. Did you miss the Rate Setting Workshop I hosted Monday? (Yeah, that thing that caused my palms to sweat when I saw close to 400 people showed up!) Grab an hour and check out the recording here…