Freelancing By Bree Brouwer What do you think of Han Solo, the nerd-herder of Star Wars? Maybe you gush about how awesome he is. Maybe you insist: “He shot first.” Maybe you like him because his scruffy appearance hides a heart of galactic gold. A heart of gold? Han wasn’t always like this. In fact, when we first met him, he was only interested in what was in it for him to help Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia and the Rebel Alliance. Do you resemble this version of Han in your freelance writing career? How the “Selfish Han Solo” Mindset Hurts Your Career It pays to learn the number one tip for freelance writers from Han Solo. You see, many freelance writers start their careers with the thought that they have something to offer their clients. They think, “I’m good at writing compelling copy, so businesses will love what I can do for them.” Or, “Writing scripts for explainer videos is easy – I bet companies need help with it.” While this is a good place to start, the idea can result in the “Selfish Han Solo” persona if it continues throughout your career. The selfish Han Solo was a smuggler, looking out only for himself and his buddy Chewbacca. The selfish Han Solo cared only about the reward he’d get if he helped Luke and Obi-Wan get to the planet Alderaan. And the selfish Han Solo left the Rebel Alliance on the eve of battle, when they needed his help more than ever before. A freelance writer may get stuck with a similar mindset. If all you’re thinking about is how much money you can “smuggle” from your clients, you’ve got a problem. For example, your website’s about page may have a ton of information about you. You think it’ll help convince potential clients to hire you, when you should really be explaining how you can solve their problems and how they will benefit from hiring you. Putting your needs ahead of your clients’ is a sure way to lose out on growing your business, your writing skills, and your income. When you don’t listen to what your clients tell you they want, or when you don’t take the time to get to know their content needs, you’re risking more than just the potential loss of a client. You’re risking your reputation as a writer who cares about their clients. Put Your Clients First Do you think Han Solo would be the legend he is today if he’d left the Rebel Alliance at the end of the movie? For sure, he wouldn’t have been in the remainder of the original trilogy. And it’s unlikely he’d be on the right side of the Alliance for the rest of his life. It is important for you to think about how to use your talents in the best possible way. But if that’s all you do, you won’t be able to earn a living. Instead, ask yourself, with every single client, what you can do for them. How will the client benefit from my article? How will my copywriting benefit the client? What will the client achieve from my video script? As a freelancer, your mindset from the get-go needs to be “what’s in it for my client?’ instead of “what’s in it for me?” The sooner you understand and implement this, the more likely you are to be successful. While Star Wars ends with the “selfless Han Solo” we all know and love, it took his character several scenes to start thinking of others. Don’t let it take you as long to start putting your clients first. How Becoming a “Selfless Han Solo” Writer Benefits You Here are the 3 huge benefits you stand to reap when you come a “selfless Han Solo” writer. #1. You make an incredible impression. If you wow your clients with your genuine interest and attention, they will realize you’re invested in them, and will be delighted to entrust you with more work. They’ll also happily refer you to others who could use your services. And they won’t hesitate to give you a raise when you ask for one! #2. Your clients refer you to others. Referrals from raving clients are the kind you want, because you can be sure they won’t hand you over to poor leads who either can’t afford you, or won’t pan out. Of course, you know what more referrals mean: more moolah. #3. You enjoy a better reputation with other freelancers. Yes, this has little to do with your clients. But helpful writers make more connections in the industry, and they’re the ones other freelancers remember when experiencing project overload. Think about it: would your writer friend send some of her extra work your way? Sure. But if you always took and never gave, would your friend even want to chat about how business is? Unlikely. Obviously, you have some pretty compelling reasons to break out of your me-me-me mentality. How You Can Become a “Selfless Han Solo” Writer You may not be used to putting the client first, but with a little practice, you’ll be a “selfless” pro in no time. Here are three steps to help you get started: #1. Listen to your clients. Seems obvious, right? Yet it’s one of the most under-utilized tactics used by freelancers, who tend to see just the stack of dollar bills at the end of the road (yeah, that’s Selfish Han Solo talking). Learn to pay attention to your clients’ problems and how they’d like them fixed, and you’ll soon catapult yourself above most other freelancers. #2. Offer your clients useful freebies once in a while. Come across an article they may like? Send it on. Notice they’re going out of town next week? Ask if there’s anything you can do to help reduce their load so they come back to a smaller to-do list. Obviously, being too much of a selfless Han Solo can be a drain on your time and energy (not to mention your finances because you’re working for free), so you need to find a balance that works best for you. #3. Always ask: “What’s in it for my client?” Any time you feel the urge to think about yourself, or doubt the project you’re working on, just ask yourself this question, and clarity will be restored. If not, go back to your client. Talk to them long enough to understand exactly where they’re coming from. Client-first thinking may take a little work if you aren’t used to it. But staying focused on your clients’ needs will bring you more success, faster than you can imagine. What Kind of Han Solo Freelancer Are You? Whether or not you believe he shot first, you can learn a lot about how to treat your clients from Han Solo. Many of us start out thinking like he did, that the only way to make a living in this world (or galaxy) is to put yourself first. But that isn’t true! Adopting “selfless Han Solo” thinking will improve your clients’ opinion of your services by light years, and you’ll reap the benefits of this mentality faster than you can say “grow my business.” What are your thoughts about this number one tip for freelance writers from Han Solo? Share them in the comments!