Sell yourself, the subtle way.


By Jess Perez

Freelancing is personal. You are selling your skill set, passion, and sometimes even yourself (in industries like modeling) as a product. But what makes it so difficult to sell when you are at the center of the sale? It’s kind of like the physical embodiment of cringing when you hear your own voice in a recording.

So what are we supposed to do? Sit around and tell people how great we are at what we do all the time? Some people are pretty good at that. Other, more humble humans, not so much. But what I’ve learned throughout the years is that if you think about selling yourself like a formula that you can follow, it’s much easier to do.The trick is to find things about what you can offer that are unique about you, put them in front of your clients, and then sell sell sell.

I’ll give you an example from when I worked as a full-time model. I noticed early on that the majority of models have to get hair extensions put in by the hair stylists on photo shoots. Having been lucky to have naturally thick and abundant hair, I never had to get them. As a result, I noticed I was usually the first model that was ready to take pictures for the day because the hair stylist didn’t have to spend that additional 30+ minutes putting hair extensions in.

Once I realized this, I started making a point of it to clients, especially if the client acted surprised that I was ready so quickly. “Oh it’s because they don’t need to put extensions into my hair,” I’d overtly but nonchalantly say to them. While it might seem superficial, the reason I wanted to get this into my clients’ heads was that being ready to start the photo shoot sooner meant I could model more outfits in a day. To a client, more product shots meant more products to sell, which translated into more money to be made. Even though I was discrete about the way I did it, I was still able to effectively show clients how it was an advantage to have me on set over another model.

Throughout my career, I witnessed other freelancers say similar things to help themselves get rebooked. I heard makeup artists make statements like, “I won’t need to stay at the hotel because my best friend lives in Miami so I’ll stay with her.” What that meant to a client was that the makeup artist wouldn’t need to tap into her budget for hotel accommodations, allowing her to allot that money to something else. If that client ever had another shoot in Miami, the probability that she would think of this money saving makeup artist was quite high.  

The point of these stories is that as freelancers, we don’t always have to be so obvious or overt about ‘our sell.’ If we just try to think about our clients’ psyches, understand the pressures they are feeling to succeed at their job, and think about how we can offer something to help them accomplish their goals, we can increase our chances of getting hired more over time. To recap:

  1. Brainstorm something that is ‘special’ about yourself; it could be as simple as, “I don’t need hair extensions on photo shoots.” Literally.
  2. Think about how this unique quality of yours can help your client accomplish what they want faster, more effectively, or at a cheaper cost to them.
  3. Make sure you make your clients aware of your unique quality. This can be done pretty discretely if you’re clever about it. Make sure you drop hints along the way so your clients notice your differentiating quality.


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