Freelance fish

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Philip Morgan helps implementors become advisors. He is also the author of The Positioning Manual for Technical Firms. He writes about specialization, positioning, lead generation, and expertise on his blog. I consider him to be extremely wise and had a blast recording this. I would take his advice very seriously. He's helped many people improve their business tremendously and all the testimonials on his website just prove that.

The whole interview is worth listening to. You’ll get some interesting bits on:

  • Assessing risk while specializing​
  • Developing intellectual property
  • Having a point of view and how it ties in with intellectual property
  • Books Philip recommends
  • One thing Philip would have done differently when he was starting out


Analysing risk while specializing.

Drawing parallels from wealth management there's two factors in terms of risk that go into the decision :

  1. Risk tolerance - emotional component. Does taking risk make you uncomfortable ?
  2. Ability to withstand a loss. Do you have a cushion to take the risk of not getting paid for a while, so that you can spend time in developing knowledge in a niche

Both these components are very important while making the decision on specialisation. This is so that you don't give up too early.

Speak to competition in your specialisation.

Talk to your future competition. You'd be surprised in how many people would respond. Typically 50% of your competition will respond. Somejust want to help other people out. The others want to know future competition.

The question to ask yourself while making the specialisation: Does it make it easier to find clients that I'm looking for ?

Using linked in to analyse markets for vertical specialisation. Rough sense for size of the market. If there are 1000 companies to serve, you're in the realm of safe niche.

Formalising expertise into intellectual property

Some ways you can create intellectual property :

  1. Course
  2. Service
  3. Product
  4. Books

Intellectual property doesn’t have to secretive. Your expertise packed and made usable by non experts. Self made expertise.

A lot of the income increase has been facilitated by an aspiration focus son cultivating intellectual property, and making my work accessible to a broad audience.

You need to have a process that produces unique results - intellectual property is something that can be packaged and used without you there. It needs to be uniquely different in someway. Can come from research or its unique from experience.

Having a point of view helps create intellectual property. Here is a post by Philip that goes deeper into this topic

How to develop a point of view ?

You need to have a dissatisfaction with status quo. Here's the though process behind it "The way things are done can be done better "

This dissatisfaction helps people find innovative ways to solve the problem. The idea is to help your client much better than possible and you are extremely agitated by the way thing are done presently.

Build innovative services just like innovative products

How to develop a point of view quicker than normal ?

The accelerants are writing and publishing stuff. Think out loud a lot in front of your audience. The answer is you understand where things dont work.

You could interview 30 other people and you can start seeing a pattern by doing that. You can apply and accelratant to figure all of this out. This could lead you to a hypotheses to make things better.

One thing Philip would have done differently if he had to start again ?

  • Take lead generation seriously. Try and systematize lead generation.
  • Have a business owner mindset early on in the career.
  • The tailwind that you get from people you know will go away, so running the the freelancing career like a business will help

One thing that had an outsized impact on your freelance career ?

Committing to experiential learning. Nothing matters until you take action. That led him to publish a lot. Philip publishes about 4 times a week.

Books that influenced Philip

  1. Blue Ocean Strategy
  2. Crossing the chasm
  3. Getting Naked

Read more on Blair Enns and Jonathan Stark to learn more about billing your clients and pricing your services.

One thing you could do right after the podcast that'll help up your game

Email 5 previous clients and 5 potential clients in areas where you may specialise.

  1. With previous clients you ask them why they hired you.
  2. Add more context with potential clients ask them why they hire people that provide your service (ex: copywriters or web designers)

Start doing research, and doing things outside of what’s normal for you.