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Lessons learned from a freelance Snake Charmer

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On a recent holiday trip to Morocco, I spent some time in Marrakech with various local freelancers, including storytellers, drummers, dancers with roosters on their head, fortune-tellers, cell phone hawkers, and one highly charming snake charmer.

I came away with five insights into freelancing that can be applied in any country, any line of work. Not just snake charming.

1. People will be leery of you and what you offer. When you approach prospects, do it in a light-hearted way. Be friendly and casual, make a joke, and ask a personal question (such as where they are from) to start a conversation.

2. Don’t beat around the bush too long. Get to the point soon and bring out your goods (snakes, roosters, rugs, design, copy, consulting).

3. Let customers try on your product – whether it be a cobra, leather jacket, or creative work). For instance, create an ad or poster for your prospect that shows your design and copy. Give them an idea of how it will look, feel and work. Then offer it at reduced cost and nurture the relationship. Bargain wisely and fairly.

4. Explain how simple it is to work with you. Keep it short and add some wit and humor to show your warm, engaging personality. If you don’t have such a personality, get a snake.

5. If the prospect turns you down, just smile and say, “Okay, friend. Maybe later.” It works. After first turning the snake charmer down, I went back later and paid for a photo.

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