Keeping up with business rivals

It’s much, much harder than keeping up with the Kardashians.

No matter how gifted you are at your craft, someone somewhere is better. And it’s immensely depressing when you meet that someone.

I’ve just spent four days at one of the prettiest places on earth, thanks to a generous client. We were having what is called a moderation workshop. The author of a book, as well as a team of teachers, editors, and sometimes potential clients, sit together with the manuscript and point out the pros and cons.

It’s a very intensive process, and often, participants don’t sleep – which is ironic because you’re put up in the prettiest places, with the prettiest beds. My room, for example, was right at the beach, so I could hear the waves  and smell the fishermen. The resort also had a disco, seven pools, 25 water slides, go karting, and a gym … none of which I used.

Anyway, the people at the workshop were very, very good. They pointed out things that I’d never have thought of. They’re not quite rivals, since they don’t work freelance, but they had me reconsidering my vocation. It was like jogging with Usain Bolt.

Fortunately for me, these team members live far, far away, and we’re unlikely to fight over clients. But it did make me wonder about other freelancers within the same work pool.

In any field, you’ll have thousands of competitors. A lot of them will be better than you. But that doesn’t mean they have to earn more than you do. You just have to stand out. Find what Kelvin calls your Unique Selling Point.

When I first read that article, I got slightly depressed, because I couldn’t really think of one. But the thing is you don’t have to spot one. You just need to make one.

Case in point. My ‘rivals’ are brilliant editors. Yet the client included me in the team. Why? Well, for one thing, I’ve handled previous projects in the series, so I have some experience with it. Also, I’m a writer as well as an editor, so I can bring in some flair and creative license.

It might also help that I’m assertive, cheeky, and have purple hair. I admired the put-together look of a fellow editor – she’s so beautiful and stylish. She’s a total MILF, and you can’t tell she has teenage children. Although she’s a lot of fun, she’s quiet and reserved, and it takes some coaxing to bring her bubbly side out. Conversely, it’s easy to get some pep out of me, and when you’re working 12 hours straight for days in a row, it helps to have pep[si] in the room.

There’s someone else I look up. She’s efficient, professional, and very grown up. We recently got pitched for different parts of the same project. She won quality control, because she’s got that no-nonsense thing going. I got creative … mostly because I have purple hair. The client saw each of our selling points and used them to build a cohesive team.

As a business person, be sure to floss your USP. It could be speaking politely, finding out the kids’ names, getting some nail art, wearing a power suit, walking in rollerblades, or riding a bicycle to work. Find the one thing that makes you different from other people in your filed.

Me, I like nice people. I’ve often bought a basic product from a nice salesman instead of a perfect one from some guy with ATT.  So build that thing that makes you seem different. It could be what wins that tender.

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

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  1. Paul Kevin says:

    Great article….whens the book comming out?

  2. Not for a while – maybe next year. It’s not a novel though, it’s a school textbook for Tanzania. I used to work there before I came back home. Welcome to the site btw.

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