How Confidence Affects Profits


It’s a funny thing, confidence is. There is a fine line between being confident, cocky, and a butt-hole. I know this because I walk that line every day and I probably cross over onto one side or another more often than I realize.

Just don’t live on one side. Where you live in relation to that line affects your name, your brand.

At WordCamp Orlando this past weekend, the questions and conversations had a common thread: how do you have the confidence to charge enough, say “no,” tell people to wait, and be confident on a call with a prospective client?

the answer is easy – not easy to reach

It takes time. I didn’t start out confident, but I also started out moonlighting doing support beyond what purchasing a premium theme provides. That’s why my e-mail signature since Groundhog Day 2009 has had this at the end: “WordPress and Business Services – for the things premium support doesn’t cover.”

The key there is that I didn’t become confident with the caliber of client that makes for a dream client by my standards today. It was with the nervous, desperate, and very small/starter businesses. Knowing your audience includes knowing what level of confidence they expect. With some people it is okay to not have an answer or have to research things for a simple question or quote.

Others will smell weakness and pounce. “Pouncing” in these situations gives them the upper hand, gives them something to negotiate with.

This leaves you two choices when starting out: work on projects with less-than-ideal clients or fake it until you make it.

what is fake confidence?

It looks and sounds like someone who:

  • doesn’t jump at every request for work
  • can’t start today unless it’s a 5-minute job
  • doesn’t publish their contact info
  • has a clean website with relevant posts (doesn’t have to be epic)
  • has to look at their calendar and the scope and provide a price

It’s easier to exude confidence in an e-mail than on voice or video. Human communication has too many non-verbal signals to fake too much. Once the call is over, it’s just as professional in appearance to then research plugins, code snippets, themes, and ask a colleague before e-mailing back with a plan, pricing, and a recap of the call.

That is what being professional is: a great communicator.

the proof is in the pudding

I’ve had a season where I wasn’t confident. I don’t recall the reason why, but I couldn’t land a new project to save my life for two or three weeks. Back in the day, my wife would comment that she loved listening to my calls because I was so confident and professional on Skype. One day in the middle of the drought, we realized I wasn’t confident at that point.

Without confidence, I wasn’t giving those potential clients confidence in my work – in me. Each day was another vote of no confidence in my abilities — based on my confidence, not my abilities. I’ve hired far better coders than myself to tackle problems because their body of work showed their abilities.

Prospective clients don’t give you that opportunity unless someone gushed about your work and their experience working with you. Even then, if you’re hemming and hawing while discussing a plan of attack, you may change their mind.

Scroll back up to the beginning of of this. Put on that face before every call. Feel the difference. Own your price. Command your brand. Increase your profits, starting with improving your client acquisition and quality.

For more tips on client acquisition, take a look at a slide deck on the topic.

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  1. Alison Foxall says

    The very first job we landed dba “Gobble Logic” was a nice double digit thousand dollar budget. I walked into a meeting with what I thought would be with 2 people, ended up being almost 12 people. I was caught off guard but I pitched, went over a detailed plan, was CONFIDENT (but not overly cocky), and ended up winning the bid over much larger companies who were bidding.

    It really makes a difference. I’m still figuring it all out, but I’ve definitely lost some of that since a year and a half ago– I’ve become really burnt out and drained!

    • says

      That’s an impressive first go at it! Thanks for your transparency. I can only imagine what 12 people on the first project proposal would feel like – my biggest was 6 after 18 months or so and everything before and since has been one or two.

      For me, it’s the personal things that affect my confidence. The bank account, the relationships, the (this is my new, big one) unrealized dreams/toys that seem unreachable). It can be as simple as a phone call or text or as stupid as not having a new device because grown-up responsibilities come first.

      Do you know what’s got you burnt out and what will re-charge your batteries?