An interview with Philip Morgan: Learn how freelancers can position themselves for success.

Show Notes:

Philip Morgan helps implementors become advisors. He’s also the author of The Positioning Manual for Technical Firms.

1. You give great insight on how freelancers and consultants can specialize and position themselves. What are some actionable tips our freelancer audience can take with them today in regards to how to position themselves?
2. I noticed you have a section on your website titled Ideas I am researching, which I find fascinating. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the guts to put their ideas into the public eye. Why did you decide to do this and can you outline a couple of your ideas for our listeners?
3. Why did you decided to make a risk profile self-assessment? How important is it for freelancers and consultants to assess their risk?
How can our audience follow you online?


Today we are joined with Philip Morgan. He helps implementors become advisors. He’s also the author of the Positioning Manual for Technical Firms.

Matt: Welcome to the show, Philip. First of all, you give great insights into how freelancers and consultants can specialize and position themselves which is super important. What are some actionable tips are freelancers can take with them today in regards to how to position themselves?

Philip: I think the first is to understand why you’re doing it. You can do it to get a quick marketing win. Or you can do it to set yourself up for a lifetime of cultivating deep expertise. No matter what your goal is, you need to understand yourself. Are you a risk-taker? Are you more entrepreneurial, or are you looking for just a safe way to make your business better?

What drives you? Is it people? Is it trying to increase the profitability of your business? Or is it a love for some platform like you love being an illustrator and working with technology that you specialize in? The easy way to understanding yourself is to ask yourself, “where do I have a head start?” If you’re risk-averse, that’s probably how you’re going to specialize. If you’re more entrepreneurial, you need to be a risk-taker. Let’s say you love the idea of manufacturing. Then you tell yourself that you are going to specialize in serving manufacturing companies even if you don’t know who they are. In this case, you prove that you are a risk-taker. Those are the most funded basic things you can think about to prepare yourself to make a decision on how to specialize.

Matt: What does that exactly mean to position yourself? Are you comparing yourself to your competition?

Philip: The easiest way to think about a market position in the world of services, not products, is reputation. It is what you are known for. Most of us have some local microscopic reputation among the people who know us. Positioning is developing a reputation among people who don’t know you, who can discover you and seek you out for something that you’re known for. That gets into how you market yourself, but the basic idea is that you become the go-to person for something.

Matt: In Freelancer Masterclass, we talked about branding. Should this come before or after you determine what kind of brand you should be as a freelancer or consultant?

Philip: The deeper you get into those two topics, the more they start to look alike. It’s very similar. It’s intentional about how you want to be known.

Matt: You’re a visionary, I can tell by looking at your website and your blog. You have a section titled “Ideas I’m Researching,” I find that fascinating that you’ve publicly posted it on your website. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the guts to do that. Why did you decide to do this? And can you outline a couple of ideas that you have on your website right now for our freelancers who haven’t seen your website yet?

Philip: The main problem with the business we are in is that there’s so much received wisdom that’s curated a little bit, but the underlying assumptions aren’t questioned. I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this; I’m guilty of being on the giving end of it. I’m not satisfied with operating that way anymore. And I’m not accusing anybody of working that way, either.

But it’s a general problem. Something sounds like a good idea; someone out there in the world tries, and it doesn’t work. Why? Probably because it wasn’t a good idea for them. I’m trying to answer one question, which is how to help people who get told what to do move into the position where they provide advice, or guidance, or strategy.

Not everybody wants to make that transition, that’s fine. I want to help those who do. And I find that there’s not a lot of reliable, evidence-based guidance about how to make. I’d want to collect using basic research tools, things like interviewing people, or just trying to measure things that haven’t been measured in a very simple way. I want to collect that information and make it available in an open way so that people can decide for themselves and see if it makes sense to them.

The motivation is that I think the industry of advice is not doing a good enough job. And I think by being open about how we arrived at our conclusions, we can do a better job.

Matt: Why did you decide to make a risk profile self-assessment? I always encourage freelancers to do that to find themselves and know who they are. A lot of times people don’t even really know they might have an idea. But I didn’t realize until I started taking self-assessments, how much I categorized as a visionary and I wouldn’t have thought. So why did you decide to make a risk profile self-assessment and how important is it for freelancers and consultants to assess their risk?

Philip: I think it’s important it gets back to two of the things we’ve touched on. One is knowing yourself, which is the foundation for deciding how you’re going to specialize. The perspective I had on specialization was you should go all the way with it; you should become hyper-specialized. You should be very entrepreneurial in your view on that. And I realized that was me applying my perspective to those I was trying to help.

The missing piece was understanding risk tolerance in the world of financial investment advice. It’s called your risk profile. It’s a combination of your ability to your emotional comfort with risk and your sort of physical ability to withstand some loss. And that was a real inspiration for me.

If you can tolerate a lot of risks, you can do things with a specialization that folks who are less risk-tolerant cannot do. It helped me understand why some people can do these really impressive things with specialization and become world-class experts. Others need to use it in a more restrained way.

What I do now is not a self-service tool; what I want to do is I take what I do now with clients and turn it into a self-service tool that anybody can use. That’s what’s going on with that risk profile, self-assessment.

Matt: I learned where my weaknesses are, and it’s surprising how you probably didn’t know until you take a test. Somebody has to tell you where your weaknesses are, and then you outsource that part of your job to where your weaknesses are because you want to keep your friends focus and all of your attention and time on where your passion lies within, right? So that’s what I use it for. How can our listeners learn more about you? I find your niche of positioning and self-assessment fascinating. I like my followers to be able to find you online.

Philip: Please go to and sign-up with your email. Here, you can find the things that we’ve talked about today.



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