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Exercises from Seth Godin's Freelancer Course

Exercises from Seth Godin's Freelancer Course

One year ago I did this exercise. Seth told me to post my answer's. Took 12 months to revisit these exercises and reflect on year one as a full time freelancer.

Who are you?

1.1 What do you want to do? (Not your job, but your work, now, tomorrow, and in the future)

**If you’re having trouble answering this, you’re going to have trouble moving up, because you’ve abdicated your dream to whomever walks in the door next.

I want to create stories about the human condition.

1.2 Who do you want to change and how do you want to change them?

I want to change nihilists, tortured souls, and people possessed by ideologues. I plan to change them through dialogue, writing, film, photography, and design.

2.1 How much risk? (1-10) How much are you willing to put at stake to make the change you need?

9. I save the 1 in case I am wrong and need to pivot.

2.2 How much work are you willing to do to get there?

Work every day. Study every day. Weekends and holidays. Relocate. Change my environment. Take emotional and intellectual risks. Invest in the dream. Less sleep. Embrace the struggle.

3.1 Does this project matter enough for the risk and the efforts you’re putting into it?


3.2 Is it possible – has anyone with your resources ever pulled off anything like this?



What do you provide?

1. What do people buy when they buy something from you?

Video production, photography services, design application, consultation, and storytelling.

2. What are you doing that’s difficult?

Attempting to master multiple disciplines. Tell stories that dance on the edge of failure.


List 10 things you deliver to your client

Things that aren’t the thing. Things like timeliness, confidence, respect, a story, etc. Be specific.

  1. Humor. I go out my way to make a client laugh or smile.
  2. Honesty. I don't rip the client off.
  3. Collaboration. We work together on a project from start to finish.
  4. Tenacity. I take multiple approaches to try and solve challenging problems.
  5. World view. My background and experience consist of different trades and experiences in different environments.
  6. A kind gesture. Actions speak more than words.
  7. Enthusiasm. I am hungry to do the work.
  8. An outsiders perspective. An echo chamber can be quieted with an outsiders point of view. That's diversity.
  9. Storytelling. The point is the story. Not the fancy camera or Instagram filter. I am a storyteller.
  10.  A listener. Attention is more important that thinking.


Rank Yourself

Compared to others who do what you do, rank yourself on: reputation, knowledge, expertise, tools, handiness.

  • Reputation – Average. I have experience and a good reputation for my work. But I am not the most well known creator.
  • Knowledge – Average. I need more hands on experience. 
  • Expertise – I am not an expert in any field but I am capable in multiple disciplines.
  • Tools – I have my own tools to work as a one man team, but I need a vehicle and a few other tools to expand my creative capabilities and freedom.
  • Handiness – Usually available within the city I work in.

Which will you invest in developing?



B2B Sales

1. What is your client afraid their boss will think if they say yes?

They could have hired someone cheaper. This product or service is not worth our time, money, and energy. It would be better to hire a Japanese native. We need a more experienced freelancer.

2. What would your client tell their boss to explain why they bought from you?

The work he delivers is awesome. He has worked with high profile clients. He is involved in the creative process. His Japanese is good enough.

3. What would you like them to tell their boss?

His enthusiasm, creativity and character are the right fit for our project. Getting him into our pre-production process will help us deliver a successful project. Working with him is an opportunity to go beyond generic. 


Develop a Unique voice

1. If you could choose an archetype or extreme (edge craft), what do you want your brand or work to be known for?

Redemption. The phoenix. The fallen angel rising from the pits of hell.

2. List five ways you could express these attributes.

  1. Sports photography. Images that capture victory from the jaws of defeat.
  2. Documentaries. Share other people's stories of redemption.
  3. Take bigger risks with design. Harness a style that is genuinely mine. The same applies to my writing.
  4. Write content that exposes myself and the world.
  5. Tell the truth.



1. How many people would complain if you didn’t send out your newsletter or brochure?

Maybe 1.

2. Clearly articulate what promise you make to those that give you permission?

That I will listen and make the necessary sacrifices for the work. My aim is authenticity. My reward is the opportunity to reciprocate a gift to those that trusted me with their attention.

3. What makes your marketing anticipated, personal, and relevant?

Sharing my time, skills, work, and considerate opinion has made my marketing personal and relevant. New work is anticipated by continuing to strengthen old relationships and sparks of curiosity are ignited by making new acquaintances.

4. What could you promise that people would look forward to?

A better version of me.


Organize and Connect

1. How and what can you organize and connect?

Organize and connect Sports brands with combat sports. Provide numbers on the audience growth of MMA and BJJ to sponsors such as Adidas, Nike, Converse, etc. Try connecting event organizers/gyms and sports brands through the use of athletes and hobbyist photographed or filmed wearing their brand. This content can then be used to further build a story on the sport, highlight the people and their stories, and showcase the brand.

2. List people within your sphere who are disconnected.

  • Nike
  • BJJ culture and events
  • Adidas
  • Boxing and kickboxing organizations
  • ONE FC
  • Onnit
  • Japan MMA
  • Tokyo Olympic athletes

3. What do they want?

To build an audience and culture around their brand and the sport.

4. Who do they want to be recognized by, trusted by, or learn from?

MMA & BJJ want to be recognized as a legitimate sport. Brands want to be recognized as the leading brand in that sport.

Combat sports wants to be trusted by the public, sponsors, and governing bodies. Brands want to be trusted by their customer base and athletes.

Combat sports wants to learn from soccer, running, and outdoor sports. Brands want to learn from athletes, cultures that bring groups together, and sports science.


Leveraging Content

1. Five blog topics your market would find surprising, insightful, provocative, useful.

  1. Philosophies and strategies for training in combat sports.
  2. The story of a fighter.
  3. The scene of combat sports in a city or country or culture of people.
  4. How does "violence" save lives (How does martial arts play a positive role in our lives)
  5. The ugly side of the sport (MMA, boxing, etc)

2. Five blog topics they are sick of reading about (are you writing about these?)

  1. Boxing vs MMA
  2. Which martial arts is better?
  3. Who is the best fighter or top ten?
  4. Controversial fighters or fake drama to make news
  5. Freak shows

3. Industry report you could write 50 pages about.

Fighters of tomorrow. A report about children or teenagers training in martial arts rather than joining popular team sports.

4. Infographic - an infographic that doesn’t exist yet, but should.

Regions/countries UFC champions and challengers come from.


Organize Your Competitors

How can you organize your competitors to do a thing together?

The UFC is essentially a production company. By organizing other videographers, event producers, photographers, and sound engineers that are passionate about the sport we can produce our own show. Set up a meet me where enthusiast can meet and begin to build towards making an event.


Issue an industry report

MMA gear vs grappling gear vs boxing gear.



Practice selling to willing strangers. Ask a non-profit you care about for a chance to volunteer to fundraise.

It’s not you on the line this time, you’re selling something you care about. Explore how it feels to close the sale. How does the donor shift in posture or action.

I have not done this for a non-profit.

Required reading: Zig Zigler (Secrets of selling) Secret of closing the sale, Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Levinson, All Marketers are liars by Seth Godin, Free agent nation by Dan Pink, Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod, Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim.


Make a timeline

Now that you know where you are going, break it into small steps and assign actions and dates to each step.

  • 3 months - paid sports gig - Complete: Photographed EFN VII
  • 6 months - sports video reel - Not complete
  • 9 months - get a blue chip client - Complete: Adidas
  • 12 months - combat sports gig - Complete: EFN VII

Find a freelancer you care about and teach them what you just learned.

Complete and ongoing.

  1. Find a customer who has money
  2. Find a customer who has a problem and knows it
  3. Find a solution only you can provided
  4. Do it in a way that makes the customer want to tell others


  1. Netflix
  2. Netflix needs to create interesting content
  3. Write a script with a story that only I can tell
  4. Doing it but not done.


Cover photo by Steven West

#22 - Undocumented, Unafraid

#22 - Undocumented, Unafraid

Yuki Hirota

Yuki Hirota