#031: Michael Port on Booking Yourself Solid

Summary:  In this interview with Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, I asked him how a freelancer could generate  success in today's competitive environment. It was fun to finally have a conversation with someone who shaped my thinking when I was freelancing part time while working my day job.

Michael Port's Book Yourself Solid was one of the most important books I read when I was freelancing part time while working my day job.

It was a big reason why I was able to grow my business so quickly.

I loved how Michael broke down the process of filling up your pipeline with high-quality clients. He described the process in a very methodical way that I could understand. But he also addressed the critical "softer" side of building a solo business.

But I was also a bit nervous — especially early in the conversation — until I finally got my footing.

I guess I was a bit star struck! 🙂

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself 

Michael Port started his professional career as an actor. He’s appeared in movies and TV shows and performed commercial voiceovers.

After he left acting, Michael spent five years on the business side of the health and fitness industry. He worked his way up and eventually opened a club with a partner. He liked the idea of creating something on his own, so he started writing.

Today, he’s authored of a number of bestselling how-to business books. He runs programs based on the concepts in his books and is also a frequent public speaker.

He sees himself as an artist and creative entrepreneur. He gets to earn a living as a business owner while living the life of a creative artist.

Is it realistic to book yourself solid as a freelance professional today?

Yes, absolutely! Today is no different than 20 years ago, except you have more tools to reach people. There may be more freelancers today than 20 years ago, but that’s because there’s more freelance work. If you produce great work, it will speak for itself. What about a freelancer with two or three years of experience, who does great work, but who’s just getting by. What advice would you give them? 

Start by dealing with the emotions that are influencing your results.

clicktotweetTo make long-term changes stick, you have to deal with emotions first.

Do you see the world as a place of scarcity or abundance? Most of our business problems are simply personal problems in disguise. How we think affects the way we work.

Remember, you’re not meant to serve everyone. Your job is to reach those you’re meant to serve. Don’t water yourself down. Let in only your most ideal clients. When you have your ideal clients, you do your best work, which leads to more work. It helps you love what you do and keeps you energized.

Set expectations early in client relationships. Discuss what clients can expect from you, and what you expect from them. Otherwise, expectations are just resentments waiting to happen. Your clients are paying for your best work; and you have to communicate to them what you need to do it.

How can people get past their fears?

While Book Yourself Solid is a practical approach to getting client bookings, each step also has a supporting philosophy. Once you experience the rewards of changing your worldview, then you’ll really start to believe it.

Most creative artists understand the importance of taking risks. Actors are always taking risks. When actors try to bring a character to life, they’ll try all kinds of things and take all kinds of risks, most of which don’t work.

But it’s harder for business people. Many business people are perfectionists and afraid to take risks. But remember, in business, it’s often enough to be good. Only a small percentage of what you do needs to be brilliant. So give yourself a break.

clicktotweetAsk yourself what’s more important: Your need for approval or business results?

Need for approval is based on fear. Until your desires are bigger than your fears, you’re stuck.

Focus on results. How do you want to live? How much money do you want to make? What kind of partner do you want to be? What kind of father do you want to be? These are results-based questions.

What last piece of advice would you give?

Simplify. We make things more complicated than they need to be. To get booked solid all you have to do is:

1) Choose a target market. 

2) Get clear on the result you produce for them and the benefits of that result. 

3) Figure out what you’ll sell to get that result and its price point. 

4) Identify the influencers in your target market and develop relationships with them. 

But working on these fundamental steps, many solo professionals spend a lot of time doing things like developing Twitter strategies and on other activities that yield little value.

Always ask, “Does this new thing get me to my goal faster? Or does it get in the way of my goals?”

Where can we learn more about you?

Michael’s website: Michaelport.com

The Book Yourself Solid Program: Bookyourselfsolid.com

The book is available in multiple versions: Book Yourself Solid and Book Yourself Solid Illustrated.


  • future graphics

    This was great Ed. Thank-you! I loved the donkey story - especially the moral "if you try to please everyone you can kiss your a$$ good-bye" that was awesome!!

    I've had Book Yourself Solid in my Amazon wish list for a while. I think it's time get it into my repertoire.

    • edgandia

      It's a great book! Thanks for tuning in.

  • Mike Sweeney

    Great interview Ed. I have to say, I have had Michael's book in my Kindle app for some months... and haven't started reading it yet! Shame shame on me. I'm starting today. BTW I thought your intro was a nice moment of gratitude, not gushy or lacking rapport at all. The point I appreciated most was -- as a perfectionist myself -- to ship as soon as possible. Make it good, and ship it out the door. Don't shoot for brilliant every time.

    • edgandia

      Thanks, Mike! I think you'll get a lot of value from reading Michael's book. And thanks for your kind words RE: the intro. That was my intention exactly, so good to know it came across that way. 🙂

  • This was just what I needed to hear today, thanks Ed and Michael! I can testify that as you start to change your mindset around scarcity and fear of jumping in, you'll start to see the results in your business – which makes it that much easier to keep changing your mindset!

    Ed, listening to your podcasts have been a HUGE help for me over these last few years as I've gotten started freelancing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this.

    ...and for what it's worth, I think if you hadn't talked about being nervous at the beginning of the interview, it wouldn't have been apparent at all. 🙂

    • edgandia

      Oh, that means so much, Jessie! Thank your letting me know how much you're enjoying the podcast. Delighted to hear they've made a difference! 🙂

  • Great interview!

    I like the following, "Discuss what clients can expect from you, and what you expect from them. Otherwise, expectations are just resentments waiting to happen." Not only can this apply to your business, but it can apply to your life.

    I also liked the following, "What's more important, your need for approval or your desire for results?" It's food for thought.

    • edgandia

      Thanks, Amandah! I wasn't sure how this interview would be received. So it's great to hear that you found it valuable. Michael sprinkled some great nuggets throughout. I like the two you picked!