ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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The Top 10 Commandments of Becoming an Unf*ckwithable Freelancer

In: How to Sell Yourself

  1. Thou shall not wait for an imaginary endorsement from The Committee of True and Actual Greatness to affirm that you’re good enough to put your work out there.
    The traditional meritocracy meant that you could work your way up the ladder—but you’d have to wait for some creep to give you permission to climb each rung. From promotions at work, to having your art featured, to getting your own magazine column, to speaking on the topic of Teletubbies (or, hey, whatever you're into), you’d have to stand by waiting for the magical nod of approval from someone more ‘important.’ But the modern day, independent meritocracy has changed all of that. Now, the Internet allows us to bypass the red tape, put our own work out there, and become our own brand. One that reaches consumers directly—and waits for no one to approve of it.
  2. Thou shall make the Internet her bitch.
    Speaking of the Internet, this is your new mecca. Modern tools mean modern rules, and that means that if you can start a website, you can start a business. You do not need to beg, and you do not need to job hunt—you’re in charge of hiring yourself, now, and the Internet is your office. Good thing your new office is everywhere—which means you can be anywhere.
  3. Thou shall not let the things she does not understand yet, become the reason why she never did anything at all.
    You don’t have anyone telling you what to do anymore—and that means that there will be times when you don’t know what to do. Let that be okay. Let it be okay that you don’t know what the flipping fanny you’re doing, half the time. This is entrepreneurship, not your granny’s cross stitch. Trial by fire is your new best friend, so fire it up and let’s go.
  4. Thou shall cast a death sentence.
    There’s always going to be the temptation to cast your net as wide as you can, to try to make as many people love you as you can, and try to get as many clients and customers as you can. You know what you need to cast? A death sentence. Death to every thing and every idea that isn’t exactly what you want to be known for. Pick one thing, instead. Start there, and start small. It is far easier to focus on one thing, and become known for it, than it is to focus on many things, and become unknown. You can always expand.
  5. Thou shall start a movement, not a business.
    There will be eleventy billion other people who are trying to do the same thing. As such, most people are under the assumption that they have to do something totally new, in order to compete. This is not true. You don’t have to be the first; you only have to be the only. The way you stand out from the sea of sameness is not by having a revelational new business idea. It’s by taking a time-tested business idea, and putting your own unique spin on it. Not something superficial, like a font, but something meaningful, like a reason. You aren’t here to start a business; you’re here to start a movement.
  6. Thou shall think cash flow first.
    What’s the easiest thing you can start selling today? Sell that. You need cash flow in order to grow STAY ALIVE. Nothing’s set in stone—whatever you sell today does not need to be the thing you sell forevahhhhmoreeeeee. Stop making this so hard on yourself. Think simple right now, and leave the complicated stuff for your fifth year of entrepreneurship, when you heat up your coffee twenty times and feel hardcore about it.
  7. Thou shall worship scalability as a religion.
    Now that we’ve got the short-term cash flow under way, scalability is next. This means that, in the long-term, your business also needs to be able to sell something independent of your time. Otherwise, you don’t have a business: you have a job. You also have a title, and it’s called freelancer. While there’s nothing wrong with freelance work one bit, these are the ten commandments of becoming unf*ckwithable, and I’m pretty sure that getting tonsillitis and freaking out and missing deadlines and canceling client engagements before blowing chunks out of your facial orifice is not included in the description.
  8. Thou shall become a dangerous assassin with money.
    You are going to learn how to command it, how to charge it, how to ask for it without flinching even an inch. Invest in this. Work on this. Practice this. So often, the reason why we’re intimidated by money is because of the stories we tell ourselves about it. A common script running in the background of many new entrepreneurs’ minds: In order to have money, I need to take it from someone else. And that feels sinful right? Re-write the script. Money is a tool we all use to get what we want, and you have something they want. So make the proper exchange.
  9. Thou shall defer to no one but herself—as a policy.
    You can have advisors. You can have counsel. You can work with collaborators. And you can be really, really nice. But above all, you trust yourself more than you trust any other motherfucker out there, alright? You act with honor, and you act with integrity, and you always remember that you’re in the driver’s seat. Other people have a vested interest in getting you to do what they want you to do—not what you should do. Only you know that. And—surprise—you already know what to do.
  10. Thou shall do what needs to be done. You have more power than you think.
    It’s easy to hide from the hard stuff. To throw money / people / pasta at it and hope it goes away. To get caught up in the world and its drama, and to feel like a helpless little pawn. It’s easy to let the bullshit consume you—and there will be plenty of it when you’re in business for yourself. But no matter what’s going on, you must always remember that you have more power than you think. And you’re going to say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done, because even though it might be hard today, tomorrow your life will thank you for it. Because learning how to become an entrepreneur is always less about business development, and more about personal development—and even though the hard will come, the hard always has a silver lining, and that’s the gift of becoming a killer. That’s the gift of becoming unf*ckwithable.
Dec 15

2011

List Your Prices (THE RIGHT WAY) (Calling All Photographers.) (Hedgehogs Welcome, Too.)

Dec 15, 2011

As an entrepreneur, sometimes you fall flat on your face. Figuratively–and, apparently, literally–namely when you’re traveling in the South of Chile pretending to be in better shape than you actually are while attempting to jump over pathetically small streams that you really should be able to fucking clear, but somehow, don’t, and manage to fall flat […]

In: How to Sell Yourself

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Aug 30

2017

$5 Discount or $5 Surcharge?

Aug 30, 2017

Would you rather get a $5 discount or receive a $5 surcharge? It’s the same change in price, just framed differently—and yet, I bet even the word “surcharge” just had you up in arms. LISTEN HERE, AT&T!!!!!!!!!!! That’s because humans are reeeeepulsed by the idea of losing something we already have. It makes us hangry. […]

In: How to Sell Yourself

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Aug 14

2013

Lots of Inquiries But No Sales? Help Is Here.

Aug 14, 2013

I get two questions all of the time: 1. How do I convert more email inquiries into actual customers & clients? (Who ideally have zero credit card limit and maybe even a mullet because wouldn’t that be fun?) 2. How do you manage to stay looking so young? Obviously no one really ever asks me […]

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Sep 2

2014

The Short, Slightly Sarcastic Answer to (At Least Eleven) Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Selling Yourself. Featuring: A Strong Opinion.

Sep 2, 2014

Q: Should I give away free consults? A: Are you running a business or a charity? EEEEEEEEEEET. Time’s up. The correct answer is [extra title=”Unless you *are* running a charity, in which case, oops?” info=”tooltip” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]business. [/extra] Ding, ding, ding. And businesses are for profit. Key words: For profit. Respect your own time and prospects will, […]

In: How to Sell Yourself

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Jun 26

2014

Is It Annoying to Buy From You?

Jun 26, 2014

Everybody loves shopping, right? (Except maybe Ben Stein—imagine that guy in Kohl’s, or worse, going down a water slide. Two words: man thong.) You know who else loves shopping? The people who are looking for your services and products. There’s nothing like the high of thinking that you found it—the perfect photographer // vintage purse […]

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May 28

2012

Trailer Trash & Sex Appeal: The Trick to Selling MORE

May 28, 2012

To anyone and everyone selling something: Pay attention. The other day, I was having a conversation with a copywriting client who is building a business around teaching people how feel all sorts of hot and dynamite by eating raw. I said, “You mean like Crazy Sexy Diet?” And she said, “What’s that?” And I said, […]

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May 4

2017

How Do You Make People Care About Your Work—Even When Your Work Is Lofty, Intangible, and Abstract as F***?

May 4, 2017

I’m working with a client, right now, who wants to sell emotional intelligence. That’s the result you get when you work with her. EQ, instead of IQ. And emotional intelligence is actually really, really important. It’s one of the biggest predictors of success, believe it or not. She’s read the literature. I’ve read the literature. […]

In: How to Sell Yourself

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Aug 28

2017

“Hire Me” versus “Listen To Me”

Aug 28, 2017

If you’re a freelancer, there are two different power dynamics: Hire me! Please hire me! I’m shitting my pants, over here, because I’m depending on you entirely and I’ll do anything it takes, even work for peanuts, because I need you to take mercyyyyy onnnnn meeeeee. Listen to me. I’m great at what I do, […]

In: How to Sell Yourself

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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