How to Sell Your Skills (3-Step Formula)

“You just sent a shiver through the entire dental industry. I would wish you good luck getting a job after graduation, but you sure won’t need it.”

Amos Dudley is not your typical millennial.

The 24-year-old digital design major at New Jersey Institute of Technology just proved to everyone, he’s got the skills to pay the bills.

You might have seen Dudley’s story in the news this week. The Huffington PostCNN MoneyBuzzFeed, and even across the pond at the Daily Mail covered it.

What did Dudley do that caught influencers’ attention?

And how can Dudley’s story help you sell your skills?

Those are two questions we’re going to answer today.

What Did Dudley Do?

In 16 weeks, Amos Dudley transformed his smile from this…

Screenshot 2016-03-21 10.47.12

To this…

Screenshot 2016-03-21 10.50.22

…For less than $60, with no professional assistance.

How Dudley did this is not as important as Why he did it.

But I bet you’re dying to know how, so I’ll tell you: he used the 3-D printer at his school to create his own set of plastic aligners (think DIY Invisalign).

Screenshot 2016-03-21 16.19.47

[If you want to know more about the How, Dudley explains it all on his blog.]

As I said, the How is not as important as the Why. So let’s look at…

Why a 24-Year-Old College Student Made His Own Braces

First let’s look at Dudley’s story on a 2-D level. Dudley is a broke, college student, who feels self-conscious about his smile. To solve his problem, he decides to hack his own cost-friendly alternative to braces. What could go wrong…?


The average cost of conventional aligners.

But if we look at Dudley’s story at the 3-D level, we see Dudley’s DIY braces are accomplishing more than just a moral boost. The DIY braces are a byproduct of what Dudley actually set out to do: sell his skills.

When BuzzFeed asked Dudley why he took on the project, Dudley said:

When I realized that I could do something that was a little bit culturally disruptive, while demonstrating my skills as a designer and a maker, and fixing something that was making me self-conscious for virtually free, I felt it was more than worth the risk.

Now we know what motivated Dudley, let’s see if we can distill Dudley’s thinking into a practical formula you can use to sell your skills.

3-Step Formula for Selling Your Skills

Step 1: Pick a problem someone has already solved.

It’s best if you pick a problem with a solution that’s culturally accepted as the norm. Eg. Paying an orthodontist between $3,000-$8,000 for a perfect smile is normal.

Step 2: Find/build a better solution showcasing your skills.

Even if your solution is not better than what’s passing as the norm, you want to show your skills can produce the same quality solution, or better, at a fraction of the cost, or faster, or through a safer process, [insert your USP].

Step 3: Tell someone about your solution and how you found/built it.

Here’s the part where you actually sell. If you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 successfully, step 3 (the selling part) takes care of itself.

Read Dudley’s blog post and tell me you wouldn’t hire him on the spot for your design firm?

The important thing to remember is your solution is not what you’re selling.

Your solution is a potentially lucrative byproduct of what you’re actually selling: your skills.


Why Amos Dudley’s Story Went Viral

If you’re curious about why a story like this went viral — it’s simple. Dudley’s story fits one of the five types of content people share:

1. Enormous list posts

2. Contrarian viewpoint

3. Emotional life lesson

4. Journey/case study

5. GIF/picture compilation

Dudley’s story fits the journey/case study narrative. We’ll talk more about these five categories in later briefs.

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