If you’ve been freelancing for a while, odds are good that you have developed a level of expertise in one or more specialized areas. Since expert freelancers are usually paid more than generalists, it is a good idea to identify and promote any specialized knowledge that you might have.
You can’t be paid for your expertise if no one knows that you have it, so it’s important to position yourself carefully and present your expertise. In this article, we’ll look at a few ways to do that.
Finding Your Area of Expertise
Before you can promote your expertise, you must know what it is. Surprising though it may be, many freelancers do not take the time to identify the areas in which they specialize.
To figure out your own expertise, I suggest that you ask yourself at least two questions:
- Does the majority of my freelancing work fit into a particular area?
- Do I have any specific training that pertains to my freelancing work?
As you examine the freelancing work that you are doing, you may find that you discover a pattern. This pattern could be an indication of your area of expertise.
Perhaps you do most your work for clients in a particular industry. On the other hand, perhaps you do mostly one type of work. For example, a web designer may discover that they do most of their web design work for nonprofit organizations. Or, they might find that most of their work consists of designing logos. Could this focus equal an area of expertise? It very well could.
You should also examine your formal and informal training to determine whether you have an area of expertise. Simply having a degree does not mean that you are an expert. Many people never actually work in the field in which they receive a degree. However, if you do have training AND if you’ve used it extensively, then you may have found an area of expertise.
Positioning Yourself as an Expert Through Blogging
Merely having an area of expertise doesn’t help your freelancing business if no one knows about it.
One of the easiest ways to position yourself as an expert is through blogging. Blogs are inexpensive and relatively simple to set up, so if you’re a freelancer there is really no excuse for not having one.
Once you’ve started your blog, be sure to create posts that demonstrate your expertise. Blogging solely about your personal life will not position you as an expert. One way to write a post about your area of expertise is to answer common questions about your subject matter.
After your own blog is established, you can branch out to writing on other blogs. Visit other blogs that also deal with your area of expertise. Leave well thought out comments the address the blogger’s topic.
After you have developed a relationship with another blogger, don’t be afraid to contact that blogger to see if you can write a guest post for their blog. Posting on other blogs can enhance your positioning as an expert in your subject matter.
Positioning Yourself as an Expert Through Speaking
You can also position yourself as an expert through speaking engagements and through teaching seminars on your topic.
To get started, look for a list of professional groups in your area and contact each one to find out if they are interested in learning more about your specialty. If there is an interest, offer to give a talk about your area of expertise.
Avoid a “hard sell” of your services during your presentation, but do include a handout with your business information on it. For example, if you specialize in creating online marketing materials then a presentation to your local chamber of commerce should give a general overview of the ways that a business can be promoted online rather than a discussion of what your business does.
You can also teach to establish your positioning as an expert. Offer a short series of seminars on your topic or contact a local educational institution to find out if you would be qualified to teach a class in your field. Often, community colleges will hire instructors from the working world.
Positioning Yourself as an Expert Through Your Portfolio
Many freelancers neglect their portfolios. Yet, having updated samples and links to your newest work can be vital to your positioning as an expert. Often, your very first projects as a freelancer do not really reflect your current level of expertise.
If you’ve recently started to specialize in a particular field, make sure that your portfolio reflects your most recent work.
Positioning Yourself as an Expert Through Other Writing
There are many other writing opportunities, offline and online, that can help you to position yourself as an expert. Examine your favorite publications in your field to see if they have submission guidelines. If there are submission guidelines, follow them carefully.
Even if there are no submission guidelines, you can still contact the publisher to see if they are interested in publishing a unique article about their topic.
(Note: if writing is not your specialty, it would be wise to have a professional writer look over your materials before you submit them.)
Do you consider yourself an expert?
If you consider yourself an expert, then tell us about your specialty? How have you positioned yourself as an expert? What benefits have you gained because of it?
Share your thoughts in the comments.