There’s this thing that keeps happening.
Not to you. To me. For once, I’m starting a blog post by talking about myself… but only so I can talk about you.
Yeah, you. The one who says you don’t know what you have to offer a client, or what your specialist expertise might be.
It keeps happening. I have conversations that go something like this:
BAFB READER: I recently started freelance writing and I don’t really feel confident asking for money because I don’t know much about anything. I’m not an expert, I’m just a writer. And I’m scared to send any queries in case I get rejected. Or in case I don’t get rejected. Or in case I get writer’s block after I’ve been hired. Or in case I just can’t handle the pressure of a writer’s life and go crazy like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
ME: Oh. OK. So, um, what did you do before you started freelance writing?
BAFB READER: Oh, I was a professor in advanced examples at the University of Examples. Then I spent a couple of years as an examples artist at the Example Institute for Impressive Examples.
ME [With restraint.]: So… did you ever think that maybe you could get started by writing about… you know… examples?
BAFB READER: Oh! Well, I suppose I could. Do people pay for that?
Yes. Yes they do. People pay for blog posts on almost any topic you can imagine.
Look at Yourself. You Rock.
Seriously, look at yourself. Find a mirror and look in it.
That’s a freelance blogger with specialist knowledge worth paying for.
I don’t care if you’ve never set foot in the University of Examples and the last time your writing got graded was before you dropped out of high school.
You’re an expert in something.
What do you spend most of your time doing? What have you learned in your career? What did you study at college? Do you think perhaps you know more on that topic than most average people?
There you go. Expert.
If I ever meet someone who isn’t an expert in anything at all, I’ll tell them they’re an expert in living with the lack of expertise. Problem solved.
But I Don’t Feel Like an Expert…
I’ve been paid for posts about sex robots, bricklaying, Australian car insurance, dust mite biology, 3D street art, and live action role playing.
Am I an expert in any of those things? Only the sex robots. 😉
So how did I get hired? Two ways:
- I explained my expert connections. Sometimes they were tenuous, like “My fiance’s sister is a qualified bricklayer and I can tap her brain,” or “I know people who LARP.” [For non-geeks: that’s the role-playing thing.] But it works, because there’s a limited pool of bricklayer-bloggers to choose from. If you really want a particular gig and you don’t feel expert enough, go out and find yourself two or three people more expert than you in the topic who don’t mind if you email them a question every once in a while. Then when you contact the potential client, tell them you have access to those experts as well as your own knowledge.
- I demonstrated my expert writing and research skills. I got that 3D street art gig because the client liked my writing on another site. I got the car insurance gig because I’d edited posts for that blog before so they trusted me to write in their house style. I can show clients comments and social shares on my published work. And I can show them well-researched posts I’ve written, with hyperlinked source citations and quotes from interviewing expert sources.
Sometimes, you don’t need to be an expert in anything other than blogging. All you have to do is show your potential clients you can write stuff their audience will want to know.
But I Can’t Do That…
Unless you’re suffering from some particularly acute form of amnesia, you know stuff that I don’t know.
Hell, if you know how to tie your shoelaces without making two loops, you know something I didn’t learn until I was in my twenties. And if you know how to blow your nose properly, you’re way ahead of me.
[No joke; when I have a sniffle I stuff paper tissue up my nose, pull it back out, and throw it away. Because I do not know how to blow my own nose. Sophie Lizard, expert blogger and nose-blowing failure. How you doing?]
You know a ton of stuff I don’t know. Could you write it up for me, if I asked you to help me understand it?
There you go. Expert.
Stop trying to argue with me, and go get yourself some gigs.
Image: ** RCB **