Monday, March 7, 2011

Are You an Expert?

Before I get started with this post, I must sincerely apologize for not posting for so long. RL has really been kicking my behind. I’m happy to report that I’ve been as busy as ever with clients and marketing for new business (although I could be more consistent…). However my father’s battle with cancer over the past year was a priority that required me to split my time between two states for the past six months. Blogging was one of the many things that unfortunately ended up falling by the wayside for a while. Unfortunately he lost his battle two weeks ago. He was one of the biggest supporters of my online business efforts, and I simply do not have the words to express how much I’ll miss him.

Prior to my father’s passing, I began getting to know some of the staff at the rehabilitative care facility where he stayed following his latest hospital release. One day a young lady and I were chatting about everyday job stress. She explained that she was interested in finding another career path because although she loved her job, she had a tendency to become attached to the patients.

Since the majority of patients in the facility’s care were elderly and suffering from degenerative conditions, losing patients was quite common, and it was beginning to take its toll.
She explained to me that she had some previous writing experience and might be interested in pursuing freelance writing as a part-time gig to get started and see where it goes. She had on big concern: “How do I get companies to consider me an expert?

This is legitimate concern for those just starting out. Clients want to know about a writer’s experience before hiring, and new writers are trying to figure out how to get the experience. Companies are always looking for writers who are experts at blogging, SEO, technology, sales content, or topics related to legal, medical, insurance or financial industries, etc.

Although I had a background in journalism and advertising sales, and I frequently found myself asking that very same question when I began freelancing in 2007. The fact of the matter is in order for businesses and entrepreneurs to trust your ability to effectively get the job done, they must have confidence in your expertise.

So what makes a writer an expert? Knowledge of a specific subject or industry can give a writer expert status. Here are a few points to consider:

Commitment to Continued Learning

Experts in their chosen field know the importance of staying on top of industry trends. For example, a writer who is an expert in mobile phone technology will seek opportunities to stay abreast of emerging trends.

An Area of Specialization

Some writers are sought for their expertise in blogging, SEO content development, sales letters, resumes, video scripts, professional bios, ebooks, whitepapers, etc. They carve out a niche for themselves by learning all they can about a specific area of writing and target clients I need of their services.

An Understanding of Industry Jargon

An expert I a particular subject or industry will be comfortable understanding and using language shared by others in the same field. They understand how to communicate with industry experts and their target market effectively.

Authenticity that Speaks for Itself

As the old saying goes: “Experience speaks for itself.” They have hands-on experience in the subject or industry they target, and builds a reputation as a “go to” resource within their chosen field.

Attempting to pin down an exact formula for what makes a freelance writer an expert isn’t so easy since expert status is largely dependent on a client’s interpretation. I advise emerging freelancers to discover a need, find a way to learn as much as you can about your area of interest and target clients who need your services.


Lori said...

Kim, I'm sorry about your Dad losing his battle. My love and prayers to you all.

You're right about understanding the jargon. It's helped me put interview sources at ease more than once. They get instantly that I know what they're talking about and they just let loose.

Maybe the larger point is you don't have to be an expert to write. You have to be curious and committed to the job. I'm nowhere near an expert in my specialty, but I dabble with enthusiasm! :)

Kimberly Ben said...

Thank you, Lori. It's been difficult, but I'm so happy that he is no longer suffering.

I do agree with you about your point of view about expert status and writing. The ability to give a client what they want kinda makes us experts. It's hard for some writers - especially those just starting - to think of themselves that way.

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