Can you really establish yourself as an expert even if you’re just starting your online business?
Yes, yes you can! I’m not saying that you should “fake it until you make it,” because you should be knowledgeable in your niché and always looking to learn more to be the very best service provider or educator you can be. But I don’t think that’s going to be a problem because I’m sure you’re an amazing, caring entrepreneur who always delivers on her word.
Most of us enter the online business world after working in corporate environments or assisting someone else. We have skills and training and so we create a business around that skill so we can experience the freedom of “being our own boss.” But what I’ve observed is that a lot of us enter the online business world and feel like we’re somehow at the bottom of the food chain again just because we don’t have tens of thousands of Instagram followers or aren’t making six figures in our business yet. So we tiptoe around the space, pitch ourselves to anyone and everyone, take on clients for cheap, and hustle through the night trying to get work done.
I know because I’ve been there. When I started my copywriting business, I pitched in Facebook Groups to write bios for $50 a piece. To my excitement, I got a lot of responses. But then I had to spend the next couple of weeks staying up all night writing bios for heaps of new clients while still only making a few hundred dollars. It was a far cry from the near six-figure job I’d quit the year before. After a few months of hustling for the wrong clients and working myself to exhaustion, I decided that enough was enough. I had 6+ years experience in the industry and it was time to confidently charge what I was worth and work with my dream clients, instead of the wrong clients. Once I started doing this, it changed everything in my business and I quickly grew it from $1,600 months hustling around the clock to $8,000 months working with dream clients. You can learn more about this journey in the trailer episode of the Expert Status Podcast here.
Maybe you’ve been there too, working 24/7 for clients who are draining the life out of you. If so, it’s OK – you’re not alone. And the good news is that you don’t have to stay there either.
That’s why I want to share 10 ways you can position yourself as an expert, even if you’re just starting out! These are 10 tips I’ve implemented in my own business and you can get started with them straight away. Alright, let’s dive into them!
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this is number one. But what does owning your experience really mean? First, you need to pinpoint the things that make you great at what you do. Yes, it’s time to brag about yourself! Have you spent years studying your skill through formal or informal training? Have you worked for particular big-name clients in your business or in past jobs? What kind of responsibilities have you had? Did you run a department? Were you the go-to person for social media or a particular task? I don’t want to get all resume-y and boring on you but we need to identify these things so we can weave them into the way you communicate so that potential clients can see that there is evidence that you know what you’re talking about.
Do you have testimonials from current clients or past clients?
If you’re just starting out, you might be wondering “I don’t have any experience! What do I do?” But even if you are new, there is always something that you are more knowledgeable in than someone else. Someone who is just six months behind you in their journey might really value learning from you because you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. If you’re new and you really aren’t sure what that is, think about the common questions that people ask you. What kind of advice are you always giving friends, family or followers on Instagram? That will give you an indication of where your expertise lies.
There’s a common misconception out there in the industry that having more offers equals more income. But it’s simply not true, especially not when you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert and build your business. When you’re creating new offers, you’re splitting up your time again and again and again. With every offer, you need a process for getting new clients, for marketing and for managing it. But if you create one offer, then you can create a simple automated system for it and spend focused time building it to six figures and beyond.
Another benefit of clarifying your offers and keeping them very minimal is that you can establish yourself as an expert for that one thing. Very rarely do people want to hire someone who is a jack of all trades and if they do, they want to pay a low price. But when someone is the go-to expert for one thing, it makes their service exclusive and you instantly think that they must be so amazing at what they do because they spend all their time in the trenches doing it, instead of doing all the things. So if you want to be the go-to expert for website design or social media engagement or whatever it is you do, niche right down and stick to one or two offers max.
This was a game changer for me, and it’s actually really simple to do. A signature method is simply the framework you use to complete a project or get your students results. You probably already have a signature method and you don’t even know it. Mine is called the Dream Client Attraction System and it’s made up of three parts – capture your dream clients, connect with your dream clients, and convert your dream clients. As you may notice, the name is aspirational and ties in to the desire my clients have, to attract their dream clients! So having a signature method not only makes your service or program professional, but it also increases the desirability.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “constantly give away all of your stuff for free.” Because I don’t think that’s the best use of your time and I also don’t think that’s always helpful for your dream clients. Constant content creation is not always profitable, but that’s a conversation for another episode. What I want you to do instead is be very strategic with how you educate your dream clients. If you’re just starting out, choose one platform to share new content because this will allow you to focus, go deep, and also test out your success along the way.
The good thing is that you don’t have to create from scratch. In fact, you should never do that! Your dream clients should be creating your content for you. Your job is to ask your dream clients questions, listen to them, and make a note of their responses. What questions do they have? What are their struggles? What are their desires? By creating this kind of content, they’ll see you as the go-to expert who can help solve their problems.
Every brand needs a voice. Brand messaging shows your clients what differentiates you from the rest. It includes things like your mission statement, core values, brand voice, dream client data, your process and approach, and so much more. By establishing your brand messaging and documenting it in a guide, you can ensure your brand voice is consistent throughout all of your communications. So that if and when you have employees or contractors, they can easily understand how you do things.
This is a game changer and I actually just went through this process. First impressions really are everything and brand photography can really set you apart from the rest. When you’re just starting out and you don’t have a large budget, I recommend getting a few headshots taken so you have something you can use on your website and in professional communications. But when you do have the budget and you are very clear on who your dream clients are and what your offers are, and the future direction of your business, it’s great to do a full branding shoot. But I just want to say, I only did this after the 1 year mark with this business, so I don’t want you to get distracted by shiny objects! You definitely CAN create a 6-figure business WITHOUT fancy branding photos. But this is something that can help you position yourself as an expert as you grow your business past that mark.
This is one very simple way to elevate your brand image so you look like an expert. The best thing about branding is that you can pretty much “set it and forget it”. I’m definitely not an expert in this area but I work with a lot of website designers and branding experts, and have just gone through a complete rebrand myself. Your visual branding includes things like your typography, colours, logo and more. Now there’s a lot that goes into this so I’ll probably talk about my experience with branding in another blog post. But I just want to say that it is important to be consistent. Random colours and fonts don’t look good together. I know because I’ve done it before and it just looks terrible. Some of the most memorable brands are memorable because they use the same elements over and over again. They don’t just change fonts because they feel like it. They use the same colours and typography again and again because that is a part of their brand image. So set your foundations by choosing a few and sticking to them.
Branding is nothing without copy that converts. I see a lot of entrepreneurs spending a LOT of money on branding and a fancy website design. But pretty isn’t going to cut it. It needs to be coupled with copywriting that converts. What is copy that converts? Well, it’s copywriting that gets dream clients taking the next step with you. For example, filling out an application form for your signature service so that you can get on a sales call with them to sell your package.
In an interview on my podcast, I talk to my friend Lillian from Lillian & Company about how copywriting and web design can work together to create a client-converting website. You can find that here >>
Speaking of sales calls, I want to talk about them for a moment because they are a key component of positioning you as an expert. When you are holding a sales call, you need to act like a leader and guide the conversation. What does a leader do? A leader makes the process clear, while making the person on the other end of the call feel seen, heard, appreciated and loved. As the service provider, it is your job to set the tone for the call, so make sure you let your prospective client know what they can expect by outlining the details you will go over. Above all, make sure you actually listen! By listening, you can ask the right questions, which means you won’t come off as tone deaf and you will be able to understand their current struggles and the transformation they want to achieve by working with you.
If potential clients are always dropping off the face of the planet after a sales call, it could be because your process is confusing. I want you to imagine you’re in your dream clients shoes. How easy would it be for you to book yourself if you wanted to? Do you have a clear next step? Do you explain the process? For example, the next steps could be to review the proposal, sign the contract and pay the deposit. Your process could include these steps plus filling out a questionnaire, having a kick-off call, and an outline of when they can expect to hear from you or when you will require edits, as well as a final delivery date if it is a one-off project. I personally love and use Dubsado for client management, and they have fantastic templates and workflows that you can simply plug and play into your own account. If you want to check it out, you can trial Dubsado for free using the code “elisehodge”.
If you run a course or membership program, prospective members will want to know what happens after they buy. Will they receive an email with their login details? Will you send them weekly check-in emails or a welcome series? Where will they be able to find your Facebook Group? How will they be able to join live calls? It’s important to communicate this information to prospective members on a sales page or in your launch emails, as this will ease their mind and remove a barrier to entry to make the purchasing decision a no brainer!
There you have it, 10 ways to position yourself as an expert!
Thanks for reading this post! I hope you found it valuable. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment down below and let me know what you found most helpful or surprising about positioning yourself as an expert!
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