Steps to becoming a freelance expert on any topic

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One way to become a successful freelance writer and sell writing regularly is to become an expert. How do you become an expert? Position yourself in front of a lot of people with facts, opinions and news about your platform, or topic. Expertise, being an expert, is largely a perception on other people’s part.

That isn’t to say you can develop an expert platform with no knowledge of your are or topic. For example, if I’m an expert in freelance writing, and I am, I must have a base of information and experience in freelance writing. I do. I’ve been making a kick butt living as a freelancer for years.

Now, suppose you want to become a prolific writer/spokesperson/expert on a topic. Here’s a road map for you.

Decide what kind of expert you are

Do you want to be a media personality? Want to write books and publish them or have them published? Be a web guru? Highly paid public speaker? Sell your writing with a freelance marketing plan? Make a clear decision about where you want to begin this trip and take step toward that goal every single day.

Spend quality time with your expertise

Get inside your head. Decide what you’re passionate about. What do you love that you’re good at? What do others come to you for advice about? What topic, that lights you up, appears most often on your bookshelf? Choose your hottest platform.

Is the platform technology, for example? You have knowledge and passion? Good. Move to the next step.

Organize your expert thinking

Narrow your focus so you can absorb tons of accurate information on your subject. The age-old journalism questions – who, what, where, when and how – are a good jumping off point. If you can’t answer those questions, study up.

Technology is too broad. Narrow to a niche others have missed. Maybe technology in schools. Start reading, talking to educators, friends, neighbors, parents..figure out what they want to know more about.

Study up with other experts

Read. Watch. Ask questions. Do research. Like a hungry ant-eater, slurp up bytes of information from reliable sources. Test yourself. Take an online course. Avoid pop-culture experts like you would a texting driver, unless pop culture is your topic! I mean, if you research something at a site like Wikipedia, make sure, before you regurgitate information you’re taking in, it’s reliable. Check facts and never put your name to facts you don’t know to be true.

Be thorough – it’s worth it.  How does technology affect education, for example? How will it continue to do so? Learn what educators and parents need to do to keep ahead.

Organize your expert approach

Outline what you know. Store that for future reference. Write one or two pieces on subjects within your platform. Make them polished, specific, and fascinating. Develop a blog if you want one. Make business cards. Create a simple letterhead design to run off as needed. Structure time to promote yourself and your topic.

Write a salient article on the three newest technological programs in schools (or on whatever your topic is…). Maybe satellite remotes to connect teachers in the fieldwith home classroom students in real-time…

Big expert step – market yourself

It needn’t cost a dime. You might get paid to do it.

  • Create a simple, but elegant website – use WordPress if you aren’t an html guru.
  • Join forums and online communities that relate to your topic and answer people’s questions, generously and cordially, without one word of self-promotion. Sign your name with your url beneath.
  • Try to sign on as a writer at either Suite101.com or Examiner.com. You don’t need a portfolio at either site, you don’t need writing experience, You do need to sell yourself as an expert, loosely speaking. You will, with tons of hard work, especially at Examiner, develop credibility, a following and a clip file. You’ll get paid. A pittance at first, but it’s a credential.
  • Figure out how to use Twitter and use it. It can be invaluable to develop cred.
  • Gather your newly created portfolio, clip file, resume and put yourself in front of the audience, editor, producer, or publisher you want to impress. Make no mistakes. Present only highest quality work.

Three essentials to recognize when you are preparing to be an expert

  1. Expert success won’t happen over night.
  2. Being a paid expert involves 70% marketing yourself, and about 30% actual writing and public speaking. Always.
  3. Marketing doesn’t mean spamming, it means putting your product – your expertise – in front of the right people in the right way. Study effective marketing or hire a coach. You can’t fake the way you promote your dream.


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7 Responses to “Steps to becoming a freelance expert on any topic”

  1. Terence Weyenberg May 6, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    In the second paragraph, you are missing the second “a” in “area”.

    Expert editor/proofreader, for hire 🙂

  2. hmmm..I suspect you don’t get much work that way, but chops for trying.

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