If you're working as a freelancer, think of yourself as a doctor. You are someone who provides a solution, a recommendation, or a prescription. But there are a lot of doctors. You can either be a general practitioner or you can be a specialist. And if you put two doctors' side by side, one a general practitioner and the other, say a dermatologist, when you have a problem with your skin, who would you choose? Definitely, it will be the dermatologist. Why? Because he's the expert in that field.
In today's Freelance Tip #2, let's talk about why you and I need to be an expert in the service we offer.
Bianca Forbes writes, “When you pick a specific niche or group of people to work with, being an expert gets much easier”.
It can't get any “truer” than that. And I can personally attest to the veracity of that statement too. Let me tell you about my story.
In 2009, when I started with my freelance work online, I wore the hat of a VA. Then, as a VA, I did data entry, research, audio editing, phone management, social media marketing and WordPress. I can basically apply for any role under the administrative and office admin category. And I was thinking that I'm doing great. At that time I was charging $3.5-$6 per hour and at times I had to lower my rate because if it's data entry, then you're up to the biggest hurdle because you'll have to compete with over 100 people for a single job post.
So I changed my strategy. Around 2010, I started focusing on podcast audio editing. I took about 98% of projects that are only within the podcasting niche. And if you ask me what happened, I started raising my fees. From $6, it went to $8 per hour, then $10, and right now, I'm charging $40/hr and as soon as I complete my website, I'll raise my rate again. And it's because of focusing on a certain niche therefore helping create a portfolio where I can say that I've become an expert in the field.
Here's what I learned:
- If you want to be an expert, start identifying your target niche and focus your strengths in acquiring clients in that area. And when you get a project, do your best. And do it over and over again. If you work on something and you do it regularly, there's no way but for you to get better and better at it. I'm not saying that to be an expert, you should know everything. To be an expert, what you need is a track record of successful projects where you've demonstrated the skill in the niche you chose. And trite as it may sound, but it still holds true, “experience is the best teacher.” So take every opportunity where you can have an experience. That's what you need to do.
- To be an expert means you have to learn, learn, and yes, keep on learning. Don't be afraid to invest in courses or programs that can enhance your skill or complement it. There are a lot of places where you can get some training. You can check out:
For example, you can find audio editing courses and really dive into it as a service you can offer by investing your time and as little as $14.99 And depending on available promotions, you can even get courses for as little as $10.
- Surround yourself with the people whom you consider as an example of what an expert is and learn from them. Pick their brains. Engage them. If you want to be an expert, be with the experts.
- Find communities where you can learn from even more experienced people.
- Set aside the idea that you're competing with others. The truth is, there's plenty of projects for everyone.
- Experts teach. They don't keep the expertise to themselves. So if you want to be an expert, start teaching what you know, because ultimately, by teaching what you know, you'll start to uncover what you do not know. In the Forbes article, “4 Easy Ways to Become an Expert in Your Field” it tells us that “It’s a great way to position yourself as an expert and immerse yourself within a growing community of entrepreneurs that are eager to learn about what you know.” So if you have a chance, teach.