It's easy to say "Own Your Expertise" to other people, but sometimes it's harder to do that for ourselves.
I have a tendency to go to one extreme when I get inspired (or fired up) about something and then the pendulum swings back to the middle and I'm able to move from a more grounded place.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I'm very clear on what I want this year to look like.
This March will be my 14th year in business (I'm beyond grateful that ignorance is bliss). What I'm doing today is not at all what I thought I'd be doing when I started this online journey in 2008.
Side note: I remind my kids ALL the time that what I'm doing today didn't even exist when I was their age, so this is my reminder to you too. Don't get attached to what things are supposed to look like.
I know I've shared my story a zillion times in terms of what I thought I was going to be doing (I thought I was going to write ebooks and make millions of dollars. #nuffsaid), so even though my business went in a different direction (and pivoted a handful of times), the journey is what has given me the strength to own my skillset.
This is what I'm hoping this episode will do for you as well.
Step into your own expertise and #JustShowUP - we need new voices and perspectives on things.
The "Create vs. Consume" argument
You hear this all the time in the creator space.
Stop consuming and start creating.
It's a completely valid point, but sometimes consuming is what helps you get clear on what you want to create.
I read a LOT.
Probably more than I need to, but guess what? I LIKE reading and learning.
It was through my consumption that I found what resonated most for me. You can also see patterns and behaviors that start emerging when you read and learn about specific topics consistently
There is absolutely a danger in consuming more than you create, but it truly depends on where you are in your journey and whether or not you're actually "doing the work."
Until about 5 years ago I probably consumed a lot of content on anything relative to digital marketing. Whether it was SEO, video marketing, email marketing, funnels, content creation, e-commerce, advertising, copywriting, podcasting, etc.
The funny thing is that even though some of those topics aren't interesting to me (SEO & advertising are at the top of that list), I still consumed it because I felt like I had to.
I had to have an understanding of ALL the things.
This is where the old saying "Jack of all trades and master of none" comes in.
But I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. In fact, here's the full saying that is often left out:
Think about traditional education (which in many ways is broken, but we'll leave that discussion for another time. Or never 😉).
You go to school and study general education for the first 12 - 14 years of your life (personally I think we could do without the two years of lower-division in college these days, but I digress. Again).
Once you've built that foundation, you then go on to a focused area of study.
If you're lucky with your business, you're able to find that focused area that becomes your specialty early on, but sometimes the price of admission to getting there is general education. The trial and error that comes from trying and testing new things are how we learn.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would have fallen in love with writing, email marketing, newsletters, and dare I say copywriting (that's really more of a love-hate relationship) I would have thought they had lost their mind.
Yet here I am.
Going all-in with these topics.
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Before we get deeper into how you can figure out your own area of expertise (and how to own it), I want to address the so-called elephant in the room in terms of claiming your expertise (or not wanting to call yourself an expert).
First, let's look at the true definition of the word expert:
Because we're living in such an "interesting" time (people who do Google searches think they're experts), I just want to point out one piece of the first definition (noun), which is "or a skill in a particular area."
There are certain fields that obviously require extensive training through accredited programs, universities, etc. So for the sake of all of our sanity, let's narrow this down to the digital marketing space.
The example I refer to often is Russell Brunson.
Love him or hate him, he's absolutely an expert at what he does. He's studied (i.e, consumed), anything he can get his hands on when it comes to marketing. He's built a multi-million dollar business by applying the principles and strategies he's studied.
I think it's safe to say he's an expert.
That's what we're talking about here. When I think of the opportunities online for people to be an expert on a specific topic or strategy, it's limitless.
I have another friend (who has been on the podcast before), Trey Lewellen. Trey has become an expert in e-commerce.
He didn't get a degree in it, he was simply determined to build an online business, found his sweet spot, and went all in.
I found my sweet spot through consistent action.
When I pivoted from 'The WPChick' to my personal brand I started focusing on content marketing. I had been podcasting for about 5 years at that point and had gotten great results from sticking with that. When I started my podcast I did it because I wanted to have more fun.
The clarity came through consistently doing the work.
As I continued to dig deeper into content marketing I started paying much more attention to email marketing. I had never really looked at it as a type of content, but it is (it's also a marketing channel).
I literally studied how other email marketers were doing what they were doing for probably a year before investing in my first email marketing product.
Then I jumped in and started writing.
I felt like I was on a hamster wheel at the time and I knew I needed to get off it.
In order to transition from service work to where I am today, I had to focus on growing my list, communicating effectively with them, and are you ready for this?
SELLING to them!
More on that later though.
All I knew was that what I was doing wasn't working and it was time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
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Finding Your Expertise
We're going to approach this from a different place.
So keep your mind open, O.K.?
As esoteric as this may seem to you, I PROMISE you that this is gold if you take the time to do this work.
You have to start with defining how you want to feel and what you want your life to look like.
I make every decision (or try to), based on how I want to feel. I've done a lot of work on myself in order to live a life outside the norm. I started my business when no one in my "real life" was really even active online (and I was NOT tech-savvy when I started).
I simply knew there was something else I was supposed to do with my life and it was not to work for someone else.
What you need to remember is that when you're starting out you may think there's something you want to do because you enjoy it, then when you start doing it as a business it sucks the life out of you.
I had zero desire to do service work when I started online, yet that's where I ended up, for years.
It sucked the life out of me but had I not done it I wouldn't have the clarity and knowledge that I have today.
There are two exercises that will help you get massive clarity on how you want to feel.
First, is the "ideal everyday day" exercise from Frank Kern.
You can Google it, but that's not necessary.
Simply take some time to write out what your "ideal everyday day" would look like.
The first time I did this I was floored, because I was pretty close to living it (and I can 100% say that I'm living it now).
My biggest driving force has always been freedom.
Freedom means a lot of different things to different people, but having the freedom and flexibility to be there for my kids when they were growing up, to be able to take time off whenever I wanted to, to not have to set an alarm (well, once the kids could drive themselves to school), to be able to take a nap or float in the pool in the middle of the day... all of this equated to freedom.
The second exercise that will get you in the right frame of mind is the "What if" exercise.
I've shared this before on the podcast, but basically, you're going to focus on positive what-if statements. Unfortunately, our default tends to be "what if it doesn't work out"...
I'm challenging you to focus on "what if it DOES work out?"
After you've done these two exercises, it's a lot easier to see patterns as to what your priorities are and how you want to spend your time.
Here's a bullet list of my examples. Once you have the bullet list down, you should drill deeper into each one of these. As you do that, ask yourself how you FEEL with each statement.
In one of my recent #FtheHUSTLE newsletters, I talked about the "time lottery."
How every time a call or event is canceled, I feel like I won the time lottery.
It was amazing to see how much that resonated with people.
When I look at my calendar at the beginning of the week and see I have very few calls? Instant time lottery feeling. It's as if I can accomplish everything.
At this stage in the game, I know myself well enough to know that I go into massive resistance whenever I feel like I "have to" do something. Even when I'm the one who scheduled it ( I never said it made sense).
I also go through periods of time where I need to pull back and other times I feel like I've got a ridiculous amount of energy and want to talk to anyone and everyone.
I've accepted that this is part of my process and I don't overthink it.
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When you're clear on how you want to feel, make a list of the things you truly enjoy doing in your business.
The things that make you want to focus on mastery and you can get lose track of time when you're focused.
As much as I love engaging with people (sometimes when I read what I write I feel like I sound like a bit of a hermit), I require a lot of time to myself.
This is why I prefer writing and podcasting to video.
I don't need to be "on" (although I'm pretty "on" when I record my podcast. I don't record if I'm not feeling it).
I more or less fell into writing through podcasting.
I write my solo show episodes out first, then record (so as much as I go off-script, I do have a written post believe it or not).
I found that the process of writing out my thoughts first helped me get clarity as well as become a better writer.
Then when I got frustrated with being in client work I decided to dig deeper into the old mantra of "the money is in the list" and see if I could figure out email marketing.
It was only through doing that I found this path.
Once you're clear on what you love doing, start doing your research and see how other people are doing it.
As an example (and if you have recommendations I am ALL ears), the more I dove into email marketing the more I realized there are WAY more men teaching and talking about this than women.
Side note: I know there are a LOT of women copywriters who also talk about and teach email marketing, but I haven't found many (there is a handful), that focus solely on email marketing.
This isn't a judgment, but in doing my research I felt like there was an opportunity.
I subscribed, followed, and read anything and everything I could get my hands on.
I've done the same thing with email marketing and newsletters that I did with WordPress and content marketing. I started by sharing my journey, what I was doing, what I was learning, etc.
The more I do this, the easier it is to claim my expertise because I'm getting RESULTS.
You're the Only One You Need Permission From
Have you ever purchased a product or course in your area of expertise only to think "I already know all this" and better yet, you're already DOING everything?
Because my pivot to email marketing (and newsletters) is fairly new (in terms of proudly claiming that's my forte), I'm always paying attention to what's happening in that space.
Not from a place of distraction or not doing the work (I've run two pilot programs for Email Insiders and am launching the official program shortly), but from a place of learning and wanting to continually get better.
Last fall I purchased a course on email marketing that was about $1500.
After digging in I realized there was nothing new and I had everything in place.
It was my own swift kick in the pants to say "Enough. It's time."
And here's the thing (and this is NOT a dig at the fellas listening or reading this, it's more of a call to the ladies):
This is something women seem to struggle with way more than men.
I've talked to my therapist about this quite a lot as well as the copious amount of reading I've done on the subject. It comes down to the way we're wired.
The whole point of this is that you're not going to feel comfortable claiming things, owning your greatness, or deciding you know enough to help people and make a great living until you DO IT.
I was having a conversation with my son last week and he was saying he was a little scared about this next chapter he was in.
He was stepping into something completely different.
I told him that's how life works.
Of course, he's scared... that's how we grow.
Think how boring life would be if we didn't get to feel that moment of "a-ha!" or victory when we master something?
Little kids are amazing at this.
They haven't learned to judge themselves for where they think they should be (until they get into school). You can see the accomplishment in their faces when they've done something on their own for the first time.
Go back to that place.
The pride you feel for committing to learning something and getting good at it.
Knowing you're building on your strengths every day.
Get comfortable with the discomfort.
Claim your expertise.