May 22, 2017

Is It Fair to Brand Yourself an Expert Online?

I've read that you need to know more about a topic than just one other person in order to consider yourself an expert. I love that idea because it makes me feel better about posting all these blogging and business tips when I'm still sort of a novice #RealTalk. However... I feel that there's also too much wiggle room with this notion that with any level of experience comes expertise.



An example: It seems like every other online entrepreneur brands herself as a social media manager. For every person who has the social media management background— the college degree in communications, the internships and full-time positions with PR agencies, etc.— there are probably three to five people who look at social media management and think I'm on social media all the time. I could do this for someone else. Yeah, maybe I'm generalizing. But am I wrong?



How many people, from the outset, have experience in what they set out to do online? I know that a ton goes into a launch— setting up domains and hosting, choosing a site design, writing content, creating a posting schedule and content calendar, setting rates, and the list goes one— but if you don't have real, proven expertise in the services you're offering... what are you doing?

Yes, we all have to start somewhere. But starting out with a list of paid services and packages might not be where the race should begin. You should learn as you go, but you shouldn't be learning as you go when it comes to a relationship with a client. Your client is paying you for a service or project because h/she trusts that you know what you're doing and that your testimonials and claims add up to results. The expectation that you are using him/her as a skill-building trial run of sorts is just not there.

If you're still with me, I'd like to share a bit about my own experience, in case you've gotten the impression that I think I'm some high and mighty exception. Because I'm not. What I am, however, is sure. Sure that if a client comes to me looking to discover her brand/author's voice and write content in that voice (my coaching pitch, my value proposition, what I claim that I can do), I can help. Because I've done it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't go back and forth with myself when the idea for writing coaching came to me.

What did I need to have or to be in order to call myself a writing coach? My Bachelor's, a certification? Would people take me seriously since I'm still an undergraduate? Could I start branding myself as a coach because I felt qualified, or would people call me out as a phony?

I ultimately decided to go for it (or I wouldn't be writing this) because I was confident enough in my abilities and experiences up to that point, even thought I was still a few semesters away from my B.S.C., that if someone questioned me, I could back myself up. I think that's how it should be when it comes to offering services online and branding yourself a certain way. Having a dozen shining testimonials and a passion for whatever you're doing is important, but it's not the point.

The point is that you need to have more than references and more than passion— you need experience. Actual experience in at least a somewhat professional capacity. When you have that, you're officially an expert.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post, either in a comment down below or via email (hello@alexakoch.com)!

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