As the global economy has transformed from industrial to information based, a larger portion of the white-collar work force has decided to cast off working for individual companies and take their hard earned expertise to the market as individual practitioners. In fact a recent pew poll showed that 30% of workers today are actually self-employed or working for someone who is self employed.
However, no matter how brilliant or outgoing you are, making money from your expertise is no easy task. So, if you are one who has made that brave decision to strike out on your own, I have a three step process that can help you not only market, but monetize your expertise.
Step one is to build your personal brand. You have to build yourself into the product that is going to be sold. This first involves discovery. The process of honestly assessing yourself as to whether you are a true expert, and whether the subject you’ve mastered is something a person or organization could benefit from learning about and putting into use. Next you commit yourself to becoming a student of that particular industry or discipline. You may think you know a lot about what it takes to get something done today, but business and technology quickly change and you must be able to stay current. Finally you must be able to produce content, such as blogs, articles, and videos that offer advice and methodologies that an eventual customer can read and watch to judge your proficiency.
Once you have built your brand, step two is to build a marketing platform that can get your content and ideas out to the world of potential customers. The foundation of this platform is your own personal website, a place where people can find out about you and read about what you can do. On top of this foundation you need to use as pillars, all of the relevant social media channels available to move information out and direct people back to your site. What you hope for is the viral effect, where followers on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, re-tweet, re-post, and like your content so that your audience and market penetration grows.
Both the advantage and disadvantage of most social media is that it is free. Free for the author and free for the consumer. So, now we move to step three in the process, monetizing your expertise. Because there is no point of doing the first two steps if you can’t get anyone to buy your services. It can also be a long process, to gain the trust and reputation to acquire large, retained engagements. However there are social media type solutions that allow individual practitioners to charge for one-off conversations with potential suitors that can serve as an entry point to larger engagement. A company called Brainsy markets one such solution.
Through a Brainsy ECN (Expert Calling Network), individual practitioners can build a profile much similar to LinkedIn, where those looking for expertise can browse, investigate, and set up paid calls with those who may possess the expertise they need. The platform is set up to securely take a consumer’s credit card and charge for any time spent on a bridged line with an expert. When the call is completed the money is deposited in the expert’s account. Neither side is obligated beyond the call, so if the consumer and practitioner then decide to set up a more permanent agreement, it is strictly between them.
So, congratulations on having the courage to strike out and go into business for yourself. But remember, there are a lot of smart people out there. It’s only those who can market and monetize their expertise, who can build a business.