#075: How to Capitalize on Your Unique Perspective and Knowledge

Many of us have been brought up to believe that talent and hard work are the keys to success in business.

But as competition stiffens and clients find it harder to distinguish freelancers from each other, you need a different strategy. You need to capitalize on (and communicate) your unique perspective and knowledge.

My guest for this episode is Dorie Clark, author of two business books, a consultant and speaker. Dorie worked as a journalist, so she knows our world very well. When she lost her job in a round of layoffs, she had to reinvent herself. Since then, she’s worked as a spokesperson for gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and executive director of a nonprofit.

In this interview, she explains why hard work and talent are no longer enough. And how you can position yourself as a trusted expert to set yourself apart—even if you don’t quite feel like an “expert” in your field.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Dorie Clark is the author of two business books: “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future” and “Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.”  She’s also a consultant and speaker.

Previously, Dorie worked as a journalist. When she lost her job in a round of layoffs, she had to reinvent herself. Since then, she’s worked as a spokesperson for gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and executive director of a nonprofit. Nine years ago, she started her own business.

Talent, hard work and great marketing aren’t enough to stand out today. Tell us more about that.

clicktotweetThe world is getting noisier. Everyone has a blog, everyone is on Twitter. So how do you get noticed?

To stand out, you have to be clear on what’s different about you. You have to give people reasons to talk about you.

What are clients looking for?

They’re looking for certainty. Hiring a copywriter is risky. If they choose incorrectly, there’s a lot at stake. Sales numbers could go down. They could even get fired!

If you can convey that you’re a safe choice, that’s very powerful. And what makes a safe choice is a reputation as an expert.How do you build a reputation as an expert?

1) Know who you are now

Get clear on what your brand is now. What are you known for? You may think you already know this, but we all have blind spots.

The three-word exercise: Ask friends, colleagues and clients to describe you in three words.

2) Figure out how you want to be known

Do you want to be an expert in a particular vertical? Do want to be known as a super creative copywriter? A writer that drives sales? Figure out what you want to be known for and then plan how to get there.

3) Live out your brand

Your brand is the totality of everything people perceive about you. What does Google say about you? What professional associations are you involved with? What leadership roles have you taken on? What types of things do you write about?

Inject your personal brand into all areas of your professional life, not just in what you say about yourself.

How do you reinvent yourself when there’s a huge gap between where you are now and where you want to be?

1) Conduct a thorough review of how you’re presenting yourself. Go beyond your LinkedIn profile and website. Pay someone to search online to find all the places you’re represented. Update and tweak the language where possible.

2) Flood all channels with your new identity. Demonstrate your expertise in your new area of focus through interviews, blog posts, etc.

3) Practice conversations. It’s easy to get tongue-tied when trying to describe yourself in the moment, so practice beforehand.

4) Know you won’t bring all your clients with you. As your transition into your new area of expertise, you’ll lose some clients.

People are often reluctant to declare themselves as experts when others have more experience. What advice do you have for them?

There’s virtue in modesty, but you can take it too far. When we talk about becoming an expert in a topic, you don’t have to be the world’s top expert. What you DO have to be is the most knowledgeable person in a particular circle, such as within a company or a group of colleagues.

Being an expert is about recognizing what makes you unique. No one has the exact same background, experience or jobs as you.

clicktotweetBy dint of who you are, you know more about some things than other people. Claim it!

That’s what makes you distinct and valuable.

How can freelancers identify their own uniqueness?

Others can often identify what’s unique about you more easily than you can do it yourself. Use the three-word exercise. Talk to trusted friends.

Dorie has a free 42-page workbook you can download from her website. It consists of 139 questions to help you identify what’s unique about you to differentiate yourself in the workplace.

Tell about your new book

In some ways, Stand Out is a continuation of her earlier book, Reinventing You.

Reinventing You is for people who want to make changes to their career but aren’t exactly sure what. Stand Out if for people who know what changes they want to make but aren’t sure how to do it in a noisy world.

The best ideas should win, not the noisiest. Dorie’s books help level the playing field.

Where can listeners learn more about you?

Dorie Clark’s website: Dorieclark.com has over 400 free articles as well as the free Stand Out workbook.

Twitter: @dorieclark

Are You an Established Commercial Writer or Copywriter?

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This is a 6-month training and coaching program is specifically for business writers and copywriters who are already earning somewhere around $40k – $80k a year (or the part-time equivalent).

The goal? To help you double your income in the next 12 to 18 months.

I’ll show you how to do that without working twice as hard. And without adding a bunch of stress and anxiety to your business. And if your goal is to maintain your income while cutting back your hours significantly, I’ll show you that, too.

You can learn more about The 2X Project here. On that page you’ll find all the details on the program, including testimonials and comments from previous students on the impact it’s had on their business growth.

There’s an application process for The 2X Project. Spots are very limited. And the application window closes early next week. So if you’re interested, check it out today!

  • I enjoyed the podcast!

    Dorie is correct — it’s noisy online and you have to rise above it. If you can start local, do it. But if you live in an area where businesses don’t believe in online marketing, don’t be afraid to reach out to companies outside of your area. Remember, business travels. You can write and design for organizations inside and outside of the U.S.

    • edgandia

      Thanks for your comment, Amandah. I couldn’t agree more. This “I need to stay local” is one of the biggest misconceptions in the freelance community. Might have been true 20 – 30 years ago, but not anymore.

  • Bonnie David

    Thanks very much to both of you for this illuminating episode. Insightful!