Let's be real: “Professional blogger” doesn't really sound legit. Here's a freelance tip: Present yourself as an expert.
For the most part, I've embraced the term “professional blogger” to describe myself. After all, it's what I do. I provide freelance blog content.
Yesterday, though, I had a bit of an epiphany. I was on the university campus at the Utah Public Radio studio, doing an interview with a business guy from NPR (we were discussing low-cost funds).
At the end of the interview, the station manager asked how I managed to get on NPR's radar. “Are you a financial planner or investment adviser?”
“No,” I said. “I'm a professional blogger. I write about this stuff. A lot.”
While he seemed interested, it was clear I had lost some credibility. There aren't a lot of professional bloggers doing “serious” work in the minds of many of those in my town.
Words Matter: Find a Good Label
While it's fun to tell people that I'm a professional blogger, the term doesn't convey a sense of true professionalism. I'm a professional blogger, but am I a “real” professional?
After this encounter, I returned home to think about what I could do to describe my credentials succinctly — and in a more impressive manner.
I decided to start referring to myself as a “financial journalist.” I've been labeled a “financial expert” on Wise Bread, but that seems a little presumptuous to me. In the sense that I have researched and written thousands of articles and blog posts on subjects related to finance, I can consider myself an expert. But the term still worries me.
Over at Moolanomy, my bio refers to me as a “professional personal finance journalist.” I like this a little better. After some tinkering, I decided that “financial journalist” is succinct while describing what I do.
Plus, it makes me sound totally legit.
A financial journalist immediately has more credibility when discussing money topics than a general “freelance writer” or “professional blogger.”
Figure Out How to Present Yourself as an Expert
As a freelancer, you need to decide how to present yourself as an expert. Due to my experience as a freelancer and as a professional blogger, I really can be considered an “expert” in these subjects. But few MSM people ask me about what it's like to work online or make a living as a freelancer. Instead, when I do interviews or provide expert quotes, it's usually about money.
If you are a freelancer, take a look at what you do. Do you have a niche? If so, you can take that niche and turn it into your area of expertise. I write about financial topics. So I am figuring out how to emphasize that part of what I do. If you write about parenting, you can refer to yourself as a “parenting expert” or a “parenting pioneer.”
The way you label yourself conveys something to others. While we all like to say that we don't like labels, the truth is that they are used regularly to evaluate you. When you're a freelance writer, the labels you choose immediately tell others whether or not to take you seriously. Take the time to create a short label that immediately conveys a sense of expertise and professionalism.
What do you think? How do you present yourself as a freelance writer? What's your best freelance tip for conveying professionalism?