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Freelance Tip: Present Yourself as an Expert

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.

Blank index card!

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 “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 my 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 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?


4 Responses to Freelance Tip: Present Yourself as an Expert

  1. This was hard for me, too. I struggled for years to define my job, and I’ve finally settled upon “financial educator.” However, I think that I may join you in the world of financial journalism. I don’t think of myself as a journalist, per se, but I think that the definition is changing anyway.

    • I like “educator.” It also sounds like you are offering a service. I guess I feel comfortable about using the term “journalist” because I have a journalism degree. 😉

  2. Great topic.

    I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling myself a journalist because I don’t have any formal training in it (my degree was in business) and I don’t consider the kind of blogging that I do to be journalism.

    I usually just say I’m a freelance blogger, but that doesn’t exactly cover it.

  3. To me, to be a “professional” is a combination of education and experience. If you have a journalism degree and are giving financial advice, to be more credible, I would get a finance degree. If you’re forwarding on tips from others, then you’re more of a journalist.

    I can relate to this as I was in business for several years before getting my business degree. I knew about business because I lived it, but I gained credibility from others when I got a degree in it.

    I wouldn’t use the word, ‘expert’ ever to describe myself. I like the word professional because it means I have the education, experience, and get paid for it. ‘Expert’ means I know everything about it and I don’t know many people like that, as things are also continually changing. I’ve learned tools and techniques for keeping up and keep on learning. What else can one do?

    Seems like you’re doing great. Keep doing what you love! I’m on a new career journey as well and working on defining it.

    Thanks!

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