Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Debborah Ashley @AskDebborah.
Deborrah Ashley has built 3 highly profitable businesses, been in Oprah Magazine and The New York Times, and has helped over 100 entrepreneurs build awareness around their personal brand. She is known for helping people to leverage the “IT” factor and monetize their expertise authority on online strategies to attract high value clients & opportunities.
SmallBizLady: You are an authority positioning strategist. Tell us what that means.
Debborah Ashley: I help ambitious experts package and monetize their expertise. This includes how to create and bring concepts and ideas to market, how to build a network and mobilize people to a cause and best of all, how to package their knowledge to make money and find opportunities in the marketplace.
Creating authority is a series of deliberate steps of positioning yourself strategically in the right places and tapping into your hidden brilliance to stand out from the noise.
SmallBizLady: What exactly does monetizing your expertise mean?
Debborah Ashley: Many people have a business idea but don’t know where to start, or they’ve been working in their field for decades but don’t know how take what they’ve learned and use their skills to make money from it.
The concept of monetizing your expertise is simply making money from your experiences, your ideas and your expertise.
Everyone knows the story of the Post-It Note, and how it represents how an idea can evolve and flourish.
With social media, based ideas can come to life really quickly and if it’s product based, you can build excitement around your concept.
SmallBizLady: Why social media?
Debborah Ashley: Social media gives you chance to play with the big dogs. It doesn’t require a big budget and it certainly doesn’t require having a big staff and the expenses are minimal. Social media gives everyone the ability to craft their own message, to brand their own work, and to reach out to people individually and then use targeted content to monetize your expertise.
SmallBizLady: Tell me more about using targeted content.
Debborah Ashley: The best thing about using your content (video and written) is how easy it is to get in front of the specific person who needs your product but that does require you to niche down.
Done right, you get to decide how people view you based on your content. The key to a successful content strategy is understanding your audience so well that you use your content to stay top of mind for the people who need your help.
If you act as an advocate and a voice for your market, you’ll be seen as the one to listen to. To follow, to look to as a resource. So, you position yourself as a resource that will save them time, that will put more money in their pocket, that will make them feel significant, or make them look sexy. Once you figure out a person’s deep desire, and clearly demonstrate that you understand their problem and can get them to their desired state, you’ll never have to search for clients.
SmallBizLady: Can you go a bit more into why you encourage niching down?
Debborah Ashley: As we go through this process, you may have several ideal client types that show up and that is normal. Many of us have a lot of talents and people we can help, but for the sake of sanity, let’s choose just one person to start with.
If you go and target the whole world, then I guarantee you, you won’t get anyone.
However, if you were just to target a specific group of people, then you’re going to get a lot of people. It’s kind of the reverse to what most people think. Everyone thinks they should make their audience as big as it could be, however, in doing that, they get nobody or worse… time wasters.
SmallBizLady: What are the worst misconceptions about monetizing?
Debborah Ashley: The worst misconception about monetizing is that it can be done overnight. The secret of it all is that monetization is the last thing that happens in the whole creation cycle. All the work and research and proof of concept should be done before you attempt to sell it.
There’s a difference between setting up the plan and taking action and waiting and taking action. Have a solid strategy, position yourself using content, engaging conversation and be polarizing at times.
SmallBizLady: Tell me more about being polarizing.
Debborah Ashley: Those who challenge the norm will stimulate uncomfortable thinking in others. That keeps you memorable. You’re not helping anyone by sugar coating what your audience is going through.
So be polarizing.
That simply means to stand behind your values and beliefs. You want your ideal client to be clear on where you stand and what you value because people connect with you a lot quicker when you have something in common.
You want to keep the wrong people out and invite the people who you can have a deeper connection with. At least once a week, I would recommend a polarizing post that challenges conventional belief
SmallBizLady: What are the first few things to do to start the process of monetizing your expertise?
Debborah Ashley: The first thing to do to start the process of monetizing your expertise is to come up with a problem that you can solve. Typically, this is something you already know how to solve. It could be a personal pain (e.g., I’ve been trying to lose this weight for 6 months and no matter what I tried, nothing works.) or a missing preference (e.g., why are there no gluten-free restaurant in my area?). Start with solving a problem.
Then find the audience who will pay for your solution. Find the audience and then start having conversations with them.
Share content to let them know that you know the problem exists and that you are the most familiar with the problem. Offer solutions with your content. Give alternatives with your solutions and then get them intrigued. Then find out what people will pay to make their problems go away.
SmallBizLady: How do you determine what people are looking to pay for that answer?
Debborah Ashley: This is when you have to start some market research. I call this the proof of concept stage. Interview no less than 15 people that match your client avatar and find out from them, what’s the biggest struggle in either their work/business or life.
Based on their response, determine if you can solve that problem based on your expertise.
Something that comes naturally for you is holding someone back from elevating in their career. This is something they would pay you good money for just to share techniques, strategies and be there as a guide while they do a mock presentation. That’s finding a gap and packaging yourself as a public speaking coach to attract women who are being held back.
SmallBizLady: You mentioned standing out. What would you suggest people do to help them stand out from the competition?
Debborah Ashley: Coming from a point of service makes you an asset to your industry. That is what will make your business stand out. If you consistently give value, more people will want to work with you or collaborate with you, because they know that you will add to their business and their clients.
Find out what your people need the most and offer it to them. You have the solution from years of experience so all you have to do is take action.
SmallBizLady: What can you do to start connecting with an audience who would want what you have to offer?
Debborah Ashley: Curating content strategically involves finding, organizing, and publishing the most relevant content for your audience in a way that adds value to already exceptional material.
With content curation, you’re leveraging content originally created by others to create new content for your audience that’s engaging and unique. You’re acting as an editor, adding your own commentaries and perspective, in order to help your readers get new insights into the content.
Search Pinterest or Instagram to find good images that your audience would like. This is an excellent idea for any niche, but it’s especially good for niches that are highly visual, like fashion or food. You can ask your audience to choose their favorite and leave comments.
You can even take a small piece of content and explain it or puts it into context for the reader. You might take a tweet, image, or quote and share it with your reader, explaining its significance and what it means. Your audience doesn’t have the wealth of knowledge you do. For example, you might take a quote from a thought leader with a large audience like you and unpack what it means, along with real-life examples from the market. You then explain why this piece of content is important.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.