You’ve done the hard work already. You went to school. Earned the certification. Sacrificed the sleep. Secured the financing. You have established your expertise, and you’ve already started to build your career. But that next step is a tricky one.
How do you transform your expertise into an audience?
Think Like a Farmer
In his essay, “The Way of Ignorance,” Wendell Berry, the legendary novelist, poet, and farmer (yes, we’re talking about a farmer in a blog about online publishing), discusses how every person on earth is uniquely knowledgable in something. After all, no one else lives your life but you.
The secret, Berry argues, is not to consider the knowledge you lack to be a weakness, but to realize that when you invest in any area of expertise, you are, by necessity, choosing to remain ignorant of those areas of expertise beyond your daily experience. “The way of ignorance,” Berry writes, is a path to freedom as it grants you permission to own what you do and let go of what you think you lack.
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Whether you own an established small business, are looking to start one, or simply wish to share more of your ideas with the world, we suggest you first consider Wendell Berry.
Despite his critical acclaim as a writer, Berry is first and foremost a farmer. Over decades of cultivating his land, Berry cultivated his ideas and developed a profound sense of place that has continually informed his award-winning work as a writer, as his topics often turn to the earth, people, and values that surround him every day.
His content, so to speak, has been the outpouring of his physical work. As you consider your goals and desires to build an audience and grow your work, remember that your greatest asset as a content-creator is the work you already do every day. It is the bedrock of your platform.
Tools Turn Expertise Into Platform
Then came WordPress. This remarkable platform for online content managed to hide all the heavy code work behind a friendly, attractive, and highly-editable tool for self-publishing on the internet. In short, WordPress made blogging elegant and simple for millions of people and small businesses.
And then came Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Suddenly, these millions of new self-publishers had not one but multiple free tools to promote their content. What you created on WordPress could easily be shared all over the world, driving more traffic to your site, and helping you build a captive audience 24 hours a day.
Your Only Obstacle Is Getting Started
Today, the tools of online platform development are abundant, accessible, and free (mostly). Here are three ways to begin transforming your unique professional expertise into a ubiquitous online following.
- Content starts with your life. The most successful version of yourself is—yourself! So, look at what you do every day. Your future audience will appreciate your expertise and insight.
- Define simple goals. Are you trying to build an audience? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you need the ability to sell goods and/or services online? Before you can determine the tools you need achieve your goals, you must first define them.
- Choose your platform. If you want to share expertise, we still recommend WordPress. If video is your thing, Instagram provides instant (get it?) publishing for short content, and YouTube is not only still king in the online video space, it is also the world’s second most popular search engine, making it a powerful tool for connecting with a larger audience. And don’t forget Facebook and Twitter for quick engagement. While all may prove useful at some point, start with the platform that most closely fits your initial goal.
- Get Started. The best part about modern online content platforms is that no one else is standing in your way. All you have to do is get going.
Are you ready? Because you already have everything you need to start building your professional expertise into a platform.