A Better Way to Discover Your Niche and Creative Expertise

For the longest time, I HATED the word "expertise."

I hated every time I saw it pop up in my feed or in emails. I hated constantly being told that it was something I needed to share if I wanted to get clients or "make it" in business.

All it did was remind me that I had no freakin' clue what the heck my "expertise" even was. All I could think was, "Me? An expert in something? Ha. No way, dude. That ain't me."

And yet the emails and blog posts continued to fly in.

They said how I needed to choose a niche and develop a marketing strategy focused on demonstrating my knowledge in that specific niche in order to provide value.

I needed to bring in traffic, offer killer lead magnets to grow my email list, and then continue to share + promote my expertise to that email list so I could convince people I knew my stuff and was worth hiring.

All good things, sure. No arguments that those things work. On the surface, it all makes sense, right?

But that's exactly my problem with it.

I don't work well with surface-level. 

I crave a deeper, personal connection and getting to the heart of things. Going beyond the numbers, conversions, and analytics. Digging into real, raw stories and putting more of our full selves into our work.

'Cause I don't know about you, but if I'm going to work one-on-one with someone, I want to feel like I know them. Like, really know them. As a person, and not just an expert in something.

And that's something that goes beyond just sharing your knowledge on a subject.

 
 

Lately I've been having some really deep conversations with talented creatives who feel like they don't have anything they can call themselves an expert in.

  • They have no idea what they should focus on.
  • They doubt whether or not they know enough yet.
  • They wonder if they are (or ever will be) good enough.
  • They're scared they'll be called a fraud or not be taken seriously.
  • They're overwhelmed by all the content out there that's constantly pushing for them to choose a laser-specific niche and show their expertise in said niche.

What I've noticed from these conversations and my own experiences, though, is that these struggles often come from one thing in particular: 

The fear of making the wrong choice.

  • We're scared of choosing the wrong niche and being stuck in something we don't really enjoy.
  • We're scared of choosing an audience that turns out to not be a good fit for us.
  • We're scared to choose what we want to be known as an expert in, only to have someone more experienced come along and rip us a new one for even daring to try.
  • But that's all under the impression that these are things we have to actually choose in the first place.

BUT that's all under the impression that these are things we have to actually choose in the first place... what if there was another way?

 
 

Let's get this out of the way right now.

There's not going to be a moment when you suddenly become an expert in something. There's no level you need to reach or achievement you need to accomplish before you earn "expert" status.

So let's take a step back from the idea that the term "expertise" is something to be afraid of or something that we're not good enough for.

Sharing what you know - your expertise - isn't conceited. It doesn't mean you're claiming to have all the answers or that you have everything figured out.
 

Sharing your expertise simply means you're sharing what you've learned along your creative journey so far.


It's sharing what you've learned through...

Your work.
Your experiences.
Your thoughts.
Your conversations.
Your opinions.
Your process.
Your inspirations.

Everything works together to paint a full picture of who you are and what you do while organically attracting the people who you can help most.

This small mindset shift has completely flipped my opinion of the word "expertise."

It's no longer this looming choice hovering over my shoulder, always prodding me whenever I go write or design or do any other type of creative work. Rather, it's something that comes OUT of my work.

 
 

ACTION STEPS FOR YOU

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would it look like if you reframed sharing your expertise into sharing who you are yourself and let your expertise naturally show through in the process?
     
  • What would it look like if you took a more experimental approach and let a niche organically develop over time rather than trying to make a rigid choice right out of the gate that can seem so final (even if you know deep down it doesn't have to be permanent).
     
  • What would it look like if you shared more of who YOU are in your creative work?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this. How are you discovering your creative expertise?  Let's continue the conversation in the comment section! 


This post was originally part of the Weekly Adventure Letters I send to Creative Adventurers who are bravely creating and building expressive, meaningful brands. Sign up below to join the community and get letters like this sent straight to your inbox.

Allison Barclay

St. Louis, MO

I make handcrafted logos for rebellious creatives who want their brands to get catcalled || Hand Letterer • Writer • Gamer • Fluent in Lord of the Rings quotes