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.

Redefining What it Means to Create Epic Content for Your Brand

This wasn't the post I intended to write. 

But it's the one I needed to.

This has been on my mind for weeks now, and I'll be honest here, it's something I've greatly struggled with. 

Remember the final showdown in Deathly Hallows between Harry and Voldemort (umm who could forget? ;) Yeah, it's like that in my head - an ultimate battle between what's on my mind and what I feel pressured to do.

I started out writing a post that was so detailed. So carefully outlined. So in-depth. All complete with an opt-in filled with worksheets and other downloads as the cherry on top. 

You're supposed to do that sort of thing on your blog, aren't you? 

  • You're "supposed" to tack a shiny opt-in onto all your posts to grow that list.

  • You're "supposed" to have big, beefy posts stuffed with tons of images. Examples. Data. Charts. Graphs. Infographics. Click-to-tweets. Stats. Links. ALL THE THINGS.

What I originally wrote was what anyone would call the start of a strong post. And talk about a killer lead magnet, this thing was gonna be a freakin' beast. Go big or go home, yeah?

On the surface, everything was great...  

... So why was there this inner battle going on inside me the entire time I was writing it?

We're constantly told to "create epic content." 

For a while, I thought that meant doing exactly what I set out to do with my original post for today: A detailed guide stuffed to the brim with every tip and piece of advice I could cram in on how to do xyz. 

It's what people were expecting, wasn't it? Anything less wouldn't be good enough. It wouldn't be big enough. It wouldn't be "epic" enough.

For so long, I felt guilty if I didn't have a huge, in-depth guide whenever it came time for me to post. I thought anything else wouldn't measure up to what people expected of me. I thought it was the only way I could provide real value. 

This way of thinking translated into things like,

"It's been 2 weeks since I last posted?? Well, now I gotta make sure this thing's even MORE in-depth to make up for that!"


It quickly became overwhelming to the point of me dreading to write any posts, period.

They had become this giant, formidable monster that I was desperate to avoid... which then led to even more guilt since consequently, I wasn't putting anything new out (besides my letters to the Creative Adventurers gang).

Because if I wasn't creating epic content, then how dare I post anything at all?

But lately, I've realized something: I don't want to create "epic" content.

  • I want to create content that grows and fuels a community. Content that sparks thoughtful conversations and builds meaningful relationships.

  • I want to share stories. To go deeper than the surface-level and dig into what lies underneath.

  • I want to get more raw. More vulnerable. More messy.

  • I want to break through the information overload and help you actually take action. Not add to the overwhelm.

  • I want to encourage you to explore your brand. Encourage you to make your own discoveries and create your own path.


THAT'S what truly epic content is.

That's what actually matters. That's what fires me up and what I feel driven to share. Anything else is beside the point.

Now does this mean I'm never going to write another guide or how-to post? No, not at all. BUT when I do, it'll be because it was the best way to share what I had to say. NOT because it was something I pressured myself into doing because I thought I had no other choice.

Action Steps for You:

It's so easy to get totally overwhelmed by all the things you're told that you're "supposed to do." 

"You gotta do this, you gotta do that. If you're not doing THIS, then you're just crazy!"

Take a pause and listen to what your gut is telling you instead. 

Is there something that doesn't feel right? Take time to explore why that is. What's not matching up? What's not working here? Did something once fit, but you've since outgrown it or want to move on?

Ask yourself: 

  • What am I pressuring myself to do?

  • What do I feel like I'm actually being pulled/called to do?

  • What do I want my content to accomplish for my brand and my community?

  • What's MY version of epic content?

Embrace the experimentation. The exploration. The never-ending discovery.

After all, isn't that what adventure is all about?

I'd love to continue the conversation and hear your thoughts in the comments below. 


 
 

When You're Afraid to Start: A Letter to New Bloggers and Creative Business Owners

Research is easy. 

Anyone can Google something, read a blog post, or watch a video. Anyone can dream and fantasize about starting their own business "someday." Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

These things don't require any commitment on your part. They don't force you to do anything or even get started at all.

Nope, you can happily read/watch/listen to your little heart's content and spend hours learning all kinds of cool stuff and coming up with super neato ideas.

Research is safe.

Taking action is terrifying.

Like the "I'm-pretty-sure-these-tummy-butterflies-are-gonna-eat-a-freaking-hole-through-my-stomach" kind of terrifying.

Taking action makes everything seem so much more real somehow.

You're taking a risk. Your ideas aren't just in your head anymore. They're out there, all pink, squishy, and vulnerable like a bare-ass, naked turtle...that's... pink? (Work with me here).

But by taking action, you're MILES ahead of all those other guys that are still waiting for their "somedays" to come.

You? You're taking your ideas and actually DOING something about them.

Everyone has ideas. I don’t care how good you think your idea is, no one deserves a pat on that back for an idea. They’re completely worthless. We all have ideas. And you know what? 98% of us don’t do a thing to bring them to fruition. You want to be special? You want to be unique?

Be the 2% that does something about that idea.
— Sean McCabe

Sean nails it right on the head with this episode of seanwes tv: Your Idea is Worthless. 

An idea is meaningless unless and until you GIVE it meaning. Until you give it shape and form and allow it to evolve. You wanna stand out from the crowd? Be the 2%.

"But I'm still new to all of this. I don't have any experience yet."

Related Post: How to Overcome the Fear of Starting a Blog + Free Worksheet

  • Maybe you feel like you need to hide the fact that you're new. Like it's some terrible secret that needs to be kept under lock and key (and an impenetrable magical barrier...ya know, just to be safe).
     
  • Maybe you feel insecure about being new. That if people know that you're just starting out, they'll completely blow you off and never give you a chance. 
     
  • Maybe you aren't even sure if you have anything worthwhile to say at all. Who would listen to a newbie?

Now let me ask you this question: What's so wrong about just starting out? Really? What makes it such a bad thing?

Nothing, that's what. There's nothing wrong with it at all. 

Every single one of us started from absolute zero. It's not something to be ashamed of or hide from. In fact, being new can be an asset. 

I came across a presentation on 99u the other day called Being a Rookie Is an Asset by Susan Gregg Koger. In it she says,

"Approaching a problem from a rookie point of view can really enable you to innovate just because you don't know how it's usually done." 

As someone who's new, you're not blinded by the traditional or standard ways of approaching your industry or the problems within it. You have a fresh perspective. 

Don't let your lack of experience be your excuse for not getting started. I've been there, which you can read more about here

You know and have so much more to give than you think. You have to trust yourself that you have what it takes to start and grow from there, even if not a single other person believes you can.

Prove. them. wrong.

Show Up and Do the Work

When I was about 13 or so, I thought piano scales were the stupidest things in the world (Okay, stereotypical teenage rebellion maaayyyy or may not be to blame here).

Nothing frustrated me more than the idea of sitting down to play an E major scale for the upteenth time.

Heck, I just wanted to play real music! Isn't that what I was supposed to be learning?

What was the point of scales, arpeggios, and all of that other boring crap? Practicing alone was already a chore. Then you're gonna add all these warm-up thingys on top of that? Pfft, no thanks.

If you're a musician and probably even if you're not, you know exactly why they're so important.

Showing up for consistent practice is the foundation. The cornerstone. Take that cornerstone away, and everything crumbles.

HAVING THE DEDICATION TO CONSISTENTLY SHOW UP AND PUT IN THE WORK IS THE CORNERSTONE OF YOUR ENTIRE BRAND.

 

Related Post: 3 Must-Do's to Create a Strong Foundation for Your Blog

I'm gonna be real here. I've seen a lot of people put all their faith in something like a new course, tool, book, or whatever. That it's literally THE answer they've been looking for to solve all their problems.

But in reality, that shiny, newfangled do-hickey doesn't hold all the solutions

A course or tool isn't going to create results for you. Yes, there are some amazing ones out there that can provide you with plenty of help and guidance...

But tools and courses only work if YOU do.

You'll never see results by "waiting for inspiration to strike" or by doing the work whenever you feel like it. Inspiration is overrated.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
— Stephen King

You need to make a decision every day: Are you going to just sit around or waste time wistfully dreaming about success? OR are you going to show up, put in the effort, and actually give a damn about what you're trying to make happen?

Embrace your inner Frodo Baggins and keep going, even when you feel like giving up. 

 

I love this kinetic typography animation of a quote by Ira Glass on what nobody tells beginners. (You can find the original interview here) 

"It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through." - Ira Glass

Don't wait for inspiration or for perfect timing that's never going to come.

Don't call it quits when you don't see results right away.

Don't stop showing up and putting in the work.  

Don't give up.

Start and

Keep.

Going. 


Join the Creative Adventurers Gang

Every week I send out new letters to Creative Adventurers who are bravely creating and building bold, expressive brands. Not in the gang yet? Sign up below to get actionable advice, behind-the-scene insights, and free resources to help you level up your brand and creative journey.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
How are you showing up and putting in the work right now?

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Bloggers + Free Workbook

The comparison trap is easy to get stuck in if you don't know how to get out. Especially when you're new to the blogging world.

In the two months I've been blogging, I've compared myself hundreds of times at least. And you can bet I did even more before I got started.

I've compared my content, my designs, my experiences, my social media, my numbers, my *insert just about any other aspect of blogging here.*

Lemme tell you, that crap can wear. you. OUT.

Comparison is a dangerous thing.

  • It can lower your confidence.
  • It can spur jealously and resentment.
  • And it can bring you to a screeching halt with your own brand.

...but only if you let it.

Today, I’m sharing with you the 4 things that help keep me from falling into the comparison trap, and you can bet there are tons of action items for you in here too!