As multipotentialites, we’re always starting projects and exploring new topics. But every now and then something clicks and we want to take an interest further. We get an idea for a longer-term project like a business or a blog.
You know the drill. You can’t stop thinking about your idea, hurry to Google, do some research, brainstorm names. Maybe you ask for feedback in the Puttytribe. It’s all very exciting.
And then it happens.
Someone asks you about an aspect of your new area of interest that you hadn’t considered. Or you stumble upon a blog on the same topic and wonder how you’re going to compete with all the specialists who’ve spent years studying and practicing the topic you’ve only just discovered. You’re not an expert. In fact, you’re just a beginner.
Launching a project as a non-expert
Since joining the Puttytribe, I’ve launched two online ventures: a graphic design and illustration service and a blog about confidence. My background is in languages and I have no qualifications or experience in anything related to either design or psychology.
I found both launches challenging. My lack of experience made me feel like a fraud. I worried that everyone would laugh at my designs, criticize me behind my back, and wonder who on earth I thought I was.
But clients have paid me to design things for them and I’ve been inundated with emails thanking me for my blog posts. Both launches have taught me that I know more than I think I do and that I, as a non-expert, can compete with experts. In this article, I’d like to teach you how to do the same.
1) Understand which kind of expert you are
When we think about being an expert, we usually think about being a specialist – someone with formal qualifications and experience in a particular area. But there are many types of expert.
The cross trainer takes expertise from one field and applies it to another. My mum recently retrained as a teacher but, rather than feeling like a complete beginner, she drew on her background in management training and her experience as a parent to fast-track her way to a job.
The survivor has been through something and learned from that experience. I’m using my history of shyness to help other shy girls.
Once you see that there’s more than one way to be an expert, you start to see that you too can bring something to the conversation.
2) Be open about your learner status
You don’t have to pretend to know everything about your topic. In fact, if you do, you risk embarrassing yourself and misleading your audience. Instead, use your beginner status to your advantage.
On my blog, I’m very open about the fact that I’m just a shy girl who’s studying confidence and sharing what she learns as she goes along. My last email to my subscribers was called “I’m Scared”. I’ve never had so many replies to a mailing before. My inbox has been flooded with girls opening up to me purely because I’ve been honest with them.
People are drawn to people they can relate to, so make the most of being so approachable and declare yourself a leading learner.
3) Draw on your existing knowledge
When I launched my blog, I believed the only thing I could offer shy girls was the knowledge that they weren’t the only ones who feel the way they do. And yet I’ve found that I have been able to respond to their emails with tips and advice. I’ve been able to apply knowledge that I’ve collected from reading about business, online marketing, copywriting, personal development, and novel writing to these girls’ struggles.
As a multipotentialite, you have an odd mix of information in that head of yours but a surprising amount of it will be relevant to your new interest. It’s just a case of looking for the overlaps at the intersections. Everyone’s heard of transferable skills but look out for transferable knowledge and concepts too.
This is the fun bit! In The Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris points out that if you just read three key books on a topic, you’ll know more about that topic than most people. When I first read that, my mind was blown. There I was, worrying that I don’t have a PhD in psychology or counselling when all I needed to do was read three more books on confidence than the average shy girl.
Before I started my blog, I was worried I’d run out of things to write about but I’ve ended up publishing twice as often as I’d planned to because I’ve got blog post ideas coming out of my ears. How did that happen? When they subscribe, I ask my readers to introduce themselves and to tell me how their shyness is affecting their lives. Each reply usually sparks an idea for a blog post.
When I met Emilie last summer, I noticed that she was always asking questions, considering what it means to be a multipotentialite, and jotting things down in her notebook. I now do the same with shyness. I now keep an eye out for blogworthy tips, thoughts, and behaviors and I’m finding that I’m learning at a ridiculous speed. Just like when you’re buying a car and you suddenly see the model you want everywhere, when you keep an eye out for ideas on your area of interest in everyday life, suddenly everthing’s relevant.
5) Emphasize your uniquity
When I started doing freelance design, I knew I wasn’t the best designer around and I didn’t know why anyone would choose to hire me. I now know that my customers choose me because of my casual, playful style, and often because they know and like me.
It’s worth bearing in mind that trust and familiarity are important in business and that people often choose to work with people they know, even if they’re not the best at what they do, purely because they know them. For more on this, read Mars Dorian’s latest post, Freelancers beware: You don’t need to be the best in the world.
Because I know that most of my customers choose to work with me because I’m so casual and playful, on my website, I talk about how I regularly attack my little sister with invisible weapons and sometimes get pen on my skin. I draw attention to my personality because that’s what previous clients have liked about me.
If you can’t claim to be the best personal trainer in the world, instead of competing with all the personal trainers who have more experience than you, find a different way to be the best. Draw on your personality, your style, and your other interests to create an experience that no one else can compete with.
Could you be the best personal trainer for pregnant mums of twins? Or the most sarcastic personal trainer? Or the personal trainer who fills her workouts with references to The Simpsons?
To find a unique angle, use Emilie’s advice for combining your interests.
Launching any new project can be scary but remind yourself that you don’t have to be an expert and that you know more than you think you do. Good luck!
Have you ever launched a project and felt ashamed of your lack of expertise? What tips do you have for multipotentialites starting something new?