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October 3, 2017

Do You Share Your Expertise?

Sheet of music composition with text: What's Your Expertise? Now Share It!

Many of us suffer from impostor syndrome, the feeling that we’re a fraud and it’s just a matter of time until others realize it. That feeling goes double (or more) in the writing world, where the learning curve is steep and we can feel like a newbie many times over.

Even after we get a handle on writing craft, we start over again at the bottom of the curve with the next step of the process: publishing (whether that’s learning about agents, querying, and publishers for traditional publishing, or researching cover artists, editors, and retailers to self-publish). And let’s not even talk about starting from scratch again to tackle marketing and promotion.

Add in the fact that every book is unique and the industry is always changing, and we can’t ever feel like we “know it all” about anything—at least not for very long. Suffice it to say that we probably all know the struggle of climbing out of the depths of the newbie dungeon. *smile*

But the truth is that we’re probably an expert in more things than we realize. Maybe we’re an expert in all the newbie mistakes to avoid. Maybe we’re an expert at overcoming obstacles. Or maybe we’re an expert at an aspect of our day job.

Whatever your background, now’s your chance to help others and share what you know. November—otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)—is coming up, and that means it’s time once again for me to give my readers a special opportunity while I try to find more time to write. *grin*

How Can Being an Expert Help Us?

No matter where our expertise lies, there’s a limit to how much we can make a name for ourselves on our own. We might not have a big platform, with only a handful of friends or followers on our blog or social media. Or our platform might not be that engaged, with followers who don’t pay attention to what we have to say. So how can we reach people beyond those limits?

One way to expand our reach is to “borrow” the audience of someone else. Essentially, that’s what happens every time someone retweets or shares our social media posts. A retweet or share spreads our message to a new audience—that of the person sharing our post.

Want to spread your message to a new audience? Try a guest post. Click To TweetBlog tours and guest posts work on the same principle. The readers of the blog might be different from those who read our blog or social media messages directly, so we get to expand the scope of who’s exposed to our work. Even if all we have is our blog or social media accounts to share rather than a new release to promote, we can impress others with our insights or knowledge or inspire them to want to hear more from us.

Done well, guest posts can benefit both parties, as both the guest poster and the host share audiences for the day. For both directions, a guest post can expand their reach by spreading their message to a new audience, and sharing unique expertise gives audiences a reason to pay attention.

An Invitation! Share Your Expertise by Guest Posting Here

My blog usually falls into the “I invite those I want” camp for guest posts. When I think of a blog topic that I don’t have the experience or knowledge to tackle, I reach out to someone who does and ask if they’d like to guest post.

Do you have unique experiences? Share your expertise in a guest post. Click To TweetBut to help me out during NaNoWriMo, I open my blog to guest post proposals. Each time I’ve put out a call, I’ve received fantastic proposals that I was proud to include here at my blog.

I also love giving a boost to others by letting them “borrow” the audience of a “Top 100 Websites for Writers” blog here at the same time they’re helping me. Some of the guest posts from my previous proposal calls have been shared over 7000 times, reaching hundreds or thousands of new readers in each of those audience groups!

(And that’s not counting my usual online or newsletter readers, which also each number in the thousands, or the ongoing exposure through my blog’s popularity with search engines.)

So I’m doing a call for NaNo November again. *smile* Have an idea for a guest post? For the next few weeks, hit me up through my Contact Page with a proposal for what you’re thinking.

I run topics here that cover all aspects of writing, from craft and publishing advice to the ups and downs of writing life. As long as the post will add value for my readers (no promo-only posts), I’m happy to take a look at all ideas.

Not Sure of Your Expertise?

It’s easy to get used to our life. Whether from self-doubt or sheer familiarity, we probably think we’re no one special.

You might even be scoffing at the idea that you’re an expert in anything. Yeah, you. I see you there, shaking your head and rolling your eyes.

Our life and experiences are unique, so we're all an expert in something. Click To TweetBut just because we’re used to our life doesn’t mean we have nothing to offer. Our life and our life experiences are unique, and they mean we have something of value to offer to the writing community.

Our expertise might be writing related. Maybe we’re an expert in fitting writing into a busy life of work, school, or family obligations. Maybe we’re an expert in how to write a certain genre. Maybe we’re an expert in a certain aspect of writing craft or in how to use or adapt a different writing process or in how to give insightful critiques.

Sometimes our expertise comes from non-writing life experiences, like the location we live, the hobbies we have, or that day job we may or may not enjoy. Day jobs such as graphic designers, editors, lawyers, psychologists, nurses, teachers, criminal justice employees, first responders, military members, etc. all give us experiences that are especially helpful to fellow authors.

Maybe our struggles or the obstacles we’ve faced give us experiences that resonate within storytelling. Or sometimes writers want a sanity check on their characters from people who have lived through similar experiences, whether that means struggles like racial and disability issues or obstacles like poverty and single parenthood.

All of those experiences can be valuable to other writers. And just as the world wants our unique stories, the world can also benefit from hearing about our unique insights based on our life and experiences. *smile*

3 Tips for a Successful Guest Post Proposal

Every blog host considers three aspects when deciding which guest posts to run. Whether you’re interested in making a guest post proposal here or not, these tips might help you propose a guest post to any site in the future:

  • Add Value for the Host’s Readers

All popular blogs have an audience because they offer something to their readers. They’re providing a benefit of some sort. The best guest post proposals will include information about how the host and/or the host’s readers will benefit from saying yes to the proposal.

In the past, I’ve often chosen posts focusing on topics I couldn’t write due to lack of expertise. But I’m also open to proposals about common topics written from your unique perspective, such as what you’ve learned, thoughts about your struggles, what you’d tell your newbie-self to watch out for now that you know better, or stories about who’s helped or supported you.

Have insights about what types of feedback you find most helpful from your beta readers? Or how you discovered and solved a tricky storytelling problem? Or how you research agents or contests? Or what marketing techniques were a waste of money? Or how authors can write about something more authentically? Or what authors can do to increase reader engagement? Share them! *smile*

  • Appeal to Many of the Host’s Readers

If we know the blog we’re applying to (and not just “cold-calling” them with spam), we’ll know something about the blog’s audience. A blog geared toward non-fiction might not be the best place to propose a post about character development. *smile*

Previously, I’ve tweaked some of the proposals so the topic would be more applicable to a broader range of readers. For example, rather than a post targeting just a certain genre, I asked the guest poster to word their tips to be inclusive of many genres.

  • Meet Expectations of the Host’s Readers

Some people proposing ideas think only about what they can gain from a guest post, so they don’t think about why a reader would care about their message. There’s a reason I don’t run promo-only posts here.

I encourage guest posters to plug their book, services, or blog in the bottom of the post, but the post itself must be full of information because that’s what my readers expect. To that end, with previous proposals, I gave suggestions for how the guest posters could make the post meet my readers’ expectations, such as how to focus on tangible and applicable tips.

I’ve gained so much from the writing community: friendship, support, and knowledge in humongous, immeasurable amounts. So like with my worksheets, I enjoy “paying it forward” by trying to help the writing community in return.

That’s a big part of my goal in opening my blog to guest posters. Yes, it helps me to run guest posts, but I also want to provide opportunities to other writers—opportunities to make a name for themselves as an expert, opportunities to reach a bigger platform, opportunities to do something they might not usually have a chance to do.

Giving opportunities is another way I can pay it forward to the writing community. And if we all have something to offer the community, that means we also all have a way to pay it forward and help each other. So give me your ideas for a guest post! *smile*

Do you agree that everyone is an expert in something? Or that our life experiences can be valuable to share with others? Do you have expertise in an aspect of writing? Or does your day job give you special knowledge or skills? Or do you have life experiences that might be helpful to other writers? Do you have any questions about proposing a guest post?

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What do you think?

3 Comments on "Do You Share Your Expertise?"

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Sieran
Sieran

Hmm I guess my main areas of expertise would be:

—stuff related to psychology and therapy, since I’m a psych major and also master’s student in a psychotherapy and counselling program

–some expertise in literary classics

–my queer, trans, aro, ace, and Chinese life experiences

—i read QUITE a lot of male-male gay romances, so I would say I’m somewhat “experienced/ knowledgeable” about the genre.

—for fanfiction, I have a decent amount of Pokemon knowledge, and if I need any more info, I can always check wikis and Pokemon database apps

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[…] Also, remember that I’m currently running an open call for guest post proposals! Have an idea for a guest post? Let me know! And here’s more information. […]

Clare O\'Beara
Clare O\'Beara

Hi Jami,

I do share my expertise with others, including upcoming and publishing authors.
I presently blog about accessible locations to visit, so I am always glad to be told about a wheelchair-friendly beach, autism-friendly airport or others.
Areas of expertise include animals, nature, horses.
Animals – why you would incorporate animals in your writing, what they mean symbolically to the characters and how to treat them realistically. Animals and birds are all around us. If they are not in your book, why not? At least provide a reason, like no pets allowed.
Nature – we all live in natural environments, even within a city. Yet I often read contemporary fiction that takes place entirely indoors. One office, living room and kitchen is much like another. I can give tips on writing natural scenes and highlighting environmental issues if that is what your character would do.
Horses – the amount of times that a book is set on a stud farm or ranch, or a historical setting, but we never see a horse! As a horsewoman I can say that if you can’t write horses well, and don’t know the names of pieces of harness, don’t set your book in that location.
Hope this helps.

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