Should You Market Yourself as an Expert?

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Being able to write articles and posts as an expert can bring you more money, so the motivation for a freelance writer to label themselves as an expert in a particular field is evident.

But should you do it? Should you call yourself an expert?

In this post, I’ll examine the trend of “expert” freelance writers and explore what it really means to call yourself an expert.

Differences Between Being an Expert & Specializing

The word “expert” is often overused. It’s becoming increasingly popular for freelance writers and other online professionals to label themselves as an expert when in fact they are really only specialized.

Many writers confuse being an expert on a particular topic with specializing in a particular type of writing. But the two are completely different.

Let’s look at medical writing as an example. It’s possible for a writer to specialize in medical writing without actually being a medical expert themselves. Naturally, a medical writer would consult closely with those who have medical training and review medical materials. They would rely on such experts to get their information.

However, unless the writer has specific medical training they shouldn’t market themselves as a medical expert. Rather, their expertise is in writing and medical writing is their specialty. Do you see the difference?

And of course, this is not just true for medical writing. It’s true in other fields where writers work as well such as law, finance, engineering, psychology, and many others. Some job posting ask for an expert when what they really need is a writing specialist.

What Is Expertise?

One of the reasons that there is such confusion is that there is a lot of bad advice about what being an expert really means. When you add to that a financial incentive, it’s easy to see why this is happening.

I’ve read articles and blog posts advising people to call themselves an expert for the following reasons:

  • You’ve read several books, articles, etc. on a particular topic.
  • You’ve spent x amount of time writing about a particular field.
  • You’re trying to specialize in writing about a particular topic.

In my opinion, none of these reasons really justifies calling yourself an expert.

Typically, an expert would be expected to have academic training and/or professional experience in an area. (Of course, some writers do have this and actually are experts.)

Are You an Expert?

So what’s the harm, you might be asking. Why shouldn’t I call myself an expert in a particular area?

Well, besides misleading others there could be a legal risk to you if someone misinterprets your writing as professional advice.

I rarely write posts or articles about medical topics, but when I do I always include a disclaimer that states that I am not a medical professional. I definitely don’t want someone to be relying on something I wrote when they should be visiting a doctor.

So what am I an expert in? Well, for one thing I’m an expert in writing effectively and accurately. I have years of professional experience and training that enables me to write well about a wide variety of topics.

I also have business expertise, based on my academic training as well as my professional experience. Which is one reason why I’ve chosen business writing as one of my writing specialties.

Your Turn

There’s a glut of so-called experts out there.

When do you think a writer should call themselves an expert?

Comments

  1. says

    I really shy away from that description. I say I’m experienced or seasoned or I “have expertise,” which is similar but just a bit more modest. I think being an expert necessitates carrying heavy burdens and risk.

    I’m also sick of gurus, ninjas, masters, etc.!

  2. says

    Claire, you’re right about the risk–but it’s more than that. Being a subject matter expert is different than having a writing specialty.

    I’m also sick of the other terms such as ninja and guru, etc.

  3. says

    Diana,

    Thanks! There is a difference, definitely.

    I do understand your dilemma with LinkedIn Groups. Maybe you could participate by asking intelligent questions (questions that show you understand the lingo) and sharing relevant articles from other sources.

    Thanks so much for your comment. :)

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