As a solo professional, you probably understand the importance of demonstrating your competence in order to build credibility. So on your website you post a description of who you are and what you offer. And if you are particularly detail-oriented, you have a link to your current resumé and a list of customers, selected showcase projects and even some testimonials from happy clients. This should be more than enough to convince your prospect of your qualifications for the job, right?
But what if I told you that all this information has but a minor influence on the opinion your prospects make of you … what would you do?
Let’s be frank: your prospective customers attach little importance to testimonials, client lists and sample projects, because they know that you show only the most glowing reviews (that is, if you didn’t invent the whole thing from scratch, or so they might believe).
Remember the old saying: “Don’t tell me what you can do for me, show me!” The most effective way to establish your credibility and to attract clients who recognize your value and who are willing to commit, is to demonstrate your expertise.
Photographers, graphic designers, filmmakers, painters and other creative professionals know the value of a portfolio. They accumulate examples of their work to demonstrate their expertise to potential customers. But in professional services, when your products are intangible, how do you accumulate the evidence that establishes your credibility?
Any professional who wants to develop and demonstrate their credibility must become a content creator. By generating articles, videos, photos and other types of content, you make your experience more tangible. Quality content that makes you credible is much more attractive than slick advertising or vague promises.
There are five types of content you can create to present your expertise:
1. “Education“: lessons and recommendations that emerge from your experience with your customers (for example, case studies);
2. “Demonstration“: Describe how to do something related to your specialty (for example, this “how to” article);
3. “Opinion“: Your comments on situations or the news, always related to your specialty and how you want to be known. Your opinion demonstrates how you interpret situations and propose solutions. Be careful to remain respectful and politically neutral;
4. “Recommendation“: Provide resources (books, articles, videos, contacts) related to your specialty;
5. “Information“: Communicating news about your specialty, passing along items from the media demonstrating various aspects of what you do (example: a tax specialist passing along news of changes to the law).
There are various ways to deliver your content. Keep it simple, choose media and communication styles that come naturally to you, for example:
– Writing articles;
– Short online videos (YouTube) or audio (podcast style through BlogTalkRadio);
– Record your presentations, speeches, seminars, Toastmasters speeches;
– Photos or illustrations, etc..
The important thing is to create content that communicates your ideas with your communication style and your voice.
Develop a steady pace in generating your content, whether monthly, weekly or daily. Your content need not be extensive: it is better to be short and precise. It’s the frequency that matters, so if you want more prospects, increase the pace of your output.
Establish a central location to display your content, even if it is distributed to several locations. Your business blog is the preferred place to store your information. I also recommend that you host the best content on your main website, either in whole or through hyperlinks. The more often your content is refreshed, more search engines will locate it, and you will be easier to find.
The time, effort and money you invest in generating quality content to build your professional portfolio will result in a strong positioning and loyal customers. By demonstrating your expertise, you will be able to power your Vision from Passion to Profit!