Freelancers: How does someone become a thought leader in their industry?

One of the things I enjoy most is sharing ideas and guidance to help other people in their freelance copywriting journey. I do this through my daily emails as well as my Copy Accelerator Mastermind, and Copy Accelerator Live events. I’ve been influenced by a lot of great thought leaders, and it means a lot to me to pay it forward.

If you’ve been shaped by a thought leader in your industry—someone who has inspired you, motivated you, and showed you how to get from point A to point B—you may find yourself wanting to help others as well. The challenge, of course, is speaking so that other people will listen. If you’re looking to be a thought leader in your field, here are some crowdsourced tips to help you get started.

Greg Dickens

Greg Dickens

Greg Dickens, Founder of Epilocal. He’s currently building a bootstrapped social business as a solo founder while actively mentoring startups and freelancers in Athens, Greece.

Small steps towards giving bigger and bigger value

My approach to becoming a thought leader is all about small steps towards giving bigger and bigger value:

  • For example, when I was starting my business, I was coming into a new industry where I didn’t have much direct experience (media and journalism)
  • So I started by writing content about topics that intersected with my prior experience (technology, business development, and strategy) and the industry I was trying to build credibility in (blog posts on business models for journalism, marketing strategies, etc.)
  • Next, I did a research project that I turned into a free report, surveying the technology of 100 different journalism websites
  • Then I took another step by developing free tools that solve small problems for people in the industry (email templates and CMS themes)
  • With the free report and free tools, I could then get involved in industry discussions without giving the impression that I’m trying to sell (I’m not, I’m just trying to solve problems in exchange for getting my name out there)
  • Based on the learnings from those discussions, I took another step by offering a paid solution that solves bigger problems for people in the industry (an online publishing service)
  • Now based on that solution, I can confidently express the direction that I think the industry should be taken as a thought leader – backed up by all the learnings of the previous steps.

To sum up: start by solving small problems for free, get involved in industry discussions with the intention to help others, progressively solve bigger problems, and keep sharing your learnings in bigger and bigger forums.

Actionable tips to become a freelance leader

1. Contribute to a Community
A community platform is a great place to discuss or hold a conversation with many other contributors to your industry. A good example of an online community is the forum. Just being an active member, you can start building trust relationships with other like-minded contributors. You can start with unsolved questions and answer them. If users find your content useful, they will follow you. Once your profile has a decent [number of] followers, you become an influencer on that platform and open many doors.

2. Contribute to a Magazine in Your Niche
You can start writing and publishing guest posts on popular niche websites or blogs. If you are an SEO expert, you can contribute to Search Engine Journal, Moz, Hubspot Search Engine People. These platforms help you to show your expertise to thousands of users who belong to your industry.

Simon Dwight

Simon Dwight

Simon Dwight, Founder and CE of SDK Marketing.

Hamna Amjad

Hamna Amjad

Hamna Amjad is working as an Outreach Consultant at Physicians Thrive.

3 tips to position yourself as an expert

Focus on a niche
Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. The first step for any thought leadership strategy is to find your unique niche. The best way to do so is to write down all your strengths, skills, and areas of interest. It will help you narrow down the niche that you would like to pursue.

Work on your personal brand
Your personal brand is basically your reputation, which, in today’s digital world, means having a strong online presence. Take control of that digital reputation and build a brand that works toward your goals. Find out what Google shows when someone searches for your name. Work on improving your website and social media and project the right image in front of your audience.

Leverage social media
Be active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with people in your industry and share useful content with them. Join relevant communities or create your own groups where you can have insightful conversations with other like-minded people. Try to answer their questions, engage with them, and help them with their problems. This demonstrates your expertise in your field.

Display expertise and be consistent

A thought leader is simply an individual that offers insights to people around them. It is usually correlated with displaying expertise in their industry and inspires innovation.

In order to be a thought leader, you want to first have clarity with your existing knowledge and interests. Next, you have to make a decision about who you want to serve and what you want to stand for. Decide if you want a brand based on mindset, health, nutrition, science, art, marketing, etc.

Secondly, you want to have a strategy to share high-quality content. Decide if you prefer to create written, audio, or visual content, or a combination. You can also leverage other people's audiences by participating in interviews or collaborations.

Thirdly, deduce a way to stay consistent. This could mean sharing a blog post every week or creating a video every two weeks. Regardless of your current situation, find a schedule that works for you.

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Kimberly Ihekwoaba

Kimberly Ihekwoaba is a Multimedia Storyteller and Copywriter. Find her at Kihek.com

Shaun Taylor

Shaun Taylor

Shaun Taylor, Owner/Manager of Moriti Private Safaris.

Turn your passion into something unique

To become a thought leader in any industry takes an understanding of what you are truly passionate about. Then, you can turn that passion into something unique.

The best way to do this is to look for leaders in your industry and study what they do well. There are two criteria:
1) What makes them successful?
2) What do their customers rave about?

Remember, at the end of the day, it is about serving your customers. From there, look at what they do well and ask yourself, “What do I like about this and what would I do differently if I were their CEO?”

It takes a lot of self-belief to become a thought leader because you will need to look at a winning recipe and dare to change it to fit your passion and vision. To look at any recipe is simple, but to cook takes skills, and that's where you have to believe in yourself.

Believing in your unique outlook and being passionate about something are the true fundamentals of any thought leader.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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