Transcript of Monetize Your Expertise and Thrive
John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Dorie Clark. She is a marketing and strategy consultant and frequent contributor to Harvest … not Harvest, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur and Forbes. She’s also the author of a new book we’re going to talk about today, Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive. Welcome back, Dorie.
Dorie Clark: John, it’s great talking with you.
John Jantsch: I never edit out those flobs because I think people enjoy those, so there’s got to be a Harvest Business Review out there, like farmers read it or something, I don’t know.
Dorie Clark: Absolutely. I should write for that too, that would be pretty cool.
John Jantsch: All right. Let me ask you this, I had somebody on the other day, a new book on social media and this is a book on essentially kind of branding and starting a personal business or whatnot. A lot of books on both of those topics. Help me with kind of do you feel like there’s a new central idea you’re presenting here?
Dorie Clark: There is. Essentially, I actually sought to write a book that I had not seen before. I wanted to really write a book that was information that I was after. Entrepreneurial You, fundamentally, is talking honestly about how people make money as coaches and consultants, and providing a framework and a roadmap to help them do it even more effectively. I interviewed 50 + very successful six and seven figure entrepreneurs, yourself included, John, and really broke down their revenue models and helped to explain, okay, here are the options. If you’re a coach, if you’re a consultant, and if you are a small business owner of any kind, what are the things that you’re not doing now, but could to increase your revenue and leverage your time to be able to diversify and get even more bang out of the buck of your customer relationships?
John Jantsch: I think a lot of people have certainly come to realize the corporate way is maybe over, to some extent. Now, is everyone a consultant, author and speaker? It’s kind of the triple thread.
Dorie Clark: A lot of people are, certainly. In fact, of course, there’s a well-publicized study that was done by Intuit that said 40% of Americans would be freelance, or self-employed professionals, so we’re getting very close to one in two.
Even for people who are not I, in fact, argue that one of the safest things that you can do for your career is to develop at least one other income stream so that you’re not so reliant on one source of income. Certainly for anybody that’s an entrepreneur or a small business owner, in some ways, we’re diversified because, of course, we have multiple clients and that’s good, so if there’s some kind of a shock, or a disruption, you lose an account, or what have you, you have other options.
I would argue that really … People misunderstand, they think entrepreneurship is about risk taking, when actually it’s about being smart and risk mitigation. The best way to mitigate it is to offer multiple types of services, or offerings to your existing clients so that you have options and you have more legs under the table.
John Jantsch: It’s funny I, over the years, have applied for a mortgage or to refinance my house or something and the fact that I was an entrepreneur in some banker’s eyes made me more of a risk. I used to sit there and think, “You know, I’ve been doing this for X amount of years, I’ve had the same income, I decide what my income’s going to be and like I think somebody who’s in a job getting paid a salary is the ultimate risk.” I think people are coming around that a little bit, but there’s still that mindset.
Dorie Clark: Absolutely. I learned it early on rather inadvertently because I got my start professionally as a journalist and I ended up … it was my first job and I was just out of college, I did it for a year and then I got laid off and I couldn’t get another job as a journalist because they were really starting to collapse at the time. That was the first taste of understanding that you really can go from being totally fine one minute, to completely not fine the next without any warning. I think the real benefit of entrepreneurship is understanding that you can find ways to really protect yourself a lot more strategically in the ways that are necessary in today’s economy.
John Jantsch: You have developed a self-assessment as part of this book, I guess, to help people decide not only is this for them, but maybe what path. You want to talk about that?
Dorie Clark: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I actually created a free resource. It is the Entrepreneurial You self-assessment and it is 88 questions that actually walks people step-by-step through thinking about what types of additional income streams might be right for them and their business and figuring out how to implement that. Folks who’d to get that for free, they can download it at dorieclark.com/entrepreneur.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and the first test is if you can answer 88 questions [inaudible 00:05:44] you’re probably not going to make it, right?
Dorie Clark: 88 is good too. This is my global self-assessment, John because 88 is a super lucky number in China.
John Jantsch: Oh, nice.
Dorie Clark: Particularly if you want to crack the international market, answer these 88 questions, you’ll be good to go.
John Jantsch: Especially in the millennials, the term portfolio career is … as opposed to my dad or even me, to some extent, I’ve been doing the same thing for 30 years, essentially. This idea of a portfolio career, I think is where you … almost each move is maybe gaining you towards another move, or that that’s inevitable. Is that the reality, you think?
Dorie Clark: I think increasingly it is. Partly there’s always been a subset of the population that has wished for such a thing. I think you and I probably both know folks where some folks are so focused, all they want to do is one thing, but then there’s another kind of person that they’re sort of renaissance people, they’re into lots of things. They enjoy the variety, they enjoy the different challenges. Up until pretty recently, those sorts of folks have been at a disadvantage because society just wasn’t really structured in a way that accommodated it.
Now, we have a lot more possibilities. Also, just in terms of overall workplace trends, because we are entering a world that is much more freelance-based and much more focused on that, I think that the concept of a portfolio career is increasingly becoming the norm. I think about even my own career, one of the reasons that I wanted to immerse myself in this and learn even more about it is that, over the past number of years as a marketing strategy consultant, which is the core of my business, I was originally probably like a lot of your listeners, making all my money from consulting work. People would hire me to do marketing plan or social media strategy or whatever. That was it, that was the only tool in my toolkit.
I now make money in seven different ways. I have worked to build out seven different income streams. I still do consulting, but I also do executive coaching, I write books, I give paid keynote speeches, I do part-time business school teaching, I’ve developed online courses and I also do some affiliate marketing. Those are ways to really create stability and optionality in my business.
John Jantsch: Do members of your family wonder when you’re going to get a real job?
Dorie Clark: I’m on year 11, so I haven’t-
John Jantsch: They’ve stopped asking you now.
Dorie Clark: They have, yeah-
John Jantsch: Whatever, I don’t get what you do, but you seems to be putting food on the table-
Dorie Clark: … marketing, but it’s getting there.
John Jantsch: One of the big pieces of advice that come from a lot of books, or just even point of view from this type of thing is that you have to become this trusted resource on X. I see definitely a lot of people doing that, but I also see a lot of people seeing that as the invitation to jump in and be like the new crazy leader in whatever new social platform comes along. How do you balance that sort of advice of you have to be the trusted resource on something with a lot of people feeling they end up just jumping from thing to thing, trying to be that?
Dorie Clark: Yeah, I think you raise an important point. Certainly, to be fair, there are sometimes first mover advantages. If people hop onto a platform and it turns out that that platform has staying power, fantastic. If you are joining Twitter, let’s say today, it’s almost impossible, unless you are already a celebrity to get a million followers. Building that from the ground up now is virtually nil. Whereas, if you happened to join in 2006 or 2007 and even if you were a regular person, you could become the Twitter celebrity and gain a lot of traction as a result of that.
I think the bigger point, the more overarching one is that regardless of the platform, the concept of becoming a trusted authority is a useful and valuable one. What’s the alternative, right? We all want to be trusted. Regardless of which way you choose to do it, sometimes people will say, “Oh, but I’m not a writer,” or whatever. It’s fine. It’s about the ideas. You could blog, you could podcast, you could use certain social channels, you could do videos, whatever it is, but you want to be communicating your ideas in such a way that people can look at them, see them and say, “Oh, he makes sense, I want to hear from him more.”
That’s really all it’s about, because otherwise, if you raise your hand and you say, “Oh yeah, I’m a consultant,” well, no one knows if you’re any good. You have to give them a way to look at your ideas and validate them for themselves so that they could say, “Yes, give me more of that.”
John Jantsch: The thing that’s really tough, I think, for a lot of people is that you really do need to lock into, I think, a unique point of view, or at least something that’s different and then you have to repeat it a billion times for five years, I think, in many cases for it to ring true. I think that’s the real challenge for a lot of people. I’m not just saying it takes work, it takes commitment and consistency.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, that’s very true. Certainly for me, it took between two and three years for me to start seeing literally any results from the blogging that I was doing when I first got started. During that time, that initial period, there is a real question that legitimately arises in people’s minds, which is, “Is this working at all?” It could be that it’s not working yet, but it also could be that it’s just not working and you don’t know and you have to have that leap of faith.
The key thing … and this actually a study that I cite in Entrepreneurial You, there was a study, there was done a longitudinal study of podcasts between 2005 and 2015. The stunning thing, John … Now, of course, we all know, there’s a huge number of podcasts, including this excellent one. Many people say, “Oh gosh, how can you ever stand out? How can you ever compete with so many?” The truth is, over a 10 year period, the average podcast duration, the average amount of time that a person was able to keep up a podcast was for 12 episodes and then they quit. The truth is if you just don’t quit, if you keep going, you’re not competing with 300,000 people, you’re competing with 3,000 or 300 and that can make a huge difference in your ability to succeed.
John Jantsch: Yeah, there’s no question. Speaking of podcast, one big component of this approach and what you talk about in the book is this idea of building your own brand. One of the things that I’ve seen you do, because I watched your … I don’t know if rise is the right, but you talked about you blogged for a couple of years, nobody was paying attention. Now, certainly people are paying attention, is that in addition to writing all of those words that you did on your own, you hassled. You got yourself on podcasts, you got yourself guest blogging things. You ultimately got yourself publications that would allow you to contribute. It happens to be that you’re really smart and you have good things to say, but you hassled.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, thank you. It’s absolutely true. Of course, you have to make sure that you’re applying yourself with these areas. Yeah, when it comes to really building your brand in a marketplace, I developed a framework around my most recent book that came out in 2015, Stand Out, about how to become a recognized expert in your field.
Fundamentally what I discovered after interviewing 50 + thought leaders across a spectrum of different industries is it’s really three things. One is content creation, which we talked about. You have to show people your ideas somehow. Number two is social proof, which is basically a term from psychology that means your credibility. What is it about you that is indicating to other people that they should actually listen to you? One of the best ways to do it is to have affiliations that other people have already heard of so that they can say, “Oh, well, you know, she’s okay, she must be okay, she’s been pre-vetted.”
Things like blogging for publications like Forbes, or The Harvard Business Review that people have heard of, that makes a big difference in terms of your perceived credibility, being on podcasts, like the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, that makes a big difference, so those things matter. Being involved even in your local civic association, your local professional association, that matters. Then third and finally, what really makes a difference in terms of becoming a recognizes expert is your network and building up a group of colleagues and allies, people that you respect and can turn to in your industry and outside that help you raise your game and get smarter and get better.
John Jantsch: I’m going to point out another thing that you did that I think people need to understand. When you got the deal with Forbes, and correct me if I’m wrong here, you appeared to use that beautifully to open doors to build some of those relationships. Everybody heard of Forbes, maybe I haven’t heard of Dorie Clark, but Forbes? Yeah, I’ve heard of that, so sure, I’ll take her call, or I’ll take her email, or I’ll be interviewed by her because that’ll be put me in Forbes. Again, I think there are probably people that have used some of that kind of thing, but I think you used it beautifully as a door-opener.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, thank you, John, that’s exactly right. I had a very specific strategy around it, which I think was a win-win because it’s resulted in a lot of good pieces for Forbes and good coverage of different people in Forbes. When I first started, I didn’t really have any connections in the field at all. I wanted to meet people, I wanted to get to know folks that I had read about and had admired.
With the Forbes and Promoter, you’re exactly right. Not necessarily the most famous people. You won’t necessarily get to talk to Elon Musk or whatever, but most people who are not mega billionaires would like to be interviewed in Forbes, and so if you reach out and you ask, almost always you’ll get a yes. It gives you an opportunity to start the relationship from a very positive place, from a giving place. Sometimes you will hit it off with that person and be able to develop a deeper relationship.
John Jantsch: That’s right. The reason I pointed that out and I’m not trying to put you on the spot, or embarrass you, but I think people need to realize that there are many, many ways that you can apply that and it’s kind of like you’re just trying to evolve in that strategy. I think that’s another thing, I think people underestimate is they read a book like this, or they see this concept and they want to go straight for, “I’m the expert. I’m the leader in this field and I think there is an evolutionary process to like where you start and maybe where you try to get to.”
Dorie Clark: Yes, that’s right. It definitely almost always takes longer than you want, or than you expect, but it really … One of the stories that I tell on Entrepreneurial You, which I think is the most impactful is about a woman named Stefanie O’Connell who’s working to establish herself as a millennial personal finance expert. Like a lot of us, it was slow-going, she didn’t see a lot of progress, but one of the mantras that she had was that she had to celebrate the small wins along the way and she looked for them.
Even if it’s something like you’re blogging for free and then suddenly someone offers you $25 to do it, or maybe you write a piece and someone you admire retweets it, or maybe you go from having to pitch yourself all the time to the first time that someone says, “Oh, will you write for us?” Those are all sings. A lot of people are just looking for having Made it with a capital M, and instead, we need to look for the small wins to say, “Okay, it’s going to take a while, but I am headed in the right direction.”
John Jantsch: I think sometimes we underestimate it. We see the people that have “made it” and we don’t remember, or we hadn’t witnessed the 15 years they put in to get there. I think that’s what society seems to sort of reward the made it stage and not so much the making it stage.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, that’s exactly right. In fact, that’s why I wrote Stand Out, was I really wanted to puncture that myth, because you only see the finished product. I wanted to really understand what it took to build toward it, what was that middle phase that so often gets elated in the popular discourse.
John Jantsch: Let’s talk about money, making money more specifically. Once you’ve built this expertise. You see a lot of people that some of the most successes, biggest successes financially that I’ve seen are people that built a community, built an expertise because they probably had a revenue stream somewhere else and then all of sudden they thought, “I’ve got 100,000 followers, I think I’ll monetize that.” That’s a beautiful way to build a business, but for a person that is trying to put food on the table, that might not work.
What do you typically run up against when people start saying, “Okay, I’m going to start freelancing here,” or, “Start coaching on the side here,” when it comes to actually asking somebody to pay for their expertise, where do people get tripped up?
Dorie Clark: Yeah, I think you’re putting your finger on something important, which is that those earliest days, those earliest customers can be incredibly nerve-wracking. One of the stories that I tell in Entrepreneurial You is about a guy named Andrew Warner who runs a business called Mixergy, which is a subscription service where he’s done more than 1,200 interviews of startup entrepreneurs and people can pay a subscription and they can access them sort of Netflix style on an unlimited basis.
Originally, he was doing these videos and sharing them completely for free. Eventually, he had amped up the production quality, he had producers and editors and he was paying out-of-pocket and he realized it just wasn’t sustainable and so he decided to start charging. He was really terrified that people would rebel, that they’d call him a sellout and they’d get angry that he was somehow taking away something that they had grown accustomed to getting for free.
I think that that can be the case with a lot of us that we are nervous sometimes about being willing to charge at all, or maybe like the next step down the road is being willing to charge what we’re worth, as opposed to a steeply discounted fee. In many cases, we do have to just plunge forward. Another person that I profile in Entrepreneurial You is a consultant who, I think, you probably know, Michael Bungay Stanier.
John Jantsch: Mm-hmm (affirmative), sure.
Dorie Clark: His line, which I quote in the book and I love is that, “When you ask for your fee, it should be fear plus 10%.”
John Jantsch: I do work with a lot of consultants and one of the things I see quite often is, again, especially if they’re new, getting started, it’s that fear, “I’m going to be rejected.” I think, in some cases, what’s worse is this fear that, “I actually deserve this much,” or that, “I’m worth this much.” I really try to … especially after people start working with folks, if you can get a handle on the results you’re producing and the value you’re delivering in very tangible ways, that can sure help your posture, I think, when it comes to asking for a fee.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Early on, being able to quantify the ROI and helping people really see that and visualize that is so important. I also want to go back and hammer something we were talking about earlier, which is the social proof element, the credibility element. When we think about premium pricing, or not even premium pricing, just fair pricing, but certainly premium pricing, something that helps justify that.
Partly it’s justifying it to the client, but also sometimes it’s justifying it to ourselves, is having that social proof, having those affiliations that say, “Well, you know, okay, there’s a lot of consultants out there, but if this one is blogging for Forbes, or if this one has keynoted in event at such and such corporation, then they’re worth more.” Are they better? I put in air quotes, maybe, maybe not, but the social proof helps be a factor that convinces people that you are.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I often laugh with people that, when my first book came out and then hit the list and was a popular book, I actually tripled my speaking fee and nobody cared if I was any good anymore, they just assumed I was.
Dorie Clark: That is right. That’s right. Absolutely.
John Jantsch: This is really hard and this is [inaudible 00:23:45] hindsight, me saying this, but sometimes when I talk to a consultant and then they say, “Well, I’ll do this for this amount of money,” I feel like saying, “Who would believe you could actually do it for that cost? It’s so cheap that there’s no way I could get a good product, or a good result from that little of a fee.” I think sometimes people underestimate that that goes on in people’s heads as much as anything.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I actually tell a story in Entrepreneurial You, I thought this was so stunning. There’s an author friend that I have who you might also know named Kevin Kruse. Kevin told me a story about a time he was actually on the other side of the equation. At one point in his career he was the executive director of a large professional association and they were having a conference and they wanted to have a particular speaker. They’d had a committee meeting and people had suggested this guy. He had great credentials. He was an Ivy League professor, he had a bestselling book, everybody had heard of him.
They thought, “Okay, well, we don’t know if we can afford him, but let’s try to get him.” They emailed him and they asked if he was available on that date and he said yes he was. They said, “Well, what’s your fee?” He said $3,000. Kevin’s group had budgeted $30,000 for the talk because they assumed that that was the appropriate range. When they heard that, they were actually alarmed because they thought, “Oh no, what’s wrong with this guy?” It really can happen that way.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I remember that story from the book. Tell people, Dorie, where they can get ahold of you. You talked about the assessment. We’ll have, of course, these links in the show notes, but anywhere you want to send people?
Dorie Clark: Yeah. John, thank you so much. The best place for people to get in touch to get more than 400 free articles that I’ve written, speaking of social proof alert for Forbes and The Harvard Business Review, they can get it all at dorieclark.com, plus of course, we mentioned earlier the Entrepreneurial You self-assessment at dorieclark.com/entrepreneur. Even more to the point, if you’re a fan of John Jantsch, he is one of the stars of Entrepreneurial You, so that is reason alone to check it out.
John Jantsch: Oh, very, very little star. Tiny star, but-
Dorie Clark: Oh, but shining so brightly.
John Jantsch: Well, I’m going to take the assessment, see if I’m cut out for this thing or not.
Dorie Clark: All right.
John Jantsch: [crosstalk 00:26:19]
Dorie Clark: Keep me posted.
John Jantsch: I will. All right. Dorie, thanks so much and hopefully we’ll run into you soon [inaudible 00:26:24].
Dorie Clark: John, thank you.
John Jantsch: Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. I wonder if you could do me a favor. Could you leave an honest review on iTunes? Your ratings and your reviews really help and I promise, I read each and every one. Thanks.