Each creativepreneur goes through the same steps when they start their business. You register an LLC, buy a domain, put together a list of services and prices, set up an email list, engage on social media. You work hard to attract your ideal audience, build a reputation, and book more clients.
But sometimes that last part can be the trickiest to accomplish.
What if I told you there was a simple, straightforward, and honest way to help you speak more clearly to your target audience, show off your skills and talents, build your reputation, and get yourself more clients? It’s not top-secret information or some obscure tip. It’s actually something pretty basic that can easily be overlooked amidst the other steps you take to start your business.
The simple solution is to leverage your skills, starting with your business. In other words, you need to put your money where your mouth is.
I’m sure you’re already doing this to a certain extent, but just having a portfolio of work and positive feedback from previous clients isn’t always enough. If your business isn’t reflecting the quality and excellence your client’s glowing reviews speak of, then something is out of alignment. When that happens, you can be missing a huge opportunity to build trust in a potential client or loyal follower.
If you’ve ever head the saying, “don’t trust a skinny chef,” that same idea can apply to any kind of business. People won’t trust a web designer whose website is hard to navigate, and they won’t trust a photographer who has an Instagram feed full of grainy iPhone photos.
What it means to “leverage your skills” and why you should do it.
“Leverage” in the New Oxford American Dictionary means to “use (something) to maximum advantage.” In this case, the “something” you want to use to it’s max potential are the skills/services/results you’re selling.
If you’re a small business owner, particularly a service provider, this practice absolutely applies to you. When you leverage the skills you’re selling within your own business, you’re strengthening the first impression your business gives people and increasing your credibility.
You can’t just put up a quick website with some testimonials and work samples and hope for the best. It requires much more thought and intention than that. Your website in particular needs to be a clear and true reflection of what you can really do! It needs to be carefully crafted with every detail in mind. If you’re claiming the services you sell are your specialty, then put your money where your mouth is. Jump on any chance to show your expertise!
When people look to hire you, they should see the quality of your work reflected in every detail of your business. Whatever service you’re selling, you need to make sure your business shows the standard that potential clients can expect of you.
So how do you put your skills to work within your own business?
Let’s start by asking a few questions, so get a piece of paper or open a new Word document.
- What services are you selling?
- Are you showcasing the skills you’re selling within your own business? In what ways are you showcasing those skills?
- If someone were to land on your website for the first time, would they be able trust you before looking at your testimonials or portfolio?
- If you were selecting the best examples of your work/services, would your business be in that group? If not, it should be.
- Are you using every available opportunity to showcase your expertise, highlight your quality of work, and build your credibility? If not, where can you improve?
Oftentimes businesses will get so swept up in the action of working with clients and business maintenance that they forget to give their business some TLC. Take a moment to change that and take some action!
Write down these questions and their answers to help you identity areas needing improvements and brainstorm ways to incorporate your skills, expertise, and knowledge into strengthening your business. No opportunity is too small!
If you’re feeling stuck or you’re not sure if your business is acting as a good ambassador for your abilities, here are some examples to give you some perspective.
- If you’re a copywriter, every syllable of copy from your website, to your emails, to the captions on your Instagram photos should have immaculate spelling and grammar plus lots of personality. When you’re trying to sell someone your wordsmith-ing skills and ability to craft a memorable story, you need to make sure you’re doing a exceptional job with your own.
- If you’re a website designer, your site should not only be unique and beautiful, but easy to navigate. Imagine landing on a web designer’s site only to be greeted with ugly graphics, low quality images, broken links, and crappy navigation? You would never dream of hiring them, especially for such a big investment as a website!
- If you’re a photographer, you’ve got a huge opportunity to show off your skills in our visual world! Take advantage of that and put in the effort to curate beautiful images for your social media channels and show some fun things behind the scenes. And of course, display big, gorgeous, high quality images on your site that are the best reflection of your work.
- If you’re an interior designer, have your professional headshots taken in your home. Since you’re selling your ability to decorate a space, the easiest way to build credibility (besides showing interiors you’ve designed for others) is to show people the place you call home. People are naturally curious, so they’re drawn to personal details and behind-the-scenes looks. You can also take things a step further by ensuring your online home is beautifully designed. Incorporate beautiful colors and textures, and use photos that are high quality and professional.
What are other ways to leverage skills?
The number one way to leverage your skills is to apply them firsthand. However, there are a lot of other ways you can establish your expertise and build a solid, credible reputation that will attract potential clients (and make them more apt to hire you!).
WRITE BLOG POSTS
Share your expertise, knowledge, and learning experiences through blog posts! Blogging is a great way, if not the best way, to build an audience, share your work, and get known as a go-to source on a certain topic. An added bonus is the fresh content being added regularly to your site.
SHARE WORKS IN PROGRESS
People love seeing a project come to life, and sharing work-in-progress shots is the perfect way to tell people about your work. By showing the step-by-step progression of a project, you’re also telling a story, giving potential clients a firsthand look at your process, and you’re inviting people to share the journey with you. When someone I follow on Instagram posts a work-in-progress shot, it piques my interest, and I find myself checking in to see how it’s all coming together.
If you’re really great at doing something, whether it’s email marketing, creating client workflows, managing time, or photographing products, chances are there are others who want to learn those exact skills! Create a free email course, make a video series, get plugged in with your local community to teach a workshop, or sell an e-course. Teaching is the perfect way to leverage your skills and build a reputation for being a go-to source.