I’ve spent most of this month working on my first real WordPress plugin, Headway Helper. Building it was a pretty big pain in the ass, and it got me thinking about what it means to be an “expert.”
Guess what? You’re a scholar now. You have to know weird acronyms and obscure software that customers might have used prior to using your software and compare the two. Maybe tomorrow you have to learn how to cycle images with Jquery. Maybe yesterday you learned how to spay a cat.
No matter what topic you’re an expert on, you have to learn new things all the time if you want to remain an expert. Usually, this is fun, so don’t worry about it. But if I just stopped at Headway version 2.0 I wouldn’t be paying my bills now with top-selling 3.0 products.
I’m not even sure I could name the corners of the internet I had to travel to while building my plugin. A developer I was talking to literally told me just to skip automatic updates because of how irritating they are. You hear that? Just skip a critical feature because there’s no proper documentation out there.
So I went and found my “documenting” pencil.
Experts learn by trial and error, and build their own methods. Don’t know how to change a flat tire in 60 seconds? Get a stop watch and a jack and go practice that shit.
Not only do you get to write instructions and build products for customers and visitors, but you build your own reference for the future. I use my own Headway101 tutorials daily. It’s about getting the information at all costs.
I’ve gotten emails from people who are sorry to disturb me (I watch a lot of TV, so they’re not interrupting much), and people who just want a quick solution for a problem (because somehow I’m faster than Google). Such is the feeling of being a public resource.
When you give a lot away for free, people want more. Remember to balance your time, regardless of the words that requests are wrapped in. Just because you produce free public content doesn’t mean people are automatically allowed to email/call for emergency support 24/7. Draw some lines and be polite. Or don’t sleep, eat, and use the bathroom. Whatever.
If you’re the expert in you’re field, you’ve probably gotten the “save me” email where someone hired a non-expert, spend thousands, and then found you and asked you to come to their rescue. Congratulations, you’ve just had your first “why didn’t you come to me in the first place?” moment.
Yeah, they don’t know either.
Unless you have a team of people, your time is probably focused 80% on building and learning quality information, products, etc. You’re busy furthering your niche for the common people. The “gurus” are busy spending to convert cheapo traffic into expensive swindles.
Take some time to promote yourself. Remember people want stuff from you for nothing because they weren’t aware you’d totally stop your own research for rent money. Let the masses know you’re open for sale.
For reals. People will send you fan mail. It’s the weirdest and most awesome thing ever. So go find a therapist and learn to take a compliment. And then learn from my mistakes and publish those emails somewhere. I just told you to promote yourself, didn’t I?
In fact, go do that right now. I’m out of fun facts.