Having an idea is one thing – attracting the attention of your target market with that idea in order to turn it into influence is another. Then of course there’s the final piece of the puzzle – turning that influence into income.
There are multitudes of ways to make an income as an influencer – even more so now the internet has provided a depth of platforms and tools to monetise content. This is massively different from when I first started in the professional speaking industry, when options were limited to writing a book (of which very few made significant income) and being paid to travel and speak at corporate events.
Fast forward to today and there are blogs, podcasts, digital learning platforms, Google adwords, Youtube advertising, sponsored social media posts – not to mention the most underestimated thought leadership gold – the depth and value of opportunities that arrive when you’re recognised as the expert in your space.
But how do you move from an idea, to influence to income?
A few weeks ago I sat down to chat with New York based Dorie Clark – author of the ground breaking book ‘Stand Out – How to develop your breakthrough idea and build a following around it’ which was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. Magazine, one of the Top 10 Business Books of the Year by Forbes, and a Washington Post bestseller. She was in the middle of touring her latest title ‘Entrepreneurial You – Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive’. Our conversation covered every aspect of finding your breakthrough idea, building credibility and why monetising your influence isn’t as impossible as you might think.
You can access the full interview here. Otherwise, here are the five key messages I took out of our conversation around turning your influence into income:
Originality is overrated
A common trait I see among the greatest thought leaders is that they become the ‘translator’ of their field. Dorie calls these people synthesisers. To be a translator doesn’t mean you have to come up with a ground breaking new idea or piece of research. Instead, what they aredoing is bringing together ideas and creating a synthesis that shows their target market a new, simple way to look at what’s already out there.
Her advice is to look for a little disturbance in the force field – seek out a strand of an interesting idea that’s not getting the attention and coverage it deserves. Ask yourself, what are other people in your field overlooking? What are they not talking about? How can you combine multiple ideas with a new perspective? This becomes your breakthrough idea.
Embrace your edge
How can you use your unique background to stand out amongst the crowd? I recently interviewed the incredible oncologist Dr Bronwyn King. Having discovered her superannuation was being invested into tobacco companies – the very thing that was killing her patients – she went on a one-woman campaign to convince financial institutions to redirect $6 billion of our retirements funds away from tobacco related investment. She was able to do this because she deliberately approached the issue as a doctor, not an activist.
As Dorie explained, coming from a different background – be it a certain philosophical approach, demographic, or pivoting from a different industry – gives you a competitive edge. You’ll have a different perspective and bring unique talents to the party. To help get you started identifying your point of difference, Dorie offers a free self-assessment questionnaire that I hugely recommend.
Get your hands dirty
Of the 50-plus thought leaders she interviewed for Stand Out, almost every one of them started with no more than a broad sense of what they were interested in. This is very different to the most common road-block I come across – that being not starting until you know what ‘your thing’ is. Instead they chose to get their hands dirty. They immersed themselves in their industry to see where they could insert themselves and contribute.
For Dorie, this meant years of blogging and, despite being a professional journalist, offering to write for publications for free. This content more than pays for itself by road-testing your ideas, accumulating relevant testimonials and affiliations and nudging you to the top of search engine results. She made an excellent point that I think is too often overlooked: “The game is to get as much credibility as you can early on – and then leverage that credibility so you can turn it into premium prices down the road.”
Break it down
Consistently creating content means coming up with countless iterations on your break through idea. So how do you break it down? The best answer is to start simple. Using the example of a golf professional – how to hold a golf club correctly might seem obvious to them. However, for people who don’t have years of practice, breaking this technique down into a series of simple steps is enormously valuable.
We often take our skills for granted, so a good place to start is by considering this question – what do people ask me about the most? You could also go directly to the source – your target market – and ask them to give you three questions they’d like to ask you about what you do. Also look at any related situations and conversations that seem to frequently occur – is there anything there that could be a useful topic for your network?
Price = Fear + 10%
I’ve written before about the fact that I believe we’re entering a “new age of influence”. Dorie is a prime example of that where, rather than making money from her writing, she makes it because of her writing. She gets her ideas out into the public sphere and funnels the attention they garner into multiple income streams she’s developed. An article, for example, could lead to a speaking gig, or an executive coaching or consulting engagement.
The big challenge here is having the confidence to name your price. When it comes to charging money for our expertise – as opposed to for our time – many of us resort to nervous laughter and throwing out a figure that does no justice to the value we bring. Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit, said something I love. He said your price should always be “Fear + 10%”. Pick the amount you’re afraid to say, up it by 10 per cent and deliver it with certainty.
We’ve all seen the stories on Facebook of people making millions packaging and selling their ideas. Thanks to one ‘quick and simple’ system – that took them from their parent’s basement to a garage full of Ferraris in under a month. I’ve seen and been involved in many successful journeys of influence – and I can tell you something with absolute certainty – it’s never quick. It involves diving into the space you want to own, then consistently showing up with value over the long term. However I will tell you something else with absolute certainty – two years from now, when the market place is more crowded and the noise is harder to cut through – you will wish you had started the journey today.
Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration of what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes, Spotify or juliemasters.com.