Achim: [00:00:00] Welcome to the salon where we increase our knowledge through conversation and through community . It's so nice to see so many familiar faces here. Today's topic is a very broad and open one. I call it questions answered. I'm so excited that this is already the 16th salon we are doing.
15 sessions where before where I brought a topic. we had topics like "garden of expertise", "comet tail content", "seeding"," audience", "creation". In the beginning, they were more general. And in the end they were more specific like "leverage" the last time. We covered a lot of ground. Of course, it's not meant that you are here every time, but it's a standing invitation that you can join whenever you want.
So this time I would like you, to bring your questions. Sometimes it can be hard and challenging to think about a question, but it's a good opportunity to get answers, not only from me, but also from the other bright minds here in the call.
How to make money of your expertise?
Nate: [00:01:08] Maybe this is quite a general one but I'll lead off with this. I've been exploring this, content creator, et cetera. I still have a normal day job. I love the idea of creating content ,I can do that all day. Not having a boss sounds great. And then I feel like the part where it gets a little vague and where I'm not sure it's I actually make enough money from that, that I can support myself.
And I feel like other people get like a little bit vague on that point. So that's the part I'm interested in learning more is okay, let's say I'm going to quit my job and do this full-time how much, like, how am I really going to make enough money off of this to make it work?
Achim: [00:01:40] Wonderful question, because that's one of the most important questions and one of these questions that I hear the most often, because it is the challenge.
Going down this path of a knowledge entrepreneur, you said you're set already the creation part. We can all create all day. That's an exciting thing, but one very important aspect of it, especially if we want to earn money, is to have an expertise that you are creating in. Because you want to create value. That is something that puts you in the position to earn something. And it's easier to create value and to grow an audience, which is the fourth important part. If people know what you're standing for. if they know how you can help. If they can recommend you to friends.
Sometimes it's emerges, but often you have to decide for an expertise of the many you have . Then you create, then you grow an audience. And in this process you start to ask, to earn. This part is a hard part because there are many barriers that prevent us from asking. we are sometimes afraid to ask . Sometimes we don't know how to ask and what's the proper time, the proper format, but what I can attest to you also with examples and also the way I approach it.
And I'm leading the way on the tiny bit. I'm one of these people that can teach you something because I'm a little bit further down the road, not a lot. So I'm a different kind of teacher. You can learn a lot from teachers that are already far down the road. They are like the experts in the whole field . But they provide a different value than somebody who's currently on this path.
I already can say, people are more than happy to pay for certain value that you create, especially when you do it in a way that is not selling. We talked about that in the past. Selling means you have to put all the trust upfront. You sell something people give you their money they have to have the trust, and then you deliver the value. A different model is earning. Earning means you provide the value first, and then you get something in return. That's for the start, often a better model because you take the risks out of the equation .
Who else can contribute or want to contribute something to answer that question?
It used to be hard but something changed
Grigori: [00:04:06] I can probably add a couple of things. It seems to me that being a knowledge entrepreneur is somewhat more comfortable than having a job or easier than having a job. Is basically mirage. In many cases that is not true for a very specific reason. And the reason hides in a plain sight. In the notion of knowledge entrepreneur combines two things. Doing something is what, knowledge and being an entrepreneur. And this second part is really the hardest one. In my view being an entrepreneur means always looking for some leverage. You're not an entrepreneur if you're not looking for leverage. If you're not looking to, make something out of just a little bit of effort. And In case of knowledge work leverage means basically using some tools and in many cases using other people's work.
If you really want to stand a chance in the market being a solo entrepreneur is not as easy. You will probably need to use the work of other people. Otherwise the competition is going to be crazy if it just, do like computer systems for whatever, and everybody can do the same. It's basically a red ocean situation. It's not easy. It's not trivial. It's not simple. It's a very specific type of job. Sometimes we are uncomfortable in our jobs for a very specific reasons. This does not mean that knowledge entrepreneurship is for us.
Achim: [00:05:54] Does somebody wants to answer to that? I have a few points. We have to be aware that a lot of things changed. A lot of the old things that we thought were true are not true anymore. One of this is competition. Competition is not there anymore. It doesn't exist. We might think, there can only be so many companies in that particular field, but take a very mundane example.
One mundane example could be help people with their computer, like you were hinting at that. Everybody has a computer now, everybody needs help at some point. It's not easy to build a company to help a lot of people. But if you ask around ,you have a certain speciality in a computer, you have an expertise. That's always the important part. You have an expertise.
Nowadays, you can help with Team Viewer with remote connection, and so on. the only thing is you have to be willing to help. First of all, you have to do the steps to go there. Not that the money comes to you, but that you say I have this expertise I can help you. Do you want my help? That is sometimes hard.
But we are talking about hard, like going up on that mountain. That's hard. And I'm not talking about the Mount Everest. I'm talking about your local mountain in the city or wherever. It's hard, it requires some steps, but these steps are all known. Not everybody does it, but the technology changed that everybody can do it. And this is new. This is really brand new because paying for services online, paying for somebody online is not that old. We might think it is old, but it's really not.
A lot of people are already doing it. Freelancers used to do it for a long time. Platforms like Upwork provide tons of these services for everybody who says I can do that. Then they get somebody assigned that have that need and so on. The knowledge entrepreneur is slightly different because it leaves you all the power that comes also with all the responsibility. That's why I want to build this community to help us a little bit with that responsibilities, because we are all doing the same thing, then it's easier, but it's definitely possible. And then it's more like a question do you want to live in a marriage or like in a family or do you want to be single? These have all ups and downs and there's no right or wrong answer in a definitive way. You cannot say, one is easier or one is harder.
having a job. I know a lot of people who have a job it's hard these days. It's hard. Think of your mental health. Think about the challenges of running a business and so on and being an employee there it's really hard to have a job. On the other hand, it's hard to be a knowledge entrepreneur in different ways. but you can choose, you can pick and choose what you want to do and I'm definitely here to help you with the knowledge entrepreneur way. And other people are there to help you in the corporate environment, for example, which is also a place where a lot of good things can happen.
Grigori: [00:09:03] I respond to that. I have something to say about your example with using a computer, helping people with their computers. Look at this example from the demand side. I have a computer and you as a provider have basically no idea what kind of computer. It can be pretty old. It can be windows, PC or Unix machine, or it can be Apple computer, whatever. To help me as a provider you have to know everything about every kind of computers and moreover have some supply of parts probably. And software to install and have all the manuals. So basically as an individual, it was really hard for you to help me. If you don't know what kind of computer I have. And you don't have any specialisation or whatever. Companies is in a better position todo
A roadmap to become an expert for anything
Achim: [00:10:06] That's a wonderful example, because that used to be the case. You're totally right. It's like we used to get our news from one source. That was the newspaper . And you had to have these channels because it was not feasible to connect us in any other meaningful way, but that changed. Now we get our news from everybody, from private people, from corporations . It's a big mix. It's a big mess. Whatever you want, you get it. Even fake news are on supply. And these people find also recipients for their news.
Same with computers. You can be specialized in Macs that are still running, the older Mac system, because they are in a museum. If you do that, and that's, what's important . That has to be your expertise. You have to build an expertise in that. You have to show it. You have to be transparent about it. It is even enough to just be very open that you are now learning this, that you are now building up your expertise.
It's not easy in a way, because there is some structure you have to have some very visible home on the web. You have to be active in social media. You have to constantly talk about it. There are actually steps you have to take, but if you're doing it. Then you will see that people reach out to you because they can find you because you can find them, you can discuss with them and so on. That's completely new. We are all adjusting to it right now as we speak. A lot of people, and I'm also collecting this case stories, are already getting a lot of income out of that which is only important because it's the proof in the pudding more or less . 10 years ago, I could have only pointed you to hugely successful blogs, hugely successful newsletters that didn't earn money, because people who are not yet accustomed to paypal and not yet accustomed to Gumroad, subscriptions , paid communities, paywalls, stuff like that. That's now all available, it's all learned.
Now you have infinite clients, no competition, because nobody can fulfill that need, but you have to take the steps. It's not a choice. It's not a job that somebody gives to you. You cannot say okay, I want it to be a knowledge entrepreneur and let the money rain. That's not how it works. You have to first raise your hand and say, okay, I'm an expert in this and I show it to you. I show it repeatedly and I reach out and so on. It's not easy. I'm also struggling at a few points to consolidate.
I had this paid workshop that went very well by the way, the second workshop I wanted to give didn't have any signups. So that was a down point. From the first workshop, I even got a mentorship client, somebody that pays me now to guide him through the knowledge entrepreneurs journey and I have a the second person doing that now. That builds up at the same time. You see in my case, I'm always open for this now to also show it and I see that it's coming and I see that it's building up momentum and it takes some time I'm doing that now three months from zero more or less from zero to three months. And I will still have a lot to learn, but the technical feasibility, this is proven, and I can only advocate it. Because you have all these wonderful expertises. And that you also take these steps towards being a knowledge entrepreneur. Even if it is on the side, because it's no need to make it full time. If you invest just one hour per day, or maybe a weekend like four hours. maybe you take one year to build it up or maybe two years next to a main job. You will arrive at that point. You will arrive at the top of the Hill when you take the steps.
Don't take a loan, take time
Indy: [00:13:56] I think I add to that, that one possibly not comfortable way to look at it is that it is like a startup. It might be a startup of one, but it's still a startup. The amount of time and investment whether it's sweat or something else will differ from person to person, depending on what they're doing but it requires that time. It requires time and investment that. If you need money now then better to go find a consulting job or something, that to turn this potential to access the world, which thus contains an audience that would really appreciate what you have to offer is there, but the matching problem still takes time to solve.
Achim: [00:14:45] It's this quality of time that you invest. It's not a job that you just take, it's really something you grow, you build up and like a startup with infinite capital, because as a knowledge entrepreneur, you don't take a loan. You take time. Time is your investment. You have the best VC in the world, you get constant supply of time.
You take these steps and as in every business, you can scatter yourself all around. You can make mistakes. For example, you don't pick an expertise. A lot of people will say: I want to write. So I start to write. They write about their computer, they write about mental health they write about this, they write about that and so on. They end up with a portfolio of creations that are good for being a friend or an interesting person, but they are not a tool for somebody. I have this concrete demand, please help me, you are clearly an expert! But somebody who only writes about old computer games, only old computer games that are already 30 years old, that person is building up an expertise. This person will be able to turn it also into value and to earn part of that value in return.
The best job security: show expertise online
Florian: [00:15:59] I would like to add something else to this. I just had a really interesting online event which was about Future and how quantum computers will change the way we work within the next 10 to 15 years, it was a really far-fetched look into the future but there are some trends that are becoming a reality as we speak. Personal assistants on your Google phone and stuff, that's really close to entering the mass market. Everything will change. And the job, if you, like me working in a nine to five job Landscape will change dramatically. I think it's the safest bet to invest in yourself and to grow an expertise and create a fellowship because you never know what's going to happen within the next five to 10 years and you need to have something in your back pocket too. Either you make the jump or at least you have some kind of expertise that you've built up that you stay relevant in the job market. I think there's no other way for the future.
Achim: [00:16:52] Great point. Because your best security is to be able to quickly get something new or to create other value. The best CV in the world is something you do on the side. We see it every day. There's this one kid that creates a self-driving car simulator based on GTA or whatever. And companies are flocking to this person and say, "Whoa, you did such a great job. We want you in our team." These are science that these people put out.
You know how valuable you are as a person. That sounds really strange, but we know our friends, we know how valuable these people are. But it's so hard to see that from the outside, if they don't put something online. if they don't put something in a coherent form that you can follow maybe on social media, but social media is really a crowded place. it's hard for example, to show your expertise in your Twitter profile when you're also using Twitter to shout out good services, to shout out, what happened to you in your life.
I'm constantly saying start to think of it like a knowledge entrepreneur, even if you don't want to earn money with it, even if it's only your resume, even if it's only your body of work that you are building up in that particular expertise. It's like a portfolio that you are building up that can be turned to income whenever you want. It still takes time to grow that expertise, but then you can do it.
Constant demand for new expertises
And you mentioned another point Florian, which is really good. We have a constant demand on new expertise. Three years ago, virtual reality, nobody knows how this will turn out. Nobody knows what the best virtual reality games are, what's a virtual reality messenger. Are there virtual reality blogs out there. I don't know. You have these little tiny elite that are already starting it, but there's so much room below of people like you and me to just, okay I guess it's me. Then they go down that path and build up that value. And it will be, the blink of an eye in a normal career terms that they are now then among the elite in their city or in their country or in their communities . Quantum computing is another one of these. So, pick your expertise, but pick one! To open these doors for the future.
How to find your expertise
Fraser: [00:19:21] I wonder if this idea of finding that expertise seems to be one of a continuum of what you can do and what you might do that very narrow bit of that things you could do. So as you start to approach how you bring that choice of what your expertise is from indie games that only work on Atari from 1977 to 1978 to all indie games that happen on PCs.
But it could also add this, that next thing you get this fragmentation of how your effort, cause when you're individual postcode they're linearized and say on Twitter or your blog posts are also somewhat limited, sometimes you get a two by two or three by three matrix showing what you can do, but the first glance that determined your expertise is limited.
Your ability to show them what your expertise is by virtue of your content. It's difficult to show. So I wondering should you start with your larger amounts of knowledge and try to hone down based on some feedback loop you get from people responding, but when you have very few followers, it's hard to say what that feedback loop is at all characteristic of what your, the larger picture could be. Or do you pick one thing and say, did I get attraction? No. To another thing.
Both of them have problems. Both of them lead you to show perhaps poor decision-making at what I have to switch away from because you don't have enough samples. How would you come up with some sort of matrix of things you can do? Could you look at someone else on the internet and say who's doing that, or that is the market big enough.
This idea of competition. We talked earlier, just, I'm just going to quickly elaborate on that. I think there is competition. if someone could solve your problem, then you don't have the problem anymore. In that case, there is competition. You're just looking for the first guy to solve. And at that point you don't need them anymore. But if you're putting out information about how to solve in general that's quite different. You're a person that you've walked onto the computer one day and say, I have a problem who can help me. And at that point there was no competition because all those people are out there you just have to somehow find them. And if you're one of the people that can find them, or you're one of the people they find, then there a certain process happens next, where you talk back and forth perhaps. The idea is , where do you niche down this word, this idea of gov starting bacon, moving down to whatever one would be small enough to get you really expertise and will known for versus coming up from one of those things and saying, I'm going to add another one and another one.
Achim: [00:21:52] Good question. Does somebody wants to comment on that.
Nate: [00:21:57] I have a few thoughts on that. I definitely don't know the answer , but just a few thoughts that came up while you were speaking. I think there are sort of potential traps like tailspins here. Some of which I've fallen into, for instance you said something about let me try something and if it doesn't get a response, I'll try something else. And then if and I'll try something else. And I think my experience with content has been; It's very unpredictable what will people will respond to? And often, the stuff I'm proudest of or the stuff I'm really good, or I thought it was really good maybe doesn't get a lot of response. And then something that I thought was pretty average somehow gets a lot more engagement.
Often it's like completely random. It's like time of day or time of month, or it happens to get shared by someone on Facebook, just something really out of your hands. My feeling is It has to be a little bit more organic and self-driven or else you can really end up in chasing your tail. A similar thing with trying to find someone that no one else out there is doing. the internet is so big that if you try to find something that no one has ever done. If you look hard enough, you will inevitably find someone who has done something very close to your idea. I think if you let that discourage you it can be a bit of a trap and shut you down.
My general sense is it has to come from what you're really curious about and what you enjoy doing.
Achim: [00:23:09] These were great points. I had similar thoughts. Again, there is no competition. You said the first person that solved it, then it's enough, but you can always be that first person. There are so many people, if we would say, take books recommendations. Now you could say Oprah Winfrey solved that we don't need anybody else talking about books. she has a book club done. That's just not true. Not only do we need always alternatives, but also people that solve a problem go to a different layer. They lose the contact. They can never, ever again give the same kind of attention to people around them that you can do. Your local book club can always outperform Oprah Winfrey's book club. If you just put in the expertise, if you just put in the time and attention and care that other people see you as this person is really my favorite book club, because you just grew an audience over time.
Only companies that really have a lot of operating expenses. They have loans, it's like a startup, that's a good example. They have to succeed or they get shut down. But people don't get shut down, especially not on the knowledge entrepreneur world. You can just continue. You can continue to build one computer game at a time.
Opportunity comes up or you create it
And that leads nice over to your question regarding how do you do it? There's the thing called opportunity and then there's expertise. Meaning you have a blog about computer games, you put out one article, another article. One article hits off on, hacker news or something. That creates an opportunity. It doesn't help you anything regarding your expertise. You can only judge whether that article was good or not. You can only judge whether that brought up your game. You are the expert. The other people are not the expert. They might like this article for totally different reasons. You have to evaluate that, but for sure, that creates opportunity.
But you can also create opportunity. You can reach out to people. You can do actions that create opportunity as well. You can change your workflow. You can change your wording. You can change your medium. You can change the platform and so on. I would think of that not as a formula that you have to solve, but if you go that route, you will create something valuable in your expertise. Then opportunity will either come up or you create that opportunity. And then you decide whether you want to act on it.
For example, maybe you wrote this article and it was a very weird article. You thought nobody would be interested, but it caught fire and went viral. That's an opportunity for you to say, I will do more of that. Because I already have some proof and I want to do it. But you should not be this wondering generality that always takes the signs of opportunity, which can be random as a kind of a marching order. Okay. So I need to do more this. This is a big caveat. If you look too much on the metrics then your craft will go downhill.
We all know it from music. We know that the moment people say my most successful song was this. So I only do songs like this we lose the interest. Maybe they make more money, but they are not the expert anymore they used to be. You can always stay that expert. That's a good thing. You can stay on that path of the expert. the internet allows you to create value at scale. . So you will always earn enough if you want. If you just stop chasing the metrics, don't fall into that trap, but that's a different problem. If we have that problem, the metrics, then then we are already in a good state and we are mostly talking about. Launching that now.
How to listen to your audience
Fraser: [00:26:56] So you're talking about not using a feedback loop at all from the responses you get, but instead staying true to this expertise and letting the audience that you're actually perfectly targeted for eventually find.
Achim: [00:27:11] That would be a little bit too strong. Feedback, definitely. You should listen to your audience! Your audience can tell you how they perceive your creations. And that's perfectly valuable input, but they cannot tell you what to do because they are not the expert. So you should get feedback all the time, but you should not listen when your audience says, for example do more of that. you can take this as an input and then you can say I want to do more of that. And that makes total sense to do more of that. So you go with it, but if your audience asks for more of this and that, and you say that's not my long-term goal. I'm just building up something here. I built the foundation, but I now need to build more of that, then stay true to your path because better that's what I want to say
Indy: [00:27:56] just an analogy came to mind that one of the distinctions here, and it's not the one who's good or bad, but there's a choice between if you a knowledge entrepreneur and a content entrepreneur. For me, the analogy is someone like Malcolm Gladwell is essentially, they're a journalist and content entrepreneur; they write. In fact, if you look over his career, there is some kind of commonality amongst his books, but at the time, it's like he writes about all of these different things and he does so from his position as a writer, like he writes really well, he's a good storyteller. And also he has, some structural advantages because of his job.
If you want to be a content entrepreneur, you can. In that way, you choose to sell your stories on the strength of your storytelling. And, they go viral and on this and that. But if knowledge, entrepreneurship is about a different thing of where, as Achim, always says , you decide that this is an area that is my expertise. This is the area I will stay in. I might write one or two general things beause the audience likes to know me a bit better or whatever, but I always keep returning to what is my area, because that's my path. And it's not to say one path is better than the other, but you should know which path you're trying to go along.
Achim: [00:29:19] I would add to that, that I would not see the big difference between content entrepreneur and knowledge entrepreneur , because I think Malcolm Gladwell is a knowledge entrepreneur for me because he's so good at storytelling. With all his background and so on, he tells stories, whatever story he finds interesting. And I agree , you see the thread in that, but he has this expertise . And there's a difference between somebody who is an expertise in a very niche topic and Malcolm Gladwell, who's maybe very broad in their output.
But , what we like from Malcolm Gladwell, are not physical products but it is the knowledge that he brings to us in the form of words, in the form of stories. do you listen to the advertising that he reads in his blog? He creates these advertising spots and it's honestly so on the verge of putting me off because he uses his craft for the advertising and because the stories are so good I really want to buy this product now because he sold it so well, because he used storytelling for it but I don't like the product so much and I know he's doing it only for money that's even worse, but I'm totally big fan of his output.
Nate: [00:30:34] One thing that Malcolm Gladwell makes me think that he is important, is Having a voice. So in terms of finding your niche or having a thing, you're the expert on. I think it's like natural to start thinking from a tagline or something that's very definable, but I feel for a lot of the people or shows or content that I really connect, it would be hard to sum up in one sentence, what it is I love about them or what makes them unique. They have a very certain voice. I feel if I had to say right now in one sentence what makes Malcolm Gladwell unique? He's a great storyteller. I don't know if that quite captures it, but I feel I would know if I'm reading a Malcolm Gladwell piece, so I feel in that way it is something that you need, but it's hard to pin down.
Achim: [00:31:10] It helps if we take outliers, pardon the pun, like Malcolm Gladwell, then it's a little bit hard because they went to the top, but there are thousands of people like him just with smaller audiences that doing just a great job.
Maybe in the form of storytelling or maybe in the form of journalism in a certain way, or maybe it's something completely different, but it's always something. I call this expertise and I think this is a good way to think about it because we return to these people because we expect a certain thing and they better deliver. It can be a comedian then we want this. We don't want to talk about politics so much. It's only a side thing and we want this expertise. So it can be hard to pin down, but it must be there. And I think the success always shows that is something where we can return and get again, the same part of the expertise.
Grigori: [00:32:07] I find this notion of expertise a little bit confusion because in case of Gladwell, it was definitely not his scientific articles that he has so masterfully written . The expertise is not in science. It's probably in his voice and his ability to manage his audience and his ability to be always interesting and always visible and putting out some hours to produce next book just in time so that we don't forget him. So it's difficult to pinpoint what this expertise is. In my experience, it's not something steady or stable or given. It's not something that you have it's something you can develop. For example, if you are writing daily on a specific subject for a few months, you will develop an expertise in this specific subject or specific field of knowledge. Doing knowledge work sometimes is even more important than just having some knowledge. That's the idea. I was doing continuously, something, hoping that you have it already.
Achim: [00:33:25] This points to the fact. Expertise, it's just a word to describe it. I can repair a sink but if I do it the first time, it won't be the same outcome as if I do it, the hundredth time. So repetition always builds up a certain expertise and knowledge in humans. And it's better something that resonates with you because some people that are forced into jobs, they don't become a good expert, even if they repeated a lot of time because they don't like it. They do it just barely.
With that being said, thank you so much. We've reached the end of the salon. We wrap things up here and I'm looking forward to see you at the next salon.
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