For many of us, it's that time of year again where we need to put the heating on at work and at home to keep warm. It is after all November so we have to expect fuel bills to rise.
A flick of a switch and a few minutes later the chill is off the room. We can work, we can play, we can eat, we can wash and we can sleep in the comfort of central heating and warm homes. If we're fortunate enough to have heating and a roof over our heads that is.
But of course, central heating is not always on hand. A few years ago Mark and I spent some time in south-west France. We rented a house (converted barn) on the edge of the Midi-Pyrenees. There was no central heating and the only way to keep warm during the winter months was from small electric wall heaters and a log fire.
This meant for Mark, organising the firewood became a top priority, and as anyone that has ever had to take on this task knows, it has its hidden benefits.
As the saying goes...
Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.
If you've ever gathered, chopped and stacked wood you'll know it does exactly that. Warming you once doing those activities and secondly when it's used on your fire.
Now you're probably wondering what on earth has this to do with having an expertise in fashion? Good question. I'll make the link.
Your expertise in fashion is like the wood. You've spent all these years developing your skills and extending your knowledge. You've worked tirelessly to master your craft and be an expert in your field. You've gathered much through those years that make you qualified on your subject.
Perhaps you are a teacher or lecturer and teach others too. Or you work solely in the industry for a brand in any one of the dozens of careers that we find in fashion.
But most often as you've been gathering your 'wood' it's been used for the main purpose of getting paid once. And then each day you have to get up and go to work again and resell your expertise to your employer and wait to get paid again. So it's your wood but it's not really going on your fire. It's going to someone else.
But what if you could get paid twice or more but for the same wood. In other words, what if you could take your expertise and get paid for it over and over again but without having to gather the same wood again? That would be like chopping the wood once and then burning it over and over again. Chop once, keep warm over and over again.
It would be like having wood that never burns out. It would be like selling your wood to others in your village and as soon as they come to collect it, another stack of logs magically appears in its place without you ever having to chop more wood.
OK. I need to stop the metaphor there before I overdo it. Let me now turn your attention to your expertise.
Anyone working in fashion is an expert!
Because an expert is defined as a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field. This makes you an expert in the skill or knowledge that you have developed in a lifetime of working in your field.
The word expert originates from the Latin expertus, "someone known by their experience". It also means to attempt, try, find out, prove, test. I'm sure you have done all of that in your field at some point in the past.
You may not see yourself as an expert perhaps because most often we see 'experts' as people that have risen to a certain point in their careers. They have defined themselves as experts and put themselves out in their specific field, promoting services they can offer in exchange for their 'special wood' or for their specific version of experience.
But the point is you have expertise in all manner of subjects and will be known for your experience if only you were to stop and consider it for a moment and then define it.
There are two areas where you have developed your expertise.
Let's take a look at them in more detail to help you understand where you could chop once and sell twice or more.
Your experience and expertise come from all the lessons that you have learned whilst working in your profession. Regardless of your job title, function or role, you have amassed a depth of experience that qualifies you as an expert across a broad range of subjects.
Not only do you know your specific field in detail so your expertise goes deep, but you have also worked in the broader fashion industry. You have connected with others in different roles that work with you, that rely on your services or that support you. This means your expertise also goes wide.
Therefore, not only do have you expertise that goes deep, but you also have expertise that goes wide.
Overlayed onto all this are the personal lessons that you have learned in life but not necessarily related to your deep field of expertise (remember that word comes from your experience).
Let me explain as you imagine the following.
You worked for a retail brand, joining them straight from university. After a few years, you became promoted with little or no planning on your part. You were the youngest person on your team of seven.
A few days into your new role you were confronted by a member of your team that refused to make changes that you had explained and asked for. The team member was 20 years older than you and challenged your experience. There was tension between the two of you for weeks and this behaviour also corrupted and influenced a younger colleague until eventually, you found a way to resolve the issues.
This example would have been rich in experience from the challenges and how you overcame them. And such experiences are from life, and not specific to fashion. What you learn in such single episodes of personal life can be applied to any industry, not just fashion.
Think of how many examples of life's rich tapestry you could share from your own experiences?
Our lives are so stressed, so frenetic, so challenging and so demanding that we all need help. We're searching for answers from friends, colleagues, from family or communities. Not everyone can gather, chop and stack their own wood. Many need help and you have untapped experience as an expert to offer.
People need help whenever they ask a question. They search for solutions online and from people they know, like and trust with fashion expertise. They are looking for help to learn something that will solve a problem they have, overcome a challenge, reduce an issue, start something new, prepare for something ahead of them, stop something from happening etc.
Using tools such as Google keyword planner which you get with a free AdWords account with Google, you can search for terms in your field. Google tracks this stuff when people search by asking questions.
Let's say your expertise is in fashion illustration and you know everything there is to know about the subject, or at least you could easily help someone learn how to draw fashion sketches. Well when you type into Google's keyword planner the phrase "how to draw fashion sketches", you'll be told that there are between 1000 and 10,000 searches on this subject per month.
But it doesn't stop there because there are other keywords that are similar to those that suggest a need in a similar area, so Google gives us these search results too.
Why? Because the person looking for help in fashion sketches might also be interested in fashion illustration or fashion drawing but uses a slightly different search phrase or words and vice versa.
By the time Google then tells us of all the other search ideas that could be relevant to "fashion sketches" such as "fashion sketchbook for beginners" and many, many more there are between 1 million and 10 million searches per month on this topic!. That's a lot of people looking for some kind of help.
So what options do you have as a fashion subject expert to help these people and why would you bother. Let's start with the why bother question first.
This boils down to two key reasons.
Of course, it might also be a combination of both.
Either way, it's never been more achievable because the tools are now available to everyone that enable and empower us to re-use our expertise to help others and get paid for it.
So you've decided to use your expertise to serve others AND make some money from doing so. How would you do that? Well here's a list of some of the key approaches.
These are just some of the ways you can "gather, chop and stack your wood" and get warm over and over again from your expertise. You are simply repurposing what you know in different formats.
At We Teach Fashion we're helping fashion subject experts take their expertise and earn income from it through specifically creating and selling online courses. This helps address the shortfall in fashion education and development that is needed so badly.
To learn more about the opportunities that await you sign up for further information here.
Get our four FREE training videos to hep you get started and decide what steps to take and what to teach. Watch online now.