HOW TO GIVE ADVICE WHEN YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE AN EXPERT.
As a quiet person, I don't really believe in saying something for the sake of talking, and the same can be true of the way I feel about blogging and the other content I create. It's important to me to offer something of use, of value - whether that's in inspiration or encouragement, or yes, even advice - in this noisy online world.
But can just anyone write advice?
What qualifies us to be able to write with authority on a subject? At what level of success do we become expert enough to pass on our knowledge to others?
Self doubt is a common obstacle that pops up when we feel we'd like to share our learnings and experience. After all, who are we to say this is how something should be done? It's very easy to trick ourselves into feeling like a fraud, like an impostor.
In reality, however, we can all give advice. There will always be someone who knows less about a subject than you do, someone who is struggling with something you've just worked through, someone about to start something you've had in progress for a few months. There will always be something unique to you - a way you tackle a certain thing - that will be helpful to pass on to someone else.
Sometimes, in writing something down, I find a way forwards, not just for others, but for myself as well.
Authenticity is important, and giving advice is infinitely easier if you have some experience or empathy of what you're writing about. Here the key term is experience, you write about what you've been through, you write about something you overcame, or how, looking back, you could have used hindsight to cut your learning curve or make something easier.
You don't have to appear further along than you are - a bigger business, a more successful artist. Giving advice at the stage you're at, openly, can be more helpful than you realise. Often others just need to see someone else living and thinking the way they do, someone who can hold their hand and walk with them along the path, rather than someone looking down from their position all the way at the top of the mountain.
Compassion and empathy are important too. Be the kind of support you needed in the past, and you can be that to others, too. What helped you? How can this experience inform and help others?
I try to give advice in the way I would to a friend. This way it becomes less critical that you prove your expertise, less important that you measure yourself by some quantifiable level of success - that somehow qualifies you as an authority on a subject (because really, there's no such thing).
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll perhaps have noticed a similar pattern along the way I like to structure things. I'm a methodical, practical person. I like simplicity and quiet efficiency, and in the tips I give here, you'll hopefully see this echoed. It's the way I like to work, and it follows that it's the style I give advice in, translating my own experiences into ordered steps, or simply organised, methodical thoughts. If our advice feels like it really comes from us and the way we approach things, it's bound to resonate with like minded people.
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