Why You Need to Publish Content to Have an Expertise with Rochelle Moulton

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Why You Need to Publish Content to Have an Expertise with Rochelle Moulton
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How do you become an authority in your field? What’s the key to unlocking rewarding work and more sales with less selling? According to Rochelle Moulton, it’s publishing. And Rochelle knows a thing or two. Not only has she been helping people become authorities in their fields since 2007, but her book, The Authority Code, will give you the blueprint — and the right prompts — to help you too. Rochelle and I have a great conversation around niching down, spending your time wisely, and publishing to become an authority in your space. Plus, in Build Something More, we compare notes on the book writing and publishing process!

Top Takeaways:

  • There’s a difference between being an expert, and being an authority. Experts are good at doing a thing, and get paid do to it. Authorities, whose mindset is publishing, command respect from a much wider audience, and can make money in a variety of ways
  • To build authority, you need to have a niche. You want to be able to talk to your people and offer them solutions and outcomes. In fact, as an authority, that’s exactly what you’re selling: an outcome. How will your perfect client’s life change after working with you?
  • Publishing is the key to building authority. That can be through email, blogging, podcasting, or video. Pick one that works for your audience and start helping people. Then, your content does the selling.

Show Notes:

Transcript

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Joe Casabona: How do you become an authority in your field? What’s the key to unlocking rewarding work and more sales with less selling? According to Rochelle Moulton, it’s publishing. And Rochelle knows a thing or two. Not only has she been helping people become authorities in their fields since 2007, but her book, “The Authority Code” will give you the blueprint and the right prompts to help you too.

Rochelle and I have a great conversation around niching down, spending your time wisely, and publishing to become an authority in your space. Plus, in Build Something More, we compare notes on the book writing and publishing process. It’s a great conversation. I learned a lot and I know you will too.

Now today’s episode is brought to you by Ahrefs and Nexcess. And you’ll be able to find all of the show notes over at howibuilt.it/249. All right, let’s get into the intro and then the interview.

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast that helps small business owners create engaging content that drives sales. Each week I talk about how you can build good content faster to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

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On top of having these episodes delivered straight to your inbox. You’ll get some quick thoughts, recommendations, and a content roundup, the perfect way to start your week. You can sign up for free at howibuilt.it/subscribe, that’s howibuilt.it/subscribe to get my free weekly newsletter.

Joe Casabona: Rochelle, how are you today?

Rochelle Moulton: Oh, Joe, I’m great today. Thanks for having me.

Joe Casabona: My pleasure. Thanks for coming on the show. Like I said, I’m currently reading your book and I am really enjoying it. I am doing the prescribed method of reading and doing the exercises along with the reading. I found that that’s really effective for me.

I did the same thing for Don Miller’s “Marketing Made Simple.” And that building a story brand I think kind of has you doing them both but really effective in both cases.

And since I mentioned that book, I will say I’m almost done with “The Authority Code.” I would probably recommend reading that one first because you are determining the how to become an authority, who you’re talking to. And then building a story brand teaches you how to tell that story to the specific audience.

Rochelle Moulton: Exactly. You want to know who you are first, how you’re going to position yourself, and then you can figure out how to tell your story so that you can also monetize this positioning that you’ve created.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I’ve been a freelancer since I was 14. Longtime listeners of the show will know I started because my church came to me and asked if I can make websites. And I said no. And they said, “We’ll pay you,” and I said, “Yes.”

And I really liked that, and so I kept doing it. But I was always kind of like half-heartedly going after niches. Like at one point, I was like, “I’ll go after construction companies because they all need portfolios.” But I didn’t really know how to talk to them. Most of them probably didn’t want a website. Like they didn’t care to have a website.

Then I thought that, you know, “I’ll go after pizza joints because there’s like a million of them.” But like most people in the before time, like before the pandemic would just walk into a pizza place. And so finding your niche can be hard and scary. I think it’s also kind of really important to have a really successful business where you’re not just grinding it out. I think is kind of a fair assessment.

Rochelle Moulton: Oh, yeah. And it’s well documented in the book. I mean, I believe that in order to build authority you have to have a niche. You absolutely have to figure out how to slice and dice your expertise and your market in a way that you’re in whitespace. That you can talk to your people in a way that nobody else is doing. And you can offer them solutions, outcomes that nobody else can do. That’s when you really make the shift from being “Oh, yes, I’m doing X” to being an authority if not the authority on x.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s a really great point. You know, actually, it’s funny I have an anecdote that I think is coming from Twitter today. I tweeted that the AirPods Max were on sale for 120 bucks off. Sorry, if you’re hearing this later; they’re probably not on sale anymore.

And somebody tweeted at me and said, “You know, that’s still a ridiculous price for headphones.” And I said, “Sure. If you’re used to buying like $25 headphones, then, yes.” But I am always wearing headphones. I love music. I pay for Apple Music because you get that higher fidelity.” Music headphones that can relay that high-fidelity music are well worth 500 bucks to me.

Rochelle Moulton: Just in saying that, you see the difference in those two audiences immediately. There’s somebody who wants to pay 20 bucks and there’s somebody who will pay 200. Totally different audience. And you can focus on either one. There are advantages to either one.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. So really excited to have this conversation around kind of defining your niche and authority and why you need to create content in order to be in authority. That’s kind of the headline. But before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, and what you do?

Rochelle Moulton: Sure. Well, in a sentence, I turn consultants and big thinkers into authorities. And of course, then the question is always, well, Why do I want to become an authority? And really I used to think that building authority was about getting people to hire you. I was in a big consulting firm, and the more authority I had, the easier it would be for them to say yes.

But over time, and especially as I sold the first firm that I developed, I realized that authority is really about value creation. So when you think about it, that’s really how I spend my time and deliver outcomes is we’re creating value.

And a simple example would be if you’re selling a thing, and everybody in your space is selling it for $1,000 and you can sell your version of that thing for $5,000, then that authority has just created an extra value of $4,000 every time you sell that thing.

The other thing it does, and I discovered this when I sold the firm to Arthur Andersen is, in our case, it literally added another zero to the price tag. So I mean, that got my attention. So it’s not just what you’re selling on a day-to-day basis, but it’s the value that you’re building in your business. So that when… or I should say if. Perhaps you’re not thinking you’ll sell it. But when you decide to sell your business, there’s a value there.

You might decide, “I don’t want to sell widgets anymore. I want to go and do something different.” And being able to sell that company or that firm and get this hidden value inside that in your pocket is huge. It’s really all about value creation at the end of the day.

Joe Casabona: I think that’s really fantastic. First of all, I love that you were able to say what you do in one sentence. I think a lot of people, myself included, sometimes have a hard time with that, right, with crafting the elevator pitch because you want to try to include whoever you’re talking to in the elevator pitch when you really don’t want to do that.

And then, you know, authority, especially around selling, right… I’m a, I’ll say, recovering WordPress developer. I think I heard somebody else say that and I really liked it. I was running my business mostly in the WordPress space for a while. And last year in the year before there were talking of acquisitions.

And in some cases, it was kind of unclear what the value proposition was. Like, why would Company X buy Company Y? And it was that authority, right? They had cultivated a ton of trust with their user base. They’re well respected in the community. And some of these companies, especially ones entering the WordPress space kind of early on for the first time, wanted to be able to leverage that a little bit.

And so I think what you’re saying is absolutely true. I saw it in my small corner of the world with dozens of acquisitions that happened in the WordPress space over the last couple of years.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. This is going back a few years no, but one of the reasons why Andersen wanted to buy us we were this teeny tiny little firm compared to Arthur Andersen. Was that we had basically cornered the market on being able to sell consulting services that were delivered by people who were flexibly scheduled.

Now, that sounds really arcane. But we were all… the Wall Street Journal called us refugees from the big firms. We had all said, “We’re done with working 60, 70, 80 hours a week. And most of the people on my team were women, they were all moms.

And we had some requirements. They had to have 10 years of relevant experience. They had to come out of a big consulting firm. They had to have a master’s in some related area to their expertise. And they needed to be able and want to work flexibly.

And so what happened was that in our market, which was largely Chicago at the time, we cracked that code. So we proved that it could be done. So when we were ready to sell, simplifying the process, but basically, Anderson said, “Hmm, these guys have figured out how to do it. We keep trying, and we haven’t figured it out. Let’s buy them.” And so they absolutely bought us more for that than they did for the revenue that we produced. Right? For the number.

So yeah, authority has a value. And it’s different for every business, for every person. But I believe that it’s absolutely worth going after. Kind of like the last bust of the night, right? Build authority whenever you can.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. I love that. And it’s funny because I think… well, first, I think we should probably define… in the pre-show we were talking about this, right? Kind of conflating expert and authority.

And kind of related to recent personal experiences is I’ve always felt like I was a WordPress expert, a web development expert. And then I wrote a book called “Responsive Design with WordPress,” the only book that covered that topic, and I was immediately hired, more or less immediately, by an agency who the owner would trot out that fact whenever we were talking to like Disney or NAT Geographic, Joe wrote the book on Responsive Design with WordPress. And so that was, I think, my first kind of brush with kind of being an authority.

And then more recently, I felt like I’m kind of an expert in podcasting. I’ve launched a lot of podcasts. But I found people have been randomly reaching out to me being like, “Hey, do you do coaching? I want to hire you as a coach?” And I’m like, “Why me?” And I think it’s because I’ve established myself as an authority, especially with speakers, educators, and authors.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. I usually think of it as it’s a process. A lot of times what happens is people are doing a thing in a corporation. They’re a specialist in something and then they become a freelancer. And by freelancer what I mean is that you’re basically renting yourself out by the hour by the day to companies who can use you, and you’re doing your thing. You’re doing a craft. You’re delivering pretty much what you used to deliver just in a slightly different way.

Over time, what happens is you develop expertise. And a lot of times that expertise, not always, but pretty often, it comes from specialized things that you have been doing in the freelancing. So it might be that like if you’re doing WordPress, Oh, I’m going to really focus on responsive design. I mean, that’s actually a great example of something. And so you move into an expert space.

An expert just means that other people recognize that you know this thing. For me, the difference between expert and authority, and it’s not like it’s a hard and fast line, it just kind of like it smoothly goes from one into the other, is that the authority is recognized, first of all by a much larger group of people. It’s not the five people that you know, the five clients you’ve worked with, who say, “Oh, Joe’s an expert on this. You need to call him.” Now, that’s great. Nothing wrong with that. You can make a very nice career doing that.

Authority is different. Authority is they are finding you not just through word of mouth, but they’re finding you on things that you publish, on things that you produce based on how they hear about you, what you’re saying about your point of view. You’re hooking them essentially with your content.

I mean, a lot of this is about content. Because content is just the… and I’m going to call it physical, but it’s this physical manifestation of all this stuff that’s inside your head as an expert. And you’re figuring out a way to share that with a broader audience. And a lot of the difference between an expert and an authority is in the mindset. Because an authority is always publishing. Like a shark is always swimming.

And authority is always publishing. And when you’re not publishing, you’re thinking about what you’re going to publish next. You might go dark for a while, like when you’re working on a book, but you’re working on something. And your focus is always about how can I translate this thing for my audience? How can I make it easier for them to understand that?

And so what being an authority does is it just offers you more options. Being an expert is about working for this solid group of clients. And typically just you. Maybe a firm depending on your area of expertise. What an authority can do if they want is they can make money in different ways.

They’re creating value the way I described. And you’re not charging $1,000, you’re charging $5,000. They can create value. They can explain things in ways that haven’t been explained before. And so what that means is they can be a speaker and they can get a lot of money for speaking. And you can write books.

I mean, again, it depends on your business model. Not everybody writes books to make money from the books, but the books can fuel a speaking career. They can fuel coaching options. They can fuel all sorts of things. So being an authority just gives you more choices in how you structure your business and how you make money and create value.

Joe Casabona: That’s such a great distinction, because, well, I love what you said about the mindset. Being an authority as a mindset. Authority is always publishing. I think that some people are worried to give away their trade secrets.

And for six years now, on this podcast, I always end the show by asking my guests what their trade secret is. And some people are like, “What do you mean, trade secret?” And I’m like, “I mean, you don’t really have to tell me like the Coca Cola recipe. But like, what’s something that you think people should know?” But an authority is generous, right, with their knowledge.

Rochelle Moulton: Absolutely.

Joe Casabona: Because they know that they can do something way more effectively than even if I teach you how to do it, I’ve still been doing it for 20 years. And your time is perhaps better spent doing the thing that you’re really good at, right?

Rochelle Moulton: Well, yeah. And the thing is, I love what you said about being an authority is about being generous. It absolutely is. And here’s the thing, and consultants do this all the time. We think, “Oh, we can’t share this expertise because then everybody’s going to know how to do what we do.”

Well, first of all, just because they know how to do it doesn’t mean that they will do it. And then maybe in your evolution as a professional, as a business owner, maybe you don’t want to do that thing. Maybe you’d like to teach someone how to do that thing. And you’d like to teach them whether that’s in coaching, whether it’s creating some kind of classes or digital products or writing books or speaking, podcasting, all those things, it’s really about that.

Joe Casabona: Yes. Just because they know how to do it doesn’t mean they will do it. I love that. I think about, you know, maybe Wolfgang Puck has like a cookbook out where he tells you… or Gordon Ramsay, right?

Rochelle Moulton: Mm-hmm.

Joe Casabona: Maybe he tells you how to make his world famous… What is it? The beef dish, right?

Rochelle Moulton: I’m not sure. But he shows it on TV. I mean, he shows the recipe on TV. You don’t even have to pay for it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. So he gives it away for free. I sincerely doubt that people are going to be like, “Why would I go to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant? Well, I’ll just make it here for free” or whatever. So that’s really great point.

And something that you said in your book, before we get to publishing because I think that that’s… I mean, like you said, authorities publish and I want to talk about content creation. But before we get to that, something you said in your book was every moment you spend on something someone else can do better is a moment you’re cheating the world of your talents.

And this was over the summer I had like a come to Jesus moment with this. Because I wrote a blog post about it. It’s over on my website. I’ll link to it in the show notes which you can find over at howibuilt.it/249. But it was basically on mowing the lawn and editing your podcast.

And I talked about how I for a bevy of reasons I was unable to mow the lawn for three weeks and it was a very rainy summer here in the Northeast US. So when I finally got to it, I have a cheap lawnmower. I have like a quarter acre of land here outside of Philadelphia. So I have a cheap lawnmower and a cheap weed whacker, but it gets the job done.

And one Friday because I couldn’t mow the lawn over the weekend, I mowed the lawn and I weed-whacked and I had to trim the hedges. And it took me five to six hours to do this.

Rochelle Moulton: Ouch!

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And I thought, well, even if my billable hours is 150 or is 200 bucks, I just lost $1,000 in billable revenue because I had to mow the lawn. So right after that, I spoke to my wife, she was absolutely cool with it. We hired somebody to mow our lawn for 30 bucks a week. It takes them 10 minutes, it is the best money I spend because I never have to think about mowing the lawn again.

Rochelle Moulton: Hmm. Well, there’s two things in that struck me. Because there’s this idea that you’re cheating the world of your talents. So that’s about using your time to really make it matter. And so how many people could you help if you weren’t spending five hours mowing the lawn? So that’s the first piece.

But the second piece is also growing your business. And we all have things that we do, you know, around the house, because we feel like we have to. Here’s how I look at it. If you love to do that thing and it energizes you, it’s in your genius zone… It doesn’t all have to be about business and making money.

If you lived for mowing your lawn, I’d say do it. But you don’t. You hated every moment of it, it sounds like. And you just hate to make that go away. That’s what is worth it every single time. So it’s not just the monetary decision and it’s not just sort of the giving back or energetically.

I just think that so many of us give ourselves permission to do these little things that we hate. And what happens when we do that on a regular basis is it filters into the rest of what we do. Not only do we have less time to do what we love, but we’re always thinking about lawn, it’s driving me nuts. It needs to be mowed. I’ve got to do it.

And so there’s a part of your brain that isn’t thinking about your next thing, that isn’t focusing on the content, that isn’t focusing on your ideal audience, your ideal clients, and buyers. And you’re being nibbled to death, if you will, by this lawn. So yeah, absolutely, get rid of that stuff that you don’t have to do.

And even if it feels like a stretch financially, sometimes it can be the smartest thing you do. Whether that’s you get an administrative, like a VA to help you with something or whether it’s you get somebody to clean your house, mow your lawn, whatever that is to free you up for what you do best.

And 9.9 times out of 10 when somebody does that, suddenly there’s a ping, and you had some revenue thing show that you never did before that pays for whatever this other thing cost you 10 times over. So it’s like a universal law.

Joe Casabona: Yes, that’s absolutely true. And to your point, I was at a friend’s wedding and I was telling them about this. One guy said, he’s like, “I just get on my ride lawn mower.” He’s like, “You like smoking cigars, light up a cigar and just ride around, put your headphones on.” And I was like, “I don’t have a ride on mower and it’s like a hassle to me.”

And he’s like, “Well, doesn’t it bother you that you’re paying 30 bucks for somebody to do something that takes them 10 minutes?” I’m like, “That’s not what I’m paying for? I’m paying so I never have to think about mowing my lawn again. And maybe when I’m older, my kids will be older and then they can mow the lawn. But maybe after they move out and my business is established or I’ve sold or whatever, maybe then I’ll have a ride on mower. But until then-

Rochelle Moulton: I doubt it. Yeah, I doubt it. That ship has sailed now. You would have gotten that already, I think.

Joe Casabona: That’s absolutely true.

Rochelle Moulton: But I love your point, though, because that’s what our clients are buying. They’re buying that outcome. You’re saying not to have to worry about this and have my lawn looking great is worth 30 bucks. I don’t care how much time you spend, I don’t care if you spend five minutes. as long as it looks like we’ve agreed it’s going to look, I’m happy. Here’s the $30.” It’s a fair exchange.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And more often than not, it’s I leave to bring my kids to school, I come back and the grass looks fantastic. So it’s like I didn’t even see it happen. I was just like gone and it’s wonderful. It’s like when your kids fall asleep on a long car ride. You like fall asleep and then you wake up in your bed because your parents carried you into bed. Like it’s just the best feeling. So I love what you said here: our clients are buying outcomes.

I think again, something from my days as a developer and looking at a lot of software sites is something that I would read on a bunch of landing pages is “Our plugin uses React. And it’s really efficient code. And we use the best frameworks.” And I’m reading this going, “Who cares? Like who cares about that? What does it do?”

I want to know if your plugin is going to solve my problem. And I’m guilty of this. As we record this, I was guilty of this until about three weeks ago when I redesigned my landing page for my membership. Because at first it was like, “What you get in the membership: courses, a podcast, office hours.”

And then I was like, “This person who is reading this is going, ‘What you get work and work and work.'” So I redesigned it to be like, “You will be able to make money with your content. You’ll be able to get off of the hamster wheel of feeling like you have to grind out, you know, that blog post every week.” And it showed because after that I had my Black Friday sale and it did extremely well. So our clients are buying outcomes.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, it’s benefits versus features. Before you were talking about features. Now, it’s “Oh, this is how my life will be different after I buy this thing or work with you.” Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the early exercises in your book for those prompts is exactly that. Like how will their life be different after working with you? If you’re not prompted with that question, I feel like sometimes it’s hard to think about because you’re… At least I think very internally. What am I going to do to get this client?

But you need to remember that, again, going back to the story brand, you’re the guide, right? Obi-Wan or Yoda they weren’t thinking, “How is my life going to be better by teaching Luke?” Right? They were thinking, “all right, how is Luke going to defeat Darth Vader?”

Rochelle Moulton: Exactly. It’s always focused on outcomes on your client. One of the easiest ways it’s so eye-opening the first time you ask a client for a testimonial and they’ll tell you something, and you’re like, “I did what?” Because they’ll focus on the outcome. They don’t care about the inputs. They focus on how it felt to them, whether it was the process, but it’s usually about the outcome. It’s “this is what it’s like now.” And you’ll get amazing feedback. If you’re not sure, ask your clients and buyers and they’ll tell you.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And just to that point, getting testimonials is something you need to ask for. In my experience, people aren’t just volunteering testimonials.

Rochelle Moulton: Once in a while somebody will. But you need to ask. I like to just make it a regular part of a process. So whether it’s a one-to-one client, then I might… if it’s coaching, I might ask the midpoint, I might ask them at the end. If you have ongoing clients or if you have some kind of a membership, after somebody has been in the program for six months I’ll ask them for that.

So yeah, just build it into your process because otherwise, it feels really intimidating. And what happens to a lot of us is it’s when we redo our websites, and we’re like, “Oh, darn, I forgot to ask the last 10 clients I’ve had.” And so then you go back and you ask them all at once and it feels like this overwhelming task. It’s a lot easier to just build it into your day-to-day.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And then you get to choose, right? You have a swipe file of testimonials that you get to strategically position instead of picking the first three that come in because you want to finish that website design.

Rochelle Moulton: Exactly. I’ve never been there.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, no, I definitely wasn’t there like two weeks ago.

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Joe Casabona: So our clients are buying outcomes. Authority is a mindset where you’re always publishing. I think publishing is probably the best way to communicate the outcomes that you can create for your clients.

And so again, on the recognized authority, you said, if you’re not publishing about your expertise, it doesn’t exist. It’s something I’m focusing on this year. And the linchpin of my membership, the Creator Crew, is about that how I can turn creators into better creators—how I can turn mostly speakers, authors, and educators into better publishers who can create content that leads to more sales. How important is the publishing aspect for the authority?

Rochelle Moulton: It’s the pivotal piece. I mean, once you know who you are and who you’re trying to reach, it’s the pivotal piece. So maybe the way to think about it is in the book I divided it into three parts. There’s the positioning piece. Then you’re monetizing your positioning. And the last section is selling.

And there are three chapters on selling. And the first one because it is the most important is publish like it’s a revenue stream because it is. We’ll talk about that in a sec. But there’s two other parts. And I want to explain this because it will show how important publishing is.

So then the next piece is to build your authority circle, which is your rat pack apostles and tribal leaders. We can talk about that if you like. But that idea is that these are the people… And it’s typically not more than 150 people. Usually a lot fewer than that. These are the people who are really going to help you get the word out about your point of view, about your area of expertise. These are the people who are really going to help you sell indirectly.

And then the third piece is to master the gentle art of persuasion and never sell again. And what I mean by that is if you’ve been publishing, and you’ve been doing it right, and you’ve been doing it consistently, and you’ve built this authority circle, then selling is easy.

Selling is either having sales conversations with people who are already sold on you coming to you, and you’re just deciding, “Is this a good fit? Can I help them get where they want to be?” And if you’re not serving clients, but you have buyers, they’re just showing up with their credit card on your website and they’re buying stuff.

So the whole reason to do publishing, it’s not about ego, it’s not about to do it to be nice, although that might be part of your motivation. But it’s really because it makes selling easier, which makes it easier to create value. So publishing is pivotal. Can’t underestimate its importance for building authority.

Joe Casabona: I love that. I think a lot of people listening are probably prepared for that big client meeting where they created a slide deck of all their stats and “what we could do for your brand.” I’m not about that anymore. But if you’re putting out content, that’s going to replace that big slide deck if you’re publishing because now you are convincing people who are actively seeking, again, the outcome that you’re promising. Right?

Rochelle Moulton: Mm-hmm.

Joe Casabona: I had this experience last year when somebody I did not know personally found my website, paid for my consulting without ever talking to me. And then during the consulting hired me to produce her podcast without speaking one time, because she knew I could deliver the outcomes she was looking for.

Rochelle Moulton: And not only that, but she paid to have a new business conversation with you. That’s what’s even better. Did you catch that?

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I was floored because, again, in the spaces that I would hang out in previously that was unheard of. Right. And I know I have friends who are coaches. My friend Chris Lema goes for like six bucks a minute on clarity, but Chris is an authority in many things. I did not view myself as that. But you know, I’ve been putting out a lot of podcast content since pre-pandemic and it’s paying off.

Rochelle Moulton: Absolutely. And that’s the point is that your ideal clients and buyers, when publishing is aligned with your positioning, they’re going to recognize you. And the ones who are not your ideal people are just going to fall away. So you’re really focusing on your ideal people. And you’ll be surprised at how quickly your hit rate can go up once you’ve really found your lane when it comes to publishing.

It’s not something we usually get right out of the gate. It takes a little while. But as you get that groove, you’ll start to see that your people are responding to it. And they come to you in different ways like that.

By the way, that’s also a reason to have a consultative option on your website because it’s an easy option for people who are like, “Oh, I don’t want to leave. Okay, press the button.” Yeah, it’s that moment of commitment and they press the button. It’s a powerful way to build relationships and trust.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. This is not about me, but your book and everything you’re saying really resonates with me right now. Because I feel like I’m starting to find that stride is I’ve had people like DM me on Twitter, asking if I do podcast coaching. And I’m like, “Man, I need to set up like a page to let people know that I do this.” Because these are the people who have who’ve gone out of their way to ask. Maybe I’m missing out from people who are like, “Oh, you must not do that,” or whatever.

Again, this is all because I honestly believe, I truly believe I can probably point to metrics that I’ve been publishing a lot. And so we’re using the term publishing generally, right? But this could be blog posts, YouTube videos, podcasts, right? This could be kind of any form of showing people what you know.

Rochelle Moulton: Yes. It could be as simple as just an email that you’re sending out to a list. It doesn’t even have to be public on a blog.

The idea is, if you think about authorities that you know, people you really respect in your space, typically they are writing and speaking. And so that’s how I think about publishing is that you’re either writing or speaking. So you can publish a podcast, which is really speaking, if you think about it that way, you can write whether you’re writing for your own blog post, or you’re writing pieces for other people’s platforms. Of course, there’s video as well. Some people are really just better at video.

So I like to say, if you’re just getting started is pick one thing, just one thing that you’re going to do. And I’ve always thought writing is easier than podcasting. But as I learn from my podcast co-host, podcasting is actually pretty easy if you have the right people to do the production side of it.

So it’s really whatever speaks to you and what is going to fit your audience and your genius zone. So if you hate to speak publicly at all, it’s probably going to be difficult for you to fully move into the authority space. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be on a big stage in front of a thousand people. You can do podcasting, which is very intimate, but still blasts out to a potentially large group of people, has a very long tail. I love podcasts.

I’ve had clients who heard me on a podcast I did seven years ago.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Rochelle Moulton: How they even found that I don’t know. But yeah, it’s very powerful. So when you think about publishing, don’t feel like it has to be about writing. It certainly doesn’t have to be a book. Don’t start with a book. I definitely do not recommend that. Let’s walk before we run.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And for those interested Rochelle and I will be talking about what it was like writing “The Authority Code” in Build Something More, the members-only version of this podcast, which you can sign up for over on the show notes page at howibuilt.it/249.

I liked what you said here because it made me think of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was somebody who… I mean, he was the third president, but he wrote the “Declaration of Independence.” He was definitely more of a writer than a speaker. He spoke when he had to.

But he also when he delivered The State of the Union did it as a written address instead of a speech because he just didn’t like getting up and speaking. And that totally worked for Thomas Jefferson. I mean, by most accounts he was very successful during the founding of our country.

I say this because you mentioned you’ve mentioned genius zone a couple of times and I don’t think we’ve explicitly defined that. Can you tell us what you mean by genius zone?

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, genius zone, and it’s different for everybody, but it’s that place where you are operating… everything’s flowing. And it’s almost like you’re not even working. All the cylinders are firing and you’re delivering your best self, your best stuff.

So your genius zone could be when you’re like deep in thought and you’re writing a book, for example. That could be just where everything’s happening. One of the places where I just am on fire is when I’m on a coaching call with my ideal client. And it’s like I get off the call and I’m energized. I’m not tired, I’m energized.

And so it’s where time just passes and you don’t even know it. So it’s a way to deliver your personal genius. And yes, we all have personal genius. Every single person does. But it’s a way to deliver it in a way that serves the client or the buyer and it serves you.

I think what happens a lot of times is when people start businesses, especially expertise kinds of businesses, is they think, “Oh, I just have to take whatever I can get because I don’t know where the next one is coming from. So I have to work with this guy who I don’t like or this woman who made me do this.” So you kind of think that way.

And I just say, flip that around. If you’re going to take the risk to start your own business, why not do what you’re best at and what you love? And it might change over time. In fact, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t. But why not start with being happy with what you’re doing in business?

In addition to creating a profitable and sustainable business, it allows you to create a fun business. And I love it when I get up in the morning and I can’t wait to grab the microphone or put on the headphones or have a chance to work on a piece. That’s exciting to me. And I love it. I want that for everybody.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, it’s so funny that you say it that way. Because most people starting a business are like, “I just need to get that first paycheck,” right? But if you’re not getting any paycheck, why not be patient and wait for the best paycheck that you can get as far as personal… maybe not the highest price right out the gate because… for whatever reason, but the from the client that you will be happiest with?

Rochelle Moulton: Yes!

Joe Casabona: And then you can work with them and learn from them.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, at the very least you want to not take the client from hell. And the more you serve clients, the easier it is for you to identify those people. And just to be clear, that doesn’t make them a bad client. It makes them a bad client for you.

My client from hell might look different than your client from hell, right? That’s why we refer when we have non-ideal clients. So yeah, I think it’s really, really critical to exercise some judgment. And one way to do that is to just make sure that you have a chunk of change before you go into business. That you’re not doing this on a shoestring so that you can say no, because that’s what that cushion allows you to do is to say no.

Joe Casabona: Right. Right. And really I think that’s why I got into business. I wanted to be able to say no. And if my boss at my full-time job told me to do something, I had generally less flexibility to say no, because that’s what they were paying me to do what they needed me to do.

Again, as you do more client work, like you said, you’ll figure out like who your clients from hell are. I knew pretty early on that mine were the ones who expect me to be on call at all hours. So right out the gate in our first call, I would say, “Look, there’s a lot of benefits to hiring me over an agency. I’m going to be cheaper than… I’m going to be more affordable—I would always say more affordable, not cheaper—than the agency because it’s just me and I have less overhead, but I am not available after 5pm and I’m not available on weekends. So if you need somebody to fix your site, when it goes down at 1 a.m., you need to hire somebody else. I’m not that person.”

Rochelle Moulton: Boundaries. Good job.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like people were flabbergasted when I told them that. And I was like, “If I’m going to be miserable working, I might as well do it for a steady paycheck.” So we have our genius zone, pick the publishing medium you’re most comfortable with.

Let’s wrap up here a little bit, wrap up our main conversation by talking about what you should publish, right? Should it be like any musings that come to my mind? I was thinking about the truck that drove by? Or should it be like super-targeted keyword research-based or kind of… What are your tips for publishing?

Rochelle Moulton: Okay, well, I should just say right up front I’m not a big keyword research person, which for your audience might be a total turnoff. I’m not sure. But what I believe is it should be focused on your audience.

So when you do the positioning work for yourself, your firm, your expertise, you’re going to figure out who your ideal client and/or buyer is. So you want to always direct the content to your ideal client or buyer within your desired area of expertise. And so it’s sort of easy to say, but how do you do that?

So when you first start writing, you know, one of the things you could do, especially if you’ve got clients and you’re encountering problems, is you think about what are the problems that they encounter? What could they do to not encounter those problems? Or what could they do to overcome them? So you start by offering helpful advice, tips, hints, based on your expertise and how you like to deliver.

And the reason I say it that way is let’s say you’re more of a strategist than a detail person. Don’t spend a lot of time in details because that’s not you. Spend time on here are the big picture things you need to think about if you want to convert to WordPress, if you want to put your b2b SaaS on WordPress as an example.

And so two things happen as you start to publish. So the first thing that happens is that you start to develop what I call your point of view. And all that is, is what you believe to be true about your area of expertise, your clients, and their transformations.

And if you want a simple way to get to it, sit down with a screen or a piece of paper and write “I believe, dot dot dot, and then fill in the blank.” So what do you believe to be true? And then just keep writing over the course of a few days or a couple of weeks, and you’ll start to get to what really matters to you in this core belief system. And as you do that, it helps you to find your voice.

So some people are very soft and caring in their voice when they write for people or speak. Others are very staccato, very direct, “We do this, we do this, we do this.” It’s whoever you are. So this is not about becoming someone you’re not. It’s about being who you are, but channeling that in service to this ideal audience that you’ve identified.

So the first thing is you’re going to start to develop your point of view. And that’s going to inform your writing or your speaking and the voice that you used to do that. The second thing that happens and this takes a little longer. Because usually when you first start writing, you’re experimenting all over the place, you know, you’re writing about this thing on the far left and this thing on the far right.

And then what happens is that you start to develop what I call lanes, L-A-N-E-S, of content. And those become… think of them as themes, right? They’re the themes of things that you write about. And you really don’t have more than three or four. They’re big picture themes. So there’s always something to write about.

And what tends to happen is after you’ve been writing or speaking, depending on what you decide to do, for a while you’ll start to see where those lanes make sense. And you’ll see “Oh, my audience really responds when I talk about this. Oh, my audience seems to go cold when I talk about that.” And it might just be that they don’t see you as an expert on that, it might be that you don’t really care enough about that to be doing the deep work that you will over time.

But to come back to your initial point, the most important thing when you’re publishing, it’s not just writing, or speaking. You actually have to publish it. You have to press that button, right? It doesn’t count till you press the button. But the most important thing is that you are getting inside the heads of your audience, your ideal audience.

I mean, the best compliment anybody ever pays me is when they get one of my emails, and they write back and say, “Oh, my God, you were inside my head. I was just trying to figure out how to do that.” That’s what you want to build authority.

Joe Casabona: Yes. Fantastic. Fantastic advice. And developing your point of view I think is something I want to touch on a little bit. Because I think, I mean, especially maybe in the last few years, maybe some folks have found it hard to take a hard line on something, right? Because, you know, you don’t want to rock the boat or alienate anybody. But your opinions, your heart opinions make you stand out. And they’re the thing that shows you have an expertise. I have an opinion on this because it’s something that I’ve seen and done, right?

Rochelle Moulton: Yes.

Joe Casabona: One of my point of views, one of my “I believes” is you don’t need a single podcast download to get a sponsor. That’s like super counter to what most people will think.

Rochelle Moulton: Excellent! That’s a perfect example of a lane and a point of view. It’s powerful. It’s differentiating, you really believe it. And then I’m assuming that that’s woven into not just your content but the services that you offer around that.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, actually one of my coaching clients, we had a talk and he’s like, “I don’t know if I have enough downloads.” I’m like, “You don’t need any downloads.” I’m like, just talk to somebody you know who trusts you and ask him for 50 bucks for six episodes. And there you go, you’ve paid for your podcast hosting for a year.

And he messaged me like two weeks later, he was like, “I just got my first sponsor. I’m like, great.” You don’t need 10,000 downloads. You know, you just need somebody trusts you and believes in you.” So I think that’s fantastic when you start to develop lane.

So I think the most important takeaway here right is develop your point of view and maybe answer the questions that your target audience is asking. Right?

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, yeah. What are they struggling with that you can help them with. And it’s not about being an advertisement for your services, although in a way it is. You’re not saying “I can do this for you.” But if you show them something, you show them how to do something, maybe another time you tell them a story about a client who you helped figure it out, or you tell a story, like if you were talking about how you use your time, you could tell the lawnmower mower story, you just keep coming back to that. Again, assuming that it’s moving the needle with your target audience.

Joe Casabona: Right. And there are ways that you can measure that, right? If you’re sending emails, you can… I mean, open rates are like up in the air now because of Apple or whatever. But like you can look at click rates. Or I learned on the Deliverability Podcast from ConvertKit that you can add like a reaction link to the bottom.

So just like, “What did you think of this?” And like five emoji. And people can click on the one that associates with how it made them feel. The Morning Brew does that. And that’s engagement.

So if people are saying, Oh, yeah, your newsletter on mowing the lawn really resonated with me,” you know, that’s working. And Oh, your newsletter on some kind of content that did super poorly for me recently that I can’t think of right now, but I’ll know, “All right, I’ll keep talking about hiring people to help you do your job better or whatever.”

Rochelle Moulton: Well, open rates, I agree, we don’t really know how reliable they are. But I look at them and look at how do they compare to my other open rates. So this one is a lot higher, kind of doesn’t matter if it’s 20%, 30%, or 50%, I know that it’s twice as high as the last one or half as much as the last one. So it gives you that idea.

And once you’ve got a list going, I find people they write me all the time. So I can tell what resonates. And some of the things in my automated welcome sequence actually have questions built-in, and people will hit reply and tell me what’s on their mind. So it helps. And I think you don’t listen to that at your peril. Again, assuming they are your ideal clients. If they’re not, you sort of kind of have to ignore it.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. This is something I’ve been dealing with lately because I am moving out of the WordPress developer space into the content creation space and the podcasting space. So there are people who have been on my list for years.

And I’m like, “You know, what’s the one thing you want to see out of your membership?” And they’re like, “You know, I want to learn how to like, develop a WordPress plugin.” And I’m like, “That’s not what I’m covering anymore. I’m sorry, but this is probably not a good fit for you.”

And I’m introducing a re-welcome sequence soon, where it’s going to be like, “This is what I’m covering, if you don’t care about this, you can unsubscribe or you can stick around, but I’m not going to be talking about WordPress code anymore.”

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. Well, that goes with a pivot. Anytime you pivot, you kind of have to transition your older audience into the new thing.

Joe Casabona: And you’ve talked about, if I recall correctly now, I didn’t explicitly write this down, but you’ve done at least one pivot that I remember early on in your book, right? That you talked about early on in your book.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. I’ve done lots of pivots in my career.

Joe Casabona: That’s good. I didn’t want to say like you’ve done like 10 pivots, and you like, “Actually it was only like two.”

Rochelle Moulton: Well, it all depends on how you describe a pivot. I think the one you’re referring to is where I was doing… after Andersen imploded with Enron I was doing high-level coaching that the market wasn’t ready for yet. They weren’t ready to do coaching for existing high performers. Coaching at that time was more about people who weren’t performing. And usually, the organization wanted them out. And those weren’t the people I wanted to [inaudible 00:53:40].

Joe Casabona: Right.

Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. So I pivoted from that. I actually went back inside an organization, then I came out again and started what I’m doing now in 2007. So I’ve been doing this for quite a long time. I would say I wouldn’t call it a pivot. But what I started to do is I used to talk about a lot of this is personal brand. And I realized personal brand was the wrong way to describe this because so many people had this idea in their head of what a personal brand was.

An authority is different than that. They’re interrelated. Absolutely. But authority is about building this expertise out for your audience and helping them in a particular way. It’s not about putting you on a platform like a celebrity, even though that is what you can become. A lot of authorities are celebrities in their niche, but that’s not the goal.

The goal is to create this sustainable, profitable, fun business delivering transformations that are really important to your clients. That’s what that’s about.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, yeah. And to be fair, a personal brand was like the hotness right for a period of time. In the early 2010s, I was teaching my students at the University of Scranton, I’m like, “You need to have a website because everyone’s going to have a personal brand.” And I look back on that I’m like, “No one cares about that. Twitter and TikTok are like their personal brands.”

Well, this has been such a fantastic conversation. I do need to ask you my favorite question, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?

Rochelle Moulton: Trade secret. You know, I think I said it already. That trade secret is so simple. It’s ridiculous. It’s that we need to focus on our client base, who is the ideal client and buyer, and/or buyer and what do they want.

So the trade secret is, you give it to them. Or you make it available. You’re not always giving it away,. Obviously, you’re selling. But it’s having that alignment between all of the things that you’re doing, including publishing, and selling, and positioning. That alignment between that, and the transformation of your ideal client and buyer. That’s what it’s all about. Because if I haven’t transformed someone, if I take on a coaching client, and I can’t get them where they want to go, I have failed. It’s all about that.

And the more that you can build that into everything that you do, whether it’s a podcast, whether it’s a blog, a book, your products, your services, the faster not only will you get to authority, but the faster you’ll have these amazing results. And those outcomes are what will make your business. It’s always the outcomes, not the inputs.

Joe Casabona: It’s always the outcomes, not the inputs. Absolutely love that. Rochelle Moulton, thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate your time. “The Authority Code: How to Position, Monetize and Sell Your Expertise” is out now. I will link to that in the show notes over at howibuilt.it/249.

If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Rochelle Moulton: Rochellemoulton.com.

Joe Casabona: All right.

Rochelle Moulton: It’s the central place to find anything for me.

Joe Casabona: Fantastic! I will link to that in the show notes as well. Thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

Rochelle Moulton: Thank you, Joe. I really appreciate. It was a lot of fun.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Thank you very much. And thank you for listening. I really, really appreciate you tuning in and listening to the conversation.

If you want to hear an ad-free extended version of this conversation where we talk about what it’s like writing books, you can sign up over it howibuilt.it/249. The Creator Crew is 50 bucks a year. That’s like less than a Starbucks coffee a month. So head over there and catch lots of extra great stuff.

Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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