How to become an Expert at Not Being an Expert?
May 6, 2009 9:10 PM   Subscribe

How to self-market with Diversity (not necessarily ethnocentric) as my key point-of-difference, twisting a liability into an asset, within an industry that almost exclusively values Specialization?

I love my freelance work in the Beauty/Fashion/Entertainment industry, which similar to many fields, is very compartmentalized; it's rare to find examples of frequent successful mobility (think Theatre vs. Film vs. Fashion vs. Music). Even though we commonly have experience in most aspects, when it comes down to what pays the bills, jobs and referrals follow a family-tree system and we end up semi-pigeon-holed, making it hard to move between specialties (due to trends, innovations and networking).

I tend to be bored with routines and never aggressively pursued a path, simply because I wasn't sure which one I liked more. Luckily, because of this, I have current and ongoing experience in multiple facets of my field, work regularly, teach advanced classes to peers and am fairly respected in my industry because of my range. Unluckily, I face periodic criticism that my body of work is segmented.

In addition to my skill diversity, and my upbringing (mixed-culture hippie home), I have a social-service background (anti-discrimination and civil rights), in which my heart is deeply rooted. Speak to me for more than 5 minutes and you'll see I'm incredibly passionate about the topic beyond the politically-correct rhetoric. As my two passions are seemingly in direct opposition though, it's honestly never occurred to me that the two aspects could even co-exist, let alone flirt and get married. I generally prepared myself for the day I'd have to secede from my current field to rejoin the other.

Some possible challenges:
-Most people value Expert over Generalized skills for obvious and practical reasons, and because my industry is incredibly trend and image-conscious with a short attention span (and I'll say it...snobby and superficial), my concept will not be accepted easily without a very "slick" hook and package. Unfortunately my field is rampant with novices who obtain jobs simply because they are eye-candy and have a pretty website.
-I'd really like to have a thoughtful, holistic marketing plan, and my inner snob also wants it to be fun, approachable and stylish with the seductive whiff of elitism that my crowd tends to be aroused by.
-Due to the potential sensitivity and yawn-factor of "Diversity Issues," how do I incorporate the idea in a fresh, modern, positive, relatable way that avoids any smug moralistic pitfalls or triteness?
-In light of current changes in government and the resurgence of the topic, how can I ensure credibility, relevance and longevity beyond what will likely lead to "buzzword buzzkill," like happened to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action? Or is it even possible? I don't want to be swallowed up when the topic gets beaten to death or trivialized as just another marketing fad (a la "green").

Additional Info:
-I've written a book on the near horizon that combines my loves; it will likely be in the Health/Beauty/ChicLit categories, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy, peppered with anecdotes and (not so) hidden political messages.
-In researching and writing the book, I've been following trends and forecasting, all of which lead me to hope that clever marketing is possible...that people are open to the idea more than in the past.
-So far, I have found nothing in existence with the same hybrid, there's only one other book even slightly close to my perspective and everything else is very segregated and/or too political to appeal to a larger audience. Time is of the essence for me to be a leader in this niche.

Essentially, I need to become an Expert in Not Being an Expert. I think. That's what you are for.....thank you in advance for your thoughts.
posted by canijusa to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have no idea what you actually do for a living right now, which makes it hard to give you advice on how to break out of whatever mold you're in and move forward.
posted by decathecting at 9:20 PM on May 6, 2009


OK, I looked at your website via your MeFi profile and it looks like you're a high-end makeup artist...since that's not a secret, can you stop talking in generalities and get specific about what you'd like to move into with you work?
posted by availablelight at 5:48 AM on May 7, 2009


It really just seems like you need to sit down with an editor to go over your work. Honestly, judging from the way that you have phrased this question, it seems you are due for a strong dose of editorial medicine. Good luck.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 AM on May 7, 2009


-Due to the potential sensitivity and yawn-factor of "Diversity Issues," how do I incorporate the idea in a fresh, modern, positive, relatable way that avoids any smug moralistic pitfalls or triteness?

-In light of current changes in government and the resurgence of the topic, how can I ensure credibility, relevance and longevity beyond what will likely lead to "buzzword buzzkill," like happened to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action? Or is it even possible? I don't want to be swallowed up when the topic gets beaten to death or trivialized as just another marketing fad (a la "green").


These two things are pretty much mutually exclusive, marketing-wise. You can be Very Serious About The Issue, or you can be hip and fun and easily adoptable.

You seem to be possibly falling into your own trap, though. How can something have popular appeal but not be a sell-out? Yawn, green is so trendy and overdone and watered-down. Well yes, it is, but the concept has spread far and wide far enough that people are, for the first time since the 70s, actually choosing to think about the ramifications of their consumption on the environment. What happened to Equal Opportunity is that it is now a legal requirement in hiring.

Essentially, I need to become an Expert in Not Being an Expert.

Apologies if this sounds snarky, but I have absolutely no idea why this would be how you would boil down your question. Talking like this is glib and overshadows whatever it is that you wish to do.
posted by desuetude at 9:41 AM on May 7, 2009


-You seem to be possibly falling into your own trap, though. How can something have popular appeal but not be a sell-out? Yawn, green is so trendy and overdone and watered-down. Well yes, it is, but the concept has spread far and wide far enough that people are, for the first time since the 70s, actually choosing to think about the ramifications of their consumption on the environment. What happened to Equal Opportunity is that it is now a legal requirement in hiring.

Point taken, and I agree, which is why I asked the question. I've observed too many passionate, knowledgeable activists whose messages get ignored and dismissed because the messengers fall outside of a pop-culture context. I think that positive social change can be wrapped in palatable/glossy packaging, because all steps forward to a better world are good in the end.

-can you stop talking in generalities and get specific about what you'd like to move into with you work?

After extensive reading of similar questions, I didn't think my exact job as a makeup artist was that important. The questions that had warranted that level of detail had always seemed more specific than mine, and since my quest really could be applied to many professions, I omitted it.

I'm admittedly a little confused as to what's acceptable on this forum and not; the Q&A runs the gamut of communication styles and I did not mean to sound glib, or downplay my own subject. My intended irony about the entire idea seems to not have come across well.

Thanks for your time...
posted by canijusa at 10:20 PM on May 12, 2009


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