“Believe one who has proved it. Believe an expert.” Virgil (“The Aeneid”)

When Internet marketing was becoming popular, Bob Bly, a specialist in writing direct mail and the editor of ETR’s Mailbox  Millionaire program, worried that his lack of experience in this new field could harm his freelance copywriting business over the long run — especially if the rise in Internet marketing caused traditional marketing to decline. After a few clients began asking him to write Internet direct mail (e-mail marketing campaigns), however, he found that he actually liked this niche specialty — for several reasons. For one thing, Internet direct mail is similar in many ways to print direct mail, something he knew very well. Plus, it is less competitive than website development — an area that was already overcrowded.

Bob immediately wrote a proposal for a book on Internet direct mail. He sent it to one of his publishers, and they gave him a contract to write it.

The result?

“I gained enormous expertise in e-mail marketing,” Bob says. “I now knew how to do it and was doing it (for nice fees) for both new and existing clients. The interviews I had done, which would never have been granted to me had I not been writing the book, showed me techniques that increased the effectiveness of my e-mail campaigns. And when the book was published, it cemented my reputation as a leading copywriter in the e-mail marketing field.

“Many factors contributed, but the book was certainly the catalyst and driving force that gave me early entry into this new niche market.”

If you want to promote yourself as an expert in your field — especially if you’re working as a freelancer — the best thing you can do is define a niche specialty, write a book about it, and get it published.

Here are some of the ways you can benefit:

1. In writing a book on a subject, you are forced to do additional research to flesh out gaps in your knowledge. Your knowledge, therefore, increases, making you an even better authority.

2. Writing a book requires you to organize your material in a logical sequence. Doing so increases clarity of presentation in all your communications.

3. A book can serve as the basis of a profitable seminar or workshop. The chapters of the book become modules of the seminar.

4. Potential clients reading your book will call you to inquire about the services you offer and will be predisposed to hire you.

5. Associations will ask you to speak at their conferences for handsome fees if you are the author of a book that interests their members.

6. Listing yourself as the author of a book is an impressive credential on your website, brochure, and other marketing materials.

7. You can give copies of your book to potential clients to familiarize them with what you do and convince them that you are an expert in your field.

8. Because of your book, you may be called upon to serve as an expert witness on your topic in court cases (at an excellent day rate).

9. Editors will ask you to contribute articles to their publications.

10. The media will want to interview you as an expert in your field. This can lead to guest appearances on radio and TV shows.

So, give it some thought. Even if your book has modest sales (very few become New York Times bestsellers), it could give a tremendous boost to your freelance career.

(Ed. Note: The above article was excerpted from material created by the American Consultants League for its members.)