So you're ready to start a blog and become a thought leader in your industry. You've created a memorable name for your blog, filled out a content calendar, and even started writing a few blog posts. There's just one problem: You have no authority in your field. As it is right now, you're obscure and unknown. The sight of your name at the top of a blog post doesn't exactly inspire the masses to sit up and cling to your every word. And your calls to action are most likely met with thoughts like "Do I trust this person enough to take her advice?" . Although you have no authority right now, the good news is that this can change.
There are no quick-and-easy shortcuts. But if you're serious about your field, your topics and your blog, you'll be motivated enough to do the work needed to become an authoritative voice in your industry. Here are five effective ways for gaining authority as a blogger:
1. Stay Thirsty for Knowledge
Authority begins with knowledge. And hopefully you're already knowledgeable in your field. But do you have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that keeps you growing and learning every day? This is the type of mindset it takes to blog with authority. You need to be more knowledgeable than your competitors, and you need to make sure they never catch up. How do you absorb this kind of knowledge?
Books - The first step, unsurprisingly, is to choose a couple highly-relevant books from authors in your industry. Consider this: If you read just two or three books on a particular niche within your field, you'll already have more knowledge about that niche than most of your colleagues and competitors. (Hint: audiobooks are a great alternative if you're not ultra-passionate about reading.)
Online resources - Once you've read up, don't stop there. The next step is to gather a list of online resources and plug in to them daily. Read industry forums and ask any questions that come to mind. Also look for podcasts that cover topics relevant to your field. As with audiobooks, you can listen to podcasts while commuting, exercising, and during lunch breaks. Be on the lookout for free webinars related to your field. When you find some that might be worth your time, read through the credentials of the people scheduled to deliver them. If the presenters seem knowledgeable and experienced, you'll want to take part in it.
Also, look to YouTube frequently. As the world's second-largest search engine (second only to Google,) it's recognized as a useful platform for knowledge and learning. And don't ignore the comment section! While YouTube comments are notorious for trolling, those who sift through the clutter often stumble upon further enrichment that other people miss. Real-world events - Finally, don't skip tradeshows, seminars, public speaking events, and any other real-world sources of industry knowledge. Most of your colleagues and competitors aren't attending them, so your attendance will put you head and shoulders above others in your industry.
2. Seek Guest Blogging Opportunities
Since your new blog will have only a handful of readers at first, you'll need some serious exposure as soon as possible. Highly-trafficked blogs are perfect platforms for such exposure.
Your aim is to provide valuable and unique content that will benefit the many readers of popular blogs. Frequent guest blogging will often cause someone else's audience to spill over into your audience as well. From there, your reputation as an authority blogger will begin to spread.
Pitch the right blogs - Before pitching blog owners, look for blogs that have high readership. Shoot for ones with 5,000 subscribers, 10,000 subscribers, or even 100,000. If the blog doesn't display its readership stats, look at how many social media followers the blogger (or business) has. Large numbers of follower often indicate high blog readership as well.
Reserve your best work for guest blogging - While all your content should be valuable, keep in mind that guest posts are seen by large audiences (if you choose the right blogs.) The better your work on someone else's blog, the better the chances of your name becoming synonymous with "authority" in your industry.
Create a valuable freebie - Consider creating a free gift to entice those who visit your blog after reading your guest post. Maybe the gift is a definitive guide, or a lengthy article about one of your own solutions to a common industry problem. Or, better yet, get visitors to opt in to a content series or newsletter you've created. This will help you create a valuable email list with an audience that will continually see your authoritative content.
Be sure to use OptinMonster for the opt-in forms needed to send content to new readers. The forms by OptinMonster are optimized to convert visitors into subscribers. You can also A/B testing them to see which performs better, all within the tool.
3. Post Blog Content and Micro-Content as Often as Possible
If you're going to have authority as a blogger, you'll need to put yourself out there. A lot.
Any blogger can publish one good post per month that thoroughly covers a topic in their field. And readers who see the post will walk away saying, "So what. She managed to create one good blog post." But a high-quality blog post once or per week? That's another story.
Your content's quantity and quality say a great deal about your abilities as an authority in your field. So your content needs to be seen, and seen often. Your blog posts, your name, photos of your smiling face... All of these contribute to how recognizable you'll become down the road. The more content you create, the better for your reputation as an authority. Your content shouldn't be restricted to blog posts, either. In fact, consider creating and posting micro-content every day on other online platforms.
Micro-content is small chunks of content that can be consumed within five or 10 seconds by your audience - such as pictures, quotes, short video clips and sound clips. Post these small tidbits onto Instagram, Snapchat, SoundCloud, Twitter and others. The more of these pieces of micro-content you can post, the better. Five times, six times, even seven times per day, if possible. As increasing numbers of people see your name and your content, your chances of being viewed as an authority increase as well.
4. Create Unique Content Your Readers Can't Find Elsewhere
Producing truly original content is one of the hardest things for any blogger to accomplish. A staggering number of blogs exist worldwide, each pumping out massive amounts of content like an endless assembly line. How could a blogger not be tempted to give up on her goal of originality? Is there anything you could create that hasn't already been done before? Although these are valid questions, your content needs to be unique if you want any chance of becoming "authoritative" . One of the best ways of creating unique content is by knowing your subject matter better than anyone else. (I covered this in step 1.) The more you know about your field, the better equipped you'll be to create unique and valuable content. Besides being more knowledgeable than others in your field, here are a few more ideas to help you create original content that can't be found elsewhere:
Never be without your notebook or note app - Fleeting ideas come and go all the time. Many bloggers stumble upon a few original topic ideas every week and forget to add them to their content calendar. Don't let this continue happening to you! Keep a notebook with you at all times, or use an app like Evernote. Always keep your mind open for new ideas as you go about your day, and always be brainstorming. Look for potential topics in the conversations you hear in meetings, the news and trends you read about, and the circumstances you run into every day.
Personalize - One of the fastest ways to add uniqueness to blog posts is to discuss your personal experiences about your topics. While other bloggers may have already written on the subject, your personal experiences and stories are unique.
Blog about your solution to a problem - As you're personalizing your blog posts, tell your readers about a challenge you've overcome or a problem you've solved. How did you solve it? Can you teach your readers the same process? This can be especially authoritative if your solution is creative or unusual.
Even if you receive heated comments by naysayers or competitors, that's ok. Talk about your unorthodox problem-solving method anyway. Welcome the debate, and be open to new ideas and thoughts posted to your blog. Either way, debates will help set your blog apart as authoritative.
Find new ways to explain hard concepts - Is there a complex topic that's being blogged about frequently in your industry? Maybe because everyone is clamoring for information about it? If so, consider it an opportunity to rise to the top and create something truly unique.
One of the benefits of being highly knowledgeable in your field is that you're better equipped to simplify difficult concepts. Can you think of a unique new analogy that helps your audience understand the concept? Or perhaps you can create an infographic that ties everything together in a way that's easy to grasp? If you can give your audience an epiphany that helps them understand something for the first time, you'll earn huge points toward authority.
5. Seek Guest Speaking Opportunities
There's something almost magical about the authority that comes from speaking engagements. When someone sees photos of you behind a podium, they automatically think "thought leader". No one asks, "Was this her first speaking engagement?" Instead, the question that runs through people's minds is something like, "Is she the authority who can help me finally solve this problem I've been having?"
If you're the type of person who would "rather die" than speak in public, you obviously may have to skip this step. But if you're ok with the pressure of the spotlight, and you have something valuable to offer a live audience, then run - don't walk - to the nearest speaking opportunity.
At first, don't demand any money for your speaking engagements. Paid speaking gigs can certainly come down the road. For now, you're just seeking authority. Start by looking for local speaking opportunities, such as events at your Chamber of Commerce. If possible, have someone video your talk so you can use it in your marketing.
Authority Doesn't Come Overnight
There are no shortcuts or fast overnight successes when it comes to real blogging authority. Although get-rich-quick charlatans and wannabe industry leaders spring up from time to time, their glory days are always short lived.
Real authority - the kind that makes you a valuable contributor to your industry and your audience - takes persistence, knowledge and originality. So roll up your sleeves. Always be learning, publish unique blog posts and micro-content steadily, and look for speaking engagements to participate in. Although you probably won't be an authority tomorrow, next week or next month, it just might come sooner than you think.