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Many people starting out online have trouble presenting themselves as authorities. After all, how do you make people believe you are an expert when you aren’t? Ironically, that is one of the easier hurdles to overcome – because it is all relative, and it’s all a matter of perception.
Note: This doesn’t mean that you should be presenting yourserlf as an authority before you are one – but it means that, if you do it right, some people will start viewing you as one (even before you are one).
Allow me to explain…
While there are some niches in which being a real expert is not negotiable (Law, or offering medical advice, for instance), in most other niches your “level of expertise” is measured purely by your ability to provide answers to questions.
If you are an automotive engineer, the mechanic or auto technician will see you as an expert. If you are just someone who owns and drives a car, you will see the mechanic as an “expert”. And when you are unsure about something regarding your car, even as simple as specific features, ANYONE who knows the answer to your question can be seen as an “expert”.
In short – we tend to trust people who provide answers to our questions, regardless of their educational status.
I learned a valuable lesson a long time ago:
In order to learn from someone else, he or she doesn’t need to know more than I do. He or she doesn’t even need to be smarter than I am. They just need to know something I don’t.
When you become the person who “knows something they don’t”, you become the “expert”. And when you repeat it, you become an authority figure for your audience.
You don’t have to have a PhD for people to take you seriously. All you have to do is to answer questions, consistently, and those answers have to be factually correct (if they aren’t, you will destroy your own credibility).
So – how do you do it?
Firstly, go find a bunch of people who are asking questions relating to your niche. It can be a forum, or it can be a Facebook group or Google+ group, or you can go dig around on Quora. Make a list of frequently asked questions.
These will become your future blog topics.
Secondly, distribute extracts and links to your blog posts. Remember that, for every one person who has the guts to post a question in a group or forum, there are a number of additional people (even in the same space) who are also faced with the same question, and who would like to have an answer. Get your “answers” out there.
If someone asks you a question, and it is something you have already answered in a blog post, you can link to it (depending on the platform – some forums don’t allow self promotional links). If not, you can provide a short answer, and tell them you will write a blog post about it.
If need be (and you may do a lot of this at the start), go and FIND the answer. You don’t have to come up with it yourself – you just have to present it. Teachers are respected people – not because they invented stuff, but because they are able to teach about it. They also got their knowledge from someone else, or from somewhere else.
Thirdly, do this consistently. In our digital day and age, we are faced with a MASS of information every day. If we don’t see something or someone regularly, his or her past communications simply become lost in the sheer volume of stuff we have to process.
Also keep in mind that being consistent is how you brand yourself. Consistency is the key to appearing trustworthy. Eventually, you get to the point where people see you as “the person who always has an answer”.
So – how will this benefit you? Well, many people who see your blog posts and/or answers will be people who already know more than that. But you will also be seen by the exact type of people you want to attract – those who are just looking for someone who know something they don’t.
The concept was first applied in network marketing – it’s called “attraction marketing” – but it can be applied to any niche.
You will be attracting an audience or people who want what you are offering them (in terms of information), and because you are answering their questions, they will be more likely to trust you. That, in turn, means that when you recommend a product or service to then to buy, they would be more inclined to do so, because you have already proven yourself as being someone who “has all the answers”…