This blog post is based on episode 235 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Starting a new blog can be a bit of an uphill battle. You need to create lots of content, and then use that content to bring traffic to your site.
But what’s even tougher is building authority and influence in your niche. After all, why would people believe you’re an authority in your niche when you’ve barely talked about it?
Sure, you may know a lot about your chosen niche. But talking about how much you know and what you’ve achieved doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. These days anyone can call themselves an expert, and so people expect more than just self-promotion and a list of achievements .
Which is why I’d like to share 13 tips for building and influence through your blogging.
1. Share everything you know
There’s no doubting that to be an authority in your niche you need to know something about it. And obviously the more you know, the more influential you can become. But rather than keeping it all to yourself, you should share what you know with your audience.
Not only will it prove that you really do know what you’re talking about, it will also help you come across as someone who is honest, likeable, and that your readers can trust.
Of course, that means you should never pretend to have knowledge that you don’t actually have. But you should never need to pretend you know more than you do, because my second tip is to…
2. Don’t be afraid to talk about what you don’t know
How do you react when you see someone calling themselves an expert or a guru on a particular topic? Chances are you roll your eyes and think, Yeah. Right.
The reality is that no-one knows everything about their topic. And it’s quite okay to let your readers know there are areas that you’re still learning about.
If you’ve been reading ProBlogger for a while then you’ll know I’m not the most technical blogger in the world. I’ll often tell people that I can’t answer their question because I don’t know the answer, and then try to find out from someone who does.
You might think it’s the last thing you should do when trying to be seen as an authority. But admitting you don’t know everything makes you more ‘human’, and it can help you build a deeper connection with your audience.
3. Learn in public
If you want to become an authority in your niche then should always be trying to learn as much as you can about it. But rather than keeping your learning journey a secret, why not share the journey with your readers so they can learn with you? Chances are they came to your blog to learn the same thing, so why wait until the very end to reveal what you learned?
Learning together will help you form stronger relationships with your audience. They may even even be able to fill in some of your knowledge gaps and help you learn faster.
And don’t be afraid to do it in case you take a wrong turn or make a mistake. Mistakes are a part of learning, and your readers will be able to relate to your situation, which again strengthens the relationship.
4. Use case studies of yourself and others
There’s a big difference between telling people what you know and showing people what you know. And a great way to show them is through case studies.
When I started ProBlogger, I’d occasionally do case studies on how I’d improve someone else’s blog. It was just me telling people what I’d do to improve their blog, but always in a positive way. It wasn’t a critique, but rather a list of suggestions and constructive things.
People started asking me to coach them. But instead of coaching them one-on-one in private, I wrote up little critiques and posted them (with the blog owner’s permission, of course). The posts became very popular, but also showed that I knew what I was talking about. And being able to demonstrate what you know indirectly can be a very powerful thing.
5. Show vulnerability
Just as none of know everything about a topic, none of us are perfect either. Which is perhaps why we get so cynical about people who call themselves experts. Even if they do know a great deal about their chosen topic, they can come across as being so ‘perfect’ that no-one can relate to them.
People want to connect with people, not robots.
So don’t be afraid to get a bit personal in your blog posts. You don’t have to reveal every minute detail about your life, or share every thought that pops into your head. But revealing a little bit about yourself and showing some vulnerability can be a great way to connect with you audience .
6. Share your transformations and conversions
Let’s say you want to hire a personal trainer. Who would you rather hire: someone who has been fit their entire lives and never struggled with their health, or someone who has struggled with nutrition and exercise over the years but has now reached a point where they’re healthy?
My guess is you’d rather hire the person who has struggled. Why? Because they’re more likely to understand the struggles you’re going through and help you get past them.
So don’t be afraid to tell stories about how things used to be and how much better they are now. We like to hear these stories, because it makes us believe we can make similar changes in our blogging and our lives as a whole.
7. Have a positive, optimistic and constructive outlook
Some influencers seem to take great delight in busting myths and tearing people down. But I’d much rather hear from someone who spends most (if not all) of their time presenting solutions, solving problems, and pointing the way forward.
That’s not to say you can’t get negative on your blog. Sometimes being negative, critiquing something and busting myths can help you build you authority. But the last thing you want is to become known as a negative person. It may bring you traffic, but it won’t help you become an authority.
8. Give to others before asking them to give to you
Yes, there’s a time to ask people to help you out, whether it’s by buying your product/service or some other way. But you need to give them something in return.
Except it needs to be the other way around: you need to give them a lot of value so they will buy from you in return.
Of course, you don’t want to be giving away all your knowledge away for free. But you should be generous, and give your readers great content they can use to improve their lives. In doing so they will come to like and trust you, and so when you do ask them to help you they won’t think twice.
9. Be reliable
When people see you as an authority, they may come to rely on you for your knowledge, insight and advice.
Don’t disappoint them.
If you say you’ll be posting every week, then make sure you do.
If you tell them they’ll be receiving a newsletter every week, make sure you create one every week.
And if you have to take a break for whatever reason, be honest and tell them why you’re taking a break.
10. Keep your messages clear and simple
Authority isn’t about making yourself look smart. It’s about making your readers feel smart. So don’t try to impress your audience by using big words and complicated language in your posts. Not only does it make your content harder to understand, it can also make your readers feel inferior.
Instead, make your message as clear and concise as you possibly can. That means using short words and simple language. You may also want to tell a story or use an analogy to help get your message across.
Yes, it may take longer to write. But if it makes it quicker and easier for your readers to understand, it will be worth it.
11. Use your influence for the benefit of those you influence
One thing that separates the true influencers from the wannabes is their purpose.
Some people try to become influencers so they can be rich and famous. They’re only concerned about what their influence can do for them. But the true influencers are more concerned about helping others.
So when you’re thinking of what content to create for your blog, ask yourself: What can I do for my readers that will help them improve their lives in some way?
For example, at ProBlogger we realised that what a lot of bloggers need (particularly new bloggers) is traffic. And so we started International Start a Blog Day to help new bloggers get a little bit of traffic to get the ball rolling.
Don’t just use your influence to make your own dreams come true. Use it to make your readers’ dreams come true as well.
12. Show your audience that you know, like and trust them
Author Bob Burg once said, “People do business with those that they know, like, and trust”.
And I believe him.
Most people prefer to work with businesses and people they know, like and trust. And a quick to get people to know, like and trust you is to show that you know, like and trust them.
To get to know your audience, do some research on just who is reading your blog. Who are they? What are their needs? What are their dreams? When you know these things, you’re in a much better position to create content that meets their needs and helps them fulfil their dreams. And in doing so your readers will feel like you know them because you’re providing the very content they’re looking for.
To show that you like your audience, spend some time with them. That could mean responding to their comments, answering their questions on social media, or even hanging out with them on a Facebook Live or even in person. Some of the most popular Facebook lives I’ve ever done were just me sitting with a beer on a Friday afternoon and chatting to people. We’d ask each other questions, but also just chat and have fun.
And to show that you trust them, share things with them. Talk about your weekend, your dreams, your fears and insecurities. Talk about your hobbies, your favourite TV shows, and your pets. Let them into your life a little.
13. Be patient
My final tip is to remember that you won’t become an authority overnight. It could take months, or even years. And don’t get discouraged because someone you know is getting there quicker than you are. It’s not about getting there first. It’s about being worth the wait.
I hope these tips help you with building authority and influence. Which one was the most useful to you? And which one are you going to try first? Let us know in the comments.