You might have a great idea for a blog. You have 10 years of experience in this field, and you have a valuable perspective to share with your readers. But there's a problem--why should these readers believe anything you have to say?
This problem compounds with variables you're likely to encounter; for example, what if you're entering an industry that's already saturated with experts? What if something you say contradicts the mainstream narrative? What if your blog doesn't look or function like the blogs your target readership is used to?
Establishing expertise should be one of your highest priorities, and there are many ways you can try to tackle it.
The Importance of "Expertise"
Building expertise is a matter of proving your own thought leadership, or authority on a given topic. It's also a form of building trust with your readership. However you choose to think about it, establishing expertise is important for several reasons:
- Differentiating yourself from the competition. First, proving your own expertise allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. There are at least hundreds of blogs like yours, and at least thousands of people in a position like yours, so what makes you and your blog so special?
- Improving the validity of your claims. In your blog and on your Website, you'll be trying to persuade people--whether it's changing their mind on an important topic, or getting them to convert and buy your products. If you're seen as an expert, everything you say will be taken more seriously, and you'll find it much easier to make your claims valid.
- Attracting more readers. As you might suspect, the biggest experts tend to attract the most powerful readerships. If you build your image as an authority enough, you'll be capable of generating far more traffic--which you can then convert into a bigger stream of revenue.
How to Establish Expertise
When you're first starting a blog, it can be difficult to establish expertise, especially if you've never published content before. But there are a number of strategies that can help:
- Start with the right foundation. Your blog should look, function, and read as professionally as possible. Attention to minor details, like making sure every word is spelled correctly, can also help you; a single mistake, if significant enough, can completely change how your readership sees you. They may not take you seriously if the quality of your work is in question. Resources like Grammarly can serve as an extra layer of protection here.
- Play to your experience and passion. According to The Blog Starter, "to be successful as a blogger there is really just one requirement: a passion for your topic." Your expertise and passion both come directly from your experience, so reference that experience as often as you can. You can do this directly; for example, you can casually mention throughout your work that you've had "15 years of experience" in this field. However, this can read as empty, and eventually, it can seem forced. Complement this approach by calling out specific anecdotes that showcase your experience in action; refer to past clients, challenges you've overcome, or problems you've solved in your work.
- Collaborate and earn references. Chances are, there are other experts in your field already, whom people implicitly trust. If you can earn the public approval of these experts, you could be seen as an expert in your own right, much faster. For example, you can collaborate with a peer on a piece of in-depth content, or you can earn references from top publishers in your field. Your first few citations may be hard to get, but once you establish a name for yourself, it will get much easier.
- Associate with known authorities. It's also a good idea to associate yourself with known authorities. Webmasters often do this by including "trust badges," which concisely demonstrate the range of brands and organizations they work with regularly. For example, you can list the certifications and credentials you have as an expert, or list your affiliations and partnerships. You can even reference the publications where your work can be seen.
- Keep producing quality work. Possibly the most important tip here is to keep producing work that people love. Write posts that open people's minds to new ideas. Challenge institutional norms. And always back your claims up with research and evidence.
Unfortunately, even with multiple expertise-establishing strategies in your arsenal, it's going to take time and patience to curate your publicly perceived authority. But as long as you're producing consistently good material and you're learning from your mistakes along the way, you'll eventually build yourself into an expert of your chosen field.