Unless you’re a Kardashian or born into a similarly famous family, you’re not born with an audience or authority. The good news is that if other people can build their authority from scratch, so can you!
Here are some quick tips to start building your authority when you don’t (yet!) have a ton of followers or subscribers.
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Choose your master topic
Have you decided what you want to be seen as an authority on? The sweet spot is where passion and knowledge align for you. If you want to be known for something you don’t feel like you’re an expert in your field yet, keep plugging away at it and share what you learn as you go, along with your journey to success. Less public learning, for example courses, one-to-ones, videos, and your own practising and testing, tends to work better as people won’t see you as a newbie by the time you’re ready to start asking questions.
Find your people
Where are the people looking for information on your chosen topic? It could be Facebook, Pinterest, forums, or somewhere more niche. When you’re first starting out, it’s easier to find little pockets of established communities rather than creating your own. Initially you want to go to where your audience already is rather than trying to draw them to your own group or website. This also gives you great opportunities to see what people are asking about, what they struggle with, and what they’re interested in.
Make your chosen topic part of who you are everywhere online. You don’t want to be too repetitive, but you want to aim to be the go-to person for that thing. If you have competition, you’ll need to make sure your mindset is that there’s space for everyone, and avoid obsessing over them (not least because it will distract you from your own tasks). Most importantly, make sure you’re different from them in a key way. For example, they might specialize in Instagram, but you could specialize in Instagram for women in business or Instagram for photographers or Instagram for web creatives. Or you could specialize in ebooks while they do coaching, etc. The more ways you’re different, the harder it is for people to be you or compare you.
Make the most of opportunities
Your brand and niche should be totally clear and nailed down before you start putting your name out there. Once you do, guest posting, Facebook Lives, web summits and workshops, and podcasting are good places to begin. The person hosting you wants to present you as an interesting and smart person appropriate for their podcast, so it can be a real confidence booster as well as helping to get your name out there in a position of authority.
In the beginning, you’re going to want to consider every opportunity in detail, while further on in your journey you can afford to be more selective. Don’t expect instant fame and fortune (but remember, you never know who might be listening, watching, or reading!), and keep your demands low to bring other offers in.
Drop real value regularly
Spend at least ten minutes a day replying to people’s questions in relevant groups or communities. This could be on Quora, Facebook, LinkedIn, niche-specific forums…wherever your target audience spends time. (If the group is small, this is also a great opportunity to build a relationship with the owner).
Narrow your focus and make the best use of your time by sticking to answering questions that are within the field you want to be known in and are being asked by your target followers/audience. Resist the temptation to get sucked into arguments, especially with trolls (remember to regularly ask yourself, “Is continuing this conversation a good/productive use of my time?”).
Create supportive content
As part of your value dropping, develop useful, interesting content that expands on and supports your knowledge. This could be blog posts, podcasts, videos, books…whatever makes sense for your niche and appeals to your target audience. Start with the common questions you see being asked again and again. From your free content, you can create paid offerings or direct people to your own online space (website, group, email list, etc.). An affiliate program works great for encouraging recommendations.
If you don’t have much experience with content creation, start with something small, like a checklist, workbook or short ebook. These are quick and easy to do using something like Canva.com, or even a Word/Libre Office doc saved as a PDF can work. Once you have a basic product, test, tweak, and ask for feedback from members of your target audience. To make selling easy, try one of these services: 14 Simple Ways To Sell & Deliver Digital Products. Over time you can build up a selection of lengthier and more involved products, like courses and programs.
Share quality third party content freely, making sure to include a positive introduction and tagging/commenting/engaging with the creator. To stay consistent, make a list of people who you want to support and share content from. Ideally you want a mix of people at your level, a higher level, and the guru/expert/influencer level. Even if those at the top don’t engage with you directly, you look authoritative and more familiar to your audience, and they’ll see you as having similar interests.
Further down the line, use compliments, testimonials, positive comments, and reviews from your visitors/customers to boost your social standing. These should be freely given a bit further down the line, especially as you’re spreading positive vibes yourself, but when you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid to ask! You don’t necessarily have to ask for a positive comment or a review – just an opinion.
Actively seek collaborations with people who share a similar target audience. Collabs could be guest posts, joint giveaways, discounted product bundles, sharing content, guest podcasting or anything else you want to get involved with. A lot of people recognize the benefits of group collaborations but don’t like organizing or managing them, so taking on that role and minimizing the amount of work the others have to do will make yeses much more likely. Make sure you do the research first and you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve.
Show up consistently, stay on topic, be proactive, and take advantage of opportunities that cross your path. You have all the tools you need to build your authority, so now you just need to put them into practice. It’ll take some time, but good things will come your way if you’re consistent!
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