Hey, can we take a minute for a reality check?
At this moment in life online you are a virtual nobody.
You have no trust, no respect, and above all no authority.
Take no offense to this, I am sure you are a very likable person in real life.
However, this is the online world and your real persona has no meaning. If you are looking to succeed you have to become an authority.
Once you become an authority, you automatically gain more influence. Everybody starts at the bottom. You work your way up to the top.
And unlike the real world, it doesn’t take years of experience to become one.
In fact, you are going to learn what it takes to become an authority in any niche in just seven simple steps.
From dog training to abalone diving, if you don’t know what that is, look it up. It is a fantastic little niche that is simply ripe for the picking!
Are you ready to become an authority? Let’s get down to business.
1) Build Authority Through Association
Have you ever known anyone to name drop constantly? Why do they do it?
They do it to make themselves sound more important and to make other people listen to them.
The same holds true for online marketing.
If you have ever been featured in a large publication, television, or an authority website you need to make sure everyone knows about it.
Find a copy of their logo and feature it prominently on your own website. Usually in the right-hand corner or above your footer is a good spot.
However, it is important that you do not inflate your associations.
In other words, do not lie.
You will get called out and the authority you have built is as good as a day old Big Mac.
2) Social Proof Yourself
We all get a warm fuzzy feeling when someone has something good to say about us or our website.
Did you know your readers like that as well?
If you are not featuring testimonials and positive comments on your site, you are missing a big piece of the authority puzzle.
What happens, though, if you have no testimonials?
Well, for one you are not going to fake them and you are not going to pay for them. That is both unethical and just plain cheesy.
Earned media (your blog, your website) are highly trusted. (stats from Conductor blog)
You are on the path to greatness, so let’s keep the plan not only righteous but ethical as well.
If you have no testimonials, you want to go out and find them.
Scan through your Twitter feed and Facebook page looking for nice comments. Do something for a friend and provide value.
If you have a service, start offering it for free or a deep discount in exchange for a testimonial.
As the social proof builds on your website so will your clients and readers.
3) Become A Content King
We all know about content (create, market & promote) and how important it is.
However, what type of content are you promoting?
Is it stuff that you would line the virtual parakeets cage with or is it something that is going to make a difference?
While it is important to have a website that is updated regularly, it is more important to put out 4 killer posts a year than 365 pieces of mindless dribble.
Use your social media account to toss out tidbits and hints to your audience. However, leave your website for the content with teeth and fangs.
This is the content that will be shared and linked to over and over again. It is the content that makes amateur bloggers into masters of their domain!
4) Become An Online “Bum”
Early in your online career, you are going to have to get use to sleeping on the couches of many other websites.
It is an opportunity to get the exposure you need and to build your own site.
You do this through guest posting and while it may seem like everyone and their Nana are doing it, it is still a viable option.
However, you need to be selective with the sites you plan to post on.
Choose only high authority sites that are going to help your name become more famous. For these sites, you will want to create content that is incredible.
While it seems like a step backward in creating such good content for other sites, it is a small price to pay for authority.
5) Choose A Professional Design
While your mom may love that free theme you are using, it is not going to fly with an online audience.
They expect you to be an authority and a professional. There are many professional themes available online.
A few hundred dollars (or less) to start. That is a reasonable price to pay to be seen as an authority. You can build from there. They key is this: Start Simple.
However, if you are looking for a way to step things up a notch, hire a professional web designer. Consider getting professionally developed sites added to your portfolio.
In order to be seen as an authority, you have to brand yourselves so people will take notice.
While using a premium theme is a step up, it is still a theme thousands of other online professionals are using. Search engines see this as a “footprint” too.
Hire a designer and come up with a plan that is going to help set your site apart from all the millions of sites that are online.
Choose to make your site unique and professional look for your niche or field of expertise. Add tools and content. Ask this question: What is my audience asking about? Then proceed to answer those questions. TIP: Write an e-book and give it away!
6) Your Own Property Online
Just like there is an importance of having a real theme so is the same as having a professional domain and hosting account. And, don’t use me @ gmail or yahoo, or worse, aol.com. That just lacks professionalism.
While it is fine to start out with WordPress, Tumblr or Medium, you have to grow up and play with the big boys at some point. A domain is going to set you back about $10 for the year while hosting is about $4 a month.
People will not see you as an authority if your site is owned by another company.
Again it is all about perception online and how you want people to see you. By building a site on someone else’s platform, you are only building links and authority to their site, which they do not need.
Celebrity Maker Clint Arthur started simple. You can too.
Take the time to get your own professional URL and build all of your links to that site.
7) Promote Yourself – Not Affiliate Products
At this stage of the game, the only thing you should be promoting is yourself. There should be no ads or affiliate links in your content.
Let people know who you are and what you stand for before you start selling.
In fact, there should not even think about promoting products until you have a large following. Or at minimum, a passionate list of followers that you regularly engage with.
If you know a good product, let people know, just don’t link to it with an affiliate link. Again, this may seem counterproductive to you, but it will help your authority.
People will see that you are simply not another marketer looking to make a quick buck off them.
The best way to start promoting yourself to an audience is through social media and blog commenting.
Direct outreach is a good way to go too – assuming you have quality things to share, and don’t spam.
Look for questions that you can answer thoughtfully. Once again it is not about spamming your website all over the Internet.
It is about giving people helpful information that they can use to solve a problem or create a better life.
By not promoting products early on and choosing to help people you are setting the stage to become the ultimate authority in your niche.
How to become an authority/celebrity online:
That is all there is to becoming an authority.
Don’t you wish it could be that easy in real life?
These steps can be performed in any order that you see fit.
If it does not apply to you, simply skip over it and make your way to awesomeness even faster. The one thing to remember is you are not going to be an overnight authority, it does take time and persistence to do so.
Implement just one step or all 7 and you will be on the way of becoming an authority in the eyes of your audience.
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photo credit: 139337_7342 (license)
Jon Rognerud and Chaosmap work with Fortune 500 companies, small business and entrepreneurs to create digital traffic strategies that scale up customers, leads and sales with profitable returns. Mr. Rognerud wrote a best-selling book (Buy On Amazon), “The Ultimate Guide To Optimizing Your Website” (Entrepreneur). Connect directly here.