How to Build Your Authority as an Expert

Authority means your target audience is more open to buying the products you create; prospective clients pay more to work with you and the number and quality of opportunities that come your way increases. Authority is monetizable and there are definite steps you can take to increase your standing in the eyes of your audience and fellow experts.

A blueprint for building your authority

  1. Be a content machine. Make creating great content your priority. Let go of the mindset that you will only work for money. Content is money; maybe not immediately but done well it will generate far more income than selling your time ever can. You are in the content-creation business – all successful businesses are. Create value for your target audience, day in, day out. Some of what you create will be bad; learn from it and carry on creating. Create what? Whatever your craft is: books, blog posts, designs, videos, podcasts, art, tutorials, physical projects.
  2. Create your flagship product. Tim Ferriss broke through with his 4 Hour Work Week; Gary Vaynerchuk built Wine Library TV;  John Lee Dumas has his podcast, Entrepreneur On Fire. What is your flagship product? What will catapult you to a different level? What can you do that would be extraordinary? It too could be a book, YouTube channel or podcast. Or perhaps your talent lies elsewhere – public speaking, an online course, a digital magazine or a clever app? Whatever it is, build it – it may not make you rich but that’s not where its value lies. Your creation is the price of entry. From your flagship product comes recognition, credibility, speaking engagements, interviews, coaching, influence, an audience – in short, authority. Your flagship product is the key to unlock greater opportunities.
  3. Get comfortable with speaking and video. In the world of monetizing your know-how there are two areas that most people dislike but which you should master: (public) speaking and video presenting. Can you succeed without these? Yes, but it will take longer. Getting your face and voice out into the world is the fastest way to build authority. If either fills you with dread or you just suck at them – get training now (dig your well before you’re thirsty). It will be one of the most important career investments you can make.
  4. Professional branding. Don’t skimp on your personal branding. Have a professionally designed presence whether it’s your flagship product, website, Twitter background, business card, Facebook fan page, logo, free guides… Make it professional. It has to project credibility. Don’t be tempted to do it yourself (unless you’re a professional designer) or cut-corners with a budget designer. A well-designed presence will pay for itself many times over.
  5. Set stretch goals. The more authority you build, the easier it is to connect with others who can help you. Influencers will find time for you; fans will spread your message; your products will have a ready-market; more opportunities will present themselves. The higher up you go, the easier it is to succeed. Look for ways to extend yourself and your reach. Everything you do or create should be an escalation of what went before. Create grander products each time; interview bigger names than the last; aim for higher traffic numbers than last month. In addition, find ways to extend your brand by breaking into other people’s markets, e.g. appear on related podcasts; speak at conferences; attend live events; help influencers; write for leading websites; be interviewed for magazines.
  6. Be your own publicist. A celebrity’s publicist puts them into as many relevant channels as possible to build their profile. You (probably) don’t have a publicist so will need to perform this role yourself. Get your work out to as many outlets as you can: influential bloggers, authority-sites, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Slideshare… Don’t spam. Give it careful thought – you should always have an image of the end consumer (the person your content can help the most) in mind. A well-designed, laser-targeted piece of content to an industry name that serves their audience smashes a tweet to a hundred-thousand anonymous followers who will do nothing with your content.
  7. Be patient. Building authority takes time. We have better tools at our disposal but also more noise to break through. Just as you can only give a seed the right conditions to flourish, you can only take the prescribed steps to build your authority. The key is to keep moving forward: show up, do the work, get your work out there. Don’t expect to hear much from the market in the first couple of years (it doesn’t mean it’s not working or they don’t like what you’re doing). Keep creating value, keep sharing it. You will break through.

Takeaway points

  1. Produce content. Lots of it. Keep going.
  2. Have a flagship product to build your fame on.
  3. Building authority doesn’t end. Once you make it, don’t rest on your laurels. Keep producing, keep engaging. You’ve built momentum so keep the machine going.

Action steps

  1. What is your flagship product? Think about the one thing you can create that will make waves in your target market. It could be a book, a course, live training, an app – whatever. Create it and share it with those it can help (in exchange for their email). Don’t worry about monetising at this stage. You’re in the audience-building business. Do that and the money will follow.
  2. Think about your brand. What do you want to be known for? What do you want people to associate you and your products with? List three things you want people to think when they hear your name.
  3. List 10 websites/influencers you want to connect with in the next 12 months. Follow them online, subscribe to their social networks; study the content they’re producing; can you identify their mission? How can you help them serve their audience. Think of bespoke content you can pitch to them to help them deliver value to their fans.

Photo credit: okfn via Foter.com / CC BY

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