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To Build an Audience, Become an Expert

In order to build an audience you must be able to offer value through  information,  products,  and/or services that people need or want. The only way you can do that is to become an expert in your chosen area.  Oh, my! I can feel your silent groans flying through the Internet.

We Are the Experts
Illustration by Fritz

Don’t dismay, you have a lot of company.  A typical response to my opening statement is, “There is no way I can create a product or offer a service of value because I am not an expert in anything.”

OR, they respond, “I may know a lot about _______, but there are too many experts in that area; there is not room for more.”

Well . . . I disagree.  If you are not already an expert, you can become one with a little effort – and do it in less than a month. But, first let’s define the term “expert.”

The dictionary defines an expert as:  a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.  We could take it a little further – someone with more skill and knowledge than your audience.

The reality is that it is not difficult to become a specialist/authority in almost any niche you choose.

For example, let’s look at the area of social media/social marketing.  Let’s say this is an area that interests you and you have a little experience. You know that Mari Smith (among others) is a leader in that market. You may very well be thinking that it would be impossible for you, a complete unknown, to go into that market and become a leader in that space.

You are right, it is unlikely that you will unseat Mari Smith, who is recognized as one of the top five leaders in the field; but, you can leverage her leadership to create activity and interest about YOU.  If you do this well and professionally, you will be seen as another expert in the field.

This is what you do . . .

Leverage her name and fame to build your own. For example – learn everything you can about her. Read her blog, follow her on Facebook, listen to her podcasts, and read her books. Then, write about her and what she is doing – in your own words.  You can become a “Social Media Thought Leader” critic.

Put her expertise “on trial” on your blog. Talk about what she talks about and challenge her conclusions when appropriate.  Do this thoughtfully, respectfully, and professionally. Be sure to use examples to support your conclusions – whether you think she is right or wrong.

You can pick any expert in any field and use this process – it works! Find two or three leaders in your chosen area, learn everything you can about them, and start writing.

You will seem like an expert to the people who are familiar with the “leader” you have studied and are writing about.  For those who are completely unfamiliar with the subject, they will assume you are an expert equal to the person you are reviewing because they read your information first.

Another way to leverage someone else’s expertise . . .

Interview the person, then publish the interview.  You can publish the interview as a blog post, a podcast, a video, a Google Hangout, etc.

This method is more direct and takes more nerve, but can be very effective. Obviously, you have to reach out to the person and ask for the interview, which can be daunting – but doable. You must be prepared to give him/her valid reasons why they should do the interview.

I don’t recommend you try to interview someone famous, or extremely well-known “big leaders” in your chosen area – at least in the beginning.  A better choice would be published authors in your market niche. Use Google, Goodreads, and Amazon for authors that fit your requirements.

After you have published interviews with a few of the lesser famous, or even recently published authors in your field, people will begin to recognize you as an expert when they find your website. Then, you can reach out to some of the bigger names for interviews.

These are two methods you can use, there are others, but this is a good place to start establishing your expertise/authority.

Photo Credit: Experts in their tower via photopin (license)

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