What Makes You an Authority in Your Niche?

I’m a member of a number of different groups on Facebook, spanning a rather broad array of interests. I’m part of a local buy/sell group. I’m part of a group that discusses Star Wars spoilers. I’m part of a local “foodies” group for finding the newest and best restaurants in town.

One group where I’ve been able to find a tremendous sense of community is one with over 1,000 dad bloggers. The overwhelming majority of this group’s members have no real ambition to turn their blogs into their full-time careers; most of them have day jobs and blog as a hobby on the side. We discuss monetization, but it’s hardly the primary area of interest for these guys.

Even so, I am able to glean some incredible insights from the conversations that we have and many of these are applicable to the realm of Internet marketing and making money online. Just the other day, one of the dad bloggers posted a rather simple but remarkably poignant question.

What Makes You an Authority?

The subject matter can vary widely, of course, but a good number of these dad bloggers blog about their lives as dads. That only makes sense. They talk about the experiences that they have and what they were able to learn from them. They might talk about how they’re making a difference at their kid’s school or what they’re learning about challenging traditional gender roles for their daughters.

But the question remains: what makes a “regular” dad qualified to offer any sort of real advice to any other parent?

dad

I’d be willing to assume that most of these dad bloggers don’t have advanced degrees in child psychology, childhood education, or pediatric medicine. They’re mostly not “experts” in the traditional sense of the word. So, why should people care what they have to say? How does their advice or insight hold any real weight?

Crowdsourcing Our Learning

This is a question that arose from the niche of parenting, but it can just as easily be applied to any other area of interest or industry vertical. It doesn’t matter what your blog is actually about, per se, because there will always be the lingering question of why someone should believe you, trust you, and take your advice to heart.

But here’s the thing. You don’t necessarily need to be a high-falutin’ expert in order for your opinion to matter. You don’t need to know more than everyone. You just need to know a little more than your reader. And that little bit of extra knowledge can come from your personal experience.

You had a particular episode in your life that was especially enlightening, inspiring, or eye-opening in some way. By sharing that personal story with your reader and explaining what you learned as a result, you become your own personal expert. And your perspective matters.

expert

There is a very fine line between being a respected expert and an esoteric elitist. Many readers can be turned off by someone who they feel thinks is better than them. They want to relate to you. They want you to be “one of us,” so to speak.

But Are You an Expert?

The more you blog, the more you experience, the more you share your stories, the greater the chance that you’ll gain the reputation as someone who knows what he’s talking about. You can even elevate your status further by publishing your own book on the subject. There is something incredibly powerful about having a physical book in your hands with your name on the cover.

But before any of that can happen, you need to answer a simple question for yourself. If you were seeking advice or insight into a particular area of interest, would you respect and value your own opinion? If you were in the reader’s position, would you see yourself as an authority or expert? Would you care what you had to say?

Figure out why you and your words should matter. If you wouldn’t read your own content, you can’t possibly expect anyone else to read it.

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