I am infamously known for telling creatives that they don’t need a blog or website like everyone is telling them they should have. The internet is clogged up with worthless blogs and adding another is a waste of time if you are unwilling to put in the time and effort to make it worthwhile.
Most people get a website, then they “set it and forget it.” They never look at it again. But if you have a website, especially a blog, you need to be making a daily effort to ensure it is a success.
That is why I tell writers that Medium is a better choice if you just plan on just posting your writing. Medium has a high domain authority, and your work is more likely to be found in a Google search with minimal effort.
Now, if you plan to put in the daily effort and need to place to aggregate all your efforts on social media, you have a book to promote, or you are a freelancer, and you need a place for a portfolio, a website, and a blog are ideal.
I have a website and a blog. I have several. I cross-post all my work on my website and Medium to get the most significant effect. (just make sure you are pointing the canonical link to your website) I have a portfolio and a writer page. I update my blog weekly because the only day I can write is Sunday with my college coursework.
I use the dashboard of Google Site Kit with WordPress to keep track of my visitors and what they are searching for to find me. I use the Yoast plugin to make sure I am optimizing my posts with the best SEO practices.
I work to make sure my websites and blogs are successful. Can you say the same?
Let Me Splash a Little Cold Water on You
I used to be a firm believer in content marketing. What better way to attract visitors to your website than by giving them value in the form of the best content you can offer? But sadly, content marketing isn’t enough anymore. Getting posts to rank in Google is extremely difficult. SEO is getting more complicated. There are so many factors involved in you getting a page to rank that the truth is that you will never do it with a small and new blog.
It takes time, backlinks, a good domain authority, and about 1000 other factors that assure you have a place in Google search results.
Content marketing is dead, folks, but there is still something you can do to impact the internet world. Google likes specialists. It wants people who are willing to write 3000 to 4000-word posts, digging deep into a subject and picking it apart. Google likes people who are authorities on a topic.
Case in point. I have a blog about CBD. I started writing short informative articles about CBD but was getting no traction. The problem was there were 1000 other blogs out there doing the same thing. So, I changed the blog’s focus from informing the audience about CBD to critiquing and rating CBD and cannabis websites. My first article since the changeover is 3000+ words and very informative, and already, I am getting a good amount of traffic.
A website redesign and rebrand are in the works for that site, and I see big things happening with it.
So, if content marketing doesn’t work as well, if you are not a massive website with good domain authority and a team working around the clock, the thing you need to do is become an authority.
An authority is not someone with a passing understanding of a subject. An authority is someone who can easily write 4000 words about a subject and completely obliterate the competition. An authority can intelligently answer questions about a subject on social media. Being an authority means someone can come to you for the answers they need.
How to Be an Authority
Despite what Gladwell says, you don’t need 10,000 hours to become an expert. All you need is more than a passing interest in something, and you can learn all you need to know rather quickly.
Say you like chess. Do you have to be a grandmaster to be an authority? No. If you have more than a passing interest and are willing to learn and grow as a chess player, you can be an authority. You can read, play, absorb, and quickly know more than the average person does.
That makes you an authority. But don’t be surprised if others challenge you, because the most important thing you need to understand about being an authority is you need to be willing to learn, and you need to understand you will be wrong sometimes. A willingness to change your mind and not be stubborn about something you clearly are wrong about are the signs that you have what it takes to be an authority
So, you are obsessed with something. That is a good sign you have what it takes to become an authority. Do you have experience from college? How many books have you read? Do you keep up with the latest news on the internet? Do you watch YouTube videos about your obsession? Do you go out of your way to learn and engage with the thing you are obsessed about?
Learning never stops because there will always be more information to absorb. That is why obsession is so important, you need to be consistent, and you just can’t stop learning because there will always be more to learn.
Now that you know more about this subject, topic, or thing than most other people, the next thing you need to do is start teaching others about it. According to Harvard Business Review:
“One of the quickest ways to learn something new, and to practice it, is to teach others how to do it. So share what you learn with your team, your manager, or your co-workers. You can force yourself to do it by putting a “teaching” date on your calendar or agreeing to lead a formal training session a few months down the road. With objectives like those, your learning will be much more focused and practical.”
Some of the best ways to teach someone else are writing, creating a video, being interviewed on a podcast, or posting on social media. Personally, because I am a writer and blogger, I prefer writing. It is an accomplishment if you can take a part of what you know about a subject — like chess or blogging — and write 3,000 words that will make someone so interested they can wait to read more.
I love connecting to an audience through writing. Some people like video, but I don’t have the face or personality. I have what is called a “butterface.” Sadly, I have a “Butterbody” as well. I don’t have that spark or that je ne sais quoi you need to truly break out in video.
The good thing is, I love to write and have gotten quite good at it over the years. It’s gotten to the point where thousands of words a day are pretty straightforward, even if my typing skills aren’t up to snuff.
Next, you need to present yourself as an authority on your website. The first thing you need is a professional website. If you can’t make one yourself, get someone like me or a freelancer you trust to build you one and show you how to use it.
Elements of an Effective Website or Blog
There are certain elements you should always have on your website or things that you must make sure your website does:
- Branding — Within seconds of coming to your website or blog, the user should know either the topic or the person who the blog is about. If they don’t, they may be confused and hit the “back” button, and you will have lost them.
- Search — This is especially important if you have a big website, but you should have some way for someone to search for what they want if they get lost.
- Easy access to the blog — if you have a blog, their way to get there should be evident within seconds. Granted, most people will arrive on a blog post, so it’s equally important that they can find your home page.
- About page — one of the most visited pages on any site is the “about” page. Don’t just have a dull, vanilla page; spice it up, add some pictures, add some life to it because the more you entertain someone, the more likely they will be to stay and read more.
There are other elements, but these are the most important. If you want a professional website or blog, make sure you include everything.
Now that you have your blog up and running add some things. Has someone told you in writing that you did something for them? Add a quote to your homepage. Do you have proof you are an authority, like a list of articles you have written or a portfolio of artwork? Are you a member of any groups, or are you affiliated with any organizations? Add them to your page.
You want to leave very little doubt that you know what you are talking about when teaching or lecturing other people about it.
If you have a blog, you need to ensure the information is presented professionally. Proper formatting, spelling, and correct grammar are a must, if not a minimum. And one thing I see people making the mistake of is by thinking that images replace good content. Instead of explaining something or going into more detail, they think to pad the post and make it longer by adding another useless image. Unless the image is something that is helping you explain a concept, leaving the padding for a mattress.
If you have places where you have written at length about a topic, and you want to link to another blog post to explain, that is good as well. Internal links help in the long run. Linking out to another authority can help as well, and it might help you with the goal of getting more backlinks in the process.
I use a WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO to ensure that my blog posts have all the SEO elements I need to rank well. It is difficult to get listed in the search results, but it will NEVER happen if you don’t follow the minimum requirements that Google loves. Yoast will make sure you follow the requirements needed to rank well.
Again, it’s almost like I am beating a dead horse, but to ensure you are providing the best content possible, and you are giving Google what it wants, make sure your blog posts cover one topic completely in no less than 3000 to 4000 words. Most content you see out there will lightly cover a topic in 750 to 1200 words, and you are competing with all of them, but trust an authority when I say that Google, and your audience, love when you cover a topic in detail. I guarantee, 4000 words is plenty unless you plan to write a book on the subject.
There is no “one” way to write as an authority. Most people usually go the serious route or the opposite and attempt to entertain with jokes and puns. I like to take the middle path and speak professionally, like a friend sitting next to you on the couch. I tell a few jokes, but you can make sure I will tell you what you need to know first.
Being funny is OK, but slapstick is just tiring. On the other hand, even the most serious member of your audience will appreciate a joke or two to break up the text.
You want to be conversational and avoid being too stuffy. Stuffy is acceptable for college papers about STEM cells, but if you want someone to read your whole blog post, you better at least be somewhat entertaining and conversational.
Are You an Authority on Social Media?
It seems when the topic is controversial, experts come out of the woodwork. Anyone who has watched a few YouTube videos thinks they are an expert when the subject is vaccines or wearing masks. But, if you are going to be an actual authority on social media, you better make sure you “walk the walk, and talk the talk.”
Twitter is one of my favorite places to talk to people about blogging and websites. I have an audience of primarily writers and authors, and these are the very people who seem the most clueless when it comes to the internet.
They need my help.
I often do the “Ask me anything” route or throw questions out to spark conversation. Most writers are in their own little world, literally, but every so often, I will catch a writer at the right time. Maybe they just released a book or are thinking about a blog or content marketing.
I’ve had many conversations with people who know what they need to do, but their plate is so full they don’t understand how they are going to do it. Unfortunately, most seem to also have the problem of low funds, which sucks for the freelancer side of me but is excellent for the teacher because I can usually teach someone what they need to know in a short time.
In the whole scheme of becoming an authority, knowing how to build and run a website is far down the list, but it is crucial because you must know the tools of the trade to function on the internet.
It pays to know what you are talking about when it comes to social media. People will challenge you, and not all of them are nice. I do not engage with the trolls, but you may be different and see rude people as a challenge to overcome.
If you want people to take you seriously, make sure your manner is professional but fun. Nobody likes a “fuddy-duddy,” and I guarantee everyone hates the “mansplainer.” I personally dislike the mansplainer the most because they don’t just do it to women. They think they know better than everyone, and the sad thing is that even when they are wrong, they won’t acknowledge it. They will usually start insulting and complaining that everyone is being unfair when they just need to accept the truth of the matter.
Bringing Everything Together
When you are an authority, you are the complete package. You have the knowledge and the skills to make sure you can teach others. You admit when you are wrong and always try to improve your understanding. You seek people to teach, and money is an afterthought.
Yes, you can make money by being an authority, but I wouldn’t try it until your knowledge is bulletproof. The last thing you want is to be exposed as a charlatan. You want to avoid mansplaining and being a “know-it-all.” Money is nice, but don’t try to take anyone’s money until you have the whole package in place.
Having a website or blog goes a long way to proving you know what you are talking about. But don’t forget to post your writing on places like Medium or LinkedIn. Don’t forget to do guest blogging and get your words on other people’s blogs. Appear on a few podcasts; make some videos if you are inclined.
I mention LinkedIn, but as a final word, I will tell you that if your expertise falls in the interest range of the average LinkedIn user (job hunting, recruiting, business, entrepreneurship, sales, HR, marketing, and the internet), it is a great place to share your knowledge. The engagement on LinkedIn is high, and with the use of a few hashtags and some engaging content, you can reach an audience of millions.
But whether you use LinkedIn, Medium, or your blog, make sure the words you speak are the truth, and you aren’t just selling another bottle of snake oil. In my business of blogging and websites, there are so many ready to promise “passive overnight riches” when the opposite is true. Becoming an authority takes time and effort, and there is absolutely nothing passive about it.
You must be active on your blog, on social media, and in the news. When someone needs a question answered, you should be the name they think of. If someone searches for your topic, your picture should be number one in the search results.
Yes, content marketing has gone by the wayside. It is no longer possible to create a small piece of content, apply a few SEO tricks, and appear on the top of the search results. It is no longer possible to reach a big audience organically just by providing good content.
You need to be an expert and an authority, and you need to be learning and working every day to prove to others that you are the authority you say you are.
Are you ready for some challenging but rewarding work? Let’s get started.