The working writers write because of the same reasons everybody else who works, works. — Gina Barreca Ph.D.
Plenty of people start a blog not as a hobby or a business, but as a kind of marketing channel for their main business. Consultants, in particular, find it useful to attract clients in this way. In order to draw new business, they will want to show that they are experienced, articulate and familiar with the technicalities of their field. One excellent way to do this, if you need help with writing, is to write blog posts on current issues within an industry, sharing insights and solutions in a way that will make readers say: “That guy knows about stuff and things.”
Another possible reason to use your blog to establish your reputation as an expert in some field is if your intention is to make a little money through affiliate links. The web is full of questionable marketing, so visitors are far more likely to convert by clicking on an external link if they have some faith in your ability to accurately review a product. If, for instance, your blog is about beauty products, it will be very helpful to make sure readers know that you own a salon.
Choose Your Niche with Care
If your interests are mountain biking, ornithology and knitting, it would be a wise choice to blog about only one of these, or split them into three separate blogs.
If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. — Melissa Burkley Ph.D.
Putting yourself forward as a subject matter expert is essentially a form of marketing, and like in other cases, diluting the message will prevent it from being understood. A restaurant that promotes itself as a steakhouse, a cocktail lounge as well as a sushi bar will not succeed, nor will a blog that tries to cast its net too widely.
Actually Be an Expert
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but the people most interested in some niche – i.e. those you most want to attract to your blog – will tend to have at least some familiarity with the topic. Being an expert not only refers to your level of knowledge, but also how you present yourself.
A single thoughtless post, or even a controversial one that makes its case poorly, is likely to put off people from ever visiting again, as is poor design. There are plenty of truly insightful, informative blogs out there that don’t get the traction they deserve, simply because they are difficult to navigate, difficult to read or flooded with ads.
One of the best ways to develop your online reputation is to join sites like LinkedIn and Quora. Reaching out to others in the same field (though not necessarily direct competitors) can be extremely helpful, as is providing guest posts for other blogs linking back to your own. Even the most impressive skill set and resume won’t help your blog if you don’t put in the necessary effort to promote it.
The task is to maintain that enthusiasm. We can lose it by being too judgmental about our writing. We want everything to be superb. — Carolyn Kaufman Psy.D.
Interact with Users
Closely related to the previous point, do allow and respond to comments on your blog. This not only generates new content, but keeps the relevance factor high and visitors coming back. Just like a job applicant who can answer tough questions seems more competent, a subject matter expert who can actually field enquiries for free shows that he has a passion for the topic and knows enough to be helpful. Again keeping the job interview parallel in mind, there’s also no shame in admitting you don’t know something esoteric, or asking someone in your network to answer on your behalf.
Blog traffic is good, converted visitors is better, but best of all can be to establish yourself as the go-to guy in one particular niche. As an hour’s worth of browsing will confirm, the internet is swimming in sub-standard sources, opinions presented as fact and blatant advertorializing. Positioning your blog as a source that is both reliable and entertaining can help you stand out from this general morass.