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Content Authority: How to Become the Expert in your Field

Establishing yourself as the go-to provider of quality content, guidance and information in your niche can be a daunting task. As someone with content authority, you would be able to create content that reflects your personal style of storytelling and still carry weight with a lot of people. The reason for this is simple – there are too many content providers out there with mediocre or shaky histories.

Relying on either one can be extremely difficult, especially with businesses and actual revenue on the line. That being said, it’s always a good idea to start building up your reputation as the content authority persona in your field. But what does that actually mean in practice and what are some of the most important steps towards achieving content authority?

Related: How to Create Perfect Keywords for Your Content

What Is Content Authority?

Before we get into the steps to becoming an authoritative and expert content creator in your industry, let’s take a look at the word itself. What does content authority represent? In short, content authority is a seal of quality that marks good content and deems it reliable.

For example, if you write an article about WordPress CMS predictions for the next several years and have content authority in your field people will come back to it again and again for reference. If however, you are an up-and-coming content provider, people will most likely respect your efforts but see no real value behind your words.

Content authority is the de facto seal of approval given by the community and public at large. But why should you care if some people respect your content more than other? Because the more people that click on your site’s links, the more visible you will become to SEO algorithms in search engines.

Articles and pages with a high frequency of traffic over several months or years tend to fair very well with search engines. This means that your article could be seen by someone years down the line and still add to your traffic, ad revenue and SEO standing. This is one of the most beneficial and important reasons to become a content authority figure in your niche.

With that said, what are the steps toward achieving such high regard? After all, if it were quick and easy, every content creator would do it. Let’s take a look at some essential tips, guidelines, and tricks that can help you get underway.

Related: 4 Major Elements of Content That Engages Your Audience

Self-reflection Is Essential

The first step to becoming a content authority is to assess where you are right now. There are several important questions you should think about and answer before doing anything else. Keep in mind that building up authority in your niche can take years of hard work and dedication, so take your time in coming up with the right answers:

  • Do you have a business of your own or do you plan on working independently?
  • How many hours a week can you spare for outsourcing, content creation and research?
  • Do you plan on making a living out of your content creation or do you have a day job to think about?
  • Do you have any industry friends or acquaintances that might be willing to help you out?
  • Are you prepared to sacrifice your social life, career plans or other things for your new goal?
  • Are you prepared for a multi-year commitment that might or might not turn out as you planned?

While these questions may seem bleak, they are, in fact, realistic and aim to improve your odds of becoming a content authority. Once you know where you are right now, you will have a much easier time coming up with a plan for the upcoming steps of your career.

Set Long-Term Goals

No one likes talking about long-term goals and commitment. However, deciding on several important KPIs and an overall goal can help you tremendously. Having a blackboard with your yearly goals in front of you can sometimes be all the motivation you need to look for new clients and create high-quality content.

Think about the direction in which you want to take your career and/or business. Do you plan on becoming an authoritative outsourcing agency with the trust and respect of others or a solo content creator? You don’t have to build a startup just to become a content authority – all it takes is a single person with the will to work and adapt.

Whether your long-term goals involve a number of companies you will work with yearly or the number of original pieces of content created doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your goal is relevant to you personally and that it represents something you love doing. With passion, results come naturally, and companies will start noticing your efforts more and more.

Allocate Time for Development

Your development is what separates you from the competition. Even if someone is more experienced and well-connected than you are, you can still come out on top if you are smart. Both personal and professional development plays a huge role in becoming a content authority.

Every seminar, podcast, and meeting you attend will add up to your experience as a content creator. Do some research and find the activities that might be interesting to you. John Booth, a marketing analyst at Online Writers Rating stated the following: “It is important and essential for a brand to establish itself as an expert in their said field – this is the only way to grow and expand.”

Anything that covers the topics of your niche will allow you the insight and expertise to talk about it for a client tomorrow. While strict work still plays a huge role in establishing content authority, any side activity relevant to the overall goal adds up in the end.

Offer Services Cheaply – At First

The best way to fight your way through the ranks of content authority brands in your niche is to start small. Offer your services to reputable companies and websites for cheap or pro bono (free of charge). While this may seem ludicrous at first, it does make sense in the bigger picture.

Explain your reasoning and tell them that you plan on growing, expanding and building your reputation as a provider of quality content in the next several years. Tell them that you are prepared to work for lower rates in exchange for advice, feedback, word of mouth and other benefits.

Believe it or not, many companies will go out of their way to give new content creators and agencies a chance to prove themselves. They get a relatively cheap and quality product in exchange for some exposure and constructive feedback. Put your pride aside for a moment and try being humble with the companies you admire – chances are that they will extend a friendly hand as a result.

Build an Online Presence

It’s always a good idea to collect reviews, testimonials and portfolio pieces for your online profiles. Setting up shop on a professional social network such as LinkedIn will give you a lot of credibility and exposure.

Freelancing and outsourcing networks such as Upwork or Fiverr will only go so far as to help you learn and gather reviews from clients. Once you are confident enough in your abilities to create high-quality content, make sure to invest some time and money into building a site of your own.

This can be a simple WordPress CMS with testimonials from your clients, links to your published work as well as a catalog of possible content types for clients to choose from. Build an online presence as soon as possible to ensure maximum exposure and longevity of your reputation.

Look for Inspiration in Others

Chances are that you are not the sole content creator in your niche – otherwise, you would have full content authority from the start. Look for websites, companies, and services that create content and have a reputable history. See if you can take notes and hints from their workflow, pricing structure, website design as well as marketing and social media presence.

Research what the best companies in your niche do and what makes them stand out from the rest of you. Once you have a good idea of what makes your competition tick, you will be closer to establishing your own, better strategy for growth and exposure. There is no shame in looking at what others are doing and trying to beat them at their own game.

Take a note from PepsiCo’s book and copy Coca-Cola’s formula for success. Even if you don’t come out on top, the second place offers plenty of income and reputation as a serviceable plan B. There is enough room for two or more content authority figures in a niche – the question is where you fit in the bigger picture.

Be a Mentor to Someone

The best way to check how much you know about your work is by trying to pass it on to someone else. Invite students or freelancers to apply for a mentorship period with your agency or yourself. Promise to show them the ropes of the industry in exchange for the learning experience of teaching someone about your niche.

This can be an amazing way to secure your place as an authoritative figure in your industry, expand your knowledge further and let people know that you love your job. Mentorship won’t take up much of your time and you will effectively become a role-model to someone young and inexperienced.

The best thing to come out of your mentorship will be the ability to hire your intern full-time, write them a letter of recommendation with your name on it and have someone be grateful to you for your help. Mentorships are a noble and cost-effective way to make sure that you understand your niche so much that you are able to pass the knowledge down to someone with only an elementary understanding of it.

Long-Term Expertise (Conclusion)

The secret to maintaining your content authority status is to never stop learning. While it can be daunting to constantly read new books and attend new conferences, it is also important for the longevity of your reputation.

People that are familiar with your work habits and reviews will immediately know whether or not you are a reliable source at that particular moment. Content creators that are out of touch with reality and current trends will rarely grow and become prominent in their fields.

Don’t stop learning and always look for new ways to expand on what you already know as a content authority figure.

Author bio: Jessica Fender, passionate marketer and head of content team at Online Writers Rating, a legit writing reviews website. I am fond of developing my management skills and creating awesome and innovative content with my coworkers.

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