“Nobody said it was easy… no one ever said it would be this hard.”
Timeless philosophy from Coldplay, that happens to also apply to your freelance blogging career.
Professional bloggers like Sophie Lizard and Tom Ewer do make it look easy.
Releasing monthly stats on how they built a business from scratch (à la Tom) is like providing a step-by-step plan to building a thriving blogging business.
But when it comes down to doing the work …why on earth is it so hard?
Sophie and Tom have an advantage: online authority. Google them and you’ll get pages of results showcasing just this.
Trust in them is undeniable.
So authority and trust? Are two of the most important factors in turning a random viewer of your blog, wondering whether they should hire you over oodles of competitors, into an excited client who can’t wait to work with you.
Now, you already know that building this trust in your authority isn’t an overnight process. But the good news is that it isn’t an impossible process either.
There are proven ways you can achieve this without having any qualifications in your chosen niche.
Take a look at these ideas and see how many you can apply to your blogging career:
1: Be visible
Whatever your chosen niche, there are always certain sites that are read by nearly everyone in that niche.
Being present on those sites will make you stand out to potential clients.
Chances are that they’ll be there doing exactly what you’re doing – reading the material. But they typically read and then leave.
It’s your job to go one step further by commenting, becoming a guest writer, and interacting with the community on those sites.
The more present you can be by giving value, the more likely you are to get noticed as an authority.
With every interaction, ask a question or give some advice that’s useful to the reader (simply writing ‘hey, great article!’ is more spammy than it is useful).
And over time, you’ll be seen as the go-to person for your niche and clients will start coming to you.
You can also take it a step further with social media.
Which LinkedIn and Facebook groups are your clients a part of? Join them and interact with them there too. Post questions and take part in group discussions.
Not only will people start connecting with you, but your perceived authority within your niche will increase. Being present in the same place over time has this effect.
And finally, remember to optimise your social media profile by including your website URL and contact info. Make it easy for potential clients to get in touch with you.
2: Don’t worry about qualifications
If you don’t have formal qualifications to back up your knowledge, how can you be seen as an authority?
This one’s tough if your client values education and expects it from you as an expert.
However, more than that? They want results.
Think about it:
If you were hiring someone to write an article about the best WordPress themes for creative businesses, would you hire the guy who studied programming at university, or the one who researched up-front and already has the article outlined as part of the application process?
This demonstration of your skills is invaluable for clients, and helps you stand out as an authority in record time.
An ongoing demonstration will also build this authority over time.
As a freelance blogger, you might run a blog for your own business. In your articles, mention the books you read, journals you make references from, or articles that are useful.
This shows that you not only know your niche well, but are immersed in it.
There’s nothing more attractive to a client than someone who has a healthy interest in the subject they write about.
3: Travel in packs
Just like every niche has certain websites that everyone reads, it also has experts everyone follows.
One shortcut to being seen as an authority is to align yourself with those experts – be a part of their inner circle.
If they post something on Twitter, respond to them. Did they write an article you loved? Comment on it and share it. Was there something in an email they wrote that caught your eye? Reply to the email and start a conversation.
Experts in your niche may seem as out of reach as Brad Pitt, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you when you interact with them by adding value.
And the thing that’ll make this alignment stand out to your clients? Is for you to work with the expert directly.
The simplest way to do this is to pitch a guest post. If an expert thinks your work is worthy enough to go live on their site, your clients will automatically relate the quality of your work with that of the expert.
See? Instant authority.
4: Give yourself a story
As a blogger, you know this.
So why not create your story that’ll connect your audience to you?
Creating your story isn’t about writing about your life from day one, detailing your weird shopping habits, or being brutally honest about what you really think of your Facebook friends.
It’s about being strategic with the information you share by thinking of your clients and audience first.
What do they value that you also value? What are they struggling with that you’ve overcome? What triumphs would they celebrate with you?
It’s these stories that you write about, repeatedly, to make that connection with the reader.
Let’s take Jon Morrow as an example. We know he:
- Was a writer for Copyblogger and how he made it there (this connects to the aspirations of his audience)
- Had to write 100 headlines a day as instructed by Brian Clark (it’s impressive and makes you want to download his Headline Hacks ebook)
- Is in a wheelchair and is an entrepreneur (we see how he overcame a struggle)
- Moved to Mexico and could cover his medical expenses (we celebrate his triumph)
There are likely a hundred other ways he could have put a spin on his story and appeal to many different people. But what Jon does well is that he connects his stories with the hopes, fears and dreams of his audience.
What can you pick out from your story to make a similar impact?
5: Build and maintain trust
Even when you’re not pitching to clients, add value to their lives and remain prominent in their memory.
Whenever you come across an article, a piece of news or information that’s relevant to them – share it. If you’ve seen them quoted in an article, email them to celebrate the achievement. Are there industry events that you think they’ll find useful? Mention it to them.
Over time, your name will become memorable to them. So when it comes to hiring a writer, who do you think they’ll choose?
And once you’ve signed a contract, trusting you isn’t a foregone conclusion. Even when you’re working with your client, it pays to be professional at all times (this goes without saying).
Proactively manage the writing project. Stick to deadlines. Keep your client updated on progress – there’s nothing worse than radio silence, even if everything’s in hand.
No expert in the world can maintain their authority status by being difficult to work with. Be the one they trust.
So there you have it. A few simple ways you can start being perceived as an authority by your clients.
We know it isn’t an overnight process. We know it takes work.
But we also know that putting in this work makes your authority? A complete no-brainer.
Question: What one thing will you take from this article and apply to your blogging habits? Let us know in the comments below.