The Insider Secret To Positioning Yourself As The Expert

by Robb Sutton

For a blog to be truly successful within a given niche, it needs to be seen as an expert in that given field. You have heard it time and time again and as you look at the blogs you read on a daily basis…you perceive them as an expert in something related to the subject at hand. Positioning yourself as the expert in your field can be a difficult thing for new bloggers and bloggers looking to increase their readership. How in the world do we…as bloggers…position ourselves as the expert in our niche to be successful online? How do we capitalize on that same asset that successful bloggers are pulling from and seeing fantastic results?

The Insider Secret To Positioning Yourself As The Expert

I am going to let you in on a little secret that is going to make your life easier and your stress level decrease. The secret to positioning yourself as the expert is an easy one to conquer with the right mindset. The key…you are positioning your blog, website and online resource as the expert…not specifically you. Unless you are blogging under your name (and sometimes even then), your goal is to make your blog the expert…not necessarily you! Now that the weight is lifted off of your shoulders, doesn’t it seem like a lot easier task to accomplish? Your goal is to make your url an expert in your niche by providing valuable resources that instill confidence in your brand.

How Can I Make My Blog The Expert?

When I started Bike198.com originally, I knew there were a lot of resources and blogs online about mountain biking. Most of these blogs were centered around specific rides, geographical areas and personal experiences. While I wanted to inject myself into my blog with those aspects, I also wanted to create a resource that other riders could go to on a consistent basis and expect to find useful information that was universal to mountain biking. So…how did I do that and position my blog as the expert in my field at the same time?

  • How To Articles – One of the easiest ways to position your blog as the expert in your niche is to teach. By helping other people in your niche solve problems, you are creating a blog that becomes the “go-to” resource to get things done in your niche. You are also creating a relationship with your readers by providing solutions to their issues. Throughout all of my blogging, this is the #1 most successful way I have found to position yourself above the rest. The more you teach…the more success you will see.
  • Resources – Providing valuable resources is another way to increase your expert status online. Does your niche have a lot of  specific vocabulary that you could make a page on and feature on your site? How about a list of resources like I do with my Blogging Toolbox? Resources can be pages or articles that provide your readers with definition or outside information related to your niche. Much like how to articles, these resources provide an immense amount of value your readers and add points on the expert scale.
  • Reviews – Every niche has a set of products or services. By providing high-quality, honest reviews, you are creating another expert resource for your blog. Your opinion means something in a review and…while not everyone will agree with your opinion…your site naturally becomes an expert on everything related to your niche. Your readers will start to look to you for information to influence their buying decisions.
  • Bring In Bigger Experts Than You! – One of the biggest ways to position your blog as the expert blog in your niche is actually one of the least used methods among beginning bloggers. If you do not have the expertise to draw off of during your beginning stages, bring in people who do to help build up your street cred. By allowing guest posts or conducting interviews and podcasts, you are able to draw off of other people’s expertise in your field and make your blog the expert at the same time.

Positioning yourself as the expert in blogging is not all about your fingers unleashing the latest and greatest to the audience in your niche. It is about creating a valuable resource online through careful planning so that people will see your site as the go to site in your niche. You do not have to be the expert…your blog has to be the expert…remember that as you move forward and there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Image by Pete Prodoehl
52 comments

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52 comments

Jordan Cooper January 21, 2010 - 8:29 am

Robb, you highlighted the key point that many people are missing. You never have to *claim* to be an “expert” in order to give expert advice. Simply being a curator of information and then presenting it with your own point of view will do it for you. Your blog will then become a resource… in turn, you’ll be considered an expert in the process.

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:15 am

I actually think it is better when you never “claim” it for yourself. Terms like expert are always more trusted when they are given instead of self-proclaimed.

Nothing worse than the self-proclaimed guru!

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Aqif January 22, 2010 - 2:01 pm

Hey there Robb. I love your words.

“Nothing worse than the self-proclaimed guru!”

From my opinion, its the readers who will claim you as an expert. Depending on how you provide information and technical skills to them.

For me, the more you give, the more they will stick to you.

🙂

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Antti Kokkonen February 7, 2010 - 11:14 am

Excellent comment Jordan, which I’m becoming to expect you already 🙂 I agree 100% that there is no need (and it’s even better not to) claim to be an expert. When you give the info and fill your blog with it, your readers will know you are one, without you telling them.

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Mike Crimmins January 21, 2010 - 9:35 am

I agree totally with Jordan, I never claimed to be an expert, just an average joe that wanted better coffee. Something that a lot of people could relate to.

However, along the way I accidentally positioned myself as an expert (still have lots to learn) by doing lots of how to articles and hundreds of reviews. I’m just now starting to accept the fact that I might be an expert, but it’s a good to have people coming to me to help out with their coffee problems.

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:16 am

You can be an expert at providing real world reviews for the average coffee drinker. I imagine that niche is much larger than the “professional” coffee drinkers anyway!

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Corey Freeman January 21, 2010 - 9:46 am

Awesome post! I’m working on building up my blog to be an authority, and these suggestions are really helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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Brandon Cox January 21, 2010 - 1:54 pm

Absolutely correct! I would say, however, that while your blog is the expert, you remain the brand. People follow people. But I agree 100% about your methodology for becoming the expert on a subject. This is how I’ve managed to become the single “go to” authority on underwater basket-weaving.

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:17 am

I have only been able to master that above water…we need talk.

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James Ball January 21, 2010 - 2:05 pm

All very good points Robb. I sorta’ lurk in and out around here, but saw that Jordan up there was hangin’ here too…thought I’d go ahead and weigh in.

P.S. You want to guest blog about blogging on my blog? :O)

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:18 am

I’m always up for guest posting…hit me up and we’ll work out the details.

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Christopher Korody January 21, 2010 - 5:07 pm

great post Robb –

you become an authority by doing the heavy lifting for others – they are happy to delegate the title in exchange for the easy answers…

the unwritten benefit is that by doing this work, one learns a great deal not all of which can be shared – at least not in one post

that is not only satisfying, it also keeps you moving forward!

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:19 am

Absolutely Christopher. People want us to make their lives easier and solve their problems. By doing all the research and heavy lifting, we can accomplish that through our blogs and position ourselves as the expert at the same time.

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Bonnie Landau January 21, 2010 - 11:45 pm

I’d never thought of making my blog an entity by itself, but it really makes a lot of sense. It’s interesting because in my brick and mortar business I am considered an expert, but establishing the same image online is such a different experience. I don’t have the opportunity to “talk up” as much as I want to online (nobody would read as much as I talk). I just recently named my blog something different than my own, and your post confirms that I’m moving in the right direction. Thanks!

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:20 am

Anytime Bonnie! The same ideals in brick and mortar can be applied to online…but..you are right. It is hard to get that same on the spot reactions and conversation as you can in public.

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Taylor Sherman January 22, 2010 - 3:29 am

Good points Robb and I think that you’re right about making a blog that is considered the expert of the niche.

Just curious, what if you do want yourself to be the expert primarily? I’m less interested in my blog being seen as a huge resource, and more interested in getting consulting gigs, seminars booked, and so on.

Are there any resources you’d recommend to further that goal?

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Robb Sutton January 22, 2010 - 9:21 am

If you want to position yourself as the expert primarily…you infuse as much of yourself as you can into your blog and its branding. For example, this is RobbSutton.com, my picture is all over the place and my logo is my name. The blog becomes me and my thoughts…

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TheInfoPreneur January 23, 2010 - 4:14 pm

Authority is decided by others, I do believe working with others who are ‘stronger’ in the same way physical training works, is the key to getting better and ultimately achieving the authority status

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Taylor Marek January 31, 2010 - 2:59 am

Good point Robb and always something to remember.

You are trying to become the authority thought leader and the only way you can do that is to teach topics, interview experts, and review others in your niche.

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Corinne Edwards February 7, 2010 - 9:56 am

Dear Robb –

This is the best idea of all to establish your authority in a niche –

“If you do not have the expertise to draw off of during your beginning stages, bring in people who do to help build up your street cred. By allowing guest posts or conducting interviews and podcasts, you are able to draw off of other people’s expertise in your field and make your blog the expert at the same time.”

I would solicit guest posts – not just allow. And interviews and podcasts with respected leaders in your field would definitely reflect on you as also an expert.

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Robb Sutton February 7, 2010 - 11:30 am

That is what I meant by allow…they obviously have to pass the cut before publish.

I had a guy email me yesterday wanting to guest post about complicated programing techniques. I told him, “Man that is pretty cool…but not my audience.”

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Andrew @ Blogging Guide February 7, 2010 - 10:09 am

How you share your knowledge and advice can make you come across as the expert.

By using a simple step-by-step approach or videos or audios can make you different to the rest. You may not be the true expert but providing and sharing the advice in a simple easily understandable way – you can be perceived as THE expert.

Andrew

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Robb Sutton February 7, 2010 - 11:29 am

I also think that you do not have to be an actual expert in something.

You can be an expert at providing valuable resources and content related to a given field. That does not mean that you have to know everything about everything and I think that is where a lot of people get confused on this concept.

Like you said…provide the resources and it will come on its own.

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David Rogers February 7, 2010 - 11:08 am

Interesting point about seeing your blog as the “expert” rather than yourself. One mistake I feel I have made is being too connected to my blog, not seeing it as an entity in itself. Where I now will try harder to connect outwardly with other blogs and encourage guest posts, etc

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Robb Sutton February 7, 2010 - 11:28 am

David,

It all depends on what you end goal is. If you want your site to be a go to resource in your field, you need to position your branding as the focus. If you are trying to position yourself (personally) in the field…your positioning is a little bit different.

I tend to find that the right way for me is a balance between the two.

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Antti Kokkonen February 7, 2010 - 11:18 am

I think that both authority and being perceived as an expert are things that one needs to earn. And putting the information, content and resources out there will do the job. You can keep learning yourself and/or bring others to help you as you suggested, to build it further…

And in the end, it’s the readers and peers who “decide” whether or not you and your blog earn to be taken as an expert or not.

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Robb Sutton February 7, 2010 - 11:26 am

Absolutely. There is nothing worse than the people to claim they are experts. 9 times out of 10…if they are giving themselves the title…they don’t deserve it.

That problem runs rampant on Twitter.

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Benjamin February 7, 2010 - 11:27 am

Very nice article, Robb!

I would also add in ‘put a powerful new perspective on something common in your industry’… because that’s what I think you’ve done here.

I have heard these tips before (from the many ‘experts’ out there), but I just got a much better understanding of them in the few minutes it took me to read this article.

I’m really hoping your mention of interviewing experts is the final kick-in-the-butt I need to get me to actually do it… 😉

keep smiling,

Ben

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Birney Summers February 7, 2010 - 11:32 am

The idea that you don’t have to be an expert to share expert quality information with your readers is a very important point for folks just starting out with a blog. You can provide expert level information just by filtering out the junk advice that is out there to give your readers clear simple “how to” advice. Just share what you know to be true as you learn it yourself.

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cheryl from thatgirlisfunny February 7, 2010 - 11:33 am

This is really great information, Robb. I agree with the guest posting idea. I love meeting other bloggers and inviting them to write something about my topic – from their point of view. It keeps things spicy and contributes to my position as the Go-To place for all things designed to help you “Stay Young – from the inside out”.

Anyone interested in guest-posting? Please contact me directly through my blog! My guests get loved up on my blog and end up at the top of my Most Popular Posts lists! Come visit and find out why…

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Tom February 7, 2010 - 11:38 am

Really great points. My experience has been that people are not looking for experts, they are looking for solutions.

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The Niche Think tank February 7, 2010 - 11:58 am

Great tips Robb Thanks for the insight on the positioning secrets. This is definitely something I am going to work on with my blog too. BTW is that Brian Clark in the picture?

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Wilhelm H. February 7, 2010 - 12:01 pm

Robb, great post! You are right! It’s hard to be an expert and it’s dangerous to claim it for yourself.

I agree with you:
“Terms like expert are always more trusted when they are given instead of self-proclaimed.”

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Phil February 7, 2010 - 12:01 pm

Hi Robb,

sounds very good. When I travel through your blog (which I have done for the last 50 minutes or so) I see a lot of the tips applied. The two cores of your article for me where:

– take yourself back, let the website do the work
– teach, teach, teach

I would like to add – and that is something you do also very good – that design should fit the topic of your blog. It would be funny, if you have designed it in a nice “Hello Kitty” style but I doubt if your earn additional respect with that approach.

Phil

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Michelle Vandepas February 7, 2010 - 12:18 pm

Rob, I’m trying to look at this to reposition another website I have with a PR4 – but doesn’t bring me much. I think that by taking ‘myself’ out of the mix and doing some of the things you suggest it will help. I think I’ll start with guest posts… Thanks for the ideas.

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Rich Hill@linkmoney.org February 7, 2010 - 12:30 pm

Robb,

You bring a lot of great information to the table, and much of it free too!
Thanks for what you have done to date and looking forward to more.
I like the idea of bringing in other specialists so will be in touch in regards to a new launch that I am working on.
All the best.
Rich

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Teagan February 7, 2010 - 12:34 pm

That shift in thinking sounds like a good idea. Your blog is the “expert go-to” resource. Just share the information. But in most people’s minds, you will likely become an expert by association without making a self-proclamation of such. Interesting info!

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Raymond Chua February 7, 2010 - 12:52 pm

Hey Robb,

You’ve got them right and clear.

Great insights. Thank you.

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Walt Goshert February 7, 2010 - 1:03 pm

Robb, Excellent points…and great interaction and points on the comments…

It’s really about being a Resource for a solution about a particular problem.

Elizabeth Potts Weinstein describes it as not being The Expert, but positioning more as the Builder of Community around a Big Idea.

http://elizabethpottsweinstein.com/the-funnel-sucks

When you act as the Community Resource, you naturally evolve into The Expert.

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Jeff Kay February 7, 2010 - 1:09 pm

Nice post, Robb. Providing quality, useful content on a consistent basis is the key, I think. Personality and a great looking site doesn’t hurt, either. You’re hitting on all cylinders here!

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Lisa February 7, 2010 - 2:37 pm

Rob — excellent post. I have been trying to find direction for my blog, which is similar to “Seinfeld.” A blog about nothing. :o) But, I had an idea this week about changing it’s direction, and your advice above is just what I needed to get started. I am not an expert in any particular field (except reinsurance, my day job!), but I have some ideas and knowledge in which I am think people would be interested. I think that “interested” is a key point too. You don’t have to be an “expert” to write something useful and intersesting.

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happymaker February 7, 2010 - 4:44 pm

Thanks many bunches Robb. It realy helps me to think that my blog is the expert and not me. With this thinking I can keep feeding it information and let it run with it.

I do like the Resource idea. Guess I am going to have to set up a page for that. I was thinking of setting one up with quotes, but I think I need to go for both.

Thanks again I can use all the information out there. It is really appreciated.
Debbie and have a very happy day.

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Bruce "the Mid-Life Mentor" February 7, 2010 - 5:22 pm

I have tried using these ideas with some success and also used interviews with experts to give me and the blog credibility by association. I like the idea of providing expert information and creating an expert site. Appreciate these great tips.

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Joel February 7, 2010 - 5:57 pm

Great stuff Robb, some tips I intend to copy, I mean emulate, there. Personally I also like to use testimonials to try to get clients to proclaim expert status rather than saying it themselves. Though I probably do mention about myself on my own, but not deliberately, but I should check actually!

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Jan - queenofkaos February 7, 2010 - 8:48 pm

Hi Robb, great article. What an epiphany! This really adds a whole new dimension to the big picture.

I had thought along these lines before in a small way but having you spell it out so clearly really shows the sense in it, validates the concept – and the possibilities.

I’m very excited to dig in and make some new plans…

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Eat Smart Age Smart February 7, 2010 - 10:40 pm

Robb,

All right this is really an article that fires me up!

This is part of my plan for 2010 and these are tips I can use to really take me to the next level.

There are many things I do already, but there are a lot of tips I’ve not yet involved.

Now, I have a plan and I only need to follow the plan to success as a Healthy Eating Expert.

Thanks my friend for sharing.

Krizia

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Lance Nelson February 8, 2010 - 12:59 am

Hi Robb,

Waht a timely article for me. All your tips are superb.

Guest posts and inerviews really help to widen he appeal of a site.

thanks again for sharing so much.

Lance

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Tyrone February 8, 2010 - 1:14 am

Hi Robb,

Gladly I have applied these strategies and will plan to continue having rich contents in the future.

With that mindset in you, I believe you’re getting a whole lot of readers, keep that wisdom coming. Thanks for sharing this helpful reminder!

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Gary February 8, 2010 - 8:48 am

Fully agree with you on making your blog bigger than you.At the end of the day the blog should be working for you not you for the blog. Links into your slogan “Make firing your boss a realty” Anyone got some suggestions for health blog guest postings?

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Keller Hawthorne February 8, 2010 - 7:18 pm

Another great post Robb. I would add that ensuring your content is high quality and also divulging a little bit about yourself is quite useful in enhancing your perceived expertise. Not enough people talk about how they actually make money online.

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Massy April 19, 2010 - 8:02 pm

Love the tip about getting bigger experts than you to contribute.. it’s great to use combined expertise in order to do something amazing…

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Joe Boyle May 22, 2010 - 2:14 pm

I once had someone fix my bike. I got to talking to the guy and he eventually said, “Don’t worry… I’m an expert.” I immediatly took my bike away from him and said “I didn’t need you to tell me that, I would have noticed”.

If you’re such an expert, you don’t need to tell people about it – they’ll realize it later on down the road!

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