That’s the first article from the series on how to build reputation with a blog and will deal with openly stating your expertise.
Back To Basics
Openly stating your expertise on your blog it’s fundamental for building online reputation, yet too often overlooked. Many bloggers, especially in the beginning, are focusing on building traffic, creating blog posts, interacting, and they forget the main reason they’re blogging for: they’re really good at something. There is something that they do better than anyone else. In this rush for creating more and more content, their very own expertise is left behind.
Well, make it obvious. Put it out there. Otherwise nobody will know what’s the difference you can make. Suppose you will build a sizable audience. You will attract a fairly large number of subscribers. Your readers may like your posts, they may feel entertained, educated or motivated by reading your blog, but they won’t create a mental link between a certain niche and your online persona. Unless you make it obvious.
How obvious? Well, it starts with your blog header and goes up to your about page. Will talk in a minute about the hot zones of your blog where you can imprint your expertise. For now, let me give you an explanation of my own blog header: brilliantly better. Apart from sounding really good (I love alliterations) it really mirrors what I am good at.
My work here aims to create a state of brilliancy while getting better. That is what I do. And this is my intended reputation. I know from experience that I can make you become not only better, but also feel brilliant in the process. That’s my main area of expertise. I have of course other, much more focused areas of interest, like blogging or online business. I’m not writing very often about them, but every few posts I publish something on these topics too. And while I’m not a top expert in these areas, I can help you to get better results by using general tools like self-discipline, personal productivity and so on. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t have a specific topic in which I can improve your activity, otherwise I would have openly state it in my blog header. It would have been something like Brilliantly Better Blogging, for instance. You can chose your own goal, your own improvement area, and then use my blog as a motivator and trigger of inspiration. This is what I do.
Now think at what YOU are doing. What exactly are you good at? What is your most important value that you are ready to expose it out there? That should be your reputation cornerstone. You should start building on that one.
Master Your Blog Header
I already talked about this briefly in the last paragraph. I will only add that this is the pivotal place for your online image. It’s the first thing the reader will see. It’s often the “title” tag that search engine are taking into account when indexing your blog. This is how you will be remembered. Don’t miss this spot by trying to throw in some fancy things, but with no relevance whatsoever in regard with your desired reputation. Be short, clear and honest. Save the fanciness for the blog posts.
Use Your Blog Posts With Caution
People are reading blog posts because they’re based on direct, human interaction. They’re not part of an elaborated publishing process, like in traditional media. Behind a blog is (usually) only one person. And people are reading that blog because of that person.
At this level, stating your expertise too often in your blog posts will be a little too much. Too obvious. Your blog posts are the place in which you are capturing your readers and make them feel good. You’re not selling anything on your blog posts. On the contrary, you’re giving away for free. And that keeps people coming again and again, because they have a repeated return for their attention investment.
So, use your blog posts with caution. What you can do, however, is to interlink some of your expertise pages from within your most visited posts. I think one of the masters in interlinking (this is how it’s called) is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. If you don’t read his blog, you should start now. Seriously.
About Your About Page
Blogs have an “about” page for a very important reason. It’s usually the place your readers reach after you got their attention. It’s your second opportunity to get a seat in their heads (the first one is your blog header, remember?). If you don’t have an about page, your blog is worth half of what it could worth. If you have a “shy” about page, you’d better not having it at all.
The about page should be the place where you should list all your credentials, testimonials and all the other references about you on the interwebs: interviews, collective projects, media appearances and so on. Afraid that you have only a few? Well, go out and mingle, contribute and generate more. Afraid that you have too many? I don’t think there is such a thing like “too many” when it comes to your own credentials or testimonials.
One of the most interesting “about” pages I know (although one of the simplest out there) is Brian Clark‘s from Copyblogger.com. Go read it and you’ll understand why he’s a very successful online entrepreneur (not only a famous blogger).
Sidebars And Sales Pages
Blog gods gave you sidebars for a reason. There aren’t just placeholder for your widgets, you know? They are valuable blog real estate that should be used. They offer a parallel visual experience for your readers. As such, they’re much more available and ready to be clicked than the about page.
Usually, sidebars are very good for incentives. You can offer some assets in exchange to some loyalty: the classical free ebook in exchange of a newsletter subscription. But you can also use your sidebars to promote events, products or services you own or you are part of.
Another special case is what I call the “sales” pages. They are not products or services sales pages, but mostly “hire me” places. If you really are selling your presence, as a consultant or handy man, you should definitely use the hire pages as a way to clearly state your expertise. It’s also pretty common to put there your services and your rates.
How This Works And Benefits
Openly stating your expertise makes it easier for the reader to remember you. It will create a strong image in their heads. I name this process: “buying some brain real estate”, identifying a niche with your name. It may seem like you’re very “in your face” with this approach, but believe me, you’re not.
Your readers are floating on a huge information ocean and in order to grab their attention you gotta be determined. I’m not advocating more than 50% of a regular blog page content (including sidebars) to be filled with your expertise, because this will transform your blog into a huge selling page. But it should be there and it should be visible. Many bloggers believe they will be “picked up” because they’re good at what they do. While this may be true, until they don’t make their skills obvious, nobody will even know what they do.
Openly stating your expertise is fundamental for building reputation but is not even remotely the only thing you need for that. On the contrary, if you’re resuming only to openly stating your expertise you will most likely generate the opposite effect of reputation: people will start to avoid you.
This is why we still have 6 more articles to go. 🙂