13 Authority Hacks That Give You Instant Expert Status Online

He falls to one knee, gripping his chest. Like a brush fire, the news spreads through the crowd, causing confusion and fear.

Then three words are spoken – and panic is replaced by calm.

“I’m a doctor.”

The crowd parts to give the obvious expert space to work, ready and willing to follow instructions from the one person in the room who seems to know what to do.

This is the power of authority. It attracts attention, communicates credibility, and inspires action.

And as a blogger, you need it now more than ever.

You’re not trying to get attention in a room of 100; you’re clawing for attention in a room of 10,000,000. Every day, people are bombarded with dozens of new emails, hundreds of social media updates, countless videos and an endless stream of podcasts to consume.

It’s a noisy world. Without authority, your voice is a whisper, almost impossible to hear over everyone else. But as a recognized expert, you don’t have to shout, because people come to you. They seek you out, join your world, and consume everything you have to offer.

It’s good to have authority.

Yet how do you get it? How do you go from being just another blogger to becoming one of the obvious authorities?

Though it might seem like a mystery, it’s actually a science. If you know the right shortcuts, you can set off a psychological chain reaction that positions you as the respected source in your field.

Hacking Authority: The Shortcut to Position & Power

Our hypothetical doctor’s power stems from countless years in study and practice. But there’s more. He didn’t shyly ask for permission to help. He didn’t pass around diplomas or licenses for proof. Instead, he stepped forward and claimed the power to lead.

A brazen scammer will assert authority without the backing of proof. A shy academic may possess proof without asserting authority. A successful blogger does both.

We instinctively grant authority to those with tangible proof, but it’s also a matter of confidently asserting your power. Successfully building credibility is a combination of gaining knowledge and experience while also putting yourself in contexts that suggest authority.

So authority is part earned, part claimed.

But you don’t have to wait a lifetime before staking your claim. Using the following simple authority hacks, you’ll flip the switch of credibility in your readers’ minds and quickly rank as one of the leaders in your field.

1. Take a Stance

True authorities don’t hedge. They don’t tactfully play the middle, aiming to please both sides of the argument. Instead, they take a stance, critics be damned.

It’s scary, of course. To say this is right – and this is wrong – invites criticism, something we normally avoid like a swarm of bees. But if you want to be a respected expert, you must be willing to risk the sting.

Reveal and obliterate the myths of your industry. Proudly declare your beliefs and vision. Stand firm. Let the others play it safe as they struggle with mediocrity. You have a bigger mission.

Strategy in action

Posts such as 20 Ways to Be Just Another Mediocre Blogger Nobody Gives a Crap AboutHow to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers, and Why You Shouldn’t Create a Newsletter (and What to Do Instead) make it clear that Jon Morrow’s goal isn’t to merely please his readers. He’s here to make a difference, and to hell with any critics.

2. Break into The Inner Circle

If you are surrounded by powerful people, you become powerful yourself. The sway of association cannot be denied; we simply can’t help ourselves. “She must be important,” we instinctively conclude. “Look who her friends are.”

What isn’t obvious, however, is how a new blogger creates those powerful ties with the people that matter.

Believe it or not, it can take just one word.

When I started my first blog, I wanted to connect with the recognized experts in my field, but I knew they were busy and people nagged them for attention daily. My solution? The one-word interview.

I asked popular bloggers the following question: What do you feel is the most important quality for an emerging expert to possess? Short and sweet … and successful.

Strategy in action

I was able to associate myself with luminaries such as Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Marie Forleo and Danielle LaPorte by conducting a one-word interview with each of them. And by publishing the interviews on my blog, it elevated my status in readers’ eyes.

3. Summon Your Followers

Tribes hold massive power. We all want to belong, to feel special and wanted and understood, and a tribe perfectly caters to each one of these needs. By developing an identity for your ideal audience – and turning away the rest – you give them something to belong to and a badge of honor to wear.

In return, you get authority. It’s only natural. The man or woman who calls out fearlessly to his or her people becomes the obvious leader in their minds. After all, they’re the ones who started the party – shouldn’t they get to host?

To create your tribe, define them, name them, call out to them, and serve them:

  • Define the characteristics you want in an ideal audience member – whom can you best help and whom do you most want to help?
  • If it suits your personality and your topic, give your tribe a name – a banner for them to unite under.
  • Call out to them across all your platforms by clearly defining who you cater to; people should know if they’re in the right or wrong place seconds after landing on your blog.
  • Serve your tribe by fully understanding their problems and delivering effective solutions.

Strategy in action

From Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters and Macklemore’s Shark Face Gang, to Gary Vaynerchuk’s Vaniacs, creating a tribe naturally places you in a position of authority.

4. Reveal Your Sources

When the only barriers to sharing “expert” advice online are a few clicks of the mouse, how can you tell the real expert from the fake? Simple. They connect their advice to trusted sources.

True experts have deep knowledge. They know the past, present, and future of their field. They know the trends, the myths, and most importantly, the facts. And when they mention those facts, the best and brightest also cite their sources.

The next time you’re writing a post, look outside your experiences and include material from books, journals, and studies that will add weight to your ideas. Your post will be better and your credibility will climb.

Strategy in action

You won’t find a better example of this authority hack than the experts behind Price Intelligently. In each of their posts, they feature study after study to back up their premise, removing all doubt about their authority in the field.

5. Develop Your Origin Story

Stories are powerful. Facts prove you’ve done your homework, but stories create a connection with your audience. So use elements of your own story to build a bond with your readers.

First, tell the story of your struggle. What hardships have you endured? What challenges, obstacles, or fears have you faced? People need to know that you, too, struggled. It’s the only way they can relate. Without kryptonite, Superman would be perfect – and real people can’t relate to perfect.

Second, tell the story of your search. Share the details about what you’ve done to master your craft. What have you learned and how did you learn it? Sharing your search offers proof that you’re a credible expert. You didn’t merely pull your know-how out of thin air; you worked for years to gather, test, and prove your methods.

Third, tell the story of your success. Tell us how it is on the other side by painting a picture. This is where we find inspiration. You struggled, just like us, and now you’re enjoying the success we crave? Where do we sign up?

Strategy in action

At the root of every great brand is a great story, from Apple’s creation in the fabled garage, to Brendon Burchard’s accident and resulting revelation. But the story told by Sean Stephenson is unlike any other. The tales of his struggle, his search, and his resounding success inspire millions and create an unbreakable bond with the people he serves.[SS2]

6. Restrict Access

If you’re good at what you do, people want your time and attention. The better you are, the greater the number and the more you have to turn away – there’s simply not enough time in the day to help everyone who wants it. Visitors, therefore, assume that an expert forced to turn away business must be in demand.

The non-authority, instead of turning away business, pleads for it. They open their doors to anyone and everyone; when no one’s knocking, they can hardly be choosy. There’s just one problem. Visitors assume the idle expert willing to work with anyone at any time cannot be a true expert.

The easier you are to access, the lower your authority status.

To use this psychology to your advantage, become strategically unavailable. Your free content should remain open, but beyond that introduce restrictions. Waiting lists, premium fees, and customer prerequisites are just a few of the ways you can restrict access and engineer a rise in authority.

As in high school, the harder you are to get, the more people want you.

Strategy in action

Jay Abraham used this strategy brilliantly in his early years, charging $2,000 per hour for consulting, making himself the prize to be won among his market. Ramit Sethi puts a unique spin on the principle by refusing to sell his products to anyone with credit card debt.

7. Showcase Your Skills

You can talk about it. You can write about it. You can even let others brag about it. But nothing is as effective as proving your expertise live.

Are you an online marketing expert? Hold live “hot seats” where visitors share their problems and you offer instant solutions. Designer? Bring us through the process, live on screen, of transforming an outdated look into a modern design. Life coach? Choose three members from your community for a live coaching session, on camera.

Even better, demo your expertise for someone else’s audience.

I was part of a mastermind group which included the occasional guest expert. I’ll never forget the visit by Kevin Rogers, in which he hopped from one member’s site to the next offering critiques. His talent was obvious, which naturally boosted his authority, but what really elevated his status – before one powerful word was spoken – was merely being invited by the head of the mastermind into his home. The endorsement granted him instant credibility.

Strategy in action

To make a quick name for himself, Derek Halpern launched a campaign of live website critiques for the Internet’s top brass, from Pat Flynn and Chris Brogan, to Corbett Barr and Laura Roeder. Putting his expertise on public display – along with the implied endorsement of each expert visited – catapulted Halpern to expert status.

8. Join the Establishment

Governing bodies, including those not directly associated with your industry, such as the Better Business Bureau, carry great weight and influence. They are pillars of credibility and, just like connecting with the leading experts in your field, affiliating yourself with these organizations automatically grants you part of that unquestionable authority.

If speaking is your game, you have the National Speakers Association. Cover health and fitness? You’ve got the National Association for Health and Fitness. Teach people how to get organized? The National Association of Professional Organizers is for you. These are just a few of the many associations that govern industries throughout the country. A quick Google search will help you find your perfect match.

Bonus Tip: Adding the association’s logo to your site is just one of the possibilities. Many groups circulate a monthly newsletter, giving you the opportunity to write for your governing body – a major boost. Many also have annual conferences. If you want to seriously expand your authority, you can’t get much better than speaking for the industry itself.

Strategy in action

Faith Manierre may not exactly fit our mold of a typical blogger, but she knocks this strategy out of the park. She not only links herself to the major governing bodies of her field through membership, but also through the awards won, certifications earned, and services delivered in regard to those associations.

9. Create a Signature Framework

Most bloggers are haphazard creatures, darting from one take on their topic to the next without any apparent method. And because they have no single unifying approach to their work, people can’t easily consider them an authority. They seem to adopt a slightly different viewpoint every week.

It’s another story when you stumble upon a blogger with a signature framework … a proven, one-of-a-kind system that outlines the path from A to Z. They have an approach that underpins everything they teach.

Imagine visiting a blog that offers a wide variety of posts related to gardening. Now compare that to a blog whose owner is the creator of the Home Gardening System. Immediately the feeling is different. The creator of HGS isn’t some flake tossing out interesting but unconnected material; their signature framework implies a history of deep knowledge, of understanding, of effort and investment, of trial and error, and of results.

Strategy in action

Countless writers and speakers spoke to the importance of being proactive or seeking first to understand (then to be understood). They were like everyone else.

Then Stephen Covey merged these ideas, along with five others, to create his world-renowned 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In place of important, but unconnected ideas, he created a structure and, with that, an entire industry. It became synonymous with his name, launched million-dollar ventures and a stream of bestsellers – and it gave me the perfect example of Creating a Signature Framework.

To follow in Covey’s footsteps, begin by mapping the overall path your audience must take to achieve their desired results. Break that path down into pillars, core concepts that can stand on their own as major themes or principles. Then you simply must fill those pillars with your best tips, tricks, and strategies to get from one to the next.

10. Be On a Mission

We’ve all read posts that engage, inform, and entertain, but something more is needed to truly inspire – you must focus, not on what you do, but on why you do it. This is the secret to the blogs that loom large over their markets, the key to viral status and instant authority.

With perks like these, it’s time to reveal your WHY.

What is your mission? What do you believe in that drives your blog? What core message must you share with the rest of the world? What difference are you trying to make?

Answering these questions will lift your blog from a repository of letters and numbers to the heartbeat of a movement.

We rarely get behind a great post or video; its life soon dies after starting. But we humans were built to get behind movements. We live for them – and we grant authority status to the people behind them. It’s the reason Apple’s 1984 ad is still referenced decades later. It’s the reason Nike grew from shoes sold out of a trunk to a worldwide phenomenon.

And it’s the reason your blog will evolve into something that truly matters – with you as the authority behind it.

Strategy in action

Scott Dinsmore is the man behind Live Your Legend, the blog whose mission is to help people do work they love. As a good friend and gifted entrepreneur, I’ve followed him closely over the years. Without fail, each time his purpose expanded, so too did his brand, his credibility, and his fame. When his TED talk reached one million views, Scott Dinsmore was unquestionably leading a movement, and the world wanted in.

11. Become a Trusted Curator

Curation implies authority. When you think of a museum curator, do you see a knowledgeable historian or an enthusiastic amateur? The former of course.

In the blogging world, the round-up post is one of the pillars of popular content curation. It’s a blog post that lists the top this or top that in a particular market: The Top Ten Bloggers to WatchThe True Innovators in TechThe Top Seven Podcasts to Never Miss, etc. As the name implies, you round up the field and highlight the best and brightest.

You gain authority by connecting your blog with the top minds in your field. But also as a savvy blogger, you can use curation as an opportunity to reach out to everyone included and let them know they’re featured; this opens the door to new relationships and network connections, not to mention the likelihood they’ll share the post with their audiences.

Strategy in action

With a technique this effective, round-up posts are everywhere. Two of my favorites were brought to us by Fizzle (the brainchild of Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves, and Caleb Wojcik), and Problogger. Fizzle ran a post featuring 19 Women Who Will Teach You How to Kick Ass Online, and Problogger ran a post highlighting 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013. Oldies but goodies.

12. Take Your Expertise Offline

With so much focus on the digital economy, we can easily forget about the larger world offline. Most bloggers wouldn’t consider unplugging and venturing into the great outdoors to build their blogs, but the combination of online and off is what actually delivers the greatest boost to authority.

Imagine Jodie, a relationship blogger who writes about marriage – like a thousand other bloggers.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Jodie goes to the local library to talk with the staff about holding a free talk on reviving a dying relationship. It’s valuable to the library’s members, so they’re happy to feature her and promote the talk.

Jodie lets her online audience know about the talk, getting a boost to her expert status. No longer is she simply a blogger; she’s now a speaker.

On the day of the talk, Jodie invites a friend to snap photos. She also gets attendees on video sharing their thoughts after the workshop. She adds the photos and videos to her site along with a special link to contact her for speaking opportunities.

With a few hours’ work and an afternoon speaking on the topic she loves, Jodie now stands out in a crowded market. When people realize that she not only writes but also speaks on the topic, they’ll naturally conclude she’s far more than a rookie. She’s the real deal.

How can you share your expertise offline to boost your authority online? Can you speak at a library or community college? Give a workshop in your basement?

Building your authority offline is not hard. A little effort and commitment are required, but as a reader of Smart Blogger, you’re no stranger to those concepts.

Strategy in action

Lewis Howes was a star athlete until a freak accident brought a tragic end to his career. As he gained the strength to start the second chapter of his life, he became quite the LinkedIn expert. What really kicked him to the next level, though, was taking his expertise offline. After coordinating in-person LinkedIn Meetups, Howes became the go-to guy for all things LinkedIn. As the obvious expert, he was able to turn his passion and knowledge about the platform into a seven-figure business, proving once again that great power lies at the crossover of both worlds.

13. Write a Bold Manifesto

As a history nerd, I know that Thomas Jefferson wasn’t the only voice behind the Declaration of Independence. Along with his committee partners, he was aided by dozens of earlier minds and classical documents, as well as the congress as they tore to shreds his drafts.

Many helped, but Jefferson wrote the manifesto. In turn, he was given the glory.

Millions may be in your market, men and women across the globe writing about the same things you do, but if you write the manifesto, you automatically rise through the ranks. You become one of the leaders. You get the glory.

Encapsulate your mission into a tightly-trimmed document that serves as a clarion call to your tribe. Set the tone; set the stage. Be the one who leads the charge, and your people will gladly follow.

Strategy in action

Numerous manifestos are online, but nothing compares to Chris Guillebeau’s A Brief Guide to World Domination. The document beautifully outlines his views on the world and our roles within it, roles that run counter to what we’ve always been told. It set the stage for a new paradigm and made Chris a household name in our universe.

It’s Time to Step Forward and Claim Your Authority

No matter your goal as a blogger, authority will help you achieve it faster. It will help you stand out and attract a passionate audience that supports your goals and dreams.

Authority will help you connect with the movers and shakers of your world. It can even help you build a full-time living by monetizing your blog.

And it’s all within your reach. You don’t have to ask for permission and you don’t have to wait a lifetime.

With the simple authority hacks above, genuine authority is closer than you ever imagined. You can transform yourself from an unknown blogger to a sought-after expert, with all of the benefits that come with that authority status.

I’ve seen it happen before and I’ll see it happen again. The question is … when will you step forward?

About the Author: Jason Gracia is the founder and CEO of SavvyHippo, the web design agency for certified coaches. To learn more visit savvyhippo.com.