It takes time to establish yourself as a voice of authority. Once you’ve reached that point, your brand commands a lot of influence and has far more growth opportunities.
Although you can’t become a brand authority overnight, some strategies can help you steadily grow your reputation. You can do a lot to set yourself on the right path today.
Let’s dive in.
Plan for the Long Term
Growing your industry expertise is not a one-and-done thing. If you really want to become an authority in your industry, it will take time and require a solid strategy. The best time to start is now!
Planning your strategy is like drawing up the blueprints of how you’ll spend your time building up a reputation of expertise. Because it can be a long process, a plan helps you stay focused and keeps you on track.
Your plans should include:
- Outreach to your audience: It’s helpful to know where your audience is at, what they need, and how you can fill some of their knowledge gaps. Audience outreach also keeps you centered, reminding you who you’re speaking to so you don’t lose touch.
- Search engine optimization (SEO), including link-building: What good is expertise and excellent content if no one knows you exist? You can’t be an industry authority if no one knows who you are.
- Regular content posting: A steady stream of good content goes a long way in building the perception that you know what you’re talking about and can be trusted. Whatever type of content you create, create it regularly to keep your voice in the mix.
- Thought leadership content: Not all content types are equal. Thought leadership content is a slow-burn strategy that reaps huge benefits if done correctly. Build this into your bigger plan from the start.
- Strategic partnerships: The best way to grow your brand authority is to work with other trusted content creators. Make smart partnerships that help you boost your credibility and protect your reputation from guilt by association.
- Community-building: Turning a segment of your audience into a tight-knit community allows your brand to shine by giving space for others to thrive around you.
These are all valuable parts of your strategy to build authority. If you don’t plan for the long-term in these areas, you’ll find building rapport with your audience challenging. Each of these efforts takes time and steady, consistent steps forward.
Make a plan now that can guide your decisions as you grow.
Build a Thought Leadership Content Strategy
Thought leadership content is used to drive changes in an industry, educate people with valuable information, shed light on what’s going on behind the scenes, and share an expert perspective on your industry.
This type of content is very valuable when building up brand authority. It becomes even more valuable as your audience starts to see you as an expert in your field.
Where do you start with thought leadership content? A thought leadership content strategy involves planning around five things:
1. Your Expertise
Thought leadership only works if you’re creating content about a topic you actually know. For thought leadership content to be effective, it must be based on a firm foundation of knowledge, experience, or expertise.
Make a list of your areas of expertise where you feel comfortable operating and have some experience. These are the areas you should focus on for your thought leadership content.
If you have trouble coming up with your own expertise, ask a trusted partner or friend to help you narrow it down.
2. Your Audience
Thought leadership content will vary based on who you’re creating it for. You need to create useful and relevant content to your target audience.
Consider your audience’s skills and knowledge levels, concerns, and what they’re most interested in learning about. Use this as a filter for content ideas so that at least 75-80% of your content is geared toward the right people.
3. Market Momentum
Part of a thought leadership content strategy involves discussing your industry’s future. That can involve your opinions, future proofing, projecting possibilities, and explaining industry trends. For this to make sense, you need to tap into the momentum of where your industry is headed.
Keep your finger on the industry pulse and take some time to think about what’s happening in your space. This will help you speak more reasonably about changes in your industry while keeping you on the same page as your target audience. Outdated expertise loses relevance quickly. If the world is changing around you, do your best to observe how those changes are playing out in your industry, then use that knowledge to make more informed content.
There’s always a need for high-quality research and analysis. This is a part of thought leadership content since other expert sources often cite brands and individuals who release unique research and reports. If you have the chance to do any research, even informative audience polls on social media, this can be useful in guiding some of your thought leadership content.
Research itself is one part, and the other is analysis. Thought leadership content can also be formed from analyzing research and developing novel ways to use that for the benefit of yourself or your business. Solid analysis makes research more accessible to your audience, allowing them to benefit from it, even if they don’t have time to go through a 200-page report themselves. The better your analysis, the more you become a trusted source.
5. Content Timelines
Unlike other content types, thought leadership content doesn’t need to be posted often. With this type of content, you need to make sure you’re packing it full of value and giving your audience something new, useful and inspiring every time. This means your thought leadership content will often have a longer timeline than other content types.
Plan for this extended timeline. Keep up your normal content flow, with thought leadership pieces slotting in whenever they’re ready. Give yourself enough space to make content you’re proud of, or else you risk making forgettable content.
Use HARO (or Alternatives)
Quality backlinks from trusted industry and news sources help your brand stand out as a legitimate source of information. Platforms like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) give you a place to connect with journalists who want a source for an article they’re writing. You can send out your pitches and respond to requests from reporters, offering yourself or your brand as an expert source.
The HARO strategy can backfire if you’re featured in too many junk sources, but you have control over whether or not you’re featured. Be careful only to accept opportunities that will build your brand’s authority rather than accepting everything that comes your way.
HARO itself is a huge platform that’s been around for more than 15 years. Because of its popularity, there’s a lot of competition on HARO in every niche. If you want to increase your chances of getting leads, you can also try some alternative platforms.
Direct HARO Alternatives
Here are some of the direct competitors for HARO that are either free or freemium:
- Help a B2B Writer
- Twitter (yes, really!)
Other HARO Alternatives
These platforms are also alternatives to HARO. However, they require a larger investment that may only be possible if you’ve got some wiggle room in your budget for link-building.
- Forbes Councils
- Muck Rack
HARO and similar platforms are a supplement to your full link-building strategy. Don’t expect these platforms to provide all the reliable, high-quality links you need to build your brand presence online. Instead, use them in combination with a regular link-building strategy involving guest posting, SEO, and other measures.
To create a voice of authority, you need to be consistent in your industry, especially if you don’t already have a following.
Posting regularly helps you stay in view of your audience. This doesn’t mean posting in-depth content on your blog or YouTube channel all the time. It just means you need to interact with your audience regularly.
How often is “regular”? For social media, anywhere from 3-7 posts a week is normal. With short-form content, this is doable. Choose your ideal social media platforms and develop a content strategy that helps you post often, even when you don’t feel inspired.
For blogs, 2-4 posts per week is a healthy average, but this will depend on your content type. If you post long, in-depth content, you can keep a less frequent schedule.
On short-form video platforms like TikTok, you may want to prepare ahead to post at least once a day. Anything up to 4 times per day is recommended for max exposure. However, the quality of your posts still matters, so don’t push to post more often if you have to sacrifice the quality of what you’re uploading.
With long-form video content like YouTube videos, posting at least once per week is recommended. Like with blogs, this can also vary based on how long or in-depth your videos are.
Mix and match your content if you want. You don’t have to limit yourself to a single platform or content type. You’re on the right track as long as you’re keeping up a regular stream of content to grow your audience and expand your reach.
Stay in Your Lane
Staying to what you know is the key to staying relevant and growing as an authority. Expanding your reach too far and giving out opinions or insights into places outside your expertise dilutes your brand. Stick to what you know until you’re big enough to expand appropriately.
You can’t be an expert in everything. This is where your long-term strategy comes in. You have to plan ahead to ensure you’re building up authority in the right area to avoid having to pivot later. Work to build up your authority in a specific area that makes sense with your content niche.
Remember that you can get a lot of depth out of a niche. If you work to build your reputation in a smaller niche first, you’re more likely to find traction. It’s easier to grow in a specific niche, then branch out into related niches rather than starting with a broad focus.
Stay in your lane until you’re strong enough to spread out gradually.
Boost Other Experts
Expertise is validated by associating with other trusted sources. Making solid collaborations and partnering with the right people can boost your credibility and expand your influence. When you’re featured with other experts in your industry, it’s social proof that helps you build your brand.
Partner with creators or brands who are:
- Relevant: It’s better to work with other creators in your industry or a complementary industry. You’ll get more out of the collab, even if your audience doesn’t overlap.
- Trustworthy: Don’t risk ruining your brand by associating with anyone who’s not serious about what they do. You need to limit your collaborations to trusted people and brands with a good reputation with their audience.
- Active: It’s better to work with other creators who are also actively building their brand and communicating with their audience. You can boost each other and grow together.
Growing with other creators is an excellent way to boost your visibility and credibility simultaneously. Make partnerships with others a regular part of your growth strategy so you can form mutually beneficial relationships that will help you both moving forward.
What are you working on to grow your brand authority? Let us know in the comments below!
Writer, wordsmith, crafter of blogs & garden aficionado. Christine is passionate about getting real, actionable information out to creators and entrepreneurs everywhere. When she's not at the keyboard, she's working in the garden, spending time with family, or doing something artistic.