You are an expert.
Without a doubt, I believe that you know more about your chosen topic than 90% of us who only dabble in it.
The problem is that you don’t believe it.
I can understand why because everyone requires proof that you are an expert. The best proof in many people’s mind is results. If you can point to a consistent and relevant string of successes then you must be an expert. I call this “results-based expertise”
Results-based expertise is the most popular type of authority, surprisingly its also the most flawed.
The Problem with Results-Based Expertise
Last year I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Shannon Paul, the Social Media Manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield. During our panel discussion, she pleaded with the audience to break their case study addiction. Her point was well taken, too many professionals see the results in case studies and automatically it them with expertise and success.
A closer examination often uncovers something different. In fact the FTC has pinpointed the flaw in the “Results Make the Expert” logic. It’s simple, just because someone achieved success in their situation doesn’t mean that their methods will work in YOUR situation. That’s why the FTC insists that companies offering testimonials or performance estimates affix the disclaimer: “Results Not Typical.”
So the guy who insists that he can replicate his results with your business may be exaggerating. The gal who swears that their NYT Bestseller methodology can turn you into a happy and healthy dynamo may be stretching – just a bit.
Their results may not be typical.
As a student of blog success I often see the “results = expertise” myth breakdown.
For example, a prominent blogger is promoting a new comprehensive blogging course. Their salesletter shows a variety of blogs that were launched using the blogger’s “system.” Under examination, I realize that the blogs look amazing but were not stellar examples of the results I was looking for. As a result, I doubted the prominent blogger’s expertise.
My judgement may be unfair but it is realistic. This blogger may have been better off relying on another powerful indicator of expertise.
Blogger’s play three expert roles:
1) The Results-Maker: This blogger experiments and records their results. Stellar examples include Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss, and Darren Rowse. Their expertise is undeniable. They have the numbers and years of income transparency to prove it. These folks plaster their big numbers on every page. As they should, numbers are powerful.
2) The Role Model: Role Model Based Experts have also achieved incredible success. While they don’t turn a microscope on their methods, their success is apparent. These experts have powerful personal stories that captivate their readers. Their celebrity is a proxy for results and we pin the expert button on their lapel. Examples include The Duggers, Gary Vaynerchuk, Oprah.
3) The Researcher: Researchers are the worker bees of the expert hive. They spend an extraordinary amount of time investigating, compiling, and curating knowledge. They always have the right tool, website, or methodology to make sense of any topic. Some Researchers, like Tim Ferriss, turn their data into incredible results profitably straddling The results and research roles. Others approach Role Model status as others try to emulate their expertise and staying power. Kristi Hines at Kikolani is the archetype for this role.
Many new bloggers wait to launch their blog because they feel pressure to perform the Results-Maker role. Their instincts remind them that real experts can show their results. So they move on in an endless search for the perfect topic.
That’s a shame because the Researcher Role is far easier to fill and forms a firm foundation for moving into the Results role.
How The Research Role Works
Let’s look at the women’s makeup niche. (Ladies I’m stretching here!)
It’s day 1 and you’ve decided to turn your love and innate talent for cosmetics into a blog-based business. Your research shows that there are celebrity makeup artists who build their results-based expertise on their star-studded resume.
Does this mean you close your makeup kit and look for something else? No!
You can play the role of expert researcher. Your blog can be the first to test and review new products. You can curate the best resource links from across the web. You can interview YouTube cosmetic celebrities. The possibilities are endless. You’ll gain expert status by being a resource rather than being famous or having an A-list client roster. Your audience will flock to your blog because you are the #1 resource for great information.
You Can Do This
If you don’t have the results then turn your attention to researching your heart out. Learn to write amazing tutorial posts. Master the art of pitching and interviewing influencers. Become a research ninja that surfs news feeds, forums, blog mentions, and Twitter in real time to uncover the latest and best info for your niche.
Soon you’ll gain the reputation of being a “dot connector”. Someone who knows how to find the best information and present it in easy-to-understand nuggets. You’ll be considered the expert.
What About the Role Model?
I mentioned that being a Role Model is the third path to “expertdom”. The prerequisite for this path is a poignant and relevant background story. For example, every breast cancer survivor is a ready-made role model. Their personal experience qualifies them to speak authoritatively to any women struggling with the disease.
If you can line up your topic with a personal experience then you can follow the role model path. Many Researchers and Results experts evolve into Role models.
The key to growing a compelling blog is harnessing your expertise and using it to attract readers and create content. Selecting a role will focus your efforts and help you decide which actions to take.
So, which role can you play with your audience?