Fast track your blogging authority

by James Duthie on June 16, 2008

Authority. We all want it. Authority is sexy. Practically every blogger is chasing it in some way, shape or form. Authority brings power, respect, visibility, opportunities and loyal followers.

But establishing authority isn’t easy. I’d know… because I don’t have any. As a newbie to the blogosphere, I’m like millions of others out there trying to be seen and heard. Echo…echo… echooo

So how do you create authority?

Authority is all about knowledge & networking. This post will concentrate on the networking side of the equation. If you want authority, you’ll need to create a network of followers. The most prominent bloggers and social media superstars have thousands of followers. Maki from Dosh Dosh has over 16,000 subscribers! Whoa.

Now… I’m clearly not the best person to advise on how to get to that point. I’m a newbie, and my own network is infinitely small compared to Maki’s. In fact, it’s pretty small compared to anyone. But I can provide some tips on how a targeted networking strategy can help you build authority quicker.

Targeted networking

In essence, targeted networking is an approach that focuses on identifying and targeting people that have already established some level of authority within your niche. For me targeted networking was a way of working smarter, not harder. We’re all busy, and finding time to commit to hundreds of digital relationships is difficult. So I made the decision to focus on the quality of each relationship, rather than sheer quantity.

The real benefit of targeted networking is leverage. Influential bloggers and social media stars have visibility and reach that newbies can only dream of. Imagine the impact when an influential blogger starts to submit your work within social media. Your work reaches infinitely more people based on their personal authority level, visibility and follower base.

While it is still early days, targeted networking has ensured that most of my new work gets submitted to the most prominent social media outlet in my niche (Sphinn). It has also helped me to secure guest posts on popular industry blogs such as Huomah and Social Desire (with more to come). And most importantly, it has helped me develop relationships with some influential people within my niche. I’ve outlined 7 key steps I have followed in my own targeted networking process.

The 7 steps to establishing a targeted networking process

Step 1 – Install the MyBlogLog recent viewer tool to your blog

MyBlogLog provide a great little widget for bloggers. The ‘Recent Viewers’ widget shows you who has visited your blog recently. Names and profile pictures appear within the widget which slots easily into your sidebar. Most influential bloggers use it. Install this widget to your blog to get the process started.

Once you’ve installed the widget on your blog, you’ll be in a position to recognise when an influential blogger visits your site.

Step 2 – Register and study your relevant social networks

Just about every influential blogger on the web is entrenched (if not obsessed) with social media. Social networks such as Digg & StumbleUpon have the ability to deliver traffic in spades. Experienced bloggers know this. So they dedicate significant portions of their time to maintaining active and credible accounts within their preferred social networks.

Your next step is to identify the social networks in which the most influential bloggers in your niche congregate. I write about digital marketing. So my most relevant social network was Sphinn. Maki has provided a list of 40+ social media networks, so this is a good place to start your search.

Once you nominate the most relevant communities you’ll need to study them. Visit the site regularly and observe who the key players are. Influential bloggers are fairly easy to spot. Their submissions will regularly make the front page, and they’ll be active in discussions/comments.

Step 3 – Begin contributing within your chosen social networks

Establishing your own social media presence takes time and persistence, which causes most people give up. They fail to see results within a few weeks, so write social media off as a waste of time. Social media success takes time and just like search engine optimisation, it can’t be achieved overnight. Managing your expectations is critical.

The kind of activities you need to focus on to create an initial level of visibility include:

  1. Submitting articles to the network. Be aware that your submissions are unlikely to generate votes initially as the level of trust from the community is low. It takes time to create the type of momentum that will translate to votes.
  2. Vote on articles that other members submit.
  3. Comment on articles and blogs that other members submit. This is the most important exercise you can initially undertake. Contributing insightful and intelligent discussion to a topic will slowly attract interest from members of the community. Concentrate your comments on popular articles to maximise the visibility of your input.

Step 4 – Monitor the MyBlogLog widget carefully

Ongoing persistence within your chosen social network will eventually pay off. Monitor the names and faces within your MyBlogLog widget religiously. One by one, you’ll begin to see familiar faces popping on to your blog.

Step 5 – Make contact with influential bloggers

Once you see an influential blogger visit your site, make immediate contact. You can contact them via MyBlogLog, but is preferable to do so via another social network. I make contact via StumbleUpon as users receive an email notification when they receive a message. Personalise your message to the highest degree to avoid any perception of spam. I always include their name, along with the name of their blog and some sort of personal feedback (such as a comment about a recent post). Oh yeah… and don’t forget to thank them for stopping past your blog!

Step 6 – Monitor your responses

Keep a close eye on your inbox to monitor responses from fellow bloggers. Don’t expect everyone to respond, and don’t get offended by those who don’t. Power bloggers are extremely busy and receive hundreds of messages a day. Some people are simply untouchable. Focus instead on those people who do respond. They are your new friends.

Step 7 – Enhance the relationship

Now that you’ve made contact it’s your job to foster every new relationship that is derived from the process. You need to do everything in your power to maintain contact and interest with your new friends. Here’s what I do:

  1. Subscribe to their blog
  2. Visit their blog every couple of days to ensure your face regularly appears in their MyBlogLog visitors
  3. Leave intelligent comments on their posts
  4. Submit their articles to social media
  5. Vote for their articles in social media
  6. Befriend them in other social networks
  7. Create additional touch points via email or messenger services and speak as often as possible without hassling them

Social media is all about sharing. Follow the steps above and most bloggers will reciprocate on some level. And as they do, your work will reach far wider audiences than you could ever imagine.

How targeted networking builds authority

The targeted networking process builds your personal level of authority in a number of ways:

  1. Authority by association. If people see your work has been submitted by an influential blogger, they’re more likely to consider you an authority as well.
  2. As traffic increases, so too do the metrics people use to measure your authority such as the subscriber count, Alexa rank, number of comments and inbound links.
  3. Influential bloggers notice the work fellow pro bloggers submit. Others will become aware of your work, and if you’re lucky will also look to submit it to relevant social media sites. This can create a snowball effect of visibility and authority.
  4. As your visibility and traffic increases, so to does your own personal network. People will begin to start contacting you!

Isn’t targeting networking elitist?

No. By no means does targeted networking exclude interaction with fellow newbies. I speak with fellow newbies as often as I do influential bloggers. But I choose to conduct my proactive networking in a targeted manner. It’s my way of maximising the ROI from the limited amount of time I have to network. And while traffic, subscribers and social media support continue to grow, I’m happy to say it’s helping to build my personal authority level.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 7 trackbacks }

Top 10 ways to improve your search results in Google - Barry Wise
June 18, 2008 at 5:35 pm
Father Knows Best When It Comes To Links - This Month In SEO - 6/08 | TheVanBlog | Van SEO Design
July 1, 2008 at 12:15 am
The guest blogging bonanza - My motivations (Part 1) | Online Marketing Banter
July 2, 2008 at 10:58 am
Claim back your Stumbleupon Blog | follow to geek, all about social media
September 20, 2008 at 10:03 am
Were the Digg bans a dose of karma? | Online Marketing Banter
October 20, 2008 at 11:14 am
They Know Something You don’t
December 10, 2008 at 7:50 am
Natural Childbirth Advocacy and Social Media « The Trial of Labor
December 12, 2008 at 3:48 am

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amadou M. Sall June 16, 2008 at 3:29 pm

This “newbie” knows quite lot! I’d like to talk to him again in a few months time :-)

newyorkdude June 17, 2008 at 1:57 am

OK, I get it. What you’re saying is: scratch their backs and hope they scratch your back in return. The ‘they’ is the people who have developed names and ‘authority’ in the past. You want to suck up to them and hope they throw you some crumbs in return.

As you can tell from my sarcastic tone, I don’t think highly of your strategy. There is something fundamentally dishonest about it. You are not trying to develop a reputation as an authority because you have something the world wants to know or learn about. You are trying to develop ‘authority points’ within a limited system and with a limited number of ‘appointed’ authorities. You don’t really have anything new to say that the world needs to know. You are trying to curry favor with some ‘top dogs.’

I had a small exchange with doshdosh about this idea a few months ago–off the net, in private emails. As far as I’m concerned, if you want to devote your life and time to kissing up, go right ahead. You might get a kiss or two back. But that kiss will be worthless in a little while when the ‘top dogs’ you kissed up to yesterday disappear tomorrow.

Real authority comes from saying something well and clearly that the world needs to know–even if it is not popular today and even if the guys and gals at the top of today’s clique don’t like it. Sucking up to today’s clique of ‘in’ opinion makers will be old tomorrow.

James Duthie June 17, 2008 at 4:09 am

@ Amadou – Glad you enjoyed it. Feel free to drop me a line any time you want.

@ Newyorkdude – I expected some people would take exception to this piece. That’s fine. Your points are valid, which is why I stated early in the article – “Authority is all about knowledge & networking. This post will concentrate on the networking side of the equation.” Authority without knowledge is impossible to achieve. Likewise, authority without a network is highly improbable. Plenty of smart people’s voices aren’t heard because they don’t know how to promote their content. That’s the side of the equation this article looks to address. Call it ass kissing if you will… but I’m sure the people I’ve developed relationships with wouldn’t. And it’s their opinion that matters to me.

Steven Bradley June 17, 2008 at 5:10 am

@newyorkdude – I don’t think the point of the post is ass kissing. I think it’s about building social networks which is an important part of any business. I don’t think anything in this post implies you shouldn’t be developing a reputation for having useful content.

The truth is you need more than great content. Sure if reading your post so far and away remarkable it’ll spread on its own merits, but there are very few things in life so remarkable. Most blogs need a push and one way to give it that push is have established bloggers on your side.

I do understand where you’re coming from. I don’t think you should artificially network with people just for what you can gain. I’ve attempted networking with all sorts of people. After I get to know them some I like more than others and some probably feel the same about me. When we both like each other we grow the relationship. When we don’t we can still agree to remain contacts and help each other when the situation calls.

I don’t think James is implying that your authority should be solely based on what others will say about you in the moment. You do need knowledge about your subject and you do need to offer something to others that is truly valuable. But having those in authority now endorsing you gets your valuable content in front of others, especially in the beginning.

@James – great post

James Duthie June 17, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for chiming in Steven. Your view point is appreciated. I suppose the important point is that bloggers will see through phony/ dishonest/ self serving people. And if that was the case they would have ignored me.

It’s also highly unlikely that established and authoritative bloggers would ever support content that isn’t of a high quality. So the provision of quality content is implied, although I guess I could have placed more emphasis on that point.

Steven Bradley June 17, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Glad to chime in. I understand where newyorkdude is coming from, but I didn’t get the impression from this post that you were telling people to network in any kind of underhanded way.

I took it more as something we all do or should do anyway with the post advising how to get more return for the time we spend.

john andrews June 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm

I’m in between on this one… probably leaning to the critical side because the article puts itself out there as a guide to authority. Really it’s one approach, and it has flaws.

You can prop yourself up by making friends, but that only works so long as your friends are influential. This is commonly known as “politics”. Make a run, and enjoy your time. But is that “authority”? Authority is granted. If you are granted authority because you are popular among influential friends, then yes, this is a “fast rack” to authority.

But when authority is granted for other reasons, you won’t enjoy it even if you ave oodles of friends all saying you’re just as great as they are. In fact, if the masses decide that is distasteful, that association can remove your chances of having authority.

So let’s be specific about what authority is… and we can all get along. But if you mean Google authority, as in search engine trust, I’m afraid there is a lot more to learn and discuss. It ain’t so simple, and it’s market-dependent and it changes with time and trends.

I’m thinking the “enjoy your time” idea is probably best… if it works to get you what you want, it’s up to you to do it. Preaching it as gospel? Not so sure…

john andrews June 18, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Since you no-follow you blog, this is the last I’ll contribute. That’s another aspect of granted authority.

Internet Marketing Joy June 18, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Wonderful tips on how to become an authority on your niche..^^ I will surely remember these helpful tips..^^ thanks a lot for sharing!

homaid June 19, 2008 at 6:16 pm

dear james, i loved your article it is very useful and full of great information to help newbies in both blogging and social networking worlds.

James Duthie June 20, 2008 at 5:35 am

@ John – Thanks for the considered input. Again – I’ll refer to the same quote I gave Newyorkdude. This post isn’t meant to be a complete guide to authority development, just the networking side. Knowledge and credibility are clearly important elements to the process. I don’t believe I ever said they weren’t, but I suppose I could also have made the knowledge point a little more poignant.

Re the classification of authority – I’m certainly not talking search engine authority. The title makes reference to blogging authority, and there’s no reference to search engines in the article. I understand that is a whole other kettle of fish.

I must say I find your second comment somewhat hypocritical. You’ve criticised me for a targeted networking process, but then said you won’t network on this blog because there’s nothing in it for you (ie. link juice). Pot calling kettle black perhaps…?

@ homaid – glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for dropping by.

Jonathan October 6, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Good basic article. Regarding above, I agree it is not a an end all solution to creating authority, but it is definitely a foundation. Good article for when you are starting out and want to create a presence and begin to be percieved as an expert and reliable with your blogging.

Regarding the above comment, this is a good article that talks about authority.

Convey Website Authority

Thanks for the good read!

Laura January 18, 2009 at 5:58 am

Great article! I am a newbie to the social networking concept, idea, method for developing relationships, and generating traffic. Thanks for the insightful foundation.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: