How to Write with Authority for a
Loyalty-Starved Market

Authority

These days, people are hungrier than ever for real authority. They’re tired of fluff, hype and “know-it-alls”. In the beginning of your writing, you’ll likely write with some uncertainty as you keep learning and growing – much like a child taking his first steps, but there comes a time where your writing “grows up” and you start to speak with greater directness and purpose.

Journalists do this exceptionally well. Read your local paper or watch the news. You’ll never hear them say things like, “I think they meant _____” or “It has been my experience that _____”. Journalists simply state facts – but facts alone can be dry and boring. This is where it’s up to you to infuse your blog post or article with perspective and background. Tell a story, share a personal experience. Make it “real” to the reader. Then you’ll know you’ve hit the spot where your writing has “grown up”.

People naturally like others who are confident and sure of themselves. Writing with authority brings out an air of credibility and honesty that simply can’t be faked (at least not for long). As with most things, the more you practice these methods, the better you’ll become and the sooner you’ll slide into your own unique tone and conversational style. Try them on your next writing project and see how many more comments you get as a result.

1. Make Sure You Know Something Worth Sharing

If you feel even the slightest bit hesitant, oftentimes it will show in your writing through the words you choose. Adding words like “might”, “may”, “believe” and “hope” are a sort of disclaimer we add to our posts and articles to pad ourselves from a backlash of negative feedback – which often never happens. Go ahead and share your expertise. Your readers are looking for a leader – be one.

2. Write Powerful Steps that Can Be Followed

Everyone wants some “proven method” or strategy that has worked before and nobody wants to look like a fool or have their decisions questioned. When you write with authority, you don’t feel afraid to walk the reader through certain steps or explain things in a direct way. That doesn’t mean you should be forceful in your writing and bark orders, but writing with a solid understanding of how a process is done or how your readers can learn more will put you at the top of their loyalty list as opposed to someone who only writes based on what other people are doing or using.

3. Share Your Experience

Like I mentioned in my second paragraph, you want to make sure your readers know about your first-hand experience with the subject – either through a story or your own experience. Even if you’re writing about something you enjoy as a hobby, chances are there’s someone just starting out who wants reviews or opinions on a particular product that will find your insights helpful. The more you practice and keep learning about the product, service or industry you’re involved with, the better you’ll become over time. Don’t be afraid to go back to some of your early articles or blog posts and rewrite them to flow more directly to your readers. They’ll thank you for it.

4. Follow Through with Your Promises

There’s nothing people hate more than a false or wanna-be authority. And people can spot a fake a mile away. No matter how stellar your writing, if you fail to keep your promises and do so consistently, you’ll see your reputation vanish, and that can be difficult, if not impossible to build back up. Keep your promise you stated in your headline and opening paragraph by ending your piece with a call to action such as “Call me now at…” or “Click here to…”.

5. Be Open to Feedback

No one knows everything. Stop struggling with what you don’t know and focus on what you do know. Keep learning and thank people for bringing something new to your attention. You’ll begin to form a network of people you can go to for advice and suggestions to help improve on your existing knowledge and that’s something that no authority writer can be without!

So make a concentrated effort to take your “first steps” in your writing now. Push the uncertainty aside and write with purpose by following these tips. You’ll gain many more readers, buyers and loyal fans as a result.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob is a web designer, copywriter, and author of Get Niche Quick. Don’t forget to follow Sherice on Twitter.

Image by Hugh.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the post, Sherice. We are definitely authorities on our own experiences and stories so I’m glad you included that rather than a “just the facts, ma’am” approach. That’s what I love about blogs: they’re like a combination of op-ed and article.

  2. Very nice post, I got a lot from it. I think blogs are a lot like today’s younger (and older) generations’ talk radio – all the opinions and news, for the reader to do with as they please.

  3. Great tips on generating and nurturing loyalty. The Internet it is full of know-it-all gurus and they create so much hype that now they have begun to sound dippy. What counts is the ability to communicate, and communicate consistently, whether people agree or not . It doesn’t mean you always step on others’ toes to be noticeable, but people prefer honesty and this honesty leads to loyalty if you are constantly visible.

  4. Really enjoyed your post Sherice. You can always tell the confidence someone has in their writing. Hesitancy isn’t just something you can see, but also something you can sense.

    Writing with authority is a major issue for most writers. These tips are perfect for someone who is a little bit ‘gun shy’ about writing. Thanks so much for sharing them!

  5. Sharing experiences certainly creates a trust among your audience. As Tim mentioned, lot of people know their stuff very well, but are not confident enough to present it with authority.

    They just need to break the ice once. Great Post.

  6. Timely, valuable, well written – I’m glad I’m receiving these posts. Thank-you Sherice.

  7. Great article. It is many blogger’s goal to be considered an authority in their respective areas.

    I think that if you know something worth sharing, than documenting the steps in your blog is a great way to give back to the community & hopefully establish you as an expert.

  8. Brian Killian :

    Authority isn’t about stating facts. It’s about stating opinions as if they were facts. :)

  9. Great article and good strong advice, was interesting to read through and learn from you!

  10. I’m glad you all enjoyed the post! Cultivating authority takes time (and practice) but even if you have to go back and rewrite some of your more hesitant blog posts or articles – it will be well worth it in terms of the customer loyalty and value you reap!

  11. Thanks for another insightful article.

  12. Right on the money for me today. A very helpful post.
    “No one knows everything. Stop struggling with what you don’t know and focus on what you do know. ” That is an excellent tip for those who may be a bit unsure or feeling discouraged. Thanks!

  13. As I am on the uphill side of my blog learning curve, I found this article very valuable. I have printed the article and will keep it close at hand as a reference. Thank you.
    Nanette Bauer

  14. Thanks for the post. Sharing experiences certainly creates a trust among your audience.

  15. As a food and cooking blog, we talk with passion and authority when we share our recipes. But I’m a little puzzled as to how to implement Method 4. If our promise is “Corned Beef Hash Recipe” and we deliver on that, then what would be the call to action at the end?

  16. Nate – You could build upon it even further by having something like “Click here to share this Corn Beef Hash Recipe with a friend” and/or bookmark it on one of the social networks. That way they don’t just get the recipe and leave but help spread the word about your site too.

  17. I really enjoyed this article. It applies to me perfectly and I gained some great food for thought.

  18. As goes public speaking, so goes blogging: “Fake it ’til you make it”

    Good stuff here.

    George

  19. Good you mentioned the evolution of writing style — bloggers cross a certain threshold once they’ve gone through the early challenges of finding their voice and style.

    It’s good to remove the “I think that…” “I feel that…” from one’s writing, as it indicates a hint of uncertainty.

    Hooray for promoting genuine authority blogging, not just “how to sell” copywriting.

  20. I am a big proponent of their being no “right way” of doing anything, rather finding your own way is the challenge. It is this underlying belief that prompts me to add “I believe” or “this may help” to distinguish that I am speaking about myself and the reader needs to establish their own way.

    Or am I just being wishy-washy? lol. I don’t want to be “the expert”. I would rather be sharing experience and information.

  21. I stumbled upon Copyblogger a few days ago and I love the posts. I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed to many newsletters because I didn’t find the information useful. Yours however is a keeper!

  22. Ya know what? I love CopyBlogger, but I don’t agree with this post at all. Sure, there’s a place for authority & “how to” posts, but none of my favourite blogs have them. I don’t believe their necessary. And if you’re “faking it til you make it”, how can you be giving good advice? Or at least, good advice that we can’t find else where?
    Wanna see some really strong blogs? Look for strong voices, which is not the same as authority.
    Examples:
    jenlemen.com
    magpiegirl.blogspot.com
    biggblah.blogspot.com
    pastaqueen.com/halfofme/

    I may google other blogs, or even put them in my feedreader, if they have advice I think I’m looking for. But the ones I can’t get enough of? The ones I get excited about their new posts?
    Authority has nothing to do with it.

  23. You shouldn’t really “fake it till you make it” – but writing with a strong voice will help increase your authority in the minds of your readers. Ask yourself WHY you enjoy the blogs you do. Writing with authority doesn’t have to mean that you’re pushy or overbearing in any way, but that you know what you’re talking about, and you love writing about it. Writing a how to or sharing an experience are just some ways people do that.

  24. Very good article. I think there are a lot of people who are not open to feedback or take offense to it, which is the absolute wrong way to go. That being said, there are a lot of people who comment just to say something mean or negative instead of to participate in a dialogue about something. Down with the haters. Everyone should help everyone out.

    In a transparent environment like the internet, know-it-alls who don’t have the chops get exposed pretty quickly. If you ever run into any of those “Make Money Online” blogs, then you’re familiar with this type of “guru.”

  25. Sherice,
    What I found your post pointing out the most, even if you didn’t directly say it, is that we bloggers have to discover our own voice. It’s like the chihuahua Chloe “finding her bark” in Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It’s been a struggle for me to find my voice. It took a long time before I figured out what the core or kernel of my blog was going to be (something that Chris Brogan talks about all the time). Until I figured that out (which turned out to be helping MLMers market online) I couldn’t write with the “authority” that you’re talking about. Once I found the core, I was able to lay out a great editorial calendar and the writing has flowed ever since. Your suggestions are very practical on how to write with authority. Good thinking!

  26. I really like the fact that you can lay out an authoritative post on being authoritative in short numbered blasts. What a great job and something that I will strive to do in my writing as a blogger.

    Thanks for the advice it will be put to good use.

  27. Good stuff and I agree.

    At work, I’m on a team called patterns & practices. We write prescriptive guidance, and the tag line is “proven practices for predictable results.” It’s about writing with authority and sharing solutions more broadly.

  28. That’s a great article Sherice, I think confidence is what holds a lot of people back like myself but I know the only way to truly learn is to try and I will get better the more I write.

    Thanks,
    Erica Bell

  29. copyblogger is by far my favorite copywriting blog. great job FOLKS for providing quality content that i use ALL THE TIME. liked the highlight in this one about sharing experience which demonstrates a first hand knowledge of the topic. i’ve become quite the skeptic in terms of trusting the authority of the authors on so many blogs. great tip!

  30. Nice post Sherice !

    The real value of your post is the fact that you chose to write about it. Now it is there for the reference of someone who’s forgotten some basics. Thus you have mentioned the key points – we can figure out the rest and start acting on the pointers you have provided.

    Thanks !

  31. @kazari — You have brought up an interesting point here, but haven’t elaborated on what it is about a “strong voice” that makes it a valuable resource in your eyes. Care to discuss?

    Thanks for the post Sherice, nice perspective.

  32. Spot on, Sherice! In writing a post on bookkeeping, I frankly confessed my ignorance and frustration. In no time I had very useful comments from sole traders, companies, bookkeepers and even the biggest industry body on the planet. It was amazing and humbling and I learned much. If I’d tried to wing it, however, I’d have been shot to pieces. Many thanks! P. :)

  33. @Ryland.
    I suppose my point is that I don’t always go to blogs looking for advice. I’m often more interested in being entertained – so authority and powerful steps are not so relevant. The blogs that most entertain me (and the ones that make me a raving fan) have strong voices and good story. It doesn’t matter if they are portraying themselves as an authority or not.

    But I’ve just clicked through to a few commenters blogs – it seems most of you are blogging to tell people what to do or how to do it, so maybe I’m out of context here.

  34. Good information –

    It helps those who are new to blogging feel more confident about expressing themselves (you don’t have to play it safe).