How To Build Authority Online

authority online

What gives you authority online?

You have things to say and an infinite number of outlets, but what makes your content the end all, be all.

Recently I stumbled upon the writings of Demian Farnworth who writes for CopyBlogger and The Copy Bot.  Besides his wit and politely comical style, he offers genuine advice to aspiring web writers.

After rummaging through about 10 of his posts I came across this one: “10 Ways To Build Authority Online”.

Now, before you chock that link up to just another “How To…”, “X Number of Things You Should…” or any other click-bait post title…read it.  And when I say read it, I mean like a book.

Soak the words in.  Reread it multiple times.  Get to know the writer’s style.  Too many bloggers these days are producing content just to bring in traffic and establish themselves as an “authority”.  What Demian is doing is something different.

How to be a genuine authority online

The best blogs I read are supported by people who genuinely love what they do and what they write about.  Not only that, it also shows in their writing.  So yes, you kind of have to be a good writer to start being an authority (I’m by no means a good writer).

What Demian writes about in his post (if you haven’t already read it 3 times, you should), is that people will listen to authority.  Because someone wrote it and delivered it with conviction, I am going to listen and more often than not, I’m going to accept it.  That is until I’m being sold something or asked for my email.

Once a writer asks for something in return, I’m skeptical.  Now I have a reason to be critical and go back over all those words I just read and start poking holes in their ideas and arguments.

Don’t ask for anything in return

Offer your readers advice, tips and strategies…for free!  Let me glean something from your experience.  I know you’ve spent years on these strategies, developing them, perfecting them.  But if they really do work, give them away for free.  The second you ask for something in return, it will start to devalue what you’ve written.

If one day you want readers to come to you because they want to, then you should write that way.  Write as if readers hang onto your every word.  Think of the influence you could have and use it for good.  You are a superhero.  Be good because you want to be.  Not for something in return.

Putting your audience before yourself

Blogging is a selfish thing.  Here I am writing, expecting people to read my every word and absorb my ideas for all eternity.

One of the greatest ways I’ve come across for building authority online is to not try to build authority.

Don’t try to do anything.  Just write your ideas down, from the heart, and people will notice.  Not only will they notice, they’ll care because they can tell how authentic you’re being.

Writing is a great way to promote yourself, your product or your business, but leave that for the sales pages.  Use your blog posts to help people.  Ask for their needs and try to help them.  Write about helping them.  Teach others to help each other.  When you sit down to write, ask yourself why you’re doing it.  If it’s for money or traffic, then it doesn’t really matter what you write because you’re clearly not in it for the long haul.

Get obsessed about a topic

Have you ever noticed how effective a lesson or presentation is when the teacher or presenter are extremely excited about the topic?

People notice when you care about what you’re writing or talking about.  Even if you were lecturing about the science of glacier movement, if you had the right supporting content and the right attitude, you could get anyone to jump out of their seats and beg for more.

It’s all about staying excited and staying curious.

The hungrier you are for learning more and teaching more, the better your content will be and the more your audience will care.

Obsess.  Obsess.  Obsess.  For all of our sakes.

What does this have to do with online authority

These three strategies for becoming an authority can be (and should be) applied to real life and not just online communication.  But since this is a blog about digital content marketing, why not leave you with some digital ways to use these strategies.

It always seems to start with blogging right?  Entrepreneurs sometimes go into business because their ideas didn’t really fit into any current molds.  Blogging is similar.

You have things to say.  Oh what glorious things you have to say!  But where to say them?  Building your own soap box blog is usually the way to go (hell, it’s what I did).  But just having a blog doesn’t give you authority.  Your audience exists all over the internet so you have to go to them.  And here’s how.


Forums are nothing new, but Quora fights the spammy nature of most forums by gamifying authority and organizing any and all topics in an efficient way.  After you’re sufficiently obsessed with your topic, head to Quora and start helping people with problems and questions that pertain to your field.  Directly addressing someone’s problem goes miles beyond writing one blog post and hoping someone finds it useful.


The Moz blog community is filled with amateur experts writing on digital topics with members weighing in here and there with their experiences and knowledge.  It’s hard to give away a blog post after you’ve spent so many hours on it, but it could be more beneficial in the end if you post where there’s already an existing community.  And they may even pick it up on their main blog!


This social presentation platform seems to have grown in popularity overnight.  It’s easy to go overboard with the self-promotion with a presentation but if you treat it as a more visual blog post, Slideshare is a great way to communicate your message in a clearer way that makes it easier to teach people about your topic.

What’s the point?

I guess what online authority comes down to is: how are you going to get people to trust you?

If I need help solving a problem my instinct is to go to Google and search for it.  Most of the time the answer lies in a blog post, but where’s the confidence in that?

What if I find the answer on a forum with a few other people agreeing with the answer AND it’s been voted up a dozen times?  Now there’s an answer to my problem I can lean two sticks against.

It’s all about building trust.  If you’ve been blogging for years and you’ve built your own community of readers then chances are people are going to believe anything you write.  You have them eating out of the palm of your hand and you have the go ahead to sell them whatever you want.

But for those of us just starting out with a readership that is nothing to write home about, we may want to start building trust elsewhere so that our blogs become reputable.  And we’re going to do that by helping our audience, not ourselves, obsessing about our topic and giving it all up for free, right?

How else would recommend we build authority, or what resources would you use to do it?

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About the author: Scott Taft
Scott Taft loves good writing, good coffee and good music. He currently works at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia but in his spare time he loves blogging about content right here on OG Content. Learn more about Scott Taft here.
  1. demianfarnworth August 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    This was a great post. Keep up the good work.

    • Scott Taft August 20, 2013 at 1:51 am

      Wow thanks! It’s an honor that you read it let alone commented :)

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