On the Internet, everyone is looking for experts to get information from. Whether it’s how to fix a car, what dog food to buy or where to go on a vacation, people want to get their information from someone that they trust knows more than they do.
But becoming an expert in a field isn’t easy. It can take a lifetime of experience in a field or several certifications to become a true expert in some areas. However, in many fields, the term expert doesn’t have any official designation, it’s just someone who thinks about, studies and knows more on a topic than most.
It takes amazingly little time to go from being someone who is passionate about a topic to being an expert on it in most cases. It just requires some time, a good amount of work and a willingness to take a few risks.
If you’re willing to stretch your wings a little bit and follow a few steps, you can have others calling you an expert in your field in no time.
1. Start With Something You Love
Starting with a topic that you love makes life a lot easier on you. Not only do you likely already know a great deal about it, but it’s something you’ll be eager to sink your teeth into and to the required work.
So start with a topic you enjoy but one that seems to be relatively under-served online. This can literally be anything from a favorite author to hobby you love, but it has to be something you enjoy that’s somewhat obscure and interesting.
2. Throw Yourself Into It
Once you’ve picked something, start throwing yourself into the topic. Spend at least an hour or two a day thinking about, doing, participating in or otherwise being involved with your topic area. This can include reading news in your field, practicing what it is you want to do or going to events related to it.
Basically, you want to spend as much time as you can in your field. Though you don’t necessarily need to follow the 10,000 hour rule to become an expert, you definitely do need to put in some time and some work.
After all, the goal isn’t to fake being an expert, but to become a real one quickly.
3. Write/Blog/Talk About Your Subject
Next, start talking about your subject. Blog about it regulary (daily is best) and use any medium that’s appropriate including YouTube, social networking, podcasting, etc.
When doing this, it’s not important that your conversation be expert-level. In fact, it’s likely better if it’s more approachable. The goal is to talk about the topic regularly and to do so in a way that people will want to read.
This means a lot of what you say will actually be fairly basic stuff as it is what builds links and reputation. The goal is to become known as someone who has useful information on the topic and someone those interested in it can turn to.
4. Don’t Be Scared to Be Wrong
When you’re writing about a topic, especially one that you’re still fairly new to, you’re putting yourself out there and you will likely be wrong at some point. Don’t worry about it.
Mistakes are a part of broadcasting and, if you handle them well they can actually boost your reputation. Learn from your errors, handle them gracefully and move on.
5. Present Yourself Professionally
Online, as with everywhere else, appearance means a great deal. If you have an ugly, unprofessional presence it will rub off on you and make people think less of your efforts. Though great content can survive a bad look, there’s no reason to handicap your efforts that way.
If you have a professional, clean look to your site, you’ll have an advantage that you can carry with you the rest of the way.
6. Link to and Reference Other Experts
Find others in the field that you respect and link to them. Ideally, they may link back to you or even want to work with you some, but even if that doesn’t happen immediately, showing that you know who the other bright minds in the field are and that you’re comfortable linking to them is a huge asset.
In short, by linking to other bright minds in the field, you’re not only getting their attention (and hopefully a few links to your stronger pieces) but also showing your knowledge of the people in your field and proving that you understand the who as well as the what.
7. Seize Opportunities to Improve Your Reputation
Finally, as you build traffic and grow your reputation, you will likely find yourself with opportunities to further establish yourself as an expert. This can include chances to give talks at conferences, interview requests (for blogs and mainstream press), guest posting opportunities and, in some cases, book deals.
Seize these opportunities as they come up. Every conference you speak at, every interview you give is another case of your name out there in a positive light related to your field. The more things you’ve done outside of your blog, the more people will trust your credibility as it is the third parties vouching for you that really build your reputation.
In the end, it doesn’t take long to be an expert on almost any topic. If you have the passion and are willing to put in the work, you can build a deserved reputation in almost any field in a matter of months, not years.
The simple truth is that an expert is not necessarily one with more degrees or went to school for a subject (most topics don’t even have a class you could take if you wanted) but it’s more about being passionate about it, learning about the subject and sharing what you know.
If you can do that, your rise from layperson to expert can be very fast. It’s more about growing your knowledge and sharing what you know that reaching some savant-level of knowledge on a topic.
Once you realize that, becoming an expert is easy and it doesn’t require faking it in any regard.