10 idiot-proof methods to become a subject matter expert – even if you have no list, no money and no hope

Love to be known for… well anything, really? Here are 10 idiot-proof methods to become a subject matter expert – even if you have no list, no money and no hope.

Once upon a time, I was exactly where you are today.

About three years ago, I had no hope of succeeding. I literally did not have a single name on my email list. I had money, but I refused to spend any on this business for fear it would amount to nothing.

I’d had this crazy idea – I’d decided to test out this idea of making money on the internet without taking my clothes off.

I was starting from zero. I was talking about the psychology of persuasion, but I’m not a neuroscientist. I don’t have a psychology degree. In fact, I’d never taken any sort of course on psychology or persuasion. I didn’t have the credentials to be talking about this topic.

So how do you position yourself as a subject matter expert when you honestly can’t tick those boxes?

With very little difficulty, that’s how.

10 idiot-proof methods to become a subject matter expert

These are techniques I’ve used myself. These are techniques I’ve shown my students, my clients, my colleagues… and everyone of us has seen big results.

Let’s get to it.

1) Revise your image

When I started The Persuasion Revolution I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was starting an online business – I was in corporate consulting and didn’t want to associate my name with something that may or may not become a success. I didn’t want to tarnish my reputation.

That is not the approach I recommend (to you OR to a single one of my clients).

Instead, work on changing perceptions among your existing contacts. Everyone knows someone – all of your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections and Instagram followers know someone. And that “someone” may be of use to you.

Don’t just go all obnoxious and start referring to yourself as an expert, work on changing the perception these people already have of you with subtlety.

Every 5th post you share should be related to your new niche; this will help breed the subconscious association you’re looking for it.

2) Use the power of Medium

When I say mini blog posts, I don’t mean those really long Facebook posts that no one reads. Frankly, no one reads those, so whoever is teaching you to write those is just plain wrong.

Instead, write posts that are 200-300 words long and publish them on medium.com – it really is one of the most underutilised positioning tools.

When I started out, that’s what I did. I didn’t have have a blog or a website – I had Medium.

Once you publish those articles, submit them to different collections. Some of these collections have thousands – hundreds of thousands – of users. That’s hundreds of thousands of engaged, interested readers just waiting for you.

You could also write these mini blog posts on your own Facebook profile (in something called “Notes”) or LinkedIn Pulse. The benefit of Medium over either of these is that you know the people are already interested in your topic.

3) Share your opinion (loud and proud!)

Start sharing opinion pieces.

This is not necessarily the same as blog posts – it’s any bit of content that reflects your strong opinion on a topic. It could be something as small as a tweet.

For example, if you’re a health coach and you see someone saying something about hormone management, and you’re really against it… discuss that. Share your opinion. Take a stand on a controversial topic.

This really helps to establish your authority – only experts have opinions. Non-experts just follow opinions.

4) Share the spotlight

People seem to think that the way to create your subject matter expertise is to just create your own content all the damn time – not true.

Share articles or videos or audios or podcasts from your industry and post them alongside your opinion.

Do you agree with them? Do you not agree with them? Don’t just share an article and say great article – offer your two cents. Explain why you think this is a great piece or why you think it’s a crappy piece and what the writer can do to improve it.

I remember this article that I read in the New York Times or one of these really big name publications – it was all about how the use of technology and media and tablets and iPhones is basically ruining the next generation. It was a really long piece and it was shared hundreds of thousands of times.

Then one mum blogger came out and debunked that article.

She said, “You know what; I don’t agree with this because of this and this and this. The writer is using her opinion; there is no scientific basis, etc.”

Her piece literally went viral; it was shared a million times. It’s not even about who’s right or wrong; it’s about being brave enough to challenge an opinion. To say, you know what, I don’t agree with this.

That is what establishes you as a subject matter expert.

I mean, don’t just bitch and grumble because you’re pissed at your husband or PMSing – be vocal about the things you care about.

5) Show don’t tell

When I started, my first issue was that no one knew me. Literally no one on the internet knew me, other than those Facebook friends I was keeping in the dark.

I had to just start with one person and convince them to see me as a persuasion expert – imagine my struggle.

The first thing that I did was take a few random pieces of copy from the internet and did a “before and after”.

I rewrote those random blog posts and home pages and about pages, took a screenshot of the before and after and started sharing them in a few Facebook communities.

I used these critiques to prove that I’m a persuasion expert, rather than just telling everyone what you do, or sharing tips.

It takes balls, but it gets you noticed.

6) Offer your brain for free

Once you’ve proven to certain communities that you know what you’re talking about, start offering free sessions.

I know there are so many people who are against the idea of free work, but I call bullshit on that.

If you’re just starting out and you want people to see you as an authority, there is no better way than to offer free sessions. I mean, I did 100 free website reviews in three weeks.

Yes, I went crazy, but not only did more than half of those people end up working with me afterwards, but I also got 75 testimonials right out the gate. Some of those people are still with me. They still buy everything that I offer.

7) Start a conversation

This is similar to sharing your opinion but in this case what you’re doing is trying to create polarity – just don’t start talking religion or politics.

Share your opinion in a respectful way and invite people who disagree to join the conversation.

On social media, posts like this get so much traction because everyone wants to share their opinion – everyone wants to think they’re great and everyone wants everyone else to think they’re great. They want to share their two cents, and you’re giving them the opportunity to do that.

If you start a conversation and someone says something that you agree with or you don’t agree with, you have the chance to reinforce your status by sharing something more, something further, something that will take that conversation to the next level and let them see you as someone who knows shit.

8) Complete a conversation

Next up, complete a conversation.

This is where someone is already having a conversation; someone is already sharing an opinion and you agree with it or you don’t agree with it… add your thoughts to the mix.

Not enough people do this – everyone is starting conversations and then that’s it. But if everyone is going to start conversations, who are you going to have a conversation with – yourself?

9) Share bite-sized wisdom

Your bits of bite-sized wisdom could be anything. They could be how-tos, or parts of your story, or “one time I worked with a client and this is what I did”, anything. Think short videos and audios for this.

A quick note on sharing client stories – don’t just post a braggy case study. Share some detail, offer a tip, name names. Braggy posts without evidence are just crappy.

If you have paid content, these pieces of bite-sized wisdom could be part of that. If they pay for 100%, give them 10% for free – something like that. Make it really valuable.

10) Design a unique hashtag

When you’re just starting out, you may not want to come out blatantly and say:

“I’m a persuasion strategist. I’m a copywriting ninja.”

A branded hashtag is a very subtle way of telling people to associate you with a certain topic. For me it was #persuasionshots – I created 20 short persuasion posts and put them on rotation for a couple of months with the hashtag.

You can use any hashtag you like, but stay consistent – people will begin to identify you by that tag.

Hashtags are great because they don’t sound too braggy even if they’re related to your niche. For example, instead of telling people I have a million dollar persuasion secret for them, I could use #milliondollarpersuasionsecrets with my posts; it’s way less obnoxious and it’s something I’d like people to associate with my brand.

That’s it.

Start using these techniques now!

So what do you think of my top 10 tried-and-tested tips on becoming a subject matter expert even if you have no list, no money and no hope?

It’s a rhetorical question – I know they’re genius.

So what are you waiting for? Get your ass out there.

Love more media coverage? Try these tips!

You can read more practical advice to gain media coverage as an expert in these articles:

Bushra Azhar believes that human beings are irrational and trying to persuade someone through a rational argument is like trying to stop a five-year-old from Odin on M&Ms by recounting the evils of high fructose corn syrup.

She is a Persuasion Strategist and Founder of The Persuasion Revolution, where tiny businesses make big bucks, using Psychology of Persuasion.

Bushra started The Persuasion Revolution in July 2014 and managed to go from an absolute nobody with zero connections and subzero sales, to $1M+ in sales, an email list of 23,000 and a buyer list of 4,000 in less than two years.

Photo by Rita Morais