Build Your Business: How to Establish Your Expertise

Helen Bradley explains how establishing yourself as an expert is an effective way to market your business.

As a business owner you have an expertise that you can use to build your online brand and to market your business. Being seen as an expert in your field gives your customers added reason to trust you, and it can strengthen your brand and attract well-informed customers to your business. In this article, I’ll explain what is involved in marketing yourself as an expert and how you can start doing it today.

 Women's Clothing and Fashion blog
A blog like this one from Women's Clothing and Fashion is a good way to post articles relevant to your expertise and your customers, and you have full control over it.
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Before we begin, it’s important to understand that establishing yourself as an expert isn’t something that will happen overnight. It is a process that takes time and is the result of consistent work — it's not something you can do today and forget about it from there. However it is something that can immeasurably benefit your business and, it’s you can and should start working on today.

What’s Your Expertise?

When marketing yourself as an expert, you must first determine your area of expertise. It should be something you are already knowledgeable about so you don’t need to do lots of research or learn new skills. It should be directly relevant to your business and be useful to your customers and prospective customers.

It might be something you have overlooked as being so self-evident that you think everyone knows it already when, in fact, they don't. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the depth of knowledge you've amassed while working in your business over time.

If you sell jewelry online you know a lot about stones and metals, about clasps and jewelry lengths and gift ideas. If you sell yacht supplies you know about ropes and safety gear and non-corroding materials.

Whatever you sell, make a list of the special things about your products and your industry that will help customers know what to buy, how to care for it, how to decide between competing products and what to give as gifts. This is your expertise.

Strut Your Stuff

As the owner of an e-commerce site the Internet is your marketplace, and it's also where you can start developing yourself as an expert in your field. Start by writing short articles on topics related to your business. These shouldn't be sales pitches. Instead they should be informative articles that help a reader learn more about what you sell. Make them short and concise — you're not writing a thesis, and you don't want to give away all your information in one article.

Twitter
Use tools such as Twitter and Facebook to publicize articles you have written.
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The best place to start is with your own blog. A blog is simple to set up, you can link it to your store site, and you're in control of it so you can publish whatever you like whenever you like. However, a blog does require that people come to you to read your posts so, when you're starting out, you will be writing to a very small audience. And the only way to build a larger audience is to keeping writing.

To advertise your blog posts, use tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can post messages on these services to announce your new blog posts. Other people will see them and can visit your blog. They may even retweet your posts so that people who follow them, and who don't necessarily follow you, will see these notices, too.

Include a signup link on your blog so that your readers can sign up to receive regular newsletters from you. Use these newsletters to send readers information about the posts that you have recently made. They'll stay informed even if they haven't visited your site recently. Your newsletters don't have to be detailed and can simply include links to your recent posts.

Other Places to Publish

Other options for publishing include writing small eBooks and either giving them away as a method of promoting your business or as an incentive to sign up for your newsletter. These also help establish your expertise, and they don't have to be onerous to create as you can repackage older blog posts as eBook content.

Article syndication is another tool you can use. T

EzineArticles.com
Online article sites like EzineArticles.com let you post articles related to your expertise.
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here are many online services such as eHow.com and eZinearticles.com that will post articles you write. Most of these do not permit direct advertising, but they do give you a forum to strut your expertise, and you can include links back to your blog and store from your articles. The best sites will check your articles to ensure they meet with their requirements, but these generally are not too stringent.

Most sites let you publish the same content you provide them on your own blog, so you can get double duty from your blog posts. The benefit of article sites is that they generally rank very high in search engine listings, which means you can attract readers by writing for them — readers who may never find your articles any other way.

Contribute to Forums

Another way to share your expertise is to post on online forums that relate to your area of expertise. It's best to post answers to other people's questions and avoid directly advertising your product. You can generally include links back to your shop site or blog within the signature line of your forum posts, and this will drive traffic from the forum to your site.

Swap Posts

Once you have some online posts and articles as proof of your work, look for sites that complement your site and offer to write a blog post for that site. Ask for a link back to your site from the post to help you build traffic by harnessing the readership of the other blog. Consider also swapping posts with another site — you write for them and they write for you so you can both benefit.

In addition to writing original posts, you can aggregate information by looking for interesting information on the Web that’s relevant to your customers. Write a post listing these sites and what they contain. Doing this helps people see you as a site that provides good information whether by writing it yourself or finding it and sharing it. You’ll be seen as a trusted source of information.

Becoming an acknowledged expert in your field doesn't cost you a lot of cash. Spending a little time and effort writing articles and seeking out places to publish will help you build your expertise, reinforce your brand and attract customers to your site.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

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