One of the things that I’ve grown to dislike is the concept of the self-proclaimed authority. Those who pretend to be the all-knowing gurus of their respective fields are quickly boring me with their nonsensical drivel.

Now don’t mistake what I’m saying. You should be striving to become an online authority. You should be working to build your credibility. These are the qualities that lead to trust, to sales, and to profits. But launching a brand new site or a site that is amateur at best doesn’t warrant you the privilege of proclaiming that you are the master of all things web design. I’m quickly tiring of it.

A ‘Value Added’ Writing Strategy

Stop writing just to put posts up on your blog. Write to add some value to your community. If you need to learn more about a subject then read, study, and network with others that know more than you. Take the time to become the online authority and don’t just pretend to be an authority.

As you express your opinions online at your blog, what’s wrong with sharing them without all the nonsense. Don’t try to fool your readers into thinking that you’re an online authority and that you know more than you actually know. Be honest with them. Be genuine. Educate your readers in a way that doesn’t make you look like a egomaniac.

What’s wrong with taking on an attitude that expresses that you’re learning while you’re teaching? Ask for feedback and create open discussions.

This is how I do it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert. But I can also say that I’m seeing remarkable success here at Site Sketch 101. So here’s my attitude as I teach principles about blogging, design, SEO, online influence, business, etc.

I’m enjoying great success and here are some of the reasons that I think it’s happening. Here are some of the things that I’ve been practicing. Feel free to learn from them, to practice them, or to disagree with them and share with me why. Let’s continue growing together and let’s revolutionize the way we work online.

You should have that same attitude. Don’t drive people away from you by flaunting your self-proclaimed expert status in their faces. It’s alright to be bold about what your talking about. It’s alright to argue your position and passionately express what you believe. But don’t be something you’re not. Be real with people.

True authority can be seen by the people around you, and if you have to announce that you have it then you probably don’t. As people see your confidence, your experience, and your successes, they’ll open themselves up to learn from you. There is a natural authority that’s bred from success.

With this in mind, spend your time focusing on being the best that you can be.

The right answer is to study, practice, improve and grow. Do this and your authority will grow with you.

The wrong answer is to announce to the world that you’re an authority on your subject, grab as many folks as possible who are new to your niche and don’t know any better, and be resented and forgotten by them later when they realize that there are much better people that they could have been following.

The message of this post isn’t simply that you should stop announcing yourself as an authority, but rather the message is hopefully another inspiration to you to actually become an authority. It’s the harder road, but in the end, it’s more rewarding.

Group Discussion

What do you say? Are you standing up and shouting to your audience that you are the expert of all things related to the topic that you blog about? Or are you reaching out to people with a helping hand simply trying to show people what has worked for you and offering that it might be helpful to them?

The bottom line is this: Are you pretending to be an online authority or are you being real?

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.


  • Hey Nick,

    We believe that the best leaders, are those that have a spirit to serve. What we do is really not about us, it’s about giving back. Delivering value and good will to others is the fuel that maintenance a blog for the long run.

    Sure you can make a great living for yourself online, however we should never forget that the people we serve are the reason for our success.

    The best leaders are always students first, the moment you think you’ve got it and you can’t grow anymore because you have the guru disease, is the moment you start to decline.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

    Adrian & Sharla

    Live it! Learn it! Share it!

    • I love that attitude. Along with you, I strongly believe that the best leaders are excellent servants. I think that often people want to lead because they want that feeling of important, and that’s certainly not all bad, but when you can lead for the sake of helping others, that’s powerful.

  • Brad says:

    Ahh yes, the self proclaimed gurus who are no more real than Power Rangers. This place is riddled with these charlatans and they need to be called out. Good thing their writing does that for them for I have no time to dilly dally with their useless meanderings.

    You said it best, “…if you have to announce that you have it then you probably don’t.”

    Another darn tootin’ goodin’ Nick..

  • Paul says:

    There is also the problem of assuming you are an authority when you’re not. Among your peers you may be the expert on cars or cameras, so you may be encouraged to build a niche site around those things.

    So you start writing quality content full of information around that, only to find that you are so far from being an authority that you should stop.

    What to do then?

    I’d say you should change the tone of your blog from “I’m an authority” (if that is the tone) to more of what Nicholas says: “I love cameras and this is what I like to write about. If you have any feedback for me, please share”

    Don’t give up when you find out you’re not an authority. Use that as a launchpad.

    • Exactly, Paul. The authority on a subject among those who know nothing of the subject. My peers know that I enjoy web design and as such they constantly ask me their network questions, computer hardware questions and more. I’m constantly trying to explain that I’m not an authority on any of those subjects. And even in web design, I know that I’m a novice trying to grow.

    • Tim says:

      Rosalind Gardner made a good post recently about how she saw herself as a student of internet marketing who liked to help people. It seemed so much more healthy than all these self-proclaimed authorities.

      Actually, I do think that the way people perceive content on the internet has shifted so far now that too much of an authoritative voice, even when it is genuine, will not be as likely to provoke a buying response as one that is a little more human.

  • AstroGremlin says:

    I have to admit that in the interest of sharing the small amount that I had learned about blogging, I have written posts that declared certain plugins to be good when they weren’t. It’s a little embarrassing, but I have subsequently gone back and added postscripts that I found better tools. Still learning and many of my posts don’t declare my own expertise, they point to resources I have found useful.

    • We all have, and there are certainly times when we need to be confident, but we always need to keep in mind that we’re still learning. And the idea of providing links and resources is an excellent one. Too few people are doing that.

  • Hi Nicholas,

    I love that attitude and especially the:

    “Ask for feedback and create open discussions” the conversation here is what makes your blog stand out and you do a great job creating that and a real community feel.

    It’s also interesting to note here that a bad website design instantly makes you look untrustworthy but even charlatans can make themselves look good online if they’d only invest in some decent web design!

    Fortunately most of them don’t and seem to favor dodgy templates, flashing buttons and over-long pushy sales pages:)

    Thanks for being here and being the trustworthy face of web design!

    Keep up the good work, Annabel

  • Josh McBride says:

    It may be a little cliche, but it is true anyway:

    Show, don’t tell.

    If you have to tell people that you are an expert, then they must not be able to tell that from reading your blog.

    Also, an expert is only an expert when he/she is continually learning more. Once you stop learning, you will cease to be an expert…

  • Alexis says:

    Hi Nicholas,
    I totally agree with what you are saying. Although I will admit that personally I struggle to find a balance between the “I know what I’m talking about” vibe and the “Everybody has a thought – what’s yours?” vibe. I spend 1500 words filled with links & research to back up what I’m trying to say and then throw out a “What do you think?” at the end and not surprisingly, I think people feel shy about commenting. Ah well…it’s a work in progress.

  • Alan says:

    Agreed Nick, a couple of good points here I couldn’t agree with more – 1) write to add value not to add content (with the amount available on the web, more volume isn’t what’s needed) and 2) whatever your subject it’s a journey for everyone and there’s always someone more expert than you – again there’s so much easily available on the web that to state yourself as the worlds best expert at anything is asking for trouble,

    humbly πŸ˜‰

  • I’ve been noticing this unfortunate trend too… bloggers posting vague articles about “strategies for promoting your business online”, written with a very authoritative-sounding voice and perspective, but the article is so vague and its clear they sort of don’t know what they’re talking about!

  • ah hong says:

    Sadly there are few self proclaimed expert who thought they are in the top of bell curve and cease any learning oppurtunity.

    Personally I think knowledge sharing and research from audience’s feedback is a very good learning attitude. Let’s keep going this way.

    P.S – “Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.”

  • Dave says:

    I think this post Is ironic considering that you cone across as one of those know it all bloggers

    just my observation

    • Josh McBride says:

      I disagree. Why would so many people come to and appreciate a “know it all” blogger? The reason we come is because Nick does more than us.

      If he ever acts like he knows what he is talking about maybe that means he does know what he is talking about. And it is evident he does by the success he has been having.

      • Thanks, Josh. If I have projected that type of an attitude, Dave, I certainly apologize. I understand that there is a line between confident and cocky and I try very hard to come across as confident so that I can inspire people to try the advice that I recommend, but I also understand how that can be interpreted as cocky. So again, I apologize.

        • AstroGremlin says:

          I like cocky people, especially when they are capable servants. Anyone remember the butler in Arthur, “I will alert the media.” When you know your stuff, you have something of an obligation to present a proper attitude of informed leadership and confidence. It’s the poseurs who confuse. For awhile. You have earned your stripes, Nick, wear them with pride.

  • Interesting post, Nick. There’s always so much to learn and share.

    Being an online authority kinda speaks for itself, whatever the niche. I prefer the words, “reaching out to people with a helping hand,” personally.

    No matter how much I know, I can always learn more, which I enjoy doing. And as I read, learn, experience and succeed/fail, I can pass that on to others to help them in whatever way I can.

    Thanks for the post and have a good one.

  • Sonia says:

    Yeah I can smell BS a mile away too! I always tell my readers that I am learning just like them and I only share what I have “learned”.

    It’s one thing to be an authority and know your s— but it’s entirely different if you try and fool people and your site just launched 2 days ago. Seriously?

    People want to be known out in blogosphere like the next person, but your right in stating that you need to be upfront about what you don’t know and agree to take that “journey” with them. I find people respond to that better then someone trying to act like a “know-it-all”.

  • Francis says:

    Some people try to bamboozle others by claiming to be an authority in their respective fields.Even people without sound education still pose themselves as Authority in their fields.

    I urge people to go and study or get a marketing degree so you can fully and contextually engage online customers.

  • Andy says:

    Authority is not built on a short time. It will come naturally to any people who want to learn and have open mind. Self promoting is good but if we do it excessively, it could make people think that we are such as wise guy.

  • Petter says:

    Thanx for teh many new insights this post got me!

    this was in a way a eye opener!

  • Tuvuti says:

    I am very passionate about sharing ideas especially online and completely agree with you, it is only fair to let your audience proclaim you as a guru based on your distinct prowess.

  • I can only agree with “greg ascentive”! It is pathetic how people try to sound authorative when the only thing they want is to try to push themselves up in rankings!

  • Noel Addison says:

    Being an online authority cannot be done overnight. It requires a lot of learning and when you finally learn you have to strive to learn more.

  • This is an interesting topic. I attended a seminar before and the presenter told us, you can consider yourself a guru in a niche topic if you have 20% more knowledge compared to others.

    • Yes and no. The thing is that nobody likes meeting people who calls themselves the expert or the guru at something. It’s far more meaningful to SHOW that you are an expert rather than to claim that you are.

  • Mark says:

    A really interesting article. There really is a shortage of good quality blog posts these days. Quality over quantity is the key

  • Paul says:

    I see what you mean in terms of building authority in the minds of the readers and serving them, the reason why I keep coming back here is because its more of a social blog, I know it has an active community and good content that isn’t spun. your definitely right in that there no need to churn out content day and night its all about quality not quantity!

  • Mel Melhado says:

    True authority can be seen by the people around us and you’ve so rightly stated that when people start seeing our confidence, experience, and successes, they open themselves up to learn from us. That natural authority becomes some what inherent in us.

  • Dave Haertel says:

    awesome believable lesson

    • Dave Haertel says:

      I love this comment layout,I might have to borrow the concept. Because your words are felt. It is so ,so, easy now after a half a lifetime just to watch people and how they act. They say one thing and then do what they say,or do not. Either way it is serving them at the time. I would love to link up to this site or link to some of your articles.

      I have launched a artist development ( free for now) music site just launched, a group i also just started a group at linkedin and in a nutshell, i will try to convince the people that join not to wait for the big record deal. It has already arrived. Look in the mirror. You are the deal.

      Now to learn ho to attract the students…hmm,an more tips πŸ™‚

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