If you’re considering launching a blog, then you’re looking closely at blog topics you might focus on. You may have found one you see market opportunity in, and that looks interesting, but feel shaky on your level of expertise on that topic.
It’s intimidating to look at a niche and see well positioned competitors. A bit of anxiety about your skill level is normal, but you don’t need to be an expert to jump into a niche. You can leverage your wider abilities, pull together your resources, harness your passion for the subject, put your beginner mind to good use, as you carve out your unique path into this fresh blog topic.
The Spectrum of Expertise
Expertise goes beyond passion for a topic; it connects to your actual ability and knowledge on a subject. It’s a spectrum: from beginner to intermediate to advanced—with all the steps in-between.
It takes considerable time to master any topic. It requires both hands-on experience and intense studying of the subject. You must know the theory and be able to skillfully apply it. Whether it’s 10,000 hours of dedicated learning, five years of deliberate practice, or some other hard to imagine figure to become an expert, it is hard to grasp. Yet, you can guarantee that it’s a significant investment.
To master anything takes a truckload of time and a chunk out of your life. So too will diving into any fresh blog topic. If you haven’t already mastered the skills needed to prove your high-caliber know-how of that subject, then you’re starting early on in a new journey. This is a road that will be challenging, but walkable.
There are a plenty of approaches that work well to build a thriving, authority blog—even without expert level ability on the niche you’re focusing on.
I helped build popular, industry leading, graphic design blogs without mastery level skill in graphic design. Yes, I had a deep interest and passion for the topic, and some skill, but I wasn’t a top industry professional—far from it. I built these popular blogs by leveraging the strategies of facilitation, curation, and management.
You can too.
There’s No Fake in Facilitation
You might think of teachers as masters of their subjects, and that can be true, but look at it more broadly. When your dad taught you how to ride a bicycle, was he really a bike expert? Not likely. In a similar fashion, you don’t need to be a topic expert to teach a beginner important lessons in your niche.
In fact, in blogging there is an advantage to teaching those slightly behind you in the learning curve. You are further along then them, but have a close connection to their position in learning the subject. You can reach back and help those that are coming up behind you. You can impart lessons shortly after you learn them yourself and share your immediate first-hand experience. You can give poignant and helpful advice to your blog audience.
For me, this meant teaching a design technique right after learning it. Writing a tutorial on how to quickly create a popular design style I just discovered. Reviewing the most recent release of my favorite font application. Or sharing my logo design process from start to finish.
Many popular blogs have been built in a similar fashion, leveraging the leading learner model. This is where an inexperienced author shares lessons learned from a peer position and from a place of honest reflection. Rather than trying to fake their experience, they instead embrace where they actually are. They jump into their new blog niche and get to sharing, building, and documenting their journey from the start.
Learning and sharing your knowledge through blogging creates a positive feedback loop. As you learn, and teach what you learn, it reinforces the knowledge in your mind. When your audience comments on your posts, you glean nuances and insights into the subjects you cover. You gain confidence as you share and grow. It’s a proven model for intellectual growth.
In addition to sharing lessons you learn, and as you move forward in your topic, you should also look outside yourself; pull together quality resources needed in your niche.
Curation and Reaching with Research
Your ability to pull together resources can define the success of your blog. Work on becoming an expert researcher; it’s a skill that will serve you well, regardless what your blog topic is. Become a connoisseur of your field and a collector of the valuable resources you find.
You don’t need to be an expert in your topic if you’re good at pulling together the knowledge of experts. Refer to experts freely in your blog posts, their wisdom will make your content shine—reflecting a bit of their glow across your blog. It’s also a great way to build your connections and get to know them. It’s a touchpoint you can use to reach out and build your network.
Fill your feed reader with the best blogs in your niche. Read them regularly. Make lists of the top bloggers to reach out to on your topic. Follow them on social media. Also, look for those that are peers or just a bit ahead of you in the growth curve. Look to curate the material you find, comment on it, reflect on your research in your blog posts. Share these resources with your audience.
Curators are appreciated in the blogosphere. Some of my favorite blogs are not managed by experts on a topic, but rather expert curators. They are skilled at researching and pulling together interesting material on their blog’s topic. Over time, they build their reputation as being a leading resource in their topic.
As you stretch, and push your knowledge, researching and learning from experts in your field, share that growth with your audience. You can leverage a combination of your inner enthusiasm and expertise that resides elsewhere.
Managing the Multitude
You can reach further outside yourself and work with contributing authors.
Take on the role of blog editor. You can work with people to create content for you and leverage the expertise of this multi-author team. As a blog editor you have significant assistance to offer contributors, such as: helping to shape material, promoting authors, sharing resources, and forming partnerships.
Fund your blog from the outset, grow it to a point where you can hire a multi-author team, or work with contributors that are looking for exposure, rather than payment.
Most bloggers are looking to leverage connections, build there publishing profile, and reach out to new audiences. Being featured on your blog, and shared in your newsletter may be all that’s needed to bring in quality guest posts.
I’ve managed a number of highly-trafficked blogs on subjects that I had little experience in. You don’t have to be the expert, when you can work with experts.
Your Way Forward
Don’t underestimate the time and effort you’ve put into building your expertise. If you’re an expert on a topic, then blogging will give you a vehicle for showcasing and sharing that expertise.
Blog topic expertise is an asset if you have it. But don’t shy away from a topic you have passion for, but little expertise in.
As a beginner entering a niche, you can document your growth on your topic, teach those a few steps behind you, research the expert knowledge that surrounds you, and share it with the audience you build.
As your blog grows, you have the option to reach out to contributors. You can share their expertise with your audience. Your blog’s brand can grow from a voice of one into a voice of many.
If you have a real passion for a subject, if can see yourself growing your skill in that topic long term, and making a commitment to it, then that niche may be just the right fit for you to start your blog on.
Given enough time, hard work, and grit, you can become an expert on virtually any topic. You can master the niche, become an expert, and build a leading blog.