Around Thanksgiving of 2016, I launched a new content level after training my staff for a few months on how to deliver it and having Josh, our CTO, develop a matching product in the Content Shop.
Before then, we had two levels: general, and expert writing.
For my new Authority level, I trained a handful of my best expert writers and built a structure around it that kind of looked like this (my rough internal sketch):
It’s far more than what I can represent in one circle, though.
In one piece of Authority content, no less than five of my team members at Express Writers are involved in creation: our team content manager, a Content Strategist doing a tad of SEO research, an Authority Writer that I’d personally trained, our designer to create themed graphics for it, and a high level content marketing editor to review it all at every stage. I work with our content director to help train and pick the Authority writer, so you might as well say six.
Why did I launch this?
It wasn’t just to launch a content level with a high price tag (this is our highest cost service yet, ranging from $300-$900+ per piece).
It was after I spent a year studying, watching, and listening to the trends in content in online marketing.
I digested thousands of articles, analyzed even more headlines, and wrote hundreds of blogs myself. Some of which rose to the top, some of which didn’t.
I saw a formula starting to distinguish itself. I saw something repeat itself over, and over.
Those that were practitioners of this emerging formula were creating this level of content, and promoting it in their niches. Content tailored correctly, to the right audience.
But beyond just catching my eye, if the content was created right, at a true authority level, it held my gaze – and I subscribed for more.
[Keep reading for the full story.]
Content Creators That Reach Authority Level Are the Ones that Win Online
Let me give you two examples of the content I came across last year that held my gaze.
Last year, there were a LOT of new bloggers coming on the scene.
I mean it when I say a lot.
For example, I’m in a Blogging Newbies group, with the member numbers in the 100,000+ range.
I saw day after day, sometimes moment after moment, an announcement from someone about their new blog going live. In my LinkedIn groups, I saw the phenomenon, group after group. I saw it across my connections online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram. New blog up! New blog up!
[MarketingProfs says that 2 million blogs are now created every day.]
It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
Almost a doubt that can whisper in your ear: there’s no way to stand out.
But there is.
Out of all those new blogs from last year, quite literally millions, two bloggers still stick in my memory today.
So yes, you can stand out, but you can’t be any less than an authority to do so. Let’s talk about who stood out.
The Two Bloggers that Stood Out in One Year, Grabbed My Eye, & Held My Gaze
1. Tor Refsland
This dude grabbed my eye early in the year. I invited him on the Write Podcast and published his guest episode in October last year. (Check it out here.)
In 2016, Tor was known as timemanagementchef.com, but now he’s over at torrefsland.com. Which is smart, because I mean, look at this list…he’s a celebrity with a known name by now:
- Top personal development blog of 2016, Wisdom Times Award
- Won Most Epic blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Morrow himself
- Top 100 personal development blogs
- Wrote a blog that generated 20,000+ page views in 6 days!
- Public speaker on stages with gurus like Rand Fishkin
- Featured everywhere…podcasts, guest blogs, just Google his name
These feats were accomplished by Tor within his first 12-18 months of blogging.
So he’s a pretty epic authority.
What caught my eye was one of the content pieces he published. One of many with a very similar structure.
Read it here.
Thousands of words, and Tor’s unique style: a TON of one-liners.
3,000-5,000 words on average and tons, tons, tons of scrolling – but it’s so easy to read, you don’t even notice.
(Don’t get any ideas that that’s the “emerging formula” I’m talking about, by the way. That’s just Tor’s epic style.)
Check out one more blog Tor did last year that I loved.
Does that grab your eye or what? The blog itself is very in-depth and there are some fantastic lessons for all bloggers (read here).
2. Michael Pozdnev
Michael caught my eye from an Inbound.org post mid-2016, and I’ve been following him since. His blog iwannabeablogger.com features incredibly long-form, intense blogging guides that are jam-packed with information.
The crazy part?
He’s been creating for 15 years, so this guy is by no means new. But something he created in 2016 and shared on Inbound.org made waves enough to catch and grab my attention. Here’s the title of that post:
Dude. This post ROCKED. I read a few of his other blogs, grabbed his free ebook, and I realized this guy was an authority to be reckoned with. I recommend following Michael on Twitter: @MPozdnev. And go check out his content.
Why We Remember, Learn, Use, and Share Content Online
Why do you share content?
I can bet you it falls in one of these categories:
- Simply put, it’s the answer to a question you searched.
- It’s the most thorough answer.
- You learned something.
- You’re going to put to use what you learned (create that garden, build that birdhouse, promote that blog, build that website).
It sounds like it.
But creating content that triggers the “remember / share / use / love” button from a reader isn’t simple, by any means.
Content that is created at Tor’s level, at Michael’s level, and at the level of all the greats online (Copyblogger, Jon Morrow, Jeff Bullas, to name a few others), is authority content.
Several key traits make up the content that we consistently love, share, and use to enhance our daily lives.
I’ve identified several of those traits.
But don’t hold your breath. I’m not about to reveal something incredibly revealing so you can go and do exactly what the winners do. You’re not going to learn the “top 10 ways to write a blog that is magic when you publish it.”
It doesn’t work like that.
Sadly, creating content that will rise to the stars is 100% like the path to success.
It all comes down to the amount of work you’re willing to put in, the amount of resources you’re willing to invest in, and several skillsets.
7 Traits that Constitute the Authoritative Online Creator
1. They’re so good, you don’t even realize it. (This means many things: they’ve been blogging for years and years, they have search optimization and amazing writing skills down pat, they have incredible resources at their fingertips – from a designer, editor, to someone to help them behind the scenes.)
2. They know their space and they own it. They talk to their audience as naturally as speaking to a friend over coffee. Also, directly. You don’t want that friend getting into trouble on your watch, if you care.
3. They are beyond an expert. What they write about, what they teach, is so second-nature, well-researched, and well-done that it’s, quite simply, an authority.
4. Brian Dean’s Skyscraper technique theory is happening. Brian Dean expounds on that here. By the way, that blog came out in 2013, and everyone still talks about it. Hashtag authority. So the Skyscraper technique is where you go look at a city skyline and the tallest building stands out – that’s the type of content you need to be creating, because no tourist is going to visit second-best when they can tour the best. No Google reader is going to read second-best when they’re looking for a guide.
5. They know that strangers searching Google are looking for the best guide. See above. They create the best, deepest, most thorough answer to a Google searcher’s question.
6. They never stop learning. Big one here. Being an early adapter is key to maintaining a killer authority level. You can’t not know the trends. And authority content creators never stop learning. The biggest, baddest, most guru-est of them all will tell you that continual learning is a progression, a path, to help make their best content happen. Especially in content marketing. Where Google’s algorithm is continually being updated, and you never know what SEO changes are ahead.
7. Consistency is happening. They never not publish. It’s really terrible – bloggers don’t vacation — but it’s the truth. You see their name, over and over again, in more places, week after week. You read incredible blogs on their site every Monday. You look forward to the next one coming out.
Warning: Authority Goes Against the Grain, So Stay Inspired
You’re going to have to go against the grain if you want to be an authority creator.
This content creation level isn’t for everyone.
By any means.
It isn’t for the faint of heart. The average blogger. Or the “I think I’m doing okay” content marketer.
It’s for those who:
- Want to dominate Google and be the tallest building on the block for their long tail keyword with a long-form guide.
- Can see the whole vision of why it’s vastly critical to create our best content, in an era when way, way too much non-performing content is going out.
- Are a Rey in the middle of a million stormtroopers. (See below.)
There’s a reason 2 million blogs were posted per day in 2016 and only two bloggers stood out in the end to me.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Being an authority online isn’t easy. It’s a commitment not many people will want to take. @JuliaEMcCoy” quote=”Being an authority online isn’t easy. It’s grueling. It’s a commitment not many people will want to take. – @JuliaEMcCoy”]
I leave you with this inspiration on that topic:
In the middle of a bazillion of Stormtroopers,
Strive to be a Rey.
[clickToTweet tweet=”On being an online authority: in the middle of Stormtroopers, strive to be a Rey. – @JuliaEMcCoy #nerd” quote=”On being an online authority: in the middle of Stormtroopers, strive to be a Rey. – @JuliaEMcCoy #nerd”]
Finishing the Story: How I Launched Authority Content As a Service
I hope I’ve impacted you in some ways as to the standard you need to be at if you want to make serious waves online.
Be an authority. Put in the hours, the work, to stay ahead of trends.
And by all means, don’t hesitate to invest in a resource to help you, you know, not drown.
Remember why I launched Authority content here at Express Writers.
When I launched Authority Content, it was when we were ready to create the best content we’ve ever created. That means I spent a month prior to pick three of my most epic copywriters, and personally train them myself with a guide that I wrote another month prior. The guide I wrote revealed major traits of authority content and how to create this level for our clients. Our writers would have to do a ton of research per piece. I made sure they’d get great pay, for the time and blood / sweat / tears involved. Our Content Strategists are involved in picking out the best long-tail keyword for the content piece. We’ll either confirm the keywords the client has (using top SEO software and my internal team training) or find one from scratch. Lastly, our designer puts together themed graphics for the Authority piece.
So far, we’ve created Authority content with 100% success ratio.
Everyone that received this level is happy with it.
A few guides we’ve written:
- Dental video marketing guide
- How to build a website
- How to grow your best Instagram presence ever
I can’t give you client names because we’re ghostwriters, but you might find one of them on Google some day. 😉
All other visuals by Express Writers