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6 Steps to Establish Your Expertise
Like the Internet itself, online marketing resources such as blogs, chat rooms, and user groups are vast and puzzling. On one hand they offer that elusive "promise land" of free and effective marketing. On the other, they embody a "time sink" of astronomical proportions. They have addictive qualities and their effectiveness is measured only by your own self-control.
That said, let's briefly describe each opportunity and explore their potential.
"Blog" is short for "web log" ? an online diary of sorts that is relatively user-friendly, at least by Internet standards. Through free services such as Blogger.com, an author (or "blogger" as they have come to be known) can compose content and then, with the click of a button, become "published" online within a matter of seconds for the world to see.
Whether or not the world actually does see it, however, is a matter of distribution. The topic of distributing blogs is outside the scope of this article, but may be one I tackle in an upcoming newsletter. Suffice it to say, it's a little more technical, requiring techno-babble references to jargon-esque acronyms and geek-speak like .xml, atom, and RSS.
In the meantime, let's discuss the other two Internet venues. Online chat rooms and user groups also provide a forum for the self-promoter. While they share similarities with blogs they lack some of the distribution possibilities. Yahoo offers both chat rooms and use groups/bulletin boards organized by subject, and you can find similarly themed groups on Google.
I briefly discuss blogs, chat rooms, and user groups in my book Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer when covering ways in which to establish yourself as an expert.
Here are six steps for establishing yourself as an expert:
1 Write a book
You've done this already, right? If you haven't, consider it. You may find yourself closer to a finished manuscript than you realize. Writing a publishable book from your knowledge or experience is often a matter of simply putting your expertise on paper.
2 Publish your book
A published book becomes a calling card to line-up speaking engagements, freelance writing gigs, and other opportunities. Once your book is published, the Catch-22 kicks in: You are an expert because you have published a book, and your published book proves your expertise. Get your book published at OutskirtsPress.com.
3 Promote your expertise
Two good places to begin are AOL and ABOUT.COM. Both have category-specific forums in which you can participate. By mentioning that you are the "author of such-and-such" or the "vice president of so-and-so" within the scope of your communication, you begin to label yourself as an expert.
Web-logs, or "blogs" are also a cost effective, efficient way to promote your expertise. Blogs utilize .xml and RSS feeds to provide dynamic, up-to-the minute publication across a variety of searchable platforms. The integration between blogs and contextual search engines becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy toward recognition. If you write about something, people searching for the topic will invariably find you, and that makes you an expert!
4 Overcome the hurdles
Being recognized as an expert in a technical category is admittedly easier than other subjective categories. Even so, it is important to do whatever is necessary to establish your expertise. Let's take the example of fiction authors -- not exactly an easy sell, right? But becoming a recognized expert is not only possible, but mandatory. Just look at Clancy, Rowling, and Robbins.
5 Explore the possibilities
Whether you've penned a techno-thriller, children's fantasy, or romance, (or exist in the more technical fields where your education and/or publishing credits alone might be enough) there is a forum in which to voice your expertise. The Internet is full of chat rooms, writing groups, genre-sites, and more. They're all thirsty for content from published authors and knowledgeable people. You just have to know where to look. Conducting a Google search is a good place to start.
6 Join, participate, schmooze
Seek out conferences, associations, and other experts to help you. Find forums, websites, and ezines in which to promote yourself.
Brent Sampson is the President & CEO of Outskirts Press Publishing at OutskirtsPress.com and author of Publishing Gems: Insider Information for the Self-Publishing Writer. Information at http://outskirtspress.com/publishinggems
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