At the start of March I bought a bunch of new products, including Product Launch Formula from Jeff Walker ($997), the Dot Com Secrets Free CD from Russell Brunson ($7.95 for shipping) and paid half of the $997 fee to attend the World Internet Summit in Melbourne. On top of that I subscribe to Perry Marshall’s Renaissance club and Rich Schefren’s private business systems coaching program.
I think I spent at least half of the money I made from blogging in February in the first week of March, but I consider it money well spent.
Top Bloggers Are Thought Leaders
If you read many of the top blogs written by one specific individual you will notice that they know a lot about a certain topic. They usually have spent a significant amount of time working and experiencing the things they write about. Consequentially they can blog with the authority that only comes from experience.
On top of experience, many bloggers tap into the industry they write about, reading other blogs, following industry leaders and buying books, magazines and information products. They realize the necessity to stay up to date with current events so they don’t get left behind. The is especially important if you want to be a consultant or establish authority in your field.
Good Ideas Are Not Enough
I read many bloggers with great ideas. In particular I come across plenty who think a lot about building traffic to blogs or making money from blogs and write some great dot point list articles, with their ideas presented as tips. This is definitely sound blogging and I’d never argue against it – it’s a proven pillar article formula – but lately I’ve noticed a lot of repetition and regurgitation.
The same can be said about other industries, but perhaps they are not quite as saturated as the “blogging tips” area, but certainly have similar repeating ideas circulating over and over again.
It’s similar in the business world. Good ideas are everywhere, but if you don’t have some form of leadership or perceived leadership in your market, you can’t break away from all the other people doing the same or similar things.
Wading Through The Masses
A great case in point was at the World Internet Summit I recently returned from in Melbourne. Here’s two photographs from what was called the “joint venture tables”, an area where attendees could leave their business card, pamphlets, free CDs, DVDs, notices and other promotional materials for other attendees to look through. The hope is that joint ventures or product/service transactions might occur facilitated by contact through the materials on the table.
You can’t see the finer details, but I can tell you from combing over the tables myself that most of the items are for services related to the “how to make money online” niche. Everything from graphic design, to web hosting, email marketing, pay per click advertising, to money making opportunities and programs, upcoming seminars and events. Basically every tom, dick and harry internet marketer was displaying their wares.
The quality of materials varied and you could tell some people were only starting out, using the standard cookie-cutter style, Microsoft Publisher or Word business card and pamphlet templates. Some of the materials were quite polished. You certainly can’t blame any of these people for participating in the opportunity to offer their materials to a niche target market – the people who had already spent at least $500 to attend a conference on how to make money online – yet another perk available if you decide to go to an Internet marketing conference.
As I reviewed all the materials on the table I felt bad for a lot of the businesses represented there. I applaud people for taking action and I hope a few people managed to strike a deal or two via the JV table, but the overwhelming feel for me, was that nearly every service on the table was somehow related to Internet marketing. It was a sea of also-ran, copy-cat products and services with very little differentiation or perceived superiority.
The Speakers Are The Thought Leaders
Superiority and preeminence were demonstrated by the speakers. If you didn’t know who they were, simply watching them onstage, learning from them, and seeing the proof they demonstrated “sold” you on the fact that are the leaders in their industries. The real kicker is that they offer similar wares to the offerings on the JV table, but because they are the presenters and because they have ample proof and experience, they make a lot more sales at a much higher price.
The rich do get richer, but there is a reason why – they understand the need to be a leader from a marketing point of view and are prepared take the actions and educate themselves in order to establish authority in their field.
It’s your goal to become perceived as the “speaker” in your marketplace, not one of the people in the sea of similar providers in the audience.
How To Become A Thought Leader
Thought leaders are in their position because they have built a business or a system that makes them money. When you are in this situation you can immediately take action and test when you learn something new or come up with your own new ideas that you can immediately benefit from in big ways.
Most people are not in this situation because they don’t have much cashflow, don’t have a business they can implement with, or in the case of bloggers, their blog has little traffic from which to leverage from or they don’t even have a blog yet!
Without possessing an asset (a popular blog, a business, good networking connections) of your own, it is difficult to test ideas and it’s ideas that make people into thought leaders. Without an asset you don’t have proof of concept, you might still have good ideas, but without proof of concept you can’t get on stage and show people how much money you are making or helping others make, using your ideas.
To become a thought leader you need ideas, not necessarily your own ideas, and a means to experience the result of implementing those ideas. It’s from your experience and your ability to benefit others by communicating your experience, that thought leadership is born.
What To Do If You Are Not An Authority Of Anything
John Childers presented at the World Internet Summit and offered great advice I want to pass on to you if you don’t feel you know enough yet to become an authority in your industry. If you can’t be an authority then you become a reporter and student. In reality, most authorities are reporters and students as well.
If you are a reporter/student, you study the ideas of other people – the authorities – and digest their ideas, implement them and add to them. You then take your results and convert them into new ideas or present the expert’s ideas using your own voice. By relaying your own experience other people learn from you and you begin to build your own authority. It is through education, then action, filtering and repackaging, that most authorities ply their craft.
I won’t go into any more details about the reporter and student roles, but as an example, this article you are reading now is an exact demonstration of me performing those roles. In fact, much of my blog is exactly that, reporting to you what I learn from acting as a student of other experts and my own experiences implementing ideas, some of which are my own, others are from authorities whose information I consume and filter.
This article, at least in part, is a report to you of what I learnt from John Childers. I studied his techniques by watching his presentation and then used what I learnt to report it back to you in a blog article. John would probably advise that I go one step further and turn this into part of a product to sell, but for my purposes I’m happy for this article to serve as a further stepping stone towards presenting myself as an authority in the blogging world and Internet business world.
The Education Process Never Stops
Thought leadership is a fragile thing. In dynamic markets – and what markets are not dynamic online – everything changes every day. In order to maintain thought leadership and have the confidence that comes with it, you must study what’s going on, what other people are doing and how they are doing it. When you find something applicable to your situation you implement it and see what happens.
This pattern of education + implementation is the key for becoming a successful high-level blogger, because you have unique and high-tech experiences and education, to draw on for content.
The same formula works in business because you can implement what you learn and directly monitor the results. You truly know what works and what doesn’t because you have seen and felt it – not because you suspect it works just because someone else tells you it does.
If you plan to become an expert at anything online and want to leverage that expertise as a professional blogger, or blog business owner or as a thought leader in your industry, or as an entrepreneur, then you must be prepared for constant ongoing education.