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Are You Inspired To Be An Authority?

I have to confess: I don’t normally put the words “inspiration” and “authority” together.

I’m a natural resister of authority. I’m suspicious of where it can take us. I hear the words of Einstein in my head:

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

Authority makes me think South Park, and pint-sized Cartman dressed as a cop, demanding that we respect his authority authoritah. (Short clip attached so you can see what I mean!)

But in the democratic world of the internet the word “authority” takes on a different meaning. Not the kind you demand, but the kind you earn. It’s a Jeffersonian definition of the word, where:

All authority belongs to the people.

That’s the kind of authority I find inspiring.

And when I think about “authority blogging” as a goal for the next 12 months, that’s what I’ve got in mind. I’m coming up to the 12 months mark at Confident Writing (more on plans to celebrate that milestone coming soon) and that’s got me looking back at what I’ve learned and achieved in the last year, and where I want to take things in the year ahead. (Given my love of numbered lists it was kind of inevitable I’d move from there to a 12 point list of reasons why authority blogging is a model that works for me.)

12 Inspiring Reasons To Be An Authority Blogger

#1 Authority is a prompt for delight-ful writing. Writing that will connect, engage, inspire your readers, and keep them coming back for more. (And luckily enough delighting you is also delightful to me.)

#2 But authority is about more than words. Words and writing are important to me, but not as important as other things like intention, purpose, respect. The way you treat people. Whether you follow through. Authority to me means writing, reading, learning, linking, networking, e-mailing, coaching, cajoling, noticing, inspiring, supporting… with a purpose, consistently, over time. I’m willing to be judged on those terms.

#3 It keeps me focused on my purpose. The aim is to establish yourself as an authority, a recognised, credible source. That means sticking to your point, knowing your purpose, and reading, writing, linking and networking with that in mind

#4 It’s a great discipline, clarifying your focus and purpose. An authority in what? What are you the “go to” person for?

#5 Authority also means the confidence and assurance that comes from practice. Blogging is great writing practice. The more confident I am, the more of an authority I can be - and the more I can inspire others to be likewise

#6 Authority blogging means creating something of value. A blog you’re proud of. I’m proud of mine. (Are you of yours?)

#7 Authority demands clarity. What you’re about, what you want to say, what stands you out from the rest. What difference you want to make.

#8 Authority means knowing your own mind and speaking your own truth. Yes, you want to delight your readers, but if you’re just saying what you think people want to hear you’ll rapidly lose your credibility.

#9 My purpose is to help people realise the power of their own words. The more authority I have, the more people I can reach. The more words we can set free.

#10 I’m surprised but also inspired by own ambition. I want to be the go-to person for anyone who wants to write with greater confidence. (“The” as in, the one and only, the one and the best, the no 1 in the world).

#11 My ambition doesn’t need to thwart yours. You can (be inspired to) be the best in your micromarket. As Godin says, there are a million micromarkets, but each micromarket still has a best.

#12 I could be persuaded by Seth Godin that “being the best in the world is seriously underrated”.

I think, hope, I’m already on the right lines in terms of credibility, building strong relationships with all of you and creating a site that’s of lasting value. But I’ve still got a way to go in terms of impact, profile, and visibility. And I’ve got some big questions in my mind about:

  • the interface between a blog and other websites and pages where people can buy products and services
  • the balance between personal authority and giving your readers the space to shine
  • sustainable blogging - how to avoid burnout, shifting to different patterns and rhythms that you know you can sustain over time
  • the balance between free and paid-for, premium content
  • how to promote, market and sell through a blog without breaking rapport (or undermining authority)

And that’s really why I’m going to Chicago in May. Yes, I want to go to the US for the first time, to see Chicago, to meet my blogging inspiration, to listen to some great speakers, to network with 250 Successful and Outstanding Bloggers.

But the main reason I’m going to SOBCon08 is because I want to get the help in answering these questions. I want to come away with an actionable plan that’ll take me through the next 12 months of business blogging and beyond.

When I go I’ll be taking this list of questions with me. Packing an open mind and a desire to learn. I’ll make sure I’ve got the things you ‘must bring’ to a blogging conference (and no, it’s not the fancy business card, this list focuses on the really important stuff, like a smile and a thank you).

And I’ll be bringing my own inspiring definition of authority.

Not the one where I’m demanding you respect my authoritah. But the one where I’m respecting yours.

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  1. amypalko says:

    What a fabulous 12 point list on inspirational authority, Joanna. I love number 2 in particular, and judge you extremely favourably on all those counts!
    The very best of luck :-)

  2. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Amy thank you. Good luck with your entry too. Although I want to win this I’d dearly love for you to be able to come to Chicago with me!


  3. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, in my book you are already are “the” authority. I have so many of your posts marked for ongoing reference that it’s starting to resemble a book. Hmmm, that is yet another frontier for you. ;-) I am inspired by your goals and makes me rethink my own. Thank you Joanna! You are my “go to” authority on writing.


  4. Debbie Yost says:

    I follow a couple writing blogs, but yours is one of my favorite. When I started my blog I had a purpose. I don’t know that I would call myself an authority, but I love sharing what I have learned about Down syndrome. I know there are a lot of wonderful bloggers out there that are “authorities” on Ds and have so much to share. I am simply honored to belong to their club but I don’t have any illusion that I am anywhere near the best in my “micromarket.”

  5. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Karen, you are too much for me! Thanks for that fantastic feedback.

    BTW you are also reading my mind, yes a book (and some courses) is what I need to work on next.


  6. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Debbie, thanks for taking the time to comment, I know things are a bit hectic with you just now! And thank you for the feedback.

    I think your writing intention is very powerful. My guess is that you will find a slant or a take on what you are writing about that will become distinctively yours over time. But in the meantime you remain, of course, an authority (as we all are) because you are writing your experience, your way, with your voice and style. That’s what makes blogging so brilliant!


  7. Yvonne Russell (Grow Your Writing Business) says:

    This is certainly inspiring.

    I’m excited to hear what you come away with after SOBcon, in terms of an action plan and no doubt, lots of inspiration and creative energy.

    Good luck with your entry… looks like a winner to me.

  8. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Thanks Yvonne, I’m feeling really good about going to the conference whether I win or not - though the sponsorship would be the icing on the cake!


  9. Robyn says:

    Joanna, when we work in concert with others who know things we may not we can keep learning throughout life. When you connect something new learned to what you already know and use it in a new context you really push the old noodle. ;-)

    It is when people think they know it all that trouble arises. You are quite the opposite. There is so much to learn that I’m just beginning to tap the tip of the iceberg.

    You take me to so many inspired directions!

  10. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Joanna. I’m glad you’re getting to go to SOBCon. And that competition sounds amazing.

  11. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @ Cath, I’m really excited to be going. Got a good deal on my plane ticket too. (Though getting the costs covered by winning the competition would be sweet!)

    @ Robyn It’s interesting isn’t it - the whole thing about authority and expertise. I agree with you, it’s those who keep pushing and exploring (and stretching the old noodle), those who have the confidence to say I’m not sure, I’m still learning - those are the people we find most credible, and who (in our eyes) have the most authority.


  12. Robyn says:

    Joanna, you live open-minded learning and gaining even more confidence yourself as you teach others! You spark inspiration for me.

  13. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Robyn, having just read this piece from Rosa on how to accept compliments and learn from them

    I will just say thanks - and take good note of your words.


  14. Roland Hesz says:

    I like this post, only one comment :)

    “I’m a natural resister of authority. I’m suspicious of where it can take us.”

    I think ‘authority’ in itself is not something bad.
    Authority in an area is bestowed upon someone by people who control that area.
    With policemen it’s the government. The government controls law enforcement so it can give authority in that field.

    With a priest it is the church.

    With blogging it’s always the readers.
    Authority is always limited, a cop has authority to take away my driving licence, but has no authority to change the software design I make. Or my thinking.

    The problem we usually has with authority is not the authority itself, but the source of the authority.
    In the case of government that’s the voters, who in a democracy has the way to change things, in a dictature, well, it’s more difficult, but in the long run people usually take it back.

    I think another interesting topic for one post or several posts could be “How you define authority and what it means to you?”

  15. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Roland, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I like the emphasis on the source of authority - it’s very powerful isn’t it? Like you I’d say it comes from our readers - but there is another deeper source too which is the right to express ourselves, to free speech, to think for ourselves. Maybe that’s what you’d call authorship - close to authority.

    Your last question is a good one but I’m going to duck it for now because I already have a blogging backlog!


  16. Thesis Writing Help says:

    Great info, i appreciate your kind knowledge

  17. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Hi, I’m glad you found this material useful


  18. Fractured Bloughts » Social media » How you define authority and what it means to you? says:

    [...] writing the post Basis of authority: be authentic I went over to Confident writing, where Joanna wrote about the same topic - it’s the SOBCon contest -, and I left a comment there wich ended: I think another [...]