According to Business Insider, as of 2012, there were over half a billion websites. With that many websites, how do you set yours apart from all the others in your niche?
You’ve probably heard that you should set yourself up as an authority. You want to be the person that people turn to when they want to know anything about your industry. Suddenly, if you are seen as a real authority in your field, it also becomes easier to sell your service or products.
But, how do you gain that authority? You can’t just add the title of “guru” to your name. There are a few other things you must do if you want to be seen as the lead expert in your field.
One of the best ways to set yourself apart from other website owners is by offering free training sessions to your site visitors. By sharing your knowledge with others, you will show them just how much you do know about your chosen topic.
Types of Training Sessions
There are a few different types of training sessions you can offer your site visitors. Just make sure that you completely understand each medium before tackling it. It does little good to know the complete history of business finance only to watch your first webinar crash and burn because you can’t figure out how to plugin and talk to those waiting to hear your expert advice.
A webinar is simply streaming video. Your visitors learn from you in real time. Many webinar platforms feature a chat box to the side where students can ask questions, allowing you to answer on the spot. Webinars offer the feel of being in a conference room with everyone, but you can share your knowledge with a student in China, another in the US and a third in Spain all at the same time.
Although you can find free services to utilize, you are probably better off going with one of the paid services out there. They are very easy to get up and running, provide support and tutorials to help you along the way and offer a professional look and feel that you won’t get out of a free platform. Some of the more user friendly ones include:
Webinars OnAir: Provides a room for up to 25 attendees at a time for only $19.97 per webinar. You can upgrade to allow more attendees and pay for webinars as you go. The platform also offers the ability to monetize webinars, personal branding and integration with email marketing providers like MailChimp and GetResponse.
AnyMeeting: This platform offers an option for those on a tight budget to use the webinar room for free as long as you allow them to stream their ads. If you want a room with no third party ads, then you’ll need to pay $17.99 for up to 25 attendees. Some of the features that come with AnyMeeting include custom registration forms, ability to share files, videos and other details on your screen and free support.
There are many other platforms out there. Each has its own rate based on number of attendees and different features. Use the free trials to discover which one is best for you and your website’s needs.
Another option for offering training sessions is the traditional phone in conference call. As an added bonus, you can record the talk and any subsequent questions and use the podcast to continue reaching site visitors. Podcasts can also be uploaded to iTunes and Google Play to further increase your reach.
Some excellent Call-In Conference services include:
Free Conference Calling: This site allows you create a free account. You can host up to 1,000 callers at a time. Set your conference call for anytime of day or night as the service runs 24/7. Simply call in to a designated number, use the pin to set yourself as the host and start and stop recording with a few pushes on your phone’s buttons. If you plan to take questions, you will want to appoint a moderator to allow users to chime in at the appropriate time. The last thing you want is too many interruptions during your scheduled talk.
UberConference: This is another unlimited free conference calling platform for up to 10 callers at a time. Free Conference Calls also allows you to integrate the conference call with social media. You can set the group to mute, allow a group chat and record the call. If you need to allow more people in your “room”, you can upgrade to one of their larger packages.
Although people don’t use online chat rooms as much as they did in the 1990s and early 2000s, there is still a time and place for them. For example, if you’re offering a training session during the day, users might be at work and unable to comment out loud. However, they can easily access a chat room and chime in on the conversation.
Chat rooms are also a nice place to meet if you have links to share. Some free online chats you can integrate into your site include:
RumbleTalk: This software integrates with your website. You can also add video, audio and upload files to share. Record a transcript to share with others later on.
Barc: This chat room is easy to add to your website. Users will need to download a quick extension, but will then be able to participate in any Barc chat room on any website around the Internet. Right now, Barc boasts over two million chat rooms. The platform is very simple. Plug in your text and it scrolls up.
Setting up a forum on your website is as simple as installing a plugin or adding a BBForum via your website’s control panel. Forums offer the opportunity to share your knowledge and then allow people to chime in over the months and years that follow with questions, additional input and comments.
To set yourself as an authority via this format, it is probably best to do two things. First, moderate the comments. Otherwise, your competitors may use your forum to establish that they are the authority. Second, you must know more than your site visitors. If you do not, then you must study and ask questions until you have something more to offer than your most knowledgeable commenter does.
Additional Tips for Building Online Authority
Once you’ve chosen your medium, begin building your authority with these additional tips:
Share knowledge you have that no one else does.
Tell personal stories about your industry.
Interview experts in related fields.
Tie podcasts and chat transcripts to your Google+ profile to add authorship authority.
Integrate training sessions with social media. Announce them, share links to recordings, tweet tidbits of info from the sessions.
Building authority comes down to building trust between you and your site visitors. They need to know that they can trust you to provide in-depth, correct information about your given topic. Choose a field you know inside and out and then do your best to help others learn all about it so they’ll share your passion.
Article by Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.