How to Become a Guru (and Dominate Any Market!)
Selling eBooks vs. Selling Print Books
Grow A Monster Blog By Manipulating This 1 Human Flaw

How to Become a Guru (and Dominate Any Market!)

Anybody can be a Guru on the Internet. And unfortunately, nearly everybody tries.

The Internet Guru has become a caricature figure tainted by laughable self-promotion, boundless ego and really poor end product. Some of the ill-sentiment is driven by jealousy, and most of it is entirely justified.

It’s depressing for a new blogger to commit blood, sweat and tears to a project and still only reap 14 hits per day while a bumbling Super Personality typos his way to the next million.

If you are moving in to a new market and wish to establish yourself as an ‘authority’, there is an entire textbook of Guru Psychology for you to master.

I aim to shed light on some of it with this post.

There are 5 key skills that separate the biggest bloggers/authorities/personalities from those you’ve never heard of. Let’s tuck in.

1. Relate to Your Market

Imagine you are campaigning to be President of the United States. What’s the first thing you do?

Note: If your name is Mitt Romney, please stop reading. We already know the answer: “Make a complete bag of dicks out of myself.”

Your first objective should be to relate to the people whose opinions and trust you hope to gain. You seek common ground.

Every Presidential candidate in the modern age has fought to gain trust by creating an illusion that goes simply, “I’m just like you.

How does this tie in to guru psychology? Well, let me put it this way. If you can’t convince your target market that you share the same hopes, values and dreams, they will vote for somebody else who does.

Familiarity breeds popularity. It wins votes, as well as readers, leads and sales.

There’s a very simple process that is capable of popularizing you to any market in the world.

It goes like this:

  1. Find the hopes, dreams, fears and complaints of the audience you wish to speak for.

  2. Create a persona that is the Superhero Conquerer of the emotions above.

    i.e. Their fears, you conquer. Their hopes, you believe in. Their dreams, you realise. Their complaints, you put voice to.

  3. Be where your audience is likely to find you.

Just three small steps.

Three steps that I have yet to see fail when executed correctly.

Here’s a suggestion for finding your brand I wrote on ProBlogger yesterday:

Those who can put in to elegant words what their peers can only feel intuitively in their heads will always inspire and captivate. If you possess this gift, use it. Let your blog become the voice of expression that readers can link to and say, “I agree with that guy.”

Every guru knows that his ship will sink or sail on the back of one question;

Is my story empowering – or disempowering?

I’ll give you a clue. People won’t read your shit unless it affects them. And they’ll only read it once if it affects them in the wrong way.

2. Monitor the Industry’s Engagement Rate

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you will probably have a conscious understanding of how I choose to engage with you – whether I tell you about it or not.

  1. I post once per week. I believe firmly in “If you have nothing useful to say, STFU“. Every post I publish, I want you to read fully. If I start hitting you with infographics and irrelevant Mashable style ‘Top Tens’, you will stop listening so carefully. I know this because, like me, you have very little time in your day. And you already feel guilty how you spend it.

  2. My posts touch on personal, professional and industry topics. Roughly 50% of the content is designed to be actionable marketing information. The other 50% is designed to portray me. Who I am, what I believe in, which ball I’m scratching.

  3. I release a product every 3 months but will rarely tell you about it until the day of the launch. And yet, if you read some of my ‘alias’ blogs, you’ll catch me promoting products religiously weeks before they’re due.

    Why? The type of shadowy bastards that read this blog do not like to be marketed to. You will notice that when I do try to seduce you to click an affiliate link, or to buy one of my products, it is nearly always a contextual nudge – blanketed by content that is designed not to ruffle your feathers. This is not by chance. It is how I have chosen to engage with you based on the type of person that I think you are.

How you engage with your audience should be based on the wants and needs of that audience. What is going to get them to listen?

Some industries naturally require a great deal of social pandering to be successful.

If I wanted to be a successful ‘Work at Home Mom’ blogger, I would no doubt spend twice as much time scratching backs, ‘liking’ cute babies, and networking on crocodile feminist forums as I would preparing informative posts. No offence to the WAHMs (maybe I’m not American enough to understand).

Similarly, if I wanted to be a successful fashion guru… well, fundamentally, I’d be shagged. I’m about as fashionable as a rat’s arse. Secondly, I’d have to learn beautiful photography and visual aesthetics.

Fashion, crafts, and foodie ‘authorities’ place a high esteem on the eye-candy appeal of their content. Words are not enough. If you try to engage an audience with the wrong kind of content (i.e essays on ‘How to Do Makeup’), it’s going to fall flat.

To become an authority in any market, you must first learn the currency of that market.

It could be video, podcasts, vivid imagery, technical writing, illustration, or what I like to call ‘bitesize content’ (think The Daily Mail, Mashable etc).

Establish how people want to receive your content.

Do they need to be spoon fed blog posts every day? Should you be tweeting in the trenches? Can you get away with a barrage of emails? Is it beneficial to give your content a ‘personal’ touch?

Hint: For a WAHM blogger, it is. For an expert in nuclear waste disposal, a personal flavour may cast you as a dangerous megalomaniac.

The best way to monitor your industry’s engagement rate is to look at trusted authorities in the space. How do they communicate? How often? What social networks and forums do they use?

Just remember, you will always find this research more revealing when you look at what the experts were doing 12-24 months ago.

How an established blogger spends his time now is likely very different to how he spent it when he was creating his initial success. Look to the past for the true success story.

3. If you’re going to be Social, don’t be a Social Asshole

Many authorities thrive from an active presence on social networks. The vacuums of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are great arenas to engage your audience. But you truly do need to think before you post.

What would an authority say?

Engagement is about more than barking nonsense in the hope that you’ll be heard. The dog who barks loudest all through the night is rarely the most loved. I wish a few more ‘Social Media experts’ would understand this.

Too many people treat social media as the means to a one way conversation. Perhaps the best advice I’ve heard on using social media is to set a goal for yourself: aim to help one person in your market every single day.

I don’t mean answer their questions in 140 character or less (though that is a good ice-breaker), and I don’t mean send them a link to one of your archived blog posts. Instead, you should go above and beyond the call of duty to help them – without asking or expecting anything in return. This might involve emailing a detailed reply, or posting a long piece on a forum. It could even involve giving away one of your prized products for free.

If you do this every day, a year from now you are likely to have 365 true fans who respect and appreciate you. That is not a following that will change the world. But if you believe in the law of reciprocation, which you should, it’s a following that will prove immensely helpful.

People remember good deeds. Better yet, as human beings we are compelled biologically to return them in spades.

You might only send Joe Bloggs a 5 minute email to answer his tweet, but when he stumbles across your product six months from now, the chances of him responding to your sales plea are significantly enhanced. Subconsciously, he owes you. Never underestimate how powerful that tug can be.

To quote a man who knows all about Influence:

“People say “Yes!” to those that they owe.”
Robert Cialdini

How many people have you helped today?

Too many ‘experts’ think the equation is ‘all about me’. “Here’s my press release, here’s my blog post, here’s my favourite article from this morning!

When you nurture a huge following, your personal taste is more likely to crossover and influence the public domain. But until you’re Tony Robbins? Planting a thousand good deeds is far more likely to create goodwill than retweeting your own articles.

4. Search for your Platform of Knowledge

You don’t have to know everything to be a guru on the web. You can get away with knowing marginally more than 95% of your readers.

The Internet Marketing space is notorious for blogs and forums that claim to offer the secret sauce to success. Most of the owners are no closer to success than the puppets they hope to seduce. It’s a circle jerk, and it works.

Do you know why it works?

There’s an unfortunate law, shat on by many, that dictates that the guy who has spent 6 months failing knows more about his industry than the guy who entered it today. He doesn’t need to have the blueprints of success. He simply needs to have encountered some anecdotal evidence of it along his merry way.

I call this the Platform of Knowledge.

You can be an authority figure without being famous, without having a degree, without practicing what you preach, and without being what your audience aspires to be. All you need is a Platform of Knowledge. An understanding of your field that is better than the average reader.

If you have this platform, you can speak for the common hopes, dreams, fears and concerns of your audience. In many ways, the ability to relate to these emotions is much more powerful than the innate ability to solve them.

So how do you acquire a Platform of Knowledge?

It falls back to understanding your audience, and what knowledge they are most likely to benefit from.

I would advise any aspiring marketing bloggers to indulge in books from the Direct Response greats, then to get a grip on psychology, influence, and the emerging field of behavioural economics. These are topics I drown myself in daily. Not only does it help my marketing campaigns, but it allows me to talk about issues that would pass over the average affiliate blogger’s head.

Whatever market you plan to enter, there will be low hanging fruits of knowledge at your fingertips. Your job is to push yourself to consume them. Surround yourself in a wide range of literature, subscribe to challenging blogs, devour industry journals that inspire you to think independently.

I can guarantee that being dedicated to your field will ensure you have a distinct competitive advantage over the authority figure who decides to ‘wing it’.

Do you see what I’m saying here? To become a guru, you should… stop being a lazy bastard. Try learning more.

It’s groundbreaking advice, isn’t it? Precisely what you were not looking for.

5. Make Split Second Judgments Favourable

When somebody lands on your site, how long do you think it takes them to judge you?

The most common answer I hear is “a couple of seconds“.

You wish.

Research suggests your first impressions of a website are formed in 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second), and subsequently shaped by the Halo effect.

The Halo effect is a cognitive bias where we associate that if somebody is skilled at A, they will also be skilled at B and C. A positive first impression – let’s say an initial aura of authority – is likely to shape the user’s thoughts for good.

In the fraction of a second that it takes for a user to judge your website, what opinion are you encouraging?

If you want to personify authority, look no further than the example set by ‘Dr. Direct’, Drew Eric Whitman. Go to his website and you will find this banner:

Doctor Direct authority

Author of Ca$hvertising, a book that should be in your collection.

Already, your brain has interpreted a number of visual cues and condensed them in to a cohesive stereotype.

  • You noted the symbolic doctor’s coat (an advertising prop that is outlawed, such is its potency). It triggered a split-second assumption that the author is powerful, responsible and qualified.

  • You saw the hand-scrawled signature and associated it with noteworthiness.

  • You saw the book, which confirmed your bias and validated his credibility.

  • You subconsciously interpreted the dollar bill in the background, as well as the $ in the book title. Your mind is primed to think about money.

  • You processed words like Surgeon and D.R.S to feel somehow inferior to the author.

Before you even know it, you have been conditioned to see Dr. Direct as an authority. Once that opinion has been shaped, it is almost unshakeable. You will search for confirmation and you will find it.

Now look at your own website.

Where can you insert authority signals and social proofing?

Here are some mental shortcuts to consider:

  • Ensure any personal photos are aligned with your brand. Putting on a doctor’s coat without the qualifications is, as far as I’m aware, illegal. The best alternative that I’ve found is the traditional library bookcase. It projects authority very well.

  • If you have been featured in noteworthy magazines, shows or blogs, crowbar them in to an “As Seen On…” section. If you haven’t been featured, get featured. Join Haro.

  • Use your Twitter following, RSS subscribers and Facebook ‘Likes’ to validate that other people are already your fans. Only do this if you have more than 3 fans.

  • Use your degree initials after your name (if you have one)

  • If you win any kind of award – or even get nominated for one – steal the badge and make it a prominent part of your layout.

  • Ask readers to vouch for your character and expertise in the form of a testimonial. I did this just last week with my Premium Posts and it is already producing more sales.

  • And on a final unrelated note, for God’s sake, make your website easy to read. Never use white text on a dark background.

The Transformation Starts Now — in Your Head

Aspiring to iconic ‘Guru’ status is a recurring theme for new Internet Marketers. People are beginning to recognise that fortune – in 2012 – favours those who get behind their content and put a face on it.

If you want to gain traction in a market, a pile of 500 word articles will no longer suffice.

The reality of the changing web is cause for optimism: Google can’t save you now.

Well, Halle-bloody-lujah. Have we not waited for this day?

To enter and dominate a vertical, you are going to need to do what was unthinkable in the past. And that is deal with people. Not systems, not search engine algorithms, not shitty rewritten content.

It’s time to lose the ‘cutting corners’ mindset. The transformation has to start in your head.

If you want to become an authority, start acting like one. You don’t need to be the best. Simply better than most will do.

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Selling eBooks vs. Selling Print Books

Here’s a question. Would you rather author a mediocre book gathering cobwebs at Barnes & Noble – or a hugely profitable eBook with a fraction of the prestige?

One glance at the Internet Marketing landscape and you should be calling me a fool for begging the question. eBooks are cheaper to produce, more lucrative to sell, and a whole lot easier to distribute.

Why, oh why, would anybody bother with print publishing in the 21st century?

More specifically, who in their right mind would choose the traditional route through a publishing house when it’s a million times easier to self-publish through services like Lulu and CreateSpace?

Why I Love and Hate Selling eBooks

I’m no stranger to selling eBooks. I spent the first half of my online career bitching about them, deploring the very thought of committing my ideas to a PDF in a shitty $5 cover-art.

Well, somebody must have woken me up and splashed coffee up my nostrils. It sure didn’t take long for money to change my attitude.

I eventually sold out jumped on the gravy train and started publishing them on this very site. I now have six fully fleshed volumes of Premium Posts, a title that I specifically chose to avoid having to use the term ‘eBook’.

There are obvious advantages to the eBook model.

In the 12 months since Volume 1 went live, I expect revenue to nudge past $100,000 from zero marketing spend. While that is certainly not ‘baller status’, it’s personal justification that I made the right decision in asking people to pay for my best blog posts.

You might have noticed that I no longer have ads on this site. That’s a positive upside to monetizing through the eBook model. I make more money by dedicating pixels to my own real-estate.

In terms of fast, easy money – selling eBooks is infinitely more appealing than taking my ideas to a publishing house and spending the best part of 18 months ball-dallying back and forth.

The downside to the eBook model is that it’s tarred by default.

How many piece-of-shit guru products grace the marketplace?

Before any of you smartarses reply with “Six, all of yours“, let me turn your attention to the insanity you’re confronted with with every time you log in to Clickbank.

Crazy eBook Ideas

No niche escapes Clickbank unscathed.

There are gazillions and bazillions of “WTF?” eBooks burning consumer trust as we speak.

A whole raft of them belong to the Make Money Online space, but let’s not be too inclusive. Very rarely does a niche escape without at least a handful of shoddy eBooks stinking up its ranks.

The problem with eBooks is that just about anybody with an FTP client can smuggle one on to the web, and it doesn’t have to be verified or edited by a reputable agent along the way. Christ, many eBooks are available without being proofread by their own creators. What does that say?

No great writer justifies his claim with the opening statement, “I once wrote an eBook.

It just doesn’t happen.

But many great writers do leverage authority by saying, “I’m a published author.” Especially if their book hasn’t been self-published out of vanity (or industry rejection).

I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before. Why does respect matter? Who cares about aiming for the airport’s bestseller shelf when you can make fast, easy money by distributing digitally without even sniffing life outside your mother’s basement?

It matters to real writers who care about their craft as much as they care about their bottom line. It’s an enormous achievement to publish a book through the traditional means.

For me, it’s the pinnacle.

Acceptance as a professional writer.

An acknowledgement that you’re more accomplished than the whimsical step-aunty who keeps threatening to turn her diarrhea of half-thoughts in to a bestselling novel.

The Pros and Cons of Traditionally Publishing a Book

Is it any wonder that so many writers choose eBooks to distribute their ideas when the road to Barnes & Noble is littered with snail-mail rejection, drawn out contracts (if you’re lucky) and scarce reward for the small fish?

For many reasons, it would be impossible for me to release my Premium Post content through a traditional publishing company. It typically takes at least 12 months and sometimes up to 3 years to get a book published. By the time my book hit the shelves, affiliate marketing might actually be dead.

You must first decide between approaching publishing houses directly or going through a literary agency.

If you are a well-known name, or have a stack of accreditation on your mantlepiece, it’s possible that a publisher will take you on based on the book concept and your reputation.

Likewise, if you have an insatiable audience of 250,000 subscribers waiting to devour your every last word, it shouldn’t be too long before a publisher is blasting your door down for a slice of the pie.

Their chief concern is selling enough copies to make a profit, and with an army of fans, you tick the right boxes. There’s a market attached to your name. People waiting to buy your precious hardback. That alone can be enough to secure a book publishing deal.

For lesser known names with smaller followings, a few thousand subscribers is by no means a guarantee that a publisher will share the vision of your million dollar idea. It’s better than nothing though. I find myself in this bracket. I have enough readers to justify an industry presence. But not enough readers to rename myself Sir King Honeybadger of the Affiliate Marketing Masses.

Give it 4 months. I’m working on it.

My best option is to write the book, approach an agent and pray that I haven’t sold his goodwill down the drain on an acai berry subscription in the recent past.

Many publishing houses will refuse to even look at your manuscript unless you go through a literary agency.

The agency is the middleman. They will negotiate better rights for your work, including the essentials that are difficult to secure when you’re flying solo: translation rights, brand ownership; even movie rights if you hit the jackpot. In return, you give them a slice of your advance, which may or may not add up to a handful of magic beans.

Ah yes, the advance.

The idea of being paid before you’ve finished the job will be music to the ears of those who’ve pummelled Elance for article gigs in the past. You can expect to receive an upfront payment based on projected book sales if a publisher agrees to send your crazy ideas to print.

You’ll usually receive 50% of your advance upfront, and 50% when the manuscript is turned in. Times are changing, however, and some publishers are now dividing the payment in to deliverable milestones. A subtle way of saying “Write, monkey, write. We haven’t got all decade.

That leaves a crap ton of writing to be done, and very little immediate financial return. Possibly just enough to brush your teeth and wolf down a Rustlers between rewrites.

Far from being a ticket to your first million dollar mansion, securing a book deal is actually quite a damp squib in the financial stakes – particularly for first time writers.

Rough estimates of a first-time advance range from the low 4-figures to $35,000. Much depends on the publisher, genre, your credentials and how much a faceless fat cat likes your schtick. Non-fiction authors traditionally receive more than those writing fiction.

While the advance makes for some nice coin on a rainy day, it’s certainly a low return when you consider the investment of time. And especially how much you could make slinging eBooks in the same time.

Do you know what meticulously researching, structuring, writing, editing and then tearing up 80,000 words feels like it? No, me neither.

I can imagine it’s about as pleasurable as shagging a lamp post over and over again.

Seth Godin says it best: “Book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business.

So who’d be a traditional author?

Thankfully, there’s an upside. If you write a massive bestselling hit that lands at number 4 in the NY Times and gets translated in to 17 different languages, momentum becomes your best friend. You’ll never have to worry about driving sales from AdWords coupons ever again.

Score a 4-Hour Work Week style success and the royalties will make you very rich indeed. If we go by the traditional theory that you can expect to make around $1 for every book sold (after your advance has been earned back), you need only sell a cool 1 million copies before you can call yourself a millionaire.

But how many books sell like the 4-Hour Work Week? It’s only a tiny, tiny minority.

The average deluded writer is probably more likely to win the lottery.

Most books hit the shelves, gather some dust, then disappear to be talked about only in the author’s Twitter bio.

The actual marketing of the book is a responsibility that publishers are increasingly passing on to the authors. Only a very small selection of books receive the Fifth Shades of Grey publicity treatment.

And that’s just as well or my list of ‘Undeserving Writers to Hunt Down and Punch in the Face‘ would grow immeasurably huge.

The Fallback: Self-Publishing Print Books

At the top of this article, I referenced two popular self-publishing platforms: Lulu and CreateSpace.

These platforms allow you to self-publish physical copies of your book and sell them on a single order basis.

If Cousin Jeff wants to buy the novel you’ve been bragging about all over Facebook, he can place an order and have it shipped to him. You might only receive 25% of the sale, but that’s still a much better rate than any traditional publisher will offer.

In the past, this form of ‘vanity publishing’ required ordering in bulk – potentially hundreds of copies at a time. Many self-published authors would thus end up with an attic full of yellowing pages and unshipped reminders of their broken dreams.

A situation not too dissimilar to the episode of Alan Partridge where his Bouncing Back memoir gets pulped.

Tragic times.

The ‘indie publishing’ scene has grown at a rapid rate over the last few years. The arrival of Print On Demand services has reduced the risk behind self-publishing while also providing a welcome middle ground. If you feel that your book deserves a physical testament to its awesomeness, you can produce one for very little cost.

Unfortunately, the stigma of being self-published still remains.

Reviews are seen as the driving force behind bestselling hits. And most reputable journos will refuse to touch a book that hasn’t come to market through the traditional means.

Note: There are exceptions. Sites like Kirkus Indie and PW Select operate on a pay-per-review basis. I have doubts that paying to be reviewed alongside other desperate self-published authors is worth the money, but I may be wrong.

Successful print books – the few that make it – have a much greater capacity to spread around the world and capture the imagination of a giant audience when compared to your average popular eBook.

You need only look at the raging Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon – a series that was originally self-published – to see how getting a physical book to market can lead to bigger and better things.

Many publishers will swoop to pick up vanity projects if they gain momentum (and enough sales).

Where Next?

Personally, I can see the merits in both extremes of the eBooks vs Print Books argument.

From a purely financial perspective, there is no better way to distribute content than by slinging eBooks. I charge $34.95 for my Premium Post products and pocket about 95% of the sale, unless an affiliate has referred the customer. Both the markup and the profit margin are miles apart from what I would receive by releasing a book through a publisher.

My eBooks also take just 15 days to bring to market, compared to the year it would require to get a hardback on a shelf. Let’s not even consider the odds being stacked against a publisher accepting it in the first place.

What does that mean for you guys?

If you’re an Internet Marketer looking for the fastest road to profit, do yourself a favour and stick to slinging eBooks. It will get you there in a fraction of the time.

My problem is that I’ve only ever been a reluctant Internet Marketer. Writing is my passion.

Getting a book published professionally through the traditional means – and received well – is the ultimate acid test. You can’t pass it without being one of the best at what you do.

That means more to me than the money I make from eBooks, which is why the Premium Post series will be ending soon.

My next challenge is to step away and brainstorm how I can write a book that will sell millions rather than thousands.

It’s a huge task, biblical in scale, but exciting in the sense that it puts me back on the tail of what I saw myself doing before affiliate marketing came along and replaced my ambition with a thousand quick ways to make money.

Every affiliate marketer needs to be working on something more fulfilling than peddling somebody else’s links. There comes a tipping point where it’s no longer satisfying. I do it because it makes me money, but that’s where the relationship ends.

So, here’s another question…

If you won the lottery and had 148 million Euros deposited in to your account tomorrow, would you still be doing affiliate marketing?

Most people will answer a resounding “No“.

I don’t blame them.

Well, at what point will you be earning enough money to focus less on affiliate marketing, and more on the work that you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life?

The answer was quite a kick in the balls to me. I’ve been earning enough money for a long time. I just didn’t want to push myself with a challenge that I was likely to lose.

No doubt, I’ll probably still lose. Bestselling authors are a rare breed, and chance has as much to do with perfection in the making of their success. But it’ll be fun to try.

And failing all else, if I can set a world record for most ball references in a manuscript, I’ll be chuffed.

Have you had success with the eBook model? Would you ever consider the traditional publishing model? I’d be interested to hear your experiences.

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Grow A Monster Blog By Manipulating This 1 Human Flaw

Thanks to Google, we can instantly seek out support for the most bizarre idea imaginable. If our initial search fails to turn up the results we want, we don’t give it a second thought, rather we just try out a different query and search again.
– Justin Owings

This is one of my favourite quotes on the subject of confirmation bias – our tendency to pick and choose facts where they suit us, neglecting anything that goes against our argument. It’s something that should interest all Internet Marketers, and particularly those who run blogs.

I often say that to be successful as an ‘expert’ or a consultant, you don’t need to know everything – just a tiny bit more than your average reader. You can be a successful blogger by validating what your audience already knows. It’s one of our many rational defects that we rarely seek new information, and would much rather find confirmation that our existing views are truthful and valid.

Confirmation bias: The tendency of people to favour information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.

Successful bloggers are brilliant at exploiting this bias. They roll out content that is designed to look informative, but usually only confirms what the reader already knew. The best bloggers will go one step further. They’ll produce content that validates what a reader can only speculate to be true, thus sealing the role of ‘authority in a niche’, as my fellow Internet Marketers like to put it.

Unlike journalists, bloggers do not have to stick rigidly to the confines of fact over fiction. The secret to success lies in how we are perceived. By feeding readers the right blend of useless crap they already knew, and useless crap they always assumed, we can portray ourselves as figures of authority where it isn’t truly deserved. Some of the biggest and most popular blogs in the world rely on steady diets of ‘expert advice’ that serve merely to nail us to our beliefs.

Confirmation bias is a psychological weapon that allows bloggers to gain followers without having any kind of academic link to their chosen topic. By engineering a steady dripfeed of content that satisfies without challenging, any single one of us can become an expert. The old adage that content is king makes sense, but it doesn’t tell the full story.

If you really want to command a following, stick to telling people what they already know. If you want to become the fabled Mr Big Pants ‘authority in a niche’, extend that content to what they also speculate to be true.

One look at my Twitter feed tells me that the Republican primaries are now in full swing. Have you seen the bickering on political blogs?

You’ll find that the most commented sites are those that rally similar minded folk by enforcing their beliefs and serving a rose-tinted slew of facts to support them. If these sites felt a duty to promote a fairer race, they would paint each candidate in a fair and unbiased light. Of course, to do so would be to ask readers to challenge their beliefs. It never happens. People don’t want to be challenged. They want to feel vindicated, that they were right all along.

Once forming an opinion, we would rather live in ignorance than appear to be ‘flip-flopping’. Ordinary bloggers can grow monster followings by latching on to this weakness and appealing to the confirmation bias in us all.

Internet Marketing doesn’t require years of expertise, neither does blogging. It simply requires the articulation of beliefs and opinions in such a way that readers can pursue them as their own. If you do this, you will always have an audience.

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