Build Self-Publishing Cred, Easy As A-B-C

If you're like most people I've met who decide to self-publish an e-book or online course, a wave of doubt may hit you about two seconds after you pick your first topic.

"What qualifies ME to write on this subject?!" may be your very next thought.

Don’t worry … doubt (and actually FEAR) is perfectly normal.

And it shouldn't stop you — or even slow you down — from getting started.

Today I'd like to show you an A-B-C credibility-building system that will help you:

  • Build your personal credibility,
  • Position yourself as an authority on your topic, and
  • Break through that fear barrier …

 … So you can start building your profitable spare-time self-publishing business right away.

In last week's example, we discovered that "hockey skills" could be a valuable niche around which to build a spare-time self-publishing business. Today we'll walk through my A-B-C system using this as an example of how you can quickly build credibility in a niche where you may only seem minimally qualified at first.

Then you'll learn how to use your newfound credibility to immediately start selling yourself and your published products with authority.

Here's how to build self-publishing credibility in any niche

There are a number of completely legitimate ways you can build credibility in your niche — without slogging all the way through 20 or 30 or 40 years of experience to end up in a position of authority.

I’m talking about shortcuts …

With these shortcuts, you can work your way up to a position of authority in anywhere from a few days to a few years — but certainly much faster than the traditional routes.

My goal when going into a new market like "hockey skills" is to replicate what happened when I launched my kettlebell website. In less than 3 months, I had people coming to me asking questions on how to use kettlebells, what kettlebells to buy, and in general to comment on what a great service I was doing for the kettlebell community. I even had some of the gurus in the niche coming to comment on my website!

It all hinges on the A-B-Cs of credibility

Here are the three types of credibility in the A-B-C system:

  • Assigned credibility
  • Borrowed credibility
  • Created credibility

Let's look at each type to see how you can use them to build your credibility.

Assigned Credibility … Tried and true, once you earn it

This is the old-school, traditional method for obtaining credibility. And, it's incredibly powerful, if you have already … or are willing to … put in the work to take this route.

It includes things like your formal education and credentials earned, any industry certifications you've acquired, and your career experience. Assigned credibility is … you guessed it … assigned by an outside source … usually an institution. And, you get it for “playing the game” in the traditional sense.

In the "hockey skills" niche, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage. After all, I only played youth hockey, and just recently started up again playing adult hockey. I never went pro — or even played in college. I've never received any formal awards based on my hockey performance. All I have is seven years playing experience growing up, plus one as an adult.

Wow! That's an uphill battle. With no formal assigned credibility, I'm going to have to rely on borrowed and created credibility if I want this project to be successful.

But, that's why we're talking about these shortcuts in the first place …

Borrowed Credibility … It's not yours, but you benefit

Borrowed credibility is the first shortcut approach to gaining recognition as an authority or expert. And often, it's surprisingly easy to get.

Let's look at some of the ways I may be able to borrow credibility for my "hockey skills" spare-time self-publishing project. You can use these as examples of ways you can gain borrowed credibility, too.

  • Memberships to Professional Organizations — The premier organization for hockey in the United States is USA Hockey. For just $30, I can get an annual membership to USA Hockey. Then I can borrow their credibility by stating in my marketing materials that I'm a member in good standing. What professional organizations exist in your niche whose credibility you can borrow through membership?
  • Partnerships — This is a good way to borrow assigned credibility from someone else — and one of my favorite credibility cards to pull (I think because it works so well). I may go to the coach or players of my local college or semi-pro hockey team to see if they want to contribute to my self-publishing project in any way. Depending on my budget, I could even offer a flat fee or royalties for their contributions. Do you know anyone in your niche who has more credibility than you, who you could approach about partnering in some way?
  • Articles in Recognized Publications — Many of the topics I'm going to talk about around hockey skills are relevant to readers of USA Hockey Magazine, the official publication of USA Hockey. I could offer to provide value to their readers by writing skill-building articles for inclusion in their magazine. If I can engage their readers and provide value, it's a no-brainer for the magazine to publish my articles. Are there publications in your niche whose readers you could help with articles around your topic?
  • Features in Recognized Publications — In addition to writing articles, I could approach USA Hockey Magazine with press releases about my hockey skill-building products. If they think what I'm selling is relevant to their readers, they're likely to publish it either in their magazine or online. Then I can add a simple but powerful credibility-building phrase to my marketing: "As featured in USA Hockey Magazine." Research the editor information for your niche publications, so you can contact them when you have news about your product.
  • Client List — One thing I'll want to do as I start selling my hockey skills training is keep track of which hockey teams my customers play for. The more recognizable, the better. Once I start to get customers who my prospects will recognize, I can mention my training is used by X, Y, and Z teams. Because these teams have credibility with my prospect, I get credibility with my prospect. Keep track of who your customers are and then use this to borrow their credibility.
  • Quotes From Major Publications About Your Approach — This is a bit of a sneaky way to borrow credibility from major publications. Let's say part of my hockey skills training is demoing various drills that have been featured in USA Hockey Magazine or another major publication on hockey. I can say, "Learn a surprising way to add accuracy to your backhand shot, as featured in USA Hockey Magazine!" Sure, neither me nor my product were featured — but the surprising way to add accuracy to your backhand shot was. You can also do this with formal research — if I discovered a hockey-specific weightlifting strategy in a sports medicine journal, I could cite or even quote that research to borrow credibility for my approach. This may take some legwork, but it is invariably worth the effort!
  • Expert Endorsement — Once I've put together my hockey skills training, I could go to the local college or semi-pro hockey team and ask them to review it. Take a look at it. Tell me what they think. And if they like it, I could ask them for an official endorsement of the training. Asking for endorsements can get you a lot of no's, but the yes's you get will be more than worth it. Who in your niche could you ask to review your product and lend their endorsement?
  • Implied Endorsement — This is a similarly “sneaky” … but legitimate approach to using the quotes from major publications. I could look for an NHL great saying something like, "I only got to where I am because I worked on my hockey skills daily." I could then quote them in my sales materials to create an implied endorsement of my product. Be careful though with this because if the endorsement is a misrepresentation, you could get in some legal hot water! (AWAI's The Legalities of Copywriting Made Simple is a first step in ensuring you're doing this right.)

Created Credibility … A little elbow grease and it's yours

You can also create legitimate credibility for yourself. Often this comes directly from performance. But, not always.

It can also come by putting yourself in a position of authority or presenting yourself as an expert and letting the market either validate or nullify your claims.

Here are some of my favorite ways you can create credibility for yourself:

  • Track Record — Okay, so imagine I've been selling my hockey skills training for a while. And I've started to have teams come back to me and say they're winning more games because of using my skills training recommendations. I can use both individual examples and bigger trends to illustrate the results I'm getting. For example, "Individuals up their scoring by ½ point per game, and teams increase their win percentage by 18% by using my skills training system." I can also use my own track record after applying my skills training techniques as an example of the results my system generates. How can you use your track record to demonstrate that what you're teaching works?
  • Case Studies — A single compelling story of success can create as much, or more, credibility than a list of wins. For example, I may have a high school student who was just an average hockey player until he rigorously followed my hockey skills training system. After following my system, he was recruited to play college hockey, on scholarship. And he's excited to tell his story. When you have an ecstatic customer, ask them if you can feature them in a case study. Most will be flattered, and you'll get a quick credibility-builder.
  • Testimonials and Reviews — Let me give you a quick trick I use to make testimonials more believable. In cases where your results can be illustrated, ask clients for a picture demonstrating the results. Let's say I get an email from a customer saying their team just won a tournament because of my skills training. I'd ask for a picture of their team holding their trophy to include with their testimonial. This makes the testimonial more believable because prospects can actually see results others have gotten.
  • Self-Publishing — Here's a little secret. The act of publishing itself is a credibility builder. Just putting out a book, video, course, or other published product will give you instant respect. (So as soon as I self-publish my hockey skills training, I can refer to it as proof that I'm credible to speak on the subject — and as soon as you self-publish, you're a step closer to being an authority in your niche!)
  • Guarantee — I always guarantee my published products, and recommend to clients they do likewise. This builds credibility by telling your prospects you believe in what you're offering enough that you'll take on all the risk of their transaction with you. Make it a strong guarantee … show you have strong confidence in your product … and you'll gain strong credibility to go with it!
  • Proprietary Approach/Formula/Mechanism — This is an often-underestimated form of building credibility. In every published product I sell, I try to find the unique "system" being taught. Merely by calling my product a "hockey skills training system," it builds trust and credibility around my product because people trust "systems." A "system" is also seen as unique — by having a unique, proprietary system you're seen as "exclusive," stirring your prospect's flames of desire! How can you package your self-published product as a "system" to build its credibility?

Wow, that's a lot of credibility-builders … what do you do first?

This list gives you lots of actionable opportunities to build credibility — opportunities you can easily apply to building your credibility and authority in your spare-time self-publishing business. And the majority of them don't require blood, sweat, and tears to get through.

But where do you start? And what if you can't do all of them?

Here's the good news.

You don't need to do all of them.

Not even half.

You can become an authority in your field, if you'll just …

Pick two or three, then just do it!

If you pick two or three credibility builders and do them now, you can gain quick authority status.

Down the road, you can do more. But for now, just pick two or three that are relevant to your niche (and that you feel most comfortable and confident doing!) and …

Tell me what two or three credibility builders you're going to do now! Post them as a comment at the end of this article.

I want you to do this for two reasons.

  • I want to know what you're doing because I'm excited about your upcoming spare-time self-publishing success!
  • Because by telling me what you're going to do, you're also making a promise to yourself, and making yourself accountable to your success!

Then here's what I want you to do next.

Start your spare-time self-publishing project. Just do it. And if you'd like a more complete roadmap, I strongly suggest following the plans outlined in Self Publishing: Your Complete Business Plan for Creating a Life Without Borders.

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Published: October 6, 2009

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