One very popular phrase that gets passed around entrepreneur and internet business related social media channels is to fake it till you make it. I have very mixed feelings about this phrase, and would like to know your opinion on it.
It basically means that if you pretend to be something long enough, you will eventually become that thing. Never mind the semantics of what ‘pretend' may mean, the idea, regardless of the connotation, is simply to give an impression long enough that other people start to perceive you as that thing. Eventually, it is no longer just a perception – it is a fact.
How it applies to online business and internet marketing is that if you write from the perspective of an expert in whatever industry or market you're in, and enough people read your blog, and see you calling yourself an ‘expert' (regardless of your actual expertise), they then link to your site saying, “Hey, look what the expert says.” Other people then read their blog, and the rest is history.
First, let's take a look at the positives
In the competitive world of online business, blogging and social media where everyone is competing for traffic, clicks, likes, shares, and views, there is not a lot of room for the self-loathing blogger. Imagine how boring it would be to read a blog from someone that says, “Well, I really don't know a whole lot about this, but what I think is….and I could be wrong but….so you really need to decide….and just look it up on Wikipedia because I don't actually know.”
People do not want to read lukewarm topics from someone that doesn't really know a whole lot. They want the best of the best.
But what if you're not the best?
Remember, you always know more than someone else.
Actually, you'd be surprised how much you know about stuff. And really, the so-called “experts” in your eyes, may not be as smart, professional, and successful as you might think. A lot of it is about delivery.
I read quite a few blogs about entrepreneurship, marketing, and business. From reading all these things from a wide variety of sources, I discovered something very interesting.
EVERYONE THINKS THEY'RE RIGHT
So by skipping all the stuff about ‘well, maybe', or ‘I don't really know', you make you blog sound a lot nicer, a lot more professional, and of course more expert.
Now let's take a look a the negatives
If you really don't know much about something, but you want to blog about it, it can be hard to formulate your own opinions. It's even harder to give sound advice.
In fact, I've done this, and I felt like much of what I wrote was basically regurgitated ideas from other sources. I didn't really know if what I was writing was relevant, helpful, or even true. I faked it, I made money, but I didn't stay in the industry long because I was not interested in learning about what I was writing about. The amount of research I had to do in order to learn before I wrote was not worth the time.
Plus, you could be giving people wrong advice! How on Earth are you going to respond to comments, inquiries, tweets, or discuss these things with your visitors? You'll have to make up more answers, and your lack of expertise will show.
No one likes a liar, and if you say your the best, but turn out to be not-that-great, people are going to flee your blog and never come back. Or at least they will leave quickly, and go participate in someone else's blog.
What I Think
Honestly, I think you already are an expert in something, and you probably don't know it. Remember, there is always someone that knows less than you, and the more you dive into your niche or industry, the more people there are that know less than you.
Let me tell you a story.
When I moved to China in 2007 I couldn't even say “Hello”. Within 6 months I was the 3rd best Chinese speaker at our language training center. I was probably in the top 10% of the whole city.
Sounds impressive, right?
Our school only had 20 teachers, and no one put any effort into learning Chinese. It was in a pretty small town, and we were the largest school.
The point is that by putting in a little bit of sustained effort into a niche industry, you can learn quickly, and surpass any kind of hobbyists.
You are then an expert.
What to do
There is probably SOMEONE in the world that knows less than you on the subject. Write your blog post for them. You don't have to get 1 million subscribers right away. Help one or two people, and build from there. Your expertise and authority, and will follow.
And it doesn't always have to be about telling someone what to do or how to do it. It's possible to blog for your peers, for other people who are learning too.
Also, you do not have to compete with the big boys right away, and you do not have to lie in order to write helpful, interesting, and engaging content on the internet. This is how you get attention to your site. It's how you get ranked in Google. And it's how you build a strong base for making money.
Do you believe the advice to “fake it till you make it” works? Do you think it's ethical? Let me know in the comments below.