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How to Write with Power and Authority, Even if You Feel Like a Nobody

Table of Contents

I used to feel the same way.

I didn’t understand why people would read my writing tips when the web is awash with writing advice from people more experienced, more knowledgeable, and more authoritative than me.

Why would anyone listen to me?

I’ve learned that mindset was flawed.

When I learned how to write well, a new world opened up. I connected with people across the world. I built a thriving blog. People started listening to my advice — and more importantly, they acted on it.

Can you make an impact with your words?
As writers, our toolbox may seem limited. We can’t shout. We can’t use body language. We can’t even bang on a table to add weight to a message.

We only have our words to communicate with passion and power.

But written words are enormously powerful. You know that. When was the last time words made you smile? Or cry? Or inspire you to take action?

Once you learn how to write with power, readers start listening to your ideas, acting on your advice, and buying your products and services. You can inspire change — even if you feel you don’t have the required clout or authority right now.

Want to learn how?

Step #1: Write with clarity and substance
Weak writing rambles, rattles, and prattles.

Powerful writing, in contrast, is simple and to the point.

Many writers misunderstand this …

Writing with substance is not about writing longer articles. It’s not about word count. It’s not sharing as many tips as possible. The opposite is true. Often long articles lack substance; too many superficial ideas that compete for the reader’s attention weaken the content.

Substance is not about the breadth of your ideas; it’s about the depth of your arguments. Even an email of 100 words can have substance. A nugget of wisdom. A super-practical tip. A spark of inspiration.

Substance is about adding value, exceeding your readers’ expectations, and moving beyond the echo chamber.

“If you’re not adding value, you’re taking up space. The more space you take up, the more difficult it becomes to continuously earn your spot, and the more likely you are to become ignored and irrelevant.” – Sally Hogshead

So, how do you write with substance?

Have a clear purpose for each piece of content — how will you help your readers?
Create a list or mind map of what you want to include in your article.
Review your ideas and narrow down your topic — an initial mind map is often too unwieldy, so cull irrelevant ideas that lead readers astray.
Revisit your content’s purpose — will your content deliver on your promise? Will you solve a problem?
Becoming an authority is not about you. It’s about your readers. About their lives, their worries, their challenges, and their dreams.

Powerful writing starts with empathy, generosity, and a passionate drive to help your readers.

Step #2: Boost your authority with these content tricks
Focusing on a narrow topic may feel scary. Can you write enough? Will your article seem flimsy?

Don’t panic.

And don’t start adding irrelevant ideas and semi-related trains of thought.

Instead, use the three content tricks below to turn flimsy writing into persuasive and authoritative content.

Authority content trick #1: use specific examples
My favorite way to boost authority is using examples. They are an undervalued tool in your authority tool box.

Examples demonstrate how you translate theory into practice. Examples breathe life into your content by making abstract concepts concrete. Readers can visualize your ideas, and you show you’re not just talking the talk; you know what you’re talking about.

Want examples?

Earlier this year on Copyblogger, I wrote a fun post with seven tips for conversational writing — I demonstrated each tip with a before-and-after example; the post currently has more than 3,000 social shares.
Using Apple’s web copy as an example, I wrote a guest post for KISSmetrics explaining how to write seductive sales copy; this post launched my freelance writing career.
My post about turning 31 measly words into a valuable blog post shows the steps I take to turn a teeny-tiny idea into solid content.
Each post discusses one narrow topic (writing in a conversational tone, writing sales copy, writing with substance) with a series of examples.

Authority content trick #2: add compelling statistics
Statistics are not my favorite type of content. I find numbers boring.

But it’s a mistake to ignore numbers.

Because numbers add substance to an argument. They show you know your field. They instantly make your content more factual.

For instance, for my own Enchanting Marketing blog, I wrote a post about 10 proven headline formulas. First, I present figures to explain how important headlines are:

“The average click through rate on Twitter, for instance, is only 1.64% (source, 2012), so 98 out of 100 people may read only your headline, and fewer than 2 of them click through.”

Then, for each of the headline formulas, I provide examples of popular headlines and support my points with facts:

“The ‘Burning Question’ formula is probably the most underused formula on the list. But its attraction is undeniable: the third most popular post on Moz (8.2k shares) and the fifth most popular post on HubSpot (13k shares) use this formula. We also know from research that questions get more clicks on Twitter than statements, and that subject lines with question marks get 44% more opens than those with exclamation marks (source).”

Statistics boost your credibility and appeal to rationality. But be careful: Don’t let the numbers undermine the clarity of your message. Only add research results and other numbers if they help clarify your ideas.

Authority content trick #3: support with quotes from experts
Can’t find any statistics to back up your argument?

Try using quotes from well-known experts. A quote demonstrates you’re familiar with other work in your field. Notice how I quoted Sally Hogshead earlier?

Strategically selected quotes support your claims. They help you “borrow” other people’s authority to grow your own.

Step #3: Inject power into your words
Does power make you think of dictators, bullies, and other dominant personalities?

As Sally Hogshead explains in her book How the World Sees You, power lives on a spectrum. Power’s gentle side manifests itself in the parental nudge and in the sports coach who motivates you to train harder.

Powerful writing inspires readers to take action. An effective sales page, for instance, encourages readers to click and buy. Strong social media updates make people click to read more. And authoritative blog posts motivate readers to implement your tips.


Embrace your inner bossiness by using the imperative form and shorter sentences.

For instance, read this paragraph aloud:

Your job as a blogger is not simply to write tutorials that share tips, facts, and advice.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never opened. It’s forgotten and useless.

Instead of acting solely like a blogger dishing out your tips, you should become a mentor for your readers, a chief of your village, a leader of your tribe. You should fire up your tribe and jump-start their actions because your readers are waiting for you.

It feels a little flat, right? That’s because the sentences are long and the final sentences use “you should” instead of the imperative.

The alternative version below (from A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs) is more inspirational because it uses shorter sentences and the imperative form (“Fire up your tribe” instead of “You should fire up your tribe”):

Your job as a blogger is not simply to write tutorials.

Your job is not to share tips and facts and advice.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never opened. It’s forgotten and useless.

You’re not simply a blogger. You’re a mentor for your readers, a chief of your village, a leader of your tribe.

Come on. Fire up your tribe. Jump-start their actions.

Your readers are waiting for you.

Does that inspire you more?

The magic of writing
When I started writing, I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I doubted my skills. I didn’t know whether I had enough ideas.

But every time I had to write an article, I learned more about writing. I followed my curiosity. I discovered what I’m passionate about, and I learned what resonated with my audience.

You might think you don’t have enough to share. Or you might doubt your writing skills.

This is what I’d like to tell you:

You’re unique. You have unique experiences. And you’ll discover your voice and your passions when you write more. Writing brings clarity, deepens your understanding, and strengthens your ideas.

So, commit to writing. To creating valuable content. To being helpful to your readers.

Start making tiny ripples.

That’s how change begins.

Are you a writer who wants to become a Certified Content Marketer?
Inside Copyblogger’s Content Marketer Certification program, there’s a lot more for writers.

The training program helps writers make the most of their careers. Writers learn how to position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.

And the program is opening up soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.

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