Whether you blog about food or fashion, turtles or travel, you want your opinions and recommendations to be respected and appreciated. That means you need to consistently prove to your readers that you’re more than just a random reviewer and that you really know your chosen area of focus.

So show your audience your bona fides and incorporate some of these tips into your blogging strategy:

Don’t just stick to your blog

Participating in social media, commenting on the blogs of others covering the same topics and guest posting on other blogs and sites can increase your visibility and boost your credibility. Your audience will see that you’re an active member of the community and not just someone who’s only comfortable opining on their own platform.

Define your brand and stick to it

You might love country music, be a computer whiz and love iguanas, but few people will be interested in all three of those topics and want to read about them all on a regular basis. You can be “The Country Expert” or the “The Bits and Bytes Master” or “The Iguana Listener,” but you can’t be all three (at least not on the same blog. Pick what you’re most passionate about and make that the sole focus of your pontificating, then find your personal “hook” to stand out from the crowd.

Mention (and link to) other experts in your area

Don’t be afraid of giving your “competitors” their due; showing that you’re following your fellow experts and referencing their work illustrates that you are immersed in the space. It also gives your readers a window into the larger world of your passion, which they’ll appreciate. Remember that you want to be a “thought leader” and not a “thought owner,” plus it shows that you’re doing your homework.

It’s OK to brag… a little

If you have legitimate credentials or experience in this area, don’t be afraid to show off a bit. Your bio page should definitely call this experience out, and adding anecdotes from your real-world experience (complete with name-dropping) reminds readers that you know what you’re talking about.

Don’t be too sales-y

You might be offering merchandise for sale on your blog or using affiliate links to generate some revenue. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make a buck on your blog, but readers are coming to your site to discover new products and get an honest and independent opinion or review. So be sure to check the heavy-handed praise by pointing out some of the flaws or reservations you might have. Even if you’re a huge fan, whatever you’re talking about won’t be a perfect match for everyone.

Got any other tips for showing readers you’re legit? Tell us in the comments below.