10 Places to Find Subject Matter Experts to Improve Content Authority

Gone are the days when being the first to cover a topic was enough to secure a top spot in search engine results. With Google’s EEAT update, the content itself is just one piece of the puzzle. Now, the “who” behind the words also matters. 

 

But freelancers might have to write for multiple niches and can’t have experience in every single industry. So, how can you produce expert-level content without being an expert yourself? 

By furnishing your piece with insights and perspectives from industry insiders AKA subject matter experts (SMEs). 

  

 

This piece will walk you through 10 places to find SMEs to solidify your content authority and increase its chances of ranking high. You’ll also learn how to identify the best SMEs for your next writing project and tips to connect with these experts.

Table of Contents

Where to Find Smes for Your Freelance Writing Project.

Not very many people have the words “Subject matter expert” as the first thing on their social media bio. Heck, some SMEs don’t even realize their professional expertise means anything that serious. 

So unless you know where to look and how, you might be missing out on a real chance to make your content a gold mine of value. 

  1. Authoritative pieces on competitor’s site

A great starting point is to read authoritative pieces on your competitors’ websites, remembering that the goal is not to copy their perspectives.

While there’s nothing wrong with borrowing insights, what’s even better is trying to find gaps in their existing content. 

Ahrefs has a great tool for finding topics that your competitor’s websites rank for.

Reach out to the experts featured in the content or other professionals in their network. Have your own conversations with them and gather fresh insights to create content that stands out from the competition. 

  1. Internal/local expert

Writers often make the mistake of overlooking the resources right under their noses.

Imagine how much time and effort you can save working with internal experts who know so much about your topic. 

Before sending that cold mail, look within your organization for anyone who can provide unique perspectives. 

“Internal subject matter experts are core to publishing thought leadership… ya know, the kind of next-level insights and bold POV that make brilliant people lean in and pay attention.”- Erin Balsa.

Also, explore your local community for experts excelling in the required field. Professionals nearby are often eager to share their expertise and contribute to exciting projects. 

For instance, if writing an article on sustainable farming, you might find an organic farmer around who could offer practical tips based on what’s worked for them so far. The result? A piece with a point of view so unique, your readers would keep coming back for more.

 

  1. Publications and books

 

Reach out to authors who have written books, publications, and other resources on the subject matter. Writing several pages on your topic means they have in-depth knowledge on the subject that can elevate your content authority. 

 

For instance, anyone who’s read This is Marketing would agree it’s one marketing book full of SME insights. Now, imagine interviewing a pro marketer like Seth Godin and adding his perspectives to your piece on sales. 

 

Sometimes, the material may contain all the information you need. So you always want to read it first and only reach out to the author if it’s necessary.

 

Remember, academic authors may assume a high level of reader expertise, so you should break down complex points and make them understandable to your audience. Your goal as a writer is to educate rather than merely impress. 

 

  1.  Social media: 

 

Don’t be the writer who overlooks the power of social media during their writing research. Instead: 

 

  • Join groups where users share unique perspectives and experiences.
  • Engage in discussions and ask questions
  • Browse through industry-specific hashtags
  • Connect with experts in your desired subject area

 

You can also ask your network on socials for help finding niche professionals like Lily does here:

 

 

Social media not only allows you to find SMEs but also creates opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and building long-term relationships.

 

Here’s Funmilola Fadairo’s guide on using social media to collect SME insights

 

  1. Communities where SMEs hang out

 

Industry-specific communities, where professionals share knowledge, ask questions, and engage in discussions, are another great place to look. They’re often hot spots for SMEs who are passionate about their field and eager to lend their expertise. 

 

Stack Exchange, for instance, is one vibrant community-driven platform covering various subjects. Here, you can find dedicated experts who actively participate in specific topic areas, providing insightful answers and guidance. 

 

You’ll also find professionals on Slack channels who can enrich your piece and foster valuable connections that’ll help your freelance career. Engaging in discussions and asking thoughtful questions here can help you identify SMEs willing to contribute to your project

 

 

  1. Forums

 

The beauty of forums like Quora and Reddit lies in their diverse user base and extensive range of topics. This makes it easier to locate SMEs with different viewpoints and expertise.

 

“Great writing is assembled, not written”. 

 

Unlike industry communities, forums provide a broader perspective, as they attract individuals from different backgrounds and industries.

 

This diversity propels a unique environment for collaboration and learning. And your content value goes a notch higher when you get your point across by telling different stories.

 

  1. Podcasts

 

Very few freelancers are willing to dedicate the time to listening to podcasts for their writing research. So you can gain a significant advantage by using this resource.

 

In a study carried out by the National Literacy Trust,  54.2% of listeners claimed one of the benefits of listening to podcasts was that they got to hear different people’s opinions and ideas. This is precisely what you need to to give your content’s authority a boost!

 

The cutting room and The SEO rant are two recommended podcast shows packed with marketing insights. 

 

Plus, by listening, you discover other professionals who you can reach out to ask more questions on the topic.

 

  1.  Youtube

 

Youtube is an invaluable resource, especially if you’re writing on technical topics that involve practical tasks.

 

Subject matter experts on this search platform passionately break down intricate subjects into easily digestible pieces.

 

They use visual aids, screen recordings, or live demonstrations to show their expertise, making the learning experience wholesome. 

 

  • Start by searching for relevant keywords related to your project
  • Refine your search by filtering for channels with good following and a consistent upload schedule. 
  • Watch a few videos and note down insights

 

So, if you’d rather not go through lengthy textbooks or browse countless web pages, head over to YouTube and find experts in the specific niche.

 

“ Those who don’t research beyond top SERPs end up creating content that looks and sounds like everyone else’s.” – Noelina Rissman

 

  1. Other search engines

 

Don’t limit yourself to one search engine during your research. Sometimes we forget that Google isn’t the only home of search on the internet. So try out others like Yahoo and Bing.

 

Search engines use different algorithms so the results you get would sometimes vary.

 

 

 

By branching out, you might stumble upon valuable information and find professionals who may have slipped through your fingers on Google.

 

  1. Expert platforms

 

Tools like Help A Reporter Out, Expert Finder, and Qwuoted connect you with professionals from various industries.

 

But you’ll have to search wisely as some users may prioritize link-building over expertise, providing generic or even false information.

 

A few telltale signs that a user may not be a genuine subject matter expert include:

  • They offer vague or generic answers without specific details 
  • Their perspectives on the subject are more shallow than nuanced 
  • Their responses are contradictory or inconsistent
  • They make grandiose claims or guarantee unrealistic results
  • They’re more focused on promoting links

 

To find trusted experts, thoroughly evaluate their experience and previous contributions to the topic.

 

Why use an SME?

 

Your readers can tell when your piece is struggling to pass the message across. Or worse, when it has zero helpful answers to their questions. To create relevant, valuable content that keeps your target audience hooked to your piece, you need inputs from SMEs.

 

Say your freelance client wants you to write an article on preserving MDF wooden flooring; you, a marketing guy, who doesn’t know the next thing about furniture or engineered wood. But you have to deliver and the deadline won’t backtrack.

 

Unless you plan to rehash what everyone else already said on the search engine result page (SERP), you need pointers from a professional who understands the topic.

 

You need SME input to:

  • better understand the topic 
  • learn what’s been working or not
  • Earn your audience’s trust by featuring recognizable voices.

 

But you don’t have to be clueless about a subject to sprinkle SME insights into your piece. Even experts in any field can learn from listening to varying perspectives on a topic.

 

Plus, the responses you get can lead to other narratives that’ll make your content more valuable.

 

The best part is perhaps how you get to tap into the SME’s network and steal some of their audience. 

 

 

Distribution is a vital part of any content strategy, so while sharing and promoting your piece, mention the featured SMEs. They’ll reciprocate by showing it to their audience who then check out your content and stick around if it’s a great one.

 

Identifying the right SME for your writing project

 

  • Results: Look for a subject matter expert who can demonstrate tangible results from their previous experience. Seeing examples of their contributions would help you gauge the quality of their experience. 

 

A suitable SME for a piece on direct-response copywriting would be someone who has successfully written compelling sales copy that led to increased conversions or engagement.

 

  • Willingness to help: You need an SME who is not only knowledgeable but also willing to collaborate and support your writing process. Are they willing to communicate timely? Are they cooperative? 

 

Your  ideal SME should be open to:

– clarifying complex concepts

– providing resources within their reach

– answering your questions promptly

 

  • Current experience: Ensure that the SME’s experience is up to date and aligned with your project’s requirements. Writing styles, industry standards, and best practices evolve all the time. So you want to work with a professional who is familiar with current trends. 

 

Tips to get connect with SMEs

Like Databox’s CEO confirms below, connecting with SMEs leads to mutually beneficial relationships that make future collaborations smooth. 

Getting this part right means you won’t have to go through the regular route of cold-pitching each time you have a new project to work on. 

And it comes down to being familiar with their work. How to go about this?

  • Show your interest and appreciation for their work by engaging with their content e.g leaving thoughtful comments
  • Reach out by finding common ground or a shared interest that can be the basis of your initial conversation.
  • Offer value upfront rather than immediately asking for help. For instance, share an interesting article related to their expertise. 
  • Share relevant and high-quality content of your own to capture their attention.
  • Join professional communities where SMEs are present and actively contribute to increase your visibility.

Delight Your audience with helpful unique content

Working with SMEs for your next content might require more time but good content takes time to produce. Always remember it doesn’t end with getting a few quotes from experts to sprinkle in your piece. Rather, find the narratives behind those insights and let them guide your content outline. 

Also, having a huge following isn’t always a good indicator of expertise, so pay attention to the right yardstick. And if you want to become an SME yourself, choose your niche and focus on being so knowledgeable t

Ruthie Okere
Ruthie Okere

Ruthie is a SaaS Copywriter on a quest to ease the burden of marketing using content. Her core values are treating every writing project with equal attention and evoking the exact kind of emotions that make readers tick.

 

When she's not saving the day with content, you'll catch her on Instagram bragging shamelessly about her big hair. Connect with Ruthie to save your brand from the heartaches of terrible marketing copy.

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