Do You Have to Be an SME to Write about Thought Leadership?

In most cases, you don’t need to be a subject matter expert to write a thought leadership piece.

Your ability to capture the audience with striking words that they find relatable may be more important than your deep knowledge in the field.

Do You Have to Be an SME to Write about Thought Leadership?

There are too many SMEs out here to bother becoming one. (Take this with a pinch of salt; I’m trolling 😅 )

Don’t get me wrong; being an SME and thought leader positions you at the top of the food chain, and that is why this post is aimed at content marketers and writers with entry-level expertise.

“Oh, I’m not a subject matter expert, how do I apply for this role?”, “Who is going to hear me out?”

Getting Started

Give yourself a breather for a minute. It takes a lot of work but it’s honestly not that deep.

There are way too many tools and resources you can leverage to position yourself as a thought leader, and I’ll share them with you.

Come along now…

Say, I want to write an article on “Building an effective topic cluster strategy to improve SEO for a real estate investing agency.”

A real estate content marketer with over 10 years of experience working with clients in the same domain has access to more information than you.

Accept it.

Here’s how you can beat them at their own game.

  • Research like a broken record. Over and over, read a minimum of 10-15 different topics written by the niche SMEs.
  • Go social. Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Leveraging Social

For me, I’ll make a simple tweet that goes like this:

“Hey everyone, I’m currently working on **** article and I’d appreciate your input (biased or otherwise).

I’ll credit your contributions — that’s the incentive for using their voice; most people love a shoutout.”

You can use a similar template on Reddit and LinkedIn. These are platforms that are much more open for professional discussions and their POV can be trusted.

I love Reddit so much.

Here’s what I’d do: search for r/realestateinvesting, and r/SEO. Look for specific topics being discussed — in this case, topic clusters and real estate investing.

Gather all your data and place them in a Google doc. Somehow, you’re diving into data analytics beginner level and working directly with samples (just kidding).

Leveraging Tools to Gather More Input

At this point, you’ve built up a silo of knowledge that could become a rough draft, but we aren’t stopping there.

The next step is to check out tools like helpab2bwriter and Leaps.

With Leaps, you’re simply leveraging AI to reach out to potential experts in specific industries. AI has a wider reach than you as a newbie in the industry, see this as a partnership between you and your chosen AI.

In their own words, “It also creates detailed content briefs and outlines, showing you and your writers exactly what to write per topic — based on those SME contributions.”


It has the information, you need; all you have to do is feed it the necessary text prompts and generate a series of responses that can be tailored to your needs.

The penultimate stage will be daunting, and here’s why: you’ve gathered all this information — accurate or bullcrap, you don’t know.

The Filtering and Final stage

Now, to filter out the noise, you must verify all the inputs you’ve scraped by logging every comment based on the industry of the commenter and the level of authority they have in the space.

The higher the level of authority, the more their comments can be trusted and not be prejudiced.

Discard anything that looks AI-generated or not relevant to the topic at hand. You don’t want your readers to feel like it’s Alexa who’s telling them these things.

There should be a cord of understanding and the only ones capable of giving your audience an emotional connection are human writers.

There is free access to many AI tools, so no one wants to hire a writer and still get a piece that looks AI-generated.

More importantly, trying to position yourself as an SME to your editor isn’t synonymous with churning out overwhelming content.

Simplicity is the word and verifiably the best way to resonate seamlessly with both technical and general audiences.

Here’s a tip you didn’t pay for — write with authority every chance you get.

Your level of authority shows in your choice of words, sentence carriage, and presentation.

Study other SMEs and develop your own voice.

Start your first draft, submit and see the amazing comments from your editor trickle in.

Note: This is a pretty rigorous and time-consuming process, especially with the level of research. Only do this for the right price and businesses that care.

The end goal is to become an SME. In the meantime, write like one.

My background in writing starts as a 17-year-old engineering student struggling to find some way to make extra income. Frankly, I just needed some money to buy video games and stumbled into freelance writing because a friend told me about it. I didn't think I was that much of a writer but decided to jump in with both feet on Upwork cuz why not? Five years down the line, I've written articles, books, technical papers, and brochures on just about every business and SEO topic out there. Not a master by any means, yet when I write stuff now, it gets read to the end (often), and people take the action we want them to take, so that's a win to me. Let's talk shop on Linkedin

Leave a Reply