Before I get started I’d like to extend a sincere “Thank You” to Onibalusi, the main author of this blog, for allowing me to be an official regular contributor here at WritersinCharge. I write regularly at my blog, MMO Work, and I’m a big fan of what Onibalusi’s got going on here, so I’m honored to have the opportunity to be an official author for HIS audience. You can expect to see more from me here in the near future.
As a heads up, this article is going to be a long one, so you might want to get comfortable…
In an online world full of scam artists, shady marketing tactics, and hundreds of thousands of people promoting product after product without regard for value, it’s becoming increasingly more important to have certain amount of credibility built up with your readers if you’re planning on seeing any level of success from your efforts.
Below are some of the best things you can do—starting today—to immediately start building your credibility with your audience. Unless you’ve already done something to ruin it, consistently following the steps below might just be all you need to grow and sustain a loyal following.
1. Tell Your Readers About Yourself
Is it a coincidence that your “About” page is usually one of the most visited pages on your blog? I don’t think so. And guess what? Most of the time they are going there to learn more about YOU.
That’s right. Your readers want to know more about you. They want to know who’s behind all the advice and information you’re feeding them—they want to know if they can trust your opinion. Think about it, would you be more likely to take advice from someone you knew a little bit about, or a complete stranger you’ve never heard of and know NOTHING about?
So take advantage of your about page. Give them some information about who you really are, and why they should trust your opinion. Give them YOUR story. From there, proceed to tell them about your website. If your story’s too long, you might consider breaking your story into two parts (a short version and a long version). Also consider adding photos of yourself, your family, etc.
The point is to do everything you can to let your readers know you’re a REAL live person. You can view my own about page for an example of what I’m talking about: About Jonathan Beebe
2. Let Your Warts Show
No, I’m not talking about taking photos of your warts and displaying them on your website—that just might scare your visitors off. What I’m talking about is letting some of your mistakes shine through; nobody is perfect. If you appear that way, you MUST be fake. That’s what’s going on—at least at a subconscious level—in the minds of your visitors if you try to appear perfect.
Did you have any failures that you learned from? Are there any mistakes you made along your journey? A good way to “expose” yourself without ruining your credibility is to turn your failures into something good. For example, I clearly state on my own website that when I first ventured into “making money online”, I fell into a horrible MLM Scam that caused me to lose a lot of money.
Now, would someone want to take information from someone who’s gullible enough to fall for a scam? Maybe not, but that type of thing can happen to anybody. Instead, I use my little “mishap” to let my visitors know that I’m real; I’m a regular guy that has had my share of failures… just like each and every one of my readers.
When you “let your warts show”, you’re relating to your readers by letting them know that you are simply one of them.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold
When it comes to products, newsletters, advice, etc. you must keep your readers in the forefront of your efforts; however, sometimes you need to be bold and truly show yourself. Guess what? You might lose some readers, but those who stick around will be stronger followers as a result of your bold action.
I’ve even seen Onibalusi here state a time or two that he doesn’t care if he loses some readers after expressing some beliefs he knows many of his readers won’t agree with. Did he lose some of his readership? Possibly. But the readers he kept trust him even more, and have become more loyal because of it.
While it’s good to allow your subscribers to drive much of your content (you’re writing for them after all), you don’t want to water yourself down so much by trying to appeal to everyone, because the truth is, your website isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. Don’t afraid to express yourself and be bold every now and then because no matter what, your true followers will stick around. The tire-kickers are going to leave eventually, so you might as well weed them out now.
You can’t hide yourself forever, so don’t even try. If you have an opinion about something, express it—isn’t that what blogging is all about?
4. Only Promote High Quality Products
I know not everyone blogs to make money, so this might not apply to everyone, but it does apply to a lot of people so I need to address it. Now it may be obvious, but if you promote products, be absolutely sure that they are high quality. How many “affiliates” out there do you see promoting low-quality products to try to squeeze as many sales out of it as possible?
It’s best to promote only products you’ve tried and tested for yourself (you shouldn’t be publishing a review UNLESS you’ve tried it), but in some cases you can recommend a product you know to be high quality. For example, I personally use MailChimp to manage my newsletter, but I don’t mind recommending Aweber to my readers because I know a lot of people who use it and are very happy with their service.
5. If You’re Going to Promote, Promote Now
I understand you might want to focus on growing your readership and then monetization later, but honestly, if you EVER plan on promoting anything to your subscribers… then you need to start now—even if you do it subtly by creating a “recommended resources” page with a disclosure statement letting them know you get a commission for the products.
The reason being is that if you go a long time without promoting ANYTHING to your blog or your email list, and then one day you DO start promoting something, there will be a large amount of your subscribers who become offended and leave because of it. You’ll suddenly be viewed as a “sell out”, or someone who is trying to benefit only themselves, whereas if you were promoting from the beginning you’re never viewed this way.
I mentioned being bold and not being afraid to lose subscribers, but that’s when it comes to your opinions, viewpoints, and WHO you are. You don’t want to lose followers who would otherwise be loyal because you decided to change your strategy up on them suddenly.
To give you a personal example, with my newsletter subscription I send out high quality articles and freebies that will benefit my readers at no cost. However, every third mailer, I recommend a product or give them a solid review. I’ve done this from the beginning and I haven’t had a single complaint. However, if I would have started throwing promotions at my list after running a newsletter that gave away ONLY free information with no promotions, then I’d be viewed as a “sell out” and my credibility would suffer.
I’m not saying you HAVE to promote to your blog or your list, but I AM saying that if you’re going to monetize SOMEDAY, then make that someday TODAY rather than waiting until later.
6. Share Your Results
Sharing your results, especially the results that others might want to achieve is a great way to boost your credibility. For example Pat Flynn at SPI publishes his monthly income reports and has built up a lot of credibility among his readers because of it—they want HIS results.
You might feel like you’re showing off if your results are particularly good, but your readers don’t see it that way. They use your positive results as a way to judge your expertise. They WANT you to be getting good results so they can trust YOUR advice.
Also, don’t forget to publish your negative results as well. Once again, you’re not perfect… we all know this. If you had a goal you announced to your readers and failed to achieve it, share it! But you might also include what you learned from your failure. Your readers will appreciate your honesty, and will be thankful to be able to learn from YOUR failure instead of having to make the same mistake on their own.
7. Allow Your Readers to Contact You; Ask For It
Lastly, nothing makes you seem like a real person more than having REAL contact with them. Make it easy for your readers to contact you, and not only that, encourage it.
For example, in nearly every one of my newsletter mailings, I encourage my readers to hit the ‘Reply’ button and ask me any questions that they have so I can help them out directly. If I get a lot of questions regarding the same thing, I’ll make a new blog post about it because I’ll assume a large amount of my readers are having the same problem. In that sense, the benefits are two-fold: I increase my credibility by making myself more accessible while also getting into the heads of my subscribers so I can give them exactly what they want.
Did I Miss Anything?
If you haven’t been putting much emphasis towards building your credibility, you really should start now because as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, it’s becoming more and more important in today’s online atmosphere. You can’t trust everyone, so you can’t expect ANYONE to trust you unless you give them a reason to. You can start with the seven things I mentioned above, and then discover your own ways to build credibility as you progress.
And speaking of your own ways, what types of things are YOU currently doing to build your credibility with your readers and subscribers? Did I miss anything? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Jonathan Beebe is an online entrepreneur who writes at MMO Work. Visit his blog for more information on how to make money online, and to download a FREE internet marketing report that exposes the exact method he used to liberate himself from his day job.