Today I want to continue our series of posts looking at principles of building a successful blog by looking at the topic of “trust”.
A fundamental principle in marketing and relationship building is that people tend to do business with individuals or companies they know, like, and trust.
This is particularly relevant in the context blogging which involves personal branding, networking and a readership.
A Quick Definition of The Type Of ‘Successful’ Blog I’m Writing About
It might be worth stating that the type of blog that I’m talking about in this series is a blog that isn’t purely about profit or traffic – but a blog that has influence in its niche.
It is certainly possible to build a profitable and/or well trafficked blog without Trust – in fact I know a few bloggers who blog purely for Search Engine Traffic who don’t really care about influence, brand or loyal readers but who just want traffic that they can convert to cash.
These bloggers are certainly ‘successful’ on some levels (I guess ‘success’ really comes down to your goals) – but that’s not the style of blogging that I do and is not what this series is on about.
What I’m on about is helping bloggers to not only be profitable and have traffic but to build blogs that have profile, influence, authority, credibility, respect and a brand that opens up opportunities beyond quick profit.
By no means is my approach the only way to make money blogging – but it’s where I’m at and as a result is what I write about.
Why Building Trust is Important
OK – so now we’re on the same page lets talk about Trust.
I’m not sure we need to spend too much time talking about ‘why’ building trust is important as it’s pretty much common sense – but in short – if you’re looking to build influence, to build a brand that is respected and you want a site that is authoritative – you’re going to have a lot better chance if people actually trust you.
Yes with some clever copywriting and good positioning in search engines you can probably convince people to buy certain products – but in order to build lasting influence – trust is going to need to play a part.
On the flip side – many businesses today have seen the way that a lack of trust or even worse, broken trust can hurt a business, destroy reputations and ruin years of hard work.
So building and maintaining trust is paramount for bloggers wanting to build influence – so how does one do it?
One of the best resources on the topic of building influence through trust online is Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. However as it’ll take a day or two for Amazon to ship you a copy (and I recommend you get one) I thought I’d jot down a few principles of building trust online that I’ve gathered over the years both from my own experience of trusting others and building trust with others.
A Quick Exercise Before You Read Any More
Before you read my thoughts on how to build trust – here’s a very quick exercise to do.
On a piece of paper or in a text document – jot down a blogger or blog that you trust. Under the name – list 2-3 reasons why you trust them.
OK – read on.
4 Principles of Building Trust Online
1. It usually takes time to build
I’m a pretty sceptical guy – I don’t really want to be but after years of being bombarded with marketing messages and experiencing disappointment at expectations not being met by people making big promises my guard is up. I suspect I’m not alone.
While I’m sure there are people who are more trusting than others – I’m pretty certain that most people in my generation (and the generations that come before and after mine) are a fairly suspicious lot. We are capable of trust – but it usually takes time to get there.
2. It is Earned
I do have the capability to trust you – but more often than not it’ll only come once I see that you’re worthy of that trust. An example of this principle hit my inbox this morning – it was from a reader who had just bought my 31 days to build a better blog workbook.
Her email included this:
“I’ve never bought an ebook before, partly because I don’t trust people with my credit card information and partly because I’ve always suspected most ebooks are just fluff…. But after reading your blog for 12 months and being on the receiving end of useful information every day over that time I decided you were probably a credible source of information”.
The sense that I got from her email was that she only made the purchase based upon her previous experience of what I do – something that was earned by providing her with help day by day over a year.
The take home lesson for bloggers is to give value, be useful and prove that you have something worthwhile and authoritative to say on your topic.
Look for ways to genuinely and generously improve the lives of your readers – do this over the long haul and your deposit in the trust bank with readers grows over time.
3. The recommendations of others are important
I still remember (but can’t find a link to) a post by Seth Godin a year or so back where he talks about how he sells a lot more books through a blog post when he’s talking about someone else’s book than his own.
It was the perfect illustration of how the words and recommendations of other people promotion you carry a lot more weight than you promoting yourself.
We’re social beings – we make decisions together – we buy things that others recommend – we trust those that others trust….
This means you have a couple of tasks to do:
- Build relationships with others. Some bloggers take the attitude that other bloggers are potential competition and as a result they stay clear of them. However a recommendation from someone else in your industry could be gold – build relationships.
- Find Ways to use this social proof. If someone does recommend you it doesn’t hurt to highlight it to others. You don’t need to do it in an ego driven or big headed way – but do find subtle and relevant ways to share it with those in your network.
4. Be Yourself
One of the fastest ways to destroy trust is to be caught trying to be something that you’re not.
- Make a promise that you can’t fulfil
- Present yourself as someone that you’re unable to be
- Make a claim that’s not true
All of these things set up expectations in the eyes of others that can’t be met which will lead to disappointment, anger, disillusionment and as a result – broken trust.
Not only that – I find that people are pretty good these days at picking people who are presenting themselves as something that they’re not. You might not even have to get caught out to have people suspicious (and untrusting) of you.
- As a result it’s best to be yourself.
- Let people know what you do and don’t know.
- Be transparent about your motives.
- Share your stories of failure as well as your successes.
- Admit your mistakes.
All of these things make you more human, relatable and help to build trust.
What Would You Add?
I’ve only scratched the surface on Trust with this post – there’s so much more to say and I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say on the topic.
- What bloggers do you trust (who did you write down in the exercise above)? Why do you trust them?
- How do you build trust with your readers?
- What stories and experiences do you have to help illustrate these principles of building trust?