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Building Trust With Your Audience: Should a Blogger Care?

word trust spelled in blocksShould a blogger care about building trust with their audience?

I’ll admit to not thinking about this much when I first started Luke1428. The only care of my infancy involved getting my ideas into print. That was stressful enough. Who had time to think about whether or not my audience would trust me.

The deeper I go into this journey though, the more I’m realizing the importance of this issue. Trust is the basis of all relationships. Without it, relationships disintegrate.

Don’t believe me? Then think about the last time someone you trusted and believed in took a misstep.

Your teen who broke curfew.

Your significant other who cheated on you.

The pastor who became involved in an indiscretion.

A co-worker who threw you under the bus to save their own skin.

How did that make you feel? Betrayed? Cheated? Disappointed? Wary going forward?

Whether we like it or not, we are developing a relationship with our audience, whether that is in a business setting, in a non-profit organization, in our families and yes, right here in a blog. And I would suggest that the more trust we engender from others the more potential for success we will have.

Trust Is Built Over Time

I didn’t trust my wife on our first date. Not even really over the summer break from college when we wrote one another several times a month. The seeds of trust were being planted and positive feelings were developing but the trust factor wasn’t in full bloom.

When did trust really begin to be engendered? The day I held her hand for the first time. That was my gesture saying loud and clear “I’ve chosen to walk with you for awhile.”

That action didn’t happen overnight. It took time. This is how all relationships progress.

You won’t have the trust of your readers the day your blog opens for business. So don’t expect it. (You won’t have readers either but that’s a topic for another post.)

The reason you won’t have trust is because your readers – those who are serious about consuming information through the blog medium – have been jilted before. They have seen some of their favorite blogs fall by the wayside, many leaving no hint as to why the blog was abandoned. So when they see you on day one they are thinking, “I don’t want to get too involved just yet. Let’s see how long this lasts.”

Don’t be frustrated by that – it’s simply how the relationship building process works. Instead, focus on these five issues to start building trust.

To build trust, show up consistently

Once the audience begins to grow you have to be there for them. They are expecting content. You cannot disappoint them.

Talk about creating pressure. I’ve sure felt it.

The question then becomes “How much?” How often do you have to be consistently there for it to matter? Once a week, everyday or something in between?

I’d suggest it doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent. If that’s only once a week your audience will catch that. As long as the content is rocking they will keep coming back to feed. And they will start to trust in your consistency.

To build trust, remain on theme

What are you writing about? Does the audience know what to expect from you in regards to the type of content?

Here at Luke1428 I blog about personal finance. I also touch on concepts related to goals, relationships, lifestyle and, like today, blogging. And once a week I write a post for my Hidden Nuggets Series where I weave my views about God and spirituality into a topic related to money or other life topic.

Imagine what would happen if I decided to write about quilting, or bee keeping, or guitars. I’d lose some of my readership. Not that there is anything wrong with those topics but that’s not what my readers are expecting.

To help stay on theme I’d suggest you develop a Value Proposition for your blog. This is something I first heard discussed by Sam who runs Financial Samurai and the Yakezie Network. A Value Proposition is a thesis document that outlines what readers should expect from your site. It informs them of what you intend to provide.

The beauty of writing one is that it crystallizes in writing what your goals are for the site. It’s a document you can always return to as a reminder when it feels like you are losing your way.

One final thought about staying on theme. If you do plan on starting something new or going in another direction, announce that to your readers. Give them the reasoning behind the move and how you think it will benefit them. That’s the type of open and honest communication that builds trust.

To build trust, be vulnerable

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Yet that is what I see many people trying to be on their blog.

Yes, readers want wisdom and authority when it comes to content. But portraying a know-it-all attitude comes across as phony. Your readers have made mistakes and they know you have to. So why not share those with them (like I did this past Monday).

Along side your victories be willing to share your struggles. Talk about how you failed and what you learned through that. Admit when you are unsure about an issue. Ask your readers to help you solve a problem.

Opening up and being vulnerable creates a real person behind the content. When this happens your readers will get to know you like one of their closest friends.

To build trust, be generous

People don’t have to give me things. But when they go out of their way to be generous, I know it came from their heart. They truly desired to bless me. That action helps build trust.

(OK…so maybe you could argue they have an agenda for giving to me but I don’t know that for sure at the time.)

How can bloggers be generous? Well there are a whole host of things you could do like…

– respond to all the post comments.

– promote or link to other websites.

– get back within 24 hrs. to those who email you with a question.

– give away free stuff.

– develop a newsletter with special content not found on your blog.

– guest post for other bloggers.

In being generous, set the focus on saving your best content for others. That’s right, those newsletters, the free stuff, even that guest post must be top notch. Make sure whatever you disperse to others is high quality, the absolute best work you could do.

To build trust, follow through on commitments

This goes without saying. If you’ve committed to be there, then be there. If you’ve committed to write a guest post for another blogger then be on time. Better yet, be ahead of time…they will be impressed by that.

Sure, life situations will come up that are unavoidable and may cause you to break a commitment from time to time. Simply don’t let it become a habit. No trust can be built when people routinely break their commitments.

I believe developing trust is a must for a successful blog. I’m working hard on these five big issues plus a few smaller things I learned from this great article at Copyblogger. See how many of them you are already doing or could work for your site.

And get started building some trust today.

Do you think trust is a big issue for a blogger to focus on? Can it even be attained? In what ways are you developing trust with your readership? How can we know we are beginning to develop trust? How many days do you publish content and how did you come by that decision? In what ways have you been generous as a blogger? Is vulnerability overrated?

Image at Pinterest

Next Post: Celebrating a Milestone With My Top 10 Favorite Proverbs About Money

Prior Post: Confessing a Really Stupid Money Mistake

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Comments

  1. Asking questions are truly nice thing if you are not understanding anything
    completely, however this post presents good understanding yet.
    The Sims 4 Full Game With Crack recently posted…The Sims 4 Full Game With CrackMy Profile

  2. I don’t really see building trust as that big of an issue. We’re just blogging – it’s not like we’re making it our mission to change the world.
    We’re just trying to share some interesting ideas without any thought of financial or personal gain.
    Tony recently posted…Why the U.S. Stock Market is in a Small CorrectionMy Profile

  3. I think trust is incredibly important with blogs. I know that I’ve stopped reading some bloggers because I feel like all they do is try to push a product not because they believe in it, but because they will make money from it. I think most of us in the PF community got into blogging to help people (and maybe earn a little bit of money on the side) but we all recognize that if people don’t trust us, we won’t be able to help anyone. I’d rather continue to make the few dollars I am and have people believe in what I say than increase my earnings and be a shill for junk and lose trust. Great post Brian.
    Ryan recently posted…truly passive incomeMy Profile

    • “…all they do is try to push a product…because they will make money from it.” I agree. I’m OK with people making money off their site and selling their own products. But I don’t want that to be pushed on me every time I visit the site. There has to be balance. Promoting money making material should be done in a way that doesn’t turn people off. It’s a real worry and a delicate balancing act.
      Brian recently posted…Back to School Savings I Don’t Care AboutMy Profile

  4. Trust is definitely built over time… I can’t remember any blog that I trust when I only visit it just once. For me, if a blog sounds friendly and posts genuine articles that I haven’t read anywhere else, I tend to stick around and come back for more. I don’t think posting regularly is that important — quality matters over quantity.

  5. Once I started to get regular commenters and people giving me positive feedback about the content was when I started to feel I needed to build that trust. It’s almost as if this blog has become a part of me and if I mislead my readers, I feel I would be misleading myself.

    I wish I could work with a posting schedule, but unfortunately it doesn’t work out with my personal schedule. I don’t think I could come up with decent writing that frequently. Weekends seem to be the only time I can actually sit, relax and think about what I want to write. Even then, those days can get eaten up by other things.
    MakintheBacon recently posted…The Good, The Bad and The Ugly With Rewards ProgramsMy Profile

    • Something that has helped me is writing two posts back to back. Sometimes I get in a writing groove where the thoughts are just flowing and I have to get them out. If you could write two posts on the weekend and schedule them for the week, (Mon. & Thur. maybe) that could be a start.

  6. It is important to build a level of trust with our readers and yes it takes time and consistent nurturing. Finding our voice as a writer and being able to convey our personality through our posts are sure ways for readers to feel like they know you to a fair extent.
    Kassandra recently posted…The Opportunity of Living With LessMy Profile

  7. You’ve hit the nail on the head here, Brian. Without trust, you don’t have a relationship with your readers. While you would get by for a time without trust, if you ever plan to monetize your blog, you need to have trust otherwise readers will tune you out.
    Jon recently posted…Options For Saving For A HouseMy Profile

  8. Lots of thoughts to ponder. I don’t mind if someone strays from their main topic from time to time, like 25 things you didn’t know about me…that kind of thing. For me the thing that attracts me most to a blogger is one is who is being genuine, and personal. I don’t mind every once in awhile the 5 ways to save money post, but if it’s every single post I will probably turn away. I want to know about the person and their highs and lows. You can start to see where a writer starts to run out of topics and regurgitates the same type of post over and over. That’s always my biggest fear myself!
    Tonya recently posted…ASICS Challenge Team RecapMy Profile

    • “…starts to run out of topics and regurgitates the same type of post…” Agreed…That’s why I like being diversified as a writer. I think it’s OK to refresh topics you’ve talked about in the past. Just did that recently with my emergency fund post. Hadn’t really written a dedicated article about that in at least 18 months. But that is spread out far enough not to be noticeable or annoying. Plus I have new readers now that were not around then.
      Brian recently posted…Be Intentional: How to Develop a Giving PlanMy Profile

  9. I think being open and transparent helps a lot. I tend to like personal blogs where you get to know the person behind the words. Opening up to your readers is one of the best gifts you can give them, so I don’t think vulnerability is overrated at all. I do need to get back on a better schedule for blogging, though I have seen other bloggers have success without a posting schedule. I guess it comes down to knowing your readers, or building up such a loyal following that it doesn’t matter. But I don’t like to take my readers for granted!
    E.M. recently posted…My Affordable Dream WeddingMy Profile

  10. Yes, we absolutely SHOULD care, even if we didn’t’ know it in the beginning. Trust to me is so important in both my personal and professional life, so it seemed natural that it would extend to The Heavy Purse. And it makes perfect sense. If you don’t feel that I am genuine and worthy of your trust – why would you listen to me? You wouldn’t. I certainly don’t follow those who haven’t earned my trust. And I can’t expect anyone else to do differently. Great post, Brian!
    Shannon recently posted…Eating Healthy on a BudgetMy Profile

  11. The best weapon we have to have is total trust from our readers and their loyalty. We should also be confident in ourselves if we want others to be confident in us and appreciate the work we are doing. I think what most people fail to accomplish is to remember that it’s about your audience, your readers, your commenters. When you can make it more about them than anything else they’ll be able to tell and that will make them want to come back for more time and time again.
    Alicia recently posted…Is there such a thing as a cheap pet?My Profile

  12. Didn’t think much about it at all when I first starting blogging, was to concerned about content frequency, the web site itself, etc. But agree being genuine is the best approach for building trust and an audience.
    Brian recently posted…Credit CardsMy Profile

  13. I built my successful financial services career on being honest and trustworthy with my clients. It is just a practice that is part of my DNA so it is also part of my blogging now. I find that the bloggers that I am more drawn to are the same way. We are all on an honest journey doing the best we can along the way.
    Shannon recently posted…Grocery Store ChallengeMy Profile

  14. You, once again, could not be more exactly correct. My last relationship died from a lack of trust and when my audience doesn’t trust me I know that they go elsewhere. Keep up the great work.
    Brad recently posted…Buying and Selling Websites for ProfitMy Profile

  15. I like this post. I guess I haven’t went out and specified my value proposition yet, but it is probably something I should do. As my blog is still a baby, I need to establish a consistent posting pattern that I will be able to maintain in the future. I am currently thinking 2 posts a week + a weekend post, we shall see!
    Kipp recently posted…Choosing a Broker for the ROTH IRAMy Profile

  16. Excellent post, Brian!! I like showing up consistently as the best tip, here. So many bloggers just blog when they feel like it and that’s a huge mistake. Consistency builds trust, like you said, and it will keep your readers coming back.
    Natalie recently posted…7 Financial Discussions To Have With Your Better HalfMy Profile

  17. Good post Brian! Like you. I didn’t think over trust much as I started my site and as things started to grow I really began to see the need for it. At one level, you’re always going to find people that won’t trust you for a variety of reasons, but that should not hold you back at all from trying to build it. Like Holly said, I think so much of that goes back to being yourself and simply being genuine. People can sense that in your writing and pick up on it. I also like you added in the vulnerability aspect. It may seem counterintuitive, but I don’t believe it is at all. People connect with those they can relate to and vulnerability provides a way to give life to that.
    John recently posted…Why Comparing Myself to Others Keeps Me MotivatedMy Profile

  18. I agree with Holly, you need to be genuine, and you are, Brian! You’ve given me some good food for thought. I’m having a hard time keeping up with all the blogs I subscribe to. I hate to do it, but I think I’m going to have to drop some from my reader. Which ones do I drop? Which ones do I keep? You can bet that trust and all that encompasses will play a part.
    debt debs recently posted…Business Travel with Baby – Travels with my AuntMy Profile

  19. To build trust, also be yourself! I think that is one of the most important components of all of this.
    Holly recently posted…Who Wears the Financial Pants in Your Family?My Profile

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