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?
Prior Post: Confessing a Really Stupid Money Mistake