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Experience builds Blog Credibility

This post is part of a series of posts on building blog credibility

Tangent Time – If you’ve ever done any traveling you’ll know that it’s often the advice of others that you bump into on the road that give you the best advice on what to see or what to do.

While tour guides know their stuff and bring expertise to your trip it’s the fellow traveler who has eaten at the restaurants, slept in the hotel beds, bargained for the souvenirs and who has seen the new culture from an outsider’s perspective (like you) – as a result of their experiences you learn where to go and what to see in a way a tour guide might never be able to share with you.

Fellow travelers who’ve experienced where you want to go make credible advisers.

Experience adds to blogger credibility

One of the factors that led to ProBlogger growing faster than some of my other blogs in the last 18 months is that I think I’ve proven to be someone who has experience in the field of blogging for money.

I am definitely not the biggest earner of an income from blogging (I’ve discovered a few other very private bloggers in the last year who leave me for dead in earnings) but the fact that I earn a full time income from blogging (and am willing to talk about how) means others are willing to listen and take on board what I have to say.

This is the case in my other more successful blogs also. For example in my digital camera blogs I have some great interactions with readers particularly as a result of my email newsletter in which I will talk about my own experiences with cameras and will give tips on how to use them. In this blog I rarely write in the voice of the ‘expert’ but rather write as a normal guy (a fellow traveler) writing on a topic that he loves – sharing what I know as I discover it. The result is a growing group of loyal readers.

Take Home Advice

The crux of the lesson here is to simply talk about your experience in your blog. It’s not rocket science but it does work. When you are willing to share what you know as a fellow traveler it’s amazing to see how others will gather around you. You don’t need to do it in a boastful or arrogant way, but you will need to talk about it to some degree.

‘But what about if you’re not experienced in the area you’re writing about’ you ask? My response is twofold:

1. Get some experience – if you’re a blogger writing on a topic and want to build credibility in it you better be willing to get some experience in that topic. If you’re not your blog will always be somewhat empty. Get out there and live what you’re writing about.

2. Talk about the experiences you DO have – you don’t have to be an expert on a topic to write about it (although it does help to have expertise too which I’ll talk about in the next post). Even beginners sharing their experiences can be an interesting read and a credible source of information. The key if you are in this situation is to be honest about what you do and don’t know – credibility comes when your readers see your honesty and willingness to admit what you don’t yet know.

Tomorrow I’ll continue this series by talking about Expertise.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dee Stewart says:

    Thanks for this series. I’ve been trying to decide what is the best way for me to speak on the lessons that I have learned as an editor and book reviewer without turning my blog into an All About Me Campaign.

    What I have been doing is supplying my readers with industry news, conversations I have with some players in book publishing, author interviews and reviews. I host a storytelling workshop to help some of my readers and to also stop my email from being inundated with book manuscripts. And I’m about to launch an online lit journal.

    So I will be checking in often and applying some of the tips, as I’ve done oftentimes from the great content from Problogger.

  2. Robb D says:

    Hey Darren,

    This is a very good post and very true when you think about it. Telling someone how to do something is one thing. Telling them how to do something and following the instruction up with “because …”, adding your own experience and what you have seen when you did it, is much more powerful.

  3. I’ve often heard people say they’d like to start a weblog, or write a book, but feel like they’re not enough of an “expert” or don’t have enough experience.

    You don’t have to be the ultimate authority but you do need experience. The trick is, you don’t need THAT much. Just enough to write the next entry. When I’m not feeling experienced enough, I just learn something, or have an experience, and then write about it.

    Being a “fellow traveler” also gives you an authentic voice – it’s easy to claim to be someone who has some experience – you are. If you claim to be an ultimate authority, you have much more to prove.

    (Incidentally, my wife and I just started a travel weblog, doing the literal version of writing as a fellow traveler – see URL in signature.)

  4. paul says:

    i have definitely found that giving something of value happens when you speak from experience. you can connect with people at their level. otherwise, it just seems like you’re spouting platitudes, no matter what the subject matter. people connect to story.

  5. Daren,
    “Fellow Travelers” makes alot of sense as you have described it. More over, it is very approachable from a practical point of view. I notice you use alot of, “procatalepsis” the rhetorical device that anticipates an objection from your readers. Your post are carefully written allowing for arguments to move forward. This adds such a depth of knowledge to ProBlogger. I always learn when I visit, as does my husband, Pete. We want to add some of those nice devices you show others here to a series of posts we are working on Called:
    Progymnasmata: Applied to Family Medicine

  6. The blog posts that share my personal experiences receive more comments than the general ideas.

    I’ve noticed that in past months and would love to include more of the same, but it’s not practical, in terms of time and money, to run a business and document it.

  7. On a somewhat related topic, Seth Godin posted on “Flipping the Funnel”, or turning your customers (in the case of blogging, your readers) into your salespeople. In effect, your goal is to get THEM to talk about your experience. Writing about your own experience is indeed a great way to build credibility and to get readers to believe it so much that they spread the word to people who don’t yet subscribe to your blog. His ideas are really helpful – you can download the book for free at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/01/flipping_the_fu.html. Darren – you’ve done a great job, with me at least, of building up such credibility that you turn readers into salespeople. It’s about become more than an expert, but a resource rather, where people continuously turn to you for advice, commentary and critiques on blogging. Keep up the great work!

  8. An excellent post. I’ve linked to it from my blog. I am endlessly annoyed by websites and blogs that are nothing but affiliate links, posted by people who just want to sell me a product they themselves never intend to use. The blogs I link to and get RSS feeds from are ones (like this one) that offer something of value to me. That, I’ve found, is the real key to getting people to not only visit your blog, but to come back and bring their friends along.

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  3. Michael says:

    Follow…

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