I never did quite finish my Blog Credibility Series. Sorry about that but the week sort of got away from me with the birthday thing, catching up on some projects I’d put on hold, starting a new blog and there being a public holiday here on Tuesday.
So I thought I’d finishing it up by posting a few other random thoughts on ways of building blog credibility and inviting you to fill in the numerous gaps I’ve left in the topic (the more I think about the longer the list of factors that build credibility). Here’s a few more thoughts (I’ve started numbering them at number 5 because I’ve already made four points previously in these posts – 1. longevity, 2. experience, 3. expertise and 4. design):
5. Writing Skills - Can the Blogger convey their message?
Blogging is a written medium and as a result one of the factors that a blogger will be judged by is their ability to convey a message by writing.
There are many voices that you may choose to write in and many types of posts that you might like to experiment with but all of them can be written poorly or well and as with every other aspect of your blogging your writing skills will either add to or take away from the way that people see you.
6. Critical Mass/Readership – While numbers are not everything they do have the ability to tell you something about how a blog is being viewed by others. The Get the latest price on the The Wisdom of Crowds (aff) type thinking argues that crowds tend to be wise and make good decisions and something can be said for this when it come to blogs. Of course as soon as I began to write this post I immediately thought of some highly trafficked blogs that I think display a total lack of credibility (I’ll refrain from names until I write my ‘tell-all biography in my 70′s).
I wouldn’t totally base my opinion of a blog based upon traffic but it’s a factor.
7. Participation Levels - This is another one that I’d never fully base my opinion of a blog on but you can learn a lot about a blog by the number of readers who seem to be engaging with the content on it, especially in comments. Pure numbers of comments are one factor but also the quality of comments and the opinion of those commenting on the blogger’s writing is important. Once again – it’s just a small piece of the ‘credibility pie’.
Participation of the blogger themselves in their own blog is also another factor that can build credibility. Bloggers who just write posts and then ignore the comments of their readers risk being a little one dimensional in their blogging. Responsiveness and personal interaction with readers has a real impact.
8. Others Opinion – Perhaps in a similar way the opinion of other bloggers can be a factor in measuring how credible a blog is. This can be measured to some extent by the number of links a blog gets but probably some more in depth analysis of the type of links might be worth looking into.
Similarly, working with other respected bloggers can build credibility. Aligning yourself with a respected partner who is willing to give testimonial to your worth as a blogger goes a long way to winning new readers.
9. Consistency – As I analyze which bloggers I see as credibly in the fields that I’m interested in one of the factors that I see in all of them is a level of consistency. This doesn’t mean they need to be predictable or boring – but rather that they blog in such a way that shows they know who they are, what they are doing and how they’ll go about it. Their blog’s don’t change focus every second day, they don’t contradict themselves in what they present, they are not swayed by popular opinion of them and they produce quality content regularly over a long period of time.
10. Generosity – Another important factor to me is the generosity of bloggers. I don’t mean that they give presents or prizes etc – but bloggers who go out of their way to give their readers a genuinely useful experience on their blog. This might be in the form of content that would cost them considerably elsewhere to taking the time to respond to reader questions or comments etc. I think that bloggers who go out of their way for others grow in their reputation and stature with others. This doesn’t mean you need to give away everything for free – but it’s amazing what impact you have when you give away more than people expect in your posting.
11. Transparency – This is a big one for me. I don’t mind bloggers getting something for themselves out of blogging but what does bother me is when I see bloggers attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of their readers by not being honest about their true motivations. Credibility comes when people trust that what you are saying is truth and when there is a lack of truth the consequences for a blogger can be significant.
Transparency also comes into play when you make a mistake or need to apologize for something you’ve done or written. The way bloggers admit to mistakes and rectify them says a lot about their character.
Lastly on the transparency front a simple inclusion of features like an ‘About Page’ and a way to contact the blogger can add real credibility to a blog. There’s a certain amount of accountability in putting your name to a blog and giving people a way to get in touch with you.
And? – As i wrote above – the list I’ve come up with here and the four other factors I mentioned earlier in this series (longevity, experience, expertise and design) are by no means a definitive list. What makes a blogger credible to you? What makes them dodgy? Interested in your thoughts.