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Let Other People Do The Talking

In this post Daniel Scocco gives some tips on letting others do the talking about you.

Example 1

Aaron Wall is one of the most famous search engine optimizers on the Internet (and consequently in the whole world). His book on the topic has sold thousands of copies, and he is able to pull a $500 hourly rate when he has time to run consulting projects.

Quite a mouthful, huh?

Yet, if you visit his website, you will not see the words “expert,” “guru” or “rockstar” anywhere. Here is the first paragraph of his “About” page:

SEO Book.com is a leading SEO blog by Aaron Wall covering the search space. It offers marketing tips, search analysis, and whatever random rants come to mind. ;)

Example 2

Copyblogger, with over 35,000 subscribers, is the leading authority when it comes to online marketing and copywriting advice. Brian Clark, the author, has created several successful websites in the past (some of which sold for big bucks), and he also performs consulting work.

With these credentials you could expect an epic “About” page, right? Well, not quite, here is the how he described himself:

Brian Clark is an Internet marketing strategist, content developer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney.

I could go on with dozens of examples, but you probably got my point already. In one sentence: let other people do the talking. Do not brag about your achievements, do not highlight your qualities excessively, do not claim to be an expert, guru, rockstar, popstar or similar. Even if you really are!

If you are a real expert or guru, other people will do the talking for you. They will let others know the depth of your knowledge or abilities. They will call you with these terms, and the praises will be genuine and valuable.

Again, even if you really are an expert or celebrity on your niche, I would refrain from self-proclaiming that. It might sound that you are trying too hard to convince others, having an overall negative impact on your credibility.

Faking to be an expert or star when you know you are not, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to result in failure. Some people argue that the “fake it till you make it” strategy works. It might in some cases, but it might also end up damaging your reputation for good.

What is the takeaway from this post? Stay humble and focus on doing your thing, regardless of how successful you might think that you already are. If your work is to be praised, other people will do it gladly.

Daniel Scocco is the blogger behind Daily Blog Tips .

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Comments

  1. Dan Cole says:

    Thanks for pointing that out Daniel. I don’t like it when people make up titles for themselves that promote how great they think they are and often times they don’t back it up with a reason.

  2. Joe says:

    On a about page, shouldn’t you have an explination of why readers should believe you? Like, “I have reasearched (subject of blog) for many years and have my degree in (something revelant)”. Just wondering, I thought I read a post about that.

  3. Joe, in my opinion sharing your previous experiences and background is one thing (and perfectly acceptable), while proclaiming yourself a guru or expert is another (and most of the times it is not the best route to follow).

  4. Douglas Karr says:

    Interestingly enough, your examples are 2 guys at the top. If they weren’t at the top, I’m not sure they’d have the same strategy. Not being at the top requires you to justify who you are until you get there.

    I don’t ‘brag’ on my blog but I definitely tout my strengths so folks know why my opinion might count.

  5. Joe says:

    Oh, good. I was thinking about changing my about page, because I thought that it might be too braggy. I love the post though!

  6. Brian Clark says:

    Doug, I think you have a good point, and I think you do a good job on your blog of letting people know your strengths. In my defense, that’s the same sentence I’ve used to describe myself since day one of Copyblogger. :-)

    But really, Copyblogger is the perfect vehicle for me to let the “content to the talking for me,” which has thankfully led to others saying nice things too (thanks Daniel!).

    I think anyone can let the content do the talking for them too, and that’s literally why I started Copyblogger in the first place.

  7. David Airey says:

    Great to see you post here on Darren’s site, Daniel.

    I find it easier to associate with people who practice humility, so I make an effort to remain humble myself.

  8. GooMoo says:

    You’ve been doing well

  9. Best guest post yet I think. In a true Seth Godin type style you really nailed it on the head here.

  10. It all depends on the PERSONALITY of the person

    Some people can actually get away with enhanced displays of self aggrandizement because they have the larger than life personality to pull it off. Sometimes it is done with humor or with an allure or an irresistible challenge.

    Those with passive or low key personalities will get trounced on if they try it.

    BTW:

    SearchEnginesWeb IS an expert, guru, rockstar etc, etc….. and if you don’t like it – TOUGH!

  11. Missy Caulk says:

    Always better to let others do your talking, if not it sounds proud and arrogant.

  12. I must say, i totally agree with you on this subject. Dont brag about yourself, nor what you know. It can come accross as if your self-centred, and big-headed.

    Certainly you will gain a reputation, but not the reputation you actually want!

  13. I agree with Daniel on this issue. I am always suspicious (by nature?) of anyone who introduces themselves to me as an expert. It just sounds conceited.

    But, I do think that having a list of your experience in your about page (hmmm… I am not sure I do) is a good idea.

    So I could say I am a “community expert”, but it would probably be more effective to just list the companies I have helped create communities or, as Daniel suggests, it would been even better to quote people form those companies talking about me.

  14. redwall_hp says:

    I need to update my about page. “Redwall_hp is a WordPress Jedi Master, Design Rockstar, Blogging Mastermind, and PHP Ninja.” :D

  15. Motti says:

    I think that this type of self description is only good when you are having a traditional website and have formal education. When dealing with Internet marketing or any other that is not formal one can’t over describe himself.

    It’s look like you try convince others what you really you.

  16. Garold says:

    Wow, I guess I’ll have to rethink my “about” page. Just when I thought I had it perfect…!

  17. Ian says:

    Great points here. It has always amused me how many bloggers claim to be experts. When in fact they are just re-spinning what is put out by the actual experts.

  18. Miracle says:

    Everyone who is thinking about changing their about page to more humble pages… DONT.. unless your lying on it.

    If I come to your site, I want to know that you are an authority. I want to know that you in fact no what you are talking about. Many pages on a site (like this one) makes bold opinionated claims. Because they are opinion, I can’t judge the content on its own.

    On the other hand, if you make bold claims on your site with a great about me page (when you are not well known) guess what. I’ll listen. If your about me page sucks (meaning no validation of your authority) then I’m not going to listen.

    Really, you should keep in mind that there are 3 things you should remember when someone judges your site for authority.

    1. The Content – They look at this first. If its lousy writing or poor material, your readers will leave

    2. Validation From Others – What if the content is questionable or opinionated? Then your audience first looks for validation from others (which also could be found in about pages). Does anyone say anything positive about you on the social web?

    3. Self Validation From Yourself – What if you have positive remarks about you, but they are few? Your audience will forgive you for being a newbie.. but they still need to see some validation. This is where the “about me” page comes in.

    A great “about me” page is to let your audience feel safe about trusting your opinionated content. You don’t have to get to the point of bragging, but you should HIGHLIGHT the reasons why you are an authority.

  19. jhay says:

    I guess it’s time to re-write that About page once more. On the other hand, other’s have really bragged about who they are and guess what, they got away with it….with fat checks too! :P

  20. The first key to getting a good reputation as a blogger is actually becoming an expert. The second is sharing that expertise with others. That is part of the success of Aaron and Brian. They really do know what they are talking about and they are able to share that knowledge with others.

    Of course, they are also very good at marketing their blogs and thus are able to let other people do the talking for them.

    Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that your advice is good for a blog (or at least some types of blogs) which is a more social medium. If, however, you are trying to sell a product to someone, then often times you will need to establish your credibility. The second that you ask someone for their cash (as oppose to just their time) you need to establish why they should give it to you.

  21. “if you make bold claims on your site with a great about me page (when you are not well known) guess what. I’ll listen”

    Miracle, that is how you behave, right? Not necessarily other people will do the same though.

    Personally the only factor that I use to evaluate if I should keep reading your content or not is the content itself.

    Sure I can’t deny I might get influenced by social proof and other aspects, but my conscious efforts go into analyzing the content alone.

    Then again this is me, and I know other people might also not behave like this :).

    Regardless of this, though, when one make “bold claims” about himself as you suggest, he’ll inevitably risk crossing the humbleness line, and not sure if it this is a good long term approach.

  22. Tech Blogger says:

    That’s true Daniel.For me, The one who claimed himself as Guru’s or Webmaster is a bullshit.

  23. Jaisne Blue Sexton says:

    This is excellent advice. There are so many people online presenting themselves as experts and gurus. However, another important point is how people respond to comments that they don’t like. Brian recently was pretty rude to someone who made a very valid point, basically told them to shut up and go away, so that really turned me off and stopped me from purchasing his course.

  24. L L Woodard says:

    Understated or simply stated shows professionalism to me. I’ve noticed that my own “About Me” is rambling; I am trying to establish myself, so I thought more was better. Time to go back to the drawing board for me.

  25. Most people take the “fake it till you make it” strategy in the wrong sense and you did too. Faking isn’t all about saying that you’re an expert when you’re not. It’s actually about subtly hinting the reader through your content that you’re an expert, especially in the beginning when hardly anyone knows about you…

  26. Great people do not speak for themselves. It is their deeds which speaks for them. We, the normal people, try to shout for ourselves. That’s the difference between great people and normal people.

  27. feroz says:

    the issue isn’t more, its focus, if you are rambling along in your about page, you’re not focused and if you are not focused you cant be really good at anything, just mediocre at all the things you’re on about.

  28. Nice post, pointing right to center!

    Their great work and knowledge don’t need “guru” on about page. People talk that about them!

  29. Shama Hyder says:

    I am not sure there is anything wrong in calling yourself an expert if you really know your subject. In fact, I would think that after all the hard work you put into something, you earn the right.

    It’s a whole another ball game if you don’t know squat about your field.

  30. Miracle says:

    Daniel, you might be right to a point, but you are also being a little idealistic.

    Take for example your post here.

    Does your content prove itself to be true in of itself?
    Does it challenge your readers and visitors to think differently?

    It does not have the details nor the length (which is actually a good thing for writing) to prove in itself that the claims are correct.

    You use 2 examples and thats it to prove your point. You don’t go into why its bad to brag nor give an example of an average blogger who doesn’t make more than a dime off his or her blog but still has great authority solely based off content and word of mouth.

    Your post just doesn’t sell me by itself.. but I want to believe you. So what do I (your audience in general) do?

    Look at your About page to understand who you are…

    And actually what you are suggesting doing about getting others to brag about you is true. I even listed it as the second important thing (behind content) for validation.

    The problem is that you discourage a good about page that highlights your achievements and strengths.

    This is sadly misleading advice.

    Your post should tell us too not brag on the about page because it looks bad on yourself, but make sure you let people know why you are an authority on the subject.

    We need to remember that others giving us validation and providing our own validation are not exclusive. Authority works best when they are both done in honest and tasteful ways.

  31. Glenn Abel says:

    Perhaps some modesty is due on Copyblogger. I seldom find anything revelatory on that blog. The same family of topics seem to get shuffled around, with nothing new to say.

    Some of the advice is quite good, but other times I think Mr. Clark is just typing to fill space. Perhaps it has been better in the past.

  32. Jason says:

    I found the true wisdom of this post to be in the comments section posted by…’Welcome to Paradise:’

    “Great people do not speak for themselves. It is their deeds which speaks for them. We, the normal people, try to shout for ourselves. That’s the difference between great people and normal people.”

    Wow that’s profound! Is it “off the cuff?”

  33. Tom Beaton says:

    It is always nice to have other people talk about you. That doesnt mean you should not have an about section at all though. People love to read about sections as it makes them feel a greater connection.

  34. If you don’t blow your own horn nobody’s going to blow it for you, especially if every single word you say about yourself is the simple truth and nothing but the truth!
    Excessive humility is as bad as bragging.

  35. Well, self-promotion is somewhat of a gray area. For marketers and stuff, if they don’t mention all of their big accomplishments and sells themselves, it would be hard. For niche-experts and stuff, people calling themselves the guru is not the main seller.

  36. I think that Tom Beaton made a very good point – About Us pages don’t just have to be about self-promotion. They can introduce you to your visitors and thus form the very important first step of creating a relationship with those visitors.

    Something that I plan to experiment on with my About Us page is taking people on a video tour of my website/blog – showing them the various sections, etc.

  37. Brian Morgan says:

    Again, more good info about blogging, thanks- Brian Morgan

  38. Wow. This seemingly innocent and small post generated a lot of debate. Perhaps that was its intent?

    I believe on its claims – to some extent. Marketing and humility don’t often hold hands, yet for a successful blogger, it is a balance that is desirable. Essential, I could almost say.

    Take my About page for example (link). I loosely followed Skellie’s formula for an effective about page (link), and was quite happy with the results. Has it brought more traffic? Increased credibility? More subscribers?

    It is hard to tell. It is, after all, a bit early on the process.

    Yet her advise resonated far more than that of Daniel in his post.

    My advice? Follow your intuition. That place that finely balances self-promotion with humility will be different for every one of us. Find your voice, and don’t hesitate to use it.

    Oh, and when people tell you to stop bragging, you may want to listen!

  39. Reginald says:

    Having digested your post, I believe I can acknowledge the logic of it.

    Personally, most people like thing simple and straight to the point.

    Further, writing about yourself being a guru has the same impact as bragging about yourself in person, in my opinion any way.

    This post is a nice realistic read.

  40. CoolDula says:

    “CoolDula” is the smartest guy I know.

    – James McBob, President of JMB Corporation.

    =)

  41. I’ve used a bit of my experience simply because my blog is so new and many people aren’t going to me from some guy with a camera. I do know that within my niche, if a photographer talks too much about himself/herself it generates a lot of resentment.

    – Dave