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How to Stand Out in a Niche full of Jerks

Let me start this post by saying that I personally don’t see any of the niches that I blog in as being a ‘niche full of jerks’.

OK – now that I’ve got that out of the way – I was recently asked in an interview a question by a blogger who did ask me for advice on working in a niche that was full of jerks (although their language was slightly more colourful than that).

The niche that they were referring to was the ‘make money online’ niche which they perceived as being inhabited and dominated by people who took advantage of others, didn’t mind engaging in unethical tactics, engaged in all kinds of obnoxious marketing tactics.

I’m going to leave the debate as to whether that niche is ‘full of jerks’ to others – but wanted to share part of how I responded because while not every niche is ‘full of jerks’ – we can all probably benefit by presenting ourselves in a way where we are not seen in that light.

You see – whether we like it or not – some people see the internet as being filled with people and sites that can’t be trusted. That may be changing as people use and trust the web more but the if your media is anything like what we see from some parts of the media here in Australia – there’s still plenty of mistrust and examples of shoddy internet use being highlighted every day in mainstream media.

So how does a blogger develop trust, build authority and be seen as authentic?

Following are a few thoughts on the topic, none of them by themselves will flip a switch and make everyone trust you – but I think combined they help:

1. Persist

One of the first things I’ll say about ‘jerks’ is that most of them don’t last the distance. They tend to get found out, exposed or seen for what they are eventually (and perhaps increasingly as the web develops and becomes more social).

Work hard at consistently producing something worthwhile and and in many cases you’ll outlast the jerks or at least will find that people begin to realize that you approach things differently to others and perhaps are someone worth taking a 2nd look at.

PS: one thing I’ll add here is that it’s not just about longevity but also consistency. People get suspicious when your message changes too much. Your ideas will naturally change and evolve over time but if you’re chopping and changing your approach and perspective too much people can find that a little odd.

One example of this that I saw recently was a blogger whose readership pushed back hard at them after he’d been doing too many affiliate promotions of products that didn’t match up with the values that he was ‘preaching’ in posts. He was recommending products that were not consistent with the advice he gave in his teaching.

2. Be Personal

There are times in almost every bloggers career where they will be accused by someone else as being something that they are not. People will form perceptions of you as you blog and some of those perceptions will be far from reality. This has happened to be numerous times over the last 8 years of blogging but in most cases things have turned around (to some extent) with some personal contact.

In some cases its simply about leaving a comment on a blog post to show you’re willing to interact, in other cases its about engaging in a conversation via email, sometimes it is about jumping on the phone or Skype for a voice chat and once for me it even involved a face to face interaction.

There’s something very powerful about personal contact. I’m not just talking about fixing false perceptions – I also mean being personal in the way you go about your normal blogging. Sharing a little personal information or giving a little insight into who you are outside of your blog can have a profound impact on how people perceive you.

PS: one of the things I’ve noticed is that when you put yourself out there in different mediums (whether it be video, audio or in person) you will connect with different people. The occasional video post or podcast will make your ‘more real’ to some people.

3. Be Relatable

Building on this idea of ‘being personal’ is that of being relatable.

We like people who are like us – people who we share something in common with. This might be something personal (like being a parent, or reading similar books) or it could be something a little more on topic to our blogs (like having a similar question, experience or challenge).

Show people that you’re normal – that you have similar problems, passions, challenges, breakthroughs and experiences – and you’ll find people are a lot more willing to trust what you say.

4. Be Accessible

One of the most ‘perception changing’ things that I’ve ever done is to visit industry events/conferences. This is no easy thing for me as I’m ‘locationally challenged’ and live 24 hours travel from most events in my niche – but it’s certainly been worthwhile.

Meeting people in person is perhaps the best way to show someone what you’re like – it’s the ultimate in ‘accessibility’ (unless you surround yourself in people you know and book yourself solid with meetings).

Of course traveling to events does not suit everyone’s budget or life situation – however there are other ways to increase your accessibility. One that I’d like to do more of is livestreaming video events. I try to do these every month or two on Ustream and every time that I do I get feedback that indicates that people both enjoy it and find it to be something that changes perceptions of me.

Adding contact forms, doing interviews, answering reader questions, interacting on other blogs – all of these things can help a lot.

5. Be Useful

Sometimes the only thing that really matters to people is whether you’re useful or not. If you solve a problem for someone or make their lives better in some way… you’ll create a lasting impression. They still might not ‘like’ you but it can’t help but improve your reputation on some level in their mind.

Be useful over the long haul (persist) and you will grow that reputation and hopefully in time garner some respect also.

6. Be Transparent

Even trustworthy, authentic and honest people stuff up every now and again. Mistakes are made – tempers are lost – bad days are had – temptation to ‘do evil’ can get the better of most people.

No one is a complete angle and on those occasions where things get the better of you the best way forward is to be transparent about one’s failures and own up to our short comings. In fact in my experience – it’s sometimes when you own your mistakes and failings that you become all the more authentic and trustworthy to many.

7. Be Trustworthy

Ultimately it comes down to actually being the type of person that you want to be treated as (sounds like something most Mums probably drum into their kids). If you want to be seen as trustworthy – be trustworthy. If you want to be seen as authentic – be authentic. If you want to be treated with respect – treat others with respect and act in a way that will be respected.

Being true to yourself and a trustworthy person doesn’t guarantee that others will perceive you in that way – whether it be a personality clash or someone else having had previous bad experiences, some people just don’t trust easily – but ultimately the best way to be seen as ‘not a jerk’ is to avoid being one.

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. A niche full of jerks is perhaps the most challenging but energising environment of all.

    I concur with all the OPs suggestions. The cream will always float to the surface and so long as your absolute focus is on quality, relationship-building and personality, you’ll always win out.

    The problem I have, however, is twofold.

    Why do you want to get into a niche full of jerks in the first place? Is it for the right reasons, or do you want to turn the tide?

    And how can you be sure you’re not a jerk, too? People gravitate to people, situations and trends. A pulse check of the individual, and the industry, is often needed to ensure the two aren’t perfectly in alignment.

  2. Thanks Darren,

    I definitely work in a niche full of jerks. There are so many people that prey on small business owners for their hopes and dreams, only to smash them in the process.

    I have been working really hard over the past year to show my audience that I am really on their side, while I also have products for sale that can help them.

    You are completely right, that showing your audience by going the extra mile and out-lasting the “jerks” is the way to get ahead of the riff-raff and really help a lot of people in the process.

    After all, at the end of the day, business is all about helping others get what they want before you can get what you want.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  3. Mike Hooker says:

    Hi, Darren,

    Excellent article! It blends in perfectly with 31DBBB.

  4. Ms. Freeman says:

    I have to say there are a few ‘jerks’ in most niches. And those ‘jerks’ chose to be disruptive in order to get noticed. I much prefer your list as a way to get recognized in such a competitive niche.

  5. Willem says:

    There are many jerks in the money making niche and while transparency and authenticy is a must, some of the biggest jerks do use both successfuly to lure even more trusting newbe’s…

  6. Issa says:

    Hi Darren,

    Great Advices You’ve Got. The title really caught my attention so I went ahead and read your post. I’d say it is not only full of helpful advices, but it’s something readers would love reading. Cheers!

  7. Sharon says:

    How about….

    8. BE QUALIFIED:

    Have a real and solid professional background and integrity about what you write. Just because cut & paste content from another site and then rewrite the headline to your opinion, does not make you an expert… as a matter of fact, it opens up another can of copyright worms.

  8. Rich Reader says:

    Stand out by not being a jerk.

  9. Darren.. Thank you for this post. It’s some solid and much appreciated recommendations.

  10. Wilson Usman says:

    Caring I think is one that I could add. If you don’t care for your audience or customers they will catch on to this soon and see you as a jerk.

    And you find a way to care not only more that others but do it in a way that really sticks in their minds you will have success.

  11. Vincent Muir says:

    Nice post my man!

    You’re absolutely right and as Gary Veynerchuck (Is that spelt right?) would say, “Stick to the two P’s. Patience and Persistence.”

    I highly recommend his book ‘Crush It.’ if you haven’t read it yet…amazing.

    Thanks for the value…keep rockin’!

  12. iedge kaart says:

    Hi, I think This is going to be really useful. How about try to do something different to others. Or something crazy. Once I start giving out free advertising to people who are interested and it when really cool. I manage to build good relationships through that.

  13. Evelina says:

    Oh come on Darren you can do a lot better..

    I mean — How To stand out in a niche full of jerks –

    Persist, Provide Quality … Dohhhhhhh !

    When will you guys wake up and stop writing such obvious things on your blogs?

    These type of articles is just like setting up a blog on “How to Pooh better .. By adopting a correct position .. breathing deeply, staying relaxed :)

    LoL

    :)

  14. Really excellent post Darren. I’m a relative newbie and these points are consistent with what others in the niche have been saying. It makes it easier to identify the “jerks” or folks who just haven’t a clue about what they’re doing. Happily, it does appear that many of them are not consistent and just fall off the radar after a while. The main point I got from this was to be more consistent myself. My blob posts are not consistent in that I don’t post often enough. I shall use your words to inspire me to post more often.
    Thanks again,
    Jackie

  15. I think it’s hard for people to develop trust through a computer screen. Even though there are ‘jerks’ out there interested in only selling stuff and giving little regard to individuals there are decent people who care, but how does anyone really know?

    You’re thoughts on the topic are right on and certainly will give you clues when trying to discern who is trustworthy :-)

  16. Tola Fam says:

    Great post Darren. And yes, a lot of it is common sense but it helps a lot when someone else reiterates it, because it helps you know you’re going in the right direction.
    I’m a newbie myself and just testing the waters with blogging. I picked something I’m familiar with so I think that’s already a plus for me when it comes to persistence, I just keep talking about what I enjoy and take each day as it comes and everything else follows…
    Thanks.

  17. Deborah says:

    This problem is really evident when you go to Yahoo Answers. I got chosen for “best answer” because I had the only coherent answer.

    To iedge kaarrt, You just gave me the best idea. I need content 2.0 submissions so I am offering free advertising. Hopefully, I won’t get too many “jerky” submissions. Thanks for the idea.

    Thanks for the great post.

    DR

  18. Chris says:

    I do a lot of internet marketing and my niche isn’t so much make money online as it is internet marketing itself. I sell internet marketing info products. I stay away from the MMO niche because it’s gained such a bad reputation over the years. No doubt, there are a lot of legit products, but most of them are crappy ebooks that sell for $47 and tell you what you could learn for free on blogs such as this one.

  19. Be irresistibly attractive in other words. Position yourself as a leader and not a sales person.

    Leaders command respect without asking for it, they speak with authority, they are confident, not concerned with outside criticism, goal-oriented, and do not fold under pressure.

    Those kind of people will always stand out from the crowd in any niche.

    Great post, thank you!

    Ana Hoffman/Attraction Marketing on Leadership: How To Become Irresistibly Attractive To Your Prospects

  20. Rynaldo says:

    Great post Darren. Very infomormative ! I have been blogging for a few years now and still manage to learn something new every day. Blogging is my passion and i love sharing what i learn on a daily basis. I do excell in my niche, however, it is really crowded. Just started a new project and as usual, great challenge. This time i share my experience and insight with a fresh approach to blogging and helping beginner bloggers succeed in the new age. Keep up the good work. http://blogprophet.yolasite.com/

  21. Tip 8: write a great headline – that’ll make you stand out. Thanks for the headline on this post, one of the funniest I’ve seen in a while.

  22. Aglolink says:

    Simple point that you give very useful. Such as ‘Be Transparent’ which often makes the reader feel cheated by our writing sentences. Is this a good for them? Or even poisoned themselves. Honesty is the key in writing.

  23. Nathalie says:

    Thanks for this info. I am in this market “full of jerks” and I tell you I have seen many of them. I believe you nailed it well in your blog. Honesty for me is the best value but a rare commodity on the net and also hard to spot.

  24. element321 says:

    I try and follow your tips for any buisness venture I am currently working online or offline on. I live by those rules. Right my new blog doesn’t get much traffic but I have made friend and follower the small group of readers on my blog.

  25. Hey Darren,

    Great “common sense” ideas for some and a new approach for others! The rainbow of Bloggers out there is so interesting. Blogging is so personal to begin with. It gives one the op to share and muse about whatever passion, expertise and experiences have brought joy and fun to life. Too many “sellers” need more “servers”, like you. Thanks.

  26. Adam says:

    I am so tired of seeing all those blogs about making money online when the people have absolutely no idea how to make money, they are just posing like they pull in money when we all know the good sites from the fakes.

  27. diyaliz says:

    .Caring I think is one that I could add. If you don’t care for your audience or customers they will catch on to this soon and see you as a jerk.

    And you find a way to care not only more that others but do it in a way that really sticks in their minds you will have success…

  28. John Hawke says:

    I love this post. I got a lot out of it. The greatest thing about this is that its presented in a very simple way. No non sense stuff. Goes right to the point. Very nice. Keep up the good work.

  29. This is such a beautiful post, Darren. I kept going down your list of ways of showing you’re not a jerk, a bit anxious, but in fact, I am already doing everything on that list, at least from reader response. I am building a place of trust where people can share openly and honestly.

    Recently, I ran a contest that involved a bit of math, and people had to score a certain number in order to be eligible for a prize. I stored all the entries, because I had to verify their math. After hours and hours of work, it turned out that not one of the entries was valid, and the main reason was that the instructions were inconsistent and hard to follow. My fault! My first contest and I blew it big time.

    I was really nervous that people would be furious with me, but heart in my throat, I wrote an honest–and humorous–post about the result. Posted it on April Fools Day. And my readers–at least the ones who commented–found it hilarious. I also did not get what I dreaded–a rush of unsubscribers.

    Sometimes being bone honest is really hard and makes me horrendously insecure, but it’s the only thing that works.

    Donna Cunningham of Skywriter

  30. I would just say persist and if that dose not work just persist till you stand out.

  31. GreenLava says:

    Thanks for the reminder.
    Be useful to the common people and provide personal assistance when asked. Readers will notice if you are genuine, and spread the word for you.

    Blogger Sentral

  32. My niche is full of young people. Even with the Hello Kitty wine coming out people still think Hello Kitty is for kids and not realize that there is a whole range of products for the older crowd such as 30s and 40s and serious collectors like myself. But I did add a little “crazy” to the blog. lol

  33. to my mind the main aspects for bloggers is to be interesting, honest towards others and bring useful information to make others read it with pleasure. Unfortunately for the most part of bloggers creating blogs is just business and thinking about their profit they often forget about blog quality