This guest post is by Ashley Bennett of Ashley-Bennett.com.
One of the most successful bloggers online right now is also one of the most transparent.
You probably know him as Pat.
Pat is the owner of the successful website and podcast entitled Smart Passive Income. Smart Passive Income is all about blogging and internet marketing strategies that can help people literally earn smart, passive income on their own.
Pat’s not the only one—there are plenty of other bloggers who do the same thing.
Transparent bloggers are open about who they are, what they do, and even how much they make. There are very few successful bloggers that have managed to remain anonymous online.
If you’re in this for the long haul, then you should be transparent too.
Here’s why—and how Pat’s Smart Passive Income (SPI) blog does it.
People connect with you more easily
The object of blogging is to connect with people. Ads and affiliate links mean nothing unless you have a connection with your audience. Your connection with them is what makes them trust you, and eventually buy from you or click on your ads.
People connect with other people, not websites. They become readers of certain blogs because they like the people that write them. Showing your picture will help people connect with you better and feel like they have gotten to know you. Share not only what you look like, but who you are and what you do.
Pat has a photo of himself right on the header of his website, so you know exactly who he is before you have to start reading the About page. There is also a video link that introduces him, and explains who he is and what his website is about for new visitors.
After watching his video and seeing his picture, readers feel like they just met him over lunch. His picture alone improves his credibility because you know there is a real person behind the website. This will make you more likely to listen to advice, buy stuff, and most importantly, engage with him.
Pat’s About page has a picture of him with his newborn son, along with a lot of information about his background and how he got started. He admits that he came to blogging after a layoff, and created a new life and career.
They trust you more
You are more credible to audiences when you are open and transparent. For example, you disclose that you have affiliate links and sponsors and you even discuss your own personal experiences using them.
Spammy tactics and sneaky affiliate links are pretty much useless. No one wants to buy anything from people that they’ve never heard of because they will think that it could be a scam or that the products might not work.
Being honest with your readers about these links actually improves your chances of earning money through them. This is because people want to know what will happen when they buy a product.
They need to know about the price, the level of customer service, and whether or not it does what it is supposed to do. Share both the good and bad things about the product and the company in your review.
People are more inclined to trust in more balanced reviews as opposed to overwhelmingly positive ones. It seems obvious that a blogger would say something positive about a produce if they’re getting paid to promote it. A balanced review shows you put your audience before dollars.
Pat makes a point to use all of the stuff that he promotes on his website.
He never tells you exactly what to buy, but he does give suggestions about the things that worked for him.
He has unbiased reviews and videos that show how to use the products that he promotes. None of his links are hidden anywhere to “trick” people into opening them—they are posted on his side panel, and he also embeds them into relevant posts.
He will tell you what he uses, explain why he uses it, and admit that he will receive a commission if you purchase it from his link. Furthermore, he’ll even show you how much money he earned from his affiliate links in the income reports that he publishes.
They see themselves in you
People want to hear the story, they don’t just want to see the glory. Talk about how got you started, where you came from, and what worked for you.
Having relatable content and stories is what attracts people to a blog. Telling people about your story helps them engage with you—they will feel like they can do it because they know your story.
They know that what they want is possible, because they watched you do it.
Telling the story
Pat’s About page explains the entire story about how he got into blogging. It came out of necessity because he was laid off and he had to find another way to provide for his family.
Yes, he is successful today, but he does tell the entire story about how he struggled in the beginning. His success did not come overnight, and you can watch his progression through his blog.
He actually explains how he writes blog posts, ebooks, and even how he promotes his website. All of the moving parts on his website are explained and examined for your educational benefit.
It’s better for brand building
A brand is built upon trust and value developed over time.
You are building your personal brand online every time you connect with other bloggers, tell your stories, and talk about how you made it.
You can use the platform that you’ve created to write books, promote events, and to help people.
If people know you, they’ll be more likely to reach out to you. You could create strategic partnerships and gain access to a host of opportunities that you would normally never have access to through your blog.
It is about you, not the blog.
Creating a brand
Pat’s personal brand is strong because he connects with readers as well as other bloggers through his voice. Pat Flynn is the brand, not necessarily the website. It’s his name that gives the website its value.
Imagine what his website would be like if he had stayed hidden behind the virtual curtain. There’d be no social proof, no evidence, and probably few readers.
A plan of action for shy bloggers
Shy blogging is like taking a shower with your clothes on: you’re in the right place, doing the right thing, but it just isn’t working. Blogging anonymously probably won’t help you build a brand, help people, or even earn money.
Here is a plan of action made for shy bloggers who don’t want to come out of the closet.
Obstacle #1: I’m too shy to post a photo
Solution: Get a professional photo
If you are too embarrassed to show yourself, then that is a problem because anybody can look good in a photo. A simple personal photo will due in most cases, but a professional can make you look even better.
If you feel like you do not look up to par, then have your hair and makeup done, and get a new outfit to boost your confidence for the shot. If your personal photos aren’t what you want them to be, then go ahead and have a professional photo done. They don’t cost much, but if you are really budget-conscious, you could ask a photography student, or a friend who takes great shots to do it for you.
Do whatever it takes to become presentable online and off.
Obstacle #2: I’m not good enough! I don’t know how to do it
Solution: Improve your skills until you are good enough.
Some people are reluctant to reveal who they are because they are afraid that they are not good writers, not smart enough, or not as good as the other people online. If you feel like you are not good enough, then take a class, get a writing coach, read books, listen to podcasts, and most importantly, practice every day.
Most of the popular bloggers did not start out the way that they are today. They made a lot of mistakes in the beginning. Their websites didn’t look that good. Maybe their writing wasn’t that good either.
The thing is that they kept learning and practicing until they got good at it.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, you need to put in at least 10,000 hours to be good at what you do. Start clocking those hours!
Obstacle #3: I’m waiting for the right time to get started
Solution: Do something right now!
Paralysis through analysis is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring bloggers. They are always waiting until their website is perfect, waiting until they have time, or just waiting because they are too scared to take action.
The best thing you can do is to just get started. Just writing one single article, doing a guest post, or buying a website template can help you.
Force yourself to take at least one step forward every day or spend a certain amount of time to work on your blog every day. Putting in at least one hour day will eventually take you a long way.
Obstacle #4: What if people don’t like me?
Solution: Learn from the criticism
Criticism is a fact of life. Let’s face it: haters have computers too.
There are and always will be people who disagree with you or even dislike you online for no particular reason. Although they may be hurtful, you can’t take what they say to heart.
However, if someone does have some legitimate criticism then you can accept it and learn from it.
The key is to be able to distinguish between the constructive criticism and the negative criticism without getting your feelings hurt. That takes practice, but that’s all it takes.
Obstacle #5: I’m nervous
Solution: Be honest about your feelings.
Being transparent is also about exploring your emotional journey as a blogger and as a human being.
Everyone is usually a little nervous at first, so you may as well as admit it. Your growth as a writer and blogger stems from the fact that you can tell people about your mistakes, your failures, and your fears.
As vast as the Internet is, chances are that you’re not the only one that feels like this. Your audience will probably admit that they understand and support you. They might even give you some new ideas and help you stay motivated.
The bottom line is that you have to reveal something in order to get anything back from your audience. You can share whatever you’re comfortable with sharing, but just show your face to be present.
You might be surprised.
You might like what you see.
And if you like what you see, they will too.