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How To Convert Blog Readers To Paying Customers

You work hard to build your blog through traffic and content strategies, but are you working equally as hard at converting readers into paying customers? As Darren demonstrated during his week-long, $72,000 ebook launch, having your own product available for sale can help you generate an impressive revenue stream.

To get to the big numbers, however, you need more than just a high-traffic blog – you need a way to contact your readers via email, because that’s what really drives the sales. Let’s talk about why this is true (and how you can start using your blog to build a list who will buy from you).

The Blessing (and Curse) of A Blog Audience

Blogs are an incredible way to build a connection to your audience. People get a chance to sample your content, get to know you, and establish trust in you, all at their own pace. Your loyal readers can spread the word about you, creating “social proof” and an ongoing stream of new readers. It’s a beautiful thing.

The downside, though, is that a blog audience isn’t necessarily a “real time” audience, meaning that readers may not be keeping current with your content on a daily basis. And this will kill you when it’s time to do a promotion or sale.

You may be running a 5-day special on a new product or service, but what if readers only catch up on their RSS feeds once a week? They may miss out. Or, if their feed reader is too cluttered, they may never get to it at all. You run your promotions, and sales flounder.

But having a growing number of people who are subscribed to your mailing list turns the tables on this problem. If you’re releasing a product today, your subscribers will hear about it via email today – no matter what.

The Advantage Of An Email Audience

Unlike feed readers or tweet streams (which people often skim through, ignoring most of the content), email commands attention in a different way. Readers are used to opening emails in order to figure out what to do with it (read it, save it for later, or delete it), and they’re a lot more likely to give it a look – and click the links inside – within a few hours of it being sent.

So if you’ve got a promotion going tomorrow, you can let all your readers know about it tomorrow. Some may decide to ignore it, but they’ll have at least seen it, because their inbox gets looked at in detail at least once a day.

And if you’ve been doing your job using your blog to warm up your audience, they’ll be more likely to open that email soon after receiving it.

So let’s talk about a few field-tested strategies for getting your readers on your list.

How to Get Blog Visitors On Your List

To get blog visitors on your list, you need to have a reason for them to join up – and in most cases, people offer a freebie such as a special report or audio/video content as an incentive. The challenge with this, however, is that everybody’s doing it.

Years ago, just having something for free was enough to get people to join your list. But these days, people are inundated with free offers so you’ve got to do something more to stand out. Whatever it is that you give away needs to better than good – it needs to be spectacular.

The good news is that making this happen is pretty easy to do. All you need to do is create one small, product-worthy resource that solves one of your potential customers’ biggest problems. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic undertaking – just a resource that represents some of your expertise specifically positioned to solve a reader’s issue or help them become smarter than they were before.

I recommend you actually create a workbook for this free resource, because it’s a format that isn’t used too often and will more readily capture attention. “Special Reports” are a dime a dozen, but most people are accustomed to paying for workbooks, so your offer will automatically appear higher-value.

Why The “Free Product” Model Works So Well For This

Giving away a product-quality resource is an incredible list-building tool because it takes people by surprise – they’re not used to getting something truly substantial for free. And workbooks are particularly powerful because they contain the promise of some fairly immediate results – when the reader gets through it, they’ll either have a particular problem solved or they’ll have more information around a topic that’s important to them.

That promise of immediate results is a powerful motivator to get on your list, get your workbook and go through it. And once your reader finishes that workbook, they’ll be pre-sold on the idea that you are a person worth buying from in the future (after all, if your free stuff is product-quality, how much more impressive will your paid products be?).

One other benefit to this “over the top” free offering is that very few of your competitors will have the guts to do this. Just having this resource puts you at a competitive advantage.

What To Do If This Seems Like A Scary Amount Of Work

By this point you might be thinking that you don’t have the time to make a product-quality offer for your list. But it’s actually easier than you think. You don’t have to create a 100-page PDF or 6 hours of audio – all you need to do is pick one specific pain point your audience has and create a resource that lets them get one step further than they are now.

And to show you just how simple it is, I’ve put together a free workbook that steps you through how to put together a product-quality resource in a weekend (or even one day, if you’re ambitious). It’s not that difficult to do, and the payoff can be huge. I’ve personally used this free workbook strategy to drive over 3,000 people onto my list over the last seven months, all by adding additional free workbooks to a “library” on my blog.

(And the best part is, you can reuse the strategies in the free workbook to create additional products you can charge for after you get people on your list.)

When You’re Ready To Begin Building Your List, Here’s What To Do

What would it do for your blog’s reputation to have a product-quality resource available for free download? And how strong of a good first impression would you make on your readers if you offered it?

Take a look at the free workbook and decide what kind of resource you’re going to create to pull people into your mailing list.  One weekend is all it takes, and it could be the tipping point your blog has been waiting for.

Dave Navarro is a product launch manager who specializes in teaching smart blog owners how to build responsive email lists and create their own high-demand information product platform at his blog, The Launch Coach.

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.

How To Be Funny Without Even Trying

A Guest Post by Jordan Cooper Not A Pro Blog.

Ok, so I lied. You’re going to have to try. But not too hard. I promise you.

You must have heard the saying “laughter is contagious”. Scientists have actually proven this to be true! Just as any other human emotion, we tend to mirror the feelings and reactions of those around us. Haven’t you ever found yourself laughing at something solely because your friend was cracking up to the point of tears? I rest my case.

The joy of bringing laughter to others is one of the most natural traits we all have in common. The feeling we share, both as the recipient as well as the teller, is equally as strong. Those that do it best are seen as highly attractive, a pleasure to be around and almost addictive like a drug. You see jokes are commonly passed from person to person virally, one after another with everyone taking part in each side of the equation. This is why humor can be the most effective weapon in a blogger’s toolbox to create highly shareable content.

I know what you’re thinking: “but Jordan, what if I’m not a funny person?”

Nonsense. If you can laugh, you can make people laugh. Don’t count yourself out just yet. Writing humor is not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. As long as you know the basic tenets, the fundamental laws of all humor, anyone can do it. What exactly makes something funny?

The Element of Surprise.

Jokes are like magic tricks. They are meant to purposely misdirect you so that the climax cannot be expected. All facets of humor do just this. Presenting information that will cause others to make assumptions of fact, then turning this belief, reversing it on its head to show a contrary view. The difference between good humor and bad humor is based on how effective the surprise is.

Take a look at the following joke. Can you identify the misdirection and the reversal?

“My wife met me at the door the other night in a sexy negligee. Unfortunately, she was just coming home.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Context, Context, Context.

Closely conjoined with the element of surprise is the context in which such humor is displayed. Consider this the “where” factor. How come a quippy remark uttered by a co-worker can bring upon so much laughter in comparison to the professional comedian you see later that night on television? This all comes down to context.

In the first instance, the purpose of your occupational environment is not for cracking jokes, but for serious work. There’s no requirement for anyone to be funny. In fact, it’s probably even looked down upon. This now gives “Dave in Accounting” the proper setting to lay out a one-liner and achieve maximum surprise. No one is expecting it.

In the second instance, a professional comedian is sought after specifically to make people laugh. It’s in his or her job description. When taking the stage (or TV set), the environment has been set up where the audience already is aware that a surprise is coming. They’re expecting it. The comedian must overcome this by use of even more misdirection. This skill is what separates them from “Dave in Accounting”.

The less your audience is looking to be “tricked”, the less effort it takes in order to trick them.

How can you utilize surprise and context in your blog and be funny without even trying?

  1. Find the stereotypes surrounding your niche. What do you blog about? What do people assume about you because of this?
  2. Analyze the tone and structure of your past content. What do your readers expect from you on your blog?
  3. Present the same information in a different way either by being the stereotype fully or being against the assumption altogether.

Experiment with it. There’s no magic formula. Don’t try so hard. Remember, you don’t have to be hilarious.

Working with the notion that your context is not inherently based around being funny (like a humor blog), you should be able to pull off the surprise necessary to illicit laughter and amusement from your readers. Whether it be biking or hiking, cooking or scrapbooking, photography, techonology,or anthropology… there is a chance for you to stand out in a niche that doesn’t expect humor at all. It will make your content memorable, inspire others to share it and more importantly, giving you the joy of bringing laughter to your readers.

Jordan Cooper is a 13-year veteran professional stand-up comedian who showcases his sarcastic humor with videos and written rants about blogging, social media & marketing at Not A Pro Blog.

How To Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog

A Guest Post by Jennifer Blanchard of Procrastinating Writers

I read this blog daily. But it wasn’t until last week when I noticed the results of Darren’s poll on “How long have you been blogging?” that I decided it was time to submit a guest post.

According to that poll, more than 4,000 of this blog’s readers don’t actually have a blog.

I have to say, this fact stunned me a little. Why would 4,000-plus people want to read about blogging if they don’t actually have a blog?

Then the same answer that caused me to start my own blog popped up in my mind – Procrastination.

Procrastination is the continual habit of putting off – sometimes until the very last minute – tasks you need (and want) to accomplish.

Oftentimes people procrastinate on tasks they really don’t want to be doing, like household chores, writing a paper for school or making a phone call they’re dreading. But many times, people also procrastinate on tasks they actually want to be doing.

Why People Procrastinate

There are many reasons why people procrastinate. But the top reasons include:

  • Fear – Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough and fear of rejection are the most stand-out fears procrastinators often have. They fear starting a blog because it might not be as good as someone else’s blog. Or they fear starting a blog that no one will read. Or they fear they don’t know enough about a particular topic to start a blog. Or they fear their blog will actually be successful and that will cause them too much stress and anxiety. This list really could go on forever.
  • The Phrases “Should” and “Have To” – Believe it or not, by telling yourself you “have to” do something (ie: start a blog) or that you “should” be doing something, it makes you not want to do it at all. This is when procrastinating behaviors creep in.
  • Whole Project Thinking – When you think about starting a blog, you’re likely bombarded by all the things requiredto start a blog – you have to decide on a domain name, purchase it, then you have to choose a blogging platform, then you need to decide what you’re going to write about and you have to come up with topics and determine how often you’re going to post and then, and then, and then… Thinking of the project as a whole, rather than as small pieces, overwhelms you, which then causes you to procrastinate.
  • Perfectionism – Other than fear, this is the main reason people procrastinate. They get so worried that the blog they create won’t be perfect from the get-go that they don’t even bother starting it. Perfectionism causes serious stress, which is always a recipe for disaster.
  • Telling Yourself It’s “Too Much Work” and “Not Enough Fun”When people think a project they want to complete is going to be more work than fun, it usually stops them in their tracks and keeps them from starting.

How To Stop Procrastinating and Start Your Blog

Now that you know what causes you to procrastinate, you can begin to take steps to overcome it.

Truth be told, starting a blog is not as difficult as you think it is. All it really requires is a domain name, a content plan and a platform.

So here are some steps you can take to begin overcoming your procrastinating behaviors and start your blog:

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways

I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately, and it couldn’t ring more true. Yes, it’s scary to start a blog. It’s scary to put yourself out there and share your ideas with the world. Yes, people may reject you. Yes, your blog won’t be perfect.

What you have to do is understand this; accept it; and start your blog anyhow.

If you allow fear to hold you back, you’ll never really be happy in life because you’ll always be compromising (or avoiding) what you truly want.

Remove “Should” and “Have to” from Your Vocabulary

These phrases make starting a blog feel forced on you instead of being a conscious choice you’re making; resentment and rebellion are typically the next feelings that come up.

In reality, there’s nothing you should be doing or have to be doing. If starting a blog doesn’t inspire you or if you don’t have a topic that you’re passionate about, then by all means, don’t start a blog. But my guess is, starting a blog does inspire you and you do have a topic you’re passionate about, otherwise why would you be reading this blog?

“Should” and “Have to” take your power away and give the power to the task of starting a blog. But by changing your self-talk, you can easily change the way you feel.

Instead of telling yourself, “I should start a blog” or “I have to start a blog soon,” tell yourself, “I want to start a blog” or “I choose to start a blog.” Words like “want” and “choose” are powerful words. These words mean you’re making a conscious choice. You’re deciding to start a blog; it’s not being forced on you.

View the Project in Pieces

You can’t start a blog and have it all pieced together in one day. It just doesn’t work like that. It takes time to come up with a name and determine a content strategy and learn how to write headlines that are effective and find traffic, etc. Instead, view starting a blog like putting a puzzle together: One piece at a time.

The best way to do this is to break the process of starting a blog into steps. Start slowly. Spend some time thinking about what type of blog you want to start. Then choose a domain name. Research available platforms and choose the one that best fits you. Next work on developing a content strategy, which includes what you’re going to write about and how often. Then work on how you’re going to market it and get traffic. Then you can work on finding ways to make money from your blog, and so on.

If you learn to break larger projects into smaller, more manageable pieces, you’ll feel less overwhelmed, which will help keep you focused and not procrastinating.

Give Up Perfectionism

No matter how hard you work, you will never be perfect. Perfection is an idea, not a reality. Humans weren’t born to be perfect. They were born to make mistakes and to learn from them. So rather than berate yourself for not being perfect, remember that life – and blogging – is a journey. And the only way to reach the end goal of that journey is to take the first step: Start your blog!

As you work through the trials and errors of starting a blog, you’ll come to realize that mistakes are actually gifts in disguise. Because for each mistake you make, you learn how not to do something, which will help you do it better next time.

Make It Fun

As the saying goes, “If it’s not fun, don’t do it.” But if you never start a blog, you’ll never get to see how much fun it actually is. Writing about topics you’re passionate about and connecting with readers are twoof the most fun things on the planet. And there’s definitely nothing more fun than getting an e-mail or Twitter message from a reader telling you how much you’ve inspired them.

What blog project have you been procrastinating on? Why?

Jennifer Blanchard is the founder of Procrastinating Writers, a blog that offers advice, motivation and inspiration for writers who struggle to get started. If this sounds like you, be sure to subscribe to her blog and/or follow her on Twitter.

The Power of Being Personal on Your Blog

personal.pngOver the last few weeks I’ve been exploring principles that are evident in many successful blogs. So far we’ve looked at Listening, Trust, Usefulness and Community. Today I want to get personal with you and share a story with you.

The Day I Was Jumped On By a Reader

Last week while at Blog World Expo I was coming down off the stage after presenting on a panel when out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone moving towards me – fast.

Within a second of seeing the movement I was literally jumped upon and found myself in a tangle of arms, hair and tears – I was being hugged within an inch of my life.

I didn’t know what to do at first – I didn’t know who was hugging me but while a bit of a shock at first I could tell the person was genuine and so did the only thing I could think to do – I hugged back.

After a few seconds of hugging the person pulled away. I had expected it to be someone I knew but realised pretty quickly that this was a stranger (or at least she had been a moment or two before). She had tears in her eyes and was obviously emotional – I didn’t know why until she began to talk.

For the next 4-5 minutes my hugging assailant (a reader as it turns out) talked, almost without taking a breath. She told me about the first day she read my blog (she remembered the first post), she told me about how it had helped her, she told me about the ups and downs of her blogging, she told me about her family, she told me about my family, she told me that she’d bought my book, joined my community, bought my ebook, she just talked…..

She talked as if we’d known each other for years – I guess in a way we had…..

Gradually my new friend began to slow down (and breathe) she suddenly began to become a little more self conscious. She began to blush a little as she realised how what she’d just done. I assured her that it was totally fine and in her flustered state she said:

“It’s just that I feel like I know you.”

As we continued to speak I realised that here was someone who I had previously not known had existed (she’d never left a comment or said a word on my blog in over 3 years) who ‘knew’ me – at least to some degree.

Here was someone who’d not only read something that I’d written daily for years – but someone who had watched my videos, had noted when I’d become a Dad, had seen when I’d travelled, had observed my disappearances from the blog when I’d been unwell.

She didn’t know all this stuff because she was a crazy stalker (far from it) but because I’d allowed myself to blog in a way that was personal.

Not that ProBlogger is a ‘personal blog’ as such (not in the sense that I blog about the movies that I see, the things I eat or the everyday experiences that I have) – but I inject something of myself into this blog:

  • I use my real name
  • I share images of myself from time to time in posts and on key pages
  • I share videos where people can see my face and hear my voice
  • I include details of what’s happening in my life and family (usually in passing and by way of illustrating something)
  • I try to use personal language (I blog in the first person most of the time)
  • I write in a style that is similar to the way I would speak to a person face to face
  • I tell stories about my experiences as they relate to my topic
  • I use personal examples where I can to illustrate what I’m saying
  • I’ve done live streaming question and answer sessions via video

By no means am I the most personal blogger going around. Everyday I see opportunities to be more personal in fact – but I’ve made a concerted effort over the years to inject something of myself into what I do – and it’s paid off.

It’s paid off not just in terms of being jumped on by strangers when overseas but also in creating the kind of site that people want to come back to, the kind of site that people recommend to others and also the kind of site that people want to spend their money on (remember my friend has bought everything I’ve released – she said she did so because they were ‘mine’).

I know being personal on a blog is not something that everyone feels comfortable with and that is in everyone’s style – but it is one thing that I’ve seen exhibited in many successful blogs.

How about you? Do you take a personal approach with your blog?

PS: one piece of advice – when it comes to being personal I’d suggest bloggers think a little ahead about what they will and won’t reveal about themselves, their family and their lives. Having some boundaries in place for personal safety can be a worthwhile thing – this doesn’t mean you’re not being personal, just that you’re being smart and exhibiting some personal safety.

Discover How to Build Profitable Membership Site

200910272027.jpgAs mentioned a few days back – the popular Membership Site Mastermind Course has just reopened its doors to new members for the last time in 2009 – for 3 days only.

In short – Membership sites are where you sign up readers to pay a monthly subscription to receive teaching, tips, community, coaching or some other benefit from you. They don’t suit every niche and they do take a lot of work – but if you get them right they can be incredibly profitable.

A $100,000 a month example – at Blog World Expo I managed to catch part of a session of Timothy Sykes whose TimAlerts membership site pulls in over $100,000 a month. He built this off the back of a free blog (which he still runs) and with really affordable software (he uses WordPress) and mainly free plugins.

So yes – membership sites can be very profitable when you get them right.

Bonuses for Fast Action – If you signup in the next 24 hours Yaro is including some fast action bonuses including presentations on:

  • buying and selling websites
  • building profitable blogs
  • using video in online marketing
  • conversion points in online marketing

If you want a taste of Yaro’s style and the direction of this course grab this free report which is a great introduction to the topic and contains some great information on the topic whether you do the full course or not.

Again – the doors for Membership Site Mastermind close again on Friday at midnight. Also, as usual Yaro has a money back guarantee on this teaching – if you sign up and then find it’s not for you you can always get your money back.

If a membership site is on your radar as a potential way to extend your blog then this course is well worth checking out. Sign up Here.

How to Go from 1 to 1,000,000 Users (or Readers)

The gang over at Carsonified has released the following video this week by Kevin Rose talking about taking a web app from 1 to 1 million users.

While the video talks more about web applications and not specifically about blogging – some of the principles that Kevin talks about I think are applicable to blogging.

Taking your Site from One to One Million Users by Kevin Rose from Carsonified on Vimeo.

Trust – Principles of Successful Blogging #2

trust.pngToday I want to continue our series of posts looking at principles of building a successful blog by looking at the topic of Trust.

A Quick Definition of The Type Of ‘Successful’ Blog I’m Writing About

It might be worth stating that the type of blog that I’m talking about in this series is a blog that isn’t purely about profit or traffic – but a blog that has influence in its niche.

It is certainly possible to build a profitable and/or well trafficked blog without Trust – in fact I know a few bloggers who blog purely for Search Engine Traffic who don’t really care about influence, brand or loyal readers but who just want traffic that they can convert to cash.

These bloggers are certainly ‘successful’ on some levels (I guess ‘success’ really comes down to your goals) – but that’s not the style of blogging that I do and is not what this series is on about.

What I’m on about is helping bloggers to not only be profitable and have traffic but to build blogs that have profile, influence, authority, credibility, respect and a brand that opens up opportunities beyond quick profit.

By no means is my approach the only way to make money blogging – but it’s where I’m at and as a result is what I write about.

Why Building Trust is Important

OK – so now we’re on the same page lets talk about Trust.

I’m not sure we need to spend too much time talking about ‘why’ building trust is important as it’s pretty much common sense – but in short – if you’re looking to build influence, to build a brand that is respected and you want a site that is authoritative – you’re going to have a lot better chance if people actually trust you.

Yes with some clever copywriting and good positioning in search engines you can probably convince people to buy certain products – but in order to build lasting influence – trust is going to need to play a part.

On the flip side – many businesses today have seen the way that a lack of trust or even worse, broken trust can hurt a business, destroy reputations and ruin years of hard work.

So building and maintaining trust is paramount for bloggers wanting to build influence – so how does one do it?

One of the best resources on the topic of building influence through trust online is Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. However as it’ll take a day or two for Amazon to ship you a copy (and I recommend you get one) I thought I’d jot down a few principles of building trust online that I’ve gathered over the years both from my own experience of trusting others and building trust with others.

A Quick Exercise Before You Read Any More

Before you read my thoughts on how to build trust – here’s a very quick exercise to do.

On a piece of paper or in a text document – jot down a blogger or blog that you trust. Under the name – list 2-3 reasons why you trust them.

OK – read on.

4 Principles of Building Trust Online

1. It usually takes time to build

I’m a pretty sceptical guy – I don’t really want to be but after years of being bombarded with marketing messages and experiencing disappointment at expectations not being met by people making big promises my guard is up. I suspect I’m not alone.
While I’m sure there are people who are more trusting than others – I’m pretty certain that most people in my generation (and the generations that come before and after mine) are a fairly suspicious lot. We are capable of trust – but it usually takes time to get there.

2. It is Earned

I do have the capability to trust you – but more often than not it’ll only come once I see that you’re worthy of that trust. An example of this principle hit my inbox this morning – it was from a reader who had just bought my 31 days to build a better blog workbook.

Her email included this:

“I’ve never bought an ebook before, partly because I don’t trust people with my credit card information and partly because I’ve always suspected most ebooks are just fluff…. But after reading your blog for 12 months and being on the receiving end of useful information every day over that time I decided you were probably a credible source of information”.

The sense that I got from her email was that she only made the purchase based upon her previous experience of what I do – something that was earned by providing her with help day by day over a year.

The take home lesson for bloggers is to give value, be useful and prove that you have something worthwhile and authoritative to say on your topic.

Look for ways to genuinely and generously improve the lives of your readers – do this over the long haul and your deposit in the trust bank with readers grows over time.

3. The recommendations of others are important

I still remember (but can’t find a link to) a post by Seth Godin a year or so back where he talks about how he sells a lot more books through a blog post when he’s talking about someone else’s book than his own.

It was the perfect illustration of how the words and recommendations of other people promotion you carry a lot more weight than you promoting yourself.

We’re social beings – we make decisions together – we buy things that others recommend – we trust those that others trust….

This means you have a couple of tasks to do:

  1. Build relationships with others. Some bloggers take the attitude that other bloggers are potential competition and as a result they stay clear of them. However a recommendation from someone else in your industry could be gold – build relationships.
  2. Find Ways to use this social proof. If someone does recommend you it doesn’t hurt to highlight it to others. You don’t need to do it in an ego driven or big headed way – but do find subtle and relevant ways to share it with those in your network.

4. Be Yourself

One of the fastest ways to destroy trust is to be caught trying to be something that you’re not.

  • Make a promise that you can’t fulfil
  • Present yourself as someone that you’re unable to be
  • Make a claim that’s not true

All of these things set up expectations in the eyes of others that can’t be met which will lead to disappointment, anger, disillusionment and as a result – broken trust.

Not only that – I find that people are pretty good these days at picking people who are presenting themselves as something that they’re not. You might not even have to get caught out to have people suspicious (and untrusting) of you.

  • As a result it’s best to be yourself.
  • Let people know what you do and don’t know.
  • Be transparent about your motives.
  • Share your stories of failure as well as your successes.
  • Admit your mistakes.

All of these things make you more human, relatable and help to build trust.

What Would You Add?

I’ve only scratched the surface on Trust with this post – there’s so much more to say and I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say on the topic.

  • What bloggers do you trust (who did you write down in the exercise above)? Why do you trust them?
  • How do you build trust with your readers?
  • What stories and experiences do you have to help illustrate these principles of building trust?

Forget the Fatal Flaws of Blogging

confusion.jpgIn this guest post Seth Waite from Blogussion shares some thoughts on two fatal flaws that most bloggers struggle with. Image by helgasms.

Blogging has been a passion of mine now for almost two years. Learning the basics took time and developing my skills has been even longer, but I have learned how to overcome most bloggers 2 fatal flaws, wisdom and effort.

Wisdom

Most bloggers spend tons of time surfing, stumbling, twittering and clicking around each day, but learn very little. Sure they have seen the lists of tips, pictures of cats, FAIL blogs, and a million get rich quick schemes but very little of them actually learn something. This is where the “Blog Tips” industry comes into play.

Designed to teach bloggers about how to blog better, meta blogs offer targeted information for how to actually succeed online. So the the information is definitely available.

A lot of the information is even read by blogging hopefuls. The problem likes in the application of the knowledge. It is not enough to read a post and go back to messing with your plug-ins. You have to apply the information directly to your blog.

The way to do that is by learning the “Act Now” principle. “Act Now” just means that whenever you learn something new, within reason, you act upon it. So today when you read another great post online, follow it through and try it out. With some experience under your belt the knowledge becomes real. Eventually over time this knowledge and experience of application become wisdom.

Effort

Other then wisdom, too many bloggers forget the effort that it takes to be successful. I know this is not something you want to hear, but you probably should anyways. Blogging takes serious work. Anything that is worth something does. There is no “instant” money maker, theory, or plug-in that can ever take the place of real effort.

Effort is more then just putting in time as well. Too many bloggers already put in a lot of time. Often I see posts about “Giving Up my Blog, No One Reads it Anyways”.

I always think that is so sad. With more time and effort in the things that are “wise”, we can produce better content and create a lasting impression on other bloggers and our visitors.

Effort is doing something that is difficult but worth it. For example, writing a post with over 2,000 words on 30 Ways to Make Money Blogging was hard. It took a lot of time and effort to come up with the descriptions, find the links and provide a resource worth reading.

But it was completely worth it. Reading comments from visitors to my blog made me see that the time and most importantly the effort in doing the hard thing paid off. That is what effort is all about. Doing the hard thing that is best for your blog. That will be different for every blog, but almost always it will be some way to uniquely provide an incredible resource for your readers.

If you feel like you are doing one of these principles very well, then keep going with that one and work on the other principle. Finding success comes from the proper application of both of them.

You cannot show your wisdom in niche without the effort of providing the resources, and you cannot show your effort without the wisdom to put into your resources.

So to improve your blogging skills and forget the fatal flaws that might stop you from succeeding, remember to focus on the “Act Now” principle and giving 100% effort. When you combine the two you will begin to see enormous growth in yourself as a blogger, and success for your blog.

The Blogger who is furiously trying to fix these fatal flaws is Seth Waite. You can connect with him at the blog he writes on Blogussion and his twitter account Seth1492.