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.
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.
Today I want to continue our series of posts looking at principles of building a successful blog by looking at the topic of Trust.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
One of the fastest ways to destroy trust is to be caught trying to be something that you’re not.
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.
All of these things make you more human, relatable and help to build trust.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My youngest boy will take his first steps any day now. He’s been watching his older brother (and his mum and dad) run around the house for 12 months now and you can just see in his eyes the desire to be up and doing it too. This week he’s started pushing around the block trolley (right) and is practicing his standing up without the aide of anything to pull him up.
It’s not been a fast process and by no means do I expect to see him running around the house soon but he’s almost ready for his first steps.
Many bloggers start blogs these days with the dream of millions of readers and making large amounts of money.
While it is possible to build blogs that are widely read and profitable and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big – the reality is that it takes time and a lot of work to build these kinds of blogs.
New bloggers would do well to spend more time thinking about their ‘first steps’ than just the big picture dreams and goals that they have..
Yesterday while chatting with a brand new bloggers who had some very lofty goals for this blogging I reflected back to him that I felt that in addition to the big dreams he had that I wondered if he might also benefit from having some realistic goals for the short term.
Here’s a list of 9 first step type goals that I suggested to him that might be a good place to start:
Note: Others goals might include goals more to do with setting up your blog including those related to design, platforms, setting up metrics/stats etc.
To someone who has been blogging for a while these kinds of goals might seem rather small and insignificant – but for a new blogger they’d be where I would start.
For new bloggers these goals might also seem a little insignificant also (in fact the blogger I was talking to told me I was thinking too small and dismissed my idea) – however I’d argue that to get to your big dreams there is a lot of steps in between – many of which might not be glamorous or as fun to think about. However sometimes it’s helpful to visualize the very next steps that you need to take in order to move towards your goals.
Tangent: I once had opportunity to meet a guy who had travelled the world climbing some of the highest mountains. When I said to him that it must be an exciting thing to do he told me that there are moments of exhilaration and excitement but that the reality is that much of what he does when climbing a mountain is pretty boring. It’s one foot in front of another type activity through foothills, carrying a heavy pack and not feeling like you’re making much progress. Of course once you make it to the top or conquer challenges along the path you have moments of excitement but it all starts with setting out from base camp and with the goal of getting to a point where the climb starts in earnest.
Once you’ve achieved these first goals start to increase them. You might want to double the numbers for the next step (although for different bloggers the numbers will no doubt be different) – then double them again and so forth.
What other ‘first step’ goals would you suggest to a new blogger just starting out? If you’re a new blogger what are your first goals?
I hesitate to promote this due to the price tag but it’s one of the best high level online training experiences that I’ve had – Elite Retreat.
In 2007 I spoke at this event in San Francisco (although got as much out of it as any of the attendees) and it was a fantastic experience. A very small group of attendees and some true experts in a variety of different online disciplines. To attend you apply and then are hand selected to attend (to ensure the most suitable people come).
This year it is happening in New York and the speaker list is again excellent. In fact as I just said on Twitter I’m very jealous not to be a part of this one because keynoting and heading up the speaker list for the event this year is Seth Godin. Also speaking this year will be:
Jeremy Schoemaker (Shoemoney and internet marketing guru), Neil Patel (social media expert), Andy Liu (CEO of BuddyTV), Chris Winfield (social media and search marketing), Kris Jones (affiliate marketing expert) and Stephan Spencer (SEO expert).
Again – this isn’t cheap and nor should it be.
At the event I attended the ratio of attendees to speakers was low and there was plenty of face time available with each speaker. There were also opportunities for interacting with speakers over meals as well as the opportunity to network with other attendees (actually some of the attendees were doing some amazing things too and I know that for a few that attended the event profitable partnerships began).
Only 35 attendees will be accepted and they’re not accepting the first 35, it’s all about choosing people that they believe ‘fit’ what they’re on about so if you do apply put some time into your application.
The other thing about Elite Retreat that made it special was the lack of ‘pitches’ from speakers. The sessions were pure content/teaching, pitches were not allowed and there was ample time for question and answers as well as looking at the sites of those attending to help them optimize them.
If you have the money to invest into your online business I’d highly recommend checking out Elite Retreat 2009.
Have you ever had a blog post that you put a lot of time, energy and thought into – that completely flopped?
Nobody comments on it, nobody bookmarks it on Digg, nobody tweets a link to it…. it’s almost like it was never written.
If so – here’s a few questions to ask yourself about the post to help you learn why it might have failed and to help you improve for next time:
Of course it is also worth saying that sometimes posts just don’t have the success we hope they will and that there’s no real reason for it. Conversely other posts which we don’t think will really work can soar like eagles!
That’s the way the cookie crumbles some days!
Further Reading: Many of the above questions are fleshed out with tips on how to make them a reality in my series – How to Craft a Blog Post.
Image by -nathan
“Should I quit my blog and start Lifestreaming, Videocasting, Social Messaging/Networking etc?”
There’s been another round of ‘blogging is dead’ posts doing the rounds of late and as a result I’ve had a number of emails hitting my inbox over the last week from bloggers asking if they should stop blogging.
Here’s some of the advice I’ve been sharing:
My last piece of advice is particularly for those with limited time or capacity to fully engage with all of the mediums and tools that are currently at our fingertips.
I get the sense from a lot of bloggers that they feel that they’re being left behind – that all this new stuff that is emerging is beyond them – that it’s hopeless to keep on blogging. My message to you if you’re feeling this way is to keep at it. Even as a full time blogger/web entrepreneur I don’t have time to fully engage with all of the new technologies that are currently emerging. I too feel some of those ‘overwhelming’ feelings.
I think the key is to engage with the new technologies to the point that you’re able but to know when to stop and focus upon what you already have in front of you.
The problem as I see it is that whether it be a blog, a Twitter presence, a podcast or some other kind of website or presence – it takes time to build these things up to successful levels. If you only give a medium a short time before moving to the next one you’ll just end up with a trail of abandoned accounts and sites behind you.
I see a lot of people running from one thing to the next and not really achieving anything. They live in a constant state of distraction and experimentation. There’s nothing wrong with new things and testing them out – but unless you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of spare time or an amazing capacity not to sleep there comes a time where you need to choose a handful of things to do (or even just one) and to do it to the best of your ability.
For me – this means focusing mainly upon building blogs. My blogs are evolving and looking less and less like blogs as I experiment with different ways of presenting the information on them and play with different technologies on them – but I try to keep my focus steady upon the long term goals that I have. As a result I’ve managed to build them into profitable properties.
Yes I’ll continue to experiment with other technologies but for me they are only about adding value to my primary web properties.
What do you think? How are you approaching what you do in this ever changing web?
Robby G is a blogger from ShiteILike.com and explains the benefits of pushing your blog through good and through bad.
I was doing some research recently, wondering if my blog would ever take off and what it really depended on. I was a little bit discouraged about writing lots of content for two months on my blog, but having a significant amount of less traffic than on my friend’s blog which is only two months older than mine.
To see if my blog would ever receive any readers that would get interested, and hopefully raise my hopes, I went on ProBlogger. I looked through his much older posts and went through the comment list. I clicked on a bunch of commentators’ names that took me back to their blogs and recorded how many of them were still blogging today. Their comments were from 2006 and I noticed that most of the bloggers had either just abandoned their blog or quit paying for hosting completely.
Now the interesting stuff I learnt from my research was that the ones that actually held on to their blogs and kept posting through good and through bad on topics that they found dear to them, they in fact had a pretty decent following with many RSS Subscribers and were receiving quite a few comments on each post. I also ran their blogs through a Link Checker and saw that the older the blog, the more backlinks they had.
The great thing about perseverance when it comes to blogging is that the longer you push your blog, the more you get out of it. It doesn’t matter what topic you write about, because there are a lot of people out there that have the same interests as you no matter what they are.
Perseverance gives your blog backlinks, it gives your blog a higher rating on search engines, and it gives people time to learn more about you and spread your blog’s name through word of mouth. If you read this blog and a bunch of other “making money online” blogs, it opens your mind out to how to market your blog properly, and if you connect perseverance to marketing, there is no stopping you. All that’s left is time to allow someone big and famous to come along and mention your blog in a review or just mention a little bit about your post to really help you explode onto the Super Blogger level.
So all in all, in my opinion, there are really just two things every blogger should keep in mind when either starting a new blog or whenever they’re discouraged about their own blog:
Also, if you’ve got the time to blog on a topic on an almost daily basis, you more than likely have the time to do research of your own on how to market and make your blog popular without having to really spend much money on it.
Many people’s biggest flaw in life is entering into something thinking that easy money will just flow their way, and once the going gets even a little bit difficult, they abandon ship. For example, when I was going to University and Real Estate College at the same time, I thought I’d become a Real Estate Salesperson in no time and start selling houses in the summer time while everybody from University would be working some landscaping summer job. Becoming a Real Estate person was harder than I thought and took much more time than initially planned. At many points I thought about quitting that and just focusing on Univ, but perseverance got me through College to get into the field of Real Estate as a part-time job while still continuing with my Univ studies. I’m happy I pushed myself, because now I see that if I could keep a weekend job while going to University and College all at the same time, while also learning about blogging, then I can push myself to blog on a regular basis.
Keep those 2 points I outlined above in mind and make sure to always keep pushing yourself, because without perseverance you’ll never see any glory. I hope this post really gave you a motivation to keep blogging and reading and most importantly believing that all you need to reach your goal with blogging is constant determination, time, and a little bit of luck.