Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Build Trust Among Your Blog Readers

Since everyone and their brother has a blog, you never know who to trust, who to take seriously.  Although there are some basic tips as you’ll read about below, one can carefully cultivate a sense of trust with your readers by following a few broad guidelines.These are meant to be pieces of advice to build trust among your readers, not guarantees for success.  If you have your own tip for building reader trust, please share it as a comment on this post.



Signs you can trust a blog

  • There is a history of quality content.  This can easily be viewed through archives.  A couple weeks of content is a bad sign, a couple years is good.  Give people a break if they took a month off at one point, but consider how long they’ve been blogging on the subject.
  • There isn’t a ton of promotional text and advertising.  An over-monetize blog is a sign of desperation or greediness.
  • You have found something valuable in the content.  You’ll know this feeling when you want to bookmark the site.

Solutions: How to build trust among your readers

  • Speak to them, not at them.  Don’t pass judgment or speak as if you’re above them.
  • Don’t be sneaky.  This can look like styling advertisements to look like content or hiding affiliate links in content.  Affiliate income can be a huge part of a blog’s success.  However, we (and others) announce when we’re using an affiliate link in articles.
  • Offer a quality service or product.  Although the internet lacks a community surrounding it like your neighborhood grocery store, people will talk about your poor service or flawed product.  Offer true value to your readers and they will trust your opinion.
  • Keep everything above-board.  When you make a decision that affects how readers view your blog, tell them why you made the decision.  Even giving them a false sense of ownership will turn into tangible trust.
  • Don’t abuse mailing lists.  A subscription list is one of the most valuable tools for creating a real, long-term following of readers.  If they sign up for one list, don’t copy them to another.  If they sign up for weekly updates, don’t send them daily.  You get the idea.
  • Every relationship matters.  On the web, it can be easy to discount someone as a spammer.  Maybe they don’t come off as a legitimate.
  • Follow through.  When creating series posts such as “Weekly Web Design Inspiration, Part 1″ make sure there is a part 2, 3, 4, etc.
  • Don’t steal content.  Any web browser without rocks for brains knows when you have stolen other people’s content using an automatic re-posting script.  This is pathetic and underhanded.  You will be punished for this in a later life.
  • Stay focused. Write about what you know well and don’t pretend to be an expert in everything.  People will respect your opinion if they see you have the restraint to focus your blog.
  • Respond to comments.  This makes people feel like there is a real person behind the blog.  Plus, it is a great way to add rich content as conversations will ensue.
  • Accept Pingbacks.  It’s only fair.
  • Make it easy for people to contact you.  Websites without contact information are big red flags.
  • Describe yourself, your intentions with the blog and how you came to be knowledgeable about the subject in a detailed “About” page.