How to build trust through your blog

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There’s a very true saying about trust: that it’s more readily destroyed than it is built. Building trust when blogging is something that takes time and is more powerful than all the comments, shares and traffic. Because when you have trust, it doesn’t matter how many readers you have, you’ll make sales and monetise your blog. It’s also harder to generate trust online as you can’t use your body language and other visual clues. Sure, video helps, but often those talking-head style videos are stilted and challenging to view rather than natural.

Building trust can be likened to building a sandcastle close to the sea – it’s beautiful when it’s built and everyone stops to look and admire it… but just one big wave will wash it away. All your hard work, all your effort, all your skill – gone and there’s nothing to show for it.

So how do we build trust in order to monetise our blogs?

The answer appears to be quite simple on the surface – good strong, quality content. If we dig a bit deeper we can see that it’s more complex and that to build trust via our content we need to do 5 things. Failing to do one of the five things means there is a disconnect or friction and our potential buyer walks away. I say buyer but that can easily be reader, subscriber or prospect.

1. Failing to recognise objections

if you’ve ever wondered about long copy landing pages, and think “why the hell do marketers create them?” then here’s your answer: the marketer / blogger is addressing your objections.  When writing your landing page if there’s an objection to your product / service or offer, address it upfront. Typical objections can be cost related or use related ie “I can’t afford it” or “It looks to complicated to use and I’m not that technical”.

Don’t ignore it or pretend your objection isn’t there. You look like you are clueless and clueless look doesn’t make you very credible.

Example: You’re selling slimming pills that are effective but causes sleeplessness for a couple weeks. The first step is to acknowledge this happens. Customers are not stupid, before making a sale they will search for reviews and conversations surrounding your slimming pills. They will probably read about the sleeplessness in reviews and forums.

Address the objection and make it less of an issue by comparing it to the benefits. If the benefits outweigh the objection and you are open about it, you will have built trust.

You don’t have to write long copy for low cost items. Most people have a mental budget that they will take punt with. It’s usually around the price of a hardback book. However, if you are writing a sales page for an expensive item, then other factors come into play – emotions and things like – “what will my partner think of this?”. You are persuading your prospect to part with a lot of money,  you need to address and overcome potential stumbling blocks and remove distractions.

Remember you are not your ideal customer. Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

If you want to know more about targeted marketing, check out my book  Zero to Targeted Marketing, co-authored with Lilach Bullock.

2. Making a Claim You Can’t Prove

Some people are not taken in by the hype. Don’t claim that you can teach someone how to make £10,000 a month if you can’t prove it.
Never make a claim that’s bigger than what you can prove.

A smaller claim that’s less impressive will generate more conversions than making a huge claim that you can’t prove. You look an idiot if you make ridiculous claims. Your reputation is washed away like that sandcastle on the beach. Make a claim that’s reasonable and let the customers decide for themselves whether or not to buy. Of course, it should go without saying that you still use powerful language and write great copy.

At the core of your offering you should always be clear and honest about what is for sale. Sure your customers may love your brand and buy everything you release, but you must also make sure everything you create lives up to your brand. Which leads nicely into…

3. Ignoring Your Brand

Your brand affects your traffic and your conversions. Branding is the personality of your business marketing. It’s an often overlooked element by many bloggers.

Never underestimate how much people might know about you before they land on your blog. There’s a good chance they’ll know about the quality of your product, your credibility as a person and what other customers have experienced – all before they land on your page, and if they don’t they may Google you and see what others think about you. After all, if you are selling something people will want to know how good the product is and great you are.

Pay attention to your brand, know what you stand for.

  • Release top-notch products
  • Provide first class service

It might not seem like it’ll pay off in the short term, you may feel frustrated that you are not getting the results that you want but in the long run it’ll make all the difference. I spent much of last year writing “Zero To” guides to help my readers. I’d dabbled with a few Kindle guides but what I am best known for is my “how-to-do-something” tutorials starting from a zero knowledge point. This is my brand, this is what I do best and this is what I am known for, why attempt to be anything else?

4. Not Having a Professional Blog Design or Selling via a Free Site

Do ugly sales letters outperform well-designed blog pages? For a one off sale, the answer is yes. But in the long run, if you want to get people to trust you and buy from you again and again, having poor sales letters, crappy emails and poor blog design will hinder you rather than help. You can create really spectacular-looking, low-cost blogs with Genesis. All you need is a little bit of know-how. If you don’t want to take the time to learn how to customise your site, then get someone in to help you.

If you are selling (well attempting to sell) from your blog because that’s what monetising your blog is, you have one mega disconnect if you attempt it from a free site such as a blogspot /blogger / wordpress.com site. You are saying “buy this premium, all sing all dancing product from me because I can’t afford my own site and I am a digital sharecopper“. Ok,you might not say you are digital sharecropper but the truth is you are one. A free site is harder to monetise and doesn’t always build the trust you need.

Buying a domain name $8, hosting $6 a month, install WordPress (free), and importing your content to the new site – free. There’s no excuse to not look professional online. Cost is the last thing you should worry about. It will cost you more business and more money by having the disconnect.

5. Reeking of Eau Despair

Some sales copy give the impression that they’re “screaming” at the reader to buy. You will have seen those internet marketing sales pages that are all yellow highlighter and red headlines, packed with testimonials that give off a whiff of desperation. Do you buy from them? Of course not. You can smell the desperation. I have one of these pages and it performs okay, when I changed it to plain white with great images it performed better. Why? Because it built trust better and geniunely sounded like me

Demonstrating your capability should be a natural part of your blog posts, however there is a thin line between me-me-me and sharing your expertise. Pages that stink of despair don’t show any respect for the reader. They don’t promote a connection and they  convert badly, but then you might just decide that it’s because you’ve tried long copy…

Don’t get me wrong, great copywriters can make this style of copywriting work. For us mere mortals this style will more likely turn visitors off than actually generate a sale.

Bonus trust building tip

Trust factors are not just site and written word related. They are also image related. If you accept credit card payments having a credit card logo is a trust building factor.  Having an signature that looks like a signature rather than typed letters is a trust building factor. Testimonials in the sidebar are excellent trust builders, along with video testimonials. The reason that video testimonial work so well? They’re hard to fake. Sure you can buy them from Fiverr.com but how many clients in Korea do you really have? icon wink  How to build trust through your blog

If you’ve blogged on other blogs add their badges to your site (yeah, I should do this but it feels more like bragging even if it’s trust building), if you are endorsed by other business leaders add that to your site. All in all, building trust with your readers is an ongoing exercise that you should incorporate into every single blog post. It’s not something that you should do when you remember, but do as you go along.

What else do you think is important to include, in order to generate trust?

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Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer. You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe here and stay in touch, my updates will help you achieve content marketing success.
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Comments

  1. says

    I think No. 4—not having a self-hosted site (or having an uber-crappy site)—is really important. I’m often surprised by the poor quality of websites belonging to people who are trying to launch online businesses. These days it’s so easy to look good even if you have only a slightly hacked default WordPress theme!
    Mary C. Weaver, CSCS recently posted..Thinking about the hCG diet?My Profile
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  2. says

    Got to lead by example
    If you’re selling SEO you’ve got to rank well – I’ve got business that way.
    If you’re selling fabulous looking websites, your site has to look the business.
    And if you’re pushing affiliates you should have tried them out.

    Honesty, integrity and only recommending the best.

    Useful post Sarah, love “Reeking of Eau Despair” – right, where is my yellow highlighter?
    Keith Davis recently posted..Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis or…. the Genesis Extender plugin?My Profile
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  3. Allan Nelson says

    Fantastic article. So much true in so few words.
    Honesty and transparency has to be the biggest clue to all those great client/customer transaction.
    Thank you for posting and sharing.
    Allan
    Twitter:

  4. says

    Excellent tips! Trust is a big issue. It’s definitely important to be familiar with products you are promoting and to have a professional-style website. Free websites may be a good option to start out with when your budget is tight and you just need to get yourself online (I had one), but people aren’t going to take your business and expertise as seriously as you want them to.
    Lisa MacDonald recently posted..Forget the ResolutionsMy Profile
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  5. says

    Terrific tips – the only one I disagree with is adding badges from other sites. If I added every badge from other sites, author diretories, book review sites and article directories (to name a few) my blog would not only look like a swap meet, there’d be no room left for my stuff. In order to not offend anyone, I just make it a policy to display no badges. Although having said that – I’m going to have to make an exception next month since I’m participating in a Valentine’s blogger promo – but it’s only for 3 days.
    marquita herald recently posted..The Value of Expressing Praise, Admiration and AppreciationMy Profile
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    • says

      Hi Marty, I think you have to choose the ones that matter the most to you. I chose to show Sage, where I contribute as a business expert and one list that I appear on. Other bloggers like to show their guest blogging host’s logo. Good luck with your valentines promo, hope it goes well for you :)
      Sarah Arrow recently posted..Zero To Social MediaMy Profile
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  6. says

    I love this. Such great advice from start to end. It always amazes me how many people do exactly the opposite of what you’re describing here and think it’s a good idea… actually I have no idea WHAT they’re thinking! Bad branding, screaming sales pitches, outright lies. Who thinks that’s a good idea? I especially like your point to address objections. For me that’s the biggest credibility builder. Nothing is perfect so the sooner you can get to my concerns then the better I’ll feel.
    Carol Lynn recently posted..Top Marketing Blogs This Week: Finding The Best Keywords, Setting Goals And MoreMy Profile

    • says

      I think the screaming sales pitches make us all die a little inside when we read them. I like how you say nothing is perfect, I wonder if when we write our sales pages we don’t manage all the expectations of our readers correctly. Thanks for stopping by.
      Sarah Arrow recently posted..Zero To Social MediaMy Profile
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  7. Chery Schmidt says

    HI Sarah I sure do love visiting your blog you sure have a way with words For instance talking heads, we do see this a lot, don’t we.I have heard this before and do try to do things a little different. I guess this is the way we al were trained :) You hit n so many great points I don’t know what one I liked best.

    I visited a blog this morning because a friend of mine said he had a great advertising gig going on.. Well his site was so cluttered I was over whelmed so no matter how good this advertising gig was I didn’t even stick around to find out.. People need to realize this and keep things structures in an orderly fashion. Right? Well Sarah Thanks for sharing. See you again soon Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Online Entrepreneur Training Creating Image Ads For Craigs ListMy Profile
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  8. says

    Sarah,

    Once again, another great article! Thanks so much. As a professional WordPress Web Designer, I, of course, agree with you wholeheartedly about NOT using a crummy FREE site to sell a product or promote your brand. What a joke! “Digital Sharecropper” — I like that expression. I once went to a local business networking meeting here in Jupiter, Florida. The “technology guru” who was one of the leaders of the group told everyone of these small business owners (people who own brick and mortar business, no less!) that WordPress com was a great place to start. I thought to myself “What a joke!” No business acumen.

    Love your tip about the video testimonials as well! It’s kinda hard to hide the insincerity on camera!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim recently posted..Create a Static Home Page or Front Page using WordPress 3.5My Profile
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