Blogging has long been a passion of mine, and it is something I truly enjoy doing. Accordingly, it has become my major source of income, and I treat it like a business. At the same time blogging is personal for me.
Creating a trustworthy blog is like creating a brand that people can vouch for and depend on. There are many concepts that a blogger needs to implement to reach that level of blogging, and the development of a trustworthy, professional blog does not happen overnight. That said, you can get started right now to move toward that goal by working to improve the quality of your blog.
Building a Trustworthy Blog:
In this post I will skip over some of the basics such as social media accounts, “About” pages, author bio, etc, as I have covered those in numerous other posts.
In this article, I will be focusing on the essence of creating trust for your blog.
It starts from day one:
Trust-building starts from day one, and it takes time for people to start trusting you and what you write on your blog. When you start a blog, you need to have few things clear in your mind regarding policies for your blog, your goals, your to-do list (and not-to-do list!), and much more. If you have an existing blog but are working hard to build that elusive trust, there are a few reputation management tactics that you can use to earn the trust of your readers and improve the reputation of your blog. So let’s get on with our list:
Blog content is your magical trust wand:
Regardless of how fast your site is, how beautiful it looks, and what technology you are using, your content is what matters most. Without good, resourceful, meaningful, helpful content your blog is like a person with a bad heart, as content is the heart of your blog.
Your content (new and old) has to be interesting, informative and, most importantly, credible. For existing blogs, you need to work on all of your old blog posts to improve them, update them and keep the information current and useful.
If you cover news related matters in your blog, you should try to dig down to the root of the news, and bring forth information that no one else has produced.
Here are some tips to writing content which can build trust:
- Research: Thoroughly research the topic you are writing about. Always start with the source of the news (the official page), and then read what other influential authors and websites are saying about the topic. Read user comments, consider opinions, and build a credible news piece. This type of in-depth research may add an extra 30-40 minutes to your writing process, but it will pay off in the form of your readers’ trust.
- No favoritism: Take this advice to heart: blogging is not journalism, but it is also not less than journalism. People come to your blog because they trust you, they trust your opinion, and the trust the content you put forth. Favoritism produces biased reviews and opinions, and it kills the natural flow of the article. Moreover, your readers cannot trust a biased review. If you are seen as a reviewer with a bias, you will never be seen as someone to whom people can turn for an honest review of any product. This is a real reputation killer. There is nothing wrong with giving recommendations based on your usage, but favoritism / bias toward any product, company or person should be avoided at all costs. Remember: things which are top products right now will not be so in the future. Consumer products change quickly. Being a trustworthy blogger, your job is to write current, unbiased information that can help to point your readers in the right direction.
- Link out: Whenever you are writing a piece of content, always link out. What this means is that if you have collected information or images from some other source, or if you are using quotes from someone else’s article, you should link to the original source. This will help in keeping your news/post authentic, and will help you to earn SEO benefits as well.
There will be times when you may inadvertently make an error due to incorrect or missing information. Don’t hesitate to write an apology and correct your mistakes.
Have a policy for yourself first, and then for others:
A blog is a personal space, but if you’re making income from it you have to give it a professional flair and treat it as a the professional endeavor it is.
If you come to offer guest posting on your blog, you need to have your own guidelines for accepting or rejecting a post.
If you offer sponsored reviews on your blog, you need to have your own set of criteria for accepting a product for review.
Here is a quick story:
Zyma webhosting company tried to get in touch with me for months to run a free give-away at ShoutMeLoud. There is nothing wrong with this, as it will help me to drive more traffic and increase social media engagement (see: Benefits of Blog Contests). But from my perspective it is wrong to promote a hosting company I have not actually used or experienced. To recommend a product of any kind without any previous record is akin to dishonesty.
This is just one of many examples of why it is important to have policies and guidelines for yourself as a professional blogger.
If you manage a blogging diary of your own, write down a set of rules for yourself. It’s a good idea to have to to-do list for your blog, at the same time maintain a list of things which you will never do on your blog. For example:
- Never review a product without using it.
- Will not show direct ads from a company that you can’t trust.
- Will never sell your soul for money.
- Will never be biased when writing about any person or product.
- Will not use pop-up ads.
- Will never do link-selling.
Treat your blog as your home:
If a guest come to your home, how does your guest behave? This often depends on the ambience of your home, and how you treat your guest. The same is true for your blog. If your blog is maintained in a professional manner, it it likely to be treated as such.
As a professional blogger (or even as a hobby blogger), you need to maintain good blog design, adequate site speed site, good user navigation, a good overall user-experience and many other basic factors. You must also monitor the types of comments appearing on your blog. If you have low-quality comments on your blog, it will attract more low-quality comments. But if you have meaningful and engaging comments, it is far more likely to attract a similar type of comment from your readers.
In fact, this is a concept that has been tried and tested by me. As of one year ago, I have stopped accepting comments like:
- “Amazing post”
- “Nice post, was looking for it”
- Any comments which are not meaningful or do not add to the discussion of the topic at hand
In my experience having taken this course of action, I have seen a direct effect on the quality of comments which ShoutMeLoud is now receiving. Remember: 10 quality comments is always better than 100 meaningless comments.
Being the administrator of a blog, you need to make decisions which are good for you and for your readers. You don’t have to blindly follow the policies of other blogs, but you need to find a balance of policies which fit your personality and serve the better quality of your blog.
Remember: You are responsible for every word that appears on your blog.
Take care of the little things:
These are some of the major issues which will ensure that your blog remains trustworthy and credible over the long haul.
Let me know what other factors help in building the trust factor of a blog for you as a reader.
Also, what makes you lose trust in a blog?
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