A super interesting question someone asked me in my recent Reader Q&A was how they could build trust with their readership. It really started me thinking about this idea, and how I've always prioritised trust and an authentic relationship with my readers since starting up this blog in 2013. With all the opportunities available to online content creators these days, it's understandable why some readers are trusting opinions and bloggers motives less and less. If you're looking to build trust with your readership, I want to share today four steps I've found that make all the difference:
Be Authentic At its core, trust has to come from an authentic space. From the words and opinions you're putting out there, the most important thing is that they are always an honest and accurate representation of you. There's no point trying to be someone we're not, or creating a fake persona in the hopes of reenacting someone else's success; do you every step of the way and focus on being authentic and human with your content.
Your Blog Is An Experience To really build a strong and honest relationship with your readers, focusing on the whole experience of your blog is a good place to start. Regina shared an awesome piece talking about the experience you offer which is a must read, and taking into account how the words and visuals you're putting out there make your readers feel can be really helpful when building trust. How your blog makes readers feel will define whether they trust you or not; are you consistent? are you positive and encouraging? is your content of high quality and fun to read? All of these things play a huge part in how you're perceived, and it's not about manipulating the reader experience but instead creating an authentic space that is a true representation of you and who you are.
Sponsorships & Brand Work A very hot topic amongst bloggers is sponsored content and working with brands. The most important thing in my opinion is knowing your boundaries, your policy for working with brands, and sticking to them when making decisions along the way. Personally I don't accept any sponsored content for this space - for me it just doesn't add to the reader experience or the purpose of this blog. Of course though, I don't think there's anything wrong working with brands - it's just a personal choice I've made along the way. The most important thing to ask yourself when making a decision to work with a brand or not is this; would the content I create be for the reader, or for the brand? Would you have to compromise your opinions, creative integrity, and blog ethos? Would you be accepting it solely for the money and compromising your readers experience? All these things are worth asking, and although on the whole there's no right or wrong way to work with brands, it's important we accept that it can affect our readers relationship with our space. If working with brands is something you want to do, my best advice is to be open and honest at all times, keep your integrity, and know your limits and your worth.
Engage, Engage, Engage A blog is a two-way conversation between you and your readers. The more you build an active and engaged community, the more you will develop a strong trust between you and your readership. If you have a commenting system open to your readers, take the time to reply and really engage with the awesome people supporting your online space - I know we're busy people leading hectic lives but if building trust and an authentic relationship with your readers is important to you, making time to engage and reply is one of the most important things. The thing is, they can become way more than just readers. I learn so much from the awesome people who stop by and comment on my posts, they make me laugh, they spark new ideas, and more than that I learn from them and the thoughts and opinions they share. Same goes for Twitter - don't just favourite tweets people send your way, reply and open up the connection to really getting to know each other. If you make your space all about you, you're already limiting it's possibilities.
I'd love to know your thoughts and experiences when it comes to building trust with your readership?
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