I talk A LOT about building trust and authenticity on your blog (we all do), because that's what I believe will lead to successful monetization and longevity (although, even if you don't want to monetize or be around forever, building trust with your readers is still a good idea). But HOW to do that is a different story entirely.
It may seem intuitive, and like you can just “be you” and you've got it covered, but building trust, community, and influence is more nuanced than that. If you want your readers to visit your blog (and keep coming back), respond to your outreach (social media) efforts, and buy from your partners/advertisers, they need to know you, like you AND trust you*.
Trust = Confidence in or reliance on a person
Know and focus on your niche
Another thing I talk about a lot here, I know, but it's true! The more narrow, and focused, your niche, the better. This not only helps keep you on track, but it keeps clear who you're talking to. If you “talk” about too many disparate things, and try to make too many people happy, your message will get lost; it won't be clear what your readers should rely on you for. Ultimately, when your readers think about something related to your niche, they should think of you immediately. That's trust.
Establish yourself as an expert
Once you've been publishing in your niche for a while, it's time to get yourself out there as an expert. I used to do this by publishing press releases and sending out emails to as many other experts as I could, among other things. Now, it's easier with social media, speaking opportunities, and freelancing to really establish yourself as someone who can be trusted in your niche. Use references, talk about your “successes” and why you are considered an expert. Even if you're not necessarily an expert yet – fake it 'til you make it!!!
Publish Multiple Resources
If you monetize, or want to monetize – even if you don't want to monetize – it's important that you don't ONLY post what you're getting paid for. I started out publishing every single resource I could find for shopping designers online and I still do, even though I don't get paid for a lot of it. If you're creating a shopping post, don't make them all affiliate links. Don't fill up your blog with sponsored posts. This will go a long way towards building trust with your readers; they should feel like you're not holding anything back.
Although I do believe in posting everyday, you don't have to, as long as you have a reliable schedule. Your readers will trust you when they know they can count on you to “be there” for them, either with a new post, to answer an email, or respond on social media to a question.
Build relationships with other influencers
Identify other influencers and experts in your niche and start building relationships with them. I don't mean comment on their blogs with a link back to yours, I mean email them, introduce yourself, let them know how they've inspired you. An action item won't hurt either; ask if you can interview them for your blog, see if there's something you can collaborate on, propose a project…focus on how you might be able to help them, not yourself, and you'll be well on your way to building a network of influencers. Your connection with them will reinforce your expertise as they link to you or mention you in posts or on social media.
Get out there
Your blog is your home, and that's where most of your trust & community building should take place, but part of allowing your readers to get to know you (and like you) is going where they are: facebook, twitter, google+, linked in, etc. Be as visible as possible where ever people are discussing your niche.
Put a face on it
Even if you're not a personal style blogger, it's good to put a face to your blog sometimes. Jennine wrote a great piece on how to do that, also see the Bag Snob for how she does it, but it's really crucial that your readers get to know ALL of you, including your face, so they can trust you. Just having a photo on your about page, or in your sidebar will do it, you don't have to start posting full outfit pictures or anything, just sharing that bit of yourself with your readers will go a long way towards building trust.
This is sort of a follow up to my previous tip to publish multiple resources, and also a nod to building gratitude on your blog. Post links to other blogs you like, maybe feature another blogger in your niche. Be generous with your readers and they will be generous with you.
I hope this goes without saying 🙂 Also, worth noting that this doesn't mean that you need to be 100% positive all the time, especially if you do reviews. Honest, negative reviews that are NICE, also build trust with your readers; if they don't know what you DON'T like, how can they really know what you like? And why? Being pleasant and fun to read is the key here – don't be a debbie downer, or nasty to other bloggers or your readers.
Always be your best
Always make sure your content is a reflection of you, and is the best it can be. If you don't have it in you one day, or wrote a post and it's not your absolute best, DON'T publish it. While consistency is important, it's also important to be at your best on your blog – don't ever publish something you might want to delete later, or be embarrassed about. That doesn't mean that you can't share pitfalls or rough patches, but you should be careful to do it in a way that's consistent with your message and tone on your blog up until now.
*I was totally inspired to write this from this article on Copyblogger which has LOTS more ideas
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]