Whether you’re starting up a new blog or you already have a blog and it seems to be going nowhere, the problem may just be your credibility factor.
I have to admit, that the second I started blogging, I was getting traffic. Most of that was due to my high credibility. People trusted me.
Today I’m going to walk you through exactly what I did in those early months, step by step, to earn and gain credibility in this big internet world.
I want you to have the same opportunity I did to set yourself apart and have a blog that is flying high above everyone else and one of the biggest components of that is whether or not other people can trust you.
Here’s how to instantly gain credibility before you start a new blog.
How to Instantly Gain Credibility Before You Start a New Blog
Before I started a blog, a lot of my friends would come over from church and visit my home. As soon as they walked through the door, their mouths would drop. Literally, many of them would flat out ask how I can have such a nice home on such a meagre income (at the time, $18,000/year).
And I’d tell them. This is what I do…I sell on eBay and that’s how I make my living and I’m extremely frugal with my money.
Many of them wanted to know more about frugal living tips and how I saved so much money. Several of them told me they didn’t have all I had and they were a dual-income family making $60,000/year. “How is it, that a single mom who lives on $18k/year can have more than me?!” they’d ask.
Over time, I just started writing it down on email and then using the same template email for each person and changing things up depending on the particular questions received. It started taking up a lot of my time, and around that time, God kept “bugging” me about starting a blog. I say that, not to be disrespectful to God at all, but to be transparent with you.
I didn’t want to obey Him. In fact, I ran from that idea for about 6 months. I was ALREADY working 80 hours a week (yes, a week) on eBay. What was a blog going to do? What was it even about and why would I care?
You don’t get your way when you argue with God, let’s just say that! You can run away all you want, it won’t matter. He wins…He ALWAYS wins. 🙂
So, I ended up starting a blog JUST for my friends. I put the “emails” online. I did not spell check them. I did not capitalize beginning of sentences, nothing. Just threw them online as is, just for my friends so that I didn’t have to type them out over and over. The blog wasn’t live with Google search. It was turned “off” in every way and they needed a password to even access it!
And as much as I did to protect the articles (if you could even call them articles!) from the public, SOMEHOW, they were leaking out. I started getting traffic, more and more and more. I couldn’t figure it out. Well, apparently, my friends were sharing it with their friends and so on and so on. I decided to make it easier on them, that I would just take the password off and go live, but not promote the blog at all. After all, it was ugly and I didn’t really think much of it personally. I didn’t see the value in what I had to say.
On December 23, 2013, SarahTitus.com officially went “live.” And within my first full month (January 2014), I was at OVER 10,300 pageviews with no promotion, mind you…just friends and who they were all sharing with.
Little by little, I started to grow. I started capitalizing beginning of sentences and using spell check. I started trying. And I started to see that I could actually make money doing this, which was shocking! At the time, my only goal was to get off eBay.
See, I felt like eBay wasn’t helping anyone. Yeah, it was a living, a way for me as a single mom to be able to stay home with my kids, but I wanted MORE. I wanted to help people, to serve people, and selling toys on eBay, didn’t fulfill me in that area.
My goal was to make a mere $1,000/month blogging, so I could quit eBay. I began shifting time between eBay and the blog and working 80-120 hours a week. No, I didn’t sleep! LOL. But, I knew it was just for a season…to set my family up for a better life and I was determined.
During that time of telling my friends how I was able to live rich on so little, I began to notice what they were impressed by and what they weren’t. I’d talk about my life with many, even strangers, and I started to see patterns. I learned exactly what to say to impress someone and what not to say. I wasn’t doing it with some ulterior motive. I was just doing that to find out who I was and what people liked about me, in a very genuine way.
Over time, I realized that my biggest success of the blog, the reason people were willing to listen to me was my story…and that brings me to point #1 on how to instantly gain credibility before you start a new blog.
1) Your story
You must, absolutely must have and hone your story. As you’ve read, my story is that I was living rich on only $18k/year. That is the idea that really got people intrigued. I based my whole site on how I lived on $18k/year. My first post, “How I live rich on $18k/year,” was getting shared all over the place. I put it on Pinterest and it got something like 700 shares within that first month. I put it on Facebook and it went wild (according to my stats back then). My friends were sharing it. Everyone was sharing it. Everyone wanted to listen.
I realized that what I had to say was valuable. That people genuinely wanted to learn more. So, I started posting on saving money all over the place. Little tid bits that I felt were important to someone who’d want to learn to live on so little, while not sacrificing quality of lifestyle.
Your story is your number 1 priority. You have to have a killer about me page. Here’s mine if you’re curious. It has to be ABOUT YOU, but it ALSO has to be about them. WHY they should give you the time of day? You have to hone your message. What is it about YOU that makes YOU so special? Everyone is special, so don’t tell me you don’t have anything. You do…you just have to find it, and in order to do that, you may have to start talking to a lot of people. Bring it up in conversation….ask them what they do for a living? Of course, they usually ask you back, and then it’s your opportunity to tell them and see how they respond.
*Please let me note that you have to be 100% genuine. This is NOT some manipulation or game. Be honest in your dealings with people. People are NOT to be used for self-gain. The point is to simply learn more about yourself.
Find out what they like to hear from you, what they want to learn from you, and why they want to listen to you talk. Eventually, you will have your “about me” story. A story that GRIPS them, a story that makes them want to hear what you have to say.
2) Provide high quality content
When I first started blogging, back when things were simple, I had many, many people tell me they were staying on my site for an hour at a time. They said they couldn’t get enough of my content. They were learning so much and just loved it. My posts were about 500-700 words each, but looking back, I’d probably go with about 700-1,000 words to start. I think that you need at least that amount of words for any really deep and rich content post.
The point is, in each post, give it all you’ve got. Give them absolutely all the information their little hearts can handle. Give them the deep stuff. If you’re reading this post, you’ll see that I first started out with my story. I went in great detail to describe to you my story. Why? Because this is helpful. If you’re just starting out blogging, you NEED the details and most bloggers write short posts and leave the readers hanging with so many questions. Don’t do that!
Readers come back to the bloggers that tell all and leave no questions unanswered. Am I perfect at this? No. But that is my goal – this post is currently over 4,600+ words long! Seriously, it’s a book that I could charge for! But I don’t. Why? Because as you’ll find out in #3, I’m not all about money.
Answering all your readers questions is something that I learned on eBay. In the descriptions, it’s super important to give so much information about the product, the potential buyer has no questions. If they have even one question, they will most likely, not message you, but move on to another ad and buy your competitor’s product!
This makes you lose a sale. Don’t do that. Don’t leave your readers with any questions at all. Cover every angle in full within the post, as best as you possibly can.
Here’s what I personally do:
When I’m writing a post, I first take a sheet of paper and make an outline. I write down all the main topics of the list that I want to cover and that I already know in my head. This usually covers about 3/4 of the article.
Then, I research the rest online. I do not READ others articles, lest I be tempted to copy. I simply read their bullet points to jog my own memory of what I can add to my article to make it a fully rounded, high quality post. This makes for a super comprehensive guide, but it’s also 100% mine and NOT copied, which I think is foundational.
3) Focus on serving
I don’t really care what business you are in, you have to focus on the needs of others. You can sell in an MLM company, work on eBay, or be a blogger. Doesn’t matter. It’s all about the customer (in the case of blogging, the audience member). It’s not about how much money you can make or what you can do for yourself, it’s all about how you can help others.
Most people ask me how I can possibly make so much money, but I chuckle, because they never like the answer!!! I simply focus on others. How I can help them, serve them, love on them, be there for them. The money comes when they see you genuinely care. Your focus cannot be on money; it has to be on others, plain and simple.
A few months ago, I deleted over 20 ads off this site. I lost about $5,000/month in revenue. I can’t say that too many bloggers would do that. It’s a lot of money and I get it, we have mouths to feed. But for me, this blog isn’t about money. It’s about serving others. It’s about showing others that God is real and that He loves them and the Holy Spirit is inside of me and I want to love them too. It’s about helping women all over the country be able to stay home with their kids. It’s never been about money for me. And that’s what MAKES me so successful. People genuinely want to support good people who care.
You have to bend over backwards for your audience. Will you be perfect at it? No. Can you help everyone? No. But do your best. Your audience is the reason you blog and quite honestly, they are the ones paying your paycheck, so if you ARE looking at it from a money-angle, there you go….they pay your bills. Be nice to them! lol.
4) Go Pro
Many bloggers starting up don’t want to put money into their blogs, so they take the free options, and while a lot of things you can get away with going free on a new blog, a theme is not one of them. In fact, I wrote an article about how to start up a blog for under $350. You can see it here. If you want to make money from your blog, you have to invest in it (in the right places).
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to have a professional theme and there’s really no excuse. It’s less than $100 and you can keep it forever. It’s a very good investment. My favorite theme is the Genesis theme and then you add onto it whatever child theme you want. I like StudioPress best for child themes.
Another thing you’ll want to do is start out with a premium (low cost) host.
I recommend using the host site Bluehost.
Well, first they have great prices (get the best prices they have to offer now by using my link). But, they also have OUTSTANDING customer service. I don’t know about you, but that is important to me! Nothing can ruin your experience more than being with a company with horrible customer service, leaving you all on your own to figure out all this blogging stuff.
Right now, you can get hosting as low at $2.95! They have you pay upfront and yes, you absolutely WANT to do that, so you don’t lose your domain name forever. It’s yours and no one can take it from you for as long as you purchase it in advance (I have 9 years on SarahTitus.com!)
The pricing is as follows:
- $2.95 for 36 months –> $106.20 (so cheap seriously! I pay that for ONE month on my blog now because my blog is so big; I’m jealous. LOL)
- $3.95 for 24 months –> $94.80 (great deal!)
- $4.95 for 12 months –> $59.40 (although I highly encourage you to go with the 36 month term because it saves the most money, for the point of this blog post, we’re going to go with this plan to keep costs low.)
Remember that you MUST click HERE in order to get this special deal and I’m not just saying that. Do your homework. The deal isn’t available everywhere. They’ve given me special pricing for a limited time to pass on to you!
When you go through BlueHost, your WordPress.org account will be free. In the video above, I show you how to set all that up.
5) Act professional
Going along the lines of your image online being professional, you have to act professional too. Several months ago, I visited a pro blogger’s site and happened to read a comment. The reader was quite mean and attacking. The blogger attacked back and was rude and mean. There’s just no reason for that. I personally do not allow mean spirited or bitter comments on the blog at all. You can have your opinions, no problem. If you don’t agree, that’s totally fine. I’m not always right. 🙂 But, when it’s mean, I have awesome filters for that stuff and it doesn’t get published.
I would encourage you to do that as well, but if you do want to publish all comments, either don’t respond back at all, or respond back in love. No need to get nasty. Pro bloggers should act like pro’s.
6) Don’t sell
A question I get often is when should bloggers should start selling or adding ads to their blogs. My answer, never before you hit 50,000/month pageviews. There are rules on ads and if you start too early, you can get banned from a solid company. Likewise, it loses trust instantly. You don’t want to appear you’re all about money. Just give them the content, build trust and credibility as a base, and SLOWLY add in ads. When I started adding in ads, I just added one on my sidebar. I promised myself, I would only add one ad per month. So, it took several months to have the blog even have ads. It is a slow process. You are building a foundation.
Often times, the temptation is to just go super fast, but you have to build slowly, making sure your foundation is stable.
Think about it from the reader’s perspective. They love coming to your site every few days. You have no ads. They love it and stay a super long time. All the sudden, they come to your site the next few times and there are ads plastered everywhere. Automatically, all that good stuff you did before to create a loyal reader just went out the window. They will either never come back or they will give you a couple more visits to get it straight. After that, they will get tired and you lost your loyal reader. They see you as money hungry all of the sudden, devaluing yourself and your site.
Add in the ads slowly, one a month. Make changes slowly. Think about your readers. You want to be consistent with them, someone they can trust and count on.
7) Blog comments / social proof
It’s really hard to get blog comments and social proof when you’re just starting out. So, ask for it! Ask your friends, ask on your posts, ask whenever it comes up. Encourage others to talk and comment. Read and respond personally to ALL the comments. Your readers want to know that it is YOU who is seeing their comments and responding.
Set up a great comment form that’s easy to leave comments on. Set up an email service that they can sign up for, when someone responds to their comment, so they can get an email on it. Do all you can to cultivate comments and social proof. This means you need to be out there, responding yourself. It’s really important, especially in the beginning.
Even when you do become a pro blogger, don’t hire it out. Your audience is your lifeline. Don’t let anyone else touch that relationship, EVER!!!
8) Don’t be spammy
You know those blogs you visit….they have a pop up for something or other and you click out and another pop up pops up in the corner to like their Facebook page or subscribe to their email. After you get through all that, you see ads all over the site, there’s a bottom sticky footer ad and it’s just so blatantly obvious they care way too much about money and selling you to get whatever it is they want. Don’t do that. If you absolutely HAVE TO have a pop up, just use one, so make it count. And it should NEVER be instantly pop up. Let them have at least 5-15 seconds on the page first.
Remember that they are coming to your site for the content. Get them to the content and you’ll make a friend. Tick them off and they will remember you and not come back.
9) Take a stand
Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. I see a lot of bloggers shrink back because they are afraid of offending someone. Seriously, you can sneeze and offend someone. Jesus offended lots of people (so much they wanted to kill Him) and He was perfect! It’s going to happen. Now, don’t take that wrong. We shouldn’t go around trying to tick people off, but don’t walk on eggshells either. This is YOUR blog. It’s an extension of YOU.
Be confident, be you. If they don’t agree with you, that’s okay…your blog may not be the right fit for them. Just focus on the readers that your blog IS the right fit for. Focus on those readers and how you can serve them.
Keep in mind that someone will visit your blog because of a post idea or content, but they will STAY and come back for YOU. If they like you, if you connect with them, if they feel you are their friend. So treat them with love, be their friend, and give them the content they want, all while being yourself. Yes, it’s a tricky balance, but you will get there! And when you do, it’s magical. That’s when you start flying!
10) Be honest
This is a hard one for a lot of people. Not because they are not honest, but because we are always learning and growing and in doing so, we are walking contradictions. Sometimes within the same book or post if it’s written in two different times, you’ll contradict yourself.
You can’t really help it. You’re growing. What was true for you yesterday, may not be true for you next week. And your audience will call you on it, and that’s okay. Just do your absolute best to always be found being 100% honest. Do not lie, do not fade the truth, do not tell 90% truths. Just be genuine and transparent, as best as you can. Be unapologetically you.
11) Work hard
Listen, no one respects a lazy person. If you’re working your blog 3 hours a week, expecting to make $10,000/month, it’s just not feasible. You have to work your blog. Remember that I made $10,000/month within my first year blogging or $23,000/month within my second year blogging and now in my third year blogging, $57k/month. Yes…but do you remember that I’ve also been working this blog for 80+ hours since day 1? It’s only been this year that I cut my time on the blog down to 10-40 hours a week and that’s because I can now because I have help and a great system (mostly working way in advance so I CAN take time off).
If you want to have a hobby blog, no problem, work as much or as little as you want, but if you want to make money blogging, you have to invest your time…and a lot of it, into your blog, especially when you are first starting up. There are so many things you need to learn and it takes time. There’s a learning curve. It gets much better as time goes on, but you never stop learning.
Just the other day I had a fellow blogger email me about something I was doing wrong in my newsletter. I had to laugh because I seriously didn’t know. Apparently it’s a rule and I confirmed it with the company and she’s totally right. I have to change my plan up for my newsletter now and it’s annoying, yes, but it’s a rule and I want to abide by it and I’m thankful to have people like that to tell me. 🙂
You’ll never get to a point where you have it all together, where you know everything. There’s always something, a new change, new algorithms you have to figure out. You never get there, but don’t let that discourage you either. Work your blog, but don’t let it consume you. Take off time from your blog to be with your family.
Right now, I’m at a point where I can work as much or as little as I want. I have the freedom to do that, but I worked hard to get to where I am today and that is not to say I’m slacking now either, because I’m not. In the same way, you’ll have to work hard too. You can’t piggy back on other blogger’s success. You have to do the work yourself.
12) Respect your audience
One of the biggest no-no’s you can do with your audience is to treat them with disrespect. This can come off in several different ways. One example could be you talking down to them. Treat them like they are your child or like they don’t know anything.
I think that when you are writing posts, just talk to your readers like you’re talking to your best friend. Use the same language, be that same person. What kinds of words and things would you say to your best friend? You wouldn’t treat her like she’s stupid, or use too fancy of words that she won’t understand. Just talk. Write like you talk.
My secret: For me, when I write, I write to a younger version of myself.
So, for this post, I’m writing to myself as the blogger who just started month 1 blogging. I’m telling myself all the things I know now that I wish I would have known then. I’m giving myself a ton of knowledge and expertise, but because I love myself, I’m not being condescending or mean. It’s just a spirit of wanting to help. Wanting her to avoid all the time spent in places I shouldn’t have spent time on, and teaching her what she needs to know quickly to advance and grow quickly.
13) Establish credibility on one authority at a time
Like I mentioned before in this post, I started out teaching on saving money. It’s what everyone wanted to know. But at the time I started blogging, I also knew quite a lot about making money from home. But, my readers weren’t ready for it. They wouldn’t read those posts. I didn’t have the credibility for whatever reason. But now, I have no problem teaching on making money from home. Because I’ve been making money from home since I was in high school (!!!) I know what works and what doesn’t. I have the authority, the credibility in it.
But I had to start with saving money.
In the same way, NOW, I can teach on blogging. And a myriad of people LOVE my blogging articles. But, it’s been something I’ve had to wait for, until I’ve had the credibility to do so. If I would have come out of the gates teaching on blogging, I would have looked like a fool because I had no clue about blogging.
Establish one authority at a time. For me, that was saving money. I did that for about a year. Then I added making money and I did that for several months and then blogging. All along the way, adding more topics to my blog so that it is rounded and fresh information. But it’s all been in the proper time. And now, during the month, I make sure I hit at least each topic once so that I’m still posting on saving money and making money.
Sometimes, I’ll throw in a Christian inspirational post, a printable, organization, or blogging posts as well. I want to make sure that I have a rounded collection of content, not just one topic.
But that didn’t happen overnight. It came in stages. It will for you as well.
Talk about what you have credibility in, what people want to listen to YOU specifically for, and what you love to talk about. Build up your credibility stage by stage, topic by topic as you learn and grow. Little by little, you will prove yourself that you know what you are talking about….