Trust is difficult to establish and easy to lose.
Last week I did a very small promotion (you may not have even really noticed it) for Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Building Kit. I don’t know how well too many other affiliates did, but my results exceeded expectations. I wouldn’t be surprised if I outperformed bloggers with much larger (but not as bad ass!) fan bases than mine. (The 4,000 word Anatomy of a 4 Figure Affiliate Promotion case study will be in How To Live Anywhere.)
And the reason for that success is simple: trust.
Whether you bought the Kit or not, thank you for being here.
I really do appreciate the fact that you trust me. I work hard to keep that trust. Actually, I’m borderline obsessed with establishing and growing your trust in me.
I have big plans for the future of Ridiculously Extraordinary (speaking to high school and college students and writing a series of print books, among other things) and they won’t happen without you.
How To Establish Trust In An Age Of Skepticism
If you’re starting a business or blog or trying to establish yourself in an industry, you can guarantee your success by being trustworthy.
1) Provide value.
Sometimes those words come across as empty. Or maybe just confusing. How do you provide value? At its essence, it’s simple: be a problem solver.
If you solve problems you will not only be well paid but well liked and well lived.
How do you find problems to solve? Ask, listen, and pay attention to your people.
If you’ve been here for a while you know that I never planned on monetizing this blog or creating products. This was my passion project. But after getting well over a hundred e-mails asking how to do what I do, I decided to solve the problem by creating How To Live Anywhere. That way I can still write about whatever I want to write about here, but if you’re interested in learning how to do exactly what I do you can go there.
2) State your own opinions and ideas.
There are too many people simply rehashing thoughts and ideas. And while you might think that some of my ideas aren’t necessarily unique, I do put my own spin on them. I don’t agree with everybody about everything, even many of my peers who I respect. You don’t earn trust or respect by being a pushover lapdog.
3) Help others.
It doesn’t matter if you’re interacting with someone “famous” or not, treat them well. Help them when and where you can. Yes, it does suck getting the same type of e-mail 10, 20, 100 times per day. If you have to, create stock responses, but sheesh, at least respond. If someone takes time out of their day to contact you, to pour their heart out to you, is it really so difficult to get back to them?
There are a handful of mind bogglingly successful (and busy) people I have e-mailed who personally responded with thoughtful responses. (And I’m not referring to Gary V.) If they can do it, so can you.
4) Showcase your true personality.
This goes along with state your own opinions and ideas.
Bill O’Reilly is a douchebag, but the reason he has such a devoted following is because he has personality. Sure it might be a hateful, abhorable, cantakerous personality, but it’s a personality. And lots of people connect with it. Then people like me write about it even though we don’t want him to get even more free publicity. ;)
In a recent CopyBlogger article, Johnny B. Truant talks about his alter-ego. I’m not advocating copying Johnny’s approach directly because it’s difficult to pull off, but let the passion in your art, heart, and mind shine.
I liken it to a comedian who is funny in public, but just a “regular person” in private. Fans expect comedians to be “on” all the time, but they’re not. That’s not the art. The art is standing up on stage and making a room full of people forget about their problems (see what I did there?) and laugh.
Your blog, your public persona, is your stage. Dominate that stage. Trust in that stage. In return, your audience will trust that you deserve to be on that stage.
5) If you tell someone you’re going to do something, do it.
Being a man/woman of your word is the ultimate showcase of your trustworthiness. You will be forgiven if you make mistakes, or if you’re late or you realize you just can’t make something happen. But if you make failing people a habit the trust will diminish. Quickly.
6) Be cool.
You’re a leader for your audience. And you’re probably in the audience of a leader (or leaders). Treat your audience the way you want to be treated. Before taking any action think to yourself “Is this cool of me or not?”
Success does change people, whether they want to admit it or not. I’ve seen it so many times, with myself and my peers, that I know it’s true. But success is more than just a catalyst for change, success actually brings out the real you. If you come to find out the real you is a greedy sack of depression (that’s what I found out 5-6 years ago) you can take steps to change that and just be cool. (These days I’m a fun loving sack of ping pong balls!)
7) Provide value.
In the mid-90s J Yuenger, guitarist from the band White Zombie, had a monthly article in Guitar World magazine. Every month he offered advice to musicians and bands who hadn’t yet made it. One piece of advice: if you have a song that your fans love, open and close with it. Open with a bang, close with a bang. (Yes, my brain does remember everything.)
Providing value is so important I’m opening and closing this list with it.
Your business, your brand (I don’t really like that word, but it gets the point across), boils down to this …
Without trust, what are you left with?