7 Exceptional Ways To Establish Trust In An Age Of Skepticism


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.

Here’s how:

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. ;)

You have a personality. It’s interesting to your right people. Make sure they can see it!

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?


  1. Hey Karol,

    that is some ass-kicking summary – helping others while showcasing your true personality – it’s a double go go for me. You can have such a creative and inspiring impact when you have big goals, be genuine/honest and help those who want it along the way.

  2. hmmm… you know I think mistakes harm trust too. I’ve found it at my own expense, being a newbie at work and making a few mistakes that slowed a big chunk of the work that was my responsibility. That did affect how much I was trusted, I’m afraid.

    • Hey Miguel,

      Thanks for commenting.

      That may be true. But an environment where you get penalized for taking risks or learning is not an ideal environment. Rational, quality people will excuse most mistakes.


  3. Hey Karol,

    Great post and you’re totally right — the response from your readers exceeded many other sites with larger followings, in some cases much larger. I completely agree with the reasons you listed (especially trust and value) and I would also say that your storytelling style goes a long way. We all love stories, and when you can combine a promo with a good story, readership and response goes way up.

    Anyway, glad to have you as a partner and I wish your readers well also!

    All best from Malabo,


    • Thank you Chris! Awesome to know my response rate killed it. :)

      I agree RE: storytelling. “On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college.” I’m sure you already know where that’s from, but in case anybody reading this is curious: it’s how the $2 billion (in revenue) sales letter from Wall Street Journal begins. :)


  4. Hey Karol.

    You already said to me how important value is by mail. Thanks alot for that. its a very wise lesson.

    I agree with you on the trust thing. it can take years to gain someone,s trust, And only seconds to break it.

    Even if i reach 25% of what you accomplished trough posts with value i consider myself lucky.


    PS: how is the weather now? ^^. sun finally starts to shine here

    • Thank you Henk! The weather is still rainy, but it’s a little bit warmer. I went on a 4 hour walk today and got caught in a downpour. :) Good times! hehe

  5. Haha!

    And then theres that always optimistic attitude of you… might be a idea for your next article :D


  6. Hey Karol,

    I am quite a new reader but I knew you were genuine right off the bat when I read your About page. The fact that your goal is to help 100 people (rather than 10,000 or 1 million) achieve extraordinary freedom says to me that you are honestly concerned with providing value to people, rather than trying to draw compensation for what you provide from as many people as possible. Does that make sense? It demonstrates that your primary intention really is to give.

    We so are used to the mass-marketing approach, where the goal of a business or marketer is to reach as many people as possible, rather than provide as much value as possible to the people they do reach. It betrays a preoccupation with the compensation for the service, rather than the value of the service. Income over output. You are doing the opposite of that, and that’s why I trust you.

    • Thank you David! I’m glad you pointed that out, because I never thought about it. The point with 100 is simply that it’s attainable and real, but now I see that there are other benefits to that number as well. :)


  7. Getting trust is from being trustful. Full of trust = trustful. Some people call it being gullible. I call it trusting.

    Really, you can’t MAKE people trust you. They do or the don’t. That’s their issue; it really is.

    The only trick is the one in where we come off as somebody that can be trusted while being/finding ourselves.

    PS I note that your sidebar says some stuff about bullshit. A good way to be trusted is to not be filled with it. Peace.

    • Hey Tim,

      Thanks for your additions. You’re right, we can’t make people trust us. We can simply be trustworthy and, if we genuinely are, then most people will trust.


  8. Very cool blog! I just read it today for the first time and I love your passion & writing style. This was good – I agree that value and helping others is key in gaining trust no matter what you’re doing.


  9. Trust is a virtue most bloggers fail to take into consideration. One mistake many bloggers fell into is the lure of gaining what they want without the effort of building trust. Being able to put first the concern of other before one’s self is the key to gaining trust. :-)

    • Hey Walter,

      Glad to see you back around here. :)

      I agree with that sentiment…but I would change it to “most amateur bloggers.” Bloggers who are doing this with a “pro” mindset take building trust into consideration. At least all the bloggers I associate/correspond with do. :)


  10. Excellent summary, Karol. I 100% agree. Trust stemming from authenticity was the missing element in the old economy.

    I like the mantra “Relationships first, business second”. It’s the difference between having to consistently WORK or having genuine fun doing whatever one is passionate about. When we commit to being ourselves and sharing value with others, life is a whole lot more enjoyable. And financially abundant.

    Thanks for sharing your insights, and congrats on the affiliate marketing success!

    • Thank you Lauren, and you are spot on. We’ve got to commit to being ourselves and helping people out. Love it.


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