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27 Ways To Earn People’s Trust And Look Credible Online

  |   Branding, Business Tips, PR, Reputation, Social Media Marketing   |   33 Comments

27 ways to earn people's trust and look credible online as a business owner or blogger + a free worksheet!

 

It seems that everywhere I go online there are women business owners, entrepreneurs, and business-minded bloggers that are asking the same three questions about their web presence:

 

“How do I become an influencer?”

 

“How do I get people to buy from or hire me?”

 

and

 

“How do I look like an expert and not an amateur?”

 

There are a million and one ways to answer these questions, but what they all boil down to is this: to succeed online you must first earn people’s trust.

 

Without trust you will never be viewed as a legitimate business or a credible authority in your field. You need that impression of legitimacy in order to attract clients and customers, look professional, and earn a reputation as a respectable thought-leader.

 

But how can you earn trust merely by using the web? If you’re anything like me, you’re crazy busy and forget half of what you need to do right after you read it. You need something that’s not a major undertaking and can be done relatively fast, so let’s start with the small changes that make a sizable impact.

 

Here are 27 (fairly) effortless things you can do right now to earn more credibility online. Pick at least one and get the ball rolling after you read this post!

 

WEBSITE DESIGN

 

1. Buy your own domain

Even if all you can afford right now is your free hosting through WordPress.com or Blogger (though if you can, I seriously recommend Flywheel), publishing it under a domain with your business name will cause your legitimacy quotient to skyrocket. It’s true: doing business at “elegantburpcloths.blogspot.com” just looks tacky.

 

You can use Bluehost or Namecheap for this.

 

2. Obtain a quality logo

A cheap-looking or amateurish logo is one of the first signals to people that you aren’t a serious operation — and can’t fully be trusted. You don’t need to go into debt for your design, but remember: you do get what you pay for. (In other words? Avoid Fiverr and don’t DIY it in Microsoft Word.)

 

3. Upload a favicon

Those tiny images that appear on each browser tab or in the web address bar may seem completely insignificant, but they tell people you have a “real,” professional website. Not having one gives people reason to be wary of your site. (And of you.) Marianne of Design Your Own Lovely Blog has a handy tutorial here on creating + uploading your own favicon.

 

4. Remove cheesy awards and badges

Plastering your sidebar with homemade “June 2009 Biz Blogger of the Month!” awards by no-name blogs actually detracts from your credibility. If you must feature an award or badge, choose only one or two — and make sure they’re super (and I mean duper) significant.

 

5. Display 3rd party logos

When people see logos of places you’ve been featured or clients for whom you’ve worked, they perceive you as someone with more prestige and clout than someone without them. For the greatest benefit, put them somewhere with the most visibility: your header or sidebar.

 

6. Show off your testimonials

There’s little that’s more convincing to someone considering hiring you than to know that others think you’re worth every penny. Good testimonials do that for you, lady, so don’t be too shy to ask for them OR post them!

 

7. Commit to a consistent visual theme

Continuity and consistency breeds trust. This means the same colors, fonts, and font sizes that are used on one page of your site should be used on the next page as well. Blog post graphics should all have a consistent style, too. (See how Regina does it — she’s superb at this.)

 

8. Avoid amateurish fonts

Fonts like Comic Sans evoke, well, ugly web cartoons and childish scrawl. They’re OK for something like a dingy video game parlor for tweens; they’re not OK for any business that you want to look attractive and reputable.

 

9. Ditch the popups

I’ve talked about this before. Popups are a widely hated marketing tactic that exerts control over visitors and disrupts their (formerly pleasant) website experience. This means one thing: their appearance instantly alerts people’s sleaze sensors.

 

WEBSITE CONTENT

 

10. Write a personal history

Whether a few sentences or a few paragraphs, personalizing your history and the history of your business helps humanize you. People tend to trust humans; they have a hard time trusting businesses. (Especially one they only know through the web.)

 

11. Reveal a family/childhood photo

A personal story is a good start, but adding a picture to prove that you’re a regular, approachable person just like everyone else — as opposed to a greasy money monger or snooty, out of touch billionaire — is priceless. A family shot or old photos of you (yep, even that embarrassing one from high school) are perfect. See how Kriss did it.

 

12. Utilize real employee photos

If people work for you, do NOT buy stock photos of people sitting around a fancy conference table and stick them on your website. Stock photos are always obvious, and to most they indicate that you have something to hide.

 

13. Blog in detail about what you know

Many business owners avoid sharing their expertise in fear that no one will hire them after getting the information for free. The truth? People are more likely to hire you after seeing that you do know what you’re talking about and can actually deliver the goods.

 

14. Avoid jargon

I’ve read well over a hundred books, “whitepapers,” and articles about small business, online marketing, and reputation management. Yet, my eyes STILL glaze over when I see acronyms like ORM and UVP or jargon like ideation, scalable, and verticals. You may think you’re setting yourself up as an authority when you use big words, but really it just makes people feel uncomfortable and frustrated.

 

15. Leave dates on blog posts

There’s a growing trend among some marketing “experts” that encourages people to go in and remove dates off their blog posts. Supposedly that way you’ll always give the impression of being relevant. Don’t buy it, though. People want to see dates; not having one not only does a disservice to your readers, it also looks scammy.

 

(P.S. You don’t need to have dates in your actual URL — just near the title on the blog post itself!)

 

16. Proofread with passion

Missspeling words all over teh place is a sign of sloppines and uneducashion. To be viewed as a credible, intelligent businesswoman, be sure to spellcheck and edit everything you publish AT LEAST twice. (If you’re not confident in this area, you may want to consider using a service like Grammarly to act as your personal editor.)

 

17. Interview “the experts”

Associating with well-known entrepreneurs, business owners, and bloggers related to your industry is a proven way to positively influence others’ impression of your own business. “Oh, she was able to feature Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen on her blog?! Wow, she must be a rising star, too.”

 

18. Give away something delightful

When you run a business, everyone knows your main goal online is to support and grow that business. In other words, you’re trying to make money! Like it or not, this instantly reduces your likability a slight notch or two. Hopefully, though, you’re a genuinely good person who cares about your customers and clients, too. If so, prove it (and combat that natural distrust) by giving back via a free and valuable gift. I was thrilled with Nathalie Lussier’s 30 day list building challenge.

 

19. Don’t be secretive with your hours and address

Brick & mortar businesses that don’t make it easy for people to know when they’re open or where they’re located give off a shady vibe. Online businesses also gain more legitimacy by publishing official working hours. Footers and contact pages are excellent locations for this information.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

 

20. Post somewhere regularly

What’s worse than no social media presence? One that looks like it was abandoned months ago. It’s OK if you realize can’t keep up with all of the social networks, but you do need to choose one major place where you remain active. You should be sharing something at least a few times a week so people remember you and view you as thriving + engaged.

 

21. Share authoritative content

You are judged by the content you share. Attach your brand to sketchy websites and questionable sources and you will soon be seen as disreputable. Learn the best places to go for info and refer to them when you need a source. (For instance, Mashable is fab for social media news and Entrepreneur is trusted for business news & advice for entrepreneurs).

 

22. Upload a profile photo
Not having a face — or at least a logo — to match the name is disconcerting for people. (Are you an alien? A smurf? A big purple dinosaur?) Very few will connect or interact with you if you’re just a big red pin on Pinterest or a gray shadow on LinkedIn. Come out from behind the curtain!

 

23. Chat on Twitter

If you choose to be active on Twitter, there are basically two paths you can take: act like an automaton that does nothing but share headlines, links, and famous quotes or act like, well, a person. Those who earn the trust of others will do the latter, which means you should take time to hang out and chat, make personal remarks, share some useful or inspiring content, and essentially be real. Someone who excels at this is the lovely @kayla_hollatz.

 

24. Sign up on LinkedIn

Many mistakenly believe that LinkedIn is only for people seeking to be hired on somewhere, when in fact it’s for almost everyone. If you make money of any sort, whether you’re a tennis instructor, Etsy seller, makeup artist, or simply have a monetized blog, you should have a presence on LinkedIn for the sake of a top-notch professional image. You don’t have to spend much time there if your target audience doesn’t use it, but you should update it from time to time (as you would a resume).

 

25. Add descriptions to all of your Pinterest boards

If you’re too lazy to put a description on your Pinterest business account boards, you’re probably too lazy to do a thorough job working for someone, too. (Unfair assumption? Perhaps, but it’s one people unconsciously make all the time, so don’t you dare give them the opportunity!)

 

26. Pin consistent images

This goes back to the visual consistency point I made up above. Are you an interior designer specializing in American Western rustic decor? Then you shouldn’t pin anything that contradicts that image. Shabby chic? French country? Early American colonial? No way, m’dear. Embrace your niche and refuse to be a mediocre source for everybody.

 

27. Keep your Pinterest boards professional

Using Pinterest for your business means it’s only for that: your business. It detracts from your online authority when you fill your boards with irrelevant pins that you just happen to like. (A kids’ casual clothing biz shouldn’t have a board filled with women’s wedding dresses you dream about wearing for your vow renewal.) You can be creative, but be sure it ties in to your brand. As an example, I have a board with food & drink, but it’s specifically about classy office party entertaining.

 

Do you have anything to add to these categories? I only touched on a fraction of the things someone could do to earn people’s trust and up their business cred, so chime in with your thoughts. Let’s make this an even better resource!

 

I’m eager to hear your ideas below. (And watch for Part 2 of this post where I’ll talk tips about earning legitimacy through Email, Sales, and Etiquette.)

 

UPDATE: Part 2 can be found at 16 (More!) Ways To Earn People’s Trust And Look Credible Online. I also whipped up a three-page worksheet to accompany both posts, which you can download for FREE below:

 

Earn Trust Worksheet by Chief Olyvia on Olyvia.co

 

>> DOWNLOAD THE ‘EARN TRUST’ WORKSHEET HERE (no opt-in)

 

Enjoy!

 

Erika Madden

(Chief Olyvia)

 

P.S. If you liked this post and are looking for a way to support it, I’d be thrilled if you Pinned it. 🙂 Thank you kindly!

 

 

The free 21 day ecourse that creates pro online impressions for business owners!

  • Awesome, awesome, awesome! I’m glad you pointed out blogging about what you know and leaving dates on posts. Drives me nuts when I’m looking for a how-to and find out halfway through that it’s from three years ago! I try to post a blogging resource post once a week if I can manage it, and I have a dedicated page for those posts to be seen in a gallery.
    I also did the 30 day challenge with Nathalie Lussier and it was wonderful, although directed more towards actual business-businesses, not necessarily bloggers. But I did a lot of what she suggested and my newsletter subscribers have continuted to grow in numbers.
    Great resources EriKa! Pinning! 🙂

    • There are so many valid, good reasons to know when a post was published! Especially if it has ANYTHING to do with the online world. Things change super fast and often (how many times has Facebook changed its algorithm?). To take the date off is just…maddening. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your awesome comment, lady!! (And thanks for pinning, too! Yay!)

  • AHH! I thought I was the only one who always looked for an articles date! If I’m reading your post and I happen to not agree with it, I’ll look for a date to see if it’s years old and! Especially if its about tech, social media, or product reviews! Things just evolve too quickly to not date your stuff.

    • Yes, yes, yes Amelia! I actually will stop reading and refuse to share a post that I notice isn’t dated. If it was a couple years old and a good post, I’d have no problem sharing it. But because someone wants to hide that information from me, I feel I can’t trust it enough to pass it on to anyone.

  • mdcartisticdesigns

    These are all excellent points Erika.

    I, too, look for the date of the article before I even start reading or I just don’t bother.

    I do have to mention that there is a personal side to my Pinterest board only because I’m a mompreneur and when I started this gig, my coach suggested I keep it. I am 100% mom and I do go to Pinterest a lot (or I use to) for kids crafts, art, etc, for inspiration. So, people get to see that side of me as well. I don’t post as much in those categories, but they are still there.

    • Thank you for your comment! I do think posting more personal things works well if you can tie it into what you do or who you serve. So if you have a lot of other moms as customers/clients who would find those helpful, then by all means, those are great things to post! 🙂

  • Great points, Erika! I need to clean up my Pinterest board and right away!! I’ve literally been too lazy to purge it before now.

    Also SO agree on favicons and profile photos!

    (YAY for office hours! I just chose mine and added them to my real estate site and it was pretty liberating!)

    About the dates for posts. I use dates on my personal website, but have started out my real estate blog by having the URL be date-less (however, I do plan to have the “This article was written ________” in the post content. It just felt cleaner for me? Willing to reconsider that though if you feel the same about date-less for industry specific articles that don’t necessary change so quickly (like real estate practices, how to stage a home, etc.)

    ??

    • I think it’s COMPLETELY okay not to have the date in the actual URL. (I do the same thing. It does look cleaner!) Nearly all WP themes are set up to have the date published somewhere on the page near the title anyway, so I feel that having it in the URL is unnecessary. 🙂

      I would keep those “in-post” dates there, though. Even if it is evergreen content, people still like to see it as a reference point. I think people think it’s going to harm them somehow if someone sees it was published a year ago instead of last week, but in my experience that’s pretty unfounded. If the content is still relevant and accurate, people are going to like it.

      In fact, in many ways being able to show old but good content HELPS you because it demonstrates your long-time expertise and establishment in the industry!

      Does that help (and make sense)?? Thanks for such a great comment, Naomi!

  • I totally love this post! I especially love the tips about social media because mainly Facebook has changed so dramatically and every post really has to be gooood. 🙂 I have been using Pinterest a lot more lately and it is not only fun but effective and I got that idea from you. I am soooo bookmarking this for future reference too. Thanks for the fab post, as always.xo

  • This is a great post with a lot of really good points! Popup ads make me CRAZY and you’re right – I navigate away as soon as I see them most of the time, because all they do is make it harder for me to read your website. And I completely agree about getting your own domain name. I put it off for so long when I wasn’t serious about blogging, but as soon as I realized I really wanted to grow in this area, it was one of the first things I did!

    • You are officially my favorite. I love anyone who goes nuts over popups. 😉 Ha! And thanks for reinforcing the domain name importance. I put it off for my past blogs, too, and I know if I hadn’t I would have had even more success. It really does set you up as a serious blogger.

      Thanks for your comment, Kiersten. 🙂

  • Maritza

    These are perfect and so helpful, Erika – Pinned!

  • Stephanie

    Great tips you’re right I always have so many things to do and always forget!

  • Brett Goldstein

    Thank you for these wonderful tips. I agree that earning trust is number one and it can definitely be challenging to get there. I recently rolled out home styling services on my blog and realized that I don’t have enough of my personality and history up there for people to relate to right off the bat. I couldn’t have come across this post at a more perfect time. Definitely using some of your advice in re-crafting some areas of my website 🙂

    • I’m so happy this was helpful to you, Brett! Thank you for taking the time to tell me that. I’m confident that by adding a bit more of your personality + background, your blog will be that much more effective in reaching people. 🙂

  • Clairellyn

    This is SUCH a fantastic post! I can’t wait to print out your worksheet and get to work!

  • Fantastic tips! So many good suggestions here! Pinning this for reference.

  • This is amazing! I never thought about favicons, dates on posts, and describing Pinterest boards before but with these explanations I see how it’s important! Thank you so much!

  • I especially appreciate #9…pop ups are my pet peeve! Sometimes I’ll even click off the page if a pop up is too obnoxious. Great tips…pinning now!

    • YES. Same here. Ugh! Thanks for stopping by, Lori. 🙂

  • Camesha

    These are awesome tips! What a great and thorough post!

  • Hey Erika! So I only just now got a notice of a trackback from here, what the? Anyway… I missed this one way back. It’s an awesome post, couldn’t agree more with it. Thanks so much for including my tutorial in it too!

    • Haha that’s awesome, Marianne! You just received a trackback because I just edited the post to add your link. 😉 I came across your post and knew it would be perfect to use as a resource in this post!! I loved it.

      • Aw well thanks for adding it! 🙂

  • 15. Leave dates on blog posts

    There’s a growing trend among some marketing “experts” that encourages people to go in and remove dates off their blog posts. Supposedly that way you’ll always give the impression of being relevant. Don’t buy it, though. People want to see dates; not having one not only does a disservice to your readers, it also looks scammy.

    UGH, YES! As a reader, I hate it when people leave the date and time out!

  • Romanescu Laura Sinziana

    This is one of the best article I have read! Thank you for your work and for these great tips!

  • Thank you so much for this post ! Especially for the favicon : it’s not a big deal but I totally skipped it ! 🙂 I also have a hard time making real descriptions of my pinterest’s pins. Now i’ll try to do better 🙂

  • Alissia Haggard

    These are fabulous fabulous tips!!! I just joined Linked In and I am loving learning more about this platform. And I totally agree about Twitter- people think because it’s so fast that it leaves little room for interaction but people love making genuine connections there.

  • Not sure about the “only post business” approach. Great advice all round though, tho, thow! What are people going to come back for once they have learned your brand? Nobody wants to talk shop all day. Even good salespeople have a little chit chat to put you at ease.

  • Thank you so much! This post was super helpful!

  • Thanky ou so much Erika b=about your amazing tips! Really appreciated <3