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16 (More) Ways To Earn People’s Trust and Look Credible Online

  |   Business Tips, Email Marketing, Online Etiquette, Reputation, Social Media Marketing   |   14 Comments

16 ways to look like an authority and build trust on the web + a free worksheet!


When you’re working on increasing your online trust and authority, one thing is certain: you need to make headway with the simple things first.


Quick accomplishments are motivating. Once you see big results from small efforts, you’ll be more inclined to dig in for the long haul and get the entire job done.


In the first blog post in this series, you learned 27 fairly effortless changes you could make to your website design and content in order to look credible online. Today, you’re going to learn how to make your emails, sales process, and online etiquette work for you to build your online authority.


These are 16 specific things you can easily start working on TODAY. Your time is money, so let’s get down to business:




1. Ditch your web-based mass email provider

Nothing says, “I’m barely a real business” like using a Gmail or Yahoo account as your primary business email. You really want to use one attached to your domain name: it’s usually included at no extra cost, and you can even set up Gmail to receive and send under that address.


2. Use a signature

People have come to expect anyone serious about their craft to have a signature in their emails, so don’t disappoint. You don’t need to make it ultra fancy, but a little color styling to match your brand takes it to the next level. I recommend staying away from images if you can, as many email programs don’t automatically load them — or they get stuck on as an attachment. (Annoying!)


3. Pay attention to formatting

Whether you’re writing someone personally or sending out a mass newsletter to your list, it’s crucial that you keep things clean, consistent, and orderly. Strive for formatting that is fairly straightforward: a lot of varying font sizes and/or colors is distracting, and has the tendency to look sloppy, childish, or even worse: scammy. Also keep in mind that if your design isn’t friendly to mobile viewing, you risk looking as if you’re behind the times.


4. Mind your “hi’s” and “bye’s”

It’s tempting to treat email like a chat room, but unless you’re actually exchanging thoughts with someone back and forth in near real-time, you should behave more as if you’re writing a letter. (Because you are!) Don’t just jump right in with your thoughts: take the time to address the person by name first. And always close out the email with some sort of polite sign-off or you’ll risk sounding brusque.


5. Use your full first and last name

You may be the only Anaztazya B. that you know, but you can’t assume the same is true for your contacts. Plus, receiving an email from someone without a full last name instantly raises suspicions (translation: gives people an itchy delete button). Assuming it’s different than your own name, you may even consider adding your business name to the “From” field in your e-newsletters for increased recognition.




6. Don’t overpromise

Attractive sales copy is a must, but there’s a difference between sounding like you offer exciting, valuable solutions and sounding like the Fairy Godmother. Do the latter and when people hire you, they’ll have no choice but to be disappointed. Nothing is more destructive to your long-term profitability than delivering results that don’t — or can’t — live up to your enticing promises, so be realistic with your clients. And yourself.


7. Use a reputable payment processor

Studies have shown that as many as 20% of people decide to drop out of an online purchase because they have concerns about payment security. If the way you accept payments looks hokey and is totally unrecognizable, people will simply decide it isn’t worth it. To set minds at ease, use a trusted processor (PayPal,, Dwolla, Braintree, 2Checkout, Stripe, Selz, Gumroad, etc) and display trust logos.


8. Ship fast and have instant downloads

Although e-commerce has been humming for well over a decade now, it can still be unnerving for people to purchase something that they can’t directly inspect in person first. The longer someone has to wait between payment and receiving their purchase, the more time you give them to grow anxious, regretful, and disgruntled. Get their purchase in their eager little hands pronto and you’ll not only delight them, you’ll solidify your reputation as a trustworthy + efficient biz.


9. Offer guarantees

Removing the risk to your buyers by giving money-back guarantees and/or free exchanges is a highly effective way to help them trust you (and increase profits). And while it may not be appropriate or realistic for your specific business to offer a full refund at this point, remember: that doesn’t mean you can’t stand behind your work. As an alternative, consider issuing a free initial consult or — if you bill in stages — a promise that the last invoice is on you if they aren’t satisfied.


10. Rarely use social to sell

Social media is a place where people got to socialize, not to shop and listen to your pitch. That’s not to say you can’t ever talk about your new product or service, but do it just a smidgen too much and you’ll be tuned out or unfollowed. Instead, use your social channels primarily to build relationships and goodwill, provide customer service, educate and problem solve, share inspiration, or even entertain. Do this 95% of the time and the other 5% of the time you can ask for business.


11. Apologize when things go wrong

We are all imperfect people, and even the most endearing businesses make blunders. Some are minor and some mortifying, but whatever happens, an apology is always appropriate. Even if you’re not directly responsible for the problem — ie: the post office delayed your shipment — you can always find a way to sympathize with your customer’s frustrations and disappointments. Can’t you? (You’re my audience: I know you can!)




12. Be nice

Kindness is paramount to positioning yourself as someone of true authority. In the end nobody cares if you have an MBA from Harvard or you’ve worked with Oprah: if you’re curt, snooty, or downright mean, your clientele will view you as insecure and immature. Earn your respect through humility and warmth, not haughtiness.


13. Respond promptly

Respecting others’ time is one of THE best ways to prove that you’re running a serious operation. A slow response indicates apathy, and when customers see apathy they experience fear. Fear that you won’t follow through. Fear that you won’t do a good job. Fear that one day you’ll quite literally fold up shop and disappear. Fearful people are not happy or lifelong customers, so be cheetah-swift when it comes to responding to their requests, problems, and questions.


14. Promote others

Sadly, many mistakenly believe that positioning themselves as the biggest, baddest brand in their field means going it alone and crushing everyone else under their stilettos. But this sort of cutthroat pettiness typically only leads to stagnation + isolation, which makes you look small. I’m a big fan of entrepreneur Nathalie Lussier’s slogan, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The more you collaborate and cheer on others’ success, the more influential you’ll appear (AND become).


15. Comment on others’ blogs

An online presence is a lot like a party: you can either sit in a chair and watch everyone else…or you can stand up, mingle, chat, dance, and have a good time! To get noticed and build your authority, you can’t simply stay in your little corner and hope people suddenly want to come talk to you. (They won’t.) Get out there and get known!


16. Surprise and delight

How do you prove to people that you’re the real deal and actually have the expertise or quality products they’re looking for? You give them a taste, of course — and deliver beyond their expectations. Hold free Q & A Google Hangout sessions, give away templates/samples/coupons/e-books/products/planners/patterns/video tutorials/podcasts/songs, or offer prize pro-bono services or scholarships. Don’t neglect your current customers, though: surprise them with big + exclusive discounts, free shipping, or complimentary gifts.


Now, I sympathize with how ridiculously easy it is to read posts like this and say, “Oh, I’m going to do some of these!” …and then end up doing nothing at all because A) you forget, B) when you remember, you can’t remember the details, and C) you have nothing to help keep you accountable.


I do it all the time, and it drives me nutty.


So, I thought ahead and put together a little supplement worksheet for you. 🙂 And yes, it’s free.


(Just promise me that if you download it, you’ll do the work of printing it out and using it!)


It covers this post and Part I of this series, 27 Ways To Earn People’s Trust and Look Credible Online. Download it below:


Earn Trust Worksheet by Chief Olyvia on


And if you enjoyed these posts on increasing your online trust, would you share them on your social networks right now? Thank you so much!



Erika Madden


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

  • This was very informative and you packed each step with a lot of detail. Thanks ☆

  • mdcartisticdesigns

    Erika, this post makes me feel good. Thank you for your wisdom! I can’t agree with you more with what you’ve highlighted in this post. I seem to be doing well considering I’m in my first year of business. I should point out that I do use social media for my sales, but I think I’m going to focus a little more on blog posts with twitter and I do retweet a bit. I agree that we need to support each other on social media. I get my bulk of sales through my fans on Facebook (who then become returning customers) so adding my products to that page is super important. I just started on Instagram last week and I’ve met total strangers that have mutual tastes and support one other by liking or commenting. There is a lot of engagement there, so I’ll see where this leads.

    • Marlene, thank you for your thoughts and feedback, as always. 🙂 I’m so glad you’re finding success with your social media efforts! Instagram is not one that I have spent a great deal of time on yet, but I think for visual brands such as yours it would be amazing!

  • Great article! And thank you for the worksheet 🙂 The commenting on others blogs is definitely a must. I didn’t ever really give it much thought and read an article a little while ago about how I was missing out on building relationships (and possibly business) and increasing traffic. Especially that you have got to be genuine. Not just “nice post thx bye now go to my website.” People want to be engaged, listened to and feel rewarded.

    Also..Had I not commented and started following your pal Regina, I would never have found this.

    Thanks again

    • Darlene, you’re quite welcome! And you’re spot on. Shallow comments go nowhere and they’re painfully obvious… It really is better not to comment at all if you cannot be genuine.

      Regina is amazing. I’m so happy she connected us! 🙂

  • So helpful! Thank you Erika!

  • Anka Hoerster

    Thank you, Erika! It’s such a relief for me to find places like your website, where I see and feel a good hearted person speaking to us. I feel you apply what you are teaching. I wish you might create a more extensive e-book in which you are bringing all these wonderful hints together for people like me to learn from and add to my tool box!
    I’m looking forward to read more!

    • Anka, your comment is SO encouraging to me. I’m glad you stopped by and took the time to tell me that. Thank you. (And your e-book idea is a fabulous one — I will definitely take that into consideration!)

      • Anka Hoerster

        …and now I can already preorder it:). Thank you!!!

  • Thanks! Great and insightful tips and overall content on the site. Keep up the good work.

  • I love all the ideas in this post! The email etiquette is huge for me, as is apologizing when something goes wrong. People are so much more open and willing to listen if you’re willing to apologize instead of blaming someone or something else..

  • This is an amazing post! I really like it and thank you so much for sharing it. I think that this will come in handy one day. 🙂

    Lucie //

  • Now that I’ve rebranded, I definitely need to look into commenting more on blogs that are similar to my new niche. It’s a lot easier to put yourself out there when it’s through an online medium. Although I am trying to put myself out there offline as well, it is terrifying! Lol.