Do your blog posts and web pages help you build a great connection with prospects?

If you’re not a writer by trade or inclination, you may find it a struggle to turn out content for your site. You probably recognise the value of content marketing, but you might be worried about whether or not you’re doing it right.

One of the most important things you can do through your content is to build a relationship and get prospects to trust you. (Of course, you can also deepen your existing relationship with customers.) You don’t need a degree in English Literature or a ton of experience as a journalist to be able to do this; you just need to follow a few straightforward guidelines.

Here are nine ways you can build trust through your writing, with examples of businesses doing it right.

Lesson #1: Make a Clear Promise in Your Title and Introduction … Then Fulfil It

The title or headline of your content is crucial. It’s what will often get shared on social media, it’s what email subscribers will see in their inbox, and it’s what determines whether or not your content gets read.

Your title must make a promise. For instance, the title of this post, “Nine Ways to Build Trust through Your Writing [With Examples]” promises that, after reading the post, you’ll know nine ways to write content that builds trust (and that you’ll see examples to help you learn).

Yes, I know that seems very obvious – but many titles make one of these mistakes:

  • They don’t make a clear promise (e.g. “Build Trust With Your Writing” – is that going to be a how-to guide, or a post explaining why trust is important?)
  • They promise too much, and the content doesn’t fit well with the title (e.g. “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Readers to Like You, Trust You and Buy From You” could be a great title, but not for this post!)

Example:

Social Media Examiner do a great job with titles, and they fully deliver on what they promise with in-depth content packed with examples and screenshots. Here’s a recent title (and you can see just how many shares this one got)!

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#2: Create a Clear, Logical Structure for Each Piece of Content

Readers trust content that is helpful and easy to engage with. If your latest blog post, for instance, wanders off on a tangent, or stops abruptly, they won’t have confidence in your content – and they won’t have confidence in you.

To create better content, come up with a plan before you start to write. Every post needs, at the very least, an introduction, main body, and conclusion. (The conclusion can be short, but don’t miss it off entirely.)

For help structuring blog posts, take a look at How to Plan and Structure Great Blog Posts, Every Time. If you’re working on an About page, check out our previous post on 10 Smart Things You Can Do to Build Trust With Your About Page.

Example:

Structure is particularly crucial for longer posts (1,500 words plus). Boost Blog Traffic publishes long, in-depth pieces, and they’re always extremely well put together, with clear and compelling titles and subheadings, and plenty of formatting to keep things interesting visually. Here’s an example from a recent post, The Only 6 Posts Worth Writing (and How to Totally Nail Each One).

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#3: Share Some Personal Details

While the focus of your content should be on your reader, not on you or your company, it’s a good idea to throw in some personal details occasionally. These can help raise a smile, and build a connection between the reader and you.

You can do this in a very simple, straightforward way. For instance, you’re writing a how-to guide, you might share a particular problem or struggle you had (“It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure this out…”).

You could also use a particular event in your life to explain an idea, or to help make an abstract topic more complete. For instance, you might write about the first time you went skiing and use that to explain the idea of “finding your balance”.

Example:

Michael Hyatt has a short anecdote near the start of each of his blog posts. (In fact, this is explicitly part of his standard post structure – his blog post template is available from his website here, and he also runs through it in this video.)

His post How to Make a Big Change Without Blowing Up Your Business draws on personal experience throughout, but also starts with a short paragraph, shown in red below, to set the scene and show his breadth of experience.

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#4: Write in a Conversational Way, Talking Directly to the Reader

The online world isn’t about broadcasting a message – it’s about conversation. Don’t be tempted to write in a corporate, “professional” way, using buzz words and focusing on your company’s achievements: it will turn people off fast.

The most engaging online content is written in a straightforward, conversational way (just as though you were talking to a prospect over coffee). It uses the words “you” and “your” frequently, and asks questions to get readers thinking and engaging.

Example:

Pamela Wilson from Big Brand System has a warm, natural writing style, and talks directly to the reader. You can read any post on her blog for an example of this in action; here’s just one small excerpt from a recent piece, How to Find the Professional Graphic Designer of Your Dreams, Part 1.

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#5: Promote Other People’s Content

When you write a blog post, it’s tempting to put in plenty of links to your previous content: after all, you don’t want all your hard work to languish unnoticed in your blog’s archives.

While it’s great practice to build plenty of internal links on your site (it helps with SEO as well as giving readers more paths to follow), it’s also a good idea to regularly link to other people’s content. You might worry about directing people away from your site, but these links help show you’re interested in being helpful as well as promotional … plus they’ll often encourage other companies to link back to you.

When you curate great content, like we do in The Weekly Optimiser, it helps people see you as an expert in your industry. To some extent, the quality and usefulness of the content you share will “rub off” on you, making you look good too!

Example:

Firepole Marketing have a monthly “Best of the Web” roundup of blog posts, which they split into different categories. They include a short description for each post they link to, helping their readers decide what to click.

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#6: Pay Attention to Grammar and Spelling

This might sound like a really basic point, but good grammar and spelling are vital. That doesn’t mean you need to obsess over every comma, but you definitely should edit and proofread your content carefully.

If your budget allows, hire an editor to review content before it’s published. If that’s not possible, at least get a colleague to look over it. Most of us find it really hard to spot our own mistakes – our eyes tend to see what we think we typed.

Of course, you’ve probably seen plenty of websites (maybe some large, well-known ones) with poor grammar and frequent typos, but as the BBC reports, these mistakes can cost businesses a huge amount of money in lost sales.

Example:

While many businesses do an excellent job of having well-edited content, Copyblogger stands out as a company with particularly high standards. They also have plenty of great advice on common grammatical mistakes, like their post Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb.

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#7: Blog Consistently: Set a Schedule and Stick to It

Do you stick to a regular blogging schedule, or do you find yourself writing six posts in a month then nothing for three months?

A haphazard approach to blogging won’t help you build trust or momentum. Readers won’t expect new content every single day (unless you train them to!) but they will expect a clear sense of how often you write. You don’t need to be absolutely rigid about this – e.g. posting every Monday and Thursday without fail – but you should stick to publishing posts at reasonably consistent intervals.

If you feel like you’re constantly struggling to keep up with your blog, or if it’s all too easy to put off writing a post because you’ve got so much else on your plate, start an editorial calendar.

Example:

Schedules vary widely, and quite different ones can work just fine. For instance, Copyblogger publishes a post every day Mon – Fri, and switches to a “summer schedule” from around June – August. Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic publishes an in-depth post once every week:

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#8: Write Occasional In-Depth Pieces of Content

You’re hopefully writing blog posts on a regular basis, probably aiming for around 700 – 1000 words each time. While this content will be great for building trust, it’s worth putting in some extra time to create pieces of more in-depth content.

One way to do this is with longer than usual blog posts or articles – we do this on Zen Optimise with our sets of guides, such as these ones aimed at small–medium businesses. You could also produce a series of blog posts on a linked topic: some blogs have even turned these into downloadable ebooks.

You definitely don’t have to produce this type of content on a weekly basis. You might instead aim to produce one really great piece every three months or so. Plan this into your content calendar, and divide each long piece into smaller chunks to make it easier for you to write.

Example:

ProBlogger do this regularly with series of linked posts and with “ultimate” guides that go in-depth on a particular topic. For instance, they recently ran a “partnering with brands” theme week:

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#9: Quote from Other Experts in Your Field

One of the easiest ways to bolster your authority – and thus to gain more trust – is to quote from other people in your field. These might be expert bloggers, published authors, or keynote speakers at industry conferences.

By including their words, you demonstrate that you read widely within your field. If you can add something useful, or even disagree, this helps put you on their level as a peer.

There are plenty of different ways you can use quotes, including:

  • In the middle of a sentence, e.g. As XXX writes, you need to get people to “know, like and trust” you.
  • As a stand-alone paragraph, perhaps at the start of your post or the start of a subsection.
  • As part of a round-up of quotes on a particular topic, e.g. different definitions for a key term in your industry, or pieces of advice from experts.

Example:

Social Media Examiner have regular roundups of experts writing on a particular topic, such as 5 Google+ Marketing Tips From the Pros:

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Which of these nine lessons will you apply to your writing this week? Drop a comment below to let us know what changes you’ll make.

Content marketing training

Content Marketing
Do you want to take your writing every further? Take our content marketing course, which will help you grow your brand and your SEO, understand what content to create and how, and learn how to build relationships with influencers and publishers. It’s suitable for anyone involved in marketing or writing content, but is also a great follow-on if you’ve taken our SEO intermediate training.