How to build authority and trust with your content
Think about the people or businesses you’ve bought services from recently.
Did you trust they knew what they were talking about? Did you consider them to be experts in the services they offer?
Trust plays such an incredibly important role in any business, but especially if you’re a coach, consultant or service provider marketing yourself online.
Why? Because whether you’re offering a 1:1 service, a course, a digital product or a group program, YOU are your brand, and people need to trust you before they’ll hire you or buy the thing you’re selling.
So, how do you build your authority and get people to trust you?
Well, there are plenty of things you can do to establish your credibility, but one of the best ways is to create and share content that showcases your expertise.
But it’s not enough to publish any old content.
Because if you want to position yourself as an expert in your industry, the quality of your content matters.
And just as your content can help people feel confident that you know what you’re talking about, it can also turn them away if it causes any niggles of doubt.
The good news is there are some simple things you can do right now to make sure your content is credible, compelling and doing the job it’s meant to do.
Here are my top 10 tips for writing content that’ll build your authority and attract clients who can’t wait to work with you.
1. Offer your own perspective
Sharing content that showcases your knowledge and expertise is one of the best ways to build your authority in the topics you want to be known for.
But that doesn’t mean just rehashing what others have already put out there, in your own words.
Instead, always strive to offer your own perspective on whatever it is you’re talking about, based on your unique experience and knowledge.
I’m not saying you need to find topics that haven’t been written about before – the online world’s a noisy place and at this point, there probably isn’t much that hasn’t been covered!
But you do need to find an angle or perspective that only you can give.
As email marketing expert Meera Kothand says in her book But I’m not an expert: “The idea is not to be radically original. The idea is to differentiate yourself.”
Ask yourself what you can bring to the conversation that’s unique to you.
2. Show, don’t tell
‘Show, don’t tell’ is one of the golden rules of fiction writing, and it totally applies to content writing too.
It’s easy to tell people how experienced you are, but if you want people to believe you – show them.
Case studies and client testimonials are one way to do this, but you can also apply the principle to other types of content.
How? By telling your readers your tips or advice and then showing them how it works with an example or mini-story.
For example, if you’re a bookkeeper and writing an article about 5 things to consider when choosing an online accounting system, you could include a story about what happened when you or your client DIDN’T consider one of these points.
(Or if you don’t have a personal story to share, you could describe a hypothetical situation, just like I did here ☝️ ).
3. Back up what you say with facts
One of the best things about the world we live in is that anyone with a computer and decent wi-fi connection can publish their thoughts online.
One of the worst things about the world we live in is that anyone with a computer and decent wi-fi connection can publish their thoughts online.
Pseudo experts are everywhere, and citing facts or stats from credible sources (hint: not Wikipedia) can help your audience believe you do in fact know what you’re talking about.
It doesn’t even need to be numbers or data. Including quotes from influential people in your industry can also add weight to what you’re saying and shows you’ve done your research and know your niche well.
Including links in your blog articles to credible sites, like those ending in .gov, and .edu, will also give your site a nice SEO boost (and we all want that!).
4. Check your facts
Of course, if you’ve included any facts or quotes in your content, you need to make sure they’re accurate.
This means checking that:
- any stats or figures are current
- names of people and organisations are spelt correctly
- quotes are correctly attributed
- all numbers stack up.
If you have even the slightest niggle that something’s not right, check it and check it again (or leave it out altogether if you’re not sure).
5. Edit your work
When it comes to your credibility, the importance of editing your content can’t be emphasised enough.
A typo here or there isn’t the end of the world – but if there are constantly spelling, grammar and other mistakes in your writing, your credibility will take a hit.
At a bare minimum, I recommend using an online grammar tool and waiting at least one day between when you write your content and when you edit it.
And if you really want to make sure your content is giving the best impression of you and your business, you can download my Ultimate Content Writing and Editing Checklist here.
6. Be consistent
Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it, is not only a good reflection on your work ethic but also helps build trust with your readers.
If you tell your subscribers you’ll send them a weekly email, try to stick to that schedule (and if you can’t, let your readers know your schedule has changed so you’re not ghosting them or showing up erratically in their inbox).
Maintaining a consistent voice is also crucial for building trust and establishing credibility.
Your tone might vary across channels, but your voice should always be the same no matter what platform you’re on.
It should also match your actual voice (you know, the one people hear when you do a Facebook Live or appear on a podcast) so every interaction your audience has with you is consistent.
7. Don’t overwrite
I’ve edited a lot of content for a lot of people over the years, and a recurring theme is the idea that big words sound smarter than simpler ones.
I’m not sure why this is the case, but it’s not true – in fact, it’s completely the opposite!
When you overwrite or use jargon, buzzwords or big words, it can make you seem insincere, arrogant and out of touch – all attributes that can damage your credibility and turn your audience away.
Instead, write clearly and simply, using real words your readers will understand.
You can even do some target market research and uncover the exact words and phrases your target audience are using – and then use them in your own content so your readers know you’re speaking their language (literally).
8. Be clear
Influential researcher and storyteller Brené Brown says “clear is kind”, and I couldn’t agree more.
I also believe being clear is fundamental to being seen as someone who’s credible and trustworthy. After all, if your readers don’t understand you, how can they trust you?
The problem with this of course is that it’s really hard to be objective about your own content and assess whether you’re being clear or not.
That’s why I recommend asking at least one other person to read your content before you publish it, so they can flag if anything’s confusing or needs further explanation.
9. Deliver on your promise
Have you ever clicked on a headline only to find that the article is not at all what you thought it was going to be about?
This is clickbait – a marketing tactic that’s annoying and doesn’t reflect well on the publisher.
Now, I’m not suggesting your content is clickbait – but to avoid annoying your readers, it’s always worth checking your content does in fact match the promise in your headline.
For example, if your lead magnet title is ‘The Ultimate Guide to X, Y, Z’, is it an epic, comprehensive guide that’s jam-packed full of valuable tips and advice, or a one-pager light on detail that’s been thrown together in Word?
Likewise, if you say there are 10 steps to do something, have you included 10 steps, and are all of those steps relevant to the topic you’re writing about?
10. Create from a place of service, not self-promotion
Ultimately, to be successful, your content must be useful and valuable to your audience.
Never create content just to promote yourself or the thing you’re selling. Think about the problems your ideal client has, and then create content that helps them solve those problems.
By putting your readers first, you’ll quickly gain a reputation as a credible source of information in your industry, which will help you build your authority AND grow your business.