How to Build a Trusting Audience so you can Make Money Blogging
If you are trying to turn your blog into a full time career then you might be wondering HOW IN THE WORLD CAN I GET PEOPLE TO BUY WHAT I AM SELLING? Which is why this blog post is going to be SO important for you!!! Many would think that in order to sell products or book clients that it’s all about the blog traffic…What if I said that’s wrong..SURE, blog traffic definitely helps to get more eyes and potential sales/clients BUT if you get these eyes onto your blog and aren’t using proper strategies to turn them into loyal readers who want to purchase what you are selling, then it defeats the purpose! So today I am talking all about why it’s important to build a trusting audience and how you can get your audience to ACTUALLY trust you!
& If you don’t believe that trust is key: Here is a screenshot from March when my income really began to take off thanks to sales and building a trusting audience!
Disclaimer: I am not showing you to brag by any means. I am showing you to prove that you CAN make a full time income through blogging if you use the proper strategies. I always like to be real and transparent with you all because that builds trust. ALSO keep in mind I do not get 100,000 + page views a month and can still make income. I have been blogging since April 2017. There are bloggers who make more than this! Anything is possible with the right strategies.
In March my income went from $1,500 – $2,000 a month to over $7,000 a month. Keep in mind your sales will fluctuate ESPECIALLY the first year you are getting it going. I remember March being a huge breakthrough month for me because I was trying everything possible to increase my sales but it wasn’t until I created my own product to sell and practiced Pinterest strategies that REALLY helped my income sky rocket.
Now I want to teach you how this was possible and the exact steps you can take to get there thanks to having an audience that trusts and values your thoughts!
Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used and you can read my disclosure here.
Before I get started with the tips, I figured it would be helpful if I listed off some product ideas and services that you could potentially offer to your audience to generate some income through your blog!
FIRST: Affiliate Marketing
One of the most popular ways bloggers make income is through affiliate marketing. It’s definitely not a high pay at first BUUT it can really pay off if you have a buying audience that trusts you.
Affiliate marketing is when bloggers will have an affiliate link for a product/service they are recommending. The affiliate link is tracked back so if someone purchases a product through the affiliate link, then the blogger receives a small commission for that sale at NO additional cost to the purchaser.
Affiliate marketing can be tough in the beginning for a couple of reasons:
Many are turned off by affiliate links and would rather not purchase through them. (for some reason people just don’t like helping others make money…) WHICH IS WHY BUILDING TRUST WITH YOUR AUDIENCE IS SO IMPORTANT.
If your audience trusts you, they will go out of their way to support you by using your affiliate links. I think of using affiliate links as a way of tipping a blogger for recommending a great product (even though it’s not my money that’s tipping them, which should make it that much easier for me to want to use their link!)
If you are a newer blogger and have no idea where to start with affiliate links, let me help!
Here are some of my favorite affiliate programs that I actually use:
- Siteground – This is my top paying affiliate program that I am a part of. It’s also who I use to self – host my blog. If you don’t already self-host your blog, I definitely recommend it so that you can have complete ownership over your blog, use awesome plug-ins, speed up your site, and improve your SEO! Siteground’s live chat is a life saver, they helped me transfer easily! Then once I used them for a bit I realized how great they are, which is when I decided to join their affiliate program! You can do the same!!!! At one point Siteground was bringing me $1,000 – $2,000 a month.
- ShareASale – I love shareasale because they have some of my favorites on there, like Tailwind. If you don’t already know, Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling tool that basically pins for you in your sleep! I couldn’t recommend them enough. Tailwind & Pinterest are the main reasons as to how I was able to go from 5,000 monthly page views to 25,000 + monthly pageviews in just one month which was pretty cool! ShareASale has a ton of affiliate programs you can join, just use their browse option and look for those that interest you!
- Amazon – I have a love/hate relationship with amazon’s affiliate program. You would think it would be super easy to make tons of money on there BUUUT, the commission is quite small. However, you can find almost any product on there and turn it into an affiliate link. PLUS everyone uses Amazon these days. You might as well give it a try! Just note that you have to make a sale within the first 90 days (I think) in order to stay on the program.
- ShopStyleCollective – This is an affiliate program geared towards fashion and beauty bloggers. If you’ve been following me for a while you know how much I really can’t stand RewardStyle (mainly because they remind me of a group of “mean girls”) If your content isn’t strictly fashion and if your content isn’t a specific “style” they will literally deny you every time. I’ve applied 4 times now and got rejected each time! HAHA. So shopstyle it is! You can use shopstyle to search for fashion brands and beauty brands and get affiliate links for very specific products like a Too Faced mascara or a jacket from Forever 21. If you want to give reward style a try, def go for it!
- Creative Market – I love being a part of this affiliate program! Creative Market is a place where graphic designers and such will sell their products. There are so many different digital products on there from themes, stock photos, to even different fonts!
Those are my top 5 favorite affiliate programs that I am a part of currently.
Products you can Sell
E-Courses & E-Books
The most popular digital product that helps bloggers to make a full time income are e-courses and e-books. Many think that you can only create them if you “blog about blogging.” & that’s not true! If you are a writer and you have a topic that you are an “expert” in, then you can 100% write an e-book on that topic and sell it to your audience! You just have to brainstorm what it is that you can offer to your audience that you KNOW they need the answer to. As long as you are keeping it related to your niche and you build a trusting audience, it WILL sell.
I created my first e-course back in January 2018. I honestly had no idea what to expect so I set my standards pretty low. The day I launched it, I had hoped to sell at least 30 courses in order to be satisfied. I honestly am not positive what a “good” amount to sell would have been. BUT regardless, even if I sold one course I would have been happy. LOL.
My e-course is a Pinterest e-course. It teaches you how to properly set up your Pinterest and how to use it as a marketing tool for your blog and business. Pinterest has helped to grow my blog traffic (like I said earlier) from 5k monthly to 25k + monthly in just one month. With my Pinterest strategies I was also able to bring my Pinterest monthly views up to 1 million which I thought was pretty dandy. I have been using Pinterest since before I even had a blog! So I know a thing or two, and I really wanted to make an in-depth course for my audience to learn how Pinterest marketing can really benefit them!
SO – how did my launch day really go? I sold 90 the DAY I launched and in the first month I sold 239 courses… My mind was BLOWN away. I didn’t expect for it to go that well. Again, I don’t know if this is considered “good” but for me it was more than good!
& I think the best part for me was the fact that I didn’t have to pay for any ads to sell this course! I honestly am not a huge fan of Facebook ad marketing and have only tried it once and hated it. I always see people talking about paying for ads to sell your products but it is possible to sell your products without ads… I promise.
Keep reading and you will hear what I have to say for tips on making the e-course sales.
If you are really good at photography you can create and sell stock images for your audience! Bloggers are always using stock images on Pinterest and even on their blog. (Because let’s face it, we can’t all be professional photographers.) People will sell their stock images on Etsy, Creative Market, or they will have their own membership sites!
You could create and sell journaling pages, planner pages, any kind of pages to help your audience stay organized and on track (example: Budgeting, expense trackers, stuff like that.) Make the printables related to your niche so you know your audience will be interested!
Maybe you are good at creating media kits or resumes? Sell those templates baby!
Are you really good at editing photos? Well, people are always trying to “theme” their Instagram. Help them out by selling some presets! Aspyn one of my favorite youtubers sells some gorgeous presets!
Notebooks/Coffee Mugs/ Merchandise
You can create your own “merch” if you want! You can even do drop shipping. I used Redbubble to create a few designs of my own for products. Might be worth looking into.
Are you really good at graphic design? You could create logos, banners, patterns, etc. to sell!
These are just the top 7 ideas I have for you!
LASTLY, let’s talk about services.
If you are wanting to sell your services for example, Social media managing, Facebook ad manager, Virtual assistant, Coaching, all that jazz, then you might want to know: How can I book more clients and get my name out there?!
I started Pinterest Strategic Managing back in April 2018 I want to say and I have already helped 30 + women take their Pinterest to the next level AND still have some of my very first clients with me to this day. So I can promise you that these tips will help you book your first clients!
Alright, you are probably thinking “Tell us Ell, how can we build a trusting audience and make more sales?!”
Tip Number One – BE PERSONAL + RELATABLE
This is my biggest piece of advice and I say it so often. If you want an audience that trusts you, you need to break down your walls and build connections with your audience. I am the type of person who wants my audience to feel as if they can come to me when they have questions or need advice. I’d rather my audience look at me as a friend than as a business.
There are many bloggers out there who take a different approach and keep it strictly business professional….which don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be professional! But screw that. I am not going to pretend to be someone I am not. I am a super laid back person, I am not uptight at all. Most of the time I am in sweats or yoga pants looking like a hot mess and occasionally I swear. (oops) The word perfect is non existent in my life. I make mistakes, I don’t get everything right on the first try, and I definitely have my moments of overwhelm and frustration. Not to mention I am a college dropout…. LOL (so now who’s going to take me seriously?)
Here’s the thing, if you build trust with your audience and a personal connection, your audience is going to love you for who you are! You don’t need to fake it.
BE YOU. BE REAL. & don’t try to be perfect because let’s face it… NO ONE IS PERFECT. Not even the top bloggers who claim they make $100,000 a month. They are still learning daily too. & They also make mistakes.
SO GET FREAKIN’ REAL.
Tip Number Two – Provide Quality Content that is FREE
If you were to go onto someone’s website where they have only paid courses on their site and no other valuable information, you might veer to the side and hit the pause button. OR if you are like me, you might exit out all together. If you have a course to sell, you better provide some freebies before hand. I need to learn more about who you and how valuable your information really is…
I am not going to purchase a product from someone who has provided me with no free valuable content. How would I know if what they are selling is worth the money? This how blogging can really benefit your business!
Provide valuable free content that will build your audience’s trust. If you have tons of awesome free content your audience will TRUST that your paid content is going to be AMAZING too.
I even have an awesome idea for you!
So we all have an e-mail list builder right? If not you should get started! Mailerlite is what I use. LOVE IT. Anyways, as much as I don’t like e-mail marketing, it can still be beneficial.
What you can do is create a “freebie” to get your audience to subscribe to your e-mail list and then at the end of that freebie you can provide them with a link to the product you are selling. I even throw in a discount code on the product I am selling too, to thank them for being a subscriber!
I will promote my freebies via Pinterest Marketing!
Tip Number Three: Create a free Community for your Audience
If you have been following me for a while then I am sure you have heard me talk about my free community that I created for my audience called BossGirlBloggers. It’s a community of over 30,000 female bloggers and entrepreneurs who help and support each other during their blogging journeys. I would be lost without my community.
Most of my clients I have received through my community.
Why I love having a community:
- You can connect with your audience on a more personal level. You can answer questions for them (which also builds trust)
- It’s your own space to use it however you’d like! You can share your blog posts, share your products, share your services all in a space where your audience can see it!
- It feels like a tribe and community! If you run your community properly, you can build great friendships, & loyal readers.
If you don’t believe that having a community for your audience to connect isn’t beneficial, I want to just say… EEEEEK re-think that.
Give this post a read if you want to learn how beneficial it is and how you can grow your own community!
Side note – IT’S A LOT OF TIME AND DEDICATION. If you really want an active community of loyal readers and customers, you need to dedicate your time to make sure you are active in your group. Otherwise it defeats the purpose. Personal connection is key.
Tip Number Four: Don’t Ignore your Audience
I know that sometimes it can get tough trying to make sure you respond back to every comment, e-mail, message etc. BUT if you do take the time to acknowledge your readers, you will build trust! They will continue to come back to you because they feel valued. If you ignore your audience they won’t feel like they mean very much to you, and they may not return as often as you’d like.
Tip Number Five: Prove Yourself
It’s so easy for bloggers to lie. There are so many out there who do lie. They might tell you they make $100,000 a month or that they receive 100,000 + pageviews, but do you trust that? How do you know? … One way to build the trust is to prove that you are telling the truth! Don’t be afraid to show stats!!!!
There are bloggers out there who are in it for the money and they will do whatever it takes to make a sale. AKA they will “spice” up their story to make you purchase.
“Take this course and make your first $100,000 this month!” (okay I am stretching it but I know you’ve seen this somewhere!)
Let’s be a bit reasonable.. That would be great and all but the possibility of making THAT much money from blogging (even in your first year is a bit CRAZY!) Not to mention not all the money you make is yours, you have expenses and TAXES which hit hard.
Is it possible to make that much in a month? I mean sure, anything is possible! BUT how realistic is it to happen right away? ehhhhhhh…. that would be a lot of hard work and dedication DAILY.
I am about 17 months into my blogging journey and I haven’t hit that $100,000 a year mark yet and I spend EVERY SINGLE DAY, almost EVERY SINGLE HOUR working on my blog + biz.
But everyone has different experiences. Not saying they are all lying, but just be realistic with yourself and with your audience! TELL THE TRUTH AND PROVE IT.
Don’t juice up your story and then not have the proof to back it up. & the more proof you show, the more your audience will actually believe you, duh!
This goes for social media managers too! Before I launched my Pinterest Strategic Management I made sure that I was able to grow my own Pinterest first so I could prove that I know a thing or two.
THEN I would take screen shots of the analytics of all my clients to show the progress I was able to get on each client’s Pinterest in order to prove that I could grow a Pinterest account!
At the end of the day, don’t lie to your audience. Point blank. They will catch on.
Tip Number Six: Get Testimonials
Before you launch your product officially, offer your product for free to a select few in exchange for an honest review! Most wouldn’t turn down this offer! It helps to not only build up your reviews, but if those who purchased your product enjoyed it, they will most likely spread it by word of mouth! & you might score yourself some future customers too!
You can also create an affiliate program for your product/courses so that you are giving back to those who are helping to spread the good word !
Tip Number Seven: Have a launch promotion!
One thing I did with the launch of my e-course was offer a discount code for the first 100 who purchased! This REALLY set my sales through the roof. Everyone wanted to be the first 100 so they could purchase at a discounted price! It really helped and for me it’s not always about the money. I tend to enjoy giving discounts out because I know what it’s like to really want something but not be able to afford it. (I know I low ball my prices often but I just can’t help it.)
Tip Number Eight: Pinterest Marketing
I know I have said this 1000 + times but Pinterest has brought me SO MANY SALES. People are constantly using Pinterest not only to browse but to search for answers too!
For example: It’s the holiday season and you want a good cookie recipe, where are you searching first? Maybe google, but everyone knows Pinterest has the BEST recipes.
Pinterest is a visual search engine and if you use it properly you can get your content seen by thousands, even millions!
I put together a Pinterest e-course (like mentioned above – I know self promo annoying) that talks about how I use Pinterest to market my blog posts, e-courses and affiliate links to help grow a targeted and trusting audience so that I can produce sales monthly!
I usually will use Tailwind to schedule my created e-course pins and blog post pins. I love Tailwind because it allows me to pin in my sleep which allows me to reach audiences ALL OVER THE WORLD! & keeps me super active on Pinterest so I can continually grow!
Related: 7 Truths about Pinterest that No One Talks about
Tip Number Nine: Consistency!!!
I don’t know why I waited till the end to mention this one, because it is in fact the MOST IMPORTANT tip of all! You know what they say about building trust in your relationships? Consistency.
How will your audience trust you if you aren’t consistent? Let’s say you disappear and stop posting every other month. I get it, life is an uphill battle and sometimes it can slow you down. It’s okay to take breaks. BUT if you are taking breaks more often than not and you are consistently disappearing and failing to provide quality content, your audience might begin to lose trust in you.
I find that the more consistent someone is, the more trusted they are!
It’s hard to be consistent but I have some tips for you here if you are needing some guidance!
Tip Number 10: Have a Professional Appearance to your Site
In order for your audience to trust you and value what you have to say, you want to have a professional appearance to your site. If I go onto a website and it looks messy, unappealing to the eyes, hard to maneuver around, and just tacky, I probably won’t want to purchase because I might be afraid that the value isn’t there.
Create a site with value. This might mean investing in your site and that’s OKAY! Most businesses don’t grow without investing.
Some things I recommend investing in to make yourself look professional:
- A self host – Siteground is great like I mentioned earlier, and you’ll get to use their affiliate program which is worth it.
- Have your own domain name – If you don’t already have your own domain name/url then you should really consider it! Namecheap is super affordable when purchasing a domain. This will make it so that it would be “yoursite .com” rather than “yoursite .wordpress .com” or “yoursite .blogger .com” … You will be taken more seriously with your own domain!
- Have a clean and organized theme that isn’t overwhelming to look at. You want your website to show your personality but you also want it to look professional at the same time! Some of my favorite themes can be found at: Creative Market, HelloYouDesigns, &Pipdig
- Create a brand look. You should brand your website. Have a brand color scheme that you stick to. Use the same kind of photo quality throughout. Create pinnable graphics that are “branded” like how I have at the top of this post!
Related: How to look like a pro blogger from the beginning
That concludes my top 10 tips to building a trusting audience! I hope this post gave you some ideas and inspiration. The beginning is always the hardest but once you get a few loyal purchasers, the rest will follow!!! & ALWAYS PROVIDE VALUE + KINDNESS!