Do your clients and business prospects trust you?
Trust is critical to the success of any business. You won’t succeed in business with zero trust and a poor reputation. Your clients need to feel confident that they are hiring the right person for the job and buying the right product from the right seller. If you neglect to build your own reputation or fail to control the perception people have of you online, someone else will do it for you.
A store manager for Chipotle Mexican Grill made a very public and damaging mistake when she wrote on her personal Facebook page:
"So just ran over a white cat on my way home … oops!!!" She then added: "lol...one less cat…don't like 'em."
Within days, her comments were headline news on major blogs and forums. Instead of addressing the issue as a private matter, a giant community of cat lovers and many Chipotle customers took up issue with the company as a whole, causing a PR nightmare for Chipotle.
Even now a Google search of the incident returns scathing results of Chiptole’s poor handling of the situation.
Negligence and recklessness online is recipe for disaster. Chipotle store’s manager learned this lesson the hard way. You don’t have to go through a similar ordeal to start watching your actions online.
Author and speaker Robert Greene cautions: “Since we must live in society and depend on the opinion of others, there is nothing to be gained if you neglect your reputation.”
So, how do you protect yourself online and build an authoritative reputation as a writer?
Before anything else, understand that building an authoritative reputation online isn’t about shameless self-promotion. It also isn’t an overnight thing. It is an ongoing process of self-expression, self-protection and self-reinvention. It involves a set of practices that bring success when done right.
When it comes to reputation building, creating high quality content is the cornerstone of building a solid reputation online. Maintain a good command of English grammar in your writing. Catch and correct all typos in your writing. Research your topic thoroughly and deliver real value in your work. Your writing is your product and if you want people to come back for more you must produce quality work consistently.
Write guest posts for authority sites to demonstrate your expertise and expand your reach. Ideally, write for sites with a large audience and that provide an author byline where you can tell the reader who you are and what you do. Each time you write a guest post you reinforce your expertise, strengthen your authority and boost your brand and reputation in the mind of readers.
Human beings are social creatures. Accept it, embrace it and use this fact to your benefit. Set up professional profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and be active on them. Social media sites enable you to connect with and reach people from all over the world in all walks of life who you otherwise would never be able to connect with.
Post information and engage in activities on social media that are none self-promotional 80% of the time and information and activities that are self-promotional 20% or less of the time. This 80/20 rule of marketing allows you to engage with your connections without annoying them with blatant self promotional jibber about how good you or your product is.
Create just enough social media profiles that you can comfortably manage. It is better you have two strong social media accounts that you use than 20 that you never touch.
Making the news can bump up your reputation online in no time. While the prospect of becoming a news maker can seem daunting at first, it is not unattainable if you work smart. Connect with journalists and bloggers actively searching for experts and interesting sources to interview or quote for stories.
Sign up to services like HARO, Mediakitty and ProfNet to find journalists and web masters looking for experts to quote or interview for opinion pieces, editorials, features, articles or blog posts. HARO, for example, has been used by major publications like The New York Times and Huffington Post to find credible expert sources. If you’re quoted as a source, you get free publicity, which can bump up your Google search rankings and pull in massive traffic to your social network profiles and website.
Also, write timely press releases to announce workshops, conferences, meetings, website launches or book releases. Press releases are considered news and create third-party validation of who you are and what you do. Make sure your press release is relevant to current or trending news to make it newsworthy; and, don’t forget to quote yourself in it.
Publish your press release with services like Express-Press-Release.com, Free-Press-Release.com and PRWeb.com to reach the widest possible audience online. Your name could show up at the top of Google and Yahoo! News within hours, thereby boosting your reputation.
Professional writer associations, organizations and guilds are powerful credibility builders. Join one or more of these associations in your niche to tap into the benefits the organizations offer. Nearly all associations and guilds have at least one national or local conference and meeting every year.
The conferences and meetings presents an invaluable opportunity for expanding your contact base and exchanging industry information. Professional writer guilds also usually offer badges and other awards of participation that boost your credibility and build up your reputation as a trusted expert.
Join discussions on other websites, blogs and online forums in the spirit of sharing and helping others. Leave intelligent, non-spammy comments that demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the topic at hand. Use Disqus to keep track of all your comment threads everywhere they are distributed across the Internet.
Strive to leave comments on big sites and forums so your intelligent contributions get a better chance of ranking highly in search engines and more people seeing them, such as TechCrunch, Forbes and Writers Digest Forum.
It helps to leave comments on smaller, growing sites and forums as well. You are free to leave a comment here on The Web Writer Spotlight too. We are not big (yet); but hey, who knows what we can achieve here in the future with your support.
Take down all embarrassing and unprofessional web pages and bios about yourself, including personal photos and comments from social media accounts. Set up professional, public bios instead with websites like About.me and Dooid.me. Your public bio should be professional and personalized – a sort of online ID that displays a short biography about you with links to your social profiles and website. Refer people who want to know more about you to your public bio.
Also, create public writer portfolios with services like Contently that allow individuals and companies to automatically create portfolio websites that build up brands. Contently, for instance, offers web writers, bloggers and journalists handy personal branding tools that help you track, aggregate and showcase your work which is distributed all over the Internet in one centralized place.
While setting up public bios or profiles on other sites is good, having your own writer or author website is even better. A writer or author website informs people about who you are and helps you effectively market your products and services to potential clients, readers, editors, publishers or agents. It gives your target audience plenty to look at and even helps you build a fan base and get hired.
Display the wares of your trade on your author or writer website and shed more light on your products and services, including articles, books, marketing copy and writing/editing services. If you are a copywriter, for example, showcase sample sales copies that reinforce your expertise. If you are an author, provide the back-story of your characters and inspiration for writing your book. Let your website evolve with you and your business to solidify your brand and reputation.
Always think about how you want potential clients and readers to perceive you when you engage online. Ideally, you want them to know, like, and trust you. If people know and trust you, they will listen to you when you speak, read what you write and buy what you create.
In other words, your authoritative reputation will precede you online whether you’re seeking employment, selling a product, looking for an investor or trying to score a writing gig. Ultimately, this will have exponential career benefits and monetary rewards for you.
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Spotlight book of the month
by Hugh MacLeod
Ever wonder what it really takes to make a living as a creative person in today's complicated world?
MacLeod presents some witty keys for creative success, including "ignore everybody. Why should you "ignore everybody"?
Because, he writes, nobody else can tell you whether your idea is worthwhile. People can give you advice, but at the end of the day, it's your decision. The more original an idea, the less helpful the advice is going to be.
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