Whenever you need some kind of service, you probably don’t rush out and go with the first business you see. Let’s say you need a plumber to fix something in your kitchen. You’ll look up different local plumbers, and you’ll read reviews and testimonials to see how good they are.
That’s exactly what prospective clients and editors are doing when deciding if they want to work with you, and that’s why you absolutely need social proof.
Social proof can make or break opportunities. Knowing how to build social proof is a skill every writer should have in their arsenal, no matter how long you’ve been writing, or how much experience you have.
What is social proof?
Simply put, social proof is credibility from trustworthy people (i.e. experts) or businesses.
There are many types of social proof but, when it comes to writing, there are two main categories: Publication and Testimonials
Publication is a powerful form of social proof because it shows that your writing is good enough for expert sites. That’s a goal that only good writers can achieve so it’s a testament to the quality of your writing.
Of course, the amount of social proof increases with the reputation of the publication, but even getting published at all provides a lot of social proof. Many writers self-publish or maintain a blog and, while this can be useful, it doesn’t provide any social proof because anyone can do it.
Testimonials are also important, especially if you’re a writer or author looking to market your services or products in one way or another. Getting a good testimonial from trustworthy experts in your niche will communicate to prospective clients that you’re excellent at what you do.
What happens if you don’t have social proof?
Many writers have zero social proof. (Or, if they do, they don’t showcase it.) And, you may be wondering what’s so bad about not having any social proof.
With no social proof, it’s really hard for potential clients or customers to evaluate your service and/or products. Most people want experts to write for them and experts always have various types of social proof. If you have none, you’re not positioning yourself as an expert in your subject area.
Obviously the quality of your actual writing matters but, remember, you’re selling yourself, too. You probably wouldn’t buy a product with zero reviews and the same logic applies when you’re marketing yourself.
How to Get Social Proof
Now, let’s look at a few easy ways to build social proof.
The easiest and most important way is to get published. Ideally, you want to aim for authoritative publications in your niche. You don’t need to aim super high but the publications you get in should have some level of influence.
Once you’re published, show it off! Build a portfolio that displays your published work, and put it on your site and/or social media for potential clients to see.
Getting testimonials is also pretty easy. One simple method is to reach out to people you’ve worked with before, and politely ask for a 1-2 line testimonial. Again, you can pop these on your website, or wherever potential clients will see them.
Another way to gain social proof is to establish yourself is an expert by putting out valuable, authoritative content. Think of an expert you follow. They probably put out tons of articles, videos, and social media posts that provide a lot of value. You can do exactly the same thing.
When you provide value for people, they see you as an expert. Put out enough valuable content, and you’ll gain a lot of social proof over time.
Building social proof is something you should constantly be doing. And, if you haven’t started, there’s no better time than right now. So, get to it!
Ian Chandler is a freelance writer and Head Instructor at Writing Launch.
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