Why Credibility Matters

The events of the last few weeks (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about) have made me realize the unbelievable importance of credibility to business, blogging and life. I think Quinten Farmer of OnSwipe said it best when he told me today, “It doesn’t matter what you say, it just matters what your credentials are.”
I think there’s no better example of this concept than my blog. In January I wrote a post on an old blog entitled “Failure In Public: How To Improve Yourself by Eating M&Ms.” I dashed it off in the middle of developing one of my earlier projects, Dilemma Roulette, which by the way was a complete flop, and maybe a few people read it. It had approximately zero impact. No tweets. No likes on Facebook. One or two of my friends told me they had read it and thought it was cool, but that was basically the extent of it.

Fast forward two months. WhereMyFriends.Be had just blown up on Mashable and I had written a couple of fairly well-read posts on our experience building and running the site. I was wracking my brain looking for a cool topic to write about as a follow-up. Then I remembered the failure in public post. So I brought it up in a text file and started playing around with it. A half an hour later If you’re not failing you’re not trying emerged. I thought it seemed pretty good so I posted it on Hacker News and my Twitter and went to bed (it was like 3 AM at this point).

By the next day the article had been liked over 300 times and tweeted over 200 times. The post had 90 points on Hacker News. So what changed?

The first time I posted the article I had zero credibility. No one knew me, and I wasn’t positioned to write a popular blog post in any way. At present I’m by no means well-known in the startup community, but I’m certainly better-known than I was. I have some marginal bit of credibility. And even that little bit was enough to turn a pretty good post that no one read, into a pretty good post that tens of thousands of people read.

So what’s the takeaway? It can be frustrating building products that no one uses and writing blog posts that no one reads. But just because no one uses your product, or no one reads your blog doesn’t necessarily mean that what you’re offering or what you’re writing isn’t any good. The missing ingredient is marketing and credibility. Because once you get that first little bit of credibility, you can build that into a business, a blog and a life.

As Quinten said, “It doesn’t matter what you say, it just matters what your credentials are.”

9 Mar 2011, 9:43pm | 4 comments


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