image - auto accident

Fake it until you make it? Ridiculous!

Building Credibility Takes A Little Honesty
image - auto accidentHow often have you ran across a blog post on building traffic only to glance up at your Alexa bar and see they have an Alexa rank of 200,000? Is that someone you should be follow blog traffic advice from? Okay, I know it could be just one of several blogs run by that person and that particular blog is still new but you know what I mean. I see it a lot and I have to wonder what they’re thinking. That’€™s just one example; we see the same thing with just about every niche we’re interested in.

How about pages selling Twitter followers, Facebook likes and/or YouTube views and they don’t have any themselves. (BTW, never waste your money on that, please). Or those trying to teach you how to get rich while their blogging in Mom’s basement and eating whatever is in her refrigerator because they have $1.87 in the bank.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should play it safe and worry about a little debate or even criticism. Just keep in mind that we lose a little credibility when we’re’ wrong but we lose a lot of credibility when we’re seen like impostures. I reject the Fake it until you make it€ notion. I’€™m finished lecturing. 🙂

What do you think? Am I being too critical?

About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. This is exactly why I got out of the blogging about blogging niche… too many wet behind the ears experts! And to be honest, once I did that, business took off for me! Now, instead of trying to build an email list to spam my affiliate links to, write everyday, comment all over the place, etc, etc, etc…. I build websites, do SEO work, manage social networks, and am working on a franchise deal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to bash blogging, I still use it for clients and occasionally on my own site, it just didn’t provide an actual income for me.

    • Hi Keith, it’s great to hear from you. 🙂 I’ll be the first to admit that blogging can be stressful, especially blogging about blogging, but I’m still enjoying it. “Too many wet behind the ears experts,” I love that! lol

    • Thanks Brian and Keith both of these posts are helpful. Keith I’ve been building ScentTrail Marketing exactly the wrong way you described so going to rethink now. As a cancer survivor I’m very tuned to time not being an infinite journey. You just saved a lot of my (and all of our)most valuable asset Thanks.

      Brian I see your point too. When you and I started doing content marketing back in the day no one cared. That had a way of keeping the lookie loos away. Now everyone is an expert and so now one is, no one except us old dogs who continue to share, move forward, learn new things and keep the faith.

      Thanks to you both for a Sunday revelation.


  2. I tend to go the opposite way. I have to be so sure of what I am saying, before I say it, that I don’t end up saying anything just in case I am wrong. LOL!

    If I can’t do it myself then, I don’t tell others how to.

    • I’ll vouch for that Sheryl, you definitely do your research before you post or write. That’s good though because people are learning to trust your knowledge and opinion rather than just dismissing it off-hand like they would do for many others.

  3. Hi Brian,

    Hot topic here I guess. Credibility is important moreover if we talk “blogging about blogging”.

    We don’t need to go to far. I just learned from myslef about it. My blog is relatively new, and too bad it is blogging about blogging :).

    My biggest challenge is when I want to talk about SEO and traffic generation. I just think who will listen to me? My alexa is in the big 1 million, and PR just 1 (huuufft).

    But, you got the point here Brian. Just be honest. I package my posts from my own experience in SEO or traffic and tell it to others. The respond is not too bad 🙂

    So the best thing to do when we are new comer is post less. You need more time for research in your post. Find what benefit you have from your own strategy then tell it to others.

    It’s save your credibility alot as new comer that talk on blogging about blogging 🙂

    • Hi Okto, you have a nice blog and I don’t think the answer is to post less just because you are new or because your blog about blogging. Being a blogger doesn’t mean we are experts at what we blog about; we can contribute without being the ‘be all – end all’ on the matter. I’m just suggesting blogger’s not try to deceive their readers into thinking they are more knowledgeable than they are.

      As an example, if you want to discuss SEO and traffic generation on your blog, you absolutely should. I just recommend you avoid passing yourself off as an expert, that’s all. Here’s a tip, oops, I mean Hot Blog Tip lol…

      If you want to blog about a topic you are unsure of, bring in someone that is. This can be a guest post, an interview or even call on your readers for their opinion. Some of the best blog post titles have a question mark at the end.

  4. Hi Brian,
    I think it is true that the subject of a blog should be something that the blogger is an expert, and I agree to the niches as for istance gardening, construction or any type of offline job or hobby.

    But now I ask you a question. Any blogger, which talk about blogging, online marketing or SEO, was born teacher?

    See the pioneers of blogging, I think they wrote as they were learning.

    And then we must say that the internet is changing so fast, that any opinion can be valid, if confirmed in the near future.
    Example: I talk about SEO, you do not share, but we got an update from Google, which distorts the whole web (see Panda, see Penguin).

    And then everyone thinks for themselves, you can choose to follow or not follow my advice, if you do not feel good.

    Of course I agree that if I see a PR0 and Alexa 1 million, probably this blog does not inspire such a great confidence!

    • Hi Erik, that’s a good point and I’m glad you brought it up. We can blog about things we are not expert at, we just shouldn’t try to pass ourselves off as experts if we are not; that’s going to hurt our reputation in the long run. Here’s how I see it…

      If I want to blog on SEM and I’m not that familiar with the topic, I should find the best way to start a discussion about it without sticking my foot in my mouth. Many bloggers would spend an hour doing research, declare themselves an expert, and then begin to offer the world advice on something they simply don’t know. Now if those same bloggers would take that same topic and bring in their readers to form of a discussion, wouldn’t that make for a better read? Or what if the blogger ran a test or trial run and blogged about the results as they came in.

      There’s nothing wrong with blogging about what interests us, we should just be careful not to send people off in the wrong direction just so we can ‘look’ like an expert.

      • Erik Emanuelli says

        I agree with that, Brian.
        And I’ll take you an example.

        Not long ago (I think more or less 3 weeks ago), I received a private message in by a professional artist who has a “blogspot” site (I mean on the Blogger platform), who asked me to make a quotation for her for SEO services on her site, helping get more traffic and more rankings.

        My reply :

        1 – I’m not a SEO expert and I can not take money for giving advice on what I am not a professional;

        2 – I just have a passion for blogging, so since I started (two years ago), I can say today that I know more of that time;

        3 – I suggested her to go to my blog and read articles (for free) and download my eBook (free) by subscribing to my mailing list (free) and my biggest suggestion was to install WordPress and buy a domain, if she wanted to improve her site;

        4 – Do not trust to any of those who proclaimed “SEO expert”, as there are many scammers. The best thing is being passionate and gradually improve your own site.
        Also because for each future request, otherwise, you should always consult a technician.

        What do you think,Brian?

        P.S.:Sorry for any grammar mistake, English is not my native language.

        • I don’t care that English is not your native language Erik, no one could have said it better or given better advice! I hope the person that asked for your help takes your advice. It sounds exactly what I would have said.

          Hey, I added you to our “Great Blog Comments” section of Pinterest at:

          • Thanks Brian,
            I really appreciate it.

            It is a pleasure to being added to your “Great Blog Comments” section:
            followed and repinned on Pinterest. 🙂

          • Hello Dave. I must say I’m a little disappointed at the short post. Being real 😉 But I DO like your Pinterest ‘Great comments’ section and will be sharing that along with my own (I am going to create because of your inspiration) on my blog.

  5. I basically write more about software’s & a bit of social media. But I think if a person is working in the domain of traffic building, then he can maintain a niche blog about it n it could be quite possible that his blog could get a lot of fame because of his great tips! 🙂

  6. I do agree – It has happened a couple of times before. And when it comes to SEO especially the ones in the Black hats – something like their alexa rank is of no importance. Due to the fact that it’s probably inaccurate due to the tactics they use online.

    • It’s true Anton, Alexa rank can be easily manipulated but I don’t know of anyone that uses tactics to gain a high Alexa rank. lol BTW, Those ranking tactics are just as dumb as using black hat SEO tactics.

      • Well, it’s extremely easy, install the Alexa toolbar and you’ll boost your rank just by constantly going back to your site to approve comments, write new content, etc… I know one guy who got his site close to 10,000 by doing that and asking his readers to write reviews on Alexa, but he was making so little he literally ended up sleeping on the streets until he sold the site.

        But even without manipulation, it is hard for me to use Alexa rank as an indicator of a site’s success. I’ve got one domain around 50,000, but the traffic is junk and couldn’t convert once in a blue moon. Another is at 800,000 but it gets 500 unique and highly targeted visits a day in an extremely competitive & valuable niche.

        Anyway, there are a lot of ways to evaluate a site’s success, but they depend on one’s definition of success. A social marketer or community builder is going to count comments and social shares, but an SEO might just look for pagerank and SERPs.

        Ultimately though, you’ve got a good point. It is just important to remember that there are a lot of different approaches and goals out there, and different ways of measuring someone’s expertise based on those differing metrics that might all lead to different forms of success.

  7. You’re maybe little to critical Brian, but I have the same opinion as you do. Don’t teach people to get traffic and make money or build niche websites when you don’t have enough proof to stand behind your words.
    But many experts will not teach people to get traffic from the website they get it. They will probably make new website/blog to hide their tracks.
    After all, they don’t want all the secrets out 🙂
    thanks for sharing Brian

    • Thanks James, I don’t think there are too many secrets left James. Don’t worry, when I learn of them you can consider them exposed. lol

      I don’t want to sound mean but we’ve all been in the situation where we have watched a very obese person giving weight lose advice to someone.

  8. Adam Justice says

    Like someone mentioned, you can buy Alexa ranking fairly cheaply. It’s only a valuable metric to the site owner because they’re the only one who knows if it’s genuine.

    I don’t think this is a really good example. A blogger with no traffic whatsoever may have just left an intensive workshop about traffic generation that was taught by 10 bloggers with Alexa rankings in the top 1,000. Their intentions may be just to share what they learned with anyone who is willing to listen, it’s more therapeutic than employment for 99.999% of bloggers. Most of what is shared on blogging and social media blogs is repeated anyway. There are very few people testing strategies in a controlled manner. It’s different than it was in 2007, you have to cut deep to make your mark with a blog.

    • Good points Adam and the Alexa rank was just an example but you get that. As for someone that just left a workshop, there’s nothing wrong with them writing about that. What’s wrong with them saying, “I just attended an intensive workshop about traffic generation and I want to share what I learned?” I’d read that post! BUT, when that same blogger tries to take that learned knowledge and pass it off as experience, well, the deception shines through and ruins their reputation. Sure, they may get comments but how many true followers are they going to have? Honesty is all I’m asking, as a blogger.

      As far as everything being repeated on blogs, there’s a great post on Ana’s blog by Ryan Hanley: How To Blog About Blogging When It’s All Been Said Before

  9. Rose Marie James says

    Hi Brian,

    Great points here Brian. When I first began my career as a concert pianist, I was definitely faking it. But now I’m realizing that the more honest I am and the more I pull back the fanfare, the more fun my work becomes and subsequently the more engaged my community gets. Very interesting phenomenon.

    ~Rose Marie

  10. Syeda Mehwish says

    Imposture has great affect on our credibility.
    I also don’t share anything on which I am not sure it is 100% correct because it also affect credibility to some extend. We should be crystal clear in our posts.

  11. Short but straight to the point Brian. It is really quite difficult to “preach” about something when you don’t have the kinda “proof” to back you up. I found that in cases where the blogger is new, and still wants to talk about getting more traffic or giving some SEO advice, is to write about it using the “experiment” method. Instead of saying do this and do that, actually say that it is an experiment and provide updates of the results… Nice series of post and may just be an interesting read 🙂

    • Sure Francisco, that’s all I’m saying, be honest and blog about whatever we have interest in. An experiment series sounds like a great idea.

    • Hey Francisco. I also think ‘experiment’ posts is the best. And think how much you’ll learn, if you build a network straight away and the big dogs assist you by telling what you could do differently.

      That’s exactly how my buddy Dukeo did it. He had caricatures made of famous bloggers, not only did he get link bait, but it also made a great case study of which those big dogs blogged about.

  12. this is really true, in the past time i was buying email all the time and i didn’t realized that i was doing something that people call spam. I lost a lot of credibility and visitors of course. Since then i decided to change my blog name, choose a new concept and use normal and legal strategy to build my traffic.

  13. You know if I’m commenting I’m going to be trouble. lol

    First, you make a good point about not writing on something that you’re not doing well yourself. People who write about blogging but only have one post a week; people who write about making money online but aren’t making even $100 a month; etc.

    Second, there are people who need to “fake it to make it” in other industries however. For instance, if a person has changed careers they might not have experience doing something, yet they might know a lot about it. New business people fake being experienced in what they do all the time because it’s hard getting new business if they’re telling everyone “I just got started in this & haven’t had a client yet”.

    • All true Mitch, even Former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson had to fake a degree until he made it. lol

      I had a family member get a job at Kmart’s corporate headquarters as a programmer but hadn’t worked the job in years. In his case, it proved too tough to “catch up” because programming advances very fast. He kept the job for almost a year before they realized he didn’t know what he was doing. The takeaway? Faking it at a huge corporation might be easier since you can get lost in the masses.

  14. I agree with your Brian, there are certain industries where this occurs even more than ‘normal’ – which is bad enough.

    I love those people that think they know something about twitter when they have a few tens of followers.

    Similar concept, isn’t it?

  15. Thanks for the lecture… LOL…
    This just serves to remind us that we have to work hard when we want to build credibility. It’s more difficult for newbies though… As unfortunate as it sounds… some have to “fake it to make it” until they finally get the true credibility…

  16. I definitely agree with you. If you want to build up your credibility and if you want to sustain it in the long run, you should not be on the fake it ’til you make it bandwagon.

  17. Hey Brian,

    I know when I first got online I was taught to “fake it until you make it” but I was very uncomfortable with that because that’s just being dishonest.

    I do agree that you shouldn’t learn from someone who isn’t where they claim to be. For instance I always share with my readers that if you want success, follow someone who is where you want to be. Same goes for getting traffic to your blog. If they’re getting the results then take their advice. If not then move on to the person who is.

    I’m definitely with you on this topic.


  18. I remember those days of blogging about blogging just to get the traffic coming in, I stopped that sometime back, no point, there are so many sites in the same niche, that sometimes it’s like head first in to a tsunami.

    • Blogging about blogging can be a challenge at times Karen, but you know that as well as anyone. In fact, I have a post on the topic almost ready to publish. It should have went live today but I got distracted. 😉

  19. Depends… if the blog post is about improving one’s Alexa rank, then maybe. But otherwise, how much store do you really put in the Alexa figure? I think for me it would depend on how much they were claiming “expertise” versus just offering up their own experiences.

    • I guess I could say, again, that that’s not what I was saying and the post isn’t about Alexa rank but I’ll just let it go. Life’s just too short. lol

  20. Preach!

    I’m an SEO specialist, and after years of the production grind, can finally start getting people to come in and help me. I cannot express how much it worries me when I get people interviewing and they start to just rattle off industry terms as if that is all there is to internet marketing.

    I heartily agree: “fake it until you make it” is just another way of saying “i’m lazy”. If you know your stuff, then credibility will come, if not, there is no amount of faking that will get you to the highest levels of your industry.

  21. I agree that we need to be honest when we write. Without honesty we cannot expect our audience to take us seriously, let alone gain an audience in the first place. In today’s world we are in need of refreshing transparency. If we are transparent with our readers, this will draw more of an audience to hear what we are saying. Being yourself is really the key.

  22. Cat Alexandra says

    Hey there Brian,

    This has been a huge pet peave of mine over the years. Actually, it’s something that I polarized for some time and it kept me from participating in an online community of network marketers (which I actually do participate in nowadays).

    It seemed that everywhere I turned around there was some blog going up somewhere, written by an obvious novice who was claiming to be an “expert” or “coach” or some kind.

    I think that there are quite a number of camps that promote the concept of fake-it-til-you-make-it…and that there are quite a number of camps that promote the concept of becoming an expert – and I think that the ones who want short cuts are all too content to play the “parrot” game and simply repeat what they heard somewhere (whether or not they actually have a track record of their own).

    I find it lacking in integrity. I realize that there are many who haven’t “learned better” just yet, so I try to be compassionate about it, but still find it annoying.

    Anyway, I avoided that online community of network marketers for a long time because I was seeing how the information was being recklessly used by so many to assert themselves as “leaders” and “experts” – eventually I came onboard because I recognized that this was more a problem with how people choose to behave rather than something the community was telling them to do.

    I think that the truth has a way of ultimately coming out, so those who are looking for shortcuts to credibility should heed the warning and do things in a way that won’t be embarrassing later!

    Great food for thought, Brian!

    Cat 😉

    • Wow Cat, I was having a tough time getting my point into words and you used the phrase I needed, “lacking in integrity.” I wish I had come up with that myself because that just about says it all. It sounds like we thing a lot alike. Thanks 🙂

  23. I heard that mantra too Brian and it’s fake as hell. When I visit a blog there is allot I take into consideration and if I value them as an authority in their niche. It’s like seeing someone hit the scene for 3 months and now they are an expert? Really? But to them, they really believe it because they have some other newbie following them that don’t know any better either. Thus, creating a long path of bloggers that don’t have a clue while getting the wrong information.

    No one wants to work hard and take the long road. There is no short-cuts with blogging unless you’re some famous person and even still, I don’t take them seriously either. I can careless that they were on TV and now their website is an authority? Pay your dues and build your business the right way.

  24. New blog must require creative content and new concept but reality is that no one can get new concept without visiting any other blog or website. Your given information is really interesting and true. If anyone want to include creativity into blog then it required to visit many blogs, find any new concept, make some changes and post on blog.

  25. Isabel Singh says

    It strives for complete honesty about everything, from the origin of the materials used to the final mark-up. It must be real.

  26. Building credibility not only takes honesty, but takes time and patience too!

  27. Leinwand says

    And it takes consistency to. Being consistent makes people depend on you.

  28. thanks for notifying this thing otherwise i will go blind and do some mistakes.

  29. Time is a very important factor + your reliability and helpfulness. Is your blog useful for others. If yes, than keep doing it and you will get there one day!

  30. Thanks for this.I always think I am the blind following the blind.When I give advice I like to remind people that I am not expert and we are learning this stuff together

  31. David P. says

    I agree, there are way too many “experts,” and it’s not just a problem in the “blogging about blogging” niche. Go to any evergreen topic -weight loss, nutrition, mortgages, etc. – and you’ll see plenty of people who clearly have little idea what they’re talking about. Hopefully Google’s updates continue to blast these people in rankings and let the people with truly great content shine.

  32. maryembatool says

    We can’t go wrong by being ourselves Elena, we’ll attract the right people and we never have to worry about being “called out.” Thanks

  33. Mike Jones says

    I do not care that English is not your native language Erik, no one could have said it better or given better advice! I hope the person that asked for your help takes your advice. It sounds exactly what I would have said.

  34. I hate people who fake things and then admit what they do once they get popular and big.. for me if a person cannot be trusted once he cannot be trusted at all!

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