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How Credibility Helped Me Gain Nearly 2,000 New Emails In 30 days
Last Updated March 18th, 2011


Ever wonder why some articles attract thousands of hits, retweets, and mentions in social media?

It’s not about how big your following is. You could have thousands of fans and your articles can still fall on deaf ears.

It’s actually much simpler than that, and I’ll tell you all about it.

How Social Triggers Gained Popularity

Before I tell you my secret, let me share some proof.

During December 2010, I published one article on Social Triggers. January 2011? Two articles. February? Four articles. March? One article.

As you can see, I don’t publish that often, yet traffic and my email list grew remarkably… for a newish blog.

As a matter of fact, each month, I doubled my traffic from the prior month.

Yes, I was working with small numbers, but they’re not that small. I built an email list of 2,000 HIGHLY TARGETED people. In terms of revenue, if Social Triggers was a revenue source for me, 2,000 emails could generate around $30,000 a year in extra income.

Not bad, right?

Well, here’s how I did it.

The Content Credibility Crisis

Think about this…

How many people attempt to teach others how to do something… anything?

Thousands, if not millions.

In my niche, the online business niche, there is thousands, for sure. The question is, how are readers supposed to know whether their teacher is qualified to teach?

This leads me to the main problem with blogs today:

We are currently in a Content Credibility Crisis…

Now that everyone has the power to publish their opinions, there’s a lot of bad advice floating around the internet.

To help your site stand out, all you have to do is demonstrate that your content is credible, and people will LOVE it.

How I Built Up My Content Credibility

I built up my credibility by backing up all of my ideas with verifiable data from psychological studies and personal business experiments.

Yes, you read that right. Boring numbers and academic nonsense helped me build a following FAST.

“Why does that generate traffic and attract emails,” you ask?

If you’re launching a new blog, like I did with Social Triggers, people don’t trust you outright. Like I said, people want to know whether you’re qualified to teach.

However, you can build that trust fast. All you have to do is back up your ideas with proof—academic research, personal case studies, and other specific examples.

It’s really that easy…

How You Can Build Your Content Credibility

Publishing information from academic journals isn’t for everyone. However, everyone loves when people back up their ideas with tangible, specific proof.

Right now people tend to say things like “Well, Derek said,” and “Chris Brogan said,” and that’s great. It’s flattering for me, and probably for Chris, too.

Unfortunately, that’s not real proof.

Yes, you may trust me, and other people like Chris, but who’s to say we’re right? Unless of course, we provided you with proof, at which point you should quote our proof and give us credit for providing it.

Now I know it sounds like I’m being abstract here, so I created a simple 3-step formula you can follow.

  • Step 1: Tell people what you did
  • Step 2: Tell people what happened
  • Step 3: Apply your findings to related situations

The Bottom Line

When you write your next article, follow this 3-step formula and let me know your results. 😀

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40 comments Leave a comment
Will Chou

So true even today!
There’s so many bloggers in my self-help niche and most of them don’t cite any sources. They are literally fraudently saying that this advice came from billionaires when it didn’t or this is how “all successful people do things.”
I can get ahead by citing specific interviews or data

Erik Krause

ps how do i upload a photo so i’m not faceless?

Erik Krause

Thanks, again, Derek!

I recently (<2mos) took my holistic health education and training business to a virtual platform, and I'm finding your insights to be like coconut water after a long run in the hot sun … refreshing and nourishing.

I've been finding a lot of value on socialtriggers.com and I'll keep coming back for more.

John Russo

This is what I needed to read tonight, took the confusion out of my thoughts and may help me see the light. Next step is actually writing the articles to spec.
I should add there are many excellent comments and questions. You have an amazing group of followers. It’s a pleasure to read their comments.

Eddie Gear

Reputation and credibility is the most important success factors for bloggers and affiliate marketers. Its great to see the ROI in a short span of you blogging. The emails that you have generated is big and I bet these leads convert well.

Ryan Cruz

Derek, you did extremely well for a newish blog. And I’m loving this blog to the extent that I’m *implementing* most of the strategies you’ve shared here…

The Case studies, credibility, fonts, feature box… I hope you don’t mind as I’ve implemented most of the things on my blog.

You’ve just won another Fan for life! Thanks Derek!

Susan Bailey

I run a literary/fandom blog on Louisa May Alcott, discussing her life and work, and have done all along what you suggest (backing up my analyses and opinions by citing well-known Alcott scholars and providing page numbers for books I cite). I’ve blogged now for nearly 2 years and am definitely developing a favorable reputation as a result. I’ve received great emails from Alcott authors and scholars, attended an important workshop for the American Library Association at the invitation of an Alcott scholar, and have made friends with several authors (one of whom is now mentoring me).

Long story short: You are absolutely right!

Ryan Cumley

I really think a smiling photo of yourself, taken straight on into the camera, placed prominently on your first page can really help enable the development of credibility too.

It doesn’t replace the hard facts and figures used to generate credibility, but I find myself much more willing to give someone a chance if I see their face. Probably some sort of human disposition to interact with someone smiling at us.

I think having my picture in the sidebar really helps my particular product, since I’m selling a rather sterile collection of financial equations, and I think people are far more willing to accept my math once they can associate my face with it.

Personally, I think the picture of Derek on the main page of SocialTriggers is perfect.

Andrew Lewin

Thanks for the article Derek; it makes sense. I run an Ocean Science website to teach people about the Ocean and make them aware of the issues facing the Ocean.

I was afraid to refer to scientific studies in primary journals because I was afraid of boring the reader; however, I now realize that I don’t have to just spit out numbers to my audience, but I can relate the general idea of the article to prove my point. I will try this method and let you know how it works out.




I bookmark every freakin post!

Etre Heureux

simple and efficient… 2000 wow
I have only 300 hundreds after 8 months…

Neil Andrew DuPaul

“You could have thousands of fans and your articles can still fall on deaf ears.”

Shouldn’t that be blind eyes.

The One and Only Way to Make Money Online | Surfer Lifestyle Design

[…] though, my friend Derek Halpren of Social Triggers makes a great point about this recent “Content Credibility Crisis“.  Basically for certain niches (i.e. online marketing) there are too many sources with […]

Adam Pervez

As someone who is starting a website/blog where I portray myself as an expert, this post really helped me. I also would have thought boring numbers and sources would be a negative. I’m an engineer at heart, so I do like those things. That’s why I thought no one else would 🙂

Anyway, thanks for the great post!



As a hiring manager with more than a decade of experience I can tell you that this technique is also essential for job hunters. Resumes that outline measurable results to past employers get a much higher interview rate than those who just list past job descriptions. Interviews where the applicant can articulate measurable deliverables for past employers get a much higher call-back rate. Employees who can “remind” supervisors of measurable results often get better reviews and higher pay raises.

Thanks for the post. Good stuff.


Here’s How to Plug 3 Website “Leaks” that Cost You Valuable Subscribers

[…] Also, if you’ve ever been featured in a widely recognized magazine or newspaper, or anything like that. You may want to mention that too. That’s great for credibility building. […]

Bobby Hewitt

Derek your 3 step system has it’s basis in psychology. The master at influence Robert Cialdini who wrote the book of the same title said, “In order to get people to believe you, first tell them what you can’t do then tell them what you can do.” The psychology here is that you earn trust by being honest and exposing a weakness, being vulnerable. Step 2 in your 3 step process “telling people what happened” is the key to making this work. By doing this you’re using a form of vulnerability by exposing the truth of what happened for good or bad. Thanks for putting this trigger into a simple 3 step process.

Roger Dooley

This is great advice, Derek. I see all too many blog posts that offer advice with no backup. The classic “list post” is a good example – bloggers offer “5 Top Techniques” or “7 Deadly Mistakes” that they came up with while they were writing the post.

Glad to hear about your great results!


mike kirkeberg

I like the simple three step process. The thing that I would add to that is to write from some personal point of interest, not just to write something. I spend a lot of time scouring my little brain for subjects and then look back and see that the posts that have gotten the most play (which is not much) are those that I have written from some personal perspective.


This is right on the money. “Well, Brian Clark and Chris Brogan said this.”

I’d rather read that from Brian and Chris. Blogs like that are so lame. But hey, that’s what I did for a year, so I’ve had to learn that one the hard way.

Thanks Derek. I wrote a post called “How to Magnetize 89 Subscribers to Your Brand New Blog.” It showed exactly how I did it, and how others could too. It worked. The post was a big hit. (Well for me, “big” is still pretty small. 🙂 ).

I still think you’re doing something magical here though. I mean, I feel proud to have 113 email addresses after 8 weeks. How do you do this…

    Derek Halpern

    Yes, real-life case studies is always a GREAT way to get some traffic. People connect with you because they’re in a similar situation. It’s much easier for some people to imagine 100 subscribers compared to 2,000 subscribers.


      Wait. That makes it sound like my post did a better job at connecting than yours did. Surely that’s not what you mean….

      Are you saying our audiences are different?

        Derek Halpern

        To further clarify. Some people might see my post, “How to gain 2,000 emails” and think, “ill never EVER get 2,000 emails.” and they’ll skip the article.

        However, they may see your post about how to magnetize 89 subscribers, and they may think “who cares. It’s only 89 subscribers.”

        Derek Halpern

        No. I’m saying sometimes, you need to have some varying degrees of success.

        For example, if I were teaching people how to build a list, it would be smart of me to include examples of people who grew their list by 10,000 (potential), and also by 100 people (more realistic for more people).

Lee hughes

It’s funny you should write this now. I just wrote a post about happiness and the science behind it. It was picked up by quite a big blog and they are running it as a guest post on their site. It’s my first real big guest blog post and I’m excited about it. Hopefully it will send me some decent traffic. Coming straight from a science degree I know how important it is to back up your claim. Thanks for this post. Back to the journals for me 😉


Really good tips,but there is another hugely
important factor that so many people miss
the boat on because they assume too much
about their reader.That is Relevancy.Like
Roy Williams says,relevancy is gasoline,
and credibility(proof) is the spark.Boom!

    Derek Halpern

    Relevancy is key, too. That’s why I always start my articles off addressing some kind of pain point first, then go into the research. If i started with the research, I suspect I’d lose a lot of people.


Proof, eh? How do you supply it when you are just starting out? I guess you wait. Or can you just quote or use other’s proof (giving credit, of course)? I avoid the latter just because I don’t want to be redundant. “Darren Rowse says to write a list post because…” or “While scanning Social Triggers I found…”. Maybe it sounds redundant to me but how about my readers?

When you are in school you always quote published work of “experts”, at least until you are published yourself or you prove something through experiments. I guess online is not much different, except, how do you tell who is the expert? All bloggers are published.


    Derek Halpern

    Hi Allie, first sorry about responding to your comment late. For some reason, my spam filter caught it, but I saved it.


    You should quote experts. That’s what I do here. However, when you quote these people, make sure you’re not quoting them specifically, but instead something they worked on and the results they had.

    Here’s what I mean:

    I can tell you that you should write articles that resonate with your customers. It sounds right. It makes sense. However, as advice, that sentence is relatively useless.

    What if I said “Write articles that resonate with your customers. One way to do that is to think about their problems and solve them. For example, [insert name] here developed a strategy for [insert company name]. Here’s what they did, here’s why it worked, and here’s how you can apply that same strategy to your business.”

    Would an article like that be more helpful?


    It’s more complete, provides specific examples, and then backs those examples into an action plan.

      Tho Huynh

      does this mean you have to stick with real experiences instead of talking a lot of things that you haven’t tried yet?

        Derek Halpern

        Not 100% true… but sort of. I prefer to stick with real experience because it’s how you can connect with people… plus you can back up what you say.

        There are people who make broad claims, and they can’t back it up. So that looks less credible. Does that make sense?



      Very helpful, indeed. Thanks for taking time out to help me.

      I am working on getting more proof driven work on my blog. I do notice when I come across blogs that have age and/or proof behind them I tend to come back-often. They are more credible.

      Thx again.

David Doolin


Totally agree we’re in a credibility crisis. I’ve been hammering away at doing my part for the last couple of years. I haven’t been using a system like you propose in 3 steps, but I have been demonstrating proof all the way along the line for I do (blogging and diy wordpress).

I have shied away from bringing out the big guns of academic literature, so perhaps I’ll roll that into the mix in the future. It’s not like I haven’t read it nor don’t have the material!

    Derek Halpern

    It’s not necessarily just about academic research. It’s also about demonstrating proof of any kind. For example, personal case studies work great, and people love to share those. People also like to hear experiments, or your own scientific research… even if its not perfect.


      Exactly, if you look at the success of Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body he does both of what you suggest offers a good bit of scientific research and his own observations of his test on himself. They are almost all believable and he provides the tools and suggest that the reader should test it out on themselves

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