Building Credibility with Personal Photos

They say building credibility is important. Of course it is; there are so many people involved in making money with scams. Consumers are tired of the anonymity and bullshit, the tricks and the black hat tactics.

People want to know they’re dealing with real, legitimate professionals, experts and authorities.

It takes work to build and establish a reputation. People aren’t going to trust you on sight (or should that be trust you on website?) It’s important to convey to visitors that you’re a professional person or team, someone real who delivers on promises and who doesn’t scam for a fast buck.

Consumers need to sense immediately that you know what you’re talking about because you have the knowledge, credentials and skills. They need to feel a connection with you.

Posting a photo is one way to achieve some credibility, and many people recommend putting your face up on your site. But posting a photo is an action that I don’t necessarily agree with, even though it’s highly recommended.

Why? I have many reasons. Some involve my beliefs over safety concerns and privacy issues. Another reason is that if I worked in a large corporation, they wouldn’t ask me to put a poster of my face on my office door. Why should I do so on the Internet?

A third reason is that I don’t particularly like showing off my picture to anyone who wants to take a gander just because they’re curious.

Who I am is clearly indicated all over this website. People have all the personal information they need to do business with me. I provide even more information via email if requested. I blog with a personal touch, including my thoughts and personality. Whoever reads these posts knows a little about Jamie’s life and what goes on in his head. (When you discover that, by the way, tell Harry. He’ll be thrilled to learn the secret).

I am a professional providing a service. I don’t want to be hired because I have a good haircut, because my eyes twinkle just right. because I look like some cool guy in jeans, because I have a nice smile or a great suit. Whatever.

Do people need to see that I’m real? Maybe. Maybe some people need to see my photo and say, “Huh, so that’s who Jamie is…”

On the other hand, if people can’t establish that I’m a real person with feelings through my blogging, my emails, my messages, my communication and the simple fact that someone’s hands have to tap those characters on the keyboard, then… Well, there’s a problem.

Keeping it real is important. But people need to remember that a virtual world is just that – virtual. It isn’t necessarily 100% reality and bad things do happen. With that fact comes the need to be cautious and careful, just as when we step out the door of our homes into the street.

For example, some people end up being stalked online, just as they are in real life. While I may be less at risk for receiving suggestive emails, some people aren’t. Women, for one.

Think I’m being silly or paranoid? I don’t. I know someone with a home business who had to change her phone number after a client found her photo and decided to call her up. In the night. Frequently.

I know another friend with a client who liberally sent emails involving four-letter words after an innocent photo exchange. She found out the client lived within 50 kilometers of her.

It’s not just about women, though. A male friend of mine was approached as well and has had some people tend to try to get a little too friendly. I myself have been asked about my fetishes while discussing website copy with a client.

None of that is funny or to be taken lightly.

Maybe my credibility takes a hit because I don’t have my best professional face shot posted. Maybe readers feel less close to me. I can’t understand why. I know what Yaro Starek looks like, but I don’t feel a personal bond just because I do.

That’s the strategy behind photos – to give people the sense they know the person behind the website. Trust me, people know a great deal about me, and they didn’t need my photo.

Nope, posting photos is not for me, forget it. This is as real and tangible as I’m going to get, folks.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.