How Udemy & Goodreads Ruin My Self Image – Using Consistency & Commitment to Convert

The consistency & commitment principle, according to Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, asserts that people are more likely to honor a commitment if it matches their self image.

This is insanely powerful. I bet you don’t even realize it’s happening to you.

Udemy Does This Awesomely

A couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to start a course on

At first I was super excited about it and did a TON of work this first day.

So Excited

And then I started to slow down.

Spongebob - Slowing Down

And before long they sent me this email asking me to choose what kind of buddy I need to finish my course. The reward? The chance to be seen by thousands on their homepage. 

udemy example

Now I chose the Boss option and someone sent me regular check-ins answering two questions:

  • What have you accomplished?
  • What do you aim to accomplish and by when?

While I didn’t complete the course in time, there isn’t a day that doesn’t go back where I feel guilty about this.

Honestly, it’s become a bucket list line.

But why do I feel so compelled?

Since I associate the simple act of “finishing things” to my self image just the fact that I  know “they” know I didn’t complete it actually hurts me more than not completing the assignment. In fact, I could care LESS about the reward now.


Which brings me to Goodreads… Oh Goodreads..

Goodreads does an excellent example of this as well.

I started using them a few years ago after stumbling upon their yearly reading challenge.

Good Reads - Reading challenge

Goodreads has replaced my bookshelf - the bragging wall in which I use to look knowledgeable and authoritative.

Taken from:

Taken from:


The Reading Challenge worked for me and I’ve been consistently using Goodreads ever since.

Goodreads - reading challenge

Okay wait.. wait.. STOP EVERYTHING!

Okay I have to be honest…

Before taking the screenshot above I was actually 4 books behind schedule.

So i stopped writing this article.

The idea of being behind that much was too horrible a hit for my self image. So I waited until I finished at least TWO books.

THAT is Commitment at work.

Sidenote:  I will admit posting that above has also made me a little queasy. My weekend will now include me finishing at least two books. </le sigh>

Consistency on the Web: The “idea of scent”

Another way to show commitment on the web is through consistency. Bryan Eisenberg talks a lot about “scent” as a way to stop friction in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark.



One way to remove the friction between PPC and your landing page is to make sure your adcopy is consistent to your landing page experience.

See the example below:

Scent - Eisenberg

Our ads promise a free trial, our website provides this free trial front and center.

There are lots of ways that you can increase scent and reduce friction on your site.

Have you checked all your ads and landing page matches?

A lil’ Exercise:

Grab a paper & pen, Evernote or Google doc and quickly jot down the answers to these questions.
(Don’t overthink it!)

  1. Are there ways you have been persuaded by commitment & consistency?
  2. How?
  3. Can you replicate/test it?
  4. Do your ads match your landing page’s promise and call to action?
  5. What are 5 things you can do starting tomorrow to increase consistency & commitment on your website/product?

Want to learn more?

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Questions? Comments?