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June 10, 2016

Mutual Support?

It isn't necessary to formally join a group to become part of a virtual community. Commenting on the blog posts that you enjoy or that make you think is a way to quickly begin connecting with others, people who have something in common or who have similar goals.

When I come across an online article that I think will be interesting or helpful to my followers, I'm eager to tweet it out, or to write about it in my blog (always with a link back to the original item, of course), so that great ideas will reach a wider audience. And I'm very appreciative of my fellow bloggers when they find something I've written worth sharing with their followers.

We support each other. We give credit where credit is due. It feels good.

I didn't feel quite the same way about an email I got this morning. It came from someone who started by telling me how fabulous my blog is. So far, so good. She went on to say that she had used many of my tips to build her blog audience. Um, okay, but did she ever give me credit? Apparently not. According to her, she just used my ideas to promote herself, and there is no indication she ever linked back to my blog, gave me a tweet, or even mentioned my name.

I took a look at her blog and, really, there's no evidence that she actually used any of my ideas. Most of her posts focus on a particular topic that I rarely write about. I think it's unlikely she'd ever heard of me before doing a little research to create a list of bloggers she wanted to contact. The purpose of her email was to flatter me into sharing her recent post in which she quotes and promotes a lot of "famous" experts.

There is nothing wrong with self-promotion. Like a lot of people, I have a book I'd like to sell, and I know how difficult it can be to get bloggers (who are inundated with requests) to write reviews. I empathize with creators who are struggling to be noticed. I have happily linked to infographics, accepted guest posts, written book reviews, and tweeted links.

I'm particularly appreciative of those who return the favor by linking back to me, reviewing my book, or giving me the occasional tweet. In any case, I prefer to support people who have something of value to offer, and who do it in a way that seems sincere and aboveboard.

I didn't get a feeling of sincerity from this email, especially when I noticed that it was sent and signed by someone whose name didn't appear anywhere on the blog that was being promoted. Yes, some successful bloggers have help (and that's okay), but the person writing the email didn't identify herself (or possibly himself) that way, claiming, instead, to be the author of the blog. A click on the Google+ link in the email made it seem that this might be a false identity. The blogger posing as her own staff member? A friend who'd rather remain anonymous? A hoaxster of some sort?

There is probably nothing terribly wrong with the blogger in question. But her way of approaching others doesn't create a good impression. She needs some solid tips on how to promote a blog. A first impression that fosters suspicion is not one of them.
UPDATE, June 24: A few days ago I was approached by someone who wanted to write a guest post for my blog. She claimed to have read and understood my guidelines, and proposed some possible topics that sounded good, so I gave her the go-ahead. However, when the article arrived, it was very disappointing. It was poorly written, and would have required a great deal of editing had I wanted to use it. Worse, the author had not used any of the originally suggested topics, choosing instead a topic that was clearly not a good match for this blog. She had included a link in her article (which is fine). When I checked the link, it turned out to be to the very same article that other blogger had tried to get me to promote a couple of weeks ago, the one I wrote about in the above post.

So, who is the author of this article, really? Her Google profile doesn't reveal much, except that she promotes weight loss supplements. I'm inclined to think that she's really the same person who wrote to me the first time, using yet another pen name, but there is no way to know. Whoever she is, she is going about this in a very misguided way.

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